Return to Writs: North-East Donegal and Dublin South-West. - Gas Bill, 1976: Second Stage.

I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

The purpose of the Bill is to set up a statutory national gas board which will be the national authority responsible for the supply and distribution of natural gas.

Before dealing with the Bill itself I would like to dwell briefly on the events which led up to the present proposal.

In the intensive search for new energy patterns now being undertaken by all oil importing countries, natural gas has emerged as one of the most promising elements. The significant reserves of onshore gas discovered in the Netherlands in the late 1950s stimulated interest in the possibility of the existence of hydrocarbon deposits extending under the Continent Shelf areas around these islands.

Surveying and drilling in our Continental Shelf area was initiated in the late 1960s by Marathon Petroleum Ireland Ltd. under an agreement originally concluded in 1959. The commercial gas field confirmed by Marathon in 1973 in the area south of Kinsale Head has been estimated to contain one million million cubic feet of gas, capable of sustaining a flow rate of 125 million cubic feet a day over a period of 20 years. This is not a major gas find compared to some of the North Sea deposits but it is equivalent to about 12 per cent of Ireland's present total energy requirements. Even more significantly it has confirmed the presence of hydrocarbons in commercial quantities in the Irish Continental Shelf and has given encouragement to the programme for the further exploration of our offshore area.

In considering the possible allocation of the gas, the Government had to take account of the fact that we did not have an established gas industry with the potential to absorb the flow of gas from this field from an early stage in sufficient quantity to remunerate the enormous capital investment involved. The Government, after careful consideration, decided to allocate this gas for a new plant to be built by Nítrigin Éireann Teoranta at Marino Point in Cork for the production of ammonia and urea for the fertiliser industry and for additional ESB generating capacity of 400mw in a new station at Whitegate and the extension of the board's existing plant at Marina. An allocation is also being made available to Cork Gas Company to meet the requirements of their consumers.

It has been stated by various commentators that the use of natural gas for electricity generation is not the most efficient method of utilisation. There are however a number of other important considerations that have to be taken into account. The high rate of offtake required in the early stages to justify the heavy investment, both offshore and onshore, could only be provided here by substantial users like the electricity and fertiliser industries. The use of gas by the ESB will reduce the Board's dependence on imported oil and thus safeguard the consumer against the worst effects of any future interruptions of international oil movements. The allocation of natural gas for the Nítrigin Éireann Teoranta project will assure supply of nitrogenous fertiliser to Irish agriculture with a surplus for export.

The development of the field and the associated onshore projects will involve total investment in excess of £200 million. The onshore construction projects will provide over 2,000 jobs and there will be permanent employment for about 700 workers. The country's balance of payments will improve by an estimated £75 million a year and the total development will involve an accrual of new technology which will be of considerable benefit to the economy.

An important consideration in regard to the utilisation of natural gas and the arrangements for onshore transmission and distribution is the need for a system of co-ordinated national control. It is clearly important that indigenous energy resources should be developed and exploited to the best advantage of the economy as a whole and that the benefits, both direct and indirect, should accrue to the community. A national authority is also desirable so that uniformly high standards should be applied in the construction and operation of terminals, pipelines and associated installations. Accordingly, the Government decided early last year that a national gas authority should be established and they authorised me to undertake the preparation of the necessary legislation.

It will be appreciated that the preparation of legislation for the establishment of a new State-sponsored body takes a certain amount of time. To have deferred action on the development of the Kinsale Head field until a Bill was enacted and the new board established would have involved an unnecessary delay in bringing the gas on stream. Accordingly, in April last year I set up Bord Gáis Éireann Teoranta under the Companies Acts to undertake the conclusion of the negotiations with Marathon for the purchase of the gas and to initiate the planning of the onshore pipeline system.

BGE's first task was, as I have mentioned, the conclusion of a contract with Marathon for purchase of the Kinsale Head gas. The foundations for this contract had already been laid in the negotiations conducted initially by the ESB and NET with Marathon and while commercial considerations dictate that the terms of the contract must remain confidential, I can assure the House that a very good deal was, in fact, negotiated. Contractual obligations between BGE and Marathon envisage a first delivery date of 1st April, 1979 for the gas. However, at my prompting and with the encouragement of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, both BGE and Marathon are pressing ahead with their projects with a view to meeting a target delivery date of early 1978.

As regards the onshore pipeline project, I understand that this comprises a combination of conventional engineering skills with certain gas technologies new to this country. I know that BGE saw this project from the outset as a pilot scheme on which the foundations would be laid for any future gas developments.

Maximisation of the involvement of Irish enterprise and skills has been a plank in BGE's policy and it was in this context, and with a view to developing the gas technology expertise which was lacking within this country, that BGE found it necessary to obtain consultancy services from the British Gas Corporation. This decision met with a certain amount of adverse criticism at the time and I think that it is only right that I should avail of this occasion to repeat my support for BGE's decision.

The consultancy services being provided by British Gas are mainly of an advisory nature, covering matters such as safety codes and standards, design parameters and route selection, areas in which the necessary expertise was not available within the country. The engagement of British Gas does not mean that decisions on the placing of contracts have been taken from the hands of BGE. On the contrary, the awarding of contracts remains the responsibility of BGE and in this connection I was heartened to learn some time ago that two of the earliest contracts to arise were awarded to the ESB. These covered a feasibility study of the pipeline crossing of the river Lee from Little Island to Ring Mahon and detailed design drawings for the pipeline system.

The services of the Institute for Industrial Research and Standards have been retained by BGE to monitor the possibilities for Irish manufacturers and contractors and I understand that a number of Irish contractors have already expressed interest in the construction phase, some in consortia with experienced gas pipelaying contractors, a move which BGE welcome and which I heartily endorse.

The principal onshore feature of any natural gas development is, of course, the construction of the underground pipeline. It is in the public interest that the construction of such pipelines should be subject to overall control by the State and it is with that in mind that I have framed section 8 of the Bill to require the board to obtain my consent to the construction of a pipeline and to adhere to such conditions as I may specify regarding codes and standards of safety and efficiency in construction and maintenance.

The section further provides that in the construction of a gas pipeline the board shall take all reasonable measures to protect the natural environment and amenities including buildings and other objects of architectural or historical interest. Furthermore, provision is made whereby the board in the selection of a route for the construction of a pipeline shall take into account the representations of any local or harbour authority or any railway, electricity, water or other gas undertaker concerned.

The Minister for Local Government has agreed in the light of these statutory obligations that the laying of the underground pipeline should be exempted from the requirement to obtain planning permission and he proposes to make appropriate regulations under the Planning Act in due course. In this respect the board's position will be similar to that of other gas undertakings.

The provisions of this section will apply to the onshore pipeline being provided in connection with the Kinsale Head development, and, indeed, I understand from BGE that detailed consultations have already taken place and are continuing with interested parties, including the Cork local authorities, statutory bodies and other representative organisations.

The securing of wayleaves will be an important task in any natural gas pipeline project. Some 30 miles of wayleaves are involved in the Kinsale Head project and the co-operation of the farming community hardly needs to be stressed. Negotiations have been taking place between BGE and representatives of the landowners with a view to securing by agreement the wayleaves for the pipeline.

It is to be hoped that these negotiations can be brought to a satisfactory conclusion. In this connection, I should mention, that, while the negotiation of wayleave terms is a matter falling within the day to day affairs of BGE, the board as a public utility must have regard to the levels of wayleave payment currently payable within the public sector including settlements arrived at by means of arbitration.

It is, of course, important to ensure that a project as important to the country as a whole as the present one, or indeed any further natural gas development, is not frustrated or unduly delayed and accordingly provision is included in section 32 for the making of a ministerial order to authorise the board to acquire compulsorily land or rights over land.

The Second Schedule sets out the procedure to be followed in relation to a compulsory acquisition order. The board's powers to acquire land or rights over land are no different from those of other State bodies and local authorities who have to have such powers for the discharge of their functions. Provision is made for the normal safeguards for all interested parties such as provisions for the hearing of objections and representations and for independent arbitration on compensation terms.

At this point I should mention that the progress made by BGE to date gives every indication that, provided no exceptional difficulties arise, the gas should be on stream in accordance with our target date of early 1978. I am satisfied that this could not have been achieved if I had not taken the step of setting up BGE as an interim company in advance of the legislation.

The company, Bord Gáis Éireann Teo., will of course be dissolved under the present Bill in the manner prescribed in section 35 but this does not mean that there will be any interruption in the project. Continuity and momentum must be maintained and the project will of course be carried through to completion by the Gas Board acting within the statutory framework which will be provided by this Bill. I think it is appropriate that I should express my appreciation of the work of both board members and staff in getting a new and complex project so well advanced within a comparatively short space of time.

The statutory board, which will be appointed by me, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, will comprise a chairman and not more than six other members. The First Schedule deals in detail with the constitution and membership of the new board, while sections 16 to 20 deal with matters relating to the employment of staff, consultants, and so on.

The duty of the new board as set out in section 8 will be to develop and maintain an efficient and economical system of supply of natural gas, as it may appear to it to be requisite, with due regard to available sources of supply. The duty of the board will, of course, be influenced in large measure by the scale of natural gas deposits which may become available as a result of exploration activity in our Continental Shelf.

Offshore exploration activity is a matter which comes within the ambit of my colleague, the Minister for Industry and Commerce, and in this regard, Deputies will note that section 36 provides for a consultation process on any development relating to a natural gas deposit. Furthermore, section 37 provides that all natural gas landed in the State for consumption in the State shall be offered for sale on reasonable terms to the board except in particular cases where it is considered that the gas should be offered for sale for a specified industrial use. Any dispute as to the reasonableness of the terms on which gas is offered to the board will be determined by arbitration.

Section 8 also sets out the general powers of the board. These include powers to transmit, distribute and sell natural gas; to purchase and acquire natural gas from any source; to contermine struct and operate pipelines, terminals, and so forth and to carry out various works and activities to enable them to discharge their functions under the Bill. The powers provided in the Bill for the board are those which it is considered the board will require in so far as can be foreseen. However, in a new area such as this where rapid technological changes can take place it may be necessary in the future to confer certain additional powers on the board and provision is therefore made in section 9 for the conferring of additional powers on the board. These powers would, of course, have to be related to the provision of a supply of gas and could only be conferred by way of a ministerial order made after the passing of a resolution by each House of the Oireachtas.

The new board will be subject to the controls normally applicable to State-sponsored bodies. Accordingly, provision is included in section 21 for control of the capital commitments of the board. Sections 22 to 25 deal with the board's borrowing powers and are generally similar to the provisions applicable to other State-sponsored bodies. The Bill sets a limit of £25 million on the aggregate amount of long-term borrowing which may be incurred by the board for capital purposes. While this may be more than enough to meet the board's requirements arising from the Kinsale Head development, it would not be adequate to meet requirements arising from any future significant gas finds and any proposals for financing of any substantial new projects will, therefore, have to come before the Oireachtas in the form of an amendment to this Bill.

It is intended that expenditure and borrowing by the board will be financed from revenue from the sale of gas. Section 10 deals with this aspect and in this connection, Deputies will note that a separate section —section 11—is included to permit my giving the board directions as to profits, financial objectives and pricing policy. I consider that a provision on these lines is essential to ensure the best possible results to the nation from the exploitation of such natural gas resources as may become available to the board.

I have not dealt in detail with all the provisions of the Bill because many of them are fairly standard for any State-sponsored body and also because an explanatory memorandum has been circulated which gives a general outline of the Bill. If, however, there is any matter which Deputies may wish to raise about any of the provisions which I have not dealt with, I will be happy to deal with them in my reply to the debate.

With the possibility of further gas finds, it is now necessary to give careful consideration to all options for the utilisation of natural gas. Within the energy sector, gas could be used for power generation and could be fed through a pipeline system for direct heating and cooking uses. Natural gas also has considerable advantages as a feedstock for petro-chemical industries. Decisions on the allocation of gas will have to take account of all relevant factors, including market capacity, investment costs and the related economic considerations and the comparative efficiency ratios of various uses. The nation is entitled to use its resources in a way which will optimise the benefits in terms of energy security and stability, employment creation and value added to the economy.

With these considerations in mind, I am arranging for an objective and authoritative study of all possible uses of natural gas. On the basis of such study, realistic options on the allocation of future finds can be identified and assessed without delay. Decisions will have to be taken within the context of general energy and economic policy and matters of such great significance for our future development will obviously be decided at Ministerial level.

The setting up of Bord Gáis Éireann is a complementary measure to the offshore policy decisions already announced by the Minister for Industry and Commerce. It is an important stage in the planning and utilisation of our national energy resources and it is a step into the future which will broaden our technological base and strengthen our infrastructure in a way which will significantly facilitate our economic progress. I commend the Bill to the House.

In December, 1973, the Dáil debated the problems associated with what has now become known as the energy crisis. On numerous occasions since then Fianna Fáil have sought from the Government an indication as to what they propose to do to counterbalance the effects on the consumers of the steep increase in costs of oil products, electricity and gas.

The Minister for Finance has alone shown a response—he compounded the economic problem by loading more in taxation in the budget of 1976 than the country as a whole had paid for all oil imported on an annual basis up to 1973. Notwithstanding the constant excuses from every member of the Government when they seek to pass the blame for their disastrous handling of our economic affairs, nothing has so far been done to devise an energy policy which would in any way show that the Government understood what they say has been the cause of our national instability during practically the entire life of this Government. This Bill is a further indication of Coalition paralysis. It may truly be described a "Gas" Bill in more ways than one.

Instead of providing the weapon from which a national economic recovery could be forged we are presented with a set of mechanical proposals which would probably be inadequate to deal with the development of a rural drainage scheme. It has all the elements of a careful launching of a venture which is about to enter the exciting future of a petroleum-orientated future, by devising a scheme which will just about be adequate in arranging for paraffin for the oil lamp in the kitchen.

Where is the dynamism in this Bill? Where is the enterprise? It is lost because of the past three years of economic mismanagement. We are now trying to mine the gold of natural gas without having the money to buy the proper tools. The board, as proposed by this Bill, curtailed by interference from the Minister for Finance on the one hand, and, if this is not enough, curtailed by the same Minister but wearing his hat as Minister for Public Services, have not the initial capital available to them to do the right job with this first proven reserve of natural gas.

Above all the Dáil is being asked to approve a Bill which in section 35 transfers the errors in policy and approach already made by Bord Gáis Teoranta—who have not been answerable to the Dáil for their misuse of natural gas by wasting 75 per cent of the thermal value of the gas used in the generation of electricity by the ESB.

Fianna Fáil will, therefore, oppose this Bill because of its inadequacy in general and, in particular, because by agreeing to the Bill we would be condoning the well publicised failures of An Bord Gáis Teoranta. In fairness I should say that I do not entirely place the blame for what we consider the incorrect approach of An Bord Gáis Teoranta on the board. If the Government by their policies have left themselves without the means to maximise the benefit of the existing gas find off Kinsale, I suppose An Bord Gáis could only carry on with a policy based on expediency, which the Government have themselves done over the past three years, where energy is concerned.

If the Minister wants our agreement to a Gas Bill, then let me spell out the provisions that we will demand be incorporated. First, the capital availability should not be limited and initially should be £100 million. Second, the gas board must be empowered to secure all natural gas produced from areas which are the subject of licence by an Irish Government. Third, the provision of natural gas for the purposes of electricity generation should cease and the agreement of their predecessor—An Bord Gáis Teoranta—be cancelled. Fourth, the board should establish a commercial gas grid linking Cork with Dublin initially. Fifth, the board should ensure their viability by catering for the premium gas market in densely populated areas, such as Dublin. Sixth, the board should be used to provide a supply of energy to facilitate the development of industrial expansion in Limerick, Shannon, Galway, the west, Drogheda and Dundalk.

Reading the report of the press conference held by the Minister for Transport and Power, one must marvel at how the usual public relations exercise is used instead of realistic policy. The headline taken by the press of possible participation by the Gas Board in offshore exploitation is a deception.

Can anyone seriously consider that there is any serious intention to do anything which will involve the expenditure of risk capital when the Minister for Transport and Power has to seek the permission of the Minister for Finance? He will be lucky if he is provided with the capital necessary to supply anaesthetic gas to the Cork Dental Hospital.

There are many interesting sections in the Bill. Section 9, for example, provides that the Minister may confer additional functions related to the supply of gas providing he obtains the consent of the Minister with two hats —Finance and the Public Service. Might one design to ask does Deputy Ryan, Minister for Finance, have established procedures for consulting with Deputy Ryan, Minister for the Public Service or does he look at his reflection in the mirror and reach a consensus between the two reflections?

Section 9 also provides that on the assumption that the Minister in his twin capacity manages to agree with himself, the Minister for Transport may then consult with any other concerned Minister. What a recipe for soul-stirring action. Can you imagine a commercial group requiring details of the cost of energy supplies based on a supply of natural gas in order to assist its viability assessment, waiting for decisions from such an unwieldy arrangement? If probably will not make any difference because section 37 restricts control to natural gas landed in the State provided it has not already been disposed of by the Minister for Industry and Commerce.

The Bill is comprehensive in its technical provisions but it errs in its fundamental approach to the proper exploitation of the first proven hydrocarbon resource. Fianna Fáil would require that all proven reserves of natural gas would come within the control of the Gas Board and that, apart from use as a feedstock for fertiliser production a policy of conservation could best be achieved by supplying the premium gas market. A gas grid pipeline would be used to facilitate supplies of natural gas to Dublin and all other substantial conurbations on a line from Cork to Dublin. This grid would ensure that domestic supplies for cooking and heating would be available to all domestic and some industrial users in all the centres referred to. We are satisfied that this arrangement would result in considerable savings compared with the present wasteful competition between electricity and other forms of energy.

Fianna Fáil are satisfied that the resulting reduction in demand in the short and medium term for electricity would avoid the need for considering expansion of electricity generating capacity for the short term, thereby releasing for the greater benefit of the national economy funds at present being borrowed by the ESB with the Minister for Finance guaranteeing interest and capital repayments. These guarantees are, of course, not really expected to be called in. They, nevertheless, affect our credit standing, having to be taken into consideration in calculating our overseas indebtedness.

The Minister for Finance laid great stress on the importance of our figures when he tried to excuse his ignorance as to the difference between imports and exports when he imposed his first 15p per gallon extra tax on petrol at the end of 1974. He said the a Northern Ireland car filling with petrol in the South and then returning North with its tank full of petrol would not be an export because our statistics did not show the details of the exports.

Well, our statistics show the full details of the massive borrowings made abroad by the ESB. ESB consumers can speak only too well from their increased bills of just how expensive the investment in generating capacity has become when foreign borrowing is subject to ever increasing foreign exchange compensation.

Fianna Fáil would re-examine the entire national energy needs and formulate usage patterns which would reflect the changed conditions of the past three years. Fianna Fáil would use a vigorous Gas Board as one element in a national energy policy. By making all natural gas supplies available to the board, they would be armed with the tools which would be used to exploit fully the hydrocarbon resource to facilitate the development of processing units for the development of other natural resources.

I am speaking particularly of the establishment of a smelter. The key to the viability of such a smelter is the ability to convert our existing reserves of lead and zinc into competitively priced products. Whatever international cartel arrangements that may or may not exist in these products, availability of competitively priced manufactured end products will ensure a market for our products. A way to achieve satisfactory pricings is by ensuring that operating costs are kept to a minimum. The cost of energy supply has a major effect on operating costs.

This is just one example of the type of initiative that is required to get the economy on the move again. Twenty years ago Britain and the USA used their national energy availability to encourage the establishment of aluminium smelting processes. The resulting economic benefits from downstream activities are well known.

The job opportunities required to absorb the numbers of workers made redundant from traditional industries in Ireland which have closed down together with the need to generate thousands of new job opportunities for the present generation of school leavers can only be achieved by a dynamic approach which ploughs all our available financial resources into the conversion of our newly found natural resources. This is what I have called for each time over the past three years when I have asked for an energy policy.

Fianna Fáil recognise that a flexible energy policy is the cornerstone upon which our economy can be revitalised, adapted to the modern age and capable of sustaining our ever-growing population at home. This is not the time for a Government mentality which is conditioned by what is paid out in pay-related benefits to over 130,000 unemployed. The country is sick of a pay-related mentality.

We will not accept a Gas Board as proposed in this Bill with paltry resources of £25 million and subjected to the whim of every member of the Government.

I want to draw attention to section 8 (1) in the Bill:

It shall be the duty of the Board to develop and maintain a system for the supply of natural gas—being a system which is both economical and efficient and which appears to the Board to be requisite for the time being.

"For the time being" is an apt description of Government thinking in the conduct of all our national affairs —it will do for the time being.

With regard to the use of gas for the generation of electricity, I would like to point out that the National Coal Board and the electricity authority in Britain are lobbying the Energy Minister asking him to impose a tax of 20 to 40 per cent on natural gas to enable them to compete. This is surely proof that we should maximise the benefits from natural gas by making ourselves more competitive industrially and otherwise in using the gas properly instead of wasting 75 per cent of the thermal value of 50 per cent of the gas by allowing the ESB to use it for the generation of electricity.

With regard to making this gas available in Dublin, the Dublin Gas Company are at present using naphtha to supply gas to consumers and naphtha could be deemed to be very nearly as expensive as petrol. We should be thinking therefore of supplying the Dublin Gas Company with natural gas. If that is done it will lead to cheaper energy costs for those using gas. The French are importing natural gas from the Middle East. They are not using the gas to generate electricity. In fact it is contrary to EEC policy to use natural gas to generate electricity. That has been established within the EEC.

We have set out the reasons we are opposed to this Bill and we have also set out our constructive ideas with regard to what should be done with this natural gas.

I Welcome the Bill and the setting up of the new board. Time is vitally important in this matter and the important thing is to get the gas in and get it working. This is precisely what the Minister is doing. The interim board have been doing an excellent job and it is hoped the good work will be carried on by the new board. I am sure the Minister will bring in all the expertise available so that the job will be done as speedily and as efficiently as possible. In my book speed is of the essence.

The Opposition spokesman talked about unemployment. A couple of thousand jobs right off the reel is a massive contribution towards solving the unemployment problem. Mark you, this follows on a single commercial find. I am quite sure subsequent finds will go a long way towards benefiting Dublin and everywhere else. As a Cork Deputy, I am in full agreement with what the Minister is doing. Unemployment in the Cork area will practically be solved by this bold stroke by the Minister in getting this project off the ground. I compliment him on his choice of personnel on the interim board and I compliment the board on the efficient and sensible way they went about acquiring wayleaves and discussing rather delicate problems with landowners and so on. I can assure the Minister that people are responding very well to the treatment they are getting in regard to the acquisition of wayleaves and so on. It is very important to get off on the right foot because it is more than likely we will have these kinds of problems all over the place. The more often we have them the better.

With regard to the ESB project, the location in the lower harbour is particularly beneficial. We will be using practically 50 per cent of this natural resource to generate electricity. I can see no better use for the gas. It is not for us to look at what the French or the Germans are doing with their resources. That is their business. We are an insular people dependent on an agricultural economy and that economy is, in turn, heavily dependent on electricity. I am sure the correspondence the Minister is receiving with regard to electricity is mainly concerned with the inadequacy of power. If the gas find does nothing else but solve that problem that will be a major step in helping the agricultural industry, particularly the dairying section of the industry.

I am not at all impressed with so-called wastage. I am glad the board decided very wisely to use this natural resource in Cork for what will be the biggest fertiliser plant in Europe, producing something like 2,350 tons of nitrogenous fertiliser per year and thereby providing 600 or 700 jobs. The sky is the limit when one comes to think in terms of spin-offs. There will inevitably be a demand for compounds and we will have a big export not only of nitrogenous fertilisers but of compounds as well.

We must put first things first. Agriculture is our primary industry and it is through agriculture we will get people back to work and get the economy generally going. I commend the Minister for using this resource to do two vitally important things, generate electricity and make fertilisers available. I compliment Nítrigin Éireann for their speed in getting off the ground. I am pleased to hear we are ahead of target. I am confident there will be further finds of gas and, hopefully, of oil. We already have a very useful commercial find. There will be time enough to talk about national grids and digging up the country. We know the difficulties involved in figuring out 30 miles of wayleaves. Just imagine the problems attached to 300 miles. We must be sensible in our approach. Where we admit freely there is a problem about jobs and there is a need to get people back to work, surely the quickest and most practical way to get them back to work is the way the Minister is going about it.

As a Cork Deputy, I would like to compliment the Minister on getting on with the job. I hope everything will keep on target. I can assure him from my conversations with people that the whole project is very much welcomed in Cork by all sectors both rural and urban. I am sure that time will prove that this decision in regard to this find of gas was a very wise one. We do not wish to take from the Opposition spokesman's idea of a national grid and so on. All that will come in good time, let us hope in the not too distant future when we have further finds of natural gas, because it is widely accepted from the general situation in the North Sea and, indeed, anywhere gas is found that it does come in substantial quantities where it is found at all and it also comes in conjunction with oil finds. However, as I say, that is a job for another day.

I agree with the Opposition spokesman that the new board should be responsible for all finds of gas and oil and for any type of hydrocarbon resources, and that they should use their collective wisdom to ensure that it is put to the proper use. In any event, I am quite pleased with the decision of the Government and the Minister, and I wish him well. I am confident that his decision will prove in time to have been a very wise one.

While I do not intend to detain the House more than a few minutes, I think this is sufficiently important to justify all of us making some remarks on the setting up of yet another State body and the use to be made of the discovery of some energy resource of our own. It has turned out to be a damp squib in so far as the hopes of our people are concerned. To hear the last speaker and the Minister as well, one would think this was something for Cork alone, that it had nothing to do with the rest of the country at all.

All of us were hoping when the energy crisis first manifested itself in the world that we would take action to minimise its effects. We were disappointed. Not only did the Minister rush in to add extra cost to what the Arabs had already over-costed, but now a resource which would naturally be expected to ease the burden is being used in a manner which will be of no benefit whatever to the consumer.

Most people talk well of the ESB as an establishment which has been successful, but we have learned to our cost that the ESB is a Frankenstein which has got out of control and, on this small island has got so much strength that it is almost capable of using economic power—I use the term figuratively—to do things as they wish, and the effect their overcharging has had on the economy in the difficult days in the past and the difficult times we face in the future and their contribution to inflation condoned by the Government are things which have disenchanted many people with the working of the Electricity Supply Board. Now the proposal is to hand over 50 per cent of our gas to be put into a grid which is already being overcharged to the consumer. If there is one authority in the country more dictatorial than another, it is the ESB in their method of charging the consumer.

When people ask the ESB to supply electricity to a new house or to reconnect a supply for a business or even an industry, they get a curt letter from a local engineer saying the costing has been established in accordance with the board's method of calculating such costs. These words have been used all over the country. On the Order Paper we have a motion, No. 21, to set up a committee to do something. It is a feeble effort to meet partly a promise made by the Coalition before coming into office. No effort is being made to bring the Committee into existence to give us a chance of bringing these people to heel in some way.

This is not an opportunity to go entirely into the working of the ESB. There will be other opportunities of doing that, but it does afford one an opportunity of condemning the Minister's decision to hand over this energy to the ESB, who are already misusing, without justification——

When we were over there we asked for 20 years that State bodies should be made responsible to this House and Fianna Fáil refused to do it. Now we are doing it.

That is entirely irrelevant. That does not give the reason why the Government have made this feeble effort instead of giving the people what they promised. They said they would make such bodies amenable——

Would the Deputy please keep to the Bill?

If the Minister wants to enter into an argument about this, I will take him on.

That is not relevant to what is before the House.

This is a feeble answer to a definite promise made, that these companies would be brought to heel.

Would the Deputy come back to the Bill?

We are dealing with State-sponsored bodies, many of which are listed here, not all; certain others are conspicuous by their absence. Will this board become one of them? I hope the Minister will answer that question when replying.

The ESB did a difficult task well under difficult circumstances, but they are now so encouraged by their success and have become so strong in the economic power they wield that they have become a Frankenstein, and the sooner something is done about it the better. I would hope to see the Minister bring in legislation here—and it can be applied to this as well as to the ESB—whereby, when people are having jobs done for connecting with the national grid they would be permitted to consider contracts to do the work from private firms as well as from the ESB who have a monopoly of such connections at present. I would hope to see brought back the local plants that existed in all towns and villages in order to have them as a standby at times when we would be deprived of current and as a warning against the overcharging which is taking place. It was a mistake to hand over these excellent local plants——

The Deputy is getting away from the Bill.

Section 11 (2) reads:

The Minister may, from time to time, with the consent of the Minister for Finance direct that the profits of the Board in a year specified in the direction shall be applied in such manner (including application for the benefit of the Exchequer) as is specified in the direction.

In other words, this Minister has such an obsession about tax collecting that no source is to be left untouched. Under that section he may compel the board to make certain charges and then pass the profits over for the benefit of the Exchequer. Without taxing the Minister may find a means of channelling the profits from the board into the Exchequer.

State-sponsored bodies have passed the stage of teeth-cutting; they have passed the struggling stage and have arrived. We should now set about doing something to control them and the consumer must be the first to be considered. So much hope was held out about the gas find but most of that gas is being channelled into the ESB who have already taken complete possession of our resources and are virtually in a position to defy anybody objecting to the price they charge the consumer or the way they use our resources. It is time the House asserted its relevance and took some control of these bodies that are threatening to engulf our economy as they wish.

There is nothing in the Bill to show that the Government are asserting themselves in that direction.

The Bill deals with the Gas Board and not the ESB.

The Bill deals with the setting up of another board and this gives us an opportunity to ask the Minister to outline his attitude towards State boards. Many people are disenchanted about the way they have acted during this period of inflation. Their actions are condoned by the Government even though they are adding fuel to the flames of inflation. They are pressing the consumer at a time when they could contribute so much to the economic situation.

The Bill does not give any reason for rejoicing. It has dashed the hopes many people had. Those of us who live in the northern part of the country heard many Cork Deputies tell the House the great benefit the gas find would be to Cork. They told us that they would get a greater percentage of the gas but after the ESB have taken their share there will be little left. What benefit will this be to the consumer of energy or to the national energy problem? It will be of no benefit and it is time we lodged some form of protest about this. The Government are taking the easy way out.

The Minister made reference to the board having regard to the need to maximise the use of local technical ability in relation to contracts and so on but they have not set a good headline in that respect. There is no use in making excuses. I remember the late Seán Lemass saying to me that there was nothing the Irish could not do if they were given the opportunity of doing it. I should like to refer to the famous contract for telephone parts. An Irish manufacturer was out-priced by people who were about to dump from abroad but the Government of the day ordered that they be given the contract. If the present outlook, as demonstrated in this Bill, prevailed we would have to send abroad for some technical assistance because the board do not consider the Irish are capable of dealing with complicated matters. The sooner we get confidence in the ability of our own people to adjust themselves to any situation, technical or otherwise, as they have done in many other countries, the better. The sooner we do away with boards who try to convince us that we must go abroad for this, that or the other, the better. Our people can do anything and they have proved it. Boards like this are being brought more and more under the control of Ministers and those Ministers should have important contracts discussed in this House. We should be told why such contracts are placed outside the country. It is disappointing that such a major contribution to the energy of the country should be filtered away, hidden in its misuse by a State-sponsored body which has not been very kind to the consumer, to say the least of it. There goes our new find of gas; the consumer how are you, he benefits nothing.

For many years we looked forward to the day when we would discover natural gas or oil within our territorial waters. We hoped that such a discovery would be the start of a great new era in our economic development. When the United Kingdom discovered oil and gas off their shores it was said that they were not fully prepared to deal with their great new discoveries. For that reason it was felt they were not able to reap the full benefits from these resources. Unkind critics of the British say that they got round their difficulties by selling out to the multi-nationals. They say they are far from reaping the full benefits of the finds of the North Sea and other places because they sold out when they were short of money. The result is that the multi-nationals will reap the benefits. In our case a great opportunity is being lost in starting up a National Energy Board without having an energy and fuel policy.

The fact that the Minister has decided how natural gas should be distributed shows that enough thought has not been given to the matter. It has been established by scientists, engineers and economists that converting oil to electricity is probably the most wasteful way of using oil because the conversion will work out at about 40 per cent. To use oil in other ways one would get a conversion rate of up to 80 per cent. Even at this late stage the Minister should look at the decision in relation to the allocation of natural gas. It may be said in defence of the Minister that the fact that the ESB import more oil than any other concern influenced the Government. They may have felt that by giving all the natural gas available to the ESB we would be able to cut down our imports of oil. On the surface that seems to be a fairly good argument but on examination one finds that in using this natural asset in this way we shall waste almost half of it by conversion to energy. Therefore it is bad economics because although we may cut our imports of oil we will waste this wonderful source of energy found off our southern shores. I thought the Minister would avail of this opportunity to bring in private enterprise along with public enterprise and have a real national fuel authority with the expertise that Irish workers can provide both in the private and public sectors of industry. We should take the opportunity of looking at all our immediately available sources of fuel and energy and any we may find in future.

I questioned the Minister for Industry and Commerce on tests carried out in the Dublin Bay area for gas and oil and while I do not know the full answer as to the possibilities in Dublin Bay, on the east coast or in the Celtic Sea and while we must anxiously await the findings of the geologists and others involved, it is all the more important that the Minister should reconsider the allocation of the gas at Kinsale. For too long we have favoured public companies at the expense of the private sector. For instance, the ESB, a semi-State concern, are given very great concessions by local authorities and do not pay rates on any of their power stations but an industry engaged in the production of fuel or energy as a private concern must pay full rates to each local authority. While the ESB have played a very prominent part in the development of energy, I believe that it was wrong to make the allocation of natural gas through the board. We shall pay for wasting this precious commodity of natural gas. Before the Bill becomes an Act I ask the Minister to reconsider the whole matter and try to be a little fairer in his distribution.

We may discover good, or even great resources of oil off our coasts or even on land but even if we were to get a fairly small supply of oil within our jurisdiction which would help to cut down our imports, the Minister's whole approach to the use of natural gas as a means of allowing the ESB to cut their imports would be shown to be completely wrong from an economic point of view because even if the oil were found and we could provide for half our needs we would never be so fully dependent on the outside markets and the ESB would not be dependent totally on the imports of oil or even on our natural gas. While the Minister may have given the ESB this huge allocation of gas in an effort to cut down oil imports let us be optimistic and hope that oil will be found to enable the board and other fuel developing bodies to reduce imports.

I do not know if the Minister was influenced purely by economic considerations—he could not have been or he would not have given the allocation to the ESB—or whether he wishes to cut down oil imports or whether it was the fact that the gas was found in the south that the nearest town gas company is given an allocation. I feel the Bill was not altogether well prepared. I know the Minister and the Departments may say: "This is the first time we have found natural gas and we must learn by experience", but I suggest that many countries have been developing natural gas resources for many years and surely we could learn from them.

There is nothing in the Bill about giving gas to the ESB.

The Minister is being very naïve in saying that. This is enabling legislation and under it you can set up the organisation and you will make the allocation then.

It is not written into the Bill.

That is so but without the Bill you cannot develop these resources.

We have already done it.

You have done it partially but you have not got the gas ashore yet. I hope you will have great celebrations on the day you do. The Minister should have another look at the Bill before it is finalised. It is true that it is not in the Bill that the ESB shall have the allocation of gas but the point is that the Bill enables the Minister to develop not only the southern gas find but gas that we hope will be found in other parts of our jurisdiction. I believe the Bill has been prepared in haste. If the gas has been there for a couple of million years—and I hope plenty of oil with it—we could wait another six months for this Bill and have it perfected. When the Minister is replying he might assure the House, since he says there is no mention of an allocation in the Bill, that he will have another look at the allocation that has been mentioned in the media and that he will bear in mind the fact that converting natural gas into electricity is a wasteful method since the conversion rate is so low.

Even at this stage he might consider how he would bring in the private sector of industry which has experience of using this type of gas or oil so that we will get off to a good start on the establishment of an organisation which will make the very fullest use of our natural resources. Many countries have become great because they were lucky enough to have oil or gas in their seas or lands. Perhaps our turn is now coming and we should not be prodigal in the use of a natural resource. We are being prodigal indeed if we are to believe that it is the Minister's intention to allocate the natural gas off Kinsale in the way that has been stated.

This is very important legislation but it does not come near meeting the criteria we must have of using our natural resources for the greatest possible benefit of our people. The Minister said that the Government, after careful consideration, decided to allocate this gas for a new plant to be built by NET at Marino Point in Cork for the production of ammonia and urea for the fertiliser industry. This is using the gas to good advantage seeing that we are an agricultural country, that we need fertilisers and need urea in order to develop another of our assets, our agriculture. This is true.

The Minister then goes on to state:

... for additional ESB generating capacity of 400 MV in a new station at Whitegate and the extension of the Board's existing plant at Marina.

I disagree with this. I will skip two lines for the moment and come back to the third point. The Minister glibs over something here. I quote:

It has been stated by various commentators that the use of natural gas for electricity generation is not the most efficient method of utilisation.

Could I put one or two questions to the Minister on this point? I think he has glossed over something here. Are my calculations correct when I suggest that the ESB may use 270 million therms per annum from the Kinsale field? Also am I correct in saying that in a ratio of every three units of natural gas to be used for the generation of electricity two of these units are lost? Two units in three of our natural resource are lost, and if we are to work that ratio into the 270 million therms does that mean we are going to lose 90 million therms?

Could I ask a further question? Is it true that the cost of a therm is now 15p? I believe it is a fact that 90 million therms at 15p per therm amounts to £13.5 million gone each year and, as the Minister states, for 20 years. This is not using natural resources for our people. This Government have been acting on spendthrift policies of huge borrowings abroad and absolutely nothing concrete to show at the moment as a result of all this borrowing abroad. But if these figures are correct—and I believe they are—surely this is bordering on the lunatic completely, with £13.5 million lost a year for 20 years, and the Minister runs it off in one sentence in this Second Stage.

The Minister stated:

It has been stated by various commentators that the use of natural gas for electricity generation is not the most efficient method of utilisation.

I wait, and I know many people in this country are waiting, for the Minister's reply. I hope he will deal with the hard cash situation. £30 million going up, not in smoke but just in vapour a year for 20 years, from one of our natural resources, something that we have been led to believe, something we have anticipated as a nation, will be a lifeline to us to start on the road back to recovery, to prosperity once again. If this is true it is a fantastic abuse. I believe that these figures are accurate. They have come from a very reputable commentator on the subject, and I hope the Minister will come along here and try to defy them and say that this is not so. Just think what could be done.

This brings me to the third point in the brief, and I quote:

An allocation is also being made available to Cork Gas Company to meet the requirements of their consumers

To meet the needs of our people in Cork. The loss alone in the conversion of natural gas and electricity running at £13.5 million a year over 20 years—look at the capital sum that that would give towards the provision of a national grid. Look at the labour that would be generated by that. Look at the benefits to our people.

This Bill could not have been though out in full. It is bad legislation, in my opinion. As I said, I await the Minister's comments on those figures. That one sentence on page two of this brief is not sufficient to write off a huge amount of money of that nature. This is not making maximum use of one of our resources. We must use this resource for our people. for the maximum benefit of as many of our people as possible. The allocation that is being made available to gas consumers in Cork is to be welcomed. Why is this not being expanded through various routes to the towns and cities, to the people in various parts of our country? Why? It seems as if we have taken the simplistic way out, but that is not making full use of a resource, a resource which our people may depend on.

There are one or two points I should like to make in relation to this. I notice also in the course of the Bill it is stated that planning permission will not be required for a pipeline, and at the moment of course that we do not have the legislation here to allow this. Nevertheless it is stated here again just in passing, and eventually we will bring in legislation which we will backdate to allow steps such as this to be taken. We have had a lot of this in the life of this Government, an extreme amount of it. In my three years here I have noticed it creeping in quite a lot. We agreed to this pending legislation to come— pending. What is the function of this House? What is the function of the Taoiseach and his Cabinet? If he knows that legislation is necessary why is the legislation not brought in? Has he a right to move so far forward in advance of legislation?

A final comment. I suppose, regrettably, the Minister will have his way, and when I pick up my Order Paper some day and look at No. 21 on the list, Setting up of Joint Committee, I will see added to the Schedule, "Bord Gáis Éireann".

My view of this Bill is one of disappointment, unfortunately, that so little use is made of the first new natural energy resource discovered here perhaps in centuries. It is disappointing that, while the find is a small one, and perhaps particularly because it is a small one, a very high proportion of it—it would appear up to 60 per cent of it—is to be used in a manner which, as previous speakers pointed out, is clearly uneconomic.

As I understand the ESB's attitude to it—and they have a very strong lobby in these matters—they are very heavily dependent on oil. I think 64 per cent of our electricity at present is generated by oil. They argue that it is in the national interest that any native source of energy is preferable to such heavy dependence on oil.

That is all right provided there was no other use that could be made of a native source of energy, provided there was no more beneficial or economic use that could be made of it. The first new source that has arisen for centuries is this natural gas. It has been clearly demonstrated and not contradicted by anybody that far more beneficial use could be made of it than by throwing two-thirds of it away in converting it into electricity and feeding it into the national grid.

It seems to me that the problem about energy generally here at present is that there are various groups fighting their own corner very hard. Much the strongest of those groups is the ESB. They tend to dominate the thinking in Department of Transport and Power on these matters. They hold themselves out as being the premier Irish energy organisation, which of course they are. But, by virtue of being that, they seem to get the Department and the Minister to accept that, therefore, the national interest is approximately the same as the interest of the ESB.

There is proof that what the Deputy is saying is wrong.

The body being set up by this Bill have already agreed to sell 60 per cent of this gas find to the ESB. It is very convenient for the ESB. It means they have a certain amount of very cheap power on which they can rely even if there is an oil crisis and so on abroad. But it fails completely to take account of any wider view of the whole problem. For example, why should we be committing now 60 per cent of this gas find—and it may be the only gas find that will be made, certainly on that part of the Continental Shelf—to wasteful usage by the ESB when the indications are that within some fairly short number of years oil will be discovered in quite significant quantities off the west coast and that we will have the right to land that oil and have it supplied to the ESB? The ESB will be in the situation then that it will have spent tens of millions of pounds establishing this proposed power station in Cork Harbour—which apparently, with some further expenditure, can transfer back to oil—which will become quite unnecessary at that time. It will become quite useless because the obvious thing to do will be to use the oil that hopefully will be landed on the west coast.

As I recall, up to the end of last season, which would have been about September of last year, there have been 23 wells drilled in the Continental Shelf south of this country. Only two of those have given any indication of hydrocarbon commercial possibilities. That is a fairly low proportion. I understand indications we are now that if any further gas or oil is found the likelihood is it will be found off the west coast. Unfortunately for us indications are that it will be found there in very deep water by comparison with the very shallow water in which this gas has been found. The area immediately around this gas find has been very throughly drilled over the last few years and, unfortunately, there is very little else forthcoming. If this find were a huge one, one could sympathise with the point of view that would give the ESB a large proportion of it rather than merely keeping it bottled up and unused. But it is not huge; even by North Sea standards it is a small find. As the Minister said, in terms of our total energy needs at present, it is equivalent to approximately 12 per cent. Our present total requirements are very low by any normal world standard. Even the per capita requirements are very low. Therefore, to have a small gas find— and it may be the only one we will ever make in that area anyway—used in a way that is clearly wasteful is the wrong way of looking at it.

Nítrigin Éireann Teoranta are going to use 40 per cent of this gas field. If there were no other industrial users ready in 1978 or 1979 when this gas comes ashore, to take it up and use it in a beneficial and economic way, there is no obligation on the Gas Board, the Minister or anybody else to land the gas until such time as there are other users in a position to make beneficial use of it.

If one examines the permanent employment that will be generated by this find—of course, this find is a God send to this country—one must refer to the Minister's introductory remarks when he said:

The onshore construction projects will provide over 2,000 jobs and there will be permanent employment for about 700 workers.

That is pathetic—700 people, apart from the 2,000 who will get work for a year, two or whatever length of time it takes to build this plant. Of those 700 presumably quite a proportion would have got work anyway in Arklow at NET's existing plant or in an oil-burning ESB station if that had to be built instead of a gas burning one. Therefore, the net gain to our economy in terms of jobs from this important find for us—even though small by world standards— may be a matter of a few hundred jobs only. One cannot quantify that exactly but certainly it is a startingly low figure. This is an indication to me, and I think should be to anyone, of the fact that unfortunately this board only now being set up—they were set up previously on an ad hoc basis—are approaching the matter, presumably under the direction of the Minister, in a way that will not redound to the benefit of this country. The ESB, the Gas Board and the Minister will look extremely foolish if in a few years time, as one hopes may come to pass, a fairly substantial oil find is made off our shores because the ESB have at present numerous oil-burning generating plants which can use any oil we are fortunate enough to discover off our shores. Any sort of reasonable oil find, even one half the size of the average oil finds in the North Sea, would probably do the ESB for many years to come and might obviate imports on their part entirely. They would be in the situation then that they would have built in Cork Harbour a very extensive plant at a cost of tens of millions of pounds for converting natural gas into electricity and that plant would become useless. At the same time, there would obtain a situation in which the natural gas which could have been used very profitably, in every sense of the word, in industrial, petro-chemical and similar processes is wasted by being left with the ESB.

There is one industry of which we are in dire need at present. That is a zinc smelter and, perhaps to a lesser extent, a lead smelter. There is an interesting article, which I am sure the Minister is aware of, in the June issue of Technology Ireland by Messrs. Francis Walsh and Malcolm Farmer on the various alternative methods of zinc smelting. They argue there very forcibly that the blast furnace method of smelting zinc is preferable from various points of view. That is on the basis that the blast furnaces—for example, at Avonmouth in Britain— are fuelled by coke. We have virtually no coke so we could not contemplate any such efforts to fuel a zinc smelter of the blast furnace kind from our own resources.

I suggest to the Minister and the House that we can do this by the direct utilisation of natural gas. We could build a zinc smelter at the moment in Cork Harbour and, hopefully, somewhere else in the not too distant future which would be able to smelt zinc, which will come into production in Navan within the next six to 12 months. An interesting points is made by the authors of this article that as well as smelting zinc in the sort of mine where you get a mixture of lead and zinc as you do in Navan, the blast furnace technique of smelting has the added advantage of actually smelting the portion of the lead as well as the zinc which could be looked on almost as a by-product of the zinc produced in such a smelter.

This nation has a crying need for a zinc smelter and also for a lead one, if that is feasible. Unfortunately, we have serious difficulty in providing the more traditional type of electrolytic smelter because our electricity costs are very high due to the activities of the ESB. Unless the ESB were prepared to give some reasonable deal to any organisation which would establish a smelter and provide electric power at a reasonable level, something akin to what can be purchased in other parts of Europe, then it is very doubtful if the traditional type of smelter using a large amount of electric power is on.

The blast furnace type of smelter is very much on. It seems to me that the way to fuel it is not to import vast quantities of coke or any other type of fuel, but to use direct the natural gas that is landed from Kinsale Headfield and hopefully from whatever other field it may turn up in in the future. Instead of some useful method of utilising this gas, such as the one I have suggested and which has also been suggested by others on this side of the House, unfortunately the lazy, easy way is being taken. It is being given to the ESB on the basis that two-thirds of it goes up the chimney and one-third of it becomes electricity. This suits the ESB and it suits everyone because they do not have to worry about it and it does not involve any great problem in trying to evolve new industry and new technology. The ESB can just very conveniently convert it into electricity. It is a pity that the two-thirds is wasted but it is felt we can get over that.

There are other ways of using this gas which may be more difficult, which may entail more work, which may not be as easy as what is being done now, but which are infinitely more beneficial to the country. The latest date we have been given when the mine in Navan will come into production is March or April, 1977. The mine will then export concentrates that could be smelted into over 100,000 tons of zinc a year and 20,000 tons of lead a year. All those concentrates will go abroad. Three-quarters of the value of the zinc concentrates brought from this mine will go outside the country. As the House is aware, the Minister for Industry and Commerce has asked the IDA to start having talks with people who might consider setting up a smelter and report back to him on the possibility of this being done by the 31st March, 1977. It will be after that when the actual planning will begin and it will be after that again when the actual building will begin. It is accepted by all concerned that it is not possible to build a zinc smelter of either of the types I have been talking about in less than four years.

I suggest to the Minister that we bring in this gas. If it comes in in April, 1978, as it is now hoped, I suggest that 40 per cent of it should be brought in and given to NET. Since they have experts coming from almost every country in the world except Ireland to erect their building one hopes it will be ready by April, 1978. They should be given the 40 per cent and we should not take up the other 60 per cent of the flow of 125 million cubic feet a day. I understand there is no great technical problem in keeping the gas down, that the flow of it can be regulated. The gas should be kept down below and a blast furnace smelter should be erected to smelt zinc primarily and possibly to smelt lead as a by-product of the zinc. If the erection of that smelter were started now it could be ready in 1980 so there would only be a two-year delay in bringing in 60 per cent of the daily flow. The fuel would not then be wasted. It seems shameful to see such a high proportion of it go up in vapour.

Deputy Murphy referred to Mr. Richard Bunyan's article in a recent issue of Energy Ireland on the feasibility of a commercial gas grid. He argues that it is feasible to run a grid from Cork to Dublin. I am not qualified to say if he is right or wrong, but he certainly puts up a well argued case on it. When this is suggested the ESB throw up their hands in horror and say that we already have a national energy grid in the country and the right way to use this source of power is to convert it into electricity, which is the only form that the existing national power grid can take and that it would be wasteful to establish a totally separate and new grid which would take the gas to Dublin where the principal market for it would be. Mr. Bunyan's argument is well put. The Minister refers to this in a passing way but not in any great detail.

It is quite specific. I said:

With those considerations in mind I am arranging for an objective and authoritative study of all possible uses of natural gas.

There is no reference there to a grid to Dublin.

It is obviously one of the possible uses.

It is obviously one of the possibilities but there are numerous others. Unfortunately it is a bit late in the day now to start——

It is not. I will answer the Deputy later.

——examining all these possibilities. Why were these possibilities not examined in detail and in depth at the time the decision was made, a year or 18 months ago, to devote 60 per cent of this particular field to the ESB?

By saying that he is now arranging for an objective and authoritative study of all possible uses of natural gas the Minister is clearly implying that hitherto we have not had an objective and authoritative study of all possible uses of natural gas. I am afraid that is obvious. It is clear that the Minister and the Department have been sold the ESB line. While this is very good for the ESB, it is not good for Ireland. It is a serious underutilisation of a scarce commodity. It fails absolutely to take into account also the likelihood—I would use the word "likelihood" rather than "possibility"—of significant oil finds somewhere off our coasts over the next five years or so.

If these oil finds are made it will be easier and cheaper for the ESB to use that oil. Unfortunately, they have committed tens of millions of pounds to building this station which would have to be reconverted back to oil. Because there is the distinct possibility that within quite a short time they would have to do that reconversion, is it not very unwise for the ESB to be given the go-ahead to build an expensive station in Cork harbour which clearly will be of very little benefit to this country?

I have not gone into any of the details in this Bill which is quite long and we can go into it in great details on Committee Stage. There are some sections which have rather strange and wide powers for the board and the Minister. There is one section which would apparently allow the Minister, without further legislation, to change the objects of the board, which is not a concept I like.

My feeling, and the feelings of most people who spoke here today on the general principles involved here, is that we are setting up a board who have already, in their ad hoc form, given away 60 per cent of the find to a user who will waste two-thirds of that 60 per cent. Of course, they will not deliberately waste it; that happens to be the thermal loss in the conversion of natural gas into electricity. We are trying to evaluate the various alternative and different uses of natural gas as against electricity, town gas and other forms of energy and power. We have not been given —even though these contracts were completed a year or more ago—the price Marathon are getting for this gas.

The Deputy will find reference to that in my speech.

The Minister does not give the price. That is the whole point.

That will continue to be the position.

Anyone who tries to work out the comparative economics of all the various forms of energy is at a very definite disadvantage.

I hope the people who may be in future selling gas to the Gas Board will also be at a disadvantage.

Mr. Bunyan in his article estimates the price at 5p per cubic foot being paid to Marathon by the Gas Board. We do not know what price the ESB or NET are paying the Gas Board. I believe this is a bit unreal. I understand that in Britain these figures are published. If that is so, why are they not published here? Is it a great deal from A's point of view or from B's point of view? Is it a good or a bad deal?

It is a very good deal.

From whose point of view?

From the Gas Board's point of view.

What profit are they making on the resale? This is a matter which is relevant. What will be done with that profit? These are the obvious questions which should not have to be asked in the course of this debate. That information should have been given by the Minister in introducing the Bill. I believe it should have been given long before now.

The Deputy is not that naïve.

That information should have been given today. We are entitled to know what the figures are. Will there be any way of checking them? For what do the board propose to use their profits? Can the Minister give an indication what the likely annual surplus will be? Will they all be ploughed back into investment, repaying loans from the Exchequer? Will the Exchequer get any dividends out of this? These are fundamental and obvious questions which should not have to be asked. They should have been answered in the Minister's opening speech which, unfortunately, just glossed over them and talked about them being confidential.

Another question the Minister could and should profitably answer is this: is there any other nation in the world which has allocated 60 per cent of its natural gas to the generation of electricity? There is no such country I know of within the EEC.

I will give the EEC figures in my reply.

To allow us in our situation, with a very small find by world or European standards, to use 60 per cent in this rather wasteful way, seems to be basically the wrong approach. It is so serious from a long-term national point of view that we are forced into the position that we must oppose this Bill.

I welcome the Bill because its purpose is to utilise a new resource to the best advantage of the nation. It is necessary that such utilisation should be properly controlled otherwise the State would lose considerably. Deputy O'Malley was very concerned about the ESB uses of natural gas and he spoke about the losses that would follow. It is my experiences and that of many others that the ESB are a body who would maximise the use of this gas to a very high percentage. If something is being built in Corks a network could be inserted which would centrally heat the whole of the city. It might not be the most efficient way but the new board will ensure that the gas will be used to the best advantage.

When we hear the opposite side talking about wastage and about smelters and what have you, we must hark back to the fact that we are doing something to correlate the natural resources of the country instead of giving them away to outsiders as was done when they were in Government. The sooner they wake up to that the better. Is it any wonder that the Leader of the Opposition said yesterday that he would have to look into the whole question of choosing candidates for the next general election? I can well understand that when I hear the contributions from the opposite side.

We will not make it too hard for you.

The people of Dublin South-West and Donegal made it very hard for you. Deputy O'Malley spoke about smelters, but they have nothing to do with this Bill. The establishment of a gas board is essential if we are to make the best use of our natural resources. Perhaps it may be said that I was employed formerly by the ESB and that I have a vested interest. I have no such interest but I know they are a very efficient organisation who have left no industry ever without a supply of electricity. This new resource can with confidence be channelled into the ESB as well as other companies. There are many other aspects in which the ESB can involve themselves. Central heating systems all over Europe are being fired by local generating stations operated on gas. The Opposition did not come up with many ideas as to how we should use this gas.

The Deputy was not here.

They came up with very few ideas. That is why the Leader of the Opposition had to speak to them last night. They had better come up with ideas if they are to be selected for the next general election. Deputy O'Malley's reasons for opposing the Bill are beyond me. Surely we must get some order into the disposal of any new reasources we may have, and this Bill will do just that. I would expect the Gas Board to examine in an in-depth way how best the gas supply can be used. It has been indicated that the ESB and NET will be getting it. Circumstances will change and it is important that we would have a responsible body to ensure that the best use will be made of this resource. How the Opposition can put forward such mealy-mouthed objections to the Bill is beyond me. We know what they did when they had an opportunity to utilise the natural resources we had.

I am appalled at the opposition to this Bill. There may be certain details in it that will require change but it is highly desirable that all development in this sphere should be controlled. I support the Minister. The new board when set up will examine the details fully.

I appreciate the complexity and the difficulties involved in this Bill which seeks to regulate the utilisation of our natural gas. It was to be expected that this first measure would give rise to controversy, more so than subsequent measures, but I was surprised to find such objections from the Opposition. If the Bill were to be defeated the control of our natural gas would be removed from this House. All the Bill proposes to do is to set up a board to determine how the gas will be used. In opposing the Bill the Opposition are in a very contradictory position because they know it would not be in the best interests of the country if the House did not have a say in the utilisation of our natural gas supplies. Perhaps the Bill is being opposed because the Opposition think the whole thing should be in the hands of private enterprise, of multinationals. Deputy Moore seems to think so.

Who is to develop these resources if not the State? The Minister concerned and the State must have the opportunity to decide how our natural resources should be used, who will get them and in what proportion. The Opposition seemed to oppose the use of natural gas in the generation of electricity and Deputy O'Malley put up an extraordinary performance, implying that we should not build an ESB station in Cork harbour because we might find oil. He seems to be under the impression that any oil found can be used straight away to generate electricity. This is not so. It would, in fact, be a far more wasteful way of using the oil because what electricity is generated from is the residual oil after all the final fuels for central heating, for petrol, aviation and so on have been taken off. What is left then is used to generate electricity.

The Deputy did not refer to the siting of this generating station which is next to the only existing oil refinery in the country. I do not know any more than anybody else in this House or elsewhere whether we will find oil but, if we do find oil, an obvious place to refine it is in the existing refinery and the residual can then be switched to the generating station next door in Whitegate, giving the ESB another advantage.

Deputy Brennan referred to the ESB as being almost out of control. He said it is a Frankenstein and, in the next breath, without stopping to think, he said Bord Gáis Éireann have already been outside this country to consult while there are people in Ireland well capable of doing this. The only people who applied to Bord Gáis Éireann, to be allowed to take control of the gas coming ashore were the ESB, the very firm which Deputy Brennan says are out of control, a Frankenstein running the Department, the Minister for Transport and Power and the Government, overcharging consumers, raping the countryside, and apparently anything that goes wrong in this country now can be blamed on the ESB. I suppose it is a fairly natural reaction for an Opposition Deputy and others when they get their bills from the ESB every two months but how many people switch on, even in a lifetime, and the light or power does not come on? They can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

The ESB were established just 50 years ago this year to provide the people with electricity at the cheapest rate possible. All the towns and 98 per cent of rural houses are connected to electricity, definitely the highest percentage in Europe. The ESB foresaw the demand. They raised their own capital to provide the power lines and connections so that everybody would have electricity. They are exceedingly competent technically. They are a natural whipping boy when anything goes wrong and for the annoyance people feel when they get their bills, but let us remember that every time one presses a switch the light or the power comes on. There are countries where the grid is so designed that for one day a week in particular areas consumers have to do without electricity simply because their boards could not foresee the need and cater for the demand. That charge cannot be laid against the ESB.

For Deputies to come in here, abuse the ESB, call it a Frankenstein, and so on, is grossly unfair and grossly lacking in appreciation of what the ESB have done. Our agriculture could not have advanced as it has done without rural electrification. We could not have had the industries we have, particularly those based outside Dublin, were it not for rural electrification. The ESB have been an essential part of the infrastructure in bringing industry to the country. That should be acknowledged.

The ESB do not control either the Department or the Minister for Transport and Power. They certainly do not control the present Minister because I have ultimate power. I appoint the board and, if I am dissatisfied with the performance of the board, I can fire the board and I would have no hesitation in doing so if I thought the Board were at any time guiding the ESB in a direction which was not in the public interest.

Even the Chairman?

Even the chairman. If the Taoiseach thought that I, in handling the Department of Transport and Power and, through it, the ESB was not acting in the public interest he would naturally take steps to remedy that situation. Indeed, if I were guilty in that respect, then I should be fired. I have no hesitation in saying that.

Deputy Barrett gave five reasons for opposing the Bill. He said the capital should be increased from £25 million to £100 million. The £25 million is sufficient for Bord Gáis Éireann to cater for the existing gas find. They can purchase the gas, lay the pipes, instal the valve connections and so on and set up their company with that amount. Why give them more than they want? What is the point in giving them £100 million when £25 million will do? Is it not much better, if there is a further gas find and it is going to be sold to Bord Gáis Éireann, that I should come back here and ask authority from this House to allow Bord Gáis Éireann to borrow more money? If we gave them £100 million now I would not be back in here justifying their use of the balance of £75 million if that is required. Is it not much better that I should come back in here regularly and justify the use Bord Gáis Éireann are making of the money? This is a silly objection to the Bill. If they could do it for £15 million I would have their borrowing powers reduced to £15 million to ensure that I, or any other Minister for Transport and Power, will be responsible to this House for the operation of a State company under his control.

Again, I come back to the decision to allocate the gas for electricity generation. Deputy Barrett says this should be cancelled and he says this provision is one of the reasons for Fianna Fáil opposing the Bill. There is an argument here, of course, and I acknowledged that two years ago when the Government made a decision to allocate the gas. This is a small gas find by North Sea standards. Deputy O'Malley says we should leave it in the ground and take it up in two or three years' time to be a source of energy for a smelter. We have to get the best contract price we can and all adjustments to a contract affect other parts of that contract. We were anxious to get this gas ashore quickly and cheaply so that the input it will make to the economy will be available as quickly as possible. Now part of the contract says we will take it all ashore on 31st March, 1979, at this price for 20 years. If we were not going to take it for two years after that we would still have to pay for it because the contract so says and we would not get the benefit inside the economy. Therefore we were faced with the necessity of taking it ashore at a certain time if we wanted to get it at a certain price and taking the total amount and if we were not prepared to take the total amount at the given time, then we would have to pay a higher price. We had to balance the benefits to the economy and we came to the conclusion we wanted the gas immediately.

There was talk here about building a national grid and piping the gas to Dublin. The amount the Dublin Gas Company could take would be about 10 per cent. That is all the company would use and we would be still faced with finding another big user for the balance. We decided, in the knowledge we would be criticised, on providing natural gas for the generation of electricity. This is one of the uses we will put it to.

The figure of 60 per cent may be a good political football, but it is not accurate because what one is talking about is the conversion rate to electricity and, when you get the end use of energy, natural gas, even to burn it under a kettle, is not efficient because there is a wastage of heat. But there is no wastage of heat in electricity. This is where the 40/60 per cent figure comes in. It is the conversion rate to electricity where the thermal efficiency of the natural gas is as low as 40 while other fuels would be higher. Any fuel has a wastage and for Deputy C. Murphy to say this is an appalling sum of money to be going up in the air in smoke is too ridiculous for words. It is absolute nonsense because the only way to stop wastage is by stopping generating electricity altogether. Any fuel, whether it is oil, coal, peat or gas, has wastage and the only way you can stop wastage is to stop burning electricity and to go back to burning candles. There is a waste in burning candles too because you end up with no candles. The argument is a silly one and it bears no relation to the facts of energy consumption or the use of fuels for the generation of electricity as a source of energy.

The balance will be used in a fertiliser plant. For some reason Deputy O'Malley is opposed to that and I cannot understand it, because we are an importer of fertiliser and when the NET plant at Marino Point in Cork is built and is functioning we will have 100 per cent sufficiency in fertilisers and have a surplus for export. That is using natural gas in a way that seems to be approved by Deputy Barrett, Deputy Murphy and Deputy Moore but, for some reason, not by Deputy O'Malley, and I do not understand his argument there. However, he did make the argument in favour of giving further finds of natural gas to the ESB on the assumption that the distribution grid already exists. I personally do not favour that. That is my personal opinion now, but when the study to which I referred in the last page of my speech is completed, it may be that is one way of using it, and that, adding together all the components, the use of the field, whatever size it may be, and so on, it may be the right thing to do. I am not willing to commit myself either way at this stage.

I have said on numerous occasions that if there are further finds of gas Bord Gáis Éireann would be responsible for creating the grid that is found necessary to distribute supplies to the rest of the country. Deputy O'Malley referred to an article written in a magazine last month or the month before. This article was based on the assumption that the cost of the gas was so much and the laying of the pipe for the transmission of the gas to Dublin would therefore work out at so much, that we could afford to pay so much for it. It is all based on the assumption of what the cost of the gas is. As he is wrong in that, his whole argument falls down.

The cost of a national grid would be extremely expensive but if the find was big enough, that would probably be the correct thing to do. Again it must be remembered that when the oil crisis came in October-December, 1973, when we were practically totally dependent on imported oil as an energy source, we had no redress at all; we had no sympathy and no help from anybody. We were probably more dependent on imported oil than any other country in Europe. The expansion of Bord na Móna's activities into bogs that were not considered economic up to that point because of the low price obtainable for peat and the very low price of the competing energy source, imported oil, and the expansion of the third programme of Bord na Mona have meant that we will be lowering our dependence on imported oil.

Another very important factor the Government took into consideration when deciding the ESB should get the natural gas for the generation of electricity was this further lowering of our dependence on imported oil. This is very important, and I would personally like to see the position arrived at— and this relates to what is found on our Continental Shelf—where we would be totally independent of all imported sources of energy, as we shall be totally independent for our sources of imported fertilisers when NET have completed their factory at Marino Point in Cork.

Bord Gáis Éireann will have the duty of looking into the various possible uses of natural gas. At this stage we should not rule out any of those, whether it is to pump it into generating stations or whatever other use is made of it. A great deal of consideration must be given to the fact that the grid exists. It has to be accepted that there is not the most efficient conversion from natural gas to electricity, but as I say the grid does exist. In establishing a national grid—Deputy Barrett mentioned Dublin-Cork-Drogheda with branches to Waterford and Limerick— there is probably over 300 miles involved. That will cost something like £500,000 a mile, maybe less, making a total investment of £150 million. Is it better to suffer the loss from the less efficient conversion from natural gas to electricity, and, because the grid already exists, invest that money in creating jobs and industries at points on the existing grid, or is it better to make this investment of £150 million to establish the grid because a more efficient use of the gas is obtained?

You are creating more jobs.

Exactly, you are creating more jobs but you cannot create more jobs except in the building of the grid, and, as Deputy O'Malley pointed out, once that is done, the employment is finished. I am not saying which is the best thing, but these are the choices. If you make the capital investment in the national grid, then you cannot make a capital investment of that amount in industries to find other jobs. There are arguments on both sides, and it will be the jobs of Bord Gáis Éireann to bring forward their proposals to the Government in the event of another find. It must be remembered that this is the only find we have.

Deputy Barrett spoke of the wastage of using this in Cork, that it should be pumped straight to Dublin. Given the fact that there is only one find and that it is of quite a small amount, satisfying 12 per cent of our energy needs, it might have been ridiculous to build a grid to take that up to Dublin.

The Minister said £75 million. How much is it costing to build the generating station?

The generating station is not a waste; it will be used anyway. We will be looking for more generating plants all over the country to take up the grid.

You are losing £13,500,000 per year.

Where does the Deputy get that figure? Is it from the same place Deputy Murphy got it?

It is a true calculation.

It is not a true calculation. When the Deputy was out I said he was basing it on the wrong figures. Some Deputy asked me were there any other countries in Europe using natural gas for the generating of electricity. In fact, 18 per cent of Belgian electricity is generated from gas; in Germany it is 20 per cent; France, 7 per cent; Italy, 6 per cent; United Kingdom, 3 per cent; Luxembourg 14 per cent; and the Netherlands, 86 per cent.

Is it not contrary to EEC policy to utilise gas for this purpose?

There was a recommendation, but in this case it does not apply because the decision to use the gas in this manner had been taken before the EEC made their decision in this regard.

Do they not say it is a wrong usage of gas?

It is not a use they recommend, but it is not banned.


The Minister should be allowed conclude without interruption.

Why did the EEC make the recommendation?

They did not make it a prohibition because they could see there were circumstances where it would be justified to use it. If they did not think there was a justification for using it, they would have put a prohibition on it. It is not a complete ban and it does not apply to decisions to build generating stations for this use taken before the recommendation was made.

When did they make the recommendation?

I think it was December, 1974—I cannot remember now—or March, 1975.

The point is why——

There cannot be any further interruptions. The Minister must be allowed to make his concluding statement. Questions may be asked afterwards, if necessary.

Deputy Barrett's fifth point was that the Minister for Finance controls the finances and that Bord Gáis Éireann, through the Minister for Transport and Power, must go to him for permission. This is current practice in most semi-State bodies. Anything to do with finance must be cleared and that is written into all legislation controlling State boards. It must be done in consultation with the Minister for Finance.

Deputy O'Malley made a point about the profits being taken by the State into the normal Exchequer funds. This is no different from the royalty provision in regard to oil. In the licences issued by the Minister for Industry and Commerce for the exploration or exploitation of our oil resources there is a section stating that the Minister for Finance may charge a royalty. He is allowed to do the same thing in this Bill with regard to natural gas. Deputy Barrett was concerned about the "additional functions" which I may give with regard to consultation with the Departments of Finance and the Public Service. He felt that this consulting would be done before the board could do anything. In this field of natural resources we are still young in experience and ability to handle those resources. A number of other Ministers have interests in this regard, particularly the Minister for Industry and Commerce, the person who grants licences for exploration. The Minister for Finance is also involved because of the royalties and the Minister for the Public Service is mentioned in all legislation controlling State bodies. On every occasion I brought in legislation dealing with a State company in the last 12 months I put in a section at the request of the Minister for the Public Service to the effect that the chief executive's salary should be controlled and determined in consultation with the Minister for the Public Service.

Deputy Brennan made the point that in the use of this natural resource the consumer would not benefit. I gather he was referring to the consumer of electricity. His point is not correct because it will be a benefit to the consumer in that it relieves the ESB of some of their dependence on imported oil. In the event of another crisis it assures supply for consumers. If it is as good a bargain as we are led to believe, and I can assure the House that the deal will be very beneficial to the country, the purchase of natural gas will have its effect on the price of electricity in the future.

Deputy Moore felt the Bill had been prepared in haste and said we should have waited another six months. He was of the opinion we had come to a hasty decision as to how to allocate the natural gas. I should like to state that the decision allocating the natural gas was taken two years ago and has nothing to do with the Bill. Any future finds will be used by the board according to the dictates of the Ministers involved. The board will not have that right and the passing of this legislation will not give them any right over the use of it. That point is not relevant.

Who is the final arbiter on who gets what?

The Government.

Surely that is your answer.

The Deputy is confusing me again. This has nothing to do with the Bill. Deputy O'Malley made the point that an oil find might obviate the necessity to import any oil and this is true. If there is such an oil find God speed the day. However, the fact that we will not have to import oil does not mean that we will not have to generate electricity. It is in the use of the oil afterwards that we will get the benefit. The object would be to get as much value out of the oil found off our shores as possible. That oil be found off the west coast seems to be Deputy O'Malley's hope and it was his belief that people felt there would not be any finds off the south coast. If that is so some of the multi-nationals who have been accused of being very clever in their use of the resources in the countries where they operate are very stupid. If there is no chance, as Deputy O'Malley thinks, of an oil find off the south coast some of the biggest companies in the world are wasting a lot of money drilling there at present.

It is more hopeful off the west coast.

In the long term perhaps but the technology to explore in deep water is there but the technology to exploit out of depths of the west coast is not there and may not be there for ten or 15 years. The people who are now exploring the Celtic Sea would not be doing so if they thought there was not hope. It may not work out but at least they are there and we would hope to get something at the end of the year. In opposing this Bill the Opposition are short-sighted, silly and are basing their opposition on false premises that have nothing to do with the Bill. I can only conclude that their efforts, based on wrong information, are to try to prevent the country getting the benefit of our first find of natural gas. These obstructionist tactics are based on poor research, bad information and such tactics will keep them opposing similar legislation for many years to come.

Would it not be more beneficial if the board were given control over all the natural gas that might be found resulting from exploration licences?

All gas found must be sold to the board. We are allowing one exception and I shall give an example to illustrate that exception. Suppose all the gas is found off the south coast and is pumped into a national grid there and in 20 years' time there is a small find above the north coast of Donegal, to insist on the board taking that on and pumping it through their grid would be very expensive. It would mean connecting the north of Donegal to the grid. That would be silly. In that event we would consider setting up a big industry near the gas find and pump the gas straight to that industry. That is the only exception. Otherwise the Bill states that all gas found must be sold to the board.

The Bill refers to gas when landed, not all gas found.

The licences are issued by the Minister for Industry and Commerce and anything found under such licences must be landed.


They will not get the licences unless they agree to land. That is one of the conditions of the licence.

Question put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 56; Níl, 50.

  • Barry, Peter.
  • Barry, Richard.
  • Belton, Luke.
  • Belton, Paddy.
  • Bermingham, Joseph.
  • Bruton, John.
  • Burke, Joan T.
  • Burke, Liam.
  • Byrne, Hugh.
  • Cluskey, Frank.
  • Collins, Edward.
  • Conlan, John F.
  • Coogan, Fintan.
  • Cooney, Patrick M.
  • Corish, Brendan.
  • Cosgrave, Liam.
  • Cruise-O'Brien, Conor.
  • Desmond, Barry.
  • Desmond, Eileen.
  • Dockrell, Henry P.
  • Dockrell, Maurice.
  • Donegan, Patrick S.
  • Donnellan, John.
  • Dunne, Thomas.
  • Esmonde, John G.
  • Finn, Martin.
  • FitzGerald, Garret.
  • Fitzpatrick, Tom (Cavan).
  • Flanagan, Oliver J.
  • Gilhawley, Eugene.
  • Governey, Desmond.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harte, Patrick D.
  • Hegarty, Patrick.
  • Hogan O'Higgins, Brigid.
  • Jones, Denis F.
  • Kelly, John.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Kyne, Thomas A.
  • L'Estrange, Gerald.
  • Lynch, Gerard.
  • McLaughlin, Joseph.
  • McMahon, Larry.
  • Malone, Patrick.
  • Murphy, Michael P.
  • O'Brien, Fergus.
  • O'Connell, John.
  • O'Connell, Tom.
  • O'Sullivan, John L.
  • Pattison, Seamus.
  • Ryan, John J.
  • Ryan, Richie.
  • Taylor, Frank.
  • Timmins, Godfrey.
  • Toal, Brendan.
  • Tully, James.


  • Andrews, David.
  • Barrett, Sylvester.
  • Brady, Philip A.
  • Brennan, Joseph.
  • Briscoe, Ben.
  • Brosnan, Seán.
  • Browne, Seán.
  • Brugha, Ruairí
  • Burke, Raphael P.
  • Callanan, John.
  • Calleary, Seán.
  • Colley, George.
  • Collins, Gerard.
  • Connolly, Gerard.
  • Crinion, Brendan.
  • Cronin, Jerry.
  • Crowley, Flor.
  • Lynch, Jack.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • MacSharry, Ray.
  • Meaney, Tom.
  • Molloy, Robert.
  • Moore, Seán.
  • Murphy, Ciarán.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • Daly, Brendan.
  • Davern, Noel.
  • de Valera, Vivion.
  • Fahey, Jackie.
  • Faulkner, Pádraig.
  • Fitzgerald, Gene.
  • Fitzpatrick, Tom (Dublin Central).
  • Flanagan, Seán.
  • French, Seán.
  • Geoghegan-Quinn, Máire.
  • Gibbons, James.
  • Gogan, Richard P.
  • Haughey, Charles.
  • Kenneally, William.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Lalor, Patrick J.
  • Lynch, Celia.
  • O'Connor, Timothy.
  • O'Kennedy, Michael.
  • O'Malley, Desmond.
  • Power, Patrick.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Timmons, Eugene.
  • Tunney, Jim.
  • Walsh, Seán.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Kelly and B. Desmond; Níl, Deputies Lalor and Browne.
Question declared carried.
Committee Stage ordered for Tuesday, 22nd June, 1976.