Air Navigation and Transport Bill, 1949—Second Stage.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

The Air Navigation and Transport Act, 1936 is the main statute governing civil aviation in this country. There were amending Acts in 1942 and 1946. The main purpose of this Bill is to provide for the continuance of the payment of subsidies to the air companies. The remaining objects mainly deal with amendments and clarifications of the existing law which experience has shown to be necessary and which, while not involving any radical changes, have been shown to be of importance to civil aviation.

The objects of this Bill are stated briefly in the Explanatory Memorandum circulated to Deputies and Senators with the text of the Bill on 27th January, 1950. Section 79 of the Air Navigation and Transport Act, 1936, fixed at £500,000 the aggregate amount which might be paid to the air companies by way of subsidy during a period of five years from 14th August, 1936. The period was extended for five years from 26th May, 1942, by the Air Navigation and Transport (Amendment) Act, 1942. The sum of £500,000 was later increased to £750,000 by Section 19 of the Air Navigation and Transport Act, 1946, and the period in which payments might be made was extended for a further five years from 31st July, 1946. The limit of £750,000 which might be paid by way of subsidy was reached in March, 1948. It is necessary to make provision in the present Bill to continue the payment of subsidies to the air companies.

The Bill enables the payment of subsidies to be continued for a further period of five years from the date of enactment. Because of the difficulty of estimating what moneys would be required over a period of five years it is thought better that the Bill should not specify a limit on the amount to be paid during the period. Any subsidy which has to be paid will be subject to the control of the Dáil in the usual way as provision will be made in the appropriate Vote each year. Aer Lingus showed a loss of £162,000 for the year ended 31st March, 1949. The original estimate for the current year was £125,000 and they expect to do considerably better than that.

Section 3 of the Bill makes clear that the Minister has power to prosecute in respect of breaches of the Air Navigation and Transport Acts, 1936 to 1946, and of this Act. Section 5 of the Bill brings the definition of "State aircraft" into accord with that contained in the Chicago Convention of 1944. The 1936 Act defines State aircraft as military aircraft and every aircraft used exclusively in State services including postal, customs and police services. This follows the definition in the Paris Convention of 1919, which was replaced by the Chicago Convention of 1944. The definition of State aircraft in the Chicago Convention does not include aircraft used in postal services. The intention of the 1939 Act was that the definition of State aircraft should apply to aircraft of all States but the wording of the definition was such that it might be interpreted as applying only to aircraft of this State. As Ireland has ratified the Chicago Convention, it is desired to bring the definition of "State aircraft" into conformity with that convention and also to make clear that the term relates to State aircraft of States other than Ireland.

Sections 6, 7 and 8 of the Bill clarify certain of the powers conferred on the Minister by the 1936 Act relating to the acquisition and disposal of land and the maintenance of water supply, sewage and other works ancillary to aerodromes.

Section 6 of the Bill is intended to clarify the powers of the Minister in relation to the acquisition of land. Section 36 of the Principal Act defines the purposes for which land may be acquired either by agreement or compulsorily as including purposes relating directly to the safety of aircraft. It was the intention of that Act to allow the acquisition of land for all requirements of an aerodrome but the manner in which Section 36 is framed might suggest that land could be acquired only for purposes relating directly to the safety of aircraft. Section 6 of this Bill is intended to make it clear that the Minister may acquire land at or near an aerodrome by agreement or compulsorily for purposes such as the erection of radio beacons to assist the navigation of aircraft or the erection of ancillary buildings.

Section 37 of the 1936 Act provides for the establishment and maintenance of aerodromes and the provision and maintenance in connection therewith of roads, bridges, approaches, apparatus, equipment and buildings and other accommodation. To remove any doubts it is desirable that specific powers should now be taken to provide and maintain water mains, sewers and sewage disposal works, electric lines, lights and signs. This is done in Section 7. The Minister is authorised by Section 8 of the Bill to enter before conveyance or ascertainment of compensation on any lands compulsorily acquired by him. Where agreement cannot be reached on compensation arbitration proceedings tend to be slow. If the Minister wished to use land in order to comply with an international aviation requirement before a specified date, it might be essential to gain possession of the land without undue delay. Up to the present the normal procedure has been followed and the additional powers now proposed would not be used unless in exceptional circumstances which would warrant entry on land before compensation had been fixed.

Section 10 of the Bill deals with the vesting of lands at Dublin Airport in the Minister. Some of these lands were acquired as long ago as 1918 by the British Government for use as a military aerodrome and are subject to the provisions of the State Lands Act, 1924. The Minister is hampered in making agreements and leases with airlines and others because the procedure laid down in that Act is not quite appropriate as a result of the developments which have taken place since the airport was built. Section 10 is designed to remove these difficulties. Other portions of the lands were acquired by the Minister for Defence and it is now proposed to vest these also in the Minister for Industry and Commerce for convenience of administration.

Section 11 provides that these lands, as well as some other lands acquired at Shannon Airport under Emergency Powers Order, will be treated as if they had been acquired under the 1936 Act. This is being done to ensure that the provisions of the 1936 Act relating to the development of aerodromes will apply to these lands.

Section 42 of the 1936 Act empowers the Minister to dispose of land no longer required by him for the performance of his duties or the exercise of his functions under that Act. His right to lease sites, buildings, space or rooms at State aerodromes or to dispose of land other than land acquired by him under the 1936 Act is not expressly provided for. Section 12 of the Bill puts the position beyond doubt.

The presence of unlighted obstruction such as high buildings in the vicinity of aerodromes may be a hazard to aircraft. It is essential that such obstructions should be marked particularly where there are night operations. It is important that the Minister should have powers where necessary to affix lights or signs to obstructions and that his officers should have access to these lights or signs for maintenance purposes. Section 13 of the Bill proposes to give the Minister such powers. It also provides for the payment of compensation where any person proves that his estate or interest is injuriously affected in consequence of the exercise of these powers.

Recommendations have been made by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, of which Ireland is a member, about controlling the height of obstructions in the vicinity of aerodromes particularly in the areas extending directly from the ends of runways. Up to the present, the Minister has not had power to regulate the height of buildings or other structures in the vicinity of aerodromes, which would constitute a hazard to aircraft. It is now proposed in Section 14 that the Minister will have power to regulate the height of buildings in the vicinity of aerodromes. The Minister may by Order declare a particular area to be a protected area and within that area no buildings may exceed a height fixed by the Minister. Provision is made in Section 14 for the giving of notice to interested parties of the making of a protected area Order and for ensuring that any permit granted by the Minister in connection with a protected area Order shall not operate to release the holder from any restrictions imposed under the Town and Regional Planning Acts, 1934 and 1939. Provision is made for the payment of compensation where any person proves that his estate or interest is injuriously affected in consequence of the making of a protected area Order.

Provision is made for the laying on the Table of each House of the Oireachtas, of every protected area Order as soon as it is made. Either House may pass a resolution annulling such Order within the next subsequent 21 days after it sits.

Section 16 of the Bill enables the Minister to make bye-laws for the maintenance of order and the control of traffic at State aerodromes and lays down penalties for the violation of the bye-laws. The Bill also enables the Minister to make bye-laws for the custody and disposal of lost property found at State aerodromes.

Officers authorised by the Minister will have power to prohibit and restrict the entry of, and to remove, persons, animals and vehicles; to control traffic and enforce speed limits and parking regulations; and to enforce the bye-laws.

Section 22 of the Bill provides that a State aerodrome is a public place for the purpose of any enactment. The provisions of the Road Traffic Act, 1933, and of the Licensing Act, 1872, refer to public places and the section is intended to make it clear that the provisions of these Acts apply to State aerodromes. Part X of the Road Traffic Act, 1933, deals with the lighting of vehicles on roads and it is intended that that Act should apply to roads in a State aerodrome.

Section 23 of the Bill provides that for the purpose of the management of Dublin Airport, Aer Rianta may act as agents of the Minister unless and until he otherwise directs. Aer Rianta have been managing the airport since 1940 and no change is contemplated. It is desirable that there should be statutory recognition of this arrangement because of the increasing activity at the airport.

Section 24 of the Bill modifies the Water Works Clauses Acts, 1847 and 1863 so that the Minister may, with the permission of the sanitary authority concerned, sell water to any person from the supply at a State aerodrome. I would be glad if the Seanad would facilitate me in giving me all the stages of this Bill, as it has to become law before the 31st March, since it will be necessary to make certain provisions in regard to subsidies.

We will afford every facility to the Parliamentary Secretary to give speedy passage to this Bill. As he has pointed out, its provision is for a subsidy to our air companies. He informed us that early in March of 1948 the limit of almost £1,000,000 provided in the Bill of 1946 was reached. I would like some information in regard to what has happened in the intervening period. If the 1946 Bill provided for a subsidy to be paid to a particular company operating a particular service, and if the limit of that subsidy was reached in March, 1948, what effect has that had on the finances of that company since then? We must take it that if the limit was reached in March, 1948, provision should have been made before now for the introduction in the Dáil and here of a Bill to do what is proposed in the Bill before us now. Has this had a very serious effect on the finances of this company? How was the money provided to keep the company going and to meet the deficiency in their outlay as between what they earned and what the subsidy should provide?

Any ordinary business man knows that if you have a loss in running the loss must be made good by curtailment of the business, by selling out some assets or by going to local finaciers. You must find the money to pay your way. How did our air service continue up to the present time, when the subsidy provided by legislation was exhausted in March of 1948? One could put it in a very jocose manner and say that if they have continued from March, 1948, without a State subsidy up to now they could continue on that basis without the introduction of this Bill, regardless of the fact that they have a loss on their income in the intervening period. Of course, the answer is very easily found. It is because of the campaign conducted before and during the last general election. We are pleased that the Parliamentary Secretary comes along to make a case for the Irish people to provide a sum and to ask this House and the Dáil, not for a particular sum of £500,000 or £750,000 but for a blank cheque for the next five years, to subsidise the air services for the people who, we were told during the last three or four years, should be in a position, if they wanted to travel by air, to pay at least their own air service fees.

I am disappointed that the Parliamentary Secretary did not think fit to give this House or the Dáil, when introducing the Bill, an outline of Government policy on aviation. For some years we have had quite an amount of criticism. We had the cancellation of the transatlantic air service, we had that service made practically an election issue, and at least two Ministers have appeared before this House attempting to make the case for that cancellation. We have the Parliamentary Secretary introducing, at this stage, a Bill that should have been introduced in 1948. I suggest that the delay is due to that campaign previous to the election. However, we have this Bill now. We would have thought it would have been availed of by the Parliamentary Secretary to speak on policy. I will say this, that despite the fact that many of the Ministers of the present Government criticised our air services, put forward the view that it was Irish money poured down the drain, he was the person chosen on every occasion to go to Cork and Limerick and to functions elsewhere, organised by those interested in the development of our air services, and to put forward a case for the development of such services.

I believe that he himself is serious in this matter, since he knows that it is of national importance, that here at least is one particular opportunity in which we start off almost level with every other country of Europe. If it were a question of starting a big shipping company, it could be contended that we are much behind the times, that other nations had something over and above us. Here was something where we started on equal terms and something that we could develop. The previous Government devoted a great deal of attention to this problem and were anxious that we should avail of the opportunities that presented themselves for the development of that particular service. I felt that the Parliamentary Secretary would avail of this opportunity to give us the Government's point of view and to tell us what the Government's policy is in relation to the development of our air services, if they have a policy.

Would the Senator mind if I left for a division in the Dáil?

I would not like to see the Government defeated because the Seanad meets. We would have liked to get from the Parliamentary Secretary an indication of what the future policy is. Why are we asked to pass a Bill giving the Government a blank cheque over a period of five years? Why is the sum not mentioned? Why are we not told that this Bill is to make provision for £500,000, £750,000 or £1,000,000 subsidy to be paid over a number of years? The answer that suggests itself to me is that, if the House were asked to make provision for a particular sum, the organisations operating this service would anticipate getting this particular sum from Government resources and, as a result, would not be as efficient as they would be if they knew there was nothing to rely on. We are asked to issue a blank cheque over the next five years. Why? Why do the Government ask us to do this? Is air service a very important national service? Is it a service that is availed of by the plain people of Ireland and that is of benefit to the plain people? No. It is a service that will be availed of by a particular section of the community and we are asked to subsidise it. We are told that that is good national policy. Is it not strange that, when there was an organisation in existence that could be of great benefit to the country, that could have earned the dollars so essential for the nation, it was handed over to the Dutch and to the other nations of the world? The service that we had built up was handed over and 300 personnel who had been trained at the expense of the Irish nation for the purpose of operating an Irish service were transferred. When we talk about the terrible atrocity of Partition, we always refer to the 40,000,000 Irish that are scattered throughout the world. Here was an attempt to give those who would be in a position to avail of it— an Irish service between this country and America—a service that would earn the dollars that it has been indicated to us more than once are so essential. I am sure that in 1952 we will feel the effects much more keenly than we do now of having scrapped that service. That service has been scrapped.

And a good job.

It is a good job, Senator Baxter says. The people who fought for the right to establish an Irish Parliament did not do so for the sake of political freedom alone. They did it in order that we could be in a position to develop our national resources, to build up every possible industry and to find employment for our people. What happened to those 350 persons who were sent abroad to take charge of our transatlantic service?

What happened the 250,000 who emigrated during the war?

They are now in the employment of Pakistan and other nations. They were trained at the expense of the Irish people. The Dutch and other nations are now earning dollars by carrying to Ireland the tourists that at one time some members of the present Government proposed should be taxed. This Bill indicates a conversion, albeit, a small one. This House is asked to pass this Bill, not for the purpose of bringing Senator Baxter's produce to the Dublin market or to bring the produce of rural Ireland to the Dublin market. These are the slogans that were used against the development of aviation during the years 1945 to 1948.

There is a more serious aspect. There was another organisation developed which found employment for our people. That organisation employed mechanics. It was set up in Limerick. That is gone and cannot be brought back. Despite the fact that Senator Baxter may be a member of the vocational organisation and the technical organisation in his native county, and might be very interested in the development of those organisations, still those young people of ours who would have and have the ambition to be mechanics of one kind or another are deprived of the opportunity of employment in their own country due to the policy operated by the Government of which Senator Baxter is such an ardent supporter. Some few months ago there was a conference in Dublin. I regret that the Parliamentary Secretary was called away. The present position is such that when an important measure of this kind is before the House, to save his Party from defeat he must vacate his seat and not be here as he should be to hear the views of the members of this House.

We will tell him what the Senator says.

I always would rely on Senator Baxter to convey it in its true terms from what I know. As a result of Government policy we had the closing of the Lockheed works, putting out of employment another 300 skilled workers, together with pilots and the people who would operate our transatlantic air services, and they have been forced to find employment in other lands. Apart altogether from the importance of this small nation having a civil air service, a much more important factor is the defence factor. I would like to have from the Parliamentary Secretary some information as to what is the personnel at the present time of our Army Air Corps.

Is that in order?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

We are dealing with civil aviation at the moment.

I will agree, but I put forward the theory that civil aviation is very much connected with our defence and that we should look at it in that light. I propose to put forward some views in that connection. It is essential that we should review the present position in Europe. We should get from the Government a very straight and definite answer to the question: what is our future policy? What do they propose to do or have they any plan? I say "no". If they say "yes", then they should show us what the plans are. The great nations of Europe to-day are preparing for another great set-to. We know we are a small nation. We know, and we are told by no less responsible a person than the Minister for Defence, that we must rely on our own resources. What are they? What is the personnel of our Army Air Corps at the present time? If we have not an Army Air Corps, where can we recruit the personnel for our civil air services?

On a point of order. Are we entitled to discuss defence?

Are you afraid to discuss it?

Might we have a ruling?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Senator is apparently endeavouring to relate civil aviation to defence.

I can understand that Senator Baxter and the people associated with him are not prepared to discuss this vital matter, but it is one that will have to be debated and discussed in this and in the other House and in every corner of the country in the very near future. It has a particular bearing on the subject under discussion here.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

It has not.

I will approach it from another angle. I will ask the Parliamentary Secretary to give us tonight a definite statement as to how many of the personnel of our Irish air service were members of a foreign army air corps and in the event of that country being engaged in a conflict, how many of them would be called to its service and what would be the personnel of our civil air service as a result of that?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I am afraid that that has nothing to do with the Bill which is before the House.

While I am quite prepared to accept your ruling, I suggest that the Bill before us makes provision for a blank cheque to keep in operation our air service and before I or any other member of the House is called upon to consent to the passing of this Bill, we must have the answer to the questions I put forward. This to my mind is a question of national importance and the Parliamentary Secretary knows full well that it is such. He knows full well that we have not at the present time sufficient personnel in our Army Air Corps to take the place of those people who pass out of our civil air services. He knows that the majority of the people employed in our air service at the present time were formerly members of a foreign air service and that, in the event of that foreign country being engaged in a conflict, they are going to be called to it and our air services would be deprived of them. If he can put forward facts and figures to prove that my statement is not correct, there will be no person as well pleased as I will be.

Why has this Bill been introduced in such a manner? Why have we not had some indication from the Government of the sum they are prepared to make available over a period of five years? Why must we be called upon at this stage to issue a blank cheque to provide for air services when we were told that it was a fallacy to provide a transatlantic service to earn the dollars which are so much needed? If it is wrong on the one hand it must be wrong on the other. I would be prepared to consent to a Bill asking £100,000 or £500,000 or any definite sum, but when the Parliamentary Secretary comes before this House and asks us to give him and the Government authority to issue a blank cheque for such services, having regard to the approach this Government has had to the question of air services, then it is certainly too much to ask.

I, at this stage, suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that he should take us more into his confidence, that he should admit to us if a mistake has been made and, if a new approach is about to be made to this whole question, he should give us an idea of what he thinks, and what the company thinks, will be the sum essential to carry on for the next five years. If he is not prepared to do that, if he is not prepared to give us the information I have asked for I would, at least, make this suggestion—it is again a national question—that if we are to have an air service we should make a serious attempt to, at least, go about organising that air service, and see that it is manned by people who will be at the service of the Irish nation in time of emergency, and who will not, because of their obligations be taken from the service of this nation into the service of another country. If the Parliamentary Secretary is not in a position to give us that, well, we must take steps to ensure, as far as we can, that the matter is taken more seriously than it is at the present time. I know full well that Senator Baxter is very anxious to get up to make a case. I will be anxious to hear the case he will make. I know full well, as I have already stated, it is not a case or it cannot be a case of taking the produce of the farmers of Cavan to the Dublin or the London market. It must be a case of taking those people who are not small farmers, the same type of people who would be of much greater benefit to this nation and who were opposed by Senator Baxter and those who were associated with him.

This is a Bill which is of a somewhat technical character. It is obviously designed to make for the efficiency, not only of our own services, but of the airports provided for the safety of aeroplanes that land in this country, and for many other things which, I imagine, every member of this House wishes to see done, and wishes to see done efficiently. The last speaker has varied from the County Cavan to the problems of Europe, and from 1852 to dollars, and I could hardly tell the number of things which he has introduced. It seems to me that there are only two matters, directly relevant to this Bill, which he has dealt with. One is that he has a sense of grievance because there is no provision for a huge loss in this particular Bill, and that he is one of those who strongly believes, no matter what the loss, it was highly desirable this country should run a transatlantic air service.

That is a matter on which there can be perfectly honest differences of opinion, but whether you do that in the future or whether you do not, surely there is no room for two opinions as to whether our airports should be run efficiently, as to whether there should be safety precautions, or as to whether the matters in this Bill should not be made law and done as quickly as possible. It seems to me there is no case whatever for introducing into the matter of air efficiency questions on which we may differ. I completely differ from the point of view of the Senator with reference to the transatlantic service, but I recognise that there can be honest differences as to whether that was or was not in the national interest. His other point was that he is strongly of the opinion that in dealing with the matter of air transport you should estimate your losses for five years ahead. Personally, I think, that is just silly. There is no case whatever for the statement that a blank cheque is being given. The only difference is, that whereas the previous Bill put a statutory limit on what the Dáil could do without passing another measure, this one does not. There is no blank cheque. There can be no money voted that is not passed or provided in an Estimate and, therefore, it would be an unfortunate thing if, as the result of the Senator's speech, it were to go abroad that there was a proposal for a blank cheque. There is nothing of the kind. I would like, when I am on my feet, to say that I am convinced and satisfied that whether we should or should not have an Atlantic service is relatively unimportant. What does matter is the fact that we have got a quite small, but very efficient service in Aer Lingus, one of which we can be proud, and one which has a good reputation abroad, not only by the good fortune that there has been no loss of life, but because it is well managed, and efficiently run. I have travelled a fair amount by air, and while I do not claim in any sense to be an expert, I do know that what I am saying now is shared by many people who are not Irishmen and, speaking generally, Aer Lingus has got an excellent reputation. Now, nobody disagrees that that should be kept. No one on any side of the House wants to make that a Party issue. Therefore I suggest that there is nothing of a Party nature in this Bill at all. It is simply a Bill to provide for efficiency and it should be accepted by this House as such.

I had a difficulty in finding out what the purpose of the Bill was at all because, as far as I can see, most of the enactments proposed in the Bill have already been in force. We have built roads and bridges and we have done all the necessary things of that kind that go to constitute an airport. Probably they wanted some clarifying and the Minister found it necessary to do so now. Senator Hawkins has dealt with some of the points I wish to make, and has dealt with a lot I had no intention of making. There is one point, at least, that the people of Limerick and Clare are still rather perturbed about, and that is the negotiations that have been going on for a long time as to the possible transfer of business from Shannon Airport to Collinstown. There is a general feeling that the Americans are trying to push that along, that they want to use it for their own purposes, and to use it for the purpose this year, in particular, of getting the Irish trade of taking our people across for the Holy Year. Well, I think, Aer Lingus have such an excellent record, of which we are all proud, that if they have the ships and men they should see to it that this country, which is paying for the airports, should benefit as a result. I am sure there will be a decision soon because that airport was built at a very poor time, a time of depression with very little employment in the country, very little indeed. I knew workmen to cycle 15 to 18 miles to work at that airport in the earlier stage at a wage of 27/- a week. That was increased gradually when it came to better times, but the sweat and blood of Clare and Limerick people were put into the construction of that airport and they hope and, I think, the country hopes that there will be no interference with it.

There is a small point that I wish to mention to the Parliamentary Secretary. In the early stages, after the construction, the airport was a great novelty on Sundays, half-days and that sort of thing. Nearly all the people of Munster came there, tinkers, tailors, soldiers and sailors, with the result that they had to be preyented going into the airport. They had to pay a levy of 2/6 on a car and, I think, 6d. or 1/- a head for the passengers to go into the airport.

It is very annoying and people who have travelled the world tell me it is the only airport where such a levy is imposed on visitors to the port. It is a very poor method of making people air-minded to prevent them from entering the port and seeing what is going on and watching the ships arriving and departing. I think that the big rush of people going to see the airport has subsided except for those who are coming to it on business, and it would be a nice thing if that admission fee were to be eliminated.

As it is, even a passenger going in is expected to pay and, if he objects, he is told to see the man at the counter, but there are so many counters there that you do not know which one to go to, and usually the people are just annoyed and tell them to keep it. Those travellers to whom I have spoken tell me it is the only airport at which there are charges made, and I am sure the Parliamentary Secretary could see his way to have them abolished. I believe that some of the officials at the airport itself are feeling that way now, and saying that the time has come when charges should be wiped out.

This Bill is such a comprehensive measure and there are so many ends and points to it that one could discuss it for a week, but I cannot let the occasion pass without remarking that most people thought that doing away with the Lockheed mechanical plant of 300 people, and with the proposed transatlantic air service, was nothing short of vandalism. There were 300 people there earning from four to eight guineas a week each when they were just turned out and sent all over the world. Perhaps the day will come when they or some of their kith and kin will come back there again.

This question of air transport is usually associated with a lot of sentimental talk divorced altogether from the business side of the problem. Air travel is just another form of transport competing with existing forms of transport and it can only succeed to the extent to which it takes business from other forms of transport and communications. Consequently, I think we devote too much time to talking about national prestige and the Irish across the sea—our great spiritual empire throughout the world —when we begin to talk of what is purely a business proposition.

Not only is every person who travels by air carried at less than the real cost, but the taxpayers have to pay the difference in order to subsidise it. The more we increase the expenditure on air services at existing rates the greater will be the national deficit. It was suggested actually that we were unfortunately misled in not widening the area of national loss by running a transatlantic service in competition with those huge American combines with hundreds of millions of dollars behind them—a perfectly crazy proposal— and that we should do that for national prestige reasons. Already we see other developments we had not anticipated, like the desire of the big American companies to by-pass Shannon and throw men out of employment. Surely we cannot blame the Government or any other Irish authority for that change, and greater changes than that will take place. The day may come when Shannon will be by-passed altogether by American companies, because of the development of transport, and what they regard as the requirements of their trans-ocean passengers. I do not know if there is any air company in the world actually making a profit to-day, but I would like the Parliamentary Secretary to say to what extent, if any, we are advancing towards solvency. For instance, is the subsidy decreasing year by year and, if so, to what extent? In the natural order of things, I think we must work for the day when these services will have to pay for themselves. We have already a tremendous commitment in the case of Córas Iompair Éireann and when it becomes a national undertaking this commitment will have to be paid until such time as the services are able to pay their way. Everybody would object to the perpetuation of a position in which rail and road transport would have to be subsidised. If that is so, why should we calmly and philosophically accept a position in which air transport, running largely in competition with these services, must be subsidised in perpetuity? In the past, we rushed pell mell into air development and we are paying for that now. You had the position where a most expensive hotel was erected down there at Foynes at a seaplane base which is now deserted. The hotel had to be sold for a song. That should be a lesson to the Government about entering into very heavy expenditure in regard to Shannon unless they are sure that it is going to be a permanent institution of an important kind. I would like to know from the Minister if Aer Rianta observes the general commercial principle of making provision for depreciation and renewals so that they can say at the end of each year in the regular commercial accountancy sense of the word what is the extent of the loss. Otherwise you will have no idea from a commercial point of view of the extent of the losses.

Senator Honan was mistaken when he said it was the only airport in the world in which a charge is made for admission. I remember seeing an advertisement in British newspapers some time ago announcing a scheme for the admission of visitors to British airports at weekends at definite fees of sixpence or a shilling a head and something additional for cars. They looked on it as a form of entertainment that would bring revenue which the public would be willing to pay and they did make a charge. I do not think you could make our airports open to all and sundry—that could create a position in which it would be impossible to carry on working. The charge in that case is a reasonable one. The rest of the Bill merely provides for regularising and bringing up to date the legislation governing air travel. Some of it seeks to remove doubts that previously existed, and other sections give powers, which the company had not got up to the present, to make air travel more efficient and safe. To that extent I do not think we need have any hesitation in passing the Bill. The subsidy portion, as Senator Douglas pointed out, does not ask for a blank cheque as reference to Section 25 will show. The moneys have to be provided by the Oireachtas in the ordinary way and any payments by the Minister for Finance may be annulled by either House in the ordinary way. To that extent, the House retains control over the payment of subsidies.

There is one point arising out of the remarks of Senator Honan on this question of admission free or by charge to aerodromes. I have nothing to say against the charging of an admission fee. I believe that some limitation on the number of people going to these places is essential, because it is natural that in the case of the people of this country as well as those of any other country, if you give them a free show, they will tend to over-run the place, and it is probably judicious that some admission fee should be charged.

There is, however, another matter about which I have heard much complaint, that is, the charge made by Córas Iompair Éireann for carrying passengers to and from Collinstown. It is not very relevant, but I think I may take this opportunity to mention it. I believe that visitors and others who have to travel to Collinstown are charged something like 1/3, where the normal fare would be 5d. or 6d. It is the fact that this imposition is put upon them over and above their ordinary fare that they resent. They do not resent paying the 1/3, but they do resent the principle of charging 1/3, and they feel that if they are to be flown from Dublin to some place in England, their fare from the centre of the city to the airport should be included in the fare they pay, and that there ought not to be this imposition on them. I do not know if that is the case in other countries. It has been alleged that it is peculiar to this country and it is a small matter which people who have to pay resent very much.

It is not my intention to go over many of the points already covered in this rather interesting debate, but I want to suggest that we have in our air service something of which the whole country has every reason to be proud. We have in it a service which, thank God, has been remarkably free from accidents and which has earned a reputation for efficiency, courtesy and general good management, which are matters that foreigners talk about. Advertising itself costs money and I want to suggest that our air facilities are, in themselves, a remarkably good advertisement for the country, and if some loss has been incurred and may be incurred in future in running them, that loss is offset by the value we get in return in the form of the good opinions expressed about our services by people outside.

Senator Hawkins raised one point which deserves the attention not merely of the Parliamentary Secretary, but of the Minister, that is, the personnel of our air service. I think it is true that some proportion—I am not sufficiently well informed to say what proportion—of the flying personnel are non-nationals. This is a time when we ought to be realists. Their own country undoubtedly has first claim on these men for either civil or military service and I feel that it would not be asking too much of the Government if I asked that the authorities here would provide in our flying services an outlet for the brainy young men of our universities.

If it was held out to them, to these young men with engineering qualifications and an adventurous bent, that, in our air services, there is an outlet for them, it would be an incentive to young fellows to take up flying as a career. I feel that it is a matter which is worthy of more attention than a mere passing reference in a debate. We should ensure that our reservoir of trained men will be men whose first loyalty is to this country and not to another.

Anxiety has been expressed, and rightly expressed, about the future of Shannon. I do not propose to go into that very controversial subject of whether or not we should have kept on the transatlantic service. I could say a lot about it, but will not do so. We must, however, be concerned about the anxiety they have at Shannon as to the future of that airport, and I should like to know, no matter what may happen about the transatlantic services, so far as our own ownership of them is concerned, whether the Government is giving any thought to the possibility of erecting at Shannon a duty-free airport. I feel that it is worth looking into, although, again, it is not something on which one can dogmatise.

It is there.

So much the better. It is something which would ensure the future of Shannon if it were well developed. It is well known that many of the most expensive articles in commerce to-day are articles of light bulk, and if inducements were held out to American exporters intending to sell their finished goods in Europe to use a portion of County Clare as a duty-free finishing-off place, the anxieties of Senator Honan and everybody in the country concerning the future of Shannon would be dissipated.

This is a Bill which deserves the support of the House. Anything that will increase the facilities and efficiency we have ought to commend itself not merely to the House but to the community as a whole.

I should like to associate myself with the measure of praise which has been given by many Senators to our air services. Senator Hawkins raised a point with regard to non-nationals being employed by Aer Lingus and Aer Rianta, but the Senator, possibly without due deliberation, failed to point out that many of these non-nationals were brought in at a time when Aer Lingus was being expanded very rapidly, with such rapidity that we were unable at the time to provide the requisite number of trained personnel from amongst our own nationals.

I am in full agreement with him and Senator Summerfield that every inducement ought to be given to our young men to use our air transport company as a medium for employment. Unfortunately, in this country there is no means whereby young men can be trained as pilots unless they join the Army Air Corps. That, of necessity, is a limited force and it is not possible for everybody who wants to become a trained pilot to get into that corps, and, if they do get in, there is no guarantee that they will stay in it and not leave it to become a civilian air transport company pilot. At a later stage, the Parliamentary Secretary ought to keep under his consideration the possibility of starting some form of school, if not for the training of pilots, for the training of young men in aeronautical engineering, by arrangement with the engineering faculties of the universities.

One of the features which, I understand, is showing great promise in the development of the business side of Aer Lingus is the gradually increasing amount of freight which is being carried from year to year. That is a feature which may hold very beneficial possibilities in the future. I understand also that one of the most prosperous lines in that trade is the rapid transportation of lobsters, crayfish and other shell-fish from Shannon to the French markets. There are possibilities that some fine day the Minister for Agriculture may require liquid milk to be exported from this country by air. These, I think, are all possibilities the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary ought to keep constantly under review. It is quite clear that, like most other transport services, air transport is very unlikely to survive economically on passenger traffic alone. Otherwise, there is nothing in this Bill that is not of a technical nature, giving the Minister the powers that are necessary for the safe handling of commercial aircraft under the various international agreements.

On the question of the compulsory acquisition of land for airport purposes, we all know it is frequently necessary to acquire land compulsorily for building houses. I know it is already provided for that there should be a price paid over and above the market value. There should be compensation for disturbance. It is not enough to pay market value in a case like that, where a person is removed from the house he has held or where his family may have been for generations, or where the land has been specially prepared. Some generous compensation should be paid, over and above market value. It may be the case that that is being done but, if not, I hope the Minister will look into the point.

I suggest that the Government do everything possible to insist on the retention of the traffic at Shannon as heretofore. It means more than the actual maintenance of the port. As we know, the tendency is for people to flood into Dublin and the east coast. One of the reasons for Dublin's overdevelopment is that all traffic and transport companies seem to turn towards the east coast and all our industries seem to follow that general trend of population towards the east. The result is that Connaught, Munster and the centre of Ireland are becoming more derelict and industry and population are fading out. The only way to stop that is by the development of industries in the west and south. One of the principal means would be the development of the ports, and Shannon Airport would be a great means of retaining the population there. For that reason, if for nothing else, the Government should make an effort to retain the aircraft landings at Shannon. In that respect, it was a great loss that our aircraft business was abandoned. I think the Government should again embark on that, if it is necessary. In any case, it is of vital importance that those conditions be retained and that the development of Shannon Airport should continue.

I would like to say a word or two on one general aspect of this Bill and of some other Bills which have been before the Seanad recently. I refer to State encroachment on the rights of the owners of land. It is really deplorable that every third Bill or so, for some reason or another, entails the landowner losing his rights over his own land. If his farm is damp, he is going to have people coming in and turning it round for drainage, whether he likes it or not.

If he is in a glen, a reservoir is poured over his farm and it will be engulfed and he will have to find some other place as a home. If a main road is needed from Bray to Dublin, he finds his front door or back door cheerfully cut off from his house and obliterated, to enable faster speeding in cars. Now we have aerodromes and if he lives in a flat place in the middle of the country he can look for trouble. He cannot put up a high post, nor may he erect a tower. If a church needs a spire, it may be a danger to aircraft, and the church spire comes under the Act.

I know it is a general problem and it seems to be reactionary to speak on this point, but do we know where we are going in this matter generally? We are steadily encroaching on the rights of people, in the interests of some big combine or of going faster in some direction. Is that what we want? Are we quite satisfied that a certain amount of money compensation, great or small, is enough justification for turning a man out of the home his family lived in for 100 or 500 years? It is a general point and I suppose nothing can be done about it, in one sense. I think we should keep our eyes open on this matter. Every major Bill means another encroachment on these personal rights. Let us see quite clearly what we are doing. If we give these special powers, to stop one farmer putting up some high post for charging his electric batteries or something of the kind, or another farmer from building a tower over a certain height, or if we cause another to lose his front door or back door, is this what we want? You may say that progress demands this. Frankly, I believe we should think twice about the kind of progress we want in this country. I appeal to the sensible members of the House to think of places like those farms which were in Bohernabreena, places which are not yet engulfed by progress, and to consider whether each of these Bills is not a nail in the coffin of Irish culture and civilisation.

Is Bille é seo nach féidir linn morán lochtaí d'fháil air mar Bhille. Is léir uaidh go bhfuil na cumhachta atá á n-iarraidh ann ag teastáil, má tá cúrsaí aerloingseoireachta na tíre le bheith chomhhéifeachtach agus ba cheart iad a bheith. Tá mé ar aon intinn, cuid mhaith, leis an Seanadóir Stanford, nuair adeireann sé gur trua go bhfuil an oiread seo á dhéanamh againn in ainm dul ar aghaidh agus gurb é an deireadh a bheas air ar ball go millfear rudaí an-luachmhara. I gcás aerloingseoireachta, do bheadh spéis agam fhéin ann ar dhá chúis—caithfidh Éire maireachtáil, agus caithfidh Éire seasamh i gcomórtas le náisiúin eile. Ní mór tráchtáil a bheith ann, ní mór caidreamh idir-náisiúnta a bheith ann, agus le haghaidh tráchtáil agus caidreamh idir-náisiúnta is léir go bhfuil aerloingseoireacht an-tábhachtach. Ar an ábhar sin, ó tharla go bhfuil sé tábhachtach agus go bhfuil sé riachtanach, ba cheart dúinn gach dícheall a dhéanamh chun go mbeidh na seirbhísí aerloingseoireachta atá againn sa tír ar chuma chomh hard-éifeachtach agus is féidir.

Is maith liom go mór an méid adúirt an Seanadóir Summerfield i dtaobh a fheabhas agus a stiúraíodh na Comhluchtaí Aerloingseoireachta sa tír go dtí seo. Nuair a smaoiníonn duine ar an gcostas a bhí orainn iad a chur chun cinn agus an costas sin a chur i gcomórtas leis an méid a chaitheas tíortha eile le seirbhís aerloingseoireachta, sílim gur féidir linn a bheith sásta go ndearna Aer Lingus a chuid oibre go maith agus go sásúil.

Ó thaobh timpiste, is dóigh go bhféadfaimis a rá go bhfuil seirbhísí na hÉireann ar na seirbhísí is lú ar an domhan ar bhain timpistí leo. Is iontach an moladh é don lucht stiúrtha, do na píolótaí agus don phersonnel ar fad. Sílim go mba cheart dúinn, ar an ócáid seo, a chur in iúl dóibh a mhéid agus atá meas againn orthu as ucht a fheabhas agus atá a gcuid oibre déanta acu.

An darna cúis atá agam le spéis a bheith agam sa mBille seachas cúrsaí aerloingseoireachta i gcoitinne, sea chomh tábhachtach agus a bheadh aer-sheirbhísí dúinn ó thaobh slándála náisiúnta. Dúirt an Seanadóir Summerfield go ndearnadh tagairt anseo don tseirbhís transatlantic agus go bhféadfadh seisean a lán a rá ar an ábhar sin ach nár mhaith leis. Is mór an trua é gur bhreathnaigh sé air mar sin. Má tá tuairmí againn a bhaineas le aer-sheirbhísí, is cuma an mbaineann sé le seirbhísí Eoraipeacha nó seirbhísí go dtí na Stáit Aontaithe, ba cheart dúinn na tuairmí sin a nochtadh. Is trua liom gur stopadh an tseirbhís a bhí beartaithe idir Éire agus na Stáit Aontaithe. Is trua liom é ar dhá chúis. Is trua liom gur chailleamar cuid mhaith tráchtála. Chailleamar cuid mhaith tráchtála an-luachmhar de bhrí gur cuireadh stop leis an tseirbhís sin. Dúradh ó am go ham go raibh baol ann go mbeadh cailliúint mhór ar na seirbhísí sin. B'fhéidir go mbeadh cailliúint ann ar feadh tamaill. Níl a fhios agam aon ghnó ach amháin, b'fhéidir, "black-marketing" nach mbíonn cailliúint air ar feadh tamaill tar éis a bhunuithe agus, ar nós páipéar nuachta nó monarchan déantóra ar bith, ní chuirfeadh sé ionadh ná imní orm dá mbeadh cailliúint le tabhairt faoi ndeara ar imeachtaí na seirbhísí go dtí Aimeirice ar feadh tamaill de bhlianta. Bhí an oiread muinín agam agus tá an oiread muinín agam fós, dá gcuirtí ar bun iad, dá stiúraítí iad chomh maith agus a stiúraítear na seirbhísí eile, nach mbeadh sé ró-fhada go dtí go mbeadh, in ionad cailliúint, tairbhe ann don tír.

Bhí buaidh faoi leith acu, nach raibh ag a lán comhluchtaí eile, maidir leis an tseirbhís Atlantaigh. Sé an buaidh é sin an "goodwill" a bhí againn thar mar a bhí ag tíortha eile, ar dhá chúis. Aon chuís amháin chomh líonmhar agus atá ár muintir sna Stáit Aontaithe. Is cinnte, dá mbeadh an rogha acu ar chóir taistil, gur túisce a thaistealóidís ar sheirbhís Éireannach ná ar sheirbhísí eile. An darna údar—an cháil a bhí bainte amach ag na hEireannaigh, mar "technicians," mar stiúrthóirí agus mar píolótaí, i gcúrsaí aerloingseoireachta.

Léigh mé go cúramach an díospóireacht a bhí ar an mBille seo sa Dáil. Níl a fhios agam céard adéarfas an Rúnaí Parlaiminte faoi ach déarfainn féin gur ceann de na hóráidí ab fhearr a chuala mé ariamh an óráid a rinne an t-iarAire Tionscail agus Tráchtála agus é ag cur síos ar an mBille seo. Ba mhaith liom a lán de na pointí a luaigh sé a lua anseo ach ní dóigh liom go mbeadh sé féaráilte don iarAire ná féaráilte don tSeanad. Ba mhaith liom go ngéillfeadh an Rúnaí Parlaiminte don achainí a chuir an t-iarAire Tionscail agus Tráchtála air nuair d'iarr sé air léargas éigin cruinn a thabhairt dúinn faoi aigne an Rialtais i dtaobh na seirbhísí sin. Ní leor dó a rá gurb é rún an Rialtais a ndícheall a dhéanamh le haer-sheirbhís a chur ar aghaidh do réir mar chítear dóibh gur cheart é sin a dhéanamh. Ní leor é agus, ar ócáid mar é seo, is dóigh liom go mba cheart go mbeadh an Rúnaí Parlaiminte ullamh ar an léargas sin a thabhairt dúinn i dtaobh polasaí, i dtaobh aigne an Rialtais, maidir leis na seirbhísí seo, thar mar atá déanta aige sa Dáil. B'fhéidir go bhfuil sé sin déanta aige anseo inniu. Is dona liom nach raibh mé i ndon fanacht. Bhí cruinniú le freastal agam air. Munar thug, is dóigh liom go mba cheart dó géilleadh don achainí a cuireadh air agus níos mó eolais a thabhairt dúinn faoi céard atá beartaithe maidir leis an tseirbhís sin.

An cailliúint de bharr na seirbhísí a chur ar ceal, is deacair é a mheas. Tá a fhios againn an réiteach a bhí déanta le píolótaí a thraenáil. A lán den obair, bhí sé déanta. Bhí ullmhúcháin déanta le go dtraenálfaí innealtóirí ar an obair speisialta a bhaineas le cúrsaí aerloingseoireachta. Bhí dóchas ann go mbeadh againn seirbhísí chomh hard agus ohomh héifeachtach agus ab fhéidir. Ba dheacair aon luach a chur orthu do réir airgid. Is cailliúint é sin, dar liom, atá go h-uafásach.

Nuair a bhí an díospóireacht ar bun i dtaobh na seirbhísí sin do chur ar ceal, rinneadh a lán cainte ar an méid airgid a bhí caite ar traenáil lucht oibre, innealtóirí agus eile. Ní cailliúint airgid é sin. Oideachas, ar shlí, a bhí ann agus oideachas an-luachmhar. Bheadh buntáiste ag teacht don tír gur deacair é a luacháil i gceart.

Má tharlann choíche sa saol mar a tharla cheana go mbeadh muid i sáinn agus cogadh thart, sin é an uair a d'aireodh muid an chailliúint a bheas ann de thoradh nach raibh sé de mhisneach agus de fhaid-bhreathnaitheacht ionainn dul ar aghaidh leis na seirbhísí seo.

Rud a thugann sásamh dom i dtaobh an Bhille seo, go bhfuil sé socair ag an Rialtas dul ar aghaidh agus deolchairí, nó subsidies, a íoc más gá go ceann cúig bliana eile agus nach bhfuil aon teora leis an méid a íocfar i riocht deolchairí. Bhéarfaidh sé sin deis don Rialtas, má athraíonn siad a n-aigne i dtaobh na seirbhísí aerloingseoireachta, polasaí maith a chur i gerích. B'fhéidir nach dtuigim i gceart é, ach bheirim an méid sin sóláis dom feín, nach bhfuil an doras dúnta ar mhéadú nó leathnú na seirbhísí aerloingseoireachta, ní amháin ar fud na hEorpa, ach go dtí na Stáit Aontaithe le cúnamh Dé.

Rinneadh tagairt do na strainséirí, na heachtrannaigh, a tugadh isteach i gcúrsaí na seirbhísí seo againne. Mar phrionsabal, níl mé i gcoinne eachtrannaigh a thabhairt isteach. Sé an rud nádúrtha é, má theastaíonn oideachas nó eolaithe uait, go raghthá go dtí na daoine is fearr a bhfuil an t-eolas acu. Más gá, i geás tionscail nó seirbhíse nua, dul i gcéin le haghaidh eolaithe d'fháil, níl aon locht agam air sin, ach ba cheart dúinn a bheith cúramach faoi cé mhéad acu a tabharfaí isteach agus faoi cén fhaid a bheadh siad sna postanna ceannais. Mar adúradh, má éiríonn aon chlampar caithfidh siad a bheith dílis dá dtíortha féin agus caithfimíd a bheith cinnte ó thaobh na slándála náisiúnta de go mbeidh daoine againn leis an obair a dhéanamh sa mbealach ba cheart í a dhéanamh.

Cloisim—níl fhios agam an fíor é— dá fheabhas na heiteallaín atá againn, nach bhfuil siad feiliúnach d'aistear trasna an Atlantaigh. Feictear dhom go bhfuil sé sin go míllteach. Deirtear nach n-airítear ganntanas uisce go dtéann an tobar i ndísc agus ba cheart dúinn fóghlaim ón éigeandáil atá caite—má tá sé caite—agus más gá airgead a chaitheamh, nó a chailliúint mar adeir daoine áirithe, ar eitealláin le dul go dtí na Stáit, ní cailliúint a bheadh ann, sílim, ach buntáiste. Ba mhaith liom go dtabharfadh an Rúnaí Parlaiminte cuntas dúinn ar éifeacht na n-eiteallán atá againn. An mbeadh siad feiliúnach le haghaidh tráchtáil trasna an Atlantaigh dá mba ghá le linn éigeandála a leithéid a bheith againn?

Ba mhaith liom a chloisteáil freisin an bhfuil aon bheartas ceapaithe amach maidir le haer-thaisteal intíre thar mar atá ann faoi láthair. Ní hé go mbeinn ag súil go gcuirfí plean i bhfeidhm maidin amáireach, ach an bhfuil aon bheartas ceapaithe amach acu le haghaidh na haimsire atá le teacht? Bhí sé i gceist sa Dáil. Céard a bheas ar intinn acu i dtaobh Chorcaigh, i dtaobh na Gaillimhe agus i dtaobh bailte móra eile ar fud na tíre? An dóigh leis go mbeadh gá le seirbhís den tsórt sin? Más dóigh leis go mbeadh, cén chaoia cuirfí ar fáil é?

Tá pointe nó dhó eile agam nach mbaineann leis an mBille go díreach ach ba mhaith liom iad a mheabhrú don Rúnaí Pairliminte, féachaint an bhféadfadh sé aon rud a dhéanamh fúthu. Tharla go raibh mé le goirid i nAerphort na Sionainne. Tháinig an té a bhí le taisteal ó na Stáit agus bhí sé le dul ar aghaidh go dtí an Mór-roinn. B'éigin dóibh fanúint san Aerphort agus cuireadh £1 2s. 6d. costais orthu as leabaidh d'fháil, i gceann de na hoistéil atá san áit. Níl fhios agam an bhfuil an figiúir sin as bealach le haghaidh cúpla uair a' chloig in oistéal, ní féidir liom ach an méid seo a rá: facthas do na daoine a bhí i gceist gur éileamh mí-réasúnta é agus gur fearr an margadh a gheobhadh siad da bhfanaidis i Luimneach nó i ninis. Níl fhios agam an bhfuil sé as bealach, ach facthas do na daoine seo a bhfuil cuid mhaith taistil déanta acu go raibh. Más é sin is dóigh le daoine, ní moladh duinn é, agus más féidir é a leigheas, ba cheart é a dhéanamh.

Ba cheart na rialacha a dhéanamh i bhfad níos righne le haghaidh aerphoirt phríobháideacha. Chonnaic mé sampla le goirid d'eiteallán ag teacht anuas beagnach ar an mbóthar. Chonaic mé capall dá scanrú agus is beag nár chaith sé a raibh sa charr amach as agus is furasta a thuiscint céard d'fhéadfadh titim amach. Tharla go raibh daoine ag taisteal i ngluaisteán; stopadar agus bhí siad mí-shásta faoin dóigh a d'iompar na daoine san eiteallán iad féin. Tá fhios agam go bhfuil rialacha ann agus gur deacair rialcha a chur i bhfeidhm, ach tá sé an-tábhachtach agus ba cheart féachaint chuige. Más gá, ba cheart go mbeadh na haerphoirt i bhfad isteach ón mbóthar mór. Bíonn muid ag iarraidh go mbeadh siad in aice an bhóthair mhóir, ach má tá, is deacair d'eitealláin tuirlint gan teacht i ngaireacht don bhóthar mór agus níl leigheas ann ach na haerphoirt a chur isteach ón bpríomh-bhóthar ionas go mbeidh deis acu coinneáil sách ard os cionn an bhóthair agus teacht anuas ar an aerphort.

B'fhéidir go mbeadh pointe nó dhó eile ann ar a dteastódh tuilleadh eolais uainn, ach beidh sé luath go leor nuair a bheas an Bille os ár gcomhair arís. Tá mé lán-tsásta an Bille a bheith ann, agus chomh fada is a bhaineas sé linne, gheobhaidh an tAire é chómh luath agus is féidir linn é a thabhairt dó.

Business suspended at 6 p.m. and resumed at 7 p.m.

A number of matters were covered in the course of this debate, but I think the details can be more appropriately discussed on Committee. Some Senators asked why there was no limit on the subsidy provision and said, in effect, that we were giving Aer Lingus a blank cheque or, rather, giving the air companies a blank cheque. That is not so. As Senator Douglas pointed out, in the annual Vote which will come before the Dáil, full opportunity will be provided for a discussion on the amount which it is proposed to provide by way of subsidy. The proposal in the Bill, which specifies no figure, is deemed desirable because it may transpire that in the course of the next few years it will be difficult to estimate exactly what subsidy will be required. The aim is to provide ultimately for a time when no subsidy will be necessary. I am glad to say that the figures show that in recent years the tendency has been in that direction. In 1946-47 the total loss incurred by Aer Lingus was £139,476; in 1947-48 it was £612,432, and in 1948-49 it was down to £162,850. This year the original estimate anticipated a loss of £125,000, but I hope, and the company anticipates, that it will be possible to have a lower charge for subsidy. I think it is reasonable that no figure should be mentioned, in view of the fact that the Dáil will have ample opportunity on the annual Vote to discuss the proposed figure which will have to be provided for each year in the Estimate. Senator Hawkins also asked what had happened between the end of March, 1948, and the present time; how did the company exist, and what was its financial position. He wondered how the company had survived without subsidy payment. The explanation is quite simple. The company had a number of aircraft, both Vikings and Constellations, which were disposed of and the money received was available for payment in respect of charges which the company was liable for. There is now owed to the company in respect of subsidy something over £400,000, which has been provided for in the Estimate.

Senator J.T. O'Farrell asked whether the company in its accounts provided for the ordinary depreciation and renewal charges which are customary in accounts. The answer is "yes". They provided fully for those, and all those charges are taken into consideration as well as a number of other items properly covered in the accounts on which the subsidy is estimated. Two other matters engaged the attention of Senators, and I feel they are of importance and are more appropriate on the present Stage of the Bill than on the Committee Stage. The first is the future position of Shannon and the second that of the transatlantic air service.

Shannon is, as Senators are aware, a modern fully-equipped airport. The State has already expended large sums of money in providing there all services which are necessary at such an airport, and in so far as the Government can ensure that traffic through Shannon, will continue at a high level, it is anxious to do so, but a number of Senators appear to have some misapprehension about the effect of the compulsory stop. Under the agreement made in 1945, the United States has the right to ask for a revision of the terms of that agreement just as we felt we could also ask for a revision. There is also a provision in the agreement which entitled either country, that is, the United States or Ireland, to denounce the agreement or to give notice that the agreement will terminate at the end of 12 months.

Consequently, the United States' authorities, by virtue of the provisions of the agreement have, from time to time, put forward proposals for consideration which have been discussed on a number of occasions with a view to revising certain aspects of the agreement. I need hardly say that the Government is anxious to ensure that Shannon Airport should continue to get as large a share of traffic as possible, but in a matter of this kind the other party to the agreement has a right to ask for discussions with a view to revising the provisions of the agreement. Accordingly, when they asked for these discussions we were obliged to enter into discussions and I cannot, at this stage, say what the outcome will be, but it is only right that Senators should be aware that there is provision in the agreement for a revision and also provision for either party to terminate the agreement, provided they give a year's notice.

The other matter about which there has been a great deal of discussion is the cessation of a transatlantic air service. I think there are few subjects on which there has been so much nonsense talked as the proposed transatlantic air service. Senator J.T. O'Farrell said there was a great deal of sentiment about it. That is perfectly true. He said it is a matter which should be considered as an economic or business arrangement, just as any other transport arrangement is considered. I think that is equally true. The proposed transatlantic air service had no prospect in the foreseeable future of making money. It may be that some people in the United States with Irish connections would have liked to travel on an Irish air service, but leaving that consideration out of it there is no evidence from any reliable source that it would have provided a dollar-earning potential of any dimensions, particularly when we realise that other transatlantic companies have so far failed to operate at a profit, and if conditions had so developed that these companies were operating at a profit or that they could not deal with the demand for accommodation across the Atlantic, then it would be reasonable to assume that an Irish transatlantic air service would make a profit, but in the absence of any such evidence—in fact, the evidence being all the other way —that all these companies are in receipt of heavy subsidies by means of air-mail contracts—the Government decided that the country could not afford the luxury of a transatlantic air service.

That does not in any way take away from the present efficient air service provided by Aer Lingus, or lessen in any way the Government's high appreciation of the standard which that company has attained as well as the efficiency and safety record that it has secured, not merely a reputation in this country but a reputation among passengers who have come here from abroad. I am glad to join with Senators in expressing my appreciation and the appreciation of the Government for the manner in which Aer Lingus services are carried on, but to compare the potentialities of the cross-Channel or the internal services with the proposed transatlantic service is to refuse to face realities. In fact, up to the present, with the possible exception of one rather exceptional year, Aer Lingus has not operated at a profit and I think in a matter of this kind, where we have witnessed remarkable aeronautical developments in the last quarter of a century, or even since the outbreak of war in 1939, it is reasonable that a small country such as this should proceed with some caution as well as some regard for the responsibility which the Government and the Oireachtas owe to the taxpayers. Consequently, there is no proposal at present to start, and it is unlikely that in the future this Government will contemplate starting, a transatlantic air service.

In connection with the personnel of Aer Lingus who may have had service in the past with the British Air Force, I think it only right to point out that Aer Lingus is partly an Irish and partly a British company. The proportion of shares is 60/40, 60 per cent. being held by this country and 40 per cent. by Britain. It is also true to say that we have had the benefit of a number of technical experts whose services at a particular time could not be done without, and to whose work I should like to pay tribute. In a matter of this kind, we must appreciate that, while we have our rights and our interests, the other party has similar interests and responsibilities. There is no danger that services will suffer in the event of hostilities and it is not correct to say that these people are non-nationals. There may be a few who are not nationals, but most of the personnel are nationals. Some of them in the past served with the Royal Air Force, but in so far as it has been possible for the company, they have recruited personnel who were trained here in the Irish Air Corps; but, as Senators are aware, the strength of the Air Corps is such that it does not readily offer a reservoir from which we can draw personnel for the civil air services. I should say with regard to the objections which Senator Hawkins and others mentioned concerning Aer Lingus personnel that the same objections might with equal validity have been made when the arrangement was made in 1947. The company, under its present 60/40 Irish-British share-holding, was established in 1947 and I do not recollect that there was any criticism then of the fact that some of the personnel had in the past served with the Royal Air Force or that any objection was taken to it.

A number of Senators, and Senator Stanford in particular, raised questions about the acquisition of land and suggested that it seemed nowadays that the State was taking more and more power to acquire property. I suppose it is partly true that various Government Departments from time to time acquire property and the Senator instanced the fact that local authorities acquire property for housing. It is only right to point out, however, that it is in the interest of the community that local authorities should have such power to provide for cases in which they cannot secure land by agreement. Compensation is paid in these cases and it may be that the person whose land is acquired does not regard the compensation as adequate, but anyone who studies the history of this country will recollect that, in the past, instead of the State acquiring property, the landlords acquired it, and the compensation then, if any, was far less adequate than the compensation paid at present.

There is rather stringent power in the Bill for the acquisition of land in certain circumstances, but, as I mentioned in my opening remarks, it is only where the provisions of some international agreement require immediate action that these powers would be used. It is not the intention to abuse the power and it has not been abused in the past. Land adjoining aerodromes may have to be acquired at short notice. Acquisition proceedings take some time and delay occurs, and often not merely is it a matter of providing for efficiency but safety considerations enter into it and it is, therefore, deemed desirable to have these powers. Some of the powers in this Bill are already contained in the earlier Acts, but in certain details amendment was necessary and it is only because some of the provisions of the earlier Acts require amendment that further powers are included in this measure. As Senator Honan said, most of the matters dealt with were already provided for in the earlier Acts, but usage has shown that amendment was necessary.

Senators also raised some minor matters which might perhaps be dealt with now rather than on Committee Stage. One of these was the charge for the transport of passengers between O'Connell Street and Collinstown. The 1/- charged for that journey is necessary, because Córas Iompair Éireann provides special buses, and, in fact, the provision of the buses costs Aer Lingus more than 1/-. Some airports in Europe make no charge, but it is not true to say that this is the only country in which a charge is made. In America the charge from the city to an airport is usually a dollar, and in Britain some of the companies are anxious that a charge be made. I suppose people object to it because it seems an addition to the fare. I understood at one time that it was included in the fare paid by the passenger, but the losses of Córas Iompair Éireann are sufficiently high without asking them to bear the burden of carrying passengers between O'Connell Street and Collinstown.

Add it on to the fare.

That is a suggestion worth examining.

You could add half-a-crown and get away with it, whereas you are only getting a shilling.

Another point relating to charges was raised by Senator Ó Buachalla in connection with the hostels at Shannon. These hostels are made available so that accommodation can be provided for passengers who, for weather or other unexpected causes, are obliged to stay overnight, and, while the charge may seem excessive, staff have to be available whether the hostels are used or not and the same charge is payable by either Irish persons or persons who arrive there and who are detained because of the delays incidental to transatlantic air travel, due to weather conditions.

Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, March 15th.