Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 27 Mar 1969

Vol. 239 No. 8

Committee on Finance. - Vote 41: Transport and Power (Resumed).

Debate resumed on the following motion:
That a supplementary sum not exceeding £10 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on 31st March, 1969, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Minister for Transport and Power including certain Services administered by that Office, and for payment of sundry Grants-in-Aid.

When progress was reported I was dealing with the amount provided for under the Tourist Traffic Act, 1966, for resort development. The amount was £3.25 million. I had pointed out that the total State expenditure up to 31st March, 1969, was £1.9 million and that this will be accompanied by a further expenditure of £650,000 by local authorities and local development bodies. This expenditure was incurred under the first resort development programme. Counting expenditure by the State and by local authorities and local development bodies the complete programme will cost nearly £4.5 million.

Bord Fáilte are already planning a second resort development programme. That proposed programme will concentrate on the development of tourist areas with focal points rather than on specific resorts. The idea is that within each area development works will be carried out on facilities designed in particular to suit the needs of mobile visitors, e.g., access roads to shores, forest parks, national monuments. At the focal points in the selected areas action will be taken to provide facilities for indoor recreation and entertainment to supplement national and traditional attractions.

Under subhead F.3 I am proposing a provision of £800,000, which is an increase of £100,000 on the amount provided in 1967-68. This grant-in-aid provides funds to enable Bord Fáilte to give grants for the development of holiday accommodation. The expenditure of this sum would bring total expenditure on holiday accommodation grants above the £3 million statutory limit laid down in 1966 and accordingly the limit was raised to £5.5 million by the Tourist Traffic Act, 1968.

The increase of £100,000 under this subhead is attributable to the increased incentives for the development of holiday accommodation which I authorised Bord Fáilte to provide last year. The increased incentives have generated a substantial increase in investment in additional hotel accommodation. In 1967 there was a net increase of almost 1,300 bedrooms in registered accommodation. During 1968, 38 new hotels having 737 bedrooms came into operation. By the 1969 season a further ten hotels having 533 bedrooms are expected to be ready. The total capital investment involved in the 48 hotels is £4 million.

Bord Fáilte have complete discretion within certain specified maxima in administering the grant schemes so as to influence the type and location of new accommodation according to criteria based on tourist requirements. It is Bord Fáilte's policy to encourage developers to provide a range of holiday accommodation to cater for visitors of all income brackets.

The amount which I am proposing to provide under subhead F.4 is £100,000 which is the same as was provided in 1967/68 when this grant-in-aid was introduced. The purpose of this provision is to enable Bord Fáilte to give grants to assist the development of houses for holiday letting and the provision of supplementary holiday accommodation in private houses including farmhouses, in the western counties. Grants up to 66? per cent of the approved cost subject to a maximum of £500 are provided from this grant-in-aid.

The total amount which it is proposed to provide for tourism under the four Subheads I have mentioned is £4,400,000, an increase of £792,000 on the amount provided last year. I am satisfied that the increased expenditure is justified by the growth of tourist earnings over the past six or seven years and the prospects for further expansion in the future.

Earnings from tourism in 1967 amounted to £84.3 million which represented an increase of £6.6 million or 8.5 per cent on the 1966 receipts. Since 1960 when receipts amounted to £44.2 million tourist income has increased on average by 5.5 per cent a year at constant 1960 money values.

The Central Statistics Office has not yet compiled the official estimate of earnings from tourism in 1968. According to an unofficial estimate prepared by Bord Fáilte these earnings amounted to £92.5 million in 1968 which represents an increase of £8.2 million or about 10 per cent on the 1967 figure. If the Bord Fáilte estimate is confirmed by the official estimate the 1968 income figure will be very encouraging as our tourist industry encountered a number of obstacles last year. These were the foot-and-mouth restrictions on travel from Britain, the restrictions on travel abroad by French residents and the threat of restrictions on travel abroad by the U.S. authorities.

Tourism represents our largest single export and accounts for more than onesixth of our total overseas earnings. It plays a more important part in our national balance of payments than in the case of all other European countries with the exception of Spain and Austria.

Apart from its value as an earner of foreign currency, tourism is an important generator of economic activity within the country and in export terms is a most efficient method of selling Irish goods and services. This is of particular importance to a country with a surplus of agricultural products such as milk, butter, meat and eggs. Tourist traffic is generally attracted to less developed areas and thus helps to reverse the general trend in the flow of economic activity to large centres of population. Moreover, the diffusion of benefits throughout the country results in the greater spread of investment in tourist plant and facilities and encourages local authorities to extend their services in areas and to an extent that might not otherwise be justified.

Important changes are taking place in the concepts of Irish tourism. One trend which is already most evident is the increase in the number of motoring tourists resulting from the growth of car ownership and the development of modern car ferry vessels. It is expected that the mobile tourist will form a growing part of total traffic and will create new demands on accommodation, services and facilities. The increased mobility of tourists is helping to make the whole of Ireland a single tourist area. Particular attention is being given by Bord Fáilte to the accommodation needs of motoring visitors. The board are encouraging investors to provide motor inns or hotels offering medium range prices with the particular needs of motoring tourists in mind.

Traffic on car ferry services continues to expand. An idea of the tremendous growth which is taking place can be obtained from the fact that this traffic has doubled in the last two years. In 1968 92,000 cars were brought into the State on ferry services. This represented an increase of 36 per cent on the 1967 figure. Two additional car ferry services were introduced in 1968. These were the Dublin-Liverpool service operated by the British and Irish Steampacket Co. Ltd., and the Rosslare-Le Havre service operated by Normandy Ferries in which Irish Shipping Limited, is a partner. This year capacity will be increased on the existing Dublin-Liverpool, Dún Laoghaire-Holyhead, Rosslare-Fishguard and Rosslare-Le Havre service. Next May the B and I will introduce a drive-on-drive-off ferry service between Cork and Swansea. This will give Cork its first service of this type and help to develop still further the tourist potential of the South and South West. Bord Fáilte estimate that car ferry traffic will continue to grow and they estimate that by 1972 the number of cars entering through our car ferry ports will amount to 170,000. In addition an estimated 100,000 crosschannel cars entering through Northern Ireland are expected to cross the Border. On the basis of an average of three persons per car, the number of motoring visitors should reach a figure of 800,000 by 1972.

Another development is that tourists will tend to be younger, more affluent and better educated. They will want to participate rather than observe and this will increase the demand for active recreationary holidays. Parallel with these trends is the progressive development of inclusive charge holidays already playing an important part in attracting additional tourist traffic to Ireland.

A major obstacle to the growth of tourism is the shortness of the tourist season. This characteristic has serious adverse effects because it means that much of the employment given is seasonal and this reacts on the attractiveness of employment in the industry. It means also that costly tourist plant such as hotels, transport equipment and facilities and resort installations are under-utilised with adverse effects on the attractiveness of investment and on prices which must be charged when in use.

Efforts to extend the season have included the promotion of angling and shooting, the encouragement of festivals and special events, the development of conference business, special early and late season price incentives and the replacement of the Whit Monday holiday by the fixed June Holiday which takes place on the first Monday in June. The season in most areas is now much longer than it was five years ago but seasonality still remains a serious problem.

The further extension of the season, leading ultimately to year-round tourism, will be a major objective for the next few years and Bord Fáilte have already embarked on a marketing programme with this in view. A significant extension of the season would have far reaching economic benefits for all tourist enterprises and would provide increased year-round employment not only for hotel and guesthouse staffs but for all those concerned with the servicing of such establishments.

The eight regional tourism organisations are now firmly established and are providing tourist information and room reservation services through 100 offices throughout the country. It is intended that the organisations should extend their activities by providing encouragement and support to enterprises offering recreation, entertainment and other services for visitors at local level. The additional responsibilities of the regional organisations will entail considerably increased expenditure and efforts are being made to ensure that this expenditure will be financed by contributions from the business community. For enterprises which benefit directly or indirectly from tourist income, support for the regional organisations represents a sound investment.

In relation to north-south co-operation in tourism matters Bord Fáilte continued their discussions with the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and the British Travel Association. The tripartite meetings have led to co-operation and joint effort in such fields as publicity, sales campaigns, research, statistics, sponsored tours by visiting travel agents and journalists. The three bodies have between them produced two brochures for the purpose of the joint promotion of Ireland and Britain in the United States and Canada.

While the position of our tourist industry is encouraging and the indications are that the industry will continue to grow I must issue a warning that tourism does not grow of its own volition. Ireland is not the only country in which tourism is flourishing and other nations are deeply aware of the great economic advantages of the industry. International competition for tourist business is growing. My advice to travel agents, hoteliers, transport undertakings and all persons and bodies connected with the tourist trade is to adopt a "go and get it" approach rather than "sit and wait" for business.

The continuing increase in the demand for electricity was accelerated in 1967-68, total output at 4,246 million units, being over 10 per cent greater than 1966-67, which had shown an increase of less than 9 per cent over the preceding year. This, of course, reflects growing economic activity in the country and higher living standards generally. In fact, industrial demand showed the highest rate of increase, 13.7 per cent as compared with 10.6 per cent the previous year. The overall peak demand was 917 megawatts compared with 886 megawatts in 1966-67.

The ESB's long-term programme of generating plant construction is related to an average annual increase in demand of 9 per cent but the programme is, of course, kept under constant review in the light of the trend of demand. The board's generating capacity at 31st March, 1968, was 1,230 MW. Since then 30 MW of old plant at the Pigeon House has been retired and 60 MW of new plant has been added at Great Island. The Board's construction programme for the period up to 1974-75 provides for the addition of another 788 MW of new capacity. The programme includes 480 MW conventional thermal capacity, and two 14 MW gas turbine generating units which will be in commission in Pigeon House "B" by 1972. These units will contribute to the security of the supply and will be available to meet peak loads. The pumped storage scheme at Lough Nahanagan, County Wicklow, to which I referred when introducing last year's estimates, is scheduled for completion by 1974-75. By that time, allowing for the retirement of a further 60 MW of old plant at the Pigeon House, total installed capacity will be 1,988 MW. Work on the north-south inter-connection, which will make a substantial contribution to plant economy, is proceeding and the scheduled commissioning date is 1971.

The amount to be voted this year for repayment of the subsidy advanced from the Central Fund for rural electrification is £801,000.

During 1967-68 a total of 8,075 new rural consumers were connected compared with 4,742 in the preceding year. At 31st March, 1968 about 87 per cent or 334,000 rural homes were connected.

Because of the high cost of connection the ESB had to quote very high special service charges to some rural householders seeking connection. The Government—concerned that, within practical limits, electricity is available to the maximum number at reasonable charges—reviewed the situation last year and arranged that the higher special service charges would be reduced. The reductions benefit all those who, on the basis of previous charges, were liable for special service charges of more than 50 per cent of the normal charges benefit.

There may be some householders, however, in areas isolated from the board's network who will consider even the reduced charges still too high. For those people I have increased the subsidy for the installation of bottled gas to £35. The former subsidy of £10 was intended to provide only a basic installation; the higher subsidy will pay for a more complete installation. It is available to all whose special service charges for electricity under the revised terms would still be more than the normal charges.

The Electricity (Supply) (Amendment) Act, 1968 authorised the increase to £50 million of the former limit of £42 million on the expenditure which the board may incur on extending electricity to rural areas. The increase of the limit to £50 million was to enable the board to complete the rural electrification post-development scheme, and, also, to go back over the areas already covered by the post-development scheme, so that all householders would have an opportunity of taking supply at the improved terms. It was expected that this would take until 1973. The improved terms have, however, proved very popular and many more householders than had been expected are now taking supply.

The ESB are doing their utmost to cope with the increased demand. They have increased their budget for rural electrification and have also increased their rate of connection but, even so, the progress of the scheme, in terms of areas completed, is now behind schedule. The scheme will be completed in most of the board's districts by 1973 but there will be some districts where completion of the scheme will take longer. The £50 million limit to which I referred earlier will also be inadequate and the question of amending legislation will arise in the next few years.

The total fixed capital invested by the board at 31st March, 1968, was in the region of £190 million of which £41 million was in rural electrification. The ESB's spring stock issue in 1968, for £7 million 7¼ per cent at 98, was again very successful.

There were a number of strikes in the ESB during the year but as labour relations are a matter for the Minister for Labour, discussion would not be appropriate. I should mention, though, that the interim report of the committee on industrial relations in the board, which the Minister for Labour set up, is being carefully examined.

Weather conditions during the 1967/68 season, although a considerable improvement on recent years, were still unfavourable for Bord na Móna operations. While target production figures were not achieved, total production was nevertheless higher than in any previous year. Milled peat production, at about 2,500,000 tons, was 500,000 tons up on the previous year but about 11 per cent below the target. Sod turf production, 870,000 tons, was up about 120,000 tons on the previous year but was still about 2 per cent below target. Briquette production was almost 250,000 tons, a slight increase on last year, but 21 per cent short of target. Moss peat production, at over 470,000 tons, although an increase of nearly 40,000 tons on 1966/67, was 12 per cent below target. Production of briquettes and moss peat was adversely affected by labour stoppages during the year. The overall level of sales was also affected by the labour stoppages—loss of sales is estimated by the board at about 12 per cent in the case of sod turf and 15 per cent in the case of briquettes.

In the year 1967-68, Bord na Móna had a loss of £821,744. The accumulated losses of the board at 31st March, 1968, amounted to just over £4.8 million, the general reserve of £120,000 having being transferred to the profit and loss account in reduction of the accumulated deficit. Two changes in accounting practice had the effect of reducing the year's deficit by over £½ million—if treated in the manner hitherto adopted, the 1967-68 losses would be almost £1.4 million and the accumulated deficit nearly £5.4 million.

As a result of accumulating losses Bord na Móna have been unable, since the 1st April, 1967, to meet their obligations for interest on and repayment of State advanced capital. The total amount outstanding at 1st October, 1968, was about £3½ million. In the case of loan capital raised by the board from sources other than the State, the board have, of course, continued to meet their obligations in full.

In view of the heavy and continuing losses suffered by the board during most of the last decade, I thought it very necessary to have a new and searching look at the overall operations of the board, and I arranged for the appointment of a firm of consultants to examine the turf production programme both from the engineering and financial standpoints, and to assess the likely results of future operations. While Bord na Móna have themselves employed consultants on various occasions to examine and report on different facets of their operations, the new investigation will be concerned with the totality of the board's operations. When the results of this investigation are available it should be possible to decide on the most appropriate financial structure of the board for future years and so ensure the continuation of the board's activities on a sound basis and preserve employment and other benefits in areas which otherwise provide very few opportunities.

However, some immediate financial relief for Bord na Móna in their present financial difficulties was essential and, to this end, the Turf Development Act, 1968, was enacted by the Oireachtas just before the summer recess. The Act empowers the Minister for Finance by order, to waive, in whole or in part, payments of interest due for four years from 1st April, 1967, and to defer, in whole or in part, repayments of capital due during the same period. The Minister for Finance is to take a decision on the extent of the relief in respect of each year after examination of the board's financial position and consultation with me. As a result of an examination of the board's financial position it was decided to waive interest, amounting to £2½ million approximately, due by Bord na Móna to the Minister for Finance in respect of the years 1967/68 and 1968/69 and to defer to 31st March, 1969 repayments of capital—amounting to over £900,000—in respect of the years 1967/ 68 and 1968/69.

The necessary Order entitled Bord na Móna (Waiver of Interest and Deferment of Repayment of Advances) Order, 1968, has been made by the Minister for Finance. The financial relief envisaged by the Act is designed to give Bord na Móna some breathing space during the period while the consultants are carrying out their investigations and their report is being examined.

On a brighter note, the weather conditions during the 1969 harvesting season were the most favourable experienced in the present decade, especially for milled peat production. Sod peat production exceeded the target of 892,000 tons by 15,000 tons. Milled peat and "Fóidín" turf production together yielded 3.65 million tons compared with a target of 2.8 million tons. Fóidín production alone amounted to 294,000 tons. The Fóidín system—a new method of milled peat production which I described in my speech on last year's estimates—is still on a development basis.

Coal consumption in 1967 in terms of net imports plus home production was about 1.4 million tons. This was about 100,000 tons less than in 1966. The lower consumption may have been due to less severe weather, but there is, of course, a general trend away from solid fuel. The consumption of anthracite was about 155,000 tons, of which about 65,000 tons had to be met by imports. The ESB, with an intake of 44,000 tons, continued to absorb the bulk of the production of semibituminous coal in the Arigna Coalfield during 1967.

The fact that this country is very much dependent on imported fuel makes it important from the point of view of the national economy to ensure that it is used efficiently, particularly in industry. For some years past my Department have been operating a scheme under which grants of 50 per cent are payable towards the cost of engaging consultants to survey industrial boiler plants with a view to improving their performance. At the end of 1968 grants amounting to £24,000 had been approved for 107 surveys. I am satisfied that these surveys are producing worthwhile results and I am most anxious to have an increase in the number of firms participating in the scheme.

Consumption of energy in this country continues to increase. In terms of coal equivalent, primary energy consumption in 1967 was about 7½ million tons. While native energy sources (coal, peat and hydro power) are exploited as far as possible, they cover a steadily diminishing proportion of our total energy requirements leading to an increasing dependence on imported fuels. This trend was again evident in 1967 when imports of oil accounted for 51 per cent of our total energy requirements.

The time has not yet come when a nuclear electricity generating plant would be economical in our circumstances. Our increasing dependence on imported oil for electricity generation, however, makes it desirable that we should consider nuclear plant as soon as possible. The ESB are fully alert to this situation and are having a number of their engineers trained abroad in the skills required for the planning and operation of nuclear power plants.

I hope to introduce a Bill shortly which will empower me to set up a board which will keep itself informed and be a source of advice on the implications for this country of developments generally in the nuclear field.

It seems to me that, where there is a Department such as Transport and Power covering such a wide field, the Minister need not have taken upon himself the onerous task of reading a speech of 50 pages in length. This is not to criticise the Minister in any way, but in the circumstances we could have had, perhaps, a more voluminous circulation of notes on the activities of the Department.

I intended to deal with something which I regard as of such paramount importance and which brings such discredit upon the Government that it should be dealt with first. I propose to prove—and I use the word "prove" deliberately—that the likelihood is that the Government will lose in harbour and tonnage dues at Whiddy Island £1 million a year by not creating a port authority. I must go into some detail to acquaint the House with what exactly the position is. Six tankers of 312,000 tons each have been delivering crude oil to Whiddy Island. It will be seen from a magazine which is circulated by the principal oil companies of the world that there will not be very heavy employment at Whiddy, but we must ensure that whatever employment is there for Irish nationals will be safeguarded. Let no one from the Government Benches say that anybody on this side of the House is rocking the boat. I wish to quote—and I shall give the exact reference because this is an important publication—from the Petrol Times of November 22nd. This is a magazine printed in London and New York. It has operated since 1899 and is the official news bulletin of the Oil Industry International. At page 1716 of this magazine Mr. P. B. Binsted, world-wide co-ordinator, transportation, Gulf Oil Corporation, said at the Europoort 1968 Congress in Amsterdam on November 13th:

Bantry Bay is one of the only two places in the world at present able to take fully laden 312,000 d.w. ton tankers. The other is Kuwait, where a completely new off-shore loading facility had to be added to the existing tanker berthing arrangements of the Kuwait Oil Co. This port expansion project in Kuwait was an extremely vital link of the whole Bantry transhipment operation, although it should be noted that KOC was in need of enlarged port facilities in any case.

The new loading facility at the Middle East end consisted of a seaisland terminal located nearly ten miles from the Kuwait coast. Crude oil is pumped from shore to tanker through a 48 in. diameter submarine pipeline—the largest-diameter ocean submarine line in the world. The main feature of the off-shore terminal is a central island formed by a jackup barge which was constructed by the Hellenic Shipyards Co. in Greece.

The House will understand that, in order to accommodate these tankers in two places, it was necessary to create an artificial island ten miles out to sea at Kuwait and from thence to pump the oil out in what is described as the largest-diameter submarine oil pipeline in the world—a 48-inch pipeline. Imagination boggles, to use the words of P. G. Wodehouse, at the expense involved. Nobody knows how many millions were spent. But let us consider how many millions have been spent by the Gulf Oil Co. and others on this project. I will quote again from page 1715 of the same magazine:

Gulf claims the transportion cost via Bantry Bay is only half that in 50,000 tonners by Suez both ways.

A very real advantage, therefore, has been gained by the Gulf Oil Company.

I shall deal now with the employment angle. I want to emphasise that this side of the House is delighted with the development at Whiddy and rejoices in the fact that there will be employment there permanently when construction is finished. According to the Petroleum Times, page 1715:

After the construction phase is over, the terminal provides employment for, at the most, 150 indigenous people. (One can count 48 permanent staff on the terminal, 24 on the tug-boats and 14 on stand-by.)

Moreover, Gulf raised the capital without giving any opportunity for Irish participation. There is therefore no return on local investment. In particular, there is no harbour authority and Gulf is not paying any port dues. (The relevance of such dues was seen at Antwerp when the question of a pipeline from Rotterdam was under discussion.) In the face of local resentment over the absence of a harbour authority, Gulf concedes its willingness to accept if the government should decide to have one set up.

In other words, there is a complete concession here and, if the Government decides to set up a harbour authority, that harbour authority can collect port and tonnage dues. Let us consider the revenue that could be collected if a harbour authority were set up at Whiddy on a full-scale operation by Gulf Oil. Six tankers are being constructed. Two have already been delivered. Each can make six trips per year. They can enter any other port in the world only two-thirds laden. I propose to deal with the counterpart port in Britain, Milford Haven, at a later stage. Other oil companies had to put money into Milford Haven but they still pay port dues. The Minister was good enough to write to me after I tabled a Parliamentary Question giving me the gross tonnage of 149,608 tons and the net registered tonnage of 128,257 tons. I understand tonnage dues are charged on the net tonnage. That means that we have a ship of 128,257 net registered tons arriving six times a year. Now there will be six ships altogether, so we multiply that figure by six. I accept the Minister's statement that where goods are imported here and re-exported without processing we do not charge port and tonnage dues, so I am merely taking the port and tonnage dues on the way in. Taking a figure of 1/6d per ton, which is the lowest figure I could get in the reply the Minister gave me on 21st November, the revenue on the six ships six times per year would amount to £346,509. On the crude oil itself, again taking the lowest figure given in the Minister's reply, the revenue would be £702,000. That means that, if these six tankers run to Whiddy all of their time—they are constructed so to do and can enter any other port in the world only two-thirds laden which, when one travels 11,000 miles, represents a loss of delivery of 100,000 tons of crude oil per tanker, which is most unlikely to happen—the revenue, at the figures quoted by the Minister to me, if a port authority were set up at Whiddy, would be £1,048,509. To quote the Minister—not in any derogatory fashion—no one could call that nugatory.

It means small beer.

I believe that is what it does mean. I must now refer the House to what has been done in other places. I quote from another technical magazine, The Engineer, of 24th January, 1969. At page 125, referring to the dredging project at Milford Haven, the following appears:

Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, which is already Britain's principal port for oil tankers of up to 175,000 tons, is being developed to permit its regular use by 250,000 ton tankers, and even larger vessels when the tides are favourable. Total cost of the scheme is about £12 million which is to be shared equally between the Milford Haven Conservancy Board, and three international oil companies (B.P., Esso Petroleum and Texaco). These companies possess extensive facilities at Milford Haven, and also have on order or under construction a substantial number of vessels in the 220,000 to 255,000 ton deadweight category.

Ministry of Transport approval of the scheme was announced by Milford Haven Conservancy Board on 10 January at the same time as the letting of a contract for approximately £5 million for dredging work which is to begin shortly and is to be completed by the end of 1970. Fully-laden tankers with a draught of 63 ft. (19.2 m), representing a deadweight tonnage of the order of 255,000 to 275,000 tons, will then be able to enter and berth on every tide throughout the year.

We, without going ten miles out to sea, were able to provide here for vessels with a draught of 90 feet. It had at the lowest stage of the lowest tide 100 feet of deep water. We are throwing away £1 million worth of harbour dues. These are the facts of the case and I intend to develop the position a little bit further.

We have had pollution. It is axiomatic that if you have large oil installations you will have some degree of pollution. No means of dispersing oil in sea water has yet been found which is not, at the same time, absolutely fatal to marine life. I can quote from the same magazine here, and I quote from page 1723 of the Petroleum Times:

A sufficient supply of detergent will be maintained at the terminal to attack at least ten spillages, each averaging 100 barrels of oil. The detergent employed is BP1002, which has been used with great effect at Kuwait and Milford Haven.

I do not want to weary anyone with the rest of the details in relation to their plans on pollution, but pollution there will be, and pollution there has been, and I quote now from the Irish Times of Saturday, March 1st:

Gulf Oil Terminals (Ireland) Ltd. was fined £250 at Bantry Court yesterday for discharging oil into the sea at the installation at Whiddy Island on Christmas Day.

The company was charged by the Minister for Transport and Power under the Oil Pollution of Sea Act, 1956.

A similar summons in respect of the following day was marked proved.

It was stated for the company that the cost of a clean up of the oil and compensation to those who had suffered damage as a result came to £30,000.

I am looking at a map of Bantry Bay and right opposite Whiddy Island is the word "Glengarriff". When you finish saying Killarney in Ireland, you start saying Glengarriff. I know you cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs. We have no objection to the installation being there, but we want to make something quite clear. You cannot get away without pollution, and you cannot disperse oil in sea water except by using detergents which destroy marine life. I now draw the attention of the House to other words: Berehaven, Bere Island, Dunbeg, Bantry. These are places we know and we may as well take it that we have broken the eggs and made the omelette, and that any fishing in Bantry Bay this day five years is out, that marine life will be entirely destroyed.

A marine biologist was sent down to make a report from Trinity College, Dublin. I seem to have mislaid the report of what she said. It is quoted in the Irish Times and I am sure that anyone who is sufficiently interested will find it without much trouble. She said there was no question but that all marine life in and around Whiddy Island and up Bantry Bay would be destroyed if detergents were used to disperse sea water which had become polluted with oil.

My plea to the Government is quite simple. If I have shown that the three other major oil companies are subscribing £6 million to a £12 million development in the port of Milford Haven, to get roughly two-thirds the facilities that we had to give, should we not create a port authority and collect the dues? When the Gulf Oil Company themselves, as reported in the bestknown international magazine relating to their interests, say they have no objection to the creation of a port authority I think the case stands proved. I do not want to go into any more detail on it. If it is proved, then it is up to the Government to take their decision and create a port authority and collect the dues, even more so because of the fact that this whole scheme was heralded in here by the Taoiseach.

It was the Taoiseach himself who went to the launching of Universe Ireland and blessed, if you like, the whole project with his name and his standing. I am not criticising him. I am not saying there is anything wrong in that. The propriety of his going anywhere in his position at the invitation of a commercial firm has been questioned by some of my colleagues—for more than lunch or something like that. I am not criticising him on that point at all. We may as well face the fact, as the people in the Petroleum Times said in their article that it resulted in “the greatest public relations junket Ireland has seen since President Kennedy's visit”. There has not been a word about it since. The Minister talked about oil pollution today but, in relation to the tonnages passing through, in relation to the development, and what we were getting out of it, there was not one word in a speech of 50 pages.

I want to say seriously to the House that this Government have been negligent in carrying out their duty. The Minister and the Taoiseach have been involved, and there is a duty upon them now to correct their error, create a port authority in Bantry Bay, and collect the port dues that this country is so well entitled to, when the Gulf Oil Company have said themselves that by this development they have halved the cost of transportation via Suez. No one can say that I have been demanding, or vicious, or hypercritical in presenting this case. I regard the case as strong enough to stand up to anyone's examination and to show for itself that the Government have been gravely negligent.

I will give the Deputy a responsible reply about the matter. He is entitled to that.

I think I made a responsible case.

A reasoned case from the Deputy's point of view.

Thank you. The tonnage handled in the various harbours all over the country, now that we are on harbours, seems to be following the trend of the past number of years. There are ports like Galway, Cork and Drogheda moving up. There was a big drop down some years ago when they lost one particular traffic. Other ports are unfortunately moving down. Dublin is moving up at the same time. The increase of two million tons in our trading is something we welcome because a lot of it is raw material for industry going out again in a processed form. But we feel that more could possibly be done in relation to the smaller harbours and to their advantage because, as road transport becomes daily more efficient, you could very easily find a harbour becoming uneconomic when, if something had been done about it, and it had been dealt with quite early on, then it would not be uneconomic.

The rural electrification scheme is proceeding and I am very glad to see the Minister has increased the subsidy for gas for those who cannot have electricity from £10 to £35. That is fair, because £10 bought nothing but a cylinder and perhaps a small cooker, whereas £35 will produce some lights around the house as well.

The north-south ESB inter-connection is something we all welcome. If we can get profit or a decrease in costs by co-operating industrially with the North of Ireland, perhaps better things might come as well from other alliances with them. I was a bit bemused by the Minister's statement that for the cutting of turf the "weather conditions during the 1967-68 season, although a considerable improvement on recent years, were still unfavourable for Bord na Móna operations". That just could not be. I am not criticising turf cutting or Bord na Móna.

That is 1967-68. The Deputy is thinking of 1968-69.

I am sorry. I thought it was 1968-69. I knew there was something wrong. I hope that 1968-69 will produce a much better result. I would appeal to the Minister, then, on tourism to think about the small resorts. As I understand the situation, the eastern regional tourism organisation, which is the one I have to deal with, is awaiting, among all the other tourist organisations, reports from the various areas as to where they should develop, and that sort of thing, and, as far as I know, all the money was gathered in 1969 and we are now ready to move again on projects.

I would appeal for places such as are in my constituency—places like Carlingford, Omeath, Clogherhead — and, then, if I leave my constituency, places like Bettystown, Laytown and the smaller places because these places are now fitting in very well with the Bord Fáilte programme and the system of guesthouses whereby we have got our little caravan or we have our tourist office and nobody needs any longer to advertise in newspapers to get bed and breakfast during the summer period at least, when the phone rings and bed and breakfast is booked in. This tends to orientate our effort more towards the small resorts. It is particularly important that they should be looked after.

I remember myself Blackrock, County Louth, literally dying on its feet. We succeeded in doing one thing, that is, in providing an olympic-sized swimming pool there with the aid of a 50 per cent grant from the Department of Local Government. The difference is quite extraordinary. There are eight or nine, between hotels and boarding-houses, catering for people coming from Scotland and from Cavan and Monaghan for a fortnight's holidays there. They had stopped coming. How-ever, when the swimming pool came along and there was the attraction of swimming lessons for the children, and so on, the families started to come again. A development of that kind can be a great help. We in Louth County sum towards loan charges on a car park at Omeath which is just on the border and it is traditional at weekends Council included this year a nominal for thousands of trippers to come there from Northern Ireland. It is one of the places where there is literally no car park. Last year, we tried to do something about it by widening the grass verges along the road at a cost of somewhere between £500 and £1,000. We did not do a very good job. They parked both sides of the road in lines so that only one car could get through. With the good offices of the Garda, we succeeded in coping with the crush. However, it defeated its own object, to some extent. If that small resort could get its car park, I could see the same sort of thing happening in a rather more minor way as happened in Blackrock, County Louth, when it got the swimming pool. We must have these amenities; we must encourage the tourists; they all have cars now and this is a thing we must do.

Quite frankly, I find that the Minister's speech did not give us a declaration of policy on anything. It gave us an extraordinary ream of facts and figures. We are sorry to see that the CIE loss is still there. The Minister gives reasons, including strikes, for that. As far as I can see, the position would be that we are going to have a loss on CIE. If we want to provide a service and if that service does not pay, then we have only one choice before us—either to scrap the service and let the people do without it or to give it to the people at a cost greater than the remuneration coming therefrom. The people will have to be reasonable about this and realise that there will be a loss on CIE if we are going to give these services which are uneconomic. But, if there is going to be a loss on CIE, it is all-important that the Minister can convince this House that CIE is an efficient concern. Over the past five to ten years, I have seen many changes there. We have seen area managers for transport appointed and internal changes made. I think CIE is moving towards becoming a very efficient organisation. There will always be the situation that, if you have this bus that does not pay and you leave it on, then you may perhaps create some feeling in your staff that the place has not got to pay just as the private enterprise place might have to pay. But, by and large, the changes in organisation in CIE have brought about a good result.

I feel, similarly, that in rural electrification it is one of these things: you cannot run a pole up one side of a mountain and down the other side of it just to bring electricity to one cottage house. In many cases, it would be more economic to build the man a nice new house where you did not have to run the line. You will always have these individual cases.

I have no criticism to offer from this side of the House on this Supplementary Estimate except to remark on the neglect of the Government in not exacting its proper port and tonnage dues at Whiddy Island.

My only regret is that the reams of information which the Minister made available to us today were not made available to us a month ago. I am quite sure he could have let us have it. While being grateful to him for the trouble to which his Department have gone to give us the exact information now, I am sure he will appreciate that we had extreme difficulty in listening to him reading 50 pages. He had extreme difficulty in reading them, I am sure, because nothing can be more monotonous. We also had 49 pages which were not used today but which were simply supplied this morning. The information in those documents is invaluable. For record purposes alone, they give information which I am sure will be used as ammunition for the Minister or his successor for many years in this House. For record and comparison purposes, they are invaluable.

In view of the fact that we are now discussing a Supplementary Estimate which will expire on Tuesday next, I feel it should have been possible to allow us to have the information some time during the year in which it was current. Therefore, it is a pity that we should have to try to assimilate the information which we have now got and to use it in such a short time. I have 23 minutes left and I doubt if I can cover one-tenth of the matters to which I should like to refer. I do not propose to go along the line travelled by Deputy Donegan about Whiddy Island except to say that his disclosure was most interesting. If it is correct—I assume his information is correct, anyway—then we do appear to be allowing a firm to get away with quite a substantial amount of money which could and should be used here. As one who lives near enough to a port to know how necessary money is in order to try to make the port a success at all, I feel it is a pity that something has not been done about it. Indeed, this appears to be a case where, while we may object to monopolies, we have the monopoly.

According to Deputy Donegan, we are the only port that can take the vessels loaded with the crude oil to the fullest extent and therefore it would be an awful pity if we did not use the powers we have to collect not an exorbitant cost from them but what is considered to be fair, what is being paid elsewhere and what, apparently, the company have no objection to paying here. Further than that I do not propose to go.

As we are on the subject of ports, I am wondering what exactly is happening about port development here. I am aware that quite a big development has taken place in Galway and I know why. The mining industry is developing on a big scale in the south and in the west. The export of crude ore has in fact made the trade for Galway port which has enabled the port authority and the Department to spend a very substantial sum of money there. I hope that the development, when it is done —I understand that the present mines can run for another 20 years—a very well-established port will be there.

I am more interested in regard to Drogheda Port. Deputy Donegan is a member of Drogheda Corporation and is therefore more immediately in touch with the facts than I am. I am interested in this because I live near it and I am interested in the employment it gives and in the success of the town of Drogheda. There appears to be a plan which was to be put into operation over ten years ago and a substantial loan and grant was given by the Department of Transport and Power and by some local authorities to have the work carried out. This is being carried out in a piecemeal way. At present a major uprising is imminent there because the system being adopted does not appear to be doing very much as far as the ordinary onlooker can see except deprive the mussel fishermen of Mornington of their livelihood. There have been scare headlines in some of the national newspapers about this. I do not know where the Department of Transport and Power come in. They may say it has nothing to do with them and that this is a matter for the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

The scheme may be worthwhile in making the Port of Drogheda easier to use and a better port for catering for vessels. A fishmeal factory is to be started there in June and extra water and jetties will be needed for the ships bringing the fish to the factory and indeed for servicing the cement factory and the other industries there.

Nevertheless, it was never envisaged by the local people that when this was being done they would lose a very substantial income from a traditional way of life. I have a map in my possession which is dated 21st June, 1871, and which gives the people in the area the right to fish on the River Boyne. It is not good enough to say that this is progress, that we must prepare for bigger ships and therefore we can wipe out anybody who stands in our way. The plain fact is that the families of those people have been living there for generations. One thing I admire about them is they never look for anything for nothing; they never look for social welfare benefit or anything else. They live by fishing and they are about to be deprived of their livelihood. Indeed, some have been already deprived of it by the action of the Drogheda Harbour Commissioners using money made available to them by the Department of Transport and Power.

Before the matter goes any further, or is made worse, I suggest the Department should have a thorough investigation carried out. A suggestion has been made by the Commissioners that if these people are entitled to compensation they will get it; but what compensation can be given to 40 families each consisting of perhaps six, seven or eight people? Whether the members of the family are men or women they have all been employed in the industry. At certain periods, they have told me, the income to each house from the mussel fishing alone—and this is something the income tax section of the Department of Finance would not be too well aware of—amounts not just to pounds but over £100 a week. That is a very substantial sum of money which they receive when they have an order for the fish and can get them away. The fish are top class. There was a certain defect in them but that has been overcome. The Minister would not agree that it is right to say "We are going to widen the river and deepen it. This must be done. Even though your family and your forebears have been fishing there since 1871, you must go off and get a job elsewhere." I do not think that the State is so hard-hearted as to say that that should be done.

While they have, on my advice, employed legal advice about this matter, and it appears that a court case can ensue, I feel that the Department of Transport and Power, in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, could do something about having the matter settled and reaching some agreement. The Drogheda Harbour Commissioners say that all they are doing is sending a dredger down the river to take the top off the sandbanks which have appeared but I know that the dredger is lifting a grab of sand and material, along with a lot of mussel, and then dumping it. We all know what happens if you dump shellfish in a fast-flowing river— they just go out of the river. The river is to be widened to 300 feet and the minimum depth is to be eight feet. It was suggested that the mussels could be resown after the berths had been made along the new wharves for the boats. When I asked what depth the water was going to be there I was told that it would be 40 feet. The mussel fishermen take the mussels out with rakes which are 15 feet to 20 feet long but it would require a skin-diver to get them out of 40 feet of water.

The whole approach seems to be:

"We know there is something wrong and we know that these people are likely to lose their livelihood." Therefore, the time to have the matter dealt with is now and not after the High Court or the Supreme Court has had a ten-day hearing with substantial costs involved. I am asking the Minister at this stage to do what he can. If he does not, I can assure him that while the people are anxious for industrial development there they are not prepared to agree that somebody should ride roughshod over them and do away with their traditional way of living.

As far as tourism is concerned, the Minister and I have had many disagreements on the way tourism is dealt with here. I can never understand why figures are produced in regard to the numbers who come here and the Minister says that they are the actual figures. My opinion is that this is just a spot check which may result in accurate information. I know that if I travel abroad tourist people may ask me how much money I have with me, how much I intend to spend and how much I intend to bring back, or something like that. We know that if somebody is asked how much he has with him and he has £10 he will probably say that he has £100 or £150. The information cannot be accurate and should not be described as being accurate. I know that tourism is very, very important and that a great deal of money must be coming in, but a lot of people referred to as being tourists are simply and solely Irish people coming here for a holiday. On a previous occasion the Minister said that this was not so and that they were segregated from the real tourists.

I am afraid I will have to differ with the Minister about this. From the check which I saw being carried out I could not see how it would be possible to distinguish the genuine tourist who comes here on holiday and has not been here before from the person who lived here a year ago or 20 years ago and comes back on holiday. Perhaps it does not matter a lot as long as they spend money and enjoy themselves. That is the important thing. The whole question of tourism is approached in a way in which it appears that figures are put down and people are expected to believe that they are absolutely accurate. They may be accurate or they may not be.

I am engaged to a certain extent in the tourist business as I am a director of a regional tourist board. One thing I do not like is that the regional boards, while they get a job and do it—or attempt to do it—are purely voluntary and the members do not get travelling expenses. Some of the public representatives did not stay on them very long when they discovered that they were not getting travelling expenses. Instead, they put on some of their more gullible colleagues. If one takes an interest in these things it does not matter. One thing I do not like. A foreign firm was employed for the purpose of asking people to invest in tourism. They went around from firm to firm and asked them to contribute certain sums. Subsequently, it was found that the firm collecting this money, apart from ensuring that they were paid themselves, appeared not to be greatly interested in the amount of money that found its way to the tourist boards here and the scheme was dropped under that heading. Instead, an Irish officer was appointed to do the job.

For fund raising.

He was in many cases insulted, told that he was begging for money, a position into which nobody should be put. People making a great deal of money out of the tourist industry were not prepared to subscribe a shilling while their neighbours, making a little, were prepared to put some money into it. When that situation arises the whole scheme must collapse, as it did. I suggest that the Tourist Board, while it gives quite a substantial subvention to the regional tourist organisations, should give more. There should be some budget and when that budget is prepared the money should be given out. I think there is no other way. The Minister may not agree. I know how difficult it is to raise money and that when taxation is imposed we complain, but it is far preferable to impose taxation to raise the money rather than have the people who are prepared to help, paying and those who are not prepared to help, just sitting back, saying: "We shall get our share of the harvest in any case."

In my own area we have established a development association which is doing good work, allied to the Tidy Towns groups throughout the country. I travel a good deal, about 1,000 miles per week—perhaps more than most Deputies—and I find a tremendous change in the appearance of the countryside in the past few years. The greatest praise must go to those engaged in the Tidy Towns and Local Tidy Gardens and Flowerbeds competitions. The Minister's Department, however, should attempt to have some of the money being expended transferred to areas where it could do some good. I have noticed over the years that it is quite common to find very large sums of money being spent in places such as Salthill—which has been transformed—Arklow and such places. While I do not disagree with making money available to places that have something to offer, it is unfair to other places that would have quite a good deal to offer if they had money to develop. It is here, I think, that the Minister is not doing the job in exactly the way I think it should be done.

I am a member of a development company and we have attempted to improve the area in which we live, the villages of Laytown and Bettystown, very considerably. Further down is the village of Mornington and we have a lovely seacoast stretching for seven miles along the whole county. We are unable to provide money enough even for public conveniences for the thousands who come there in the summer. They do not come every day; it depends very much on the weather; but as many as 40,000 or 50,000 have come and until recently we had no water for them. There are no shelters in Mornington and no public conveniences. Laytown and Bettystown are a little better served. This is not enough. Recently Meath County Council purchased a seizable field beside the village for development but it requires a bridge across the river before it can be fully developed. We are the nearest village to Drogheda and within 30 miles of Dublin. Inland lies the whole of Counties Meath and Westmeath and their nearest seaside place is here. Yet, when we ask for assistance we are offered shillings and pennies as against the £40,000, £50,000 or £60,000 given to what are known as major resorts. Would the Minister consider that areas where such large numbers of people are being accommodated should be entitled to some encouragement, to some money which would allow them to develop?

I refer very briefly to Bord na Móna. The Minister commented here on this and I am glad he took the advice given on this side of the House a few years ago suggesting that it was unfair to ask Bord na Móna to continue repaying the principal and interest on funds, while other semi-State companies were not asked to do the same thing. It was also pointed out that the ESB had been subsidised in a sort of hidden way because Bord na Móna was supplying fuel for their generating stations at less than the cost of production of the fuel. I am glad that the Minister has dealt with this by giving a remission for the repayment of the principal and I think he has allowed them to drop paying the interest on their loans for a period. Literally thousands are employed—in the peak period, over 9,000—by Bord na Móna. All the year round about 5,000 or 5,500 are employed and this is in portions of the country where there would not be other employments.

The Minister refers to a strike and I think that in most of his comments regarding CIE, the ESB and so on, he says industrial unrest caused this or that. If we are talking about industrial unrest—and we must admit it occurred —surely the time has come when there should be a more realistic approach by management to claims for increased wages or improved conditions? It is not good enough for any State or semi-State employer, when a wage demand is received, to offer the very minimum and then move up by halfpennies and pennies, as happened in a recent case where five offers were made before, eventually, the dispute was settled. The people dealing with these matters should have a realistic approach and should say: "It appears to be reasonable to offer so much," instead of saying to somebody seeking 9d. an hour: "We will give you 2d" and hope that by horse-trading methods they will get away with 3d or 6d. Why not offer the amount first and try to make an agreement?

While losses are referred to here both in CIE and Bord na Móna, I think the Minister must admit that if, because of the failure of management to make a realistic attempt to settle a dispute at an early stage, work is stopped over a long period all the loss involved cannot be blamed on the workers and must also be blamed on those who were so unrealistic as to allow the dispute to drag on even though they knew they were losing more per week than would pay the increases for half the year to those concerned.

This is an attitude with which the Minister must concern himself. It is very easy to condemn workers saying that they were seeking this, that or the other thing and that, as a result, they caused a dispute resulting in a big loss. If the Minister looks into these things he will find that in many cases the big loss was caused by the unrealistic approach of the officials of semi-State bodies. I am sure the Minister is aware that an investigation set up by the Minister for Labour was carried out in the case of the dispute to which he refers in Bord na Móna. There was a very full investigation and a report was made which has never seen the light of day. Was there any reason for that? Could it be, as it is suggested, that something like what I have said just now did, in fact, occur and that the blame could not be entirely laid on the workers and would, in fact, be laid on the management for not doing something they should have done and for doing something they should not have done? In this case the dispute was sparked off by a notice put up after the unions and management had agreed that the notice should not go up and should not be implemented. One of the juniors in the board ordered the notice to be put up which caused the original dispute. I am sorry. The time of the House has run out and my time also.

The Deputy will appreciate that I have now to put the Question.

Vote put and agreed to.