Committee on Finance. - Industrial Development Authority Bill, 1949—Committee.

Thursday, 9 November 1950

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 123 No. 4

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SECTION 1.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. Cosgrave): Information on Liam Cosgrave  Zoom on Liam Cosgrave  I move amendment No. 1:—

In line 9, to add “, save where the context otherwise requires” after “Act”.

The purpose of this amendment is to distinguish between members of the Industrial Development Authority and members of the Dáil or Seanad to whom there is a reference in Section 4 (9) of the Bill. There might be some confusion about the description in Section 4 (9) where provision is made that:

“a member shall while by holding office be disqualified from being nominated or elected and from sitting as a member of Dáil Éireann or Seanad Éireann.”

It is merely a drafting amendment. I do not know whether there is any need for it, but it is regarded as necessary.

Amendment put and agreed to.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  I move amendment No. 2:—

Between lines 10 and 11 to insert the following definition:—“industry' means an undertaking carried on by way of trade or business in the course of which something is made, altered, finished or adapted for sale, and does not include agriculture.”

Is the Parliamentary Secretary accepting the amendment?

Mr. Cosgrave: Information on Liam Cosgrave  Zoom on Liam Cosgrave  I will accept it in part. I do not think it is desirable to define the word “industry”, because it covers a great number of processes and it was never attempted [672] to define it, not even in the Conditions of Employment Act, 1936. If the Deputy agrees, I will bring in an amendment on Report to exclude agriculture.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  I think it is necessary to exclude more than agriculture. Is there not a possibility, if the term “industry” is left undefined, that the Industrial Development Authority may be deemed to have functions in relation to commerce, in relation to insurance, in relation to banking, in relation to any activity of that kind which might possibly be deemed to be covered by the term “industry” or some cognate terms associated with it?

Mr. Cosgrave: Information on Liam Cosgrave  Zoom on Liam Cosgrave  There is a point in that, but the difficulty is to get a definition of “industry” that will be wide enough. For some reason or another, it was never defined in any previous Acts and the Conditions of Employment Act is an Act in which it was regarded as desirable to have a definition but it was not done. In fact, I do not think there is any necessity to do it. As to the point the Deputy makes about distinguishing between industry and commerce, as long as the description “industry” here is made distinct from commerce, I do not see any necessity for defining it in precise terms.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  Am I correct in assuming that this Industrial Development Authority will confine itself to manufacturing industry, to industries engaged in making, altering, finishing or adapting for sale in the course of trade, certain commodities and that it is not intended to cover the insurance industry, the banking industry, as they are frequently called, or ordinary commercial distribution, or any activities which are not manufacturing activities in the common meaning of that term?

Mr. Cosgrave: Information on Liam Cosgrave  Zoom on Liam Cosgrave  It certainly is not intended to cover banking, but I can visualise circumstances in which a proposal for, say, a new insurance company might be considered by the authority. I know there is a statute to cover the requirements for the establishment of a new insurance business.

[673] If the Deputy likes, I will examine it between now and Report. I think that it is clear enough that it is not intended to deal with agriculture, but I can bring in an amendment which would make it quite definite.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  That is O.K., but the very fact that the Parliamentary Secretary suggests that this authority might be concerned with the insurance industry makes the necessity for some limiting amendment such as I have suggested all the greater, because, while we may disagree in our view as to the merits of the individuals who have been appointed on it, not even the Parliamentary Secretary can think that he will select four individuals, not merely competent to run the authority, but also competent to advise him or to take action in relation to other activities, such as insurance, which might from time to time be the Government's concern. If there is to be an examination of possible developments in other directions outside manufacturing industry, it should be undertaken by some other body, even an ad hoc body set up for the purpose. Surely we have given these people enough to do in asking them to carry out the functions mentioned in Section 3.

Mr. Cosgrave: Information on Liam Cosgrave  Zoom on Liam Cosgrave  Section 3 defines their functions.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  It makes it necessary to have a definition of industry because every paragraph relates to industry or some cognate term.

Mr. Cosgrave: Information on Liam Cosgrave  Zoom on Liam Cosgrave  The difficulty in defining “industry” is that you may exclude something which the authority would subsequently have to deal with. For that reason, if there is a definition, it is bound to be limited in some way. If the Deputy wishes, I will bring in an amendment on Report to exclude banking and insurance.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  And horse breeding and all the rest.

Mr. Cosgrave: Information on Liam Cosgrave  Zoom on Liam Cosgrave  That is an agricultural industry in itself.

[674]Mr. Hickey: Information on James Hickey  Zoom on James Hickey  Is there any reason why we should not submit to the Industrial Development Authority the question of insurance?

Mr. Cosgrave: Information on Liam Cosgrave  Zoom on Liam Cosgrave  Insurance companies are covered by another Act.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  Leave the Minister something to do.

Mr. Hickey: Information on James Hickey  Zoom on James Hickey  There is no reason why the authority should not have a say in advising on that matter.

Mr. Cosgrave: Information on Liam Cosgrave  Zoom on Liam Cosgrave  The establishment of an insurance business is covered by the 1936 Act. I think it deals fairly fully with any matters that may arise so that it is hardly necessary to provide for it in this Bill. The Minister has, under statute, certain responsibilities in that matter and if any questions arise they can be dealt with under it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Section 1, as amended, agreed to.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  I move amendment No. 3:—

Before Section 2 to insert a new section as follows:—

The functions of the authority shall not extend to any undertaking constituted by statute, being an undertaking which is carried on by or on behalf of the State or the directors of which are appointed by the Government or by a Minister of State, or to any commodities which any such undertaking is authorised by statute to produce or make.

It seems to me that there is an important issue of policy to be considered in relation to this amendment. The Dáil has from time to time passed Acts setting up various boards and companies and other authorities to carry on specified activities and given them powers and placed on them obligations —either obligations to the public or to the Dáil—in the matter of furnishing reports and giving information. Is it contemplated that this Industrial Development Authority will have functions in relation to these other statutory boards and authorities? Will it, for instance, have the right to interfere [675] with the Electricity Supply Board or Bord na Móna or Irish Shipping, Limited, or the Irish Sugar Company— or similar concerns set up under statute? I do not think it should. I think, in so far as it was necessary to justify the relationship between these statutory authorities and the Minister for Industry and Commerce or the Dáil, that that has been done adequately in the existing legislation and that it would be a very undesirable complication if it was contemplated that this new Industrial Development Authority should have the right to interfere in the manner in which they conduct their business. If they are not to have that power of interference with the functioning of these other statutory authorities, then that should be clearly stated in the Bill.

The purpose of this amendment is to make it clear that the functions of the authority do not extend to any other undertaking established under statute or to any commodity or service provided by statutory undertaking.

Mr. C. Lehane: Information on Con Lehane  Zoom on Con Lehane  I have an open mind on this amendment, but I must confess to some degree of confusion arising from Deputy Lemass's observations. I think this amendment must be read in the light of Section 3 of the Bill. If Deputy Lemass refers to Section 3 he will realise that that is so. Certainly I cannot follow him when he suggests that the authority could perniciously interfere with the operation of semi-State companies because the functions of the authority as set out in Section 3 would, to my mind, preclude them from interference of the type to which he refers.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  Look at paragraph 4, for example.

Mr. C. Lehane: Information on Con Lehane  Zoom on Con Lehane  

“To advise on steps necessary for the expansion and modernisation of existing industries.”

I am open to conviction on it but, as I am at present advised, I think it desirable that the authority should be in a position to indicate to semi-State or autonomous State corporations such as the Electricity Supply Board, mentioned [676] by Deputy Lemass, how they could fit into the over-all blueprint for industrial development and how their activities could be correlated with the proposed activities of undertakings in the setting up of which the proposed authority would be concerned whether by way of advice or by assistance in the initiation of projects. I think it would be desirable that the authority would be empowered to advise and counsel semi-State and State corporations as to how they could assist in the filling in of the over-all blueprint in Irish industry.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  And summon their directors before them and make them give evidence on oath.

Mr. C. Lehane: Information on Con Lehane  Zoom on Con Lehane  The Deputy mentioned the Electricity Supply Board, Born na Móna, Comhlucht Siuicre Éireann.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  Córas Iompair Éireann.

Mr. C. Lehane: Information on Con Lehane  Zoom on Con Lehane  I do not think there would be any particularly bad principle in giving to the Industrial Development Authority power to summon the directors of companies such as these before them and require them to give information which might be necessary in order to enable the authority to guide the country on the proper lines of industrial expansion. I am open to conviction on it but certainly nothing the Deputy has said in support of his amendment has made me change my opinion that it should be rejected.

Mr. Hickey: Information on James Hickey  Zoom on James Hickey  Am I to take it that Deputy Lemass is objecting because he considers that the Industrial Development Authority will interfere with Irish Shipping, Limited?

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  My suggestion is that in so far as the State is concerned with shipping through Irish Shipping. Limited, or transport through Córas Iompair Éireann, or electricity through the Electricity Supply Board or sugar manufacture through the Irish Sugar Company, it has already defined in legislation the relationship that should exist between the concern responsible for these undertakings and the Minister and the Dáil, and that it is disrupting an effective and efficient system already in force to impose between the Minister [677] and the Dáil and the directors of these concerns another body which may have functions to exercise in regard to them or powers such as are suggested in the Bill.

My concern in this Bill, now that it has received a Second Reading, as indicated in a number of amendments, is to ensure that the Dáil is not deprived of the right to influence, through the Minister for Industry and Commerce, activities which should properly be the concern of the Dáil and to defeat any attempt to put between the Minister and the Dáil this autonomous body for the appointment of which the Dáil has no responsibility and with which it has no direct contact. That may be an arguable matter when it comes to the issue of licences or the imposition of tariffs but certainly it is not an arguable matter when dealing with concerns such as Córas Iompair Éireann, or the Electricity Supply Board which were established by statutes—statutes which already set out the relationship that should exist between them and the Dáil and the Minister, and which require no amendment. In my view it certainly would not be improved by giving this new authority any functions whatever in relation to them.

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman  Zoom on Gerard Sweetman  Surely the most Deputy Lemass can make in his argument is that without this amendment it would be a contemporaneous authority, because without an expressed repeal it could not take away the statutory powers or duties that there are in existing legislation in the Minister and the Dáil.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  I am not suggesting that there is——

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman  Zoom on Gerard Sweetman  If it does not take away the existing statutory duties and powers vested in Ministers under the various statutes setting up these bodies, then the most that it could do is give additional contemporaneous power and that power might be necessary, for example, in regard to the sugar company. It might be necessary, in considering the artificial fertiliser industry, to get information from the [678] sugar company about the manner in which they import fertilisers this year.

Mr. Hickey: Information on James Hickey  Zoom on James Hickey  And throw some light on all these big organisations.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  If there is to be light thrown on them I want it to be done here in the Dáil and not by this Industrial Development Authority. I want it first-hand, not second-hand.

Mr. Hickey: Information on James Hickey  Zoom on James Hickey  They are not subject to the Dáil at the moment.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  They are.

Mr. C. Lehane: Information on Con Lehane  Zoom on Con Lehane  Do Deputy Lemass's objections arise solely from the presence of Section 5 in the Bill?

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  No.

Mr. C. Lehane: Information on Con Lehane  Zoom on Con Lehane  Under Section 3, I should be glad if Deputy Lemass would point out to the House where it would be possible for interference of the type he mentions.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  Is there anything in Section 5 (4) to prevent the four members of this Industrial Development Authority demanding from the Electricity Supply Board information as to the type of power stations they are going to build and to discuss with them the design of these power stations with a view to their modernisation, for example?

Mr. C. Lehane: Information on Con Lehane  Zoom on Con Lehane  Surely, that is desirable?

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  Why is it desirable? If we have set up an Electricity Supply Board and appointed to it directors whom we think are the most competent people to run it, why make these directors subject to another body about whose competency we may have considerable doubts—who, at any rate, are certainly not chosen because of their particular capacities for running electricity undertakings? I move to report progress.

Progress reported; the Committee to sit again.

The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m., until 3 p.m., on Wednesday, 15th November, 1950.


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