Thursday, 25 February 1937
Dáil Éireann Debate
“Go ndeontar suim ná raghaidh thar £2,500 chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníoctha i  rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1937, i gcóir Roimhíoca chun Cuideachta Aer-Iompair do bhunú (Uimh. 40 de 1936).
That a sum not exceeding £2,500 be granted to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1937, for an Advance for the establishment of an Air Transport Company (No. 40 of 1936).”
As Deputies are aware, the policy of the Government with regard to the development of civil aviation in the Saorstát envisages the establishment of a national aviation company which will operate, either directly or through subsidiaries, all internal air transport services, and which will represent the Saorstát in international air services connecting the Saorstát with other countries.
The principal object of the company will be the development of civil aviation on an extensive scale and it will be the duty of its directors to formulate and pursue a policy designed to that end. Such a policy will aim, amongst other things, at making the Saorstát the international junction for air traffic between Europe and North America, not only by direct services by air, but also by providing air connections at Saorstát ports with transatlantic shipping. It should, we think, be feasible in time to establish air services connecting the Saorstát directly with all the principal European countries.
Powers to enable that policy to be put into effect were obtained by the Air Navigation and Transport Act passed last year. Section 68 of the Act requires the Minister for Finance to secure the formation and registration of a limited company conforming to certain specified conditions. It appears to be inevitable that in any development of civil aviation in this country on a reasonably large scale the Government will have to take the initiative or, at any rate, take a very active part and that, in the early stages at least, the Minister for Finance will have to provide the necessary capital. The Act, therefore,  provides for the acquisition of shares in the company by the Minister for Finance up to the total nominal value of the share capital and for a guarantee by the same Minister in respect of any debentures issued by the company. The company will be organised on ordinary commercial lines, and it is intended that, so far as such a course is compatible with the discharge of its special duties and responsibilities, the board of the company should carry out its functions in the same way as the board of an ordinary business concern.
The commercial activities of the proposed company will, so far as can be foreseen at present, fall under the following main heads. First of all, I mention the transatlantic services. Under the recent Inter-Governmental Agreement, a joint operating company will be responsible for the operation of the transatlantic air services as soon as the experimental period is over, and that company is to be incorporated at the instance of three companies, each company nominated by one of the three Governments concerned. It is intended that this national company will be nominated for that purpose by the Government of the Saorstát. That nomination will involve the company's holding 24½ per cent. of the capital stock of the joint operating company. The capital of the joint company is visualised at about £1,000,000, so that the Saorstát company's holding will be about £245,000. The board of directors on the joint company, that is the Joint Transatlantic Services Operating Company, will be nine in number, and the Ottawa Agreement provides that three of these will be nominated by the Saorstát company. Under the financial arrangements connected with the project, the Saorstát Government is undertaking responsibility for the payment of 5 per cent. of the annual subsidy to the services, subject to a maximum of £12,000 per annum. It is intended that any contributions payable under that undertaking will be paid through the national company. Authority for the payment of that subsidy is given in Section 79 of the  Act; but the money will, of course, have to be voted by Dáil Eireann as required.
The second I mention is the cross-channel air services. These services are at present operated by Aer Lingus, Teoranta. They are being financed on a temporary basis at the present time, but provision is being made in the capital of the national company for capitalising Aer Lingus, Teoranta, the nominal capital of which is £100,000. That means that the cross-channel air services will be operated by a subsidiary company of this national company. The unusual procedure of setting up a subsidiary before the parent company was due to the Government's desire to have these cross-channel services operated as early as possible. The existing service provides transport between Dublin and London via Bristol. During the summer months services were provided from Dublin to the Isle of Man and from Dublin to Liverpool. Extensions of these services to Belfast and Scotland from Dublin, and from Cork to Wales and the South of England are matters for consideration in the early future.
I next mention other international services and internal services. In operating internal services the company will be breaking new ground and the adaptation of air services for the economic requirements of air traffic within the Saorstát will be a problem to be dealt with. It is to be assumed that at some stage the question of establishing air connections between Dublin, Waterford, Cork, Limerick and Galway will come up for consideration. Besides the cross-channel services to Great Britain attention will have to be given to the operation of direct services to the Continent of Europe. Some of the transatlantic shipping companies have already shown their interest in air services linking up with their liners calling at Saorstát ports. Any internal development is, of course, dependent upon the provision of suitable aerodromes. I have been trying to impress this on the local authorities in Cork and in Galway. Cork has had the position investigated by a firm of aerodrome construction consultants  and Galway is also considering the provision of an aerodrome. The setting-up of connecting services between the Shannon airport and the Continent is a matter of prime importance for consideration by this national company.
There is a certain amount of charter work, that is, the type of air service which is called, I think, air taxi work which this company will also perform; that is the provision of special planes as required by Press reporters, medical people and so forth. It is to be assumed that the demand for such services in the Saorstát will diminish when regular services are established, but meanwhile there is no reason why this company should not seek to meet it. It may be found advantageous to arrange that the transatlantic airport on the Shannon will be operated for the Government by the national company, charges on the usual scale being made to any companies utilising the airport. The management of aerodromes is often undertaken by operating or air servicing companies and this is so even in the case of aerodromes established by municipal authorities. As the national company to be established will be the only Saorstát company operating services, it may be called upon to undertake the management of aerodromes at Dublin, Cork and other places.
While it is uncertain whether the manufacture of aircraft will be undertaken in the Saorstát as a commercial operation, it will be necessary to provide facilities for the repair and overhaul of aircraft, including private aeroplanes, operating within and to and from the Saorstát. As this national company is to be responsible for practically all the commercial flying operations in the Saorstát the training of flying and ground personnel will come within the company's province. There is also a considerable amount of work done by firms in other countries engaged in air photography and air surveys, and the national company will probably find it desirable to interest itself in this business. It may also be found necessary, and not merely necessary but desirable, to popularise  flying amongst the people, by organising special aerial displays and demonstration flights. The amount asked for is £2,500. That is required to defray the initial expenses in connection with the establishment of the company. The greater part of that amount comes back to the Exchequer in the form of stamp duty. The stamp duty on the capital of the proposed company of £500,000 is £1,250, and the expenses of printing the memorandum and articles of association are also being provided for, together with the necessary expenses in the form of repayment of advances made to the company to meet the expenditure between the present time and the time that the capital of the company will have been subscribed. The Act provides for the advance of a sum up to £5,000 for this purpose. We consider, having regard to experience of the floatation of other smaller companies that a sum of £2,500 should be sufficient and I move that that amount be made available.
Mr. Brennan: At this stage, can the Minister give the House some idea of what our commitments will be in respect to this air force, now that we are setting up a company for a particular purpose? The Minister has outlined the purpose in view more than the details of the company in connection with this Bill. We will have a certain amount of expenditure in connection with this air service, and many figures have been published. Can the Minister estimate what the capital outlay will be in connection with the whole matter, as well as maintenance, and what are the prospects of revenue coming to the State?
Mr. Lemass: The Deputy must not confuse this company and the air force. I mention that it is possible that this company will be in charge of airport maintenance in the Saorstát, but it is conceivable that some other procedure might be adopted. The State is building airports at the Shannon and at Collinstown at present, one for the purpose of the civil air services and the other for the transatlantic services. These two operations are separate and distinct from this company, which is  formed primarily to operate air services, and it may do so directly or through subsidiaries. For the present the cross-channel service will be a subsidiary service of this company. This company will be a shareholder in the company that will operate the transatlantic service or it may have a service through subsidiaries and organise services from the Free State to the Continent or internal services. The main purpose of this company will be the operation of this service. It may have no functions at all in regard to airports. It will have certain functions in the training of personnel, the organising of special displays, and providing special planes for special routes or charter arrangements. I mentioned that we might consider it good policy to entrust this company with a lease of the airports. I would not like to think that we are committed to that, but at present that appears to be the most practicable arrangement. Even if it might prove most practicable for the municipal airport contemplated at Cork, of which the State would not have control, the Cork municipal authorities might find it an advantage to lease the airport to this company rather than to attempt to manage it themselves. What the cost of the airports that I mentioned are likely to be I cannot say at this stage. Estimates have been prepared on a more or less provisional basis, and circumstances might arise to upset them. The matter will come before the Dáil in the near future in the form of an Estimate to provide money for that purpose. I could not commit myself to a figure, as I do not recollect what it is likely to be. That is a separate matter to the formation of this company.
Mr. Doyle: I have much pleasure in supporting the motion. Having regard to the progress that has been made in aviation in recent years, it is well that  the Saorstát should not be lacking in providing whatever facilities are necessary to meet requirements necessitated by that progress. I presume the Minister is including the Collinstown aerodrome——
Mr. Lemass: This company is primarily one to operate air services. It is not a company that will have anything to do with air ports as such, unless, subsequently, it is decided by the owners of these ports, such as the Cork municipal authorities, to entrust the management to this company. The primary purpose of this company is the operation of air services and not the management of air ports. We are not even committed to the suggestion which I put forward, that we might entrust the management of the air ports to this company. So far as this company is concerned it will proceed with the other important duties it has to perform, irrespective of what is done in the other matter subsequently. The provision for the State contribution for constructing an air port at Collinstown will come forward on another Estimate.
Mr. Lemass: For the international route, or for whatever routes are provided, this company or subsidiaries must be set up by a company registered in this country. Where an international service is concerned there must be two companies and they may carry on independent or competing services, or they may combine, as in the case of the cross-channel services, to establish a joint committee of management and to pool the receipts, or carry on services without competing with one another. Competition is not likely to develop to any extent. I do not suppose there is any air service in the world carrying on at a profit. Some may not be making a loss, but they are not making a profit. Having regard to the interest shown in aviation, and the use made of the cross-channel services established last year, we are confident that a profit-earning stage must be reached soon.
Mr. Roddy: The Minister stated that this was to be a national service. Is it assumed that the capital will be provided exclusively by the Minister for Finance and that there will be no private capital?
Mr. Lemass: I imagine that the situation will be something like that of the Industrial Credit Company. There was a public issue but very little private capital was subscribed. The bulk of the capital had, in fact, to be subscribed by the Minister for Finance. The Minister has authority to subscribe the whole of the capital, and it is anticipated that he will have to do so. Because of the circumstances I mentioned, that air services up to this were not profit-making concerns, it is unlikely that much private capital will be available  to the company. At any time he thinks it desirable the Minister for Finance is authorised to dispose of the shares to private holders.
Mr. Roddy: Assuming that there is private capital available for the purposes of operating the company, I assume that the Minister will insist on holding a preponderating amount of control in this country.
Mr. Lemass: Quite so. Any company will have to conform to this position, even if the whole of the capital was held at some stage by private persons, that the requisite two-thirds will be held by nationals of this country.
Mr. Roddy: I understood the Minister to tell us that he was very anxious that the control of this company should remain exclusively or almost exclusively in national hands. Is there not a danger in allowing the control of capital to pass into private hands, and is it not possible, if such an eventuality did arise, that the service might be operated in a fashion——
Mr. Lemass: I do not contemplate any circumstances in which the Minister for Finance will not have control of all or a great proportion of the capital. It will be many years before any question of disposing of shares will arise, and it will certainly be another Government that will be considering the matter, because for a long period of time the situation will be as it is at present in all countries, that capital for air services has to be provided by public authorities.
Mr. Moore: Arising out of that remark, I wonder would the Minister say, when he is finally replying, whether all this organisation has regard only to passenger transport, or whether there is any contemplation of a transport of freight? I think it is the case that in other countries at present there is more and more of urgent traffic, even heavy traffic, being conveyed by air, and it would look as if there was very great advantage in air transport for certain of our exports— perishable goods, for instance. Has that been considered?
Mr. Lemass: I think I can assure the Deputy that it will be the responsibility of this company to carry on any air transport business—whether passengers, mails, freight or otherwise— that is required and can be supplied. In reply to Deputy Roddy, I should say that the draft of the memorandum of association which is being prepared provides that no share of the capital of the company shall be allotted otherwise than to citizens of Saorstát Eireann, or to bodies corporate the greater part of whose share capital is held by citizens of Saorstát Eireann.
Mr. Lemass: This is the company that will be nominated by the Saorstát Government as a participating company in the joint transatlantic company. There is a joint company to be established, the shareholders of which will be a company nominated by the British Government, a company nominated by the Free State Government, and a company nominated by the Canadian Government. We are going to nominate this company as our participating company, and as such it will be required to hold that percentage of capital in the joint company.
Mr. McMenamin: This is a rather important matter, and I think that Deputies have, if I may use the term, got into an air-pocket. They do not know where they are, nor do I. We should have much more information before the House votes this money—not so much the amount involved here, but what will probably become involved later on. I have here a publication called the British News-Magazine, which throws some light on this matter. It refers to some things which I should like the Minister to clear up. It quotes rather extensively from the Airways Gazette, which is apparently the official organ of the British air services. The paper itself says:—
“Britain's plans for the North Atlantic air service are well advanced. The site for the Empire air base has been selected on the Shannon, for the 40 odd miles of water between Limerick and the sea are an unmistakable land mark for 'planes approaching the Irish coast. The Shannon, although tidal, is completely free from the surge of the Atlantic rollers, and is for the most part sheltered from the wind.”
“The capital of the joint company will be subscribed and held as to 51 per cent. by the United Kingdom  company, 24½ per cent. by the Canadian company, and 24½ per cent. by the Irish Free State company. In the operation of the services all practical preference will be given to the direct route from this country via the Irish Free State, Newfoundland and Canada, but it may be necessary during an initial period to operate the services via Bermuda during the winter months.”
“The control of commercial, technical, and operating matters will be secured to Imperial Airways, Ltd., through its stockholding and through the medium of the articles of association of the joint company.”
Before the House votes this money, I think it should have the articles of association of the British company, which is Imperial Airways, Ltd., in order to see if that is true. Apparently it was printed in the Airways Gazette, which appears to be the official organ of the British air services, and it was reprinted in this magazine without contradiction.
Mr. Lemass: May I inform the Deputy that that journal got its information from the speech made by Mr. Derrig, Acting-Minister for Industry and Commerce, last July, when all this information was given to Deputies.
“The control of commercial, technical and operating matters will be secured to the United Kingdom Company through its majority stockholding  and through the medium of the articles of association of the joint company, subject to the superior jurisdiction of the board of directors on questions of major policy.”
Mr. McMenamin: That is not the question I asked. Apparently, according to the quotation we have just heard, they are to get control of commercial, technical and operating matters. What are our functions in this matter?
Mr. McMenamin: Yes, but here we have got it down on paper and can take a look at it; that is different to listening to the Minister's muttering, half of which you do not hear. When one gets it down in cold print, and sees the implications of it, one begins to see what is the drift of it. I would be very loath to vote this money, seeing that nothing is given to us except the privilege of paying, and accommodating this company.
Mr. McMenamin: We know that, but you are committing this country to this payment, and to accommodation for the Imperial company over which you have no control whatever. I asked about the implications of “operating,” the word the Minister used, and the Minister told me that it meant the control and direction of apparently the machines. Control of the company is nothing. This means control and operation of these machines here and the net result of it will be that we will not have a solitary machine and we will have no control over the machines and no power to buy or sell or construct a machine. Does the House know that?
Mr. McMenamin: There is no doubt about it. The word “operating” used in our Bill is entirely misleading. The Minister drew for me the analogy of the Great Southern Railways, but that is not an analogous case at all, because they own the rolling stock and permanent way and they control the stock and the management in toto. Here you do not control anything. You simply take the taxpayers' money and buy land at Rynanna, drain it and reclaim it——
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: As I understand it, this Estimate does not provide for the purchase of land at Rynanna for the purpose of setting up an airport at Rynanna or anywhere else. The purpose of the Estimate is to establish a company to carry on air services. The Dáil has already approved of certain action which the Government propose to take in respect of transoceanic air services. I take it this is quite apart from that.
Mr. McMenamin: With respect, not at all. I submit that what has already been done has been done in advance of this, but that this is the vital matter. This is to provide money to form the company to control and manage what has already been done.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Chair is not arguing that it is not a vital matter. The Chair realises that it is a vital matter to the amount of £2,500, but the Chair's understanding of the position is that what has been done, or what is being done, with respect to transoceanic air services has already been approved of by the Dáil. This is another matter—the setting up of a company to carry on the different air services and not the maintenance of airports, the purchase of land for the erection of airports or such things.
Mr. McMenamin: With respect, Sir, this money is to form the company that will have control. Referring back to the Bill already approved of, I say that that Bill, standing by itself, is utterly meaningless, because there is nobody to manage it. It must be operated as a result of this Vote, and nothing can be done until the company is formed for which this money is wanted. The thing is purely negative unless the Government of this State, having got that Bill, proceed to do things that the company would have done had it been formed, as it should have been formed, prior to what has already been done. These things were done in advance of the formation of the company and they are antecedent to the formation of the company, but they should have been done by the company itself.
 It is quite clear that we are merely a sitting down spot in this matter and that this country will derive no benefit. It will share all the commitments, but it can receive none of the benefits. It cannot even receive benefit in the matter of employment because there will be no construction of aeroplanes here. They are going to be constructed elsewhere, I presume. There is no word in this Bill, nor was there in the Minister's opening statement, as to a constructional provision with regard to the operations of this company here. The operations simply consist of the very restricted matter of accepting financial responsibility and of giving accommodation to aeroplanes circling around the Empire, from England to India and Australia, and from England to the Free State and Canada. Ultimately, there is going to be an arrangement with Pan American Airways and an accommodation as between them with regard to the use of the respective bases. This magazine from which I have quoted actually gives the mileage of the routes in respect of the Western operations of this company. They are given as: Portsmouth to the Shannon, 372 miles; The Shannon to Botwood, 1,993 miles; Botwood to Halifax, 510 miles; Halifax to Baltimore, 755 miles; and Baltimore to New York, 175 miles.
Mr. Belton: I wonder did I understand the Minister correctly? There is to be a company that will run the North-Atlantic air services from Great Britain to Newfoundland. The British Government will put up 51 per cent. of the capital, and the Canadian and Free State Governments 24½ per cent. each. That will be run by Imperial Airways?
Mr. Lemass: Its function will be to operate, directly or through subsidiaries, all internal services in the Saorstát, all services between the Saorstát and Great Britain, and the services between the Saorstát and other European countries. That will be its main function, but it will also be a shareholder in the company that will operate transatlantic services. Its primary purpose will be the operation of the other services.
Mr. Belton: I understand. I do not want to develop its sectional international aspect in the North Atlantic, but I want to understand where it fits in. The Government intends to utilise this company as our representative, as it were, in the international company?
Mr. Lemass: The services will be run by this joint company, that is, as soon as the experimental period is passed. During that experimental period the flights will be run by Imperial Airways, on the one hand, and Pan-American Airways on the other, but as soon as that is over, this joint company, in which this national company will hold shares, will operate these services in conjunction with Pan-American Airways.
Mr. Belton: Coming to the next stage, this company will have the sole management of airways internal, to Europe and Great Britain. This company may be called upon to take over the management of the air ports, if I understood the Minister aright?
Mr. Belton: The air ports, or some of them, will have national money in them. Would it not be in order now to get from the Minister some idea as to the principle on which he proposes to fill the directorships of this company?
Mr. Belton: But the Minister is getting the money to set about forming it. It is for that the Minister is asking the money. If we were private people and a scheme was being proposed to us into which we were asked to put our money, would not the Minister in such a case think that it would be a very pertinent question to ask who the directorate would be? In this case I am not asking for the exact personnel of the directorate. What I am asking for is the principle on which the Minister will nominate the personnel. The Minister is getting money to float a company, and it is immaterial to the national exchequer whether that money is to provide so many shares or set the machinery going. It is with the spending of this money and its investment that the directors will be concerned. Therefore I think it is a pertinent question to ask on what principle the directors are to be nominated—if the Minister has as yet evolved a principle on which it is proposed to appoint them. I think the Minister mentioned a board of nine directors, but probably that related to the international board.
Mr. Belton: Perhaps, later on, the Minister will give us some idea if he has arrived at the method by which he proposes to nominate these five. While on my feet, I propose to carry the discussion another point further. With regard to the Limerick airport which is being constructed, I do not know where the money is being provided from. Is it provided by the Exchequer? Now I come nearer home and I dare say the Minister can see what is at the back of my head. The airport at Collinstown will be constructed half from the national exchequer and the other half by contributions to be made by the Dublin Corporation and the Dublin County Council. What the cost of the construction of this airport will be is very much in the air. It would not be, perhaps, relevant at all to develop the question of the cost of the site of that port. The relevancy, as far as I can see it under this Vote, is that here to-day  we are putting up public money to bring it into being that mechanism that may possibly boss or manage this port later on. In that way the matter has a good deal of relevancy. This port in Collinstown is going to be constructed by national, municipal and county council subsidies and a loss is anticipated. I take it, it has been agreed by the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Industry and Commerce with the Dublin Corporation and the Dublin County Council.
Mr. Lemass: The Deputy will have an adequate opportunity of discussing the position of Collinstown and Rynanna when that question is before the House. An estimate will come before the House to provide for the cost, and what the Deputy is now trying to deal with will then be in order.
Mr. Belton: The information I am asking for will be useful now because the matter of putting up subsidies is in the air. I am going to be quite frank. The subsidies that will be put up will depend on the confidence felt in the management, and, in the ultimate, on how that management will be selected.
Mr. Lemass: Well, no decision has been made on the question as to whether the management or the personnel of the directors will be entrusted to this company. The directors will be appointed by the Minister for Finance who is charged under the Bill to appoint them or to approve of them.
Mr. Belton: ——it must be handed over to some board of directors. Between the City of Dublin and the Dublin County Council we are putting up half the money and there is an idea prevalent at the moment that neither the city nor the county will have any director on the company. We in Dublin are putting up half the money and binding ourselves to bearing half the loss. Deputy McMenamin has given the House very useful information which throws a vivid light on this whole matter. I was very much impressed by what the Deputy had to say. Are we going to be made tools of to provide for an All-Red aerial route?
Mr. Belton: No. This company for which the money is now being asked will fit in as a section in the international route. I do not know that the House really appreciated the significance of this measure when it was proposed. I do not know if they ever foreshadowed how it was to be implemented. Now we are down to tin tacks and are asked to put up the money, and not only are we asked to have the money provided by the taxpayer but by two local authorities. We are asked to put up subsidies and to stand in and bear the anticipated losses that are expected in the running of this air business. The Minister knows quite well that the municipal authorities were opposed to their being brought into this. He was made quite well aware of that by a long memorandum from the City Manager of the Dublin Corporation. I do not think that the Port and Docks Board were enamoured of the scheme either. We are only asked to vote £1,500 now. That is the beginning, and only God knows what will be the ultimate cost. Why not develop our own aerial transport here, or at least the little bit of it that we want?
Mr. Belton: We know what the overriding consideration is. It is one brick  in the long wall. Why should we put in that brick when we are going to get no return for it? Why should not the country that is going to have the benefit of these air services pay for it themselves? With all their resources the cost would be only a fly-blow to that country if they were to do the whole job themselves. If we give them the right-of-way, are we not giving enough? Let them construct and maintain the airport. The construction side, as pointed out by Deputy McMenamin, is out of our hands.
Mr. Belton: I hope it is not correct. I am not trying to make a case against the proposal. I am merely looking for information. If my suspicions are wrong, nobody will be more pleased to hear that than I shall be. We are dealing with this matter in the corporation and in the county council, and we have gone a bit farther in the corporation in connection with it than in the county council. I supported it in the county council, but there has been vigorous opposition to it. This Estimate coming on now will not make matters easier for me or for those who supported the proposal in the county council. I hope the Minister understands that I am quite friendly and sympathetic to our being associated with this proposition. I want to be able to show other members of the council who have not the same opportunity for getting information that I have as a member of this House, that this is a project into which it is worth putting money. At the same time, we must not be throwing money into a bottomless hole. That would recoil upon those of us who are supporting the project.
I am inclined to think that we have not made a very good bargain. I feel very strongly that if we never bothered about airways or airports, such as that on the Shannon or this one at Collinstown, interested parties and countries would be only too glad to pay us for the privilege of travelling through our country and using it for this purpose. Instead of our spending money in this way, in all probability other countries would spend money here and pay us for  the accommodation. I may, of course, be wrong; but that is my view. The Minister mentioned an Ottawa agreement. I presume that that was come to three or four years ago when four or five representatives of the Government went over to the conference at Ottawa. Was it then that this agreement was made?
Mr. Belton: I should like to have more enlightenment on this proposal. I should like to know if the Minister has yet worked out any plan as regards the directorate of this company for which he is asking this Vote. I should like to know also whether there is any great need for this aerial port development or whether there should be any great hurry to form this company. This company represents the beginning of the control of the airports. I have not a shadow of doubt about that. It may not be absolutely definite yet, but it is quite obvious that that is the thing to do, from the business point of view. It would be just as much as we could do to get an efficient board of directors to manage the ports and the air services—men with the requisite technical knowledge to look after both arms of the enterprise. It would make for efficiency to have the one company looking after both services and ports. I have not the least doubt that, no matter what individual will have Ministerial responsibility in this respect, these matters will be brought under one control. Now that we are starting out on this matter, I think the Minister should give us his plan for nominating the board of directors.
Mr. Keyes: The Minister indicated that the company we are proposing to form will have a monopoly of the operative services internally but will not be responsible for the airports. It is rather difficult to make these two items square, because, as Deputy Belton has said, it is obvious that, when they will have control of air services, the municipalities  having aerodromes or airports will have to look to this company for the operation of the services. They will have a monopoly. In the case of services to Limerick, Galway or Waterford, airports will have to be constructed at these centres or they will have to do without the services. Why should not this company be invested with some responsibility, if it is going to develop internal air transport, for the construction of these airports in the more populous centres from which they expect to get traffic? As it is, the corporation or urban authority will construct the aerodrome and it will be at the disposal of this company. Nobody else can use it. There should be some linking of interests, and this company should do something towards the construction of these aerodromes or airports. I am not now thinking of the transatlantic service. I think that this company is getting off too lightly, in as much as it will have no responsibility for the airports.
Mr. Belton: There will be annual losses on these airports. These losses are being guaranteed by the Government, on the one hand, and the local authorities on the other hand. If you leave the control of the services entirely to this company, they may cut down their charges so low that it will put up the loss on the airports. That would be a very natural thing for the company to do when they know they have a blank cheque from the municipal authorities and the Government wherewith to pay whatever losses the working of the airports will show. The suggestion made by Deputy Keyes was, I think, a good one—that this company should be formed quickly, and that they should, in some way, be invested with responsibility for the money the Government is putting up. Let it be decided at once that this company will look after the airports and be responsible for them, and that, through them, the Government money to construct the airports will be spent. In making that suggestion, I am not giving away the case that those other bodies who are putting up money and who will undertake to meet some of the annual working loss should have some control over the directors and some voice in  the directorate. I think the suggestion made by Deputy Keyes was a very good one, namely, that the company should be formed quickly and the members of it got together. They should be given responsibility for the handling of this money and the working of the port and airways.
Mr. Lemass: I do not know where I ought to begin if I am to try and put Deputy McMenamin right. He was so far wrong that I could not possibly follow him. As far as Aer Lingus is concerned, the British Government has nothing to do with it. Imperial Airways has nothing to do with it, and transatlantic air services are not the reason for its establishment. In fact, practically nothing that the Deputy said about it is correct. An airport is required in Dublin as it is in any city the size of Dublin. Because air transportation is developing, the State is taking the initiative in the creation of an airport here, the reason being that the corporation was unable to do it. I do not say that the corporation would not be able to do it in time, but their immediate preoccupation is housing. The absorption of all their credit resources as well as the labours of their technical staffs are at the moment concentrated on housing and similar activities. This makes it impossible for them to undertake the possibility of establishing an airport here as a municipal airport, but apart from that there is the fact that there are other considerations which, perhaps, justified the creation of a port in the vicinity of Dublin as a State port. The corporation are contributing to the cost of this airport which is going to serve all the functions of a municipal airport. The municipalities all over Great Britain provide airports out of their resources. The Dublin County Council are also contributing to the cost.
This port is being established for the convenience of Dublin on the coast and not for any other purpose. It will be used by the companies engaged in cross-Channel air services, and, possibly, by private flyers, and later on  by other companies operating other services to and from the capital of Dublin to the capitals of other countries. The revenue of the port will be secured by the fees charged.
Mr. Lemass: Whoever is responsible for the management of the port. It may be this company and it may not. I am not prepared to discuss that because there is nothing in this Estimate about it. No decision has yet been made in relation to the arrangements that are going to be made for the management of the port, and the same applies to Rynanna. Statements have been made here about Rynanna based on some false information given to some obscure journalist writing in some obscure journal. Deputy McMenamin prefers to take information from that source rather than from responsible Ministers in this House, or the official records of the House.
The port at Rynanna is being built by the Saorstát Government. It is being built for the purpose of equipping the Saorstát with the necessary facilities for the development of civil aviation, both transatlantic services and other services for the continent. It is being built by the Saorstát because we would have objected strongly, and would certainly have refused, to facilitate any proposal by the British Government or any other government to erect, own and operate an airport of that size in this country. I disagree entirely with the suggestion made by Deputy Belton. I think it was a matter of fundamental importance for us to insist that nobody would own or control that airport except the Government of the Saorstát. I am quite certain that we could have got the British Government or some other European Government to build that airport, control it and operate it, and run services from it if we were willing to let them, but I certainly think it would be a great national mistake for us to do that. We are providing in the Saorstát a fully equipped airport, owned and controlled by the Saorstát, which will be available for  any company operating in the Saorstát that requires to use that particular service.
Deputy McMenamin has got airport and air services and companies all mixed up, and he cannot distinguish one from the other. Whenever air companies use that airport, they will pay whatever dues are decided on for that user. It may be the Pan-American Company or the Joint Operating Company. Deputy McMenamin should first of all get to distinguish clearly in his mind between the companies operating the service and the airport. The companies which will use the airport may have their headquarters in New York or Newfoundland, but it will be our airport and they will pay us. A general operating company is being established to operate the transatlantic services because we could not afford to run them ourselves. We had to combine with some country such as Great Britain to secure that we would have an interest in and a share in the direction and management of this transatlantic air service when started, but we could not run it. It would be ridiculous to think that we could afford the cost. Neither could we control the traffic. This service for many years will be run for the conveyance of mails, and the bulk of the mails which pass over the North Atlantic originate either in Great Britain or in the United States of America. Unless the company operating this service was in a position to get the carrying of those mails it could not run it with any hope of making a profit from it. We do not control that traffic. Therefore, we have made another arrangement, and I think a very good arrangement, one which secures that transatlantic air services run by the Pan-American company will be run so as to make the Irish port the last port of call westwards and the first port of call eastwards. With it will be another company in which the Irish National Air Transport Company will be a substantial shareholder and in which they will have a considerable part of the direction and control. That company has also contracted to use an Irish port  as the last port of call outwards and the first port of call inwards in its transatlantic service.
That is a satisfactory arrangement, particularly as the port they will be using can be made by us an important, if not the most important, air transport junction in the world. That is going to depend on a number of factors of such a nature that one cannot be definite about it. If the Shannon Air Port becomes, what we hope it will, an important junction of international air traffic, then we will make it so and nobody else, and that is going to involve us in considerable expenditure in providing there, first of all, an airport that will be fully equipped to deal with all the services that may avail of it, and, secondly, the establishment of this company with adequate capital resources to provide the services of the Shannon airport to the other countries, while linking up all the transatlantic air services and making them of advantage to the citizens of this country.
The desire to travel abroad and some of the other matters that were dealt with have no relation whatever to this Estimate. This Estimate is merely to provide for the establishment of this company. The primary purpose of the company will be to operate an air transport service. If it should be decided to entrust the management of this State airport to this company it would still be because such a function would be only a minor part of the activities of this new company. Its primary concern will be the operation of air services, and upon it we must rely for the development of civil aviation in this country. We are entrusting this task to this company. We are conferring upon it certain powers and rights, but we are also laying upon it the obligation to proceed along sound lines and to secure the maximum possible development of civil aviation here. This is merely a beginning. It is not possible to say who the directors will be, nor can any indication be given at the moment of the basis upon which they are likely to be selected. Having regard to the fact that the main purpose of this company is to secure adequate and proper development of  civil aviation, directors will be selected who are most likely to be in a position to contribute to that purpose, but their selection and appointment will be, in the first instance, a matter for the Minister for Finance who has that function under the Act.
It is not correct to assume that air transport companies should provide airports. The Deputy tried to make an analogy between air transport companies and the railways, but I think there is hardly an analogy there. I suggest that there would be more of an analogy between air transport companies and bus companies, and the latter do not have to provide the roads. It may be taken that the facilities of the company here will be used by an increasing number of private flyers, and it is quite possible that an airport might be established here in the future as a private venture for the convenience of private flyers or for the convenience of persons desiring to be trained in aviation. If, for example, the Cork municipal authorities wanted to establish an airport there, I think they should do so, even though there is no immediate prospect of having a regular air service there. It must be remembered that aviation is developing very considerably and that flights from one place to another are becoming very common and are likely to become increasingly so. In other countries very great progress has been made in that direction, having regard to the comparatively recent development of aviation, and cities situated as Cork is, and with the ambitions of the citizens of Cork, should be provided, I think, with an airport, even if there were no immediate prospects of regular air services, because if they want to see these air services established, an airport must be provided.
Mr. Keyes: In view of what the Minister has said, would it not be desirable that the people who are to be entrusted with aerial development ought to be in consultation with the authorities for the necessary adjunct of airports?
Mr. F. Lynch: There is one question I should like to ask the Minister. It may be somewhat irrelevant, but it is relevant to one portion of what the Minister referred to. The Minister says that the airport is to be our airport, built by us, and so on. I should like to know from the Minister, then, who chose this Rynanna site?
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