Science, Technology and Innovation Council: Motion.

I move:

That Seanad Éireann notes the potential of the new Science, Technology and Innovation Council set up by the Minister for Enterprise and Employment, but urges him to:

(1) ensure that environmental, educational, medical and agricultural aspects, as well as industrial, are considered by the council;

(2) immediately initiate taxation relief to encourage research and development in both indigenous companies and divisions of international companies here;

(3) ensure that any project in the Leader Schemes or the County Enterprise Boards have technological and scientific advice made easily available;

(4) encourage basic as well as applied research in our third level institutions; and

(5) introduce pilot schemes in introductory science at primary school level.

I welcome the Minister and am delighted to see my friends from Fianna Fáil who are interested in science here to support me. The establishment of the Science, Technology and Innovation Council is welcome and it has great potential. I have the privilege of knowing the chairman and several members of the council. A more distinguished and hard working group could not have been assembled. However, since the establishment of the council I have a distinct impression that the Government feels it has dealt with all scientific and technological matters and that we can sit back and rest until the council reports. Also, any pronouncements by the Minister seem focused on the use that science will be to industry, which is a most narrow view. Industrial application of science on its own is unsustainable. I tabled this motion because the April issue of the scientific journal Nature, which many Members may not read, states:

The prospects for science in the Republic of Ireland took a turn for the better last week when the government announced that it is planning to resume funding for a strategic research programme which it abandoned last year. This year, the government will make available £1 million (US$1.42 million) for research grants in eight technological areas, including biotechnology, advanced manufacturing techology and advanced materials. In addition, it is making available £850,000 in basic research grants.

Scientists have cautiously welcomed the move as a possible signal of a change in attitude towards science, whose fortunes sank to an all-time low last year when the government made available only £150,000 in non-medical grant money. Ireland has one of the lowest investments in research in Europe, and no real science policy. But a year-long campaign by university scientists has made funding a hot political issue. (See Nature 367, 586, 1994)

The Senators who know it is a hot political issue at the moment are here.

We are here to keep an eye on Senator Henry.

The quotation continues:

The Prime Minister, Albert Reynolds, admitted last week that the government had been slow to recognise the importance of science and technology. But he said that this "relative neglect" is now coming to an end.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation international report on the funding of science and research and development seems much nearer the truth. The findings of the World Science Report for 1993 showed Ireland lagging far behind the rest of Europe in investment and research and development and that almost no Government resources are being provided for basic research. I have tried to find out where the £850,000 in basic research grants has gone but have been unable to do so.

The most successful economies in the developed world are those which spend the most on research and development. Ireland spends less than 1 per cent of its gross domestic product on this area. This includes both Government funding and money spent by industry on its own research and development. We have 6.6 people per thousand in the labour force working in research and development and Germany has 14.2.

It is not just the council but also the rest of us who must get moving. Unless firms are encouraged to release more workers into the field of research and technology, it will be impossible for us ever to improve our industrial position. One never stands still, regression will supersede progress. I could add the tremendous scientific phrase that nature abhors a vacuum and we will end up with nothing.

Legislation introduced last year, which I welcome, permits the regional technical colleges to become involved in research. This could open up an ideal partnership between local Leader projects and county enterprise partnership boards. Has any thought been put into this? It is always much easier for small projects to become involved in something local rather than having the expense of being involved in something distant. The Leader projects and county enterprise initiatives cannot wait for the council to report because they have already started. Sometimes small projects, especially in the food industry, run into difficulties, whereas a little technological help would solve their problems easily. I heard a report from one woman, who now has a very successful mayonnaise factory in production, about the help her husband, who was a medical laboratory technologist, was able to give her, but not everyone who enters the food industry is married to someone with a knowledge of bacteriology. It would be a great help if small enterprises had facilities near them. Not everyone has Moorepark Research and Development Division at their doors. The new Food Safety Advisory Board will monitor these enterprises when they get going but who will help them to become established in the first place?

Access to new knowledge and the ability to apply it confers major strategic benefits on any nation. The Minister for Education, Deputy Bhreathnach, spoke last year at the Conference of European University Rectors and said that universities do not have a neutral role in society but need to be among the principal generators of ideas and promoters of debate. That is a very important statement and applies to science and technology. The brief of the council seems to be very much leaning towards regarding the university science departments as existing solely to be consulted by industry and as having a minor innovative role. If we want them to act as a science park to which industry can apply for help and not to have any innovative ideas, we should say so.

While the immediate needs of industry are and must be met, this cannot be at the expense of involvement in leading edge research in science. If we are not involved in basic research, we will be unable to keep up with developments in these areas from the United States, Scandinavia etc. and will not even understand what they are doing. There is a synergestic relationship between basic and applied research, especially in biotechnology, which we ignore at our peril.

Many campus companies earn money for universities and many university departments do contract work for various industries but they are developing ideas and products which are already recognised as valuable to industry. What about all those developments which occur fortuitously and of which we do not recognise the potential at the moment but will do so at a later stage. For example, in the Physics Department of Trinity College, Professor McBrierty has a section which deals with polymers in physics — plastics to you and me. This section did basic research on the action of light on polymers. It made a major breakthrough in dealing with plastic for contact lenses.

Sunray lamps were used in the past to change the plastic for contact lenses and this was extremely inefficient. However, Professor McBrierty's section were doing work on the use of lasers in plastics and found that these were much more controllable and efficient. Naturally, Bausch and Lomb in Waterford heard about this idea, made contact — a bad pun — and now 1,200 are employed in the factory in Waterford as opposed to 400 previously. If those developments had happened in Maryland or Ohio, the improvement in employment which occurred in Waterford would almost certainly have occurred in one of their American branches. We have gained spectacularly from something which happened in very basic plastics research in this country.

During the Minister's speech at the council's first meeting he made a statement, which I found very depressing:

There is one natural constraint which you many come up against and one man-made one which you cannot ignore. The former is the threshold of human imagination and the latter is the inability to endlessly fund what might turn out to be impossible dreams.

I have great difficulty with that approach. There is no known threshold to the human imagination and if we do not have impossible dreams we might as well give up right now. We are shackled by our own inferiority complexes. We must employ those of our graduates who always had to emigrate in the past in order to become involved in research. No one will give us back their valuable ideas.

I will end by reminding Senators of Captain Boyle, who asked Joxer "What is the stars?". The stars are probably much nearer to us than we realise and we must reach for them.

I am delighted with the opportunity to second this motion as it is important that we deal with those issues. To continue the Boyle connection, it would be appropriate to mention Sir Robert Boyle, a famous Corkman, who made a huge contribution to the development of science many centuries ago and left us Boyle's Law. I will not attempt to quote Boyle's Law as I am not sure whether it is the temperature or pressure that is constant. I could eventually work it out if I had enough time.

The Senator is not doing too badly.

Personally, I like as many variables as possible. Innovation and development are crucial to the competitiveness of our economy. The latest figures which I saw for investment in research and development in the European Union frightened me. These figures are about two years out of date and could have been somewhat improved on since then. However, at that time we had the worst record in Europe in terms of the amount of money which industry was ploughing into research and development. The next worst was Belgium but, to put that in context, we were twice as bad as Belgium. That puts us in a very weak position.

I want to relate that to primary level education. Science was on the curriculum at primary level in this country 80 years ago but is no longer there. We have asked for it to be put on the curriculum. There are moves afoot to have that done and it should be done very quickly. I hope that I make a valid case for so doing here.

In the awards ceremony at Dublin City University last year, the president, Dr. Daniel O'Hare, made the point that he hoped that graduates leaving his college would be able to "turn on the innovation tap" into further research and development. I liked his optimism but, as I told him, I completely disagreed with the basic theory of what he was saying. I have made the case often enough in this House that what makes a researcher great is the fusing of creativity, imagination and artistry. Such qualities are not quite indefinable but they are certainly not quantifiable.

Somebody who has attained great academic success at primary, post primary, third and post graduate level and finally achieves a doctorate in, for example, the fluidity of liquids will have developed confidence, certainty, information and all that is required in that particular area. However, they may never have learned throughout the whole system how to move beyond that point and push back the boundaries of knowledge in that area. Too often the experts of today become the academic hermits of tomorrow because they are not able to cope and move with the changes taking place in society around them.

People such as Leonardo da Vinci and Benjamin Franklin tried things and had ideas which they followed through. A child of four, five or six years of age must learn that he or she can stand up and suggest something to a group of colleagues, lead them in something, put forward an idea on what needs to be done, develop some creative instincts in art, PE or drama, become articulate and a motivator or learn on the sports field to take calculated risks, make a judgment and move forward. It is those qualities combined with academic success which lead to movement and the development of new ideas and invention.

Nobody can develop or create an inventor. The school system cannot make people more imaginative than they innately are. However, it can either kill or grow and develop imagination. If children of seven or eight years can connect two pieces of wire to two ends of a battery and light a light bulb or work out how long it takes heat to move down a metal or wooden bar, they can learn about science at a very basic level and develop an interest in it. At the same time they can develop creativity and innovation in other areas, knowing that they are being encouraged. If the child with an innovative idea is ridiculed, given no attention or not allowed to develop at an early age then, as I said to Dr O'Hare, the innovation tap will never be turned on for a 22 year old graduate who never experienced success in that area at a younger age. That is the only significant point which I wish to make in that general area.

Whenever I am discussing that area I always ask people how many 22 year olds they know who would fill a blank sheet of paper with art and stand up and show it to 50 colleagues of the same age. There are very few adults who will do that. However, if they do it as four, six and ten year olds or take various risks and learn confidence in those areas, then those talents will emerge and develop. It is not possible to suppress them for 20 years and then expect innovation to flow. It will never happen that way.

We have an extraordinary opportunity at this stage in terms of our development. Last night, I listened to a Conservative Party broadcast on BBC — I listened to the Labour Party one at 1 p.m. today in this country as I am pretty catholic about these things——

By their radio stations shall you know them.

The Tory voice announced all the improvements in terms of interest rates, inflation rates and so on and said — which I brought to the attention of the Minister for Finance of this State today — that they in Britain have the fastest growing economy in Europe, which is of course untrue because this State has the fastest growing economy in Europe. Knowing that the Minister for Finance is chairing a major session of the OECD next week, I asked him if he would include a little correction in his speech for the benefit of our neighbours across the water.

There is now an opportunity to develop our industry. It needs innovation and skill. My plea is to look at those talents in very young people. Many of them gain success in leadership, articulation, communication, motivation, creation and imagination. Merging this with development in the area of science will lead to scientific progress in the area of research and development.

I am seldom at a loss for words and it is even more seldom that I admit it. Much of what I wanted to say has been said. I commend the Senators who proposed this motion. It is an important motion and one on which we should have a longer debate.

There was a sentence in Senator Henry's excellent contribution which I have said and thought myself on many occasions. We really are shackled by an inferiority complex. There is an extraordinary amount of ingenuity, inventiveness, creativity and vigour in this nation. All we need to do is shake off that shackle and it will be released. For some strange reason — perhaps it is the post colonial experience — we are consistently fearful of doing that.

Senator Henry also illustrated by reference to a specific event — the Bausch & Lomb case — the importance of the issues we are discussing. There are several other cases to which she could have referred. The growth and development of the economy of southern California has been entirely science based.

The cutting edge of industry, where one finds the important and long term jobs, is always closest to the innovation centre. That is the reality and the reason why everybody should have a real and vigorous interest, not just in science and technology in the sense of important research and development for industry, but in basic fundamental research. It exists but has been underfunded in this country.

Each of the five elements in the motion deserves specific attention. The first part urges the Minister "to ensure that environmental, educational, medical and agricultural aspects, as well as industrial, are considered by the council". That is an important proposition because science must be more than science for industry's sake. If we are not involved at the cutting edge we will be left behind. Senator Henry is absolutely correct. In this race one either makes progress or goes backwards. The basic and fundamental research which goes on in universities, and sometimes looks as if it has no relevance to reality, is very important. If we consider science in the wider sense of creativity, the contribution this small nation has made has been significant. It is something of which we should be proud and it is worth building on.

The second part of the motion refers to the need to "initiate taxation relief to encourage research and development in both indigenous and divisions of international companies here". This is also valid. We know from the experience of attracting foreign investment that unless there is a strong research element, we are simply a dispensable element of the production chain. The reality is that modern industry grows and develops and then out sources its production. We have always been positioned somewhere along that leg of the chain rather than being close to the growth and development. It is important that our taxation policies reflect or encourage creativity.

A number of years ago in Bray I was taken to task by some members of the local chamber of commerce for pointing out how dangerous it was for the town to depend on the company, Nixdorf. It was an excellent company, but what happened there illustrates the importance of this point. The company had no research and development in this country. It had no roots at all. The company sourced everything from Germany. The real irony was that some of the material originated in Bray. It was exported to Germany and reimported. Unlike Wang for example, the company did not establish any roots in the community and the economy. As soon as that company hit a bad patch, it pulled out of the places where its roots were most shallow. If there is not a research and development element, the commitment of international industries to this country is a shallow rooted tree ready to be tossed over in the first storm.

The reference to the need for links with the Leader schemes and the county enterprise boards is also valid. Before Deputy Brennan made it impossible for Oireachtas Members to serve on the board of a regional technical college, I had the pleasure of serving on the board of the Regional Technical College in Carlow. It gladdened my heart that they continuously related research to the local economy. Some of the research was very advanced and they were working with minuscule facilities. The research was innovative and creative. Projects being developed on the campus one day were married into local industry the next. There is a role for the county development boards. It will be necessary that the county enterprise boards become conscious of what is available throughout Ireland, particularly at regional technical college level.

The encouragement of basic as well as applied research at third level institutions is critically important. A number of other Senators have addressed this over the last few months. Basic research is very expensive. It is also imprudent to think that we can dispense with it. It is critically important. It is an area where we are weak and one which we must develop. With the available resources, we are producing young scientists right across the board. The tragedy is that many of those young scientists are being exported. When this happens we do not only lose their vigour but also their potential.

The introduction of pilot schemes in introductory science at primary school level was touched on by Senator O'Toole. It is self evidently a sensible starting point. He illustrated the point well by holding up a blank sheet of paper and asking how many of us, when we reach adulthood, have the creativity, courage and imagination of a young child. He was generous in recognising that the school system can either destroy or grow, cultivate or discourage. This is where the process starts.

We should use the motion to consider what is being done. The motion itself is generous and recognises what the Minister is doing. I want to refer to two specific statements the Minister made. One is the statement he made at the launch of the Science, Technology and Innovation Council and his commitment to the production of a White Paper on this area. It is worth reminding ourselves of the terms of reference of the council. The first is to determine whether current policies, objectives, structures and components of science and technology systems are the right ones for achieving economic development through research, technology and innovation. That is a very wide introductory term of reference. It covers many of the points made. Terms of reference are simply terms of reference and what is important is how they are interpreted. In this regard I would endorse the encouragement and exhortations made to the council.

The second term of reference is to determine what mechanisms should be employed to achieve the desired science and technology pools in the light of the above. The third is to provide a report on the findings, with recommendations about change. The Minister did something which I thought was very innovative. When he went to the first meeting of the council, he set out 20 questions. They are worth examining because they go to the core of the issue we are discussing.

The first point the Minister made was that the total spending on science and technology in this country is about £650 million. That could be disputed, as it is possible to do all sorts of things with statistics, but I am not going to go down that road. Taxation is also mentioned in relation to the £650 million. Senator Henry touched on the impact of the taxation code, and in particular the VAT code, on science research and the funding of research in some of the universities. This area needs to be examined.

I do not have time to discuss the 20 questions the Minister asked but I commend them to the House. I also commend the excellent motion because it provides an opportunity in a non-political way to touch on something which is more important to us all than we often recognise.

I welcome the Minister of State to the House. Fine Gael supports the motion and commends Senator Henry and her colleagues for putting it down. It serves a useful purpose in that it gives us an opportunity, as Senator Roche said, to discuss various matters in a non-political and fruitful manner. We hope the council will listen to various opinions, bring forward certain recommendations and explore many areas. Its scope should not be limited.

The motion is broad, as it should be. Points were made about the aspects of the various areas which must be examined. We are living in vastly changing times, particularly with regard to the education system, what are we educating people for and where the workforce can secure jobs in the future. We should not overlook this point. Times are changing faster than many of us realise. It is only when we deal with young pupils, school leavers and graduates that we wonder where they will go. It can only be beneficial to listen to them. Those of us with young children who will be coming on the employment market in the not too distant future must be concerned about what we are doing and where we are going. There should be no limit on the work of the council. Things have moved on at pace with regard to science and technology and we should not limit ourselves.

I am sure the Minister of State, who has been to the forefront in launching pilot schemes, programmes and experiments, will have something to contribute with regard to various environmental matters that could be explored and future developments in his area of responsibility. We took much for granted in the past but things have changed. There are many potential developments and a great deal of potential in how certain areas could be protected. These matters should be examined and we would like the Minister of State to tell us what he and his colleagues have in mind regarding future developments.

Agriculture and related matters must also be seriously considered. Ireland is an agricultural base and it affects everyone, even those of us with only a partial involvement in it. The basis of agricultural research in terms of what we can get from it must be examined. Agriculture has changed and the potential of agricultural areas must be considered. We have ignored areas outside traditional agriculture in the past and other areas, particularly traditional, may not be as open in the future. We must move with the times, consider all aspects and see what changes can be brought about so that we can benefit from them.

Reliefs should be given to various bodies, individuals and groups if their research is beneficial or provides work. Perhaps companies could receive reliefs in addition to their normal business relief if they plough some of their profits back into further development. Senator Roche mentioned the difficulties of a large company with a major foothold in a certain area which perhaps was taken for granted or there was no communication between the local area and the company. When difficulties arose, the plug was pulled and the people in the area suffered. These issues must be examined.

I understand there are proposals for the development at an early date of a science and technology park in the Dublin area. What discussions have taken place with the newly established authorities or the Department in relation to identifying a site? Those of us on the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council have a suitable area in mind and we would be glad to show it to the Minister of State and his officials at some stage. It is close to a proposed motorway and with good sense and money from the Department, those plans could be near to completion. However, many questions must be asked and answered. Could the Minister of State give the up to date position on what progress has been made and what research has been conducted into the possible location of such a park?

It is going to Cork.

Perhaps there could be one in Cork and one in Dublin.

We already have one in Limerick.

Perhaps the Minister of State could give an update on future plans in that regard.

Fine Gael supports the motion. This is a useful debate. We look forward to hearing from the Minister of State in relation to matters related to or directly under his control. We commend Senator Henry and her colleagues for putting down the motion.

I support and commend Senator Henry and her colleagues for this motion. I welcome the appointment of the Science, Technology and Innovation Council. In doing so, I note that the gender balance is quite good, although it includes marginally more men than women. I also note that it is made up mainly of people involved in business, technological business in particular, and those involved in research at third level institutions or elsewhere. It is a well chosen council and has the practical experience and knowledge to deal with questions posed to it. Senator Roche began to examine the questions that were put at the first meeting but he ran out of time. I intend to concentrate some of my time on those points.

It is important that the council is focused. Some people would argue that insufficient money is thrown in this direction but it is not just a case of providing money to the council and hoping that it will be appropriately and usefully spent. It is most important in this area that the funding and direction of what is done is focused and co-ordinated.

There is no point reinventing the wheel with different groups here and abroad overlapping their research and discoveries. Such co-ordination of effort must be envisaged not just nationally but internationally. Question ten, relating to international collaborative programmes, stresses the importance of not repeating R and D work that is being done elsewhere.

Senator O'Toole rightly said that inventive and creative people cannot be put into a box and turned out the other end. Nevertheless, as the motion points out, a focus in the education system is needed to encourage that kind of thinking. Education should be about research, about people learning to discover information for themselves, using their imagination and intelligence rather than simply absorbing knowledge to regurgitate it at examinations. While the focus of our educational thinking may not have been so directed in the past, it certainly will be in future. It follows that science should be studied at as early an age as possible — in my view the sooner the better. Even before primary school, children have an inventive attitude to life and the entire educational system is becoming more geared to that kind of approach.

The question of taxation is addressed in question 15 which asks: "How can the Irish tax system encourage the development of independent R and D facilities or R and D expenditure by firms in Ireland?" That aspect is envisaged in the approach of the council. Many other questions are both direct and pertinent so that what is being planned will be geared in a positive and useful direction rather than in a general one.

If I can return to Senator Henry's metaphor of reaching for the stars; there are an awful lot of stars up there and there is no point reaching out hoping to catch a few. You have to aim for particular stars that might be within your grasp. The kind of focus that is required will be brought about by having a council that will report and make recommendations, as envisaged in the guidelines, with a view to the publication of a White Paper.

The motion also refers to agriculture. Earlier today I was watching part of the Dáil debate on the An Bord Bia Bill which proposes quite a strong emphasis on research and development. We have had many discussions in this House on small industry and, in fact, some 90 per cent of our industries would be categorised as small. It is unlikely, therefore, that that sector would have the resources to undertake their own R and D, particularly if it was costly. Support from Eolas, under the Forbairt umbrella, is needed; in other words, help and backup from State research.

The concept of clustering, where industries of a like nature can be brought together, is also useful. Some Senators mentioned technology parks. We, in Limerick, already have the Plassey Technology Park which is close to the university and has been successful in gathering together the necessary backup for industries, particularly high-tech industries. The managing directors of a number of companies recently starting up in Limerick said that the Plassey Technology Park was a major factor in their decision to locate there. That indicates the importance of having the right kind of support available in such an area for high-tech industries, a growing number of which carry out their own R and D in this country.

The regional technical colleges have a strong role to play in this area, as well as the universities, and some of them are doing contract research specifically for industry. New campus companies are being developed throughout the country, both in universities and regional technical colleges, by people coming out of the third level system with basic applied research skills. This is a positive development providing jobs which would not otherwise have been developed.

The motion also covers environmental protection, an area where there is room for development and improvement. It is also an area which, up to now, has not been as strongly emphasised here as in other European countries. The overall importance of this council is to channel an unfocused area of research into what will be a more positively co-ordinated one in future. The intention is that there will be a White Paper at the end of this and submissions were sought, the closing date for which was the end of April. The public debate on the whole area of research, of which this debate is a part, will result in more positive and focused development of research in future. I agree with other Members who have said that this is crucial to the provision of new jobs in the rapidly changing world of work.

I would like to compliment Senator Henry and her co-sponsors of this timely and important motion. They should be congratulated on bringing it before the House. A new advisory committee has just been established by the Minister with a clear mandate to look at this area and come up with proposals in the form of a White Paper which, at this time in the development of our economy, will chart the course of future developments in this key area. Science and technology are key components of economic development. Those involved in this area face the challenge of keeping abreast of changes in technology which are taking place at a rapid pace. They must also retain skilled personnel to harness technological changes to the best advantage for the economy. Science and technology stimulate the economy through investment in high technology sectors, such as the agri-food business, the marine industry and many others.

I would have preferred if the recent reorganisation of Eolas and the IDA had been delayed pending the report of the review body. Eolas was established under the relatively recent 1987 Act. It was a merger of the IIRS and the Board for Science and Technology. Within a short space of time — on 1 January this year — there was another re-organisation. It is difficult to measure the effect of these re-organisations although repeated reorganisations and changes to establish new structures can disrupt business and be counter productive. The achievement of policies can be delayed. However, different Ministers have different views on what administrative practices should be established. It is important to decide on the character of those structures and adhere to that decision. If a review is necessary it should be done prior to re-organisation.

I am prepared to support what is proposed and I compliment the chairman of the review body, Dan Tierney. I wish him and the members of the review body every success in their work. The members of the review body are a combination of professionals and practitioners in the science and technology sphere. They will produce a full report and I hope we will have the opportunity to discuss it in the Seanad.

The involvement of industry is of paramount importance. If we are to successfully harness our science and technology budget and manage our human resources there must be a full partnership between those involved in industry and members of colleges and research institutes. That partnership should receive financial backing and support from the European Union. There has been sustained criticism of the inadequate level of funding. I was involved in the drafting of Fianna Fáil policy prior to the establishment of Roinn na Mara and we suggested that a marine research institute be established. However, despite talk about the necessity for research, and particularly maritime research, we found it almost impossible to secure funding to keep the Lough Beltra, which was the marine research vessel, in operation. At times the vessel was tied up in harbour because there was inadequate funding to provide it with a full annual programme.

I am glad that the Marine Institute has finally been established and is operating. I hope it enjoys success in its endeavours. It is ten years since the initial policy document proposing a marine research institute for this island nation was first proposed. It is many years since the Department of the Marine was established. Thankfully, the institute is operational. I note that Professor Maura Mulcahy of the Marine Institute is a member of the review body. It was wise of the Minister to include personnel from other institutes on the review body so that the report can offer a good indication of what is being done in areas such as marine research.

I welcome the more vocal attitude and greater lobbying in this area of the Irish Science Researchers' Association. I offer my good wishes to that association and I hope they will continue to highlight the needs in this area. We need people such as these professionals to lobby for further investment and work in this sector. IBEC has also been paying welcome attention to this area. One of today's national newspapers reported that IBEC has undertaken interviews of young graduates who it hopes to place in companies in the UK and the EU during the next year. This is a desirable initiative.

Eolas runs a successful scheme called Techstart for young science and technology graduates. More attention and funding should be given to this welcome scheme. The Minister, while he awaits the review, should look carefully at such initiatives and provide additional funding for them if it is necessary. It is important to have young graduates placed with companies, particularly small companies which cannot afford to employ these graduates. The companies involved in the scheme I mentioned have less than 50 employees and would not have the financial resources to employ graduates and professionals in this area. However, the grant of about £5,000 and additional funds which make this scheme possible is welcome funding. About 700 young graduates have been placed in companies since the scheme started and 80 per cent of those graduates have been given permanent employment in the same companies following participation in the scheme. This demonstrates the success of the scheme and the willingness of small industry to get involved. They are of benefit to the company and to the graduates.

There is a large demand for the scheme. Interviews were held by Eolas and Forbairt for placement of personnel in the scheme. About 500 graduates in one location were competing for between 20 and 30 jobs. There have been complaints that many of our graduates are leaving Ireland while there is an adequate number of jobs for them here. There may be an element of truth in that. However, 500 young graduates were competing for between 20 and 30 jobs. That indicates the necessity for more attention to be given to this scheme. I compliment Eolas on organising that and other schemes in the advanced technology sector.

I also pay tribute to the work being done in the regional industrial technological park in Limerick. We may not always praise what happens in Limerick and Clare. This park, however, has been an outstanding success and we hope to see it expand further.

Thank you very much, Senator Daly.

Nevertheless, some of the companies which are established there vanish quickly. We must maintain close contact with developments in these places, particularly small companies, which for some reason do not last long.

The work carried out in institutions such as DCU, University of Limerick, Trinity College and the universities in Cork and Galway is very important for our small indigenous industry. We must develop technology which can be used to develop our natural resources. In the aquaculture business, for example, the main technology used in fish farming is imported from Sweden, Japan and Norway. Surely it is within the capabilities of our technological engineers to develop an indigenous industry to exploit our conditions and resources. There is no comparison between tidal conditions here and Norway — there is little tidal movement there — and the use of Norwegian technology designed for Norwegian conditions has led to many of the difficulties in the fish farming business. There is a challenge here for our institutions such as the University of Limerick, UCC and UCG to look carefully at this area in order to explore the possibilities and produce jobs by developing Irish technology to exploit our natural resources.

I welcome the Eolas report, which produced a plan for 1994 to 1996. It estimates it will be necessary to spend three times the money we currently spend in this area; the increase would be from £50 million to £150 million. Costs are involved in all these sectors. When I was in the other House I spoke about marine research and the need to develop our natural resources and technology, but we cannot continue to make such speeches unless we are prepared to put our money where our mouths are.

Let us hope the council is not an exercise to postpone the day when we will have to invest. We must continue to put money into this key component in our drive for economic development. I encourage the Minister to continue his work to date but he must be prepared to pay the costs involved.

I support the motion. I welcome the establishment of the Science, Technology and Innovation Council and wish it well in its deliberations. It has an important role to play in the development of industry. The various organisations which wish to have an input into the council's work should be encouraged to do so. The Science Researchers Association should be allowed to make submissions to this body.

The establishment of this organisation is important for our industrial development. Manufacturing is a fast moving area and matters do not stay still for long because innovations are produced. We are in a global market and the days when we serviced our protected, indigenous markets are over. We are now open to Europe and further afield, both as a market for our goods and from manufactures from abroad. Protectionist days are over and we must be innovative and stay ahead of our competitors to ensure our level of employment is maintained. It will be difficult to protect job levels because of the need to maintain efficiency. Fewer people are employed in industry, but one hopes more will be employed in commerce and services. However, for industry to survive it needs innovation, the development of new products, the identification of products required for a given market and the prediction of future requirements. For these reasons the establishment of the new council is most welcome.

The motion asks for the council's brief to be extended to cover the environment, which is an area of growing concern for everyone. People will ask more questions about the impact on the environment of industrial and other commercial development. As Senator O'Sullivan knows, waste disposal is currently a big issue in our area. We need to be educated as to what is and is not acceptable. There is much scaremongering about the environment and the reason for that is lack of knowledge. This organisation should home in on that area, as Senator Henry has proposed, so that it can advise and educate us to ensure we do not throw out the baby with the bath, or whatever the expression is.

It is "Do not throw out the baby with the bath water" but you can throw out the bath as well if you like.

I am worried that we will reject any industry coming to Ireland because it may deal with an area such as pharmaceuticals. That would be wrong. There are bad and good industries and a factory will not affect the environment simply because it has a bad name. This council should educate us and identify what is and is not acceptable in environmental protection.

The council should also advise local authorities. A new method of waste disposal was mentioned on the radio recently. It involves heating the waste at a temperature which destroys all toxins and other elements within the waste. It is apparently highly effective and environmentally friendly, but it would probably be rejected in Ireland because of fear about what might happen. It is important to tackle ignorance.

Senator O'Toole spoke about education. We are not educated in Ireland to deal with life; we are educated to work and survive. During the Criminal Justice (No. 3) Bill debate earlier we spoke about the drug culture. It was clear there also that we do not educate our children to deal with what they are exposed to in society today. As the motion says, educational development should be examined. In civics, do we prepare our people to handle the democracy for which our forefathers fought so hard? Is the apathy about politics and the democratic system a result of ignorance? Should this be developed in the schools?

Medical matters are also crucial. Ireland should participate more in cancer research and other areas. There have been marvellous international developments in investigations into cystic fibrosis in the last two years. Ireland played a small part in that and we should be more involved in developing better health facilities through medical research.

Agriculture is one sector where we can provide jobs, as can be seen in the milk production industry. By contrast the meat industry has been deficient in job creation, but there is potential to develop jobs in that area and other parts of the food and agriculture sector. Because of the present international economic position there are huge exports of live cattle. If we exported those cattle as tinned meat we would have much more employment. If everything was produced at the level of cooked food, 10,000 extra jobs would be provided in Ireland.

We cannot deny the farmer the right to sell his produce, whether it is live cattle or otherwise, where he gets the best price. We must try to make it more economical and attractive from a financial point of view to sell a developed added value product. The only way to do this is to develop innovative products on the world stage which people will buy. For example, whiskey salami was developed by Duffys in Hackettstown, County Carlow, and it was sold throughout the world. The development of cream liqueurs is another example of what can be done in that area.

The motion urges the Minister to "immediately initiate the taxation relief to encourage research and development in both indigenous companies and divisions of international companies here". One can only establish a permanent industry in a country if people develop home products. One can only have a hold on a local or an international company if it is developing, producing and marketing its own products. It is important to encourage our organisations to develop new products and to improve the existing product base. International companies should look towards developments of their subsidiaries in the country and they should stand alone with their product range and their product developments and improvements.

Scientific and technological advice should be available through Leader schemes and county enterprise partnership boards. This is available in the Limerick area, through the University of Limerick and other establishments which are only too happy to help industries and the county enterprise partnership boards. They are new, but they should experiment and ask the scientific and technological institutions for assistance.

I thank Senator Henry, Senator O'Toole and other Senators who sponsored this motion. I thank them for the opportunity to say a few words on this subject. I express my gratitude to the Members who have spoken and I have carefully noted their concerns. I regard this evening's debate as a most helpful and constructive input into a process which I want to ensure is successful. I will pass a copy of the debate to the Science, Technology and Innovation Council for their consideration.

The word "review" can often be misinterpreted in Government circles. Sometimes it is misconstrued — or even construed — as a reason for defending current policy or for postponing action. I saw this happening in various Governments over the years. The question arises why we need a Science, Technology and Innovation Council. There are two main reasons in my opinion. When I launched the review on 18 February I indicated that the State was making an annual investment of £650 million in scientific research and technical activities. This is an astonishing figure. It covers virtually the entire range of Departments and agencies from, for example, the Central Statistics Office, the Meteorological Service and the bigger spending Departments such as Education, Agriculture, Food and Forestry and Enterprise and Employment. My first directive to the council was to examine that figure, to introduce more transparency and understanding of where the money goes and for what it is intended and, more importantly, to ensure that we are getting value for money and that there is a coherent strategy behind the annual investment.

On the day we launched the council, I had a discussion with the members and it was mentioned that some of this money should be invested in bricks and mortar — in buildings — as opposed to programmes and projects which might create results. This example shows the type of emotion which can become part of this debate. People have said to me that many of our great inventions and scientific breakthroughs did not take place in glamorous buildings, but in attics and other such places. Now it seems we cannot make any progress in science and technology unless a gleaming building is built, which is a couple of storeys high, with many rooms, a ministerial opening and a lavish annual report. This is an example of the type of dilemma which the council must consider.

The second reason we established the council concerned the debate and followup which is needed to ensure we give more prominence and attention to the subject matter. The council will lay the foundation for a clear strategy to drive Government spending in this area. In my view, there is no clear understanding or consensus among policy makers, the public and the providers and users of science and technology as to how science, research, technical development and innovation can best contribute to national development in its broadest sense. My expectation, therefore, is that the council will address this key issue and thus establish a platform for all future policies, mechanisms and schemes through which the Government will support science and technology development.

I have asked the council to try to establish what the Government strategy and policy should be in the area of science and technology in the short, medium and long term. This is desperately required because a coherent and focused national science and technology policy is at the centre of our economic development and we ignore it at our peril.

My first reaction when I accepted this post and looked at the science and technology area was that it needed to be pulled together. We need priorities and a sense of order. A small country like ours can only drive its economy if it has adequate investment in science and technology because that helps the industrial development we require. The reason the council was established was not to postpone anything, but to decide as a nation how to target an investment of £650 million.

Two developments have been responsible for bringing the debate from the realm of theory to the practical over the years, that is, the establishment of the Office of Science and Technology which was established in 1987, and the substantial increase in funding through the EC Structural Funds programme since 1989. The question is not if we should invest in science and technology, but are we investing in it to the maximum advantage and on what strategy are we investing it.

This year sees the beginning of the second tranche of Structural Funds, which will bring us from 1994 to 1999, including substantial expenditure in relation to science and technology. The policies and instruments which flow from the council report and from its implementation, together with this investment of funds over the next six years, will significantly influence the future shape of our economy.

I presume Senators have all seen and read the terms of reference for the council, which are essentially about achieving economic development through research, technology and innovation. I want to emphasise, as I did when I launched the council, that as a country we must seek to embrace all that is good and possible in science and technology and apply that to the best national advantage in the long term and the short term. We must aim to secure the highest possible standard of living, health, education and general well being for our people. That is the purpose of applying science and technology.

I have set the council a demanding task, given the breadth of the review and the target of concluding a report by the end of the year. The council will, of necessity, be concerned in the first instance with strategic issues, which serve us in the long term. That does not exclude any specific operational topic which the council might deem important or on which I might seek its advice in the course of the review. It is against that background that the Cabinet appointed 18 independent minded people to the council who, I trust, will bring a range of expertise and skills to the examination of this complex and important area. In passing, I would also mention that the members have been appointed in their personal capacity and are not there to represent any institution, issue or interest. It is important that the final report of the council reflects this principle and I pointed this out to them.

I would point out to the House that we are not alone in trying to establish a real contribution of science and technology or in reviewing whether we are giving it sufficient importance or in establishing priorities. To name but a few, the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Portugal, New Zealand and Holland have carried out reviews of their science and technology systems and others are in the process of doing so. There are two obvious forces driving this general trend in reviewing how to maximise science, research, technology and innovation. On the one hand, with the ending of the Cold War, countries which previously invested heavily in defence research will obviously want to refocus some of this spending towards civil and commercial uses; in fact there seems to be a trend of diverting funding away from defence research to civil research. I welcome and support that trend.

At the same time we are witnessing a massive opening of national markets and the establishment of global markets. These are influenced by the dismantling of barriers to trade following the GATT and by the increase in international collaboration in science and technology. There is a clear link between technical development and growth in trade and we must, at a minimum, keep up with developments, particularly in areas where we have a competitive advantage, which we must hold on to.

The debate on science and technology over the past couple of years has led us to think about the need to focus on the targeting and application of research to improve our industrial competitiveness. The National Economic and Social Council report of 1993, A Strategy for Competitiveness, Growth and Employment, spoke at length about this and pointed out the importance of investment in science and technology and in management skills.

The Culliton report was emphatic in saying that technological competence was one of the main keys to competitive advantage and that it was not an optional extra in the search for industrial output and employment growth. As Minister with responsibility for commerce and technology, it is my intention to ensure that a focus on the development of science and technology is maintained by the agencies, that its contribution to industrial development and the competitiveness of industry continues to be highlighted and that activities are geared to meet current and future industry needs.

It is important to highlight that the current Programme for Competitiveness and Work abounds with references to the need for innovation and technology upgrading. The programme underlines the need to move in this direction as a key to competitiveness and employment growth. It is important that this direction and focus are accepted by all of the partners to the Programme for Competitiveness and Work.

However, the fact remains that business expenditure on research and development in this country is still too low. Latest available statistics for 1991 show that business expenditure on research and development in Ireland amounted to 0.65 per cent of GDP compared to the European average of 1.25 per cent. I believe that in addressing the many issues which the council has before it, this will become in time one of the key indicators of success or failure. I believe the recommendations which the council come up with should be primarily aimed at increasing business investment in research and development.

These figures do not reflect the impact of the major grant scheme for research and development which was introduced at the end of 1992 and has now become known as "Measure 6". In 1993 the Government made available a sum of £23 million towards this scheme and the same amount again was provided in matching funds by the successful applicant companies. Of far greater significance is the fact that the scheme generated applications to the value of £280 million, which demonstrates clearly the latent capacity of Irish industry to carry on research and development. Applications totalling £280 million were made for £23 million of funding, which was ultimately awarded. That indicates the interest of Irish companies in research and development.

The motion before the House specifically mentions taxation relief to encourage research and development in both indigenous and international companies in Ireland. I already asked the council to prepare a specific report on the impact of corporate taxation on the level of research and development carried out in Ireland and I expect to have a report from them within two months. Depending on my examination of their conclusions and recommendations, I hope to be able to make proposals to the Minister for Finance for incorporation in the next budget and Finance Bill.

One of the complications in this area is the fact that the 10 per cent rate of corporation profits tax, while strong in attracting foreign direct investment, has the indirect effect of retaining research and development activities in countries where they can be offset against the higher tax rate. This question of taxation leads indirectly to the question of how to encourage multinationals to carry on more research and development in Ireland. The key here is to find a way to encourage activities without creating impediments which would lessen Ireland's attractiveness as a location for mobile investment. That is one of the ironies of the taxation system and the method of attracting research and development expenditure.

International companies are not really interested in investing in research and development because they only get relief at 10 per cent. While the 10 per cent rate is a major attraction for them to establish here, ironically, it is more beneficial for them to write off their expenditure in areas with higher corporation taxes — some of our competitors have rates of 30 or 40 per cent. Our low corporation tax rate is a disincentive to investment by companies in research and development. I asked the council to advise me on that urgently because we cannot afford to be behind our competitors in that area.

Specific areas of industry which we need to address are small and medium sized industries — SMEs — which do not carry on any form of technology upgrading activities and the encouragement of greater numbers of technology based start up companies. Schemes like Tech-start have an invaluable role to play in this area and they have my full support.

From my participation in the Task Force on Small Business, I know research and development is not high up on the priorities of small companies which face many short term complications in their attempt to survive and prosper — usually how to get enough cash to pay the wage bill on a Friday or a meeting with the bank manager. It is not easy for them to focus on the importance of science and technology and research. I am convinced that in the medium term, innovation will be the key to continued growth of small business into the medium and large sized companies with expanding markets. I am doing everything possible to bring that message to small companies.

The motion urges that any project under the Leader schemes or the county enterprise partnership boards should have technological and scientific advice made available to it. I agree with this and given my previous comments I would like to see a certain priority given to projects coming before these schemes which are based on technological and scientific advances. I am assured by the operating authorities of these schemes that the necessary expertise and guidance is available through the relevant agencies which are represented. I will ensure that the requirement in the motion is brought to the attention of these agencies so that they are aware of Senators' concerns about this matter.

The motion urges me to ensure that environmental, educational, medical and agricultural aspects, as well as industrial, are considered by the council. I explained the broad terms of reference and the broad definition of economic development, including socio-economic aspects, which have been given to the council. I assure Senators that none of these important elements will be overlooked. I regard all of them as being inextricably linked with industrial development and thus contributing to economic growth.

I will deal with the educational aspects later. Otherwise, suffice to say that it is hard to think of industrial development without thinking of the relationship with agriculture and the food industry and equally, it is clear that companies marketing policies are increasingly influenced by environmental issues and consumer preferences. The medical, educational and environmental aspects of research and development all address society's needs in different ways and these cannot be left out.

I accept what the motion states and I will ensure that the council deals with environmental, educational, medical and agricultural aspects as part of its brief. This was, in any case, my intention because they are all inextricably linked. I thank Senators for reminding me to remind the council to do just that.

In regard to the education system, there is no question in my mind that the teaching of science subjects and the training of graduates in research disciplines is vital to the general economic development of this country, to encouraging and supporting research and development by industry and to fostering an innovative culture.

Members would think from reading some newspaper articles over the past 12 months that the only issue as regards third level education was the amount of funding for basic research, but the third level system is much wider than that. It is essentially about providing skilled manpower, about matching the supply of these skills and research activities to current and future needs and about improving the linkage between higher education and industry research activities.

First let me expand a little on the Government approach as regards basic research. I would like to make it clear, because this debate has been raging in research circles for some time, that I fully appreciate the importance of basic science as one of the essential ingredients in the interactive model of innovation. It is unfortunate that public debate on this issue quickly seems to become polarised into whether one is in favour of basic science or applied technology. It is not a matter of one or the other but of one as well as the other. The challenge is where to strike the right balance, how to order priorities and how to extract maximum benefit from the State's already considerable investment in this area.

I am anxious to see greater effort to convert scientific and technological achievements into products and competitiveness and more attention being paid to harnessing the results of basic research. At the same time I want to make it clear that I greatly understand and support the requirement for basic research, for research which does not always have a commercial or industrial or, indeed, any specific objective.

I have become increasingly aware over the months in this post that many of our great technological and scientific breakthroughs have come not so much from planned organised bureaucratic programmes but from the inquiring mind of the scientist, the probing of the professional technologist and I am very anxious, having responsibility for science and technology, to ensure that that element is maintained and nurtured. The disorganised side of science and technology is important and we have to acknowledge its existence, not interfere with it too much and support it financially.

As I say, it is a balance. We cannot invest all our funds in that side because we have a requirement to produce new products and technological breakthroughs for the economy. Ireland is known as a creative place, our people are known to be creative and it is very important to encourage that creativity and not put it into a straitjacket, as it were, trying to have State ordered science and technology programmes. That is not the way to proceed.

The motion proposed specifically that there should be a pilot scheme in introductory science at primary school level. Given my experience as Minister for Education and now as Minister for Commerce and Technology, I support this. I strongly believe that the education curriculum must begin at an early stage to encourage innovation, curiosity, technical skills, call it what you like.

I recall as Minister for Education being heavily criticised about my decision to put the phrase "enterprise culture" into the Green Paper on Education. I stand over that because my definition of enterprise is not just that you start a business. My definition of enterprise is of being creative, innovative, and enterprising. A philosophy teacher can be enterprising, those who provide services can be enterprising. Deputies and Senators can be enterprising. I have tried to explain, particularly to the teaching profession, that my reference to an enterprise culture in the Green Paper meant trying to convey to children the importance of being innovative and enterprising in whatever aspect of life they find themselves. Some quarters chose to interpret that as my trying to turn the schools of Ireland into some kind of industrial factories. I am glad of the opportunity to reject that again today.

Where do we go from here? As I said, we have just come through the first phase of Structural Funds support for science and technology and we are entering the second phase. There have been many significant adaptations to the programme, the most significant of which is the move from the initial position of supporting infrastructural development to a position of direct support for research and development in industry. I spoke about the buildings example earlier. At the same time we have entered a period of intense debate on the role and contribution of science and technology to economic development, with a clear eye on the appropriate strategies and support for science and technology to bring us into the next century.

While the comparative international figures tend to show us in the bottom half of the table when it comes to science and technology related expenditure, it is inadequate simply to aim for a more respectable place on the league table. Far more fundamental questions have to be addressed against a background where resources will always be inadequate to meet all demands in this exciting area. Do we have a proper system for prioritising areas for support? Do we have a system for targeting and measuring the impact of these supports?

The investment in science and technology and the success of that investment will determine what kind of economy we develop — high value market leader or low cost price taker. It is important to appreciate that success in this field is a long term objective and it is vital, therefore, that we prioritise and match the skills, the investment and the programmes with the needs. Most countries are now doing this and Ireland cannot be left behind. By definition science, research, technology and innovation are risk activity, long term in their nature but highly rewarding if successful. My thanks to the Senators who tabled this motion. It gives us an opportunity to stand back and see where we are going in this critical area and I welcome it.

In company with others I thank Senator Henry and her colleagues for putting down this motion this evening. The debate since 6 p.m. has been very interesting.

I welcome the Minister, Deputy Brennan, to the House. The qualities he displayed as general secretary of Fíanna Fáil — toughness, tenacity and above all patience — are required even more in his present job because whether we like it or not, our society, our political parties and our electorate demand instant results from our Ministers. A public representative is as good as the last school or factory. In science and technology this approach is not possible; research is not an instant process. Since it is slow and expensive it does not immediately grab the headlines.

The Minister will not get any kudos for establishing this council which is to focus in on possibly one of the most important aspects of our endeavours as a Government because he is not going to announce any new products tomorrow. The process he has started will lead to new products, however, and that is what it is all about. This is vitally important to the welfare of the country. The Minister will need an abundance of the tenacity he has always displayed to insist that research and development grow and develop.

I found the Minister's comments on buildings very interesting. There is always a rush to put up flashy buildings, as if Pavarotti could not sing as well in a shed as an opera house. It is an Irish thing. We love it, all the chrome and glass technology centres. We might not actually produce much in them but they look good and they photograph well. There are fancy parks in the United States in places like Carolina but I am never sure what they produce. It struck me as ironic that in a country that has produced such creative people as Beckett and Shaw, if we had inventors of the same calibre we would be importing labour not dealing with emigration. The cost of not encouraging research and development is very evident in that we have lost huge industries. The computer industry was essentially a Meccano-like operation; it was the assembly of components and had no other function. It was, therefore, extremely mobile and that has been evident over the years.

There is an evident lack of research and development in the fashion industry. We had a footwear industry second to none, but because no money was put into research and development the industry sagged and collapsed. The same happened with the knitwear industry. The Italians experimented with colours, dyes and fabrics and they thrived; we did nothing but ship out the same old stuff because of a culture which says "We want to see the money today". As the Minister said, there is a great deal of interest in that with regard to paying wages and dealing with the banks.

The banks have rightly been the target of ire of late. If someone went to the banks with a plan to invest money in a long term research project they would be thrown out the door. They are not backers of research and development; they want their payments up front and on time. That is part of this "instant" culture referred to. There are no kudos for putting in the foundation and getting the planning and structures right. Unless there is a change of attitude we will not go anywhere in that regard.

As legend tells us, immediately after the war the Japanese had the means of acquiring science and technology by, for example, simply establishing a place called Sheffield and then stamping "Made in Sheffield" on their cutlery. That is one way of acquiring it. They became serious about it, however, and became the world leaders in micro-technology.

This country spends a substantial amount of money on research and development, and has a tax regime. That has to be made attractive. Research and development is itself an industry — it is not a by-product of the inventors — which could create many jobs for our highly educated graduates. It is worth bringing in on its own whatever the end product may be, and anything that can be done to encourage that should be done. The Minister referred to the tax regime in so far as it is attractive at one end of the scale and unattractive at the other, and that has to be addressed. This is an ideal country for such facilities; it has everything necesary, including the infrastructure.

The innovation shown by a former Taoiseach in relation to tax for writers, poets and artists has worked. Perhaps we should look at research and development in the same mode. Ireland is a far more attractive location than it was 20 years ago. We now have the telecommunications, the infrastructure and renowned third level institutions; we have all of the ingredients necessary to bring such industry here.

I commend the Minister for what he has done. It is a long, hard haul but eventually it will be recognised as being an important part of the putting together of the modern Ireland if we can get it going in such a way as to produce results for us all.

I welcome this timely motion and I congratulate the Minister on setting up the new independent council. I agreed with him when he included enterprise in the schools' curricula because for too long we educated people to look for jobs that were "SPP"— secure, permanent and pensionable. We forgot about developing enterprise. Unfortunately, anyone who was enterprising, made money and tried to develop was tagged a "speculator" and was considered undesirable. That attitude went too far and is largely responsible for there being so much unemployment today.

As Senator Magner said, we had some of the finest tanneries in the world 40 years ago, and 25 or 30 years later we ended up exporting hides and importing leather. That would not be the case if we had had proper research and development. Even at this stage the council should target tanneries; leather is a big seller and we should not have to import it.

If one set up a tannery now there might be a problem with environmentalists; they might say it was a dirty trade which harms the environment. We must have research and development to prove that industries can be creative and at the same time not destructive. In many cases the environmentalists are going over the top and many of them are in the SPP category — they have secure, permanent and pensionable jobs. They do not think of the children leaving school and coming into the workforce.

All our development and research must be geared toward employment because we have to create more jobs. A lot of research and development so far has been directed toward producing robots. Robots do the job, but they do not rear a family or create homes. If we do not have homes we will not have people, and without people we will not have communities. We must ensure that we develop technology to create jobs. There is no reason why our country, with its population of 3.5 million, should not be producing and selling to the larger European population. We will have to be a sales country. We should concentrate research on marketing and we are not doing that. Many young people are doing marketing in college, but what are they marketing? What are they selling at the end of the day? I made my living selling for over 20 years out of necessity because it was the only job I could get and I know that sales are all important. We are not developing a sales strategy to produce goods and sell them.

I agree with Senator Magner when he talks about banks — they are conservative. I hope a third banking force will be set up and I hope the Government takes a major share in it. If it is privatised it will be the same as the banks we have already; after a short while the three would be linked together in a cartel and it would make no difference which bank one went into.

One of the effects of research and development is that the computer has destroyed banking. I went to pay my car insurance the other day. I have been with the same insurance company for 40 years. I was amazed that they could not take the money from me until I gave them my policy number. Years ago they used just pull out the drawer of the filing cabinet, take out my file and tell me how much I had to pay. I had to go home and get my policy number.

Data protection.

In some ways technology has made business impersonal. Technology may be to blame for some of our criticism of the banks. Nowadays one's account is a figure on a computer and if that figure is exceeded the computer automatically bounces the cheque, for example, and the bank manager does not even know about it. Years ago I had sometimes to go to one bank to get money to pay another, but in those days the bank manager would ring and say "There is a cheque of yours here, will you for heaven's sake lodge some money before tomorrow." Technology has made it impersonal and this is why the banks come in for so much criticism. The bank manager who knows everybody is no longer there.

We would want to do some research and development as to how we can avail of technology. I am not saying that we can do without technology, but one does not want to completely do away with the personal touch. In the final analysis, that is what matters. One of the great technological advances — the fax machine — has brought a new way of life to business. One can send off a drawing, for example, on the fax to a manufacturer, who can make the product to its exact specifications.

I was amazed when Senator O'Toole said that the expert of today is often the educator of tomorrow. I do not have a high regard for experts. In my time I have seen them make many mistakes. For example, experts in my county put down a foundation for a waterworks in a lake. When they came back to work on it the following Monday morning, it had disappeared under the lake. I could cite other cases where experts have cost a lot of money to our country. I am not in favour of them, but I would be totally abhorred if an expert ended up as an educator.

Or as a consultant.

Which is worse. I could tell Senator Magner a good story on that matter as well, but this House would not be the place to tell it.

I congratulate the Minister on his work. The Minister will not get much praise or kudos for it, but it is still an important job. One is living in a technological and scientific age and we must try to make science pay.

Some people claim there are no resources for science and technology. The experts, whether they are in health, education or the Garda, often call for more resources, which means more money. This is the new jargon being used. However, no one has said what they have done with the money they already received. I am glad the Minister said that there must be some accountability. Some £650 million has been spent on science and technology, yet we are told that not enough money is being put into research. It is not a million years since the birth of Our Lord. This gives one an idea of the magnitude of that number.

The Senator would do better to count.

What have we got for this amount of money? This issue should be discussed in greater detail. Are we getting jobs and value for money from it? When people get more resources, they must be asked what they are doing with them. I appeal to the Minister and to those working with him on this project to spend time into how the research that is developed will be transformed into jobs. Jobs mean people, people mean families and families mean communities. The Minister should not spend too much on robots.

I will get some expert advice.

I thank the Minister for his reply. I also thank the Senators who took part in this debate. I can see they have put enormous thought into their contributions. Many of their points, which were extremely valuable, were ones I had not thought of myself.

Senator Farrell commented on the spending of £650 on science and technology. I am dying to see where that money has been allocated because I wonder how much of it is going to research.

I agree with Senator Magner's point. One will not get a great deal of kudos on this matter; it is a slow process. I am concerned that time is going by while we wait for the report from this council. We may be endangering existing projects by not examining them more carefully.

Senator Neville raised a point regarding the pharmaceutical industry; Senator Magner touched on it as well. There are often objections to the setting up of good industries because of a lack of understanding of what they mean and their environmental impact. Our laws are extremely strict in this regard. One must ensure they are enforced. Just because industries are brought in does not mean these guidelines are not enforced.

Senator Daly said that a lot of research in this country may be specific to ourselves. The Senator has a long interest in fish farms and sea trout. The fact that much of the research in this area was done in the Norwegian fjords, which are totally different climatically to the bays of the west, may have been extraordinarily important in these problems.

Many speakers said that many small firms get bogged down collecting money or have trouble with financing. They will stay small unless we can ensure they have access to a bank who will back their research and development.

One never really knows where one is in the area of research. A joint collaboration has been undertaken between the physics and mathematics departments in Trinity College. Many projects are done between university departments nowadays. The bubble is the greatest volume one can have for the smallest surface area. However, the cube is much better for packaging. Lord Kelvin worked on this subject approximately 80 years ago and his conclusions have stood until recently. A study was done in Dublin on developing a module which was halfway between a cube and bubble for packaging purposes. I am sure no one in this House has heard about this project. When those involved presented their paper they received a letter from Princeton College in America, asking them to work on packaging there. Have we missed out again on another tremendous innovation? Ideas are terribly hard to come by and any ideas we have should be seized upon and worked upon in this country. As Senator Farrell said, all of these innovations eventually lead — maybe not in the short term — to further employment and to industrial, agricultural and environmental progress.

Question put and agreed to.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

When is it proposed to sit again?

It is proposed to sit again at 2.30 p.m next Wednesday.