Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Seanad Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 22 Jul 1959

Vol. 51 No. 6

Export Promotion Bill, 1959—Second and Subsequent Stages.

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

The purpose of the Bill is to establish Córas Tráchtála as a statutory Board to carry on the functions hitherto carried out by Córas Tráchtála Teoranta which was a limited company. These functions included the promoting, assisting and development of exports. Córas Tráchtála, Teoranta, under the present Bill, is to be wound up. I am sure most Senators are familiar with the functions of Córas Tráchtála, Teoranta, and, indeed, with its history.

The Dollar Exports Advisory Committee set up by the previous Government recommended that such a body be set up for the encouragement of exports and to assist exporting organisations in the export trade. Córas Tráchtála, Teoranta, was set up by the ensuing Government in 1951. It has since functioned as a limited company and has been financed out of yearly Votes by the Oireachtas.

Amongst the services provided to exporters by the company are the investigation in detail of export market prospects, sending trade advisers to overseas countries to carry out on-the-spot market investigations, seeking new openings for Irish products in foreign markets, organising collective marketing schemes, supplying importers in overseas markets with information on Irish goods, advising on channels of distribution, packaging and presentation, methods of salesmanship and the selection of agents. The company also arranges for participation at suitable trade fairs as well as the provision of publicity for Irish goods overseas through Press, television and radio.

Having reviewed the results achieved by the company since its setting up, the Government were satisfied that it was in the national interest to maintain as a permanent feature of our industrial policy an organisation specifically charged by the Oireachtas with the task of advising exporters and potential exporters, as well as the appropriate Ministers, on all aspects of export development.

The Government's Programme for Economic Expansion included an announcement of the Government's decision to establish Córas Tráchtála Teó. as a permanent State agency for this purpose. Once the decision was taken to establish C.T.T. as a permanent State agency, its status as a company registered under the Companies Acts was no longer appropriate, and as I have stated, the purpose of this Bill is to establish the organisation on a basis appropriate to its position as the chosen instrument to carry out Government policy in relation to promotional and market research work in export markets. The establishment of Córas Tráchtála as a statutory body will add considerably to its standing and authority in implementing long-term policies of export development. It will also influence and increase the confidence which is necessary for the developing by potential exporters of new types of goods as well as increased quantities of existing goods for export.

It is proposed to finance the company by the provision of £1 million out of the Exchequer and having regard to the annual expenditure which runs at about £225,000 to date, it is expected that that sum will enable the new Board to carry on for a period of about four years. When that sum has been exhausted, it will be necessary to come back to the Oireachtas for an increased provision, if it is so desired.

The activities of Córas Tráchtála have been widely acclaimed, particularly by industrialists who have had close contact with them and I believe that with their new status, their efficiency will have increased and as well as that, it will tend to avoid something that is not so desirable that has occurred in the administration. They have been able to get men of great ability on their staff, but there is a feeling of lack of security amongst them and occasionally C.T.T. lose good men by reason of that feeling of lack of security in their employment. As well as that, they often fail, for the same reason, to get men of the calibre-they desire. I confidently commend the Bill to the House. It is, on the face of it, a fairly extensive Bill but its provisions largely are machinery provisions which are adopted and have been adopted in the setting up of similar State bodies already functioning.

I think everybody in the House would be at one with the Minister and with the Government, or indeed with any Government, in any measure which would seem to the House to improve our position in export markets. I am not an authority on business or on exports but I have read the debate in the Dáil and have listened carefully to the Minister today and the question I asked myself in the beginning was: Why is this Bill brought in so as to effect a change from the existing system to a new system under which you have a Board and officials of the Board? I must say the Minister has not, it seems to me, at any rate, given any convincing explanation. There may be other explanations which will appear later, but on the showing we have had at the moment, I do not see any convincing reason for making a change from the system which has operated since about 1950 until the present time.

The new Board will have the same functions exactly as Córas Tráchtála has had to date. It will have, I presume, the same personnel and under Section 12 of this Bill, provision is made to transfer the staff of Córas Tráchtála to the new Board. The Minister said this would give it more permanency. I wonder is there anything impermanent, transitory or temporary about Córas Tráchtála as it exists. It would appear from the Minister's speech that the operative section in this Bill is Section 15 which gives superannuation rights to the staff of the new Board. The Minister told us that Córas Tráchtála had in the course of their operations some difficulty in getting good men to take posts with them and some difficulty in keeping their good men because they lacked security and presumably lacked pension rights. If that is so — and I take the Minister's word at once for that — it could have been remedied presumably by a superannuation scheme out of the fund provided by the Oireachtas for the officers of Córas Tráchtála. Instead of that, we have a very substantial Bill and the translation of this company into another State Board.

I do not understand why the change is being made. Only one reason has been given and if that is the only reason, the change necessitated by that set of facts could have been accomplished in a very simple way. The Minister said this Bill would add to the standing of the Board of Córas Tráchtála. I wonder whether the experts, the people who deal with our traders or our manufacturers, are concerned at all with the standing of Córas Tráchtála. I cannot understand how a man in the United States, in France or anywhere else who will not have any understanding of this kind of thing will worry as to whether it is a company or a statutory board. I presume it is part of the well-known desire of the Minister's predecessor to have boards. It used to be the boast of Sinn Féin in the old days that the British had too many boards and that an Irish Government would abolish them. Undoubtedly, some of them were abolished in the beginning; I took a hand in abolishing one of them myself. However, we have got back to the situation in which we seem to have boards for every conceivable thing.

No convincing case has been made for this elaborate machinery. We all know from our experience that the more elaborate the machinery is, the larger the bill is and the more the administration costs will be. It seems we are simply taking steps to make this thing more elaborate and more costly for the sake of providing a service which could have been provided on the basis which existed. I am very anxious that we should increase our exports and that no expedient of any kind should be left untried which would seem to bring us to that highly desirable end, but frankly I am not convinced from what the Minister has said that there is a sound case for the change which has been made from something which has worked reasonably well into a more elaborate business about the working of which we really do not know anything and about which we have heard nothing specific except a vague statement that it will have better standing and, having better standing, will produce better results. That seems to be extremely doubtful.

Whatever purpose the Bill was introduced for, I welcome it because it gives me an opportunity to say something about Córas Tráchtála. I particularly welcome the Bill if the purpose is, as Senator Hayes has said, to implement what is proposed in Section 15. This is a most successful service. I have met and talked to some of the officers of Córas Tráchtála and I know their work for some years back. When this was started, I was doubtful whether you could do such things in this way and my doubts have been resolved by the results. The results are very heartening. I believe the results are good because we were extremely fortunate in the men who began this service. I think Mr. O'Driscoll was the chief of the first Board but the young men he gathered around him have performed extraordinarily good work.

There was one great drawback and that was that there was a lack of security and a lack of future in the service, and, consequently, there was a too rapid turnover of staff. Every exporter, particularly exporters in the North American Continent, will support me when I say that the work done by an extremely small field group is productive of more magnificent results. What is much more important is that that machine now exists. That organisation exists and our small exporters can grow into medium-sized and larger exporters by making use of the contacts this machine has established.The work is of the utmost national importance.

The men in the service are too good. They are too good for the money they get and for the ceiling of the money they can hope to earn. Commercial firms who meet them realise the worth of the work they are doing. They realise their particular and specialist training in this work. The ceiling of reward is too low, and if this service is to continue successfully, the ceiling must be raised and the men in that service must be rewarded adequately.

There is one other slight comment that I would make on the work being done by these men. I think that in some of the areas, notably in North American areas, these young officers are left for too short a time. Two years to 2½ years seem to be the average. There are only four or five men altogether taking Canada and the United States into account. At the very time that they have contacts and when the developments are at their most fruitful period, these officers are frequently transferred. That, I think, is a mistake. I hope that the new director of the service will examine the position very carefully because I think these men start to be valuable only when they are transferred. They are all young men in their early 30s and it is a source of considerable responsibility and pride to them to be sent on this work to a great Continent like North America. It takes them some time to find their feet. They have all been quite successful. When they are a success and when their efforts seem to be meeting with reward for the work they have done, they are frequently transferred.

I think that some of them lose heart. I know two officers at least who have left the service because of that. I think they want a longer time in the field of activity. I think they want a higher ceiling to the reward they get. There is no difficulty so far in getting the men but there is considerable difficulty in keeping them. This is not quite a proper speech to make on the Second Reading of a Bill of this kind but I am very glad to have had the opportunity to be able to make these comments now.

We have not had this Bill for very long. Consequently, it is impossible to say very much on it. I do not know where we are going in this country with the number of statutory bodies that we are establishing.The Minister has indicated what the functions of the new Board of Córas Tráchtála will be. These are set out in general terms in Section 4 of the Bill but I would have thought that the Minister would be on better ground and would have better reasons for urging the House to accept this Bill, if he gave us some more concrete evidence of the manner in which the Board of Córas Tráchtála has achieved the success about which Senator Barry speaks so eloquently.

I do not know to what extent the company of Córas Tráchtála has been successful in its activities to date. I do not know what projects they have been engaged in. I have seen in the newspapers from time to time where there were officers in the Middle East and, I think, in Algeria and, perhaps, on the North American Continent. Beyond what one can get from the Press reports, I do not think we have an indication as to what the Board has been doing to date.

The Minister has not given us any information as to the number of personnel at present attached to the Board of Córas Tráchtála and the extent to which he, as Minister, envisages the number of personnel to increase. With regard to the erection of Córas Tráchtála into a statutory body, I do not at all appreciate the Minister's remarks that it will have such a status. If Córas Tráchtála, Teoranta, or whatever the English translation of that would be, with "Limited" after it, were writing to somebody in America, Canada or Australia, these foreigners would feel that they were dealing with a company and with a body which was freed from entanglements with the State. I would not have thought that it would have been a great incentive to foreign interests to deal with a body which appears to be a statutory body because I should expect that foreign interests would feel that a statutory body was more closely associated with and influenced by Government policy, that it would be an independent company which was operated upon lines somewhat similar to other companies in industry and commerce. To that extent, I do not think that the mere creation of this body into a statutory board will have any great influence on people abroad. I rather think that the influence will be the other way.

We had an Encouragement of External Investment Bill here in recent times. We have an Industrial Development Authority. We have a Department of Industry and Commerce with a trade section. We have trade officers and consuls in various countries. We have a Department of External Affairs. We seem daily to be spreading more and more functions, which, to my mind, is a sure way of having overlapping and wasteful expenditure and not having the necessary co-ordination which is desirable. I wonder in what way does the State contend that the new Board will work in conjunction with the Department of External Affairs and the Department of Industry and Commerce, in addition to dealing with private firms. It seems to me that if all those people have to be consulted, the less likely it is that business will be done. For that reason, I do not think the unloading of work, which was heretofore carried on by State Departments, on to statutory bodies is, per se, a good thing.

Another of the difficulties which arise in relation to statutory bodies, and which we have mentioned before, is the little control or influence which the Houses of the Oireachtas can have over these bodies to which large sums of money are voted annually, and in this case under statute. We are all aware of the stock answer given in the Dáil to questions relating to statutory bodies, that it is a matter of day-to-day administration and that the Minister has no control over them, or sometimes the Minister replies in effect, on the basis that he has received the information through the courtesy of the statutory board.

Recently, on the Turf Development Bill, when some Senators raised the question of the relations of statutory boards with the Oireachtas, the Minister's predecessor, the Taoiseach, thought that we were merely being critical on this side of the House and that we were not seriously interested in what these relations were or ought to be. He accused the Fine Gael Party of hypocrisy, as far as my recollection serves me in that connection. On this Bill in the Dáil, the Taoiseach has had something of a change of mind and it now appears that the Taoiseach considers there is a problem which might be examined. It is good to see that we are not always wrong on this side of the House and that the Taoiseach, at any rate, is open to persuasion.

There is nothing, however, in this Bill to indicate in what way the Oireachtas, which is asked to vote substantial sums of money to it, can review the activities of the Board. That, of course, is common to all statutory bodies. The Oireachtas has no way of reviewing the functions of these statutory bodies and I suppose the Minister is not to be blamed for not having made a change in this Bill.

I certainly welcome any provisions, made either by legislation or by a scheme for good management, designed to provide people with some sense of security. While it appears that the only difference between the new Board and the present company is that the staff of the new Board will have super-annuation rights, that in itself is a good thing because it gives people a certain sense of security without which they cannot put forward their best efforts. If one were astisfied that this Bill will produce the effects which the Minister thinks the creation of the Board into a statutory body will produce, one could not but welcome the Bill but like the Cheques Bill which we have just passed, this seems to be another example of the notion that by introducing Bills into Parliament and enacting them into law, we will produce all kinds of good results. I do not think that is at all likely. It seems that the purpose of Bills of this kind is more to give the idea that something is being done rather than to produce any worthwhile results.

I was a member of the original Dollar Exports Advisory Committee which was set up and which suggested the formation of Córas Tráchtála Teoranta, as it turned out to be, and I should like to say that I think it has justified the hopes the Committee originally had in setting up such a body. I must say, however, that I have been slightly puzzled by this proposal to change the company into a board. From what I have heard here and read in the Dáil Debates, I take it that it is really to give the officials of Córas Tráchtála security and with that, of course, we are all in agreement.

I take it from reading the Bill that it still will be possible for the Board to appoint officials who are not necessarily in the Civil Service, that they can take in people from outside the Civil Service. Without showing any disrespect for the members of the Civil Service—who are an excellent body of men in their own particular jobs and in their own particular way—we must face the fact that there is a certain lack of confidence in the business community in the ability of civil servants to advise on commercial matters. That was one of the advantages of Córas Tráchtála, that they did in fact have men working for them who had commercial experience and had a commercial background. That is one of the reasons why the business community found them helpful and had confidence in them.

The only thing I hope for is that as the company is now to be made into a board, the staff will not be turned into civil servants. I do repeat that I have no disrespect for civil servants, as I say, in their own sphere. One of the faults which has been found with the Department of Industry and Commerce by business people when they come here is that they are talking to people who are not really business people. As recently as two months ago, a German came here with a genuine desire to establish a business here and he told me, and others in the commercial world, that he met nobody but civil servants and he went away without doing anything. That may or may not be fair to the civil servants but it is true. Certainly I think the great advantage of this board, and the one which everybody felt made it successful, was that it had not got the name of being part of a Government body. Now it is going to become part of a Government set-up and no matter how good the men are in it, it will have that stigma in the commercial world.

The board will have a tough job before them because their job has always been to deal with exports. That is a very hard task in a country which has an industrial economy built up behind a very high tariff barrier. Now they not only have to advise people about export markets but to advise exporters that they will have to be more efficient. That raises a lot of questions but one of the questions it does raise immediately is in regard to the necessity for everybody in industry to work harder and to do extra work for the same money. The Taoiseach referred to the same thing in the Dáil yesterday, the necessity, at all levels of the community, of putting more work into what we do for the same amount of money.

If they want more money for the same work or for less work, they are living in a fool's paradise, as these people want it both ways at the moment. We are now right up against it. We must export. If this body is to carry out its function—the board itself does not carry out the work; the machinery we are using is our industries and our employees and our managers—everyone will have to be more efficient. We want "more production", as it is called, but production does not mean more goods. It means lower unit production costs. We must get down our production costs, and our unit costs must be brought down. They are going up at present instead of going down.

If the Government thinks this is a good idea—the Bill has gone so far now and I do not think it can be changed—I must say that I am apprehensive.I am sorry that the external character of Córas Tráchtála is changing and I am sorry to say I do not think it is a change for the better. The whole picture is becoming more and more governmental and more managerial. I think that the more governmental and the more managerial our State becomes, the less flexible is our economy; and the less flexible our economy, the less able we are to compete with other countries where they are efficient, flexible and alive.

I feel rather disappointed that the change made is a very minor one. Coming after the successful operation for the last eight years of Córas Tráchtála, it would seem that we should be on the threshold of something much bigger, that the organisation had proved itself and that we should have a real expansion, not what is merely a paper expansion in translating from a limited company to a statutory body.

It is only right and proper that such a body should have succeeded. We should not think that that is anything wonderful, because bodies like that have the big advantage of youth and enthusiasm. You have young men in charge, eager to do the job and who have a lot to gain from doing the job properly. Their whole reputation and future is at stake. We have seen that in all the bodies set up, beginning with the E.S.B. and Bord na Móna. What are they but simply the success story of youth in all their operations? But remember, youth turns to age and those bodies age and we see many of them ageing at present. They age and become just as inefficient as any other of our bodies. That is what we must guard against. It is there that we need something more dynamic, if possible, than this type of statutory body, with all its security.

The boards should be the mainspring for giving youth and enthusiasm to these bodies. That is the element of the body which changes. After all, when we have our staff appointed, that staff will stay with us until they retire on pension. We will have to take the rough with the smooth—in most bodies, at any rate. The board should be the mainspring of a change, changing the board periodically, bringing in new members and new faces. If the composition of the board is faced up to and if it is used by all our Governments as a means of keeping that life and enthusiasm in our statutory bodies, I think we would have more success than we have had. I shall turn later to some provisions in this which seem to me to militate against keeping youth and enthusiasm in this Board itself.

As to the change which looks necessary at this stage, something bigger is called for, obviously. We have been just exploring or probing the market. Perhaps at this stage, rather than go from a limited company to a statutory body, it might have been more efficient to go into a corporation, with shares owned by the various bodies which stand to gain by the promotion of our industries. They had eight years' experience of the work which had to be done. Surely, it should not be asking too much at this stage, that they should go forward and supply some of the real capital necessary to do the job of exporting?

We cannot for a moment think that a quarter of a million a year will really finance the job which is ahead; but the million pound contribution that is specified here by the Government over four years, if put in as the Government contribution in an export corporation, might be sufficient to provide the nucleus which, when built up with the share capital of those likely to gain, would put a really efficient and dynamic export corporation on its feet.

Our exporting bodies cannot maintain in the United States and in other countries their own exporting organisations.The time has come when we need in those centres one co-operative export organisation, handling our products. It would seem that that should be the natural follow-up— maybe it will come yet—of the activities of Córas Tráchtála.

Again, it would seem that certain finance for such a body should come from those benefiting by it. Perhaps a service fee would not be out of place, or better still, a voluntary donation fund associated with this body, through which medium the firms benefiting might show their appreciation of the services placed by the nation at their disposal. We had a rather similar development in the case of the tea importers, with the groups concerned putting up the share capital to do the job. I do not know whether there is any real lesson to be learned from that or not.

On this question of the members of the board, we read here a caveat or prohibition, that members of the board cannot be members of either House of the Oireachtas and that even if they stand as candidates in an election, they should cease to be members. That is proving rather restrictive on those bodies. We must assume that because a member seeks election to the House, he is only going further in his public duty and that, if anything, he will increase his efficiency as a member of the board. Be that as it may, if the House is prepared to prohibit members of the Dáil and Seanad from sitting on those boards—and again there may be reasons for that—there certainly should be an extension of that prohibition to candidates who ever stood for the Dáil or Seanad. That would prevent what has been happening under both Governments—the "consolation prize" that has sent a defeated candidate on to some State Board.

That is a misuse of the functions of the board. It is treating the board as something where you just turn up once a month and you simply sit and take the usual passive part in the proceedings.If it is to be the dynamo of the company, we must rule out any suggestion of political patronage or as one distinguished ex-Minister said: "Providing a Nazareth Home for defeated candidates."

There is very careful provision here in relation to the officers of the Board, that they cannot become members of the Houses of the Oireachtas or if they do, there are very elaborate provisions that they must be seconded from the board and so on. I admit that is a step forward but it does not go far enough. Recently, I visited Holland where I had the pleasure of a long session with the Secretary-General. I was struck by the efforts the Dutch Parliament make to draw on the brains of their country and get them into Parliament, so members of boards are not excluded. It even extends to civil servants. That goes for the Dutch Parliament and when a person is elected, he is given leave of absence, seconded, and if there is any differential between his salary and the salary of members of the Dutch Parliament, his employer makes up that differential to him.

In other words, the real principle is established that nobody suffers finan cially by going forward and making his contribution by becoming a member of Parliament. We are operating an outmoded system here which excludes really trained members of our community from playing their part in our Parliamentary life. I am not for one moment saying that Parliament should be composed of just that section, but it is quite wrong that that section should be excluded by the ridiculous financial arrangements which exist at present, including the allowances payable to members of the Oireachtas. I just mention that point because even though it is not any worse in this board than it is in the others, it is part of the cancer that is on us.

To come back to the members of the board, I think the lead given by the Agricultural Institute Board should be followed here. That is a board which was fought over for a number of years with the interests concerned demanding a voice in the selection of the board. At least, you had this panel system, various groupings of the organisations concerned. While that is not perfect, it would seem to me that there should be some similar provision for nomination by interested exporting companies, companies capable of exporting, to the board. Whether or not we should go so far as to give them actual direct election to the board as has been given to the Council of the Agricultural Institute, I do not know, but at least I think they should feel they were being consulted and had a right at least to nomination.

This three to seven member board, to my mind, seems to be too narrow for the task in hand. What can three to seven members represent but three to seven exporting interests? I should think that this board should work in some way or other with an Exports Promotion Council which would put up ideas to the members of the board —the small number of members on the board—and in turn, receive back from them occasionally an account of their stewardship. In other words, we might take this Bill as being a very minor one, just making this change from a limited to a statutory body, and if that is the case, the other developments should come and come fast because we are not satisfied with the impact they are making on export markets. We are not putting the finances behind it.

We might possibly be heartened by what the Taoiseach said in the Dáil on the question of jet craft and this sum of £10 million being made available. That certainly is a courageous action. Whether we agree with it or not, we shall have an opportunity of saying in the very near future but he said there was much more money available, many millions available, for tasks like that. I suggest the setting up of a foreign export corporation is something which to my way of thinking should take precedence over jet aircraft and everything else.

Again, I endorse everything Senator Barry has said. We are far too parsimonious with the men we send abroad to represent us. We make totally inadequate allowances for the vast difference in living standards and the value of money as between here and the United States. We have the same real complaint whether it is with regard to our Army Jumping Team, our young research workers or Córas Tráchtála. Their allowances are totally inadequate. What is really needed is some type of incentive for business men who are making gains to partake in the activities of these statutory bodies. It would seem to have the major defect that the officials concerned do not partake in the gains, except in so far as they can persuade the board to increase their salaries and allowances.

The tenor of the debate seems to suggest that this Bill is unnecessary, or that if it is necessary at all, much more should be done than is being done. As the House is aware, Córas Tráchtála Teoranta was in the nature of an experiment and once it has been established that its activities are desirable and worthwhile, it is reasonable to give it a status commensurate with the activities it has undertaken and the importance we attach to them. In order to comply with the Companies Act, Córas Tráchtála Teoranta is required to have share capital, but nevertheless it had to depend on annual voted moneys, so, in essence, it was a statutory body and its formal establishment in this fashion will recognise it as such.

I want to say to Senator O'Quigley that this Bill is not being introduced as a political measure. We do not want one ounce of kudos out of it. We are not putting on the face of appearing to do something more than is being done, so if the Senator wants to make a political point, he is welcome to it.

The intention is to make the board more effective, if that can be done through this means, and we believe it can. The members of the board are, in the main, business men. As Senators will see, the Minister has power of nomination of one-third of the members of the board at every annual meeting or at some other date in the year's operations the Minister will fix. That might satisfy Senator Quinlan's point that there is that degree of replacement or cutting off of dead wood, if it appears. There is that facility there.

As everybody knows, the export business is very complex and difficult. We all appreciate that if we are to have any measure of industrial expansion, it will have to be largely in the export field or in so far as we import commodities not yet manufactured here in that particular aspect of production as well. But, by and large, apart from increasing our industrial capacity in the export field, it is necessary, too, from a balance of payments point of view. Therefore, in order to be effectively represented in this what I have described as complex, difficult and important field of activity, we must have the best means of giving information to our exporters.

I am not suggesting, nor would I want to suggest, that exporters should depend exclusively on such an organisation.I said in the Dáil that this organisation should not relieve our exporters of the responsibility of having on their staffs people with the necessary training, ability and foresight to promote and foster exports; people who can go abroad, meet prospective purchasers and seek out markets for the commodities they have to sell. There is no better means than the personal representation of the individual firm.

I suggest to the exporting firms that they might avail of facilities now open to them for training young men in that field. The different business organisations in existence—the Management Institute, the Exporters Federation and the Federation of Irish Industries —have co-operated with the educational authorities in providing a Diploma in Export Trade. There has been at least one recipient of that Diploma after a long and difficult course. It is still available and I believe still operating in Dublin. I urge that it might be extended to other areas, if suitable candidates offer.

Furthermore, I urge on the firms interested in export markets that they should have on their staffs people who can carry on convesations in the vernacular of the countries to which they go. I would instance the facilities which are cheaply and readily available for instruction in foreign languages. I refer in particular to the vocational schools in the larger centres throughout the country.

I think that might answer Senator Quinlan's point that exporting companies themselves might invest in the funds of this Board. In so far as this is a State-sponsored body, I do not think that that would be possible under this legislation. Nevertheless, the £1,000,000 now being provided will be provided only as the Córas Tráchtála Board will require it. It is true that the expenditure, running at about £225,000 a year, is infinitesimal compared with the expenditure of other European countries. Their trade is possibly and is in fact in many cases on a larger scale.

As Deputy Norton pointed out in the Dáil, the staff of Córas Tráchtála is microscopic compared with the staffs of other export promotional organisations of other countries. If the new Board see opportunities of expanding and increasing their staff—expanding their scope of operation—I am sure they will take them. The moneys will then be used up much sooner than anticipated and they will have to come back to the Oireachtas to seek further subvention. After that period, which at best will be about four years, the Oireachtas will have the opportunity of reviewing very closely the activities and the successes which I hope the Board will attain in its activities.

In the meantime, as is contained in the provisions of the Bill, the Board, as in the case of every other State Board, will have to report annually and its report will be on the Table of each House of the Oireachtas.

Senator Quinlan mentioned the effectiveness of public representatives' criticism or queries. The activities of these Boards will always be a live issue. If we are to give such Boards their freedom of action, that flexibility that I think they deserve and certainly require to carry on their jobs effectively, we must not restrict or spancel them in any way by too much probing at Dáil Question Time in the same manner as Ministers can be in respect of their Departments. Further, if they are to get ahead with the job they have to do, they must not be bound by the Civil Service file system, with every activity minuted, checked and counter-checked. As they are dealing with businessmen, it is better that they have that freedom of activity that businessmen feel is necessary and no doubt for good reason.

Senator Quinlan made a point about the requirement that if a member of the Board is nominated to the Seanad or to the Dáil, he shall be deemed to have resigned. That is no new principle.It is an easement of the original principle contained in the first State Board Act—I think, the Electricity Supply Act, 1927. The restriction was much stronger. I think it disqualified members of the Board from being nominated or elected or from sitting or receiving payment as members of the Oireachtas. Strangely enough, that provision stood until very recently-until, in fact, last year.

Before that, there was the question which was raised in connection with the election of a Deputy to the Dáil who happened to be a member of the staff of the E.S.B. and who would have been disqualified from standing for the Dáil under this section. In fact, his election was in doubt, but he resolved it in so far as he himself was concerned by resigning his position in the E.S.B. However, that did not resolve the doubt that existed as to whether or not he was properly elected. The Deputy in question has been elected properly a number of times since then and so that point does not arise.

Latterly, in the preparation of election legislation, the Department of Local Government raised this section as perhaps being repugnant to the Constitution, or at least that it might be challenged as being repugnant to it. For that reason, the 1927 Act was amended in the last E.S.B. Bill. The provision in this Bill is exactly on all fours with that provision as far as members of the Board are concerned who will seek nomination to either House of the Oireachtas. I think it is reasonable that if employees of the Board want to stand for the Dáil or the Seanad, they should temporarily resign their positions as employees of the Board. I do not think that would impose any great hardship.

I have much sympathy with the point raised by the Senator about the loss such a person might incur. I am sure that in the case of anybody who has enjoyed or will enjoy his salary with Córas Tráchtála and who considers what he might expect to get from either House of the Oireachtas, he will think twice before he seeks election. Perhaps that restricts the quality of those coming into the Oireachtas, but if there were a means of supplementing the income of a Senator, Deputy or Minister and bringing it up to what he enjoyed before his election when he occupied one of these outside positions, I should be very glad if it could be devised. I am sure it would be difficult for the solicitors who used to pay me my fees to be expected now to give me the little extra I might have gained if I were still practising at the Bar.

Generally speaking, as far as the status of the Board is concerned, we are in effect recognising what is there already in essence and, as Senators know, people who do business internationally have available to them organisations which can report not only on the status of the organisations they are dealing with but on their affairs generally. I am sure it is well known that Córas Tráchtála in its present position depends for its existence on annually voted moneys. The new status we shall now give it will enhance its position vis-a-vis the organisations it has to deal with and particularly the hardheaded businessmen from the dollar countries and other hard currency countries.

For the reasons I have stated in my opening remarks, as well as those I have given in replying to the debate, I believe we shall be benefiting Córas Tráchtála by passing this Bill. We shall be giving it that security not only for itself but for its officers that will better enable it to achieve its purpose. I believe also we shall be enabling it to assist industrialists to find export markets and eventually assisting in a very material way the general economy of the country.

Would the Minister please comment on my suggestion that the members of the boards should be nominated by panels of interested exporting groups in a manner similar to that adopted in relation to the agricultural institute?

I thought the Senator's original remark was that the board should act in close liaison with existing exporting groups. In fact, there is an Exporters Federation or association; I forget exactly what the title of it is. As far as nomination is concerned, it is something new that I am not prepared to deal with now, but I can assure the Senator that nobody has ever questioned the ability or the integrity of any person who has ever been nominated to the board. It is not a board on which any great kudos are to be gained but a man might get satisfaction from serving his country and serving his business associates even though at very small remuneration. I doubt if it would be a desirable principle to have nominating panels because these boards are not so much representation of interests as a selection of what are considered to be the best men for the job. Somebody has to make that decision; somebody has to be responsible for that selection, a responsibility which the Minister has to bear publicly. By and large, I believe the method of selection to this board we now propose to be adopted will prove better in the long run. The system of representation by an individual because he happens to belong to a certain organisation may not necessarily mean we will get the best board. There may be two excellent men in another organisation which might not be entitled to more than one representative.I think the system is working reasonably well and there is no point in complicating it.

I want it to be understood that I raise the matter without any reflection on anybody.

Question put and agreed to.
Agreed to take remaining Stages to-day.
Bill considered in Committee.
Sections 1 to 4, inclusive, agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 5 stand part of the Bill."

Has the Minister considered the desirability of a provision which will prevent the appointment or reappointment of persons over a long period of years? If you have people on a board of this kind and there is a stipulation about retirement by rotation and reappointment, that may not be in the best interests of the board. It would be preferable to have some limit in relation to the appointment of members of the Board.

Hitherto it has been the practice to have a member of the staff of the Department of Industry and Commerce on the Board. No doubt, he will be very close to the Minister and will be able to report on the capacity and the ability of individual members of the Board. In that way, the Minister is enabled to keep in very close touch with the activities and therefore with the assessment of the qualities of the members of the Board. As well as that, the Minister may call for any information he needs from time to time and that information might include, for instance, the appointment of members to the Board which might make other information available to him from which he could judge the quality and the capabilities of the members of the Board.

I agree with the suggestion of the Senator that it is undesirable that because a member is once nominated, he shall always be a member of the Board. I do not believe that is the intention, and members of the Board will be reappointed only so long as it is reasonably certain that they will continue to be useful members of the Board and, as I have said, the Minister will have means of receiving information about the capabilities of each member.

Section 5, (6) deals with reappointment:

A member of the Board who retires shall be eligible for re-appointment.

The danger there is that if a person is reappointed for two or three terms, he is more or less automatically reappointed and in small Boards of this kind there is a necessity for bringing in new blood and new points of view. That need is so great that perhaps it would be better if subsection 6 were changed to read:

A member of the Board who retires shall be ineligible for immediate re-appointment.

That would mean he would have to go off the Board for at least one session and that would break the chain.

I have every confidence in the Minister and in his anxiety to get the best possible men and while such a clause might prevent a person from continuing and he might lose the services of a good man for three years, surely there is plenty of work to be done in the country by such a good man released from this Board. There is far more to be gained by having that provision to break the cycle. Perhaps the sub-section could be reworded to indicate that a member of the Board who retires shall be ineligible for immediate reappointment.

To adopt that suggestion would automatically exclude the degree of continuity that might be desirable. It is far better to leave the section as it is, to leave a certain discretion to the Minister to reappoint or not to reappoint, as the case may arise. I have only one experience of making an appointment of that nature. The Senator, I am sure, knows of the recent appointment I made to the board of Irish Shipping, a young man of ability whose politics I do not know. I knew he had an interest in shipping and that he had general business ability. That is the manner in which I would approach such appointments in the future and I would suggest to the Senator that to provide a stringent subsection, as he suggests, might defeat the purpose it is proposed to achieve.

The Minister is taking an admirable attitude in this connection but, as a general principle, where we have to deal with young Ministers and old Ministers, and all the rest, there is far more to be lost by making the cycle of re-appointment continuous rather than having an occasional break. I think that the one-third provision here is very good. That should surely give the necessary continuity. I think the other matter would be worth while bearing in mind at least for the future.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 6 to 11, inclusive, agreed to.
Question proposed: That "Section 12 stand part of the Bill."

In the course of my remarks, I asked the Minister would it be open to the Board to continue to employ people who did not necessarily come up through the Civil Service.

There is no doubt about that. The method of recruiting the type of people who will be employed is the same as hitherto. The only civil servant it is intended will have anything to do with it will be possibly the representative on the Board of the Minister for Industry and Commerce.

I do not want to be taken that I want to rule out civil servants.There may be very good civil servants. I want to ensure that it will be possible to employ outside people who are qualified to deal with the matters in question.

They will be mainly outside people.

I should like the Minister to take note of the points I made on the Second Reading. The Board should be impressed with the necessity of ensuring that to the employee the return will be sufficiently attractive to prevent wastage. Only the best are good enough and the rewards should be commensurate with those in similar employment in commercial life.

The Board has that capacity and that function. I am sure they will have regard to the adequate remuneration of employees.

I thought we were dealing with Section 11. There are a number of points I want to raise on Section 12.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

It is with Section 12 we are dealing.

I do not know if the Minister is in a position to say whether the present staff who entered into employment with Córas Tráchtála have been consulted with regard to the provisions of this section. There are people who may have joined up with Coras Tráchtála on particular conditions. They joined up at a time when it was a company. Now, they find themselves by this section, being transferred into the employment of a semi-State body. I do not know if these people have any particular views on the advantages or disadvantages of the changes made.

I recollect that in the Transport Acts there was always a most elaborate provision in respect of people in the service of a particular company before the transfer date; then providing for their transfer as a result of the new company which was formed and giving suitable recompense to people who did not opt to transfer or who, on their transfer, got conditions of employment which were less beneficial to them than those they had prior to the transfer created by the statute.

I do not know at the moment what the terms and conditions of service of the present personnel of the Board are but subsection (1) of Section 12 enables the Board to give any of these members less favourable terms in regard to conditions of service than they have had. There is no provision whatever in the Bill to give them compensation if they do get less favourable conditions of service as a result of the passing of this Bill.

I wonder, therefore, whether the Minister has any information as to whether these people have been consulted or whether these conditions would meet with their reasonable requirements.Subsection (6) provides that "The Board may at any time remove any officer or servant of the Board from being its officer or servant."Statutory bodies can do only the things they are authorised to do by statute. Therefore, it is necessary, in this case, to provide that if the Board can appoint, that the Board can dismiss or remove any officer or servant, but there is an in-between situation which the Board might in its prudence wish to achieve.

They might not want to dismiss a particular officer but might wish to discipline him. In consequence of that, the appropriate action for the Board to take would be to suspend him from duty, say, for a week, a month or three months. There is no provision in this Bill to suspend an officer or servant of the Board. I am quite satisfied that, unless that is put in, the Board may lose the services of a person whose services they do not wish to lose but whom they might like to discipline for a short period. That happens quite regularly in other employment where people are suspended without being dismissed. After suspension, it is not unknown that such people reach high places in their employment.Has the Minister considered that? It seems to be a desirable amendment to subsection (6).

There will be no suggestion of worsening conditions. The existing staff have, in fact, pressed for the establishment of a Board of this nature. I doubt if the difficulty of suspension will arise. The difficulty which has arisen is the recruitment of suitable staff. The Board, having gone to great pains to recruit a suitable man, will endeavour to ensure that he will stay in his employment. I doubt if the question of suspension will arise, if a man is suitable. He will be given every reasonable chance of overcoming any indiscretion he might commit. I do not think that the Senator should feel unduly worried about this omission as he calls it. If something serious of the nature he suggests arises, it would be easy enough to come back again and get the appropriate power.

I think that public time ought not to be taken up in introducing special legislation to meet a special situation. We ought to have it now. I am quite satisfied that there can arise circumstances where the appropriate action to be taken in relation to a particular servant is to suspend him. If I am within the rules of order, I would move now that the words "The Board may at any time suspend or remove any officer or servant..." be inserted. I think the Board should have the discretion to suspend a person rather than dismiss him.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

That is in sub-section (6)?

I would press the Minister to give the Board sufficient elasticity and authority in that regard. It certainly cannot worsen the position of the Board. It might be a useful thing in regard to a particular officer who for one reason or another committed some indiscretion in respect of which you did not want his dismissal.

The Board can remove a man and employ him again.

That would interfere with his superannuation.

You could provide for that in the superannuation scheme.

You go all round the world to make it difficult, whereas the matter could be met by the Minister accepting the amendment, if it is in order.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

It would be in order to put in words like that. It can be done at this stage.

I press the Minister to accept it.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Minister is not accepting it.

Question put and agreed to.
Section 13 agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 14 stand part of the Bill."

Why is it necessary that a member of the board should cease membership when he is nominated for election? Would it not appear that he should have at least the same consideration as an officer of the board? The officer is compelled to resign or to get leave of absence——

When a person who is a member of such a board, not necessarily of the board of Coras Tráchtála——

Of any board?

——seeks election to the Dáil or Seanad, it is desirable that he should be deemed to have resigned his membership of such board. The distinction between a member of the board and an officer or servant is that a member has certain powers and certain functions in the policy making of that board. Over and above all that, there are many State boards which have a very high employment-giving potential and it is considered undesirable that a member of such a board who presents himself as a candidate in an election should be open to, first of all, a suggestion that he could use that position unfairly against fellow-candidates in that he had certain employment-giving functions. It might be desirable that he should be protected against unfair canvassing of a nature that might require him to give promises to seek employment for others. As well as that, before elections, many groups approach prospective Deputies or Senators and ask them what their attitude would be, or is, to certain grievances, real or imaginary, which that section of the community might have. There are many sections of employees who are organised within the servants of State boards and I think it would be undesirable that a member of a State board should be open to—I do not want to use the word pressure—perhaps to persuasion in the exercise of his functions, having his eye on the possibility of future elections. These are roughly the considerations and as well as that these election campaigns last for several weeks and it might be presumed that the member of the board would not have full regard to his duties over that period.

Could he not go forward with leave of absence or on some such basis during that period?

Again, you have the degree of continuity which is necessary in these bodies, especially at the administration and policy-making level.

The Minister's argument is entirely unconvincing and quite unrelated to the facts. This exact section came up on the Electricity Supply (Amendment) Bill last year. Amendments were put down to that Bill and of course they were not accepted by the then Minister for Industry and Commerce. It is quite useless making any suggestions or tabling amendments even in regard to the most modest amendment which any businessman would wish to have, and such as I suggested for subsection (6) of Section 12, as they will not be accepted by the Minister.

The Minister tells us he wants to create a board which will be flexible and immediately we start off by constricting the board and putting it into a strait-jacket where it cannot even——

The Senator is talking about the last section.

I am merely talking about the approach to this matter and illustrating it by subsection (6) of Section 12. The Minister's references to the pressure these people are subjected to at election times and the influences to which they may be open are quite unrelated to the facts. We have, for instance, members of the staffs of county councils who are members of the Oireachtas. A member of the staff of the county council is a person who exercises discretion in determining whether a person is entitled to home assistance or to a supplementary housing grant, or to a grant for this or that, and he can be seconded during his term of office and retain all his pension rights. I am not quite certain whether, in certain circumstances during his leave period, he cannot return and work. In any event, you have the position where an inspector of the Department of Local Government, who is concerned with sanctioning grants and plans for houses which will qualify for grants under the Housing Acts, can be a Deputy and of course to all intents and purposes he is a full-blown civil servant, except that he has not got an established status, but he exercises precisely the same functions as a civil servant.

Furthermore, you have the example of county medical officers of health. We have had one instance at least of a county medical officer of health who inspects premises of people and who can be open to the same pressure as a servant of a semi-State body and it is all right for him to retain his employment and to continue to act in that employment while a member of the Oireachtas. The same applies to salary drawing employees of local authorities. They, too, have certain statutory functions to discharge, but at the same time they can be members of the Oireachtas and discharge these statutory functions. But a scrivener on the staff of a semi-State body cannot be seconded from his employment, either part-time or whole-time.

The Senator is completely wrong. I am talking about members of the board. That is the only restriction.

I am talking about subsection (2) which prohibits these people from being seconded and the same applies to members of the board.

The officers or servants may be seconded for the period of membership of the Oireachtas.

But they cannot continue to function in any way in relation to the board and cannot receive any salary. I am pointing out the various public officials who can receive salaries and still be members of the Oireachtas. A scrivener on the staff of Coras Trachtála would cause tremendous trouble and constitutional disorder if he were permitted to act or was seconded on a part-time basis while he was a member of the Oireachtas.

I think the provision made here is very reasonable.

Quite unreasonable, when compared with provisions for other people.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 15 to 24, inclusive, agreed to.
Schedule agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.

An chéad chéim eile?

I wish to be afforded an opportunity of putting down an amendment on Report Stage.

We could take the amendment now. Would the House be agreeable to take the amendment now?

Perhaps the Minister would indicate his attitude if I tabled it now.

You cannot give the result of a game until you play it.

Apparently the House is not to change a line or a word or a comma in the Bill, but it is demonstrably obvious that it should be changed.

It does not upset you that much, does it?

The Senator can have it now, if he likes, but the Senator will realise that the Parliamentary programme has been fairly well set and he takes it on himself to interrupt it.

If the House wishes, we can have it tomorrow and, if not, next Wednesday.

It was understood that we would finish this Bill this evening and finish all Stages of it.

That understanding would depend on the attitude of the Minister in accepting reasonable amendments.

Oh, there was no question of reasonable amendments or anything else. It was understood we would finish all Stages of the Bill.

On the basis of being reasonable.

We were reasonable in the Dáil and it went through and there was a reasonable attitude from the other side.

Is the Senator objecting to the taking of Report stage now?

Then the Bill must be adjourned. When will the Report Stage be taken?

I should just like to point out that the Senator's leader agreed to take the Bill this evening.

If that be the case —I have not had an opportunity of consulting with the leader on this side and I did not know of such an arrangement—and if the Senator says there was such an arrangement, I waive my right, as there will be no going back on any agreement made by this side of the House.

I am not sure that this Bill did not come in after any arrangement made in the middle of the day. The Seanad was purely asked would we take this Bill in courtesy to the Minister, and we did. I think it is only right that we should not rush this Bill in an unseemly manner and it is only right to take the Report Stage tomorrow. It will not take long.

I did not catch the reference to an unseemly manner.

We do not want it rushed through in an unseemly manner.

I acted on the understanding that it was going through.

It looks unseemly, if the Seanad takes a Bill which Senators have hardly read, and when a Senator makes a case and would like to put down an amendment, that he should not have the right to do so without agreement.

I must say I have no objection to its being taken tomorrow, but that is the interpretation that is being put on it. As I said before, it is a warning that I should have had sense enough to appreciate.

The Report Stage is being taken tomorrow?

I shall have a personal difficulty, as I shall have three Bills in the Dáil tomorrow. I do not know if I can get here tomorrow.

The Chair is in the hands of the House.

However, if the other side do not want this to go through, I am not steamrolling it, if that is what they are suggesting.

What is this important amendment the Senator has in mind?

Could we adjourn the House for tea? We are at sixes and sevens, obviously.

If the Senator has the feeling that he should be allowed to move his amendment——

I think it is purely obstruction and pique, a Chathaoirligh, on the Senator's part.

Do not make it worse.

I have no desire to obstruct the business of the House or to go back on any agreement that has been made. If Senator Ó Maoláin has assured the House that such an agreement was made, I am quite prepared to waive my right, though it is much against my conscience, to put down this amendment and I am now waiving my right.

Is it agreed to take the Report Stage now?


Bill received for final consideration and passed.

The Seanad adjourned at 6.30 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Thursday, 23rd July, 1959.