Dáil Éireann

14/Jul/1955

Prelude

Order of Business.

Estimates for Public Services.

Committee on Finance. - Vote 28—Fisheries (Resumed).

Committee on Finance. - Vote 60—Office of the Minister for Social Welfare.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Consumer Price Index.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Motion Pictures: Money Exported.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Oil Refinery.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Lough Swilly Railway.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Waterford-Tramore Bus Service.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Increase in Price of Coal.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Wheaten Meal: Quotas Milled.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - County Louth Schools.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - County Dublin School.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - County Tipperary Estate.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Prison Officials' Tunics.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Milk Costings Commission.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Feeding Barley Market.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Foyle River Spikes.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Housing of Soldiers.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Telegrams.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Emigration Problems.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Tax-free Supplies on Aircraft.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - River Suir Survey.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - County Dublin Flooding.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Howth Harbour: Dredging Operations.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Local Elections Ballot Papers.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Fethard Regional Water Supply.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Galtee Regional Water Supply.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - County Tipperary Housing Shortage.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Town Planning Schemes.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Youghal Bridge.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Stewart Hospital, Palmerston.

Committee on Finance. - Vote 60—Office of the Minister for Social Welfare (Resumed).

Committee on Finance. - Vote 61—Social Insurance.

Committee on Finance. - Vote 62—Social Assistance.

Committee on Finance. - Vote 1—President's Establishment.

Committee on Finance. - Vote 2—Houses of the Oireachtas.

Committee on Finance. - Vote 4—Central Statistics Office.

Committee on Finance. - Vote 5—Comptroller and Auditor General.

Committee on Finance. - Vote 6—Office of the Minister for Finance.

Committee on Finance. - Vote 7—Office of the Revenue Commissioners.

Committee on Finance. - Vote 11—Management of Government Stocks.

Committee on Finance. - Vote 12—State Laboratory.

Committee on Finance. - Vote 13—Civil Service Commission.

Committee on Finance. - Vote 15—Commissions and Special Inquiries.

Committee on Finance. - Vote 16—Superannuation and Retired Allowances.

Committee on Finance. - Vote 17—Rates on Government Property.

Committee on Finance. - Vote 18—Secret Service.

Committee on Finance. - Vote 19—Expenses under the Electoral Act and the Juries Act.

Committee on Finance. - Vote 20—Supplementary Agricultural Grants.

Committee on Finance. - Vote 21—Law Charges.

Committee on Finance. - Vote 22—Universities and Colleges.

Committee on Finance. - Vote 23—Miscellaneous Expenses.

Committee on Finance. - Vote 24—Stationery Office.

Committee on Finance. - Vote 25—Valuation and Boundary Survey.

Committee on Finance. - Vote 26—Ordnance Survey.

Committee on Finance. - Vote 3—Department of the Taoiseach.

Committee on Finance. - Workmen's Compensation (Amendment) Bill, 1954—Report and Final Stages.

Committee on Finance. - Vote 3—Department of the Taoiseach (Resumed).

Committee on Finance. - Vote 14—An Chomhairle Ealaíon.

Committee on Finance. - Estimates for Public Services (1955-56)—Report.

Committee on Finance. - Issues out of Central Fund.

Committee on Finance. - Appropriation Bill, 1955—All Stages.

Written Answer. - Remount Farm, Lusk.

[949] Do chuaigh an Ceann Comhairle i gceannas ar 10.30 a.m.

The Taoiseach:  It is proposed to take the business in the following order:— No. 6 (Votes 28 to 14, inclusive) as on the Order Paper and Nos. 3, 4, 5, 1 and 7. It is proposed to interrupt business at 7 p.m. to take No. 7 and, when completed, to resume the order. Questions will be taken at 3 o'clock.

Mr. McQuillan:  On the Order of Business, could the Taoiseach inform the House as to the date when it is expected the Dáil will resume after the Recess?

The Taoiseach:  The 26th October.

Minister for Finance (Mr. Sweetman):  That was announced yesterday.

Mr. McQuillan:  It was announced yesterday that certain measures would be taken on the 26th October. That was not to say the Dáil might not open a day or two before that. Could the Taoiseach inform the House what weighty reasons decided the Government to adjourn the Dáil for such a long period?

The Taoiseach:  That is always the period. It is the usual period—the same as last year.

Mr. McQuillan:  Oh, indeed it is not. The Dáil adjourned on the 15th July last year because of exceptional circumstances. The Dáil is adjourning at least a fortnight before its usual time this year.

Mr. M.J. O'Higgins:  Is it not a rest from all the publicity?

Mr. McQuillan:  In view of the fact that there has been so much talk about emigration and unemployment, [950] is it because the Government does not want to be embarrassed that it has decided to have such a long adjournment?

The Taoiseach:  We cannot deal with the problems to which the Deputy has referred by the kind of talk in which the Deputy indulges.

Mr. McQuillan:  That kind of claptrap will not get the Taoiseach anywhere. The Government is not interested in the welfare of the people——

Mr. Sweetman:  The Deputy has no interest in anybody except himself, and everybody knows that.

Mr. McQuillan:  ——who are unemployed and who have to emigrate.

Mr. Sweetman:  The Deputy has no interest in anyone but himself, and everybody knows that.

(Interruptions.)

The Dáil, according to order, went into Committee on Finance and resumed consideration of the Estimates for the Public Services for the year ending 31st March, 1956.

Debate resumed on the motion:

That the Estimate be referred back for reconsideration.

Mr. Bartley:  Last night I was replying to some criticisms which were entirely unwarranted by the facts. I want to draw the attention of the House to yet another criticism this morning, propagated by the same Minister to whose other criticisms I had to call attention last night. At column 1782 of Volume 151 of the Official Report, the Minister for Local Government said:—

“While I agree that Deputy Bartley may deserve some of the credit for these fishing boats for the Gaeltacht, I can never forget the fact that he was the gentleman who closed Meevagh boatyard....”

[951] I do not want to make any reference to that other than to say that it is couched in language which can only be described as a very ciotógach sort of compliment, to say the least of it. However, that is not the matter to which I wish to refer. I want to refer to the closing down of the Meevagh boatyard. I take it that when the Minister for Local Government refers to “that gentleman” he is referring to me as the man who closed the Meevagh boatyard and to the period during which I was Parliamentary Secretary, having responsibility for fisheries.

Yesterday I had a question down to the Parliamentary Secretary to which he gave me a satisfactory reply. I asked him when it had been decided to close down the boatyard at Meevagh and I was given the following information: in the month of February, 1946, Comhlucht Iascaigh Mhara made a decision to close down the Meevagh boatyard and in October, 1947, notice was given to the owner that possession would be given up on 31st October, 1948. It is obvious from that that the boatyard could not have been closed before the date on which the notice became effective, namely, October 1948. I asked him also whether this decision required any superior sanction and I was told it did not. I also asked him if the decision to reopen required any superior sanction and I was told it did not.

I can only presume, therefore, that the Minister for Local Government was either most unscrupulous in making the statements which he made that I was responsible for the closing down of the boatyard, or else, and I think this is the more likely, because I am not disposed to attribute unscruplousness to any Deputy in this House, that he had not sufficient interest in the fishing industry, even in his own constituency of Donegal, to ascertain the facts. It is quite obvious in the circumstances that the statement made was a palpable misrepresentation and I hope the Minister for Local Government will take the first opportunity to correct it.

One of the interesting things about it is that from the time the decision to close the Meevagh boatyard became [952] known the late Deputy Neil Blaney offered the strongest possible protest to the carrying out of the decision and he continued these protests over a long period. So far as I can recollect the present Minister for Agriculture, who was then in opposition, did not back up these protests here in Dáil Éireann. I speak subject to correction in that respect, but I certainly do recollect that the late Deputy Neil Blaney protested as vigorously as possible. His protest apparently did not get the same favourable hearing from the directors of the Sea Fisheries Association which the present Minister for Agriculture claims that he got when he became Minister but it is quite obvious that a Deputy in the position of the Minister responsible for fisheries would have ways and means of having his wishes carried out which an ordinary Deputy, whether he belonged to the Government Party or not, would not have.

For one thing half of the directors, the whole membership was eight, although at the time at which the decision was taken there were only seven, are nominated by the Minister and the other half by the fishermen. I want to leave out of the matter those directors nominated by the Minister, as I take it that the first obligation on them would be to secure, as far as they could, that the ministerial wishes would be given effect to and therefore they must be exonerated from blame in the matter.

There were six persons who were members of the board of directors in February, 1946, when the decision was taken who were also members of the committee of eight who made the decision to reopen. I think that the forcing of the hand of the board in that way was calculated to stultify the members of the board in the esteem of people who were interested in the development of fisheries. After all, one year was a very short time to reverse engines in a very important matter such as the closing down of a boatyard. I know that a number of other factors have been adduced to explain the matter away. They are not very creditable, and, therefore, I will not give voice to them because I do not believe them.

[953] I think that the facts and circumstances surrounding the closing and reopening of this boatyard should not be thrown in as a bone of contention in this House, as, under statute, the committee of directors were charged with the administration of fisheries and this particular matter came within their duties and functions. To make political capital out of it is completely unworthy and should not have been done, but I must pay tribute to the valiant efforts of the late Deputy Neil Blaney to ensure that this decision would not be put into effect. I hope the Minister for Local Government will have the candour to correct the statement which he made. I think that the fact that I was a member of the Fianna Fáil Party in 1946 and 1947 is not sufficient justification on which to base a charge of this sort against me four or five years later when I was a Parliamentary Secretary.

The Minister has gone further than that, as far as I can make out, because at a meeting of the Middletown Fine Gael branch, held some time within the past year, statements were made concerning events, which, in themselves, are not untrue, but the happenings are attributed to me rather than to a Fine Gael decision. I will, if I may, with the permission of the Ceann Comhairle, read this criticism of the fisheries administration which was the subject of the pronouncement to which I take objection.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  What is the Deputy about to quote from?

Mr. Bartley:  I am about to quote from a report of a meeting of the Middletown Fine Gael branch, reported in the People's Press of the 7th January, 1955. This is the report:—

“Mr. So-and-so——

—it is not necessary to give his name—

——said the presence of foreign trawlers in our waters was a disgrace, but they had been here last year, and that with the permission of the then Government. Mr. Bartley stated ‘it was an education for the inshore fishermen whose methods were a hundred years behind.’ The local T.D. had made a slight error [954] at the time when he states he had got the Macha to chase them. The facts were that the boats were ten days out after completing contract when the Macha approached.”

Now, Deputy Cormac Breslin was the local Deputy referred to and I want to say these foreign boats were brought into Donegal by persons much more closely associated politically and otherwise with the Minister for Local Government than with any of the Fianna Fáil Party and the term “contract” indicates, of course, that the fishing was carried out on a contract entered into between the curers in Donegal and the owners of the foreign boats.

What are the facts about the fishing of these boats in the first instance? Deputy Breslin brought the matter to my notice and within two days of receipt of the information the Department of Defence sent the corvette to Donegal and cleared these boats out. With regard to the statement that “Deputy Bartley said that it was an education for the inshore fishermen whose methods were a hundred years behind”, that is a very interesting reference because that very remark was made to me by the Minister for Local Government when he was making a case to allow a fleet of Dutch boats to fish out of Donegal ports. Among other things he said was that fishing in the area had not been practised for a long number of years and that these foreign boats might give us useful information.

In other words, the statement which he attributed to me is one which he made himself; he made it to me when I was Parliamentary Secretary. I think it is a disgraceful thing that any member of this House should go down to a Fine Gael branch where they could not possibly know the facts and attribute to me a statement he made himself. Part II of the Fisheries Act had not yet come into operation and I take it that the regulations against foreign boats were not quite as strict as they will be when that Part is brought into operation. But that is precisely the position. This was a firm of Dutch boats. They were to be brought in here to supply Donegal curers with herrings. [955] On inquiries made by me I ascertained that the Dutch Government had made some regulation or imposed some obligation on the Dutch fishing companies to share their Mediterranean trade, which was considerable, in view of the fact that they were experiencing something of a slump generally and this particular company, in order to avoid the obligation imposed on them by their own Government, decided it might be a good thing to fish from Irish ports and keep what they had of the Mediterranean trade entirely for themselves.

I think that again the Minister for Local Government should mend his hand in that particular regard because it was he made the statement he attributed to me and he should admit that he misled the Middletown branch of Fine Gael in attributing such a statement to me. As a matter of fact, he knows that not alone were we of this Party opposed to bringing in foreign boats here to Ireland but that in fact we had in the 1952 Act imposed a clause insisting that all Irish fishing boats should be 100 per cent. Irish owned. The introduction of such a provision was justified by our experience in the past, particularly by the one to which I referred last night when referring to chartered trawlers.

The Parliamentary Secretary may not have had the same experience as I had in dealing with the various interests involved in the fishing industry. I had representations made to me to have the import of fish continued rather than attempt to catch it ourselves and I had from the same source a memorandum vehemently denouncing the importation of fish. These inconsistencies are quite common unfortunately in the fishing industry. If one looks at the Irish Times for the 16th November, 1951, one will find proof of what I say and if the Parliamentary Secretary searches his records he will find a memorandum from one of these organisations dated July, 1951, taking the opposite line. I was told at the first annual meeting of the Comhlachas that Dublin was the natural centre for the distribution of fish. That presupposes [956] that the main supplies of fish would be imported and if that were to be the case I take it Dublin would act as a funnel for the rest of the country.

We held a different view on that and decided on a plan of establishing fishing stations around the coast with cold storage equipment so that we would rationalise the distribution of fish rather that dump fish on the market when the prices were not satisfactory. Another of the inconsistencies about which I have been speaking was that despite the clamour by fishermen's organisations to speed the issue of boats, I was told at a joint conference between the Bord Iascaigh Mhara and the Comhlachas that we had already issued too many boats and that we were glutting the market. Of course these statements do not bear any close examination. There is no such thing as a glutting of the market now in the same way as there was when imported fish was freely available and one of the best strokes for Irish fishermen, above and beyond all other measures introduced for the benefit of the Irish fishing industry, was the control of imports.

That, I would say, more than all other provisions combined helped to produce the stabilisation of the fishing industry which can be clearly seen in the columns of figures given in page 4 of a report for 1953. It deals with demersal fish and the figures give a picture of a degree of stability that never formerly was experienced in the fishing industry. As I have said there was a peak figure in 1945 and then a gradual decline. I am not worried by the decline; it was not so great and it has been on the uptake again for the past few years.

I am quite satisfied that stability has been reached in the fishing industry, based on the home market. That brings us to the other question of pelagic fish and I know that a great many enthusiastic people are pressing the Government, as they pressed the previous Government, to do something big about the production and sale of herrings and mackerel. On occasions when there has been a good market for herrings, even in recent years, a great many of our fishermen were urged to give up the [957] idea that they were making something out of general fishing and to incur the expense of equipping themselves for herring fishing for a market which is very problematical.

It was pointed out by spokesmen of that viewpoint that the British Herring Board were able to make a big contract with the Russians but I recall that the chairman of the herring board warned the fishermen: “I warn you that you cannot depend on such contracts because overnight they could be scrapped for political or other reasons.” Because of the danger of our fishermen finding themselves in that difficulty about herring sales on the only market available to this country in the past, I think the Fisheries Section of the Department would be wise to proceed slowly before encouraging a large number of fishermen to change over to herring fishing. What is the position in Norway with regard to herrings? It is a country very often held up as an example of what we should do.

I have been given figures which show that Norway produces 600,000 tons of fish every year and I understand it is very largely pelagic fish, but I also know that only one-fifth of that production is marketed in the traditional way, either cured or fresh. Eighty per cent. of the Norwegian production goes into meal or oil. They no longer go to the trouble and expense of putting it into barrels and trying to find markets for it, which was formerly the case. Until such time as we have established a sufficient number of reduction plants around the coast, we, too, ought to proceed slowly before getting into this very problematical kind of fishing. Once we can get to the position in which we can always guarantee a market for the fish and oil meal, the matter can be reconsidered.

There is one fact that emerges from the history of the herring trade, that the curing end of it was not the big end of it and, from all the facts that can be elicited, curing was only incidental to the fresh trade, that the curing of herrings was always curing of what was surplus to the fresh trade and the bigger the surplus was after the fresh market was satisfied the [958] bigger the curing was. On only four occasions between 1923 and 1951 was there more than 50 per cent. of the total capture of herrings cured, and the percentage often fell very low indeed.

I have referred to this question of the herrings because I received a great many representations about it by people who came to me or wrote to me telling me that the effort about demersal fish on the home market was only fiddling with the job and that the big thing was to get in the herrings and send them all over Europe as was formerly the case. These people seem to forget that most of that market is now behind the Iron Curtain and that it is not so easy to get into it and that, when you send your goods into it, you have not any guarantee that you will be paid for them. While nobody decries the enthusiasm in that respect, somebody will have to inject a little bit of realism into whatever policy is to be formulated in relation to it.

In view of the cost of equipping herring boats, there is no reason why the State might not engage in it in the first years after the establishment of these reduction plants. If, then, private enterprise is prepared to take over, the State would only too gladly get out of the business as the State would only too gladly get out of the entire business if private enterprise would step in.

There is another cause of complaints. People who are in the business and who are not prepared to risk their capital—I am not blaming them for that— as soon as the State steps in and does anything, complain immediately of interference with private enterprise. That is a dog-in-the-manger attitude. The best way to satisfy the fears of private enterprise in that respect would be to say to private enterprise: “If you are not prepared to do it, we will set up these various plants and if private enterprise is able to satisfy us, in a few years, that they are able to take over and operate them successfully, the State would only too gladly allow them to do so.”

The reason that I put down the motion to refer the Estimate back had nothing whatever to do with sea fishing. [959] I am satisfied that the programme which was prepared before I left office is being implemented. I expressed satisfaction at the Parliamentary Secretary's reply to a question that I put to him about that matter. I do not want to start a competition with the Parliamentary Secretary as to who is to get the credit for it. That only does more harm than good among all the conflicting interests. They have enough conflicts of their own without political conflicts being thrown in on top of them.

If this programme of rationalising marketing, which is the big problem to be solved if the stability which the figures now show is to continue, is to be carried out, then these handling and storage plants are an absolute necessity. Credit must be given for what has been done within the past 12 or 18 months in the packaging and freezing of fish. Any of us who has bought this packaged frozen fish will have to agree, no matter how little taste he may have for fish, that it is an excellent product. I know people who have an ingrained but unreasoning objection to frozen fish to have been given this fish, without being told that it was frozen, who commented that it was the finest fresh fish that they had ever eaten. I must say that I felt very bucked by a tribute of that sort to our fishery administrators.

We have, apparently, good men running this job. I know they have tremendous difficulties in dealing with conflicts in the industry. I know that there is a very small staff in the Fisheries Branch. I know that they are hard working. When I went in there I knew they were overworked and I succeeded in getting some extra help. They were housed in what I used to describe as the only two tenement houses occupied by the Civil Service in Dublin. I am glad that they have been shifted to the principal street in the town and that they have more respectable looking premises, even though they are further removed from the Dáil.

I did not have the advantage of scanning the statement which was read by the Parliamentary Secretary and, therefore, I will have to ask him to [960] give me some information which I know he read out, but which I could not retain very well. I do not wish to get any particulars from him about the programme of development of the seafishing side, about the plants that are to be erected—I am sufficiently acquainted with them. The only thing I would like to say is that, with regard to the amount and the costings, I understood the Galway job was to cost £62,500 but the Parliamentary Secretary says the sum is actually £55,100. There seems to be something left out. I would like the Parliamentary Secretary to verify whether or not it is the auction shed. Is it not being gone ahead with this year?

Mr. O. Flanagan:  The total cost is expected to be about £56,000.

Mr. Bartley:  Does that include the auction shed?

Mr. O. Flanagan:  It does include the auction shed, yes.

Mr. Bartley:  Then the board has been able to reduce the Estimate from £62,700 that is already provided. They are not reducing the amount of work.

It was really to the question of inland fisheries that I wanted to draw the attention of the Dáil. I took certain steps and I may say I took one step in relation to the matter which was challenged by the Parties now in the Government. I want to talk about the making of decisions. Mention was made of the three German boats. Nobody is to blame for these three German trawlers but myself. Nobody in the Fisheries Branch was responsible for that. The board are not responsible for it except in so far as they gave me answers to the various questions I put to them when I discovered that these three boats were available. Whatever blame is coming in respect of these three boats it is my blame and nobody else is responsible. I want the Parliamentary Secretary to remember that that was my decision.

I was tempted to refer to that matter because of another decision for which I was also responsible and that was the decision to impose a levy [961] of 2d. a lb. on exported salmon and an excise duty of 10/- on salmon rod licences. That was my personal decision and when I say that I do not want to suggest it was arbitrary in any way. I went round the country, as the Parliamentary Secretary had done. I consulted the boards of conservators, anglers' associations and estuarine nets men. In fact, there was not an interest in the salmon industry either from the sporting or the commercial angle whose views I did not have. It was I who assessed those views myself. I came to the conclusion and, beyond asking them for factual information about certain things, I want to say that the officials did not give me any sort of tendentious advice to bring about a decision one way or the other.

The statement made by the Minister for Agriculture that I was forced to bring in the Salmon Conservancy Act by the Minister for Finance at the time is not true. I formulated these proposals myself. I took them to the Government. The proposals received a very close combing out by certain members of the Government. I got a very hard cross-examination from certain members about it. I was able, by the merits of the case, to satisy them —whether or not they were prepared enthusiastically to support it—to take a negative attitude and to withdraw their opposition. I do not want the Minister for Agriculture or the Parliamentary Secretary to be looking around for any scapegoats in either the Fisheries Branch or the Bord Iascaigh Mhara. The responsibility can be placed fairly and squarely on my shoulders. If anybody wants to say that these were political decisions I will not have an argument about that because the fact is that they were political only in so far as they were my personal responsibility and the result of my own thinking.

I am satisfied that what I did in relation to the duty was well done. I am prepared to justify it at any time. I am prepared to justify it on the basis of the representations which were made to me for and against. As a matter of fact, I do not recall any representations against, except one [962] that was tantamount to producing the same result in a different way. In one place the nets men said: “We would rather you doubled the licence duty than do it in this way.” I pointed out that doubling the licence duty would bring in only the same amount of money as we would get in this way on the figures that we know for the export of salmon, and when I added the further reason that, in the way I was doing it, they would only pay £4 initially for their licence and, after that, they would pay as they earned.

We did know and we do know that even the initial expenses of a £4 licence and the other boat and equipment expenses which these fishermen must incur weigh heavily upon them. We must bear in mind that, very often, they have to borrow money and that they are in debt for a few weeks' fishing, even in good times, before they can clear off the debt and start for themselves. I knew we would be doubling that initial outlay in respect of the licences and that the borrowing period would be still longer. I also knew that estuaries vary even in the same season. I knew that one estuary could be good and another one bad in the same season and that, in fact, in the same estuary one boat crew might have a lucky strike and another boat crew might do badly. In view of that circumstance, it struck me as being the fairest way to do it—to pay as you earn; if you do well you will pay more and if you do badly you will not pay so much.

I also had the further strengthening reason that, over a period of three years before the levy was imposed, the export price of salmon was, I think, between 6/- and 7/- a lb. I thought that 2d. a lb. up to the 1st June and 1d. a lb. thereafter was not too great a proportion of a market price of that order to impose on those who were catching most of the salmon.

The thing that was a little more difficult to justify was the excise duty of 10/- on the salmon rods. We knew that the salmon rods caught only about 10 per cent. of all the salmon and they were contributing in licence duty—I cannot recall the amount exactly—a ratio of, I think, at least 40 per cent. and these organised salmon anglers did [963] not object to paying the extra 10/-. My conscience has been salved in the matter by a reply which the Parliamentary Secretary gave to me last year in which he told me the average catch per rod over the three seasons was 48lbs. On the average, that certainly justified the imposition of an extra 10/- on the licence duty for the rods. When one also considered that the income from licence duty over a period of 20 years had hardly changed and that salmon had gone up fourhold or fivefold in price we still, in equity, could justify what we had done.

If the Minister for Agriculture thinks I was compelled by the Minister for Finance to put this on to save the Exchequer he is completely mistaken. Nothing was further from the truth. I had no representations orally or written from the Minister for Finance on the matter. He knew nothing about it until I presented him with the draft proposals for a Bill. It was not to save the Exchequer. However, if one must look at it from that point of view I would offer for consideration this aspect of the question. As we know, salmon has for a number of years been in the shop windows in Dublin for anything from 6/- to 10/- a lb. and in the early part of the season we have seen it go as high as 15/- a lb.

We know that there are many people in this city and in every town in the country where there are fish shops who pass along and see this blood-red salmon on display with the tag “10/- per lb.” on it and we know they cannot buy it. These same people very often see both home and visiting anglers with expensive paraphernalia setting out to engage in the sport of salmon fishing. These people cannot indulge in that sport, either.

I think this consideration is the strongest in support of what I did: why should these people as taxpayers be asked to subsidise the sport of people who can afford salmon angling or the profits of those who are commercially in the business? I do not think it is justifiable at all, and, from every aspect, what I did was quite fair. The only place in which any sort of organised criticism of it was offered [964] was, I think, in Donegal, and that arose very largely from an unpremeditated reply to an impromptu question, by the Taoiseach, I think, during an election meeting in some part of Donegal. Without thinking, I understand that the Taoiseach said he would withdraw this altogether, if he got into office.

I am quite satisfied that if the Taoiseach had had the facts, pro and con, put to him as they were put to me, he would not have committed himself quite so readily in the matter. I understand that even in Donegal since then it is becoming clear that this extra tax would not fall any more heavily upon them by the method I adopted than if their licences were to be doubled. The fact is that the income from licence duties required to be doubled if the boards of conservators were to make ends meet and we are doing very little more than making ends meet.

The Book of Estimates now means very little, even to Deputies, and I think the presentation of the Fisheries Estimates will have to be radically altered in the future because of the effects of the 1952 Fisheries Act. The heavy expenditure is not now shown in the book, as the Parliamentary Secretary knows. The money required for boats and gear is now provided by way of repayable advances from the Exchequer and does not appear in the book, and therefore the sum of £116,000 which the Parliamentary Secretary has asked the Dáil to vote is only part of the expenditure.

Coming to the question of the grants to the boards of conservators, if one looks at page 138 under sub-head F 1 (4), one will see in 1954-55 a sum of £10 and in the column headed 1955-56 a sum of £12,000. Anybody looking at that would say at first glance that this is an extraordinary increase in grants to boards of conservators—from £10 to £12,000. Of course, that is an entirely illusory view and I think the Parliamentary Secretary has given a table of figures in his statement which sets out what the position has been. In 1945-46 the sum paid to the boards was £1,395. That rose by the year 1953-54 to a sum of £8,000, and the result of that increase [965] was that, in 1954-55 the Fisheries Branch put in only a token Estimate of £10 because we could not know from then on what the actual necessities of the position would be. A token Estimate was put in and this difference between £10 and £12,000 does not really represent the position at all.

The Parliamentary Secretary made a reference to this matter and I gathered from him that the payment to these boards by way of grant is up by £14,000. That is not the statement the book contains and I take it that the £14,000 he referred to includes payments to local authorities under the Fisheries Act, 1925, in the matter of rates. I think that should be clarified. What I want to say to the Parliamentary Secretary is this—and it is the reason why I gave notice of intention to move that the Estimate be referred back for reconsideration—that this sum of £12,000 in our experience of the exigencies of protection is not enough. I planned to get from the increased duties an extra £15,000 to £18,000 annually, in addition to what we were already giving them by way of grants, and not in lieu, which is the important thing. Our boards of conservators are no better off than they were —and I do not think they are as well off as they were—under the £8,000 which they were given by way of grants in 1953-54.

In view of the increased cost of, and the increased demand for protection services, because of the terrific incentive there is to go poaching nowadays, with the price of salmon as it is, the boards will have to be supplied with some better means—I do not say of eliminating poaching because that is humanly impossible—of reducing poaching to manageable proportions. If something is not done, the anglers' sport will disappear, but, worse still, the livelihood of the estuarine fishermen will disappear, and it is with them that I am more concerned than with anybody else. These fishermen are genuinely interested to see that proper protection is supplied, and, seeing that the Minister for Agriculture put an end to the source of income he had under the Salmon Conservancy Fund, it is up to him to use his good offices [966] with the Minister for Finance to get in the coming year a sum of between £18,000 and £22,000.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  For what?

Mr. Bartley:  For the boards of conservators.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  There is enough being provided in the Estimate. We do not believe in providing more than is necessary. The sum we are providing now is the greatest sum we have ever asked the House to provide for boards of conservators and we feel it will meet all the cases reasonably.

Mr. Bartley:  Yes, but the snag in what the Parliamentary Secretary says is that he is preserving the status quo and when he says to me that more money is being provided, I say to him that the need for still further money is there, that the costs of protection have gone up and have gone up at a far steeper rate than this slight increase compensates for. Furthermore, £9,000 of this sum of £12,000 which he is now giving by way of grant has in fact been collected under the levy imposed by the Salmon Conservancy Act while it was in operation. In other words, they are only giving now £3,000 from the Exchequer. The other £9,000 was supplied by the trade.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  Is the Deputy advocating that we should have the salmon levy again, that we should reimpose it?

Mr. Bartley:  There is nothing like giving a frank reply to a straight question. I have not changed my opinion.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  You think we should.

Mr. Bartley:  I have not changed my opinion and I want to reiterate that it was my decision. It was not a decision of the officials in fisheries or of the Minister for Finance. I did not take that decision arbitrarily. I went around the country, as well as consulting officials, got all the best information I could from every type of salmon fisherman, and, having got it all and having assessed it, I came to this conclusion and I still believe I came to [967] the right conclusion. I still believe that the estuarine fisherman is anxious to contribute to fishery protection and I know that, in one of the Cork districts, the fishermen quite voluntarily over a year or two gave up so much per fish to the boards of conservators for this purpose. That indicates to me that there is a willingness on the part of the fishermen to make some extra contribution, but the fact is that the industry has always been held to be sufficiently profitable to contribute somewhat more now, in the actual amount of money, for its own protection than it contributed 20 years ago. That is a very reasonable proposition, in view of the depreciation in the value of money in the meantime.

It is because of that particular question that I moved to refer the Estimate back for reconsideration. I do not want to put the Dáil to the trouble of voting on this. It would be far better, having said all I have said, to leave it to the judgment of those who are charged with the administration of fisheries to get the money that is necessary. There is a very strong obligation on the Minister for Agriculture to get the increased sum of money that would ordinarily be available under the levy. While the dicision to impose it was my personal decision, I know that the decision to revoke it was his personal decision; and it is too bad if this is going to be a contest between two successors in this fisheries administration on a question of this sort. It should not be a political football; the economics of the salmon industry are too important to have it treated in that way.

I earnestly ask the Minister to try to achieve the purpose which we had in mind when we imposed the levy and to ensure that the money will be got now by direct grant from the Exchequer to the boards. I ask that he should not be cheeseparing and keeping them down to the very meagre and inadequate services which have prevailed heretofore. I hope he will allow them to carry out the plans which all of them had for the better protection of our salmon industry.

There are many matters which one [968] could deal with—particularly one so closely associated with the fishing industry as a Parliamentary Secretary assigned to the Fisheries Section alone. If there are any complaints about the cost of fish and the returns which the fishermen are getting, I do not think they are well-founded. I was pleased to see, in the report which the Fisheries Branch issued for the year 1953, that the fishermen got the highest return per cwt. yet recorded. That is very satisfactory, and if anyone wants to speak from the consumer point of view and say that this is unwarranted by the circumstances, one or two figures will satisfy his mind that he is on the wrong track.

The cost of the materials and instruments which the fisherman has been using have increased very steeply between 1945 and 1951, when I compiled a few statistics. Trammel nets increased over the period by over 55 per cent.; ropes increased by 225 per cent.; herring nets increased by 105 per cent.; mackerel nets increased by 154.18 per cent.; trawl nets increased by 87 per cent. and seine nets increased by 38 per cent. All these items produced an average increase of about 111 per cent. between 1945 and 1951. On checking the prices of fish over the same period, I find that they have increased by only 20 per cent. Therefore, the fisherman's return has not kept step with the cost of the instruments of his industry. I do not think any complaint, that the operation of the Control of Imports Orders is keeping the price unduly high here, can be substantiated in face of these facts.

It is satisfactory to know that the industry is now on a steady keel, that stability has been reached and that the marketing of fish will no longer be a problem here when we get these plants and establishments up. There is one thing that cold storage can do for us, in any event—it can preserve a far larger proportion of our national consumption of fish than any efforts in that direction can do for the 50,000,000 people in Great Britain. In that respect, I would like to supplement what I had to say about the development of the pelagic fishing for export. In spite of the big output of fish in Great Britain, because of their very [969] large consumption they buy in round figures every year about £2,000,000 worth of fish. With our cold storage plants and other provisions for preserving fish, that market is there open to us. I think it can be exploited much more easily and much more profitably than any market in any part of Europe. It is a further justification for the expenditure which is being embarked upon now in that respect.

Níl a thuille le rá agam, ach amháin go bhfuil mé thar a bheith sásta go bhfuil staidéaracht sroichte againn i dtionscal an iascaigh, go bhfuil dul chun cinn anois déanta leis an iascach nach raibh cheana ann agus go bhfuilmid ar an mbealach ceart agus ar an mbóthar ceart le rath agus feabhas a chur air. B'fhéidir nár mhiste tagairt a dhéanamh do rud greannmhar adúbhradh tamall ó shoin, nuair a bhí duine d'oifigigh an iascaigh ag tabhairt léachta uaidh annseo, mar gheall ar rud adúirt duine de na cainteoirí ag labhairt dó maidir leis an rún buíochais. Thagair sé do thrí ré, do thrí Airí nó Rúnaithe Parlaiminte a bhí i bhfeighil an iascaigh, agus thug sé ainm fá leith ar gach aon cheann acu. An chéad duine, bhaist sé ré “The Egg and I” air. Ar an dara duine bhaist sé “The Poitín Injection” air, agus ar an tríú duine. “The Egg Nog.” Níl a fhios agam cén chiall atá le baint as an gcéad leas-ainm ná as an tríú ceann, ach tá sórt tuairim agam cén chiall is féidir a bhaint as “The Poitín Injection.” Tá an “Poitín Injection” ag oibriú fós agus má tá sé ag tabhairt éifeachta uaidh, tá mé lántsásta. Tá súil agam, má tá sé ag cibriú go maith, nach lease leis an Rúnaí Parlaiminte tuille den “Poitín Injection” a thabhairt dó.

Minister for Agriculture (Mr. Dillon):  I would like to intervene shortly in this debate. I feel sure the House will understand that, as regards the queries of a specific character that may be raised by Deputies, the Parliamentary Secretary will accept responsibility for dealing with them when he comes to conclude the debate. He keeps in close daily contact with the fishery division and is responsible for the, I think, satisfactory progress to which Deputy [970] Bartley, in a very responsible speech, has referred.

The reason I intervene at this stage is to confirm the sentiments expressed by Deputy Bartley when he said he thought it was desirable to discuss this Estimate in an objective and dispassionate way inasmuch as it is pretty clear that Deputies on all sides of the House are joined in a common desire to see the fishery industry improved and helped in any way that it is possible for the Government and the Oireachtas to help it. It was in that spirit that the Parliamentary Secretary in his opening address referred to the three German boats. The difficulty is that if you adopt that spirit and refer to the three German boats in terms of moderate objectivity your very moderation may be interpreted that you have changed your mind about the three German boats. I do not think that the Parliamentary Secretary or I have changed our minds a bit about the three German boats. They look just as daft to us now as the day they were first floated.

I think it is sound policy, when one Government has embarked upon a certain line of work, to give that enterprise a full chance to stand or fall on its merits. I think it behoves an incoming Government to lean backwards a little in order to give an enterprise set on foot by its predecessors the fullest possible chance of justifying itself if it is possible for it to do so. But that should not be taken as evidence of a change of mind as to the merits of the enterprise as developed by Deputy Bartley when he was Parliamentary Secretary.

The Parliamentary Secretary said, when dealing with these three boats, that after another year the matter would be reviewed. It would have been quite possible for the Parliamentary Secretary, if he wanted to do it, to read out the history of these three boats during their first year. If he had done so and had emphasised it I think he would have had a catastrophic tale to tell. There were very heavy losses partly because the boats were not at sea at all. They were undergoing extensive repairs. I do not [971] want to go into a long litany of all the difficulties that were encountered with these boats. I have no doubt that Deputy Bartley in initiating this project did it with the best intention. I think he was wrong. I think the Parliamentary Secretary thinks he was wrong but both of us are prepared to concede at once that he believed he was doing something he thought would be in the best interests of the industry.

The Parliamentary Secretary and I are not so blinded to our imperfections that we do not realise we may be wrong. We are quite satisfied that it is better to let the thing go on, to give it the fullest chance to justify itself if that is possible and at the end of another year, when presumably these boats will not have the difficulties to contend with that they certainly did have during the first year, to see when they are functioning 100 per cent. whether or not they will justify their existence. But we have got to bear in mind that whatever the future of these boats may be it is right that the Oireachtas should know clearly, certainly and categorically that the policy of this Government is to found the fishing industry on the inshore fishermen.

We have no intention of promoting any scheme which would substitute trawlers owned by Irishmen or foreigners which would operate to supply the market here to the detriment of the inshore fishermen. In my opinion, if the whole scheme of reserving the Irish market for Irish fishermen does not operate to evoke a generous inshore fishing fleet based on boat-owning fishermen, then the whole policy of restricting the Irish market is misconceived and a mistake.

Mr. Bartley:  I agree with that.

Mr. Dillon:  It is a good thing we have got agreement on that all round the House. If that agreement is all round the House, I want to sound a somewhat more optimistic note than some of us are prepared to do. I have always held, since 1948, that, given resolute, steady progress towards an agreed objective in the fishery business, [972] we would get it in time. Deputy Bartley had the same experience as I had—the Parliamentary Secretary is now having it in a lesser degree— the carping criticisms of those who wanted to make a mountain out of every molehill in the early stages of getting inshore fishing back on its feet.

I was told a dozen times that I was chasing rainbows, that I would never get a fish from the inshore fishermen and that the whole thing was illusory and would break up in due time. Nevertheless, Deputy Bartley referred to the fact that shortly after I came into office in 1948 I directed the Sea Fisheries Association to buy boats. Yes, I did. I remember getting authority from the Government to set every boatyard in Ireland to work full time on the construction of 50 ft. boats and then to go to all the boatyards in Scotland and get 50 ft. boats from them because at that time we had no boats.

We were asking the inshore fishermen to build up a fish supply for this country without the necessary boats with which to do it and thus imperil their own lives. In the initial stages we got boats wherever we could get them. We reopened the boatyard at Fanny's Bay in Donegal which had been closed down. We put it to build boats again, which it is now doing. We increased the capacity of the boatyard and acquired the boatyard at Baltimore.

Signs on it, I think it is true to say that we have provided, over the past six or seven years, between 40 and 50 new boats for the inshore fishermen and we are now reaching within reasonable distance of getting a respectable fishing fleet operating around the coast generally. Deputy Bartley then went on to refer to something which I think is very vital. There does come a time, and we have got to foresee it, when we will be able to supply the total demand for demersal fish in this country. The question we have to ask ourselves, when that time comes, is: “Will we stop there? That is as far as we will go”. I think that would be fatal. We have got to face the fact that the next big development is the large scale capture of pelagic fish.

[973] I entirely agree with Deputy Bartley and I sympathise with him in the criticisms he had to encounter—I had also to encounter the same criticisms— as to why we did not build up a vast curing establishment quite oblivious of what we would do with the cured fish. We do not believe that there is accessible to us a vast market for cured fish.

I recently attended as vice-chairman a meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Food and Agricultural Organisation of O.E.E.C. in Paris and when the programme of work for next year was being formulated I asked the director-general if the reference to food in this programme included fish. He said it did, there was a great deal of talk about food surpluses in the world. I said to him: “I do not believe there is such a thing as a surplus of food in the world. I do not believe there ever can be a surplus of food in the world, in the true sense of the word, because I never heard of any edible food being available which could not be sold somewhere if the person who had it to sell was prepared to take a low enough price for it”. The real fact is, in parts of the world you have a quantity of food for which you want prices nobody is prepared to pay and then it is called a surplus.

I think there is one commodity of which it could be literally said there is a surplus in the world and that is fish. The reason there is a surplus is because there are millions and millions of people who are hungry for fish and there are thousands of fishermen ready and willing to go out and catch them, but there is no means of bringing the hungry millions into contact with the idle fishermen who want to work. I said I was prepared to judge the success or failure of the Director-General of this Council of Ministers of O.E.E.C. on whether he can find in Europe a willing buyer of fish and introduce him to a willing vendor thereof. I know they exist. I know that at the present time they are not being brought together and if this Council of O.E.E.C. is going to achieve any substantial progress then it ought to be possible to do it, and if they cannot do it, I very much doubt if they will be able to do anything.

[974] I shall wait with interest to see whether O.E.E.C. in its agriculture and food division will be able to provide that liaison which would open a market for cured fish which does exist. Even if it does, I still agree with Deputy Bartley that the sheet-anchor of large-scale pelagic fishing off our coast is fishmeal. Until we are equipped to say to the fishermen: “Go out confidently to fish for herring and when you bring it home, sell as much of it as you can in the fresh market and if there is a curing market available, sell as much more there as you can get a satisfactory price for, but whatever surplus is left we will take it for conversion into fishmeal.”

Naturally, the fishmeal price will not be as good as the fresh market or the cured fish price where there is a willing buyer, but, it assures the fishermen who go out to fish for herring that they will never have to return the fish to the sea. If a man fishes on a sufficiently large scale and habitually brings to shore a sufficient bulk of fish he will be certain of a steady, assured income. There will be times when, if the bulk of the catch has to go into fishmeal he will not be as well paid as he would be, if he could sell it in the fresh or cured fish markets. But there will be times when the fresh market will take the bulk of his catch and those will be prosperous times. At the other times when only part of the catch goes to the cured or fresh markets and the bulk to fishmeal, these will be relatively hard times but he will be secure at all times, and if we find our way into permanent markets for cured fish, the herring fishermen will be entitled to look forward to larger and larger periods of prosperity.

The difficulty about that is the traditional difficulty of the hen and the egg. You cannot get the herrings until you have the means of giving the herring fishermen security, but if you accept that proposition you will have to face the fact that you will have to provide fishmeal plants where you have no herrings or other fish, or certainly not enough herring or other fish to operate them economically. First of all a fishmeal plant to be economic must have a minimum capacity, and that minimum capacity to be operated economically [975] must operate continuously for about 60 days, I think, per annum.

When we build fishmeal plants, as sure as there is an eye in a goat, we will be harried by wiseacres who say: “Look at them standing idle. There is the plant but there is no fish.” We have to face up to that. Even when we put our hands to this task we will not get fish until we have the plant to process them, and as certainly as we erect the plant, the fish will not be available, for some considerable time and the plant will have to stand, possibly uneconomic, until we organise permanent fish supplies.

I am allowing myself to look a long time ahead, but I do not see any hope for the industry unless we are prepared to look boldly a long time ahead and make up our minds that demersal fishing while vital, is not enough and that we intend to set up a scheme which will make pelagic fishing permanently secure and profitable for those who equip themselves perennially to engage in it.

The worst of allowing oneself to intervene in a debate in circumstances of this kind when one is deeply interested is that one is inclined to dwell too long on it, and the Parliamentary Secretary is here available to deal in the greatest detail with those problems. I rejoice that largely as a result of the work initiated by Deputy Seán MacBride—and this House should never forget it—we have secured growing quotas in the French market for lobster and shellfish, and this year we have succeeded under the new French Trade Agreement in getting quotas for lobsters so large that it may tax our resources to fill them. That is the way it should be.

It is a profitable trade and I sincerely hope that those of our fishermen who engage in that will put their backs into the job and get a sufficient quantity of lobster langouste for our French quotas, because it will be most unfortunate if, having secured these quotas, we fail to fill them. I want to go on record as saying I have a clear and distinct recollection that it was Deputy Seán MacBride, when he was Minister for External Affairs, who wrought [976] powerfully and often without much encouragement to break his way into the French market with these shellfish. Had we not got in first of all under one of the trade agreements we would not have got the quotas we now enjoy, and he is entitled to that tribute of gratitude from any Minister for Fisheries who follows the work which he did.

Deputy Bartley said that he had sponsored a levy on salmon. I think he is wrong in that. I think that Deputy Bartley was misled. The levy on salmon was operated, in fact, not to help the board of conservators but to relieve the Exchequer.

Mr. Bartley:  That was not the intention.

Mr. Dillon:  I believe in leaving to the Lord Almighty to judge the innermost motions of every man's soul. I can only read facts and judge them. I suppose there never was a man who, when he stood upon the scaffold, who did not say: “I did not mean to kill him. I only meant to split his skull.” That does not alter the fact that, when he was tried before 12 jurymen, the view they took was that when he raised the heavy hatchet and bisected his neighbour's skull his intention must be judged by the result of his act. One cannot blame the jury if they took the view that they could not interpret this man's conduct as confirming his pious intention.

What are the facts in this matter? In 1947-48 the Exchequer provided £1,395 to help boards of conservators to meet the expenses that fell upon them over and above what their other income would bring in. In 1948-49 the sum of £2,000 was provided for that purpose; in 1949-50 the sum of £2,520 was provided for that purpose; in 1950-51 the sum of £3,280 was provided; in 1951-52, £3,920; in 1952-53, £3,500 was provided and in 1953-54, £8,000 was required from the Exchequer to help boards of conservators to meet the charges that came in course of payment because their revenue from other sources such as the rates they were entitled to levy would not be sufficient for them. The Deputy may say that [977] it may be purely coincidental that at the same moment a man got the brilliant idea that if he levied 2d. per lb. on salmon exported it would bring into the Exchequer £9,000.

I put it to ordinary Deputies that if they see these charges falling on the Exchequer and recall that Deputy MacEntee, the Minister for Finance at the time, was performing handsprings all over the country taxing sugar, tea, tobacco, etc., then found that the sum of £8,000 was being paid to boards of conservators, he would naturally ask, “what is that for?” When told that it was for the protection of the salmon fisheries would he not say: “Let them protect themselves; they are getting 10/- a lb. for salmon, and there will have to be a levy put on the salmon exported.”

Mr. Bartley:  The Minister may accept it from me that the Minister for Finance never made any representations to me on the matter.

Mr. Dillon:  Deputy Bartley says that and I accept it. He must be a powerful personality. I ask the House to imagine this man with the silent aura going around proclaiming that the Treasury was providing £8,000 in 1953-54 to help boards of conservators. The Parliamentary Secretary now comes along and says that it was purely coincidental when the Minister for Finance put an export levy of 2d. a lb. on salmon which produced £9,400. Whoever initiated the plan or implemented the plan, the point that is significant is that when Deputy MacEntee came to draw his Estimates for 1954-55 the provision that was made in those Estimates for this purpose was £10.

Mr. Bartley:  It was a token sum. Does the Minister not recognise that the grants were increasing so much that the Department of Fisheries were unable to estimate accurately and dealt with only a token sum?

Mr. Dillon:  All I know is that the record shows that the only person who benefited from the imposition of the levy on the export of salmon was the Exchequer. Its liability was reduced from £8,000 to £10. There are a lot [978] of people in this country who believe that if our farmers attain to any degree of modest prosperity, or that if our fishermen attain to any degree of modest prosperity it is an outrage. They seem to take the view that God meant them to be poor, and that if they dare raise their heads it is time they were brought down to the status which God intended for them—something lowly, to be hewers of wood and drawers of water, and respectfully to read of the august proceedings of sophisticated people in College Green and in the cities and towns of this country.

I do not take that view. I do not believe for a moment that if the farmers and the fishermen of this country dare to raise their heads and attain to a modest standard of comfort that the tax-gatherer should be sent around amongst them to skim off the cream and to put them back in their places. I object in principle to the proposition that, whenever agricultural produce or fishery products show the prospect of providing a measure of profit for those engaged in either branch of our economy, that the tax-gatherer is instantly to be alerted to put a levy on their produce and see that they do not get rich too quickly.

Mr. Bartley:  The Minister knows that the analogy he has drawn is entirely inapt. Surely, he recognises that the farmer has to raise the animals that he sells, and that the fisherman has not to rear the salmon.

Mr. Dillon:  I do not believe that Deputy Bartley is unsympathetic to our fishermen. At the same time, I do not believe that what he says is true. I ask him to think of our fishermen along the west coast who go out fishing for salmon. They go out far beyond the three mile limit in the stormiest and roughest of weather. I believe that they and the man who has ever reared a calf or produced a gallon of milk are entitled to a reward for their labours. Every time a fisherman goes out fishing he takes a risk. I do not think that Deputy Bartley, or anyone on the Fianna Fáil Benches, thinks that fishing is an easy, soft job. I think that anything [979] our fishermen get they earn it hard, and I do not think that the average landsman understands at all the hardships which our fishermen are normally exposed to. If it is true, as I believe it is true, that the farmer is entitled to whatever he can earn and there is no reason to apologise if he on rare occasions attains a period of relative prosperity, that is doubly true of those who go down to the sea in ships.

I think what Deputy Bartley overlooked was that there are powerful vested interests in this country and there always have been who have tried to get their foot in the door of taxing agricultural and fishery products at the point of export. Every Minister for Agriculture since this State was founded has fought a lone battle to prevent that principle being adopted by the Government. There have been powerful and vocal interests who often expressed themselves inside the four walls of this Oireachtas to the effect that it was time the farmers were put back where they belong.

If you want to establish the principle of levying a tax on agricultural or fishery exports, I warn the Deputies here; you will start something that no one will be able to control. Once allow that principle to be infringed and you deliver the farmer and the fisherman into the hands of the tax gatherer who will bleed them white. Remember that traditionally neither the farmers nor the fishermen have ever been able to organise themselves with half the efficiency for their own protection as other powerful interests here have shown themselves capable of doing for their interests.

Every Minister for Fisheries and every Minister for Agriculture has the painful experience of learning that while he spends all his waking hours trying to protect the legitimate interests of the farmer and the fishermen, he is the perennial object of acrimonious abuse both from farmers and fishermen. Deputy Bartley has himself referred to that, but that ought not to alter the attitude of those who accept this responsibility, to be true to their trust and to see that that very [980] important principle, the taxing of exports for the relief of the Exchequer, will not be adopted. That is the story of the levy on salmon. Whatever the intentions were, the fact is that the levy on salmon relieved the Exchequer and nobody else. The facts are that the levy on salmon is gone but the funds requisite effectively to protect our fisheries are being and will continue to be provided.

I am not going to say very much to-day about boards of conservators, but there is a great deal that those boards ought to do to put their affairs in order and to do the job they are set up to do. I shall content myself by saying at this stage that the work they are meant to do is going to be done. The right people to do it are the boards of conservators. Many of the boards do their job and do it well. Some others do not. That situation cannot be allowed to continue and it is well to give full and fair notice that while those boards of conservators that are prepared to do their job can look to the Department of Fisheries for all the help they want, those that spend the bulk of their time slanging one another in public and then staging conciliation meetings instead of attending to the business of the fisheries, cannot be allowed to continue in this disedifying and disgraceful inefficiency.

The last thing to which I wish to refer is the Inland Fisheries Trust. The Parliamentary Secretary has made reference to this and I would invite the assistance of Deputies from all sides of the House to help us in popularising and publicising the work of this trust. There is not the slightest doubt that even in the relatively short time it has been operating striking results have been achieved. Two interesting articles appeared recently in one of our daily newspapers referring in a factual way to the results that are already there for all to see. But I want to reiterate the words used by the Parliamentary Secretary, that quite apart from the value of the 5/- subscription that individual members joining the trust contribute, it is a real help if anglers throughout the country join as members of the trust more for the moral support they give than for the value of their subscription.

[981] The trust wants to collaborate closely with local anglers' associations. Now perhaps Deputy Bartley will sympathise with me in this. The whole aim and object of this trust is to preserve the identity, the zeal and enthusiasm of the local anglers' associations and to work closely with them. Yet you find a lot of mischievous busybodies going around whispering and snorting that the Inland Fisheries Trust is some diabolical conspiracy to concentrate control of all the inland fisheries in the hands of civil servants in Dublin. No more idiotic misapprehension could conceivably be made. The sole purpose of the Inland Fisheries Trust is to make available to the local angling association the technical advice and facilities that a local angling association could not conceivably have unless it was in a position to hire them from a central body which would organise them in order to have them available for all the local associations as and when they were required.

The scheme is operating admirably and in so far as the central organisation exists it exists only as a servant to be called upon by the local angling association on whom the primary responsibility rests for their own stretch of water, whether it be lake or river, in the district. The whole desire of the Inland Fisheries Trust is to promote, sustain and strengthen the sense of responsibility of the local angling association. Those who suggest that the trust is designed to bring a concentration of power over inland fisheries into some central office in Dublin are simply barking up the wrong tree. I do not imagine for one moment that that information will deter them from continuing to bark up every wrong tree they can find, because some people are born to mischief and seem to have little else to do but promote it.

Anyone who wants to see the inland fisheries of this country improved, I would ask for his co-operation with the Inland Fisheries Trust. And, if he wants a demonstration of what can be done in a short time by the intelligent co-operation of a local fishery association with the trust, I would refer him to the record of Lough Sheelin, near [982] Oldcastle in the County Cavan, which, 50 years ago, was famous in Western Europe as one of the best trout lakes in existence. Twenty years ago it was practically void of trout; having been at one time probably the greatest May fly lake in this country, it had become a lake in which it was almost impossible to catch a trout at all.

I do not think it is a serious exaggeration to say that to-day, largely as a result of the operations of the trust, it is back to something more closely approximating to its best days and shows every prospect of exceeding the best that it has ever done in its past history. I think the same story could be told of many other stretches of water and in each case that result has come from the effective co-operation of the Inland Fisheries Trust with the local angling associations. I would be grateful if Deputies on both sides of the House would give us their help in spreading the work of that trust over the whole country in the assurance that the fruits of their labour will provide us with one of the best tourist attractions this country can provide.

Think of what it costs at the present time to hire a stretch of water in England or in Scotland for trout fishing! Think what rents are gladly paid for relatively poor trout fishing in these two countries! Think of the fact that in a large part of the West of Ireland for the payment of some trifling sum the people here and the visitors can enjoy access to all water managed by the Inland Fisheries Trust. Five shillings gives them access not to one restricted length of water but to lakes and rivers scattered all over the country.

Now, if we can get this tourist amenity over to the hundreds of thousands of people in England who long for access to trout water, for whom it is a certain grievance that every yard of available trout water in England and in Scotland is in private hands and is rented for the exclusive use of small groups of wealthy men who can afford to pay the high rents these waters command, while here in Ireland an hour and ten minutes journey from London, for the payment of five shillings, they can get in a wide [983] variety of centres unlimited fishing for trout and have every reason to anticipate that the quality of the fishing will steadily improve year after year. Surely that must constitute a most attractive amenity for a peculiarily desirable type of tourist; because the average fishing tourist, as everybody knows, is a decent kind of tourist and to have him about the place is no hardship. With some tourists, and it is our business to get them to visit us, we often wish that it is the neighbour's town they stayed in.

The average fishing tourist is a decent kind of man and a decent, quiet kind of woman; and if one has five or six of them in one's own town one will never notice them because they are a friendly, neighbourly people. I would like to see more of them coming to this country and, in that regard, we have to bear in mind we have no Mardi Gras; we have no bull fights; we have no Paris, and all that connotes. We have none of the mysteries of Arabia to lure the sophisticated tourist to our shores. But we have fish.

Mr. Corish:  You cannot catch the fish.

Mr. Dillon:  They may have carp in Paris and they may have unknown fish in Barcelona, and there may be some queer fish in the Middle East. We have trout, and there is a great potential demand for the opportunity to fish for trout. They can get in Ireland all they want to get for 5/- per year. Surely, if there was no other reason, that is a good enough reason to authorise me to ask the cordial collaboration of everybody to help me in improving this amenity. It can be a great money earner for the community. It can constitute a great contribution to our balance of payments. It can help our tourist trade, which, all are agreed, must in future be one of the most potent instruments we have for maintaining a proper balance in our international payments position.

These grave responsibilities devolve mainly on the shoulders of the Parliamentary Secretary. As Deputy Bartley has so generously said, if we are to [984] judge of his prospective achievements by his performance in his first year of office, we have every reason to be optimistic about the prospects of the fisheries of this country, marine and inland as well.

Mr. Breslin:  As the House is aware, this Vote for Fisheries is of the utmost importance to thousands of our inshore fishermen around our rocky coast, fishermen who, even at the best of times, eke out a very precarous livelihood, a class of people for whom this House should have both sympathy and consideration.

The fishing industry should, as all Deputies will agree, be one of our most important and lucrative industries. Unfortunately, over the years, our rate of progress has been very slow and the industry here is not doing for this country what similar industries have done for other countries. The fishing industry in many countries is the backbone of the nation's industrial arm and, as a result of the magnificent development that has taken place over the years, we find in such countries many thousands of people employed in the fishing industry, an industry providing a living for thousands of families.

Fishery development here has been very slow. Successive Governments have tinkered with it. In a small way, I suppose each Government thought it was doing the best it possibly could but naturally there is still considerable room for improvement. We agree with the Minister for Agriculture when he says that it is the common desire on both sides of this House to ensure the success of the fishing industry, and I sincerely hope that in developing the industry in this country he will take into consideration and give every sympathy to those who have been working in the fishing industry for years—the inshore fishermen.

I was very glad to hear the Minister, in his statement here to-day, make the statement that the inshore fishermen would receive the protection of the Government. In saying that he was reiterating and repeating what he said when he introduced his [985] Estimate away back on the 15th July, 1948. On that occasion he said, as reported in column 634, Volume 112:

“I will not let anyone start a big commercial trawling company based on this country because I believe it would destroy the livelihood of the inshore fishermen and, therefore, without in any way wanting to be draconian or precipitate or dictatorial I put the circumstances to the House and implicitly to the trawling company concerned, with no desire whatever unduly to interfere with the limitations of the individual interests. It is the policy of the Department to have no trawling company in competition with the inshore fishermen.”

With that statement of the Minister's I entirely agree and it is for the purpose of saying a few words on behalf of the inshore fishermen in County Donegal that I intervene in this debate.

Last year during the herring fishing off the Donegal coast fishermen were alarmed at the arrival of two up-to-date, radar-equipped Scottish trawlers that took part in the inshore herring fishing. In the previous year we had a visit from one of those self-same trawlers, but we found out that it was not registered in this country and, on the arrival of a corvette, the trawler decamped. This year the trawlers came prepared. They had registered here in Dublin and were permitted, under the laws of this country, to take part in our fishing.

The Gaeltacht fishermen intensely resented the arrival of these trawlers and it is their contention that the ringing of herring in inshore waters would cause the breaking up of the shoals and make it impossible for the smaller boats to continue working. They feel that the livelihood of hundreds of families on the Donegal coast is tied up in the fishing industry and that the Government should not allow this type of fishing to continue.

In that part of the country and, indeed, all along our western coast, industries are few and far between, and it behoves us to ensure that any industries we have, such as the fishing industry, [986] which is a fine old industry, should be preserved for the people of the area so long as they show any enthusiasm for taking part in it. It cannot be said, as far as Donegal is concerned, that they are lacking in enthusiasm or lazy in taking part in this fine industry in which their forefathers have taken part for hundreds of years.

We maintain in Donegal that if this type of inshore fishing is allowed to continue it will eventually mean the depopulation of the islands off the Donegal coast and further unemployment in an area in which unemployment has been rampant for many years and that it also means increased emigration from the Donegal Gaeltacht and the congested areas. The inshore fishermen, with their smaller boats, cannot compete with these up-to-date, radar equipped, modern craft. It is, I think, a pity that the Government should allow these modern craft to fish within ten or 20 yards of the shore; grounds that should be the preserves of the smaller boats.

This type of craft to which I have referred should be in a position to make a very good livelihood in waters further away from our coast than ten, 20 or 30 yards. There is room for both the trawlers and the smaller type of boat used by the inshore fishermen in Donegal.

After the fishing had concluded last year the fishermen on the Donegal coast invited the Parliamentary Secretary to Donegal in order that he might hear at first hand, their grievances. I was rather displeased that the Parliamentary Secretary could not see his way to visit them on that occasion because previous to that invitation he had visited most of the other areas around the coast. Due to the importance of the fishing industry one would have expected that he would have taken that opportunity of learning at first-hand the grievances and views of the fishermen in that part of the country.

As I have said, it is generally believed that this ringing of herring in inshore waters will eventually mean the death of the fishing industry as we know it in Donegal; that these trawlers do an enormous amount of [987] damage and break up the shoals and the spawning beds and that it is only a matter of five or six years before the herring will have disappeared from that particular part of the coast. It is a serious problem and one to which I would like to draw the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary. If it is permitted this year, and it is generally believed that it will be, I am afraid the inshore fishermen will have to put up their small boats because it will be useless for them to engage in that type of fishing.

We had the experience last year of these two trawlers fishing in Gola Bay in Bunbeg Harbour while at the same time the officials of An Bord Iascaigh Mhara pointed out to the scores of inshore fishermen there that it would be useless for them to do any herring fishing for some time because the market was glutted. That was a serious state of affairs and it happened in Bunbeg. If it occurred last year following the arrival of these two trawlers what will be the position this year when we expect an avalanche of trawlers equipped for ringing herring on that part of the coast?

I agree that the catch by the trawlers was very successful and I read in the Irish Fishing Gazette of February 12th of this year the following paragraph:

“The two Scottish ringers, Arctic Moon and Elizmor, which had operated so successfully in mid-winter off the West Donegal coast, went back to their home ports about mid-January. It is understood they returned again to the West Donegal fishing grounds but remained only a short time. Estimates of the total value of their catches during their short period in Donegal range from £5,000 to £9,000. Their home port is The Maidens, Aryshire.”

If, as I have already stated, the Minister for Agriculture, and the Parliamentary Secretary take the view that that should continue it spells the end of inshore fishing in West Donegal. Even yet I feel the Parliamentary Secretary should intervene and in so far as I know the Minister for Agriculture [988] himself has power to order boats registered here in Dublin to fish in certain grounds and not to fish in inshore waters. In view of the fact that the Minister has that power given to him under an Act passed by this House, I think he should exercise it in that regard. We have a duty to our people. We have a duty to the inshore fishermen who have engaged in this type of fishing for hundreds of years and who are bringing up their families on the rocky coasts of this country and on the islands off those coasts.

These are the people about whom we hear a great deal in this House from time to time and I feel sure the Government would be very slow to interfere with the livelihood of that particular class of people. As far as I can see, if this monopoly of trawlers owned by a small number of buyers is allowed to continue in this country it will mean the end of the herring fishing industry as we knew it in Donegal and elsewhere. This monopoly will take that type of fishing out of the hands of hundreds of families and place it carefully in the clutches of two or three people interested in that class of business and who at times show very meagre interest in the welfare of the fishermen who have helped them so considerably down through the years.

From time to time the Minister for Local Government makes a pronouncement on the Irish fishing industry. One would imagine that if any pronouncements are to be made on fishing they would be made either by the Minister for Agriculture or by his Parliamentary Secretary who has been appointed by this House to look after the industry. However, we were very glad to read in the Irish Independent of March 11th, 1955, that the Minister for Local Government, speaking to fishermen in West Donegal, said that the Minister for Industry and Commerce had consented to grant licences to reputable fish curers from England and Scotland to cure herrings in Ireland for export or otherwise. That was a very important statement which one would imagine would have been made by the Minister for Agriculture or by his Parliamentary Secretary.

However, we were very glad to read [989] the statement. The Minister went further and said:

“Under an Act of 1934 the Minister for Industry and Commerce was permitted to grant licences to British curers to come into this country and cure herrings but despite repeated representations to various Ministers under Fianna Fáil, they always refused to issue such licences. Since the passing of this Act the limited number of Irish herring curers had been unable to cope with the supply of herrings during the glut periods as the market available to these curers was limited. Very much against their will the present Minister for Agriculture succeeded in persuading Bord Iascaigh Mhara to cure herrings on the Donegal coast.”

I was very surprised to read that the previous Government had always refused to issue licences to curers who might be interested in coming into the country to cure herrings round our coast. I accordingly wrote to the Minister for Industry and Commerce and I got a reply, dated the 6th April last, as follows:

“There is no record in this Department of the receipt, in the past ten years or so, of any formal application for a new manufacture licence for the curing of herrings.”

So either the Minister for Local Government must be misinformed or the Minister for Industry and Commerce had not the proper information before him when he sent me that reply. Since then the Minister for Local Government has again informed the fishermen of Donegal that this year we will have curers at practically all the chief ports and if that is so it is a statement we gladly welcome. It will be a great help to the industry and we await the winter to find out if the Minister's statement on this occasion is correct.

I do not think there is anything further I want to say on this Estimate but, in conclusion, I would again ask the Parliamentary Secretary to look into the matter of the inshore fishermen on the Donegal coast because it is the case of the fishermen on the Donegal coast to-day and the case of [990] every other part of our coast to-morrow if this type of fishing is allowed to continue. It will eventually mean the breaking up of the inshore fishing as we know it and that will lead to unemployment, emigration and all the other evils that follow the break-up of any industry.

This is an industry that has been part and parcel of the Gaeltacht and the congested areas for centuries and it certainly should receive the special consideration of any Irish Government. It is true that if the trawlers are allowed to operate it will finish the inshore herring fishing and I want the Parliamentary Secretary to tell us what is intended to be done about it. The Parliamentary Secretary may say that our catches are bigger than they ever were before and that our production of herrings and so on has been higher than in any year since the State was established, but if the price we pay for higher herring production is a higher rate of unemployment and emigration I do not think it is worth the price. It will lead only to more empty houses in the Gaeltacht and to more uninhabited islands around our coast because the people who made livelihoods from this industry will have fled. I would, therefore, ask the Parliamentary Secretary to pay particular attention to a question that is of extreme importance to our fishermen and to practically everybody interested in the fishing industry.

Mr. Lindsay:  I intervene in this debate briefly, first of all because I represent a maritime constituency in North Mayo and secondly, but not in order of merit, to congratulate the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture for his work over the past year in which I have taken, not alone in relation to my own constituency but to the whole of this country, a considerable interest. I would hesitate to say whether anybody else has ever put such courage, vigour and enthusiasm into a position in such a short time. I want to talk here on the mechanics of fishing, or at least on what I choose to call the mechanics of fishing—the things that are necessary to provide for the people engaged in fishing before any fish can [991] be caught. Like Deputy Breslin, in that regard I want to say a particular word for what I would call the little men in the little boats.

In talking about the mechanics of fishing one must inevitably think of the boat in the first place. All around the coast of North Mayo, as indeed along the coast in all western constituencies, one finds the humble currach and the other little boats smaller than the trawler class. It is extremely important that adequate facilities would be provided by way of slips, piers and little harbours for the comfort and safety of the men in the little boats. I know, of course, that, for the currach, the sandy landing is probably best of all but there are times when weather conditions make that sort of thing impossible and the shelter of a slip or breakwater is absolutely essential to fishermen.

The fishing industry, in relation to the smaller man, is closely associated with his ordinary avocation of small farmer. A suitable mixture of the two industries and the man's application to them should not be impeded in any way by lack of adequate facilities.

I take it that the Department of Agriculture, from its Fisheries Branch, directs the general policy in regard to the provision of slips, breakwaters and harbours. In this matter there should be speed—speed in the allocation of the grant, speed in relation to all the machinery of State that is brought into operation in the allocation of the grant, the implementation of it and the spending of it in the particular place to which it has been allotted. In this respect, if I am right, the Department of Agriculture is involved, the Board of Works is involved and the Department of Finance is involved. Local government is involved in so far as the county council of the particular county for which some project is mooted is to be responsible, having paid its contribution, for future maintenance and upkeep of the project.

In my opinion, far too much time is wasted, and certainly has been wasted in the past, through lack of proper co-ordination between these various [992] Departments under the general directive of the Fisheries Branch of the Department of Agriculture.

Yesterday, Question No. 36 on the Order Paper, in the name of Deputy Calleary, from the constituency of North Mayo, was a question directed to the Minister for Finance, as follows:—

“To ask the Minister for Finance whether there is any prospect of work beginning this year on the proposed improvements at Graughill pier, County Mayo, and, if not, if he will take steps to resolve the difficulties which are holding up the work.”

An Ceann Comhairle:  I do not wish to interrupt the Deputy, but I just want to ask is the Fisheries Branch responsible for slips and the maintenance of slips?

Mr. Lindsay:  It is not responsible for slips and the maintenance of slips but responsible, in my respectful submission, for directing the general policy.

An Ceann Comhairle:  There is no money in this Estimate for maintenance or construction of slips, as far as I know.

Mr. Lindsay:  I quite agree and I will desist.

An Ceann Comhairle:  In that case, clearly we are barking up the wrong tree. There is no use in speaking to the Parliamentary Secretary in respect of work that he has no money to carry out.

Mr. Lindsay:  No, Sir, except to press the Parliamentary Secretary to speed up the policy of his Department that will be directed towards the expenditure of money from other Departments.

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Deputy understands that if there is no money in the Estimate for that purpose, the Parliamentary Secretary cannot do anything in the matter.

Mr. Lindsay:  Very good. I accept the ruling of the Chair and will desist from making any remarks on that topic. In the consideration of the case [993] of the smaller men along the coast and the facilities that are provided for them, the history of the case rather than what appears to be there at the present time is important. It is necessary to inquire what has happened in relation to a particular fishing area, to inquire what was done there in years gone by, what was the activity at that time, what was the reason for the decline in the activity and to consider the past history of the place in relation to present requirements. If that were done, I am quite satisfied that the policy of the Department of Agriculture, in its Fisheries Branch, would be much more successful in the speeding up of affairs in connection with fisheries and in making that Department generally more successful.

The provision of boats by the Department of Fisheries is a matter that agitates the mind of every fisherman and every group of fishermen along the coast. The provision of deposit-free boats for Gaeltacht areas is a matter in which great speed is required. The implementation of the Department's policy in that regard is a matter of urgency. I do not think that we should have to wait for that kind of boat as a new boat. I am told that second-hand boats are available in England or France and these boats could be used, after suitable inspection, carried out by a person competent to carry out the inspection. An Bord Iascaigh Mhara, under the direction of the Fisheries Branch, should be able to adjust themselves to that state of flexibility so as to come to the assistance of men or group of men along the coast who are prepared to spend money on a second-hand boat that has been guaranteed.

The fishing industry should be given a priority which it has failed to obtain from successive Governments. I am happy to say that, from the intervention of the Minister for Agriculture in this debate, one can envisage a state of affairs where that priority, if not already in existence, is looming its way to the top.

I should like to see the Fisheries [994] Branch taking an even more active interest in the protection of our coasts. On the western coast and on other portions of the coast a new form of piracy is in operation on the part of what we will have to call, for the purpose of this debate, foreign trawlers, who dash in and out among the little men, bring in their heavy equipment, destroy beds and dash out again before anybody can do anything about it. In this respect I must say that in a few isolated cases in relation to my own constituency in Blacksod Bay, when I sought the help of the Minister and his Secretary adequate protection was given with great speed and given with excellent results.

The appointment of agents by An Bord Iascaigh Mhara at various centres along the coast is a matter which requires particular attention prior to their appointment and, in the matter of certain appointments at the moment, one that requires revision. The first essential, not alone in regard to fisheries but in regard to every aspect of life, when a man or woman is being chosen for a position, is that due regard should be had to qualifications and experience. In my opinion, the Fisheries Branch would do well to promote the institution, on their own initiative, of some sort of inter-departmental committee which would meet with a degree of frequency. In that way, the branch would have contact with other Departments with which its work is bound up. I believe that such a committee would render more effective the work of the Fisheries Branch by speeding up the necessary steps to enable it to carry out its programme.

In my survey, limited as it is, of the work of the branch over the year, I am quite satisfied that if the same tempo is kept up this year as was maintained last year by the present Parliamentary Secretary his term of office will be successful and we can definitely say that a man was selected for the job who was prepared to give a fair trial to the schemes initiated by his predecessor and who also sponsored schemes of his own to give the fishing industry the fillip so badly needed.

I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary [995] to bear in mind, in particular, the little men and to direct his policy towards them, without excluding anybody else.

Mr. O'Hara:  I was particularly interested in the speech made by Deputy Breslin. He struck rather a critical note and I feel it my duty to be critical also. I do not want it to be taken that I am casting any blame on the efforts of the present Parliamentary Secretary or those of his predecessor. However, it must be admitted that, in past years, somebody occupying the important position of Minister for Agriculture must have fallen down on his job because to-day the fishing industry is, as it has been for a number of years, as bad as it could possibly be.

Under British rule in this country it was possible to buy fish in rural areas —fish which was delivered by carts drawn by animals. To-day, with more modern methods of delivery, we cannot possibly procure fish in many of our rural areas. That is a very regrettable state of affairs. That is what happens in my own area and the same is true in many parts of Ireland. I travel quite a lot through the country and when I go into a hotel or a café and ask for fish—as I often do for tea or other meals—I am told that fish is not available. That bears out my contention that successive Governments have failed to put this industry on its feet. As a matter of fact, instead of having improved, the industry has deteriorated. I think there was never a proper appreciation by any Government in this country of the value which a successful fishing industry could be to our whole economy.

I agree with Deputy Breslin that fishing is a hazardous occupation. I also agree with him that, in the main, the people who engage in this industry both in my County of Mayo and in his County of Donegal are people with a tradition and a culture of their own. It is easy to be critical. Whenever I spoke on the debate on this Estimate on previous occasions I was critical for the reason that when we examine the whole position we must admit, to [996] be quite honest and frank about it, that when you cannot procure fish in the rural areas of this island to-day— bearing in mind modern methods of transport, and so forth—there is something seriously wrong.

When Deputy Bartley took over the post which Deputy O. Flanagan now has, I wished him luck and I assured him that any help or assistance I could possibly give would be gladly given to him. I am satisfied that Deputy Bartley was quite enthusiastic and that he did his best: the same goes for the present Parliamentary Secretary. Despite that, however, it seems to me that successive Governments have not tackled the problem in a serious way. There has not been a real appreciation by any Government of the importance of this industry. If this industry were properly on its feet it would be of immense value to the economy of our country. In counties such as Donegal and Mayo quite a lot of people migrate and emigrate and for centuries the people there depend for part of their livelihood, at least, on fishing.

Slips and piers and harbours have been neglected for want of money. Native Governments have failed to provide the necessary money to put them in a proper state of repair. I have in mind Lacken Pier, among others, in North Mayo. Representations were made to the Department of Agriculture on numerous occasions about the repair of such piers but not one shilling of public money has been provided to put them in order. It was quite natural, in such circumstances, that the people engaged in the fishing industry got fed up with the position there and cleared across to foreign countries. It must be admitted now that, to a great extent, the fishing tradition is almost lost: that is true in my part of the country, in any case. I appeal to the Parliamentary Secretary and to the Minister for Agriculture to see to it that this neglect which has gone on down through the years will be corrected. I appeal to the Parliamentary Secretary during his term of office, to try to make up for lost time— because time has been lost. It is quite a difficult task and I do not underestimate its magnitude. Unless the [997] Government undertake the task in a bold way and are prepared to expend plenty of money on it then progress cannot be made. There is no use in nibbling at this question. Surely it is a sad state of affairs to think that though there is plenty of fish in the sea around our shores there are people in many of our rural areas to-day who cannot buy fish. That is clear proof that we have fallen down on the job. I want it to be understood that I am not trying to blame the present Parliamentary Secretary or his predecessor when I say these things.

Foreign trawlers are coming to our shores and sometimes fish in our waters. I live a little bit inland myself but when I go 15 or 20 miles from my home I am told by most reliable people that this thing is going on. Surely if foreign trawlers find it worth their while to come hundreds of miles across the sea then it must pay them to do so. The foreign trawlers have colossal expenses in coming such long distances. They must pay their workers and they must pay their expenses. If, despite heavy expenses, it still pays them, I fail to see why this island cannot make the industry pay. I appeal to the Parliamentary Secretary to protect our smaller fishermen in such a way that these people will not be allowed to come in so close to our shores, in some cases, as Deputy Breslin pointed out, within 40 or 50 yards of the shore.

I have been told by fishermen, and I am personally satisfied, that in the matter of fishing gear, boats, nets and other equipment necessary, they are wholly unsuited for present-day conditions and present-day needs. I have also been told that one of the great difficulties in trying to procure such equipment is that the deposit demanded by the fishing authority is too high, is beyond the reach of most fishermen. That is a question that should be tackled seriously, particularly, as I have already said, in view of the fact that there are few men left in many parts of the country who are traditionally skilled in that work and who are prepared to undertake it. Unless we are to wipe out the industry altogether, it should be tackled as soon as possible. In the shops throughout the length and breadth of the country [998] to-day, one sees tons of foreign fish imported from all over the world and would it not be better business for the Government to provide supplies of fresh fish from our own waters than to import it from the ends of the earth, thereby giving employment to people in countries far removed from us?

The Minister referred to Deputy Bartley's statement on the principle of taxing fishermen and farmers generally. I want to say with the greatest emphasis that I agree entirely with the viewpoint expressed by the Minister in connection with this whole matter. There should be an appreciation of the hazards and risks involved in the work of these people. They have to go out in many cases in the dead hours of night and stay long hours at sea. I remember not so long ago being in a place called Porturlin in County Mayo and being invited by some fishermen to go out on a salmon fishing expedition with them. Thinking of my own safety, I said I would not mind doing so if the weather was not stormy. I was told that it was not possible to catch salmon in that area unless the weather was stormy so I did not undertake to go out with them. Their boats were very small and the coastline is very rugged, and there is no doubt that it is a most hazardous occupation.

To suggest that a tax should be imposed on any part of their catch, even of 2d. per lb, is a wrong principle. Their work is seasonal and they have to put up with all classes of weather and risks. The same applies to the farmer's work, but as we are dealing with the Fisheries Estimate, I cannot elaborate on that. In other trades and professions there is trade unionism with groups of workers properly organised. They pay a fee to their organisation or society and get certain concessions and they are in a position to force their will, even on Governments. The poor fishermen cannot afford these things and they are, in the main, a disorganised body. I am glad, therefore, to hear the Minister say that he disapproves of the principle of taxing such people and I am wholeheartedly with him in that regard.

There are available to-day cold [999] storage facilities. Electricity can be made available in most areas and fish can be stored by means of deep-freeze methods and so on and it is a strange thing to think that the industry is to-day far worse than it was 30 or 40 years ago. I appeal very earnestly to the Parliamentary Secretary to try to convince the Government of the importance of the industry. In my view, it should be second to agriculture. If he does that, and I sincerely hope he will, and does it successfully, it will have the effect of providing employment for hundreds and thousands of extra workers, and of providing that employment in areas where employment is badly needed.

With regard to fishing on our lakes and rivers—I have pressed this matter backstage quite a lot, so to speak, and for that matter the whole fishing industry—the Parliamentary Secretary is aware that I have been urging the Government to do something to improve the position. Like the Minister, I feel that if we set about improving the trout fishing in our rivers and lakes, it would bring far greater benefits to the country than any Tóstal ever brought. The idea of An Tóstal, in the first instance, as I understand it, was to extend the holiday period. The people who engage in fishing on our rivers and lakes are people who will turn out in any weather. They have no regard for rain or storm, if there are fish in the rivers or lakes. That being so, I feel that if we set about improving the quality of the fish in these rivers and lakes, it would bring far greater benefit than any Tóstal ever brought.

Tourism, it is generally appreciated, is a great industry, which has the effect of bringing many foreigners to our country and of selling the produce of our own land in the most profitable market in the world, namely, here at home on the tables of hotels and restaurants, but the Parliamentary Secretary will agree with me that precious little has been done in the past with regard to our lakes and rivers. I have referred before to many mountain lakes where the fish are locked up, due to the fact that the outfalls of the streams [1000] are choked with weeds and silt which restrict the movement of fish up or down. In these circumstances, there is too much in-breeding and the fish are daily growing smaller and smaller. Visitors no longer bother to fish in many lakes which they fished 15 or 25 years ago because the trout are only an inch or half an inch long. Anything the Parliamentary Secretary can do to improve the freshwater lakes and rivers will bring the greatest possible benefit imaginable from the point of view of tourism to this country.

Mr. J. Brennan:  I am anxious to intervene because, like every other speaker, I appreciate the importance of the industry, especially in Donegal. The Minister has complimented this side of the House on approaching the debate dispassionately and he deprecated any propaganda being made out of the fishing industry. I thoroughly agree with him in that attitude. Perhaps it was due to the fact that we, when in Government, were dependent on a slender majority in the past, but every single effort made by our Parliamentary Secretary, who was conscientiously and genuinely interested in this industry, was made the object of frustration by misrepresentation throughout the country. A good deal of unjust and unnecessary propaganda was made which was not always calculated to improve the fishing industry. We had rather a lot of that propaganda in Donegal.

I agree with the Minister that the co-operation of everybody is necessary to give the fishing industry the impetus, the encouragement and the stability which may bring it eventually to a status where it will enjoy the place it should have in the economy of the nation.

Experiments will have to be tried. Experiments are very susceptible to propaganda and to criticism, if someone wants to use them in that way. We must explore any avenue that holds out a hope of furthering the industry. We must be prepared to try out experiments and give them every possible chance to succeed. We have had too many pious platitudes and on the other hand too much unjust criticism, [1001] instead of a genuine effort to improve the industry. I welcome any effort by anyone to make experiments to improve the industry. That improvement is fraught with many problems—perhaps none of them insurmountable.

Speaking in this debate three or four years ago, I summarised the difficulties of the industry by pointing out that we would have to get as many people as possible employed in it on a decent standard of living and, secondly, that the industry should provide a very essential and wholesome food for the nation. To achieve these two objectives is the target of any Parliamentary Secretary in taking over the post and it is no small or simple undertaking. He requires the full co-operation of every section in the House if he is to succeed even in a small measure in getting some improvement.

To employ more fishermen means taking more fish and taking more fish means finding a market for them. Therefore, money spent on boats, gear and landing facilities and secondly, in the distribution of fish, is money well spent. We have been too accustomed in the past to haphazard methods, where to-day there was a glut and no sale and to-morrow a scarcity and high prices. It is by our efforts to overcome that unbalanced situation that we will measure the success of our attempts. We are moving in the right direction. We have undertaken the initial steps towards overcoming that unbalanced situation, but we have a long way to go yet. The establishment of quick freeze plants, fish meal plants and kippering stations are definitely moves in the right direction. That is the only direction in which we can move if we are to overcome that unbalanced situation of the glut and the scarcity which leaves the market so irregular and so erratic and leaves the industry not worth one's while taking part in.

More will have to be done in distribution. Deputy O'Hara has spoken about the thing we all experience on going into a hotel in the midlands or sometimes even on the coast—finding there is no fish on the menu. That is [1002] not their fault, they cannot afford to have fish on the menu as a permanent dish, as it may not be available when a customer asks for it. It is only by maintaining continuity of supplies that we can develop a market with a regular demand, even to the most inland counties and provincial towns. That is what I advocated before and I think everyone agrees with the proposal. I think we should try to have better distribution, whereby the proper type of van man would make regular trips to particular areas.

Why could we not have a service on the road such as some of the sausage manufacturers in Dublin have? Could we not attempt a distribution service like the bakeries or the purveyors of the thousand and one other perishable commodities that are brought to the homes of every individual in the mornings? It is not easy to do that. Some of these things are more easily supplied in continuity, but now that we have gone on the way to a greater number of better class boats capable of going into deeper waters and landing the fish on most occasions, now that we have gone a long way towards a more regular supply, our next step is to give more regular distribution.

There are other things, too, which would help to drain off the glut if and when it comes. The small craft which are used only in fair weather are very often the cause of the glut on the market. When fish are plentiful they all go fishing if the weather is suitable and as a result you have huge landings at the same time. We had the unusual experience in Donegal recently of fish having to be dumped. That is a thing not likely to recur often. It was sad to see so many thousand of fish having to go literally down the drain. That should not happen. Where there is a fishmeal plant within reach it should act as a safety valve whenever the price of fish is uneconomic. We should do anything rather than have to dump or discard the catch, as happened frequently in years gone by.

We have now a pilot fishmeal plant at Killybegs, which has at least justified its existence. It has demonstrated that it is one very definite way of utilising fish, particularly at a time when the supplies overcome the demand. [1003] Even though the price may not be economic, it is a safety valve which prevents the price from dropping too low and it is an outlet in the last extreme.

The Parliamentary Secretary said that the proper plant to put up was a plant which would cost £60,000 using 50 tons a day with five tons turning out one ton of fishmeal. I could very easily see a plant of that kind operating the 60 days, which is the minimum it would be expected to work. The officials of the Department and of Bord Iascaigh Mhara are well aware of the potential supply of sprats in Donegal which are untouched at the moment because there is actually no market for them except when they are taken in small carts round the country.

During the war when the Scandinavian countries were unable to supply the British market the Donegal sprats —they are known to us as Inver sprats because that is where they are fished —became a most profitable industry. On that occasion British canners and others in Britain purchased them. It gave employment to large numbers in packing, distribution and transport. The British canners were prepared to take any amount and the quantity exported was colossal at the time. That industry is dormant now. These sprats would be eminently suited for two things—canning and fishmeal. They are not very suitable for fishmeal owing to their high oil content, but I believe that can be overcome by having a percentage of prime fish offals mixed with them and the drying process brings them to a state where they can be more successfully used for fishmeal.

We in Donegal hope—and we trust we are not thinking in vain—that the Parliamentary Secretary, An Bord Iascaigh Mhara and all concerned with the fishery industry will appreciate the great potential now lying dormant and that they will take the initiative in providing the necessary plant that will be capable of taking 50 tons per day. We guarantee to give it to them so that that particular branch of the industry which is peculiar to Donegal will not lie much longer dormant.

I was dealing with the question of [1004] distribution. The quick-freeze system has gone a long way towards conserving supplies and enables the catches to be held over and released to the market as they are required. That system should be developed. A road transport service should be provided with a modern type of insulated van. That would bring the fish packed in cellophane, in a form acceptable to everybody. Until we have reached that stage, we cannot say we have fully developed the fishing industry. I think we are moving in that direction. There will be many criticisms. They will be expressed in this House but they are not always expressed here. We find criticism coming from people who organise in little groups and talk very glibly about the Government doing nothing for the industry, but, if they were in the same position as the Parliamentary Secretary they would find themselves unable to do anything more or, perhaps, not as much as Parliamentary Secretaries have done in the past. The best hurlers are always on the ditch. It is very easy to criticise from outside, but when one is placed in the position of doing something it is not so easy.

I should like to refer to landing places in Donegal. Along the rugged coast of our county there is hardly a nook where you would not find some landing place or slip.

An Ceann Comhairle:  There is no money in the Estimate for slips.

Mr. J. Brennan:  You will agree, Sir, that this matter concerns the Department of Fisheries. Let me discuss the matter on a broader basis.

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Deputy is talking about landing places and slips but there is no money in this Estimate to provide slips.

Mr. J. Brennan:  I want to refer to the matter in a general way. I want to condemn emphatically the system whereby the responsibility for such slips and landing places is divided among a diversity of interests. In one case it is the county council. In another it is the Board of Works and in yet another it is the Department of Agriculture. If we could consolidate all these interests and have one [1005] general controlling authority to which we could go and say: “I want this particular thing attended to; I want a report on this and I want to know if it is worthy of being attended to,” we would have achieved something very important. Other than that general reference I am not going to refer to the matter further.

With regard to the purchase of the three German boats, I should like to say this in defence of Deputy Bartley. I agreed with him at the time. If we reach the stage where we will have continuity of supplies to meet a growing market at home, we must have some boats that will be able to go to sea and into deeper waters at any time. If a start was made for the purpose of initiating that arm of the industry it was not before its time. I cannot visualise the industry reaching such a stage of perfection without having some boats capable of going into deeper water. For that reason the purchase of those three boats was a step in the right direction. I believe the expenditure at the time will be more than justified.

With regard to improved boating facilities, we saw some 17 or 20 large boats in Killybegs the other day. Everybody welcomes the development of our fishing industry, but we are inclined to forget that we still have with us the inshore fisherman with a small bit of land who goes to sea whenever the conditions are favourable. We depended on that type of fisherman in the past and we hope he is not being forgotten. I am afraid we are inclined to neglect the inshore man with a small craft. He has a complaint with regard to the larger boats. He feels that they should be kept off our shores for some distance and that he should at least have an undisturbed portion of water to himself. These other boats capable of going far out should at least leave the inshore fishing to the small craft.

Not infrequently the inshore fisherman loses his gear as a result of these larger boats driving over his lines. Very seldom is he able to prove what boat did it and he has to bear the loss himself. The day of that type of fisherman is not past. Many people [1006] may say it is passing but the fact is that it will always remain with us. Although the numbers may diminish and emigration may take the crews abroad, we will always have that type of fisherman with us—the man with a bit of land who will go out to sea to fish in a small boat. Many of them fish for lobster as well. I think we should not lose sight of the fact that these men require attention.

Salmon fishing is a separate item and I will make a statement in this House which might hardly be thought credible but is nevertheless a fact. If many of the salmon fishermen along the Donegal coast were to fish legally they would not be able to buy butter for their bread and very often, even with their own method of fishing, they are not able to do that. I am afraid this year is one of the years of their greatest failures. It may seem queer to say that the particular method of fishing by which they use a bag net and a “dull” is held to be using a fixed engine and is an illegal form of fishing. I am a member of a board of conservators and it is the duty of the board to prosecute them and this is often done. Yet, if they did not use that method, they might as well—to use a local phrase—be knotting straws. It is a technical matter, the difference between tweedledum and tweedledee but this method could not be used if they were compelled to fish according to the regulations laid down by the Fisheries Act and imposed by the boards of conservators. I think the Fisheries Section and An Bord Iascaigh Mhara and all concerned should examine the question of legalising that type of inshore fishing.

The number of salmon likely to be taken is negligible. It is not likely to make serious inroads on our supplies of salmon because, as we all know, the conservancy of salmon must take place in the upper reaches of our rivers. The damage done in the bay by the fisherman, who is constantly watched and controlled, is negligible. These fishermen, when a crew is fishing, must have a man to watch the fish passing up, and also have a man ashore watching for the bailiff. Every single crew in my area employs that system and they are [1007] occasionally prosecuted. It is merely a technical matter with regard to the means adopted. I would be very pleased if it were legalised because, as the situation stands, no other method will be used and if they are compelled to keep to the system which the regulations lay down they will cease to fish because it would be absolutely no use. Other areas have other means, and they do not all resort to the same methods, but the fact remains that that is the method popular round the Donegal coast and it is an illegal method of fishing. It has been carried on since I remember and will be to the end. Why not legalise it?

We are to have some boats—free issues—for the Gaeltacht, and I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will not decide to allocate those boats on a poltical basis. We do not want him to give one to every Fianna Fáil cumann nor to every branch of Fine Gael, but there are good, hard-working honest fishermen who, I hope will be treated on their merits. Their records are well known and among them are men who are most likely to make a success of the boats when these are issued to them. I hope these issues will be given on merit to the applicants.

Somebody spoke about the question of foreign trawlers poaching in our waters. It is always one of the hardy annuals discussed here, and I think while responsibility for keeping off these trawlers lies with the Department of Defence, the control is rather far removed from fisheries. I would like to see the Fisheries Section able to order the defence of our shores itself. That view may not be shared by anyone else but I think dual control makes for a lot of lost time and I would prefer that the coastal protection patrol boats would be established under the Fisheries Section of the Department. I think it would make for expedition and better results generally.

I believe that while different views may be epressed as to the rate of our progress we are moving in the right direction. Critics there will be and plenty at all times, and all the criticism will not be founded on reasons of [1008] genuine interest in the industry. No matter what Parliamentary Secretary may initiate a scheme, so long as it is a worthwhile effort, I think it is entitled to a fair trial and let us all co-operate to give it every possible assistance. There are far too many things involved in this industry to allow it to be entirely the plaything of politicians. There is the food that is taken from the sea—it is most productive in that respect—there is the employment that accrues from the pursuit of that food, the actual fishing, transport, dealing and all the various hands that are employed. All these combined make it a most important industry.

I think the number of hands could be multiplied tenfold if we had reached our proper stage of improvement in regard to fisheries. I believe we will yet reach that stage. There will always be that diversity of opinion about private enterprise and any State-sponsored body that comes in to take control but nobody can expect private enterprise to do the things that An Bord Iascaigh Mhara is doing now. For that reason, while I have frequently heard the arguments on the private side of the industry—that they had to buy fish against a corporation that was subsidised by the taxpayers' money and so on—and while they may have arguments in that direction, the fact remains that we must have a State-sponsored corporation to take over such an important industry where a huge outlay of money is involved if the industry is to be developed. We could not possibly expect private enterprise to develop the industry and put all the capital into it that would be required in order to develop it in that way.

For that reason, it is essential that a State-sponsored corporation such as An Bord Iascaigh Mhara should exist to held the industry, while at the same time leaving ample room for private enterprise without undue competition. I think that, as things are going, they are working reasonably well. We hope, at least, that we are moving in the right direction, but we would like to see the tempo increased and the rate of progress accelerated.

[1009]Dr. Esmonde:  The fishing industry is an important branch of our economy and, as other Deputies have stated, everything possible should be done to improve our fisheries. We accept the fact that there are certain difficulties in the way. To start with, the fishing fleets of our neighbouring countries are, to a large extent, subsidised. They provide the personnel for those nations in times of danger whereby they can service their navies, and they receive from their Governments big subsidies which enable them to provide fish for the public in their countries very much easier than we are able to do here.

I feel that, so far as our fisheries are concerned, there are certain factors in the way which could, by co-operation all round, be removed. We here are faced with three principal difficulties. The first is that we have never had in this country a proper system for the distribution of fish. The practice has grown up that it is only in our big centres of population that fish can be readily obtained by our consumers. In the main, our fish catches are transported to Dublin, and the principal market that exists for them is in the capital city, and practically nowhere else because of the fact that other parts of the country are not serviced with supplies of fish as they should be. I know that there are many difficulties in that respect, but I feel that the present position could be improved. First of all, something could be done to increase the demand for fish. The average person living in rural Ireland has given up thinking of fish for the simple reason that he can never get it.

I think that, if the Department of Fisheries were to encourage people, by advertisements and possibly through means of a sponsored programme on Radio Eireann to be more fish minded, itself would help to develop a market for the consumption of fish. We have a long way to go before we can say that we have reached our full level of consumption.

I welcome very much the statement made to-day by the Minister for Agriculture as an earnest of his interests that he would be prepared to start [1010] processing factories for the raw material of fish even though we had not at home a sufficient supply of fish ourselves to service them. I feel that until such time as we can have, first of all, a guarantee that our fishermen, no matter what they may catch, may be able to dispose of it, even at a reduced price, and until such time as we can make our people fish-minded, we will have to confess that we are not making much of an advance along the line on which we would all like to go.

Another thing that is militating greatly against us in the fishery arena is the modernisation of fisheries in other countries with which we here have not kept in line. Fishermen are tending towards the use of larger craft than heretofore. It has been my experience in my own constituency of Wexford, where we have a great many fishermen, that they have been prevented from going in for a better type of craft by the fact that there are no deep water anchorages available to them between Dublin and Waterford. I think that is the thing that limits private enterprise among fishermen. I know that many of these fishermen would go in for larger boats if suitable State, anchorages were made available to them. I am aware that the Parliamentary Secretary and the officials of his Department made a survey of that area, and that it is intended at some time—at least I hope it is intended—to make better harbour provision for our fishermen whom we all want to encourage. If they were able to have larger boats it would place them on a higher plane of efficiency.

There can be no question but that our shores are being considerably poached. The international position that exists at the moment in the fishing arena is this: The Icelandic Government depends almost entirely on its exports of fish. These are as high as 98 per cent. That Government has recently extended its territorial limits from three to six miles. That has been the cause of an international dispute which actually came before the the Committee of the Council of Europe recently. It is well known that the North Sea and many other [1011] parts of the coast of England have been fished to such an extent that there is a terrific dearth of fish there now. The Icelandic Government, appreciating that, extended its territorial limits. As its coasts see a lot of foreign trawlers about, the natural inference is that they being excluded they will turn and poach our shores to a greater extent than they have done heretofore.

I feel that considerable assistance could be given to our Irish fisheries if we had better protection. I have never been satisfied that the corvettes of our navy are suitable for fishery protection. For one thing, we have few harbours into which they can get. I feel that if, perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary, who had great initiative and drive and who, I know, has put a lot of work into the administration of his Department since he took it over, could get the co-operation of the Department of Defence so that if it cannot supply him with a more suitable type of craft it would place the service of its Air Force at his disposal, it would, I think, be an effective way of checking the operations of the marauders who come to our shores. The Air Force would be able to notify the corvettes to come up and deal with these marauders. It is well known that these foreign trawlers spend days on end here. They know that one of the corvettes may be laid up for refitting, and that, as regards the other two, that one is usually in Dún Laoghaire and the other in Cobh. In that situation, they are able to carry on with their poaching as much as they please. I think that if there was the co-operation which I am urging between the Departments concerned a big improvement could be brought about.

As regards the German trawlers, it is true, of course, that we in the Fine Gael party, criticised the purchase of them and justifiably so. We did so, in the first instance, because we believed that their purchase was injudicious. I think that is proved by the fact that, when the three trawlers were taken over, one broke down at sea and had to be laid up in dock for an [1012] extended period for a refit. In my opinion, the person who bought these trawlers had not sufficient technical experience to know if they were seaworthy, or whether they were value for the money that was paid for them.

Mr. Bartley:  Does the Deputy know what the weather was like when they were bought?

Dr. Esmonde:  I know all about the weather. Surely, the Deputy is not suggesting that if you buy a ship from a foreign Government and it gets into a rough sea, it is normal that it should break down. Was not that proof that there was something wrong? Craft purchased by one Government from another should surely have been seaworthy.

Mr. Bartley:  Does the Deputy not know that at that time in many other ports craft had been battered in a far worse way?

Dr. Esmonde:  The point I am making is this, that the Deputy, when he was Parliamentary Secretary, purchased trawlers which were considered to be suitable trawlers for the purpose of fishing on the high seas. But when these three trawlers were purchased one broke down at sea, and had to be put in dock for a considerable period afterwards for repairs. Furthermore, the other two have spent an extended period in the docks.

Mr. Bartley:  For the purpose of Lloyd's classification. I think that should be brought into it. It is unfair to leave it out.

Dr. Esmonde:  Even accepting the fact that the other two trawlers were fit and seaworthy, does there not seem to be something wrong if one of them broke down and had to go into dock?

Mr. Bartley:  What about all the other boats that were battered in the high seas by the same weather?

Dr. Esmonde:  The fact that they did not even get to their port of destination safely is sufficient proof that what I am saying is true. The other reason why we object is simply this: [1013] We believe in private enterprise here and the State was encroaching in this arena. I believe that had it not been for the heavy criticism that was levelled at the then Parliamentary Secretary, Deputy Bartley, he would have purchased more of these craft, and that the intention of his Government was to a large extent to try to take over and control fishing.

Mr. Bartley:  The Deputy knows that is not true.

Dr. Esmonde:  We in Fine Gael do not believe in that and for that reason we opposed it.

Mr. J. Flynn:  I appreciate the Government's decision to establish an ice plant in Cahirciveen. I would like to mention a problem in connection with the mussel plant at Cromane, County Kerry. Through nobody's fault, the position at the moment is not very satisfactory. The Parliamentary Secretary himself was down there some time ago and saw how the scheme was working out. Perhaps the Government might consider having some new undertaking there for the benefit of fishermen in that district, for instance, a fishmeal plant.

As regards the mussel plant, the position is unsatisfactory because the mussels were to be purified and exported by the Fisheries Board, an arrangement which the local fishermen were not prepared to accept. The Fisheries Association gave them the option of working the plant themselves and it is now evident to everybody that that was not a success. It could not be a success in the way it was handled. This is a scheme which had great possibilities at one time and could have been of great service to the fishermen there. It would be regrettable if the position were allowed to deteriorate any further and I would, therefore, ask the Parliamentary Secretary to review the position as a matter of urgency.

There is another matter in connection with that district to which I wish to draw attention. At one time the Minister concerned allocated a grant for the removal of rock from the salmon fishing ground further up the coast, and that scheme went through. There is [1014] another small section of the coast where, because of obstruction by rocks, the fishermen find it very difficult to haul in their nets. In the first case to which I have referred the county council contributed the amount specified by the Department of Fisheries and the Board of Works and in this instance I am sure an arrangement could also be made. In conclusion, I wish to thank the Parliamentary Secretary for the interest he has taken in the work done in Kerry and I hope he will find it possible to examine this question of the Cromane mussel plant.

Mr. O'Leary:  I have been requested to ask the Parliamentary Secretary and his Department to provide fishery protection around the coast of Wexford, at Kilmore and other places used by the fishermen. The foreign trawlers come inside the three mile limit and although the corvette may be in the vicinity, it is so large that before it approaches the trawlers are gone outside again, having taken the fish and damaged the local fishermen's gear. That happens very often in that area.

Another matter I have been asked to bring before the notice of the Parliamentary Secretary is in regard to the fishermen on the Slaney. Right back in 1932, when Fianna Fáil came into power, the then Minister for Agriculture, Deputy Dr. Ryan, promised the fishermen on the Ferrycarrig and on the Slaney that they would be allowed out earlier than the 1st April. That Government went by and the last inter-Party Government went by, and these fishermen are still held up until the 1st April. These fishermen of whom I speak are small farmers who live during the fishing season solely from fishing. The remainder of them come to Dublin to work in power stations and return when the fishing season commences. It has been proved that the fish are running earlier. The oldest fishermen whom a few of us met—Sir John Esmonde, the late Nick Corish and myself—told us that the fish were running earlier and that if the fishermen were allowed to go out a month earlier it would make all the difference.

[1015] I have here the Enniscorthy Guardian and I want to bring before the Parliamentary Secretary's notice the report of a meeting of the Wexford Board of Fishery Conservators. These people want to increase the licences both on the rod and on the net fishermen. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to resist that. If these people want to increase the rod fishermen, let them increase the licence in the case of the people who are coming here from England and the North of Ireland to enjoy themselves on the banks of the Slaney; let them pay for their pleasure but do not mulct the local men who are solely dependent on their fishing for a livelihood.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  Will the Deputy give me that paper?

Mr. O'Leary:  I will. In another section of it there is a report of a resolution which was forwarded by the Limerick board asking the Minister for Agriculture to introduce legislation to increase the licence duties on both rods and on nets. I hope that will not happen. At the moment if one goes down to the Slaney and out to Ferrycarrig one will see there the fishermen sitting on the bridge watching for the swim of the salmon. Almost all the fishing is finished there; if the men were allowed to start earlier and the season closed earlier, it would be an advantage to them. In fact, the season has closed long ago because the men are getting nothing. That is a great hardship on these people. Up the river, salmon killed by visitors are being sent by plane from Collinstown to their friends in London. Those people are allowed to start fishing a month earlier than the local fisherman.

That is a long-standing grievance and it is hoped, now that Deputy O. Flanagan is Parliamentary Secretary, that some change will be made. I want to take this opportunity of congratulating him on his position. He is an active young man. He has been down around South Wexford and along the coast, meeting the people, and finding out for himself conditions at first hand. That is what every Parliamentary Secretary should do. He would then get on the [1016] spot the complaints the local representatives get and could subsequently hammer out some satisfactory agreement to meet those complaints. If that is done, a long-standing grievance of the fishermen on the Slaney will be relieved.

I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will give these few remarks of mine his earnest consideration. The paper to which I have referred points out that these fishermen are very poor and, according to the report, the amount killed this year was 2,968 fish on the Slaney. A lot of families have to be provided for out of that small number of fish. The season only lasts a few weeks. Something will have to be done. It is not right that certain people should be allowed to set themselves up as a board of conservators, allowing no one to go on the banks of the river, and in certain places, one cannot go on the banks of the Slaney. These are the people who are advocating an increase in both rod and net licences. These are well-to-do people and, if they want to pay more, let them be charged more. Surely the position of the poor fishermen who have to exist more or less out of the few salmon they get should receive consideration. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will give those men every consideration. Above all, I appeal to him to give them an earlier opening.

Mr. Palmer:  When the present Parliamentary Secretary was put in charge of fisheries he visited Kerry to find out how everything was going on there. His visit first was to Cromane where there is a mussel station. The local fishermen have now taken over that station for themselves. They have told me they have to pay 2/6 per barrel, or per bag, I think they call it, for sterilising and they have asked me to ask the Parliamentary Secretary if he would kindly reduce that to 1/6 or 1/-.

The fishermen there, especially the salmon fishermen, are deeply grateful to the Parliamentary Secretary for having done away with the 2d. per lb. on salmon for export. That has done a great deal of good.

I am afraid the time has come when a complete alteration must take place [1017] if we are to develop fisheries in this country. At one time the fishing industry was regarded as being second to that of agriculture. At the present moment we cannot find fishermen to do the work but, in spite of all that has been said, I believe that if our inshore and deep sea fishermen have the proper boats and the proper equipment we will get a sufficient number to carry on the work.

I have one complaint to make. It refers to North Kerry, but it also affects us in South Kerry. A certain lady has got a permit for a French trawler to fish lobsters in Castlegregory. I do not know exactly how she got that permit. It may be thought that it only affects the fishermen in Dingle, but it also affects us because we have some very good lobster fishermen in our area. I am led to believe that she got the licence or permit until 1st August. I am also led to believe that she did not operate under the conditions specified. I do not know who gave this permit, but it was given. I can only hope now that, if this lady asks for a renewal of the permit, the conditions under which she has worked will be fully investigated and that in future no such licences or permits will be issued.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  In view of the volume of work which has to be undertaken by the House for the remainder of this afternoon and the long sitting that is expected to-morrow, I do not propose to make any statement of great length, beyond paying a tribute to the speakers on the Opposition Benches who have, in my opinion, made very reasonable speeches.

The statement made by Deputy Bartley contained some very constructive ideas and I feel that it is only right and proper that I should pay tribute to the manner in which he spoke both yesterday and to-day. With regard to the points raised by the Deputies, I want to give them an assurance now that every point raised during the debate will be carefully examined, very closely investigated and will receive the fullest possible consideration.

During the year I had the honour [1018] of visiting many of the fishing centres both on the west coast, the south coast and the east coast. I met a number of development associations and was approached by deputations from the fishermen in most districts. On the occasion of the visit to Killybegs, I undertook that I would have, as soon as possible, the fishmeal plant completed and the laboratory provided in that area. It can now be seen that provision is made for these matters in this Estimate and I can assure the House that no time will be lost in carrying out this work.

In so far as the Cahirciveen project is concerned, on the occasion of my visit to that district, very strong representations were made to me to lose no time in having the fish handling premises at Cahirciveen completed. It was, indeed, as the result of the representations made to me that the board has now decided to have this work completed. I can assure Deputy Flynn that every one of the representations that have been made to me with regard to Cromane will receive the most sympathetic consideration of the officials of the Department, of the Minister and of myself.

When I visited Cromane I was accompanied by the Deputies of the constituency; Deputy Flynn was there and I asked if any fisherman had any reasons or any proposals to make and that I would listen attentively to everything said. I said I was very anxious to hear any grievance that the fishermen might have and that I would do what I could to comply with their wishes. I was given an assurance that everything was running very smoothly and that there was no grievance of any kind. If there was a grievance, or if any grievances have now arisen, I want to assure Deputy Flynn and the fishermen associated with the project that the knob of my office door is in their hands. I am always prepared to meet and consult with the fishermen and if there is anything I can do to solve their problems that will be done.

I do not intend to deal very fully with the question of the salmon levy as I feel that the Minister has covered that ground fully. Although Deputy Bartley has stated that no representations [1019] were ever made to him, from any of the interested parties, that the salmon levy was a burden on them I cannot say that that has been the case so far as I am concerned. On the occasion of my first visit to County Kerry I was approached, even at Cromane, with a view to having the levy removed. Representations were again made to me in Cork, and further representations were made from Donegal, I think from the Teeling district. As a matter of fact the records of the Department show that, from the time I took office, I had many communications on the matter by way of letter and otherwise. I met a deputation at Baltimore, in Cork, in which the view was placed before me that one of the principal grievances of the fishermen was the question of the salmon levy and they asked that I consider having it abolished. I feel that the levy should never have been there and I am glad that it was abolished.

I am very glad that we should have such a favourable report to make with regard to the activities in the boatyards. I visited Meevagh, and Baltimore, and the boatyard of Messrs. Tyrell and Sons at Arklow recently, and it gave me great pleasure to discover that all the boatyards in this country are working overtime; that there is a record number employed at boat building and that there are more apprentices now to carry on the boat-building industry. It is a welcome change because, in the week in which I took office, I was approached by a certain concern to say that they had no orders in hand and that, in Arklow, men were about to lose their jobs. A welcome change has taken place in the incidence of employment in the boat-building trade and I hope and trust that that change will continue.

I do not wish to say very much more except to express my thanks to Deputies for their co-operation and to assure them that the points they have raised will be very sympathetically considered.

Mr. Bartley:  Will the Parliamentary Secretary tell us what the price of salmon was during the 1954 season as compared with the 1953 season?

[1020]Mr. O. Flanagan:  There was a slight drop I know from one season to another but I cannot actually tell the Deputy what it was. I will find out and let him know.

Mr. Bartley:  When the Parliamentary Secretary is getting that information he might be able to find out how the export price during 1954 compared with the export price during 1953.

Mr. O. Flanagan:  I will find out.

Mr. Bartley:  There is just one other question. I pointed out that I had not the advantage of scanning the Parliamentary Secretary's statement but the question I wish to raise is about the contribution to the salmon research station of £1,000. There is another contribution with regard to salmon stock of £300. Can the Parliamentary Secretary tell us what is proposed to be done under each of these headings?

Mr. Dillon:  It is extremely difficult to give an exact description under the two headings but I can say that it impinges in no way on the authority or jurisdiction of boards of conservators. It is a long term research programme and enters a field of knowledge not studied anywhere else in the world—that is the life history and environmental condition of salmon in Irish rivers in order to state what means might be employed to improve the head of salmon in our rivers. It is purely a programme of research. It would be true to say that, in so far as people might expect an early result in this field of research, no such early returns can be anticipated. It is purely a research job.

Mr. Bartley:  Has the personnel of the trust been selected?

Mr. Dillon:  Yes. I think Mr. Rushe represents the Government and there is also Dr. Went who is technical adviser to the Fisheries Section of the Department of Agriculture. The Deputy can take it it is an enterprise of pure research and nothing else.

An Ceann Comhairle:  There was a motion to refer this Estimate back, in the name of Deputy Bartley.

[1021]Mr. Bartley:  In view of the tone of the debate, while I am not satisfied that sufficient money is made available for the protection of our fisheries, I will not force the House to a vote.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Vote put and agreed to.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. Corish):  I move:—

That a sum not exceeding £340,000 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1956, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Minister for Social Welfare.

There are three Estimates for my Department. The first one, that for the Office of the Minister for Social Welfare, deals with salaries and other administration expenses. The second, the Estimate for social insurance, provides for the Exchequer contribution in connection with insurance benefits, and the third, the Estimate for social assistance, provides the amounts required to pay old age and blind pensions, widows' and orphans' non-contributory pensions, unemployment assistance, children's allowances and certain other services such as school meals and blind welfare. The net total of the three Estimates is £20,855,500. I should mention that the estimated cost of the increases in the rates of old age and blind pensions and widows' non-contributory pensions, operative from the 29th July, is not included in these Estimates. Provision will be made for these increases in a Supplementary Estimate which will be introduced before the end of the financial year.

The net amount of the Estimate for the Office of the Minister for Social Welfare is £510,000. This is a decrease of £13,050 as compared with the net provision in last year's Vote. The decrease is mainly due to an increase in Appropriations-in-Aid in respect of costs of administration of the insurance scheme which are recoverable from the Social Insurance Fund.

[1022] Deputies may remember that when I was introducing this Estimate last year I was able to point to a reduction in the amount required for salaries of £24,347 and a reduction in the number of staff of no fewer than 144. In the Estimate for the preceding year, 1953-54 the cost of salaries was reduced by £21,308 and the number of staff by 90. In view of these reductions in cost and number of staff and others which have been made since the setting up of my Department in 1947, there is not now the same scope for economy as there formerly was. Nevertheless there has been in this year's Estimate a small further reduction of six in the number of staff employed in the Department and the pursuit of economy in administration goes on continuously.

There is a decrease of £34,000 in the Estimate of £2,764,000 for Social Insurance as compared with the Vote for the previous year. This is mainly attributable to a reduction of £30,000 in the provision for payment to the Social Insurance Fund. This payment represents the amount by which the income of the fund is estimated to fall short of its expenditure in 1955-56.

It is estimated that the cost in the current financial year of the various insurance benefits and of their administration will be £8,373,000 approximately. This is made up as follows:—

£
Disability Benefit 3,042,000
Unemployment Benefit 2,373,000
Widows' and Orphans' Contributory Pensions 1,491,000
Treatment Benefits 229,000
Maternity Benefits 110,000
Marriage Grant 77,000
Administration Costs 1,051,000

The income of the fund in 1955-56 is estimated at £5,641,000 made up as follows:—Income from contributions, £5,106,000; income from investments, £535,000. The difference between the expenditure figure of £8,373,000 and the income figure of £5,641,000 is £2,732,000 to which £2,000 has to be added as the amount due from the Exchequer in respect of late payments under the former insurance schemes.

[1023] The figures I have just quoted differ only slightly from the corresponding figures of actual expenditure and income in the year ending 31st March, 1955, and it is expected that it will in future be possible to estimate fairly accurately the amount required under this Vote to balance the expenditure and income of the Social Insurance Fund. This was not possible in the first years of the fund's existence owing to the radical changes effected by the Social Welfare Act, 1952.

The net provision for social assistance, estimated at £17,581,500, is £213,900 less than the corresponding provision for last year. This is mainly due to a reduction of £339,000 in the Estimate for unemployment assistance offset by increases in the Estimates for children's allowances, widows' and orphans' non-contributory pensions and other services. The provisions in this Estimate for old age pensions and widows' and orphans' non-contributory pensions do not cover the cost of the increases in these pensions from the 29th July. This extra cost will, as I stated earlier, be provided for by a Supplementary Estimate.

The decrease of £339,000 in the provision for unemployment assistance as compared with the Vote for last year is attributable in part to the downward trend in the numbers on the live register and in part to the fact that the amount estimated for unemployment assistance in 1954-55 exceeded the amount required by £285,000. This excess was mainly due to the fact that persons who had hitherto relied on employment assistance qualified to an unexpected and unforeseeable extent for unemployment benefit under the Social Welfare Act, 1952. In consequence expenditure on unemployment benefit was higher last year than had been expected, while, as I have stated, expenditure on unemployment assistance was less than expected. In this connection Deputies will remember that agricultural workers who formerly had to depend on unemployment assistance when unemployed became entitled under the Social Welfare Act, 1952, to unemployment benefit.

[1024] The increase of £120,000 in the provision for children's allowance is due to a continuing rise in the number of children eligible for allowances under the scheme.

Seosamh Ó Cinnéide:  Ba mhaith liom ar dtús cur síos a dhéanamh ar úsáid na Gaeilge san oifig seo. Oifig nua í, suite mar atá sí in Áras Mhic Dhiarmada. Nuair a bhí mise im Rúnaí Parlaiminte rinne mé iarracht cúis na Gaeilge a chur ar aghaidh san oifig agus d'éirigh go maith liom freisin. Tionóladh cupla cruinniú nó trí de na daoine a bhí ag obair san oifig agus bhí dul ar aghaidh maith déanta againn i gcúis na teangan nuair d'fhág mise an post. Is é mo thuairim go bhfuil an spéis chéanna ag an Aire anois sa gcás. Tá baint ag an Roinn seo le gach uile cheantar agus paróiste sa tír; tá baint aici leis na fir oibre agus na mná oibre agus bfhéidir leis a lán dea-oibre a dhéanamh i gcúis na Gaeilge.

I am sure the present Minister will pursue the efforts we laid in the short time we were in the office of the Department of Social Welfare in spreading the use of Irish in this Department. No Department of State has more intimate contact with the people in their daily lives than has this Department. Its activities extend to every parish, every townland and every locality and a lot of work could be done for the cause. We all have the common duty of undoing the results of conquest not alone socially but nationally and culturally. Before I left the post of Parliamentary Secretary, I suggested that in some simple things we could help the propagation of the use of Irish especially in the payment of cheques. I was met on that point by the responsible officials who said that, as far as the Gaeltacht was concerned, they would do their best to operate such a scheme.

I would like the Minister to look further into this matter because in my county we pay the roadmen and officials by cheques completely in Irish and there is no difficulty at all about it. I do not see why the Department of Social Welfare, with a Minister [1025] sympathetic to the cause of the Irish language, should not do the same. Furthermore, in offices up and down the country, we could have as many signs as possible in the Irish language. That is very well done in Donegal and could be done to a great extent in other offices. I know I am pushing an open door and I will not stress the matter further beyond saying that the Department of Social Welfare is much more in touch with people than any other Department. Their agents have to go into every townland even more frequently than Gardaí.

That brings me to a pet subject of mine, the decentralisation of this office. I would ask the Minister what progress has been made in relation to the establishment of an office in Galway. If he pushes that scheme forward he can do a great deal for the cause of the Irish language because that office could be made a Gaelic-speaking office. It would deal with the payment of the children's allowances and various other social welfare schemes that were visualised when I was in the office.

Again, I should like to know what progress has been made in Ballina, Westport, Tralee and other places in regard to new offices. The Minister is not sole boss in this matter. He has to wait for the Board of Works plans and they are slow but I am sure that during the past year some progress was made in these particular places.

In co-operation with the Department of Agriculture and the municipal authorities, a great deal could be done to centralise the various social welfare schemes in these offices. They could be on the lines of the hotel-de-ville. A person seeking an old age pension or national health benefit or unemployment insurance could go to that central place and make application. In the case of a town in the West, one part of the Department's activity was administered from an old church. The national health section of the Department was up on a hill. For old age pension purposes, the office was on the quays. In order to give good service to these applicants, the people who need it most, it is necessary to centralise as much as possible. [1026] At home, in my own place, they are building a new dispensary. It is only a small town and I got them to agree to the idea of giving the man in charge of the labour exchange an office there. He has agreed to take it. They are also putting the library there. I suggested, and I think the manager has approved, that a room should be allocated to the home assistance officers and another large room to the local agricultural instructor, where he could meet farmers and give them advice and directions. If that idea were carried out, the people would know where to apply for the various benefits. There would be one central place.

Our nearest approach to that is in Athlone, where the post office and the Department of Social Welfare and the Garda Station are in very well built buildings grouped near the church—it is not a cathedral but a very large church on the Connaught side of the bridge.

I am sorry I was not here for the beginning of the Minister's statement. I waited here in vain for four hours last night thinking the Minister would get in. I want to refer to the administration of national health insurance.

Mr. J. Brennan:  On a point of order. Is it in order for a Deputy to read a paper during an important debate like this? A Labour Deputy is reading a paper when the debate on the Estimate for the Department of Social Welfare is in progress.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  It is not in order to read newspapers in the House except for the purpose of reference.

Mr. Kennedy:  He probably was reading about the circular in Wexford.

Mr. O'Leary:  I was looking for something in it.

Mr. Kennedy:  I was referring to the administration of national health. This has always been a difficult problem in the Department of Social Welfare. Formerly it was under Local Government or someone else. I often asked myself, when I was over there, was there too much of a bottle-neck.

[1027]Mr. O'Sullivan:  As objection has been taken to a Deputy on this side reading a paper, I would say that we have noticed, from time to time, that Deputies on the opposite side have done so and we have refrained from drawing attention to the fact. Umbrage cannot be taken if we draw attention to any further instance of it in future.

Mr. O'Leary:  I was trying to find some previous references by Deputy Kennedy.

Mr. O'Sullivan:  Attention will be drawn to such an occurrence in future.

Mr. Kennedy:  I am being frequently interrupted in my speech and I protest against interruptions. I want to make my speech. I was dealing with national health when I was interrupted. Delays are still frequent. I understand the Minister is paying particular attention to this matter but, nevertheless, there are undue delays. I came across a case the other day where a man who was very seriously ill had sent in seven certificates. It is not the only case. When I was over there I often consulted the Minister who was over me if it would speed up matters if there were some system of payment from the offices such as there is in the case of unemployment insurance and unemployment assistance. There has been a move on, a proper move, to get the national health officer into the labour exchange. Could we go a bit further and have payments made from the labour exchange or sent out from it instead of everything having to go to Dublin? All certificates, whether they come from Tory Island or Valentia or anywhere else, must go to Dublin and be sent back again.

I have referred already to the centralisation of various activities in one office. It is purely a Cork matter but the Cork people will pardon me if I refer to it. I understand the Cork Corporation are erecting a very fine building to house all their scattered offices.

Mr. A. Barry:  The county council.

Mr. Kennedy:  Could there not be co-operation between the Government [1028] and the corporation to get in the second largest city in the State a building that would take in both Government and municipal offices? It might be a very desirable thing. No matter what opinions may be held in this connection I contend that, ultimately, there would be a saving in the construction of these central buildings. Very often a hired building does not lend itself to the services that are supposed to be given by the Department of Social Welfare. I remember being in Ballina. Old persons had to climb a flight of stairs to the second storey to see the social welfare officer in connection with their claim to the old age pension. That is very hard on aged people. I have just mentioned that instance to indicate that I believe offices specially constructed, such as the ones in Waterford or Kilkenny, for the purpose of administering the Social Welfare Act are most desirable. These are points that strike me in connection with this Vote. As there are other Deputies here who are well acquainted with the whole matter of social welfare, I will not delay the House any longer.

Mr. James Tully:  Social welfare covers a very wide field but I do not propose to delay the House by discussing it in detail. I have only a few points to make but I think they are very important.

Deputy Kennedy has just referred to the question of the payment of people who are out sick and drawing disability benefit. I would ask the Minister to give special attention to this matter. While here in Dublin, in the central office, any claims or business sent in are dealt with very expeditiously the same is not true of local agents. I am sorry to say that in rural Ireland it is not uncommon to find a local agent (1) holding on to a certificate until it suits him to send it in with a number of others and (2) when payment is made through him, sending it along to the person, who very often needs it urgently, only when it suits him to call to that district and in some cases he is apparently too lazy to go to the post office to post it. I suppose every Deputy in the House has the same experience as I have in this connection. Speaking for myself, I can [1029] say I get, on an average, two or three complaints per week about people who are ill. They have sent in certificates and have not received their social welfare benefits, as they should have. It is not an uncommon thing to find five, six and seven weeks passing by.

Another matter which I should like to refer to is that quite a number of those officers—many of them only temporary —seem to imagine they are a law unto themselves. To put it mildly, they are anything but courteous to the people who are unfortunate enough to have certificates or claims sent through them. These may be exceptional cases but they do arise. On several occasions I had to bring matters to the notice of the Minister and of the senior officers. I think some disciplinary action should be taken against people in minor offices who—if they are in bad humour—try to take it out on some unfortunate person who is depending on a few shillings from the State to live.

I want to speak now about something which happened several times in the past few years and that is the question of amalgamating two or more areas under one local office. In country districts we sometimes find that when a local officer retires or is dismissed— it occasionally happens—the Department, in their wisdom or otherwise, decide to amalgamate two or more areas under one local office. Perhaps it is a saving to the Exchequer but I do not believe it would be very much of a saving. The result is that people have to travel ten, 11, and in one instance 12 miles, to the local office to seek information or to collect money due to them but which had not been sent out. The Department will have to do something about this matter. I can see no good reason why it should be necessary that local offices should be so spaced that people cannot easily reach them.

Deputy Kennedy referred to the question of paying through the labour exchange. I do not think that is feasible at all. In the past few years —maybe it has not been so bad for the past 12 months—the labour exchanges have had quite enough to do without adding this extra burden. It is easy [1030] to say that there is an office there and that the staff are trained in the work and that, therefore, the Government should be able to work this out properly. It just does not work out that way. It is vitally necessary that somebody who is appointed a local officer should be in a position to see to it that the money sent for somebody who is ill will reach that person in the shortest possible time.

I come now to the question of old age pensions. We have the position that where somebody is in possession of a farm not exceeding £30 valuation he can legally transfer that farm to a member of the family for the purpose of qualifying for an old age pension. The income from that farm is sometimes very high. Does it not seem ridiculous that, while the owner of a farm can do that, a farm labourer who is working on the farm for, say, £4 10s. a week and whose wife is over 70 years of age has his wife debarred from drawing the old age pension because his income is more than that allowed under the Act? I think there is something wrong in that.

I feel the Minister's Department should look into the whole question because, unless something is done about it, this will continue. Over the years we shall have the position that people such as that farm labourer's wife—people who, having worked all their lives, are entitled to have this little bit extra at the end of their days —are debarred because of the fact that the husband is drawing in excess of £4 a week. It may be argued that they have lived all their life on the wages they are getting and that, therefore, they do not require anything extra. Surely the same is true of the person who was in possession of the farm and who transferred it in order to qualify for the old age pension?

The conditions under which the old age pension is given or rather not given to many people are far too strict. I honestly believe there should be some more laxity in the regulations because if there is a strict regulation in regard to anything in this country it is on the calculation in respect of the old age pension. Cases arise of persons who have a very slight income being [1031] deprived of receiving the full pension because of that slight income. We have also the position in which people who have worked all their lives for a small pension from the local council or from the State find themselves debarred because they have such an income.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.

Donnchadh Ó Briain:  asked the Taoiseach if he will state, in respect of each complete list of items entering into the calculation of the consumer price index, the ratio of the national average retail price of each item at mid-May, 1955, to its national average retail price at mid-August, 1953.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach (Mr. O'Sullivan):  I propose, with the permission of the Ceann Comhairle, to circulate in the Official Report a statement giving the desired information.

Following is the statement:—

RATIO of the price of each item entering into the Consumer Price Index at mid-May, 1955 to its price at mid-August, 1953

Item Price in May, 1955 divided by price in Aug., 1953
FOOD:
Beef 1.16902
Mutton 1.05808
Bacon and pigs' heads 0.96683
Ham, uncooked 0.97984
Ham, cooked 0.93299
Rashers, streaky 0.94697
Fresh pork shoulder 1.02231
Pork sausages 0.91596
Boiling fowl 1.10565
Kippered herring 1.00072
Fresh herring 1.03940
Whiting 1.07400
Cod steak 0.98798
Tinned salmon 1.09356
Eggs, 1st grade, hen* 0.86847
Butter, creamery 0.90000
Butter, farmers' 0.91722
[1032]Margarine 1.00000
Cheese 1.02193
Lard 1.17237
Fresh milk* 1.00105
Condensed milk, Irish full cream 0.99288
Bread 0.94809
Household flour 0.92825
Cake 0.97279
Oatmeal 1.08071
Rice 0.82035
Semolina 1.02543
Potatoes* 1.46344
Cabbage 1.54048
Onions 1.08128
Carrots 1.67415
Dried peas 1.03944
Cooking apples 1.37688
Oranges 0.93221
Tomatoes 1.21115
Sultanas 0.89273
Tinned pears 0.98870
Tinned beans in tomato sauce 0.82354
Tea 1.02140
Coffee 1.10245
Cocoa 1.19313
Cornflour 0.95111
Custard powder 0.97872
Sugar, white granulated 1.00000
Salt (table) 0.99292
Mustard 0.94363
Jam 0.99195
Sauce 1.00410
Boiled sweets 1.00676
Bars of chocolate 1.01448
Biscuits 1.02523
Jellies 0.99116
Soft drinks 1.02638
Breakfast cereals 0.97802
Other groceries 1.02715
FUEL AND LIGHT:
Candles 1.03532
Paraffin oil 0.99184
Coal 1.05885
Gas 0.99952
Turf 1.06694
Firewood blocks 1.02716
Electricity 1.00000
HOUSING:
Rent and rates of rented dwellings 1.06638
Rates of owner occupied dwellings 1.07582
Repair and decoration of all dwellings 0.99021
CLOTHING:
Men's—
Suits 0.99454
Overcoats 1.00892
Cotton raincoats, rubber proofed 1.01235
Wool gaberdine raincoats 1.02260
Sports coats 0.99269
Flannel trousers 1.00504
[1033]Hats 0.99006
Overalls 1.03189
Pullovers (wool, sleeveless) 1.00210
Cotton singlets 0.99267
Woollen vests (short sleeves) 1.01352
Underpants 0.99773
Shirts—collar attached 0.98854
Shirts—tunic, two collars 1.00275
Pyjamas 1.01313
Socks 0.97879
Boys'—
Suits 1.00868
Overcoats 1.00670
Raincoats 0.99665
Woollen jerseys 0.97495
Shirts 1.00622
Woollen stockings 0.99828
Women's—
Light coats 1.00047
Heavy coats 0.98790
Costumes 1.00223
Blouses 1.01202
Skirts 0.98817
Woollen dresses 1.01388
Silk or art silk dresses 0.96888
Cotton dresses 1.00657
Hats 0.99652
Gloves 1.02626
Cardigans 1.00996
Slips 0.96876
Brassieres 0.99856
Corsets 1.00430
Knickers 0.99865
Vests 0.98325
Nightdresses 1.01083
Stockings—nylon—fully fashioned 0.95496
Stockings—lisle 0.99462
Girls'—
Overcoats 0.99740
Cotton frocks 0.97410
Woollen frocks 1.03265
Stockings 0.98058
Cotton piece goods 0.99478
Woollen piece goods 0.99654
Knitting wool 1.02564
Men's boots 1.01428
Men's shoes, leather sole 1.01962
Boys' boots 1.01082
Boys' shoes 1.03264
Wellington boots 0.91584
Women's shoes 1.02355
Girls' shoes 1.02117
Children's sandals 1.01708
Men's rubber boots 0.90608
Other clothing 1.00185
SUNDRIES:
Beer and ale 1.00285
Stout, bottled 1.00000
Stout, draught 1.00342
Whiskey 1.00000
Cigarettes 1.00000
Tobacco 1.00000
Wire mattresses 0.98060
[1034]Spring interior mattresses 1.00068
Fibre mattresses 0.99512
Kitchen chairs 1.00496
Kitchen tables 0.97675
Three piece suites, upholstered 1.00493
Bedroom suites 0.99658
Radios 0.98056
Carpets 0.98878
Linoleum 0.95564
Doormats 0.98325
Blankets 1.03405
Sheets 1.00314
Curtain materials 0.98891
Hand-towels 0.96253
Dishcloths 0.98088
Cutlery 1.01873
Crockery, undecorated whitewear 1.00000
Tumblers 0.96926
Saucepans, aluminium 0.97628
Galvanised buckets 0.97515
Sweeping brushes 0.95820
Scrubbing brushes 0.98493
Electric irons 0.95694
Electric lamp bulbs 0.97206
Non-electric appliances 1.03801
Soap, household 1.00000
Soap, toilet 1.00000
Soap powder 1.01612
Scouring powder 1.05263
Boot polish 1.00000
Floor polish 1.01461
Toothpaste 0.98665
Toilet paper 0.98028
Razor blades 1.00598
Face powder 0.98745
Lipstick 1.00286
Medicines 1.02161
Matches 1.00000
Writing pads 0.99256
Packets of envelopes 1.00000
Bicycles 0.98480
Cycle tyres 1.02856
Admission to cinemas 1.05335
Admission to football matches 1.05000
Admission to dances 1.05910
Shoe repairs 1.02715
Men's hairdressing 1.03278
Women's hairdressing 1.00358
Dry cleaning— Men's clothing 0.97204
Women's clothing 0.97372
Motor cars and motor cycles 0.99520
Train fares 1.00000
Bus fares 1.00000
Other travelling 1.00795
Papers and magazines 1.00000
Postage 1.00000
Telephone 1.13332
Education 1.02748
Domestic service 1.06373
Hotel expenses 1.02780

*Corrected for seasonality.

[1035]Mr. Dunne:  asked the Taoiseach if he will state, in respect of each of the last five years, the amount of money exported from the Republic in respect of motion pictures produced in (a) Hollywood, U.S.A., and (b) England.

Mr. O'Sullivan:  The total estimated amounts paid for rental of cinematograph films in each of the years 1950 to 1954 are as follows:—

1950 £607,000
1951 £657,000
1952 £668,000
1953 £712,000
1954 £832,000

It is not possible to segregate this expenditure in the categories requested by the Deputy.

Mr. O'Malley:  asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce whether the promoters have yet intimated to the Industrial Development Authority where the proposed oil refinery will be located, and, if not, when it is expected that a decision will be reached; what will be the position of companies not taking part in the project; and whether the project will have the effect of decreasing or increasing the price of the products.

Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. Norton):  I hope to be in a position to make an announcement in the course of the next few days regarding the location of the proposed oil refinery. As to the position of the companies not taking part in the project and the prices to be charged for the products of the refinery, I have not yet received the definitive proposals for the establishment of the refinery and I am not, therefore, in a position to make a statement on these matters. The Deputy may rest assured, however, that in the examination of the proposals care will be taken to safeguard the interests both of the companies concerned and the consumer.

Liam Mac Cuinneagáin:  asked the [1036] Minister for Industry and Commerce if he will state, in respect of employees of the Lough Swilly Railway Company, (a) the number who became redundant since the closing of the railway, (b) the amount of compensation paid, or to be paid, to them, (c) the average number of years' service of each, (d) the sum allowed towards compensation of redundant staff on the sale of the Letterkenny section by the Office of Public Works to the company, and (e) the number of staff who became redundant on that section.

Mr. Norton:  I assume that the question relates to the Buncrana-Bridge End and Tooban Junction-Letterkenny lines on which train services were terminated in 1953.

(a) Thirteen men have become redundant since these lines were closed. A number of men are still in the employment of the company and will become redundant later.

(b) Annual sums totalling £350 per annum are paid to seven men who had five years' service or more on the railway; gratuities totalling £703 have been paid to six men who had less than five years' service.

(c) The average length of service of the men already redundant was nine years.

(d) The sum allowed towards compensation of redundant staff on the sale of the Letterkenny section was £9,150.

(e) Seven workers have already become redundant on the Letterkenny section, while a further five still in employment will become redundant later.

It has not been possible within the time available to confirm all of the foregoing information with the company. I will communicate with the Deputy in the course of the next few days, if any amendment is necessary.

Mr. Cunningham:  There are two questions I want to ask, arising out of the Minister's reply. The first is in respect of the men who will at a later date become redundant. Is the Minister aware that, after 8th August next, any men who become redundant will [1037] not, under the terms of one of the Railway Acts, be entitled to any payment? Is that not a serious matter, so far as these men are concerned? The second question is in respect of the amount of compensation. In the Letterkenny area, a sum of £13,000 was deducted from the price paid so that these men could be compensated and I understand from the Minister's reply that only £9,000 has been used. What will become of the remainder?

Mr. Norton:  The Deputy will appreciate, first, that he has not given the required period of notice in respect of this question, but, to convenience the Deputy, I made special efforts to give him all the information he asked for in the question. He has now raised two new questions, neither of which was put in this question. If the Deputy wants information on these two points, I will endeavour to have it supplied to him, but it will have to be done by letter. I have already answered the question which, as I say, did not comply with the normal period of notice. However, I will still endeavour to get the Deputy the information he asks for. I could have got it for him if he had embodied what he now asks in the question which he submitted.

Mr. Cunningham:  This is a matter on which I do not want to score any points. It is something which is really important and this was the last week available to me before the expiry of the two years' statutory period. There is is something there which I should like the Minister to look into. He has stated in his reply that a number of these men will become redundant, but the important point is whether they become redundant before or after 8th August.

Mr. Norton:  I will have the matter specially examined.

Mr. Kenneally:  asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he will make immediate representations to C.I.E. to operate an auxiliary bus service between Waterford and Tramore in an effort to prevent a reoccurrence of the undue delays and [1038] chaotic conditions which prevailed on Sunday last because of the inadequacy of the existing diesel rail service to cope with the number wishing to travel.

Mr. Norton:  The responsibility for providing adequate public transport rests on the Board of C.I.E. Accordingly any representations the Deputy may have to make in this matter should be made direct to C.I.E.

Mr. Kenneally:  Is the Minister aware that, while thousands of people were waiting for hours to be carried to Tramore, there were 16 buses lying idle between the Waterford bus depot and Tramore railway station and that C.I.E. would not put one of them into commission?

Mr. Norton:  I am not questioning the accuracy of what the Deputy says. What I am doing is explaining to him that, under the statute, I have no power to intervene in these matters. The responsibility for the administration of C.I.E. rests on the board under authority given to it by this House and the Deputy could make more effectual representations if he took the matter up with C.I.E.

Mrs. Lynch:  asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he is aware that coal merchants in Dublin have increased the price of coal by 13/- per ton; if this increase has been recommended by the Prices Advisory Body and sanctioned by him; and if he will explain how this increase came into operation without any official announcement in advance.

Mr. Norton:  An increase of 12/6 a ton in coal prices generally was announced by the Dublin coal trade to come into force on 1st May, 1955, following on an increase in the f.o.b. cost of coal from Great Britain and an increase in freight costs. I directed that the whole question of coal prices should be the subject of a public inquiry by the Prices Advisory Body. The body has submitted a recommendation to me and the matter is under consideration.

[1039]Mr. MacBride:  Can the Minister say what is the differential between the price charged for coal in Ireland and the price charged in England?

Mr. Norton:  I could not do it accurately without some notice.

Mr. Donegan:  asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce how many wheaten meal millers, who have not yet milled 60 per cent. of their quotas for the cereal year ending 1st September, did not mill their full quotas during the last five cereal years; and what proportion of their quotas was milled by those millers during those years.

Mr. Norton:  The 28th May, 1955, is the latest date up to which returns have been furnished by all wheaten meal millers. Up to that date, 32 wheaten meal millers had not yet milled 60 per cent. of their quotas in the current cereal year. Of these, 30 failed to mill their full quotas during the last five cereal years. Over that period, the proportion of their quotas milled by these 30 millers varied from 0.6 per cent. to 88 per cent.

Mr. Donegan:  asked the Minister for Education when tenders will be invited for the building of Stabannon School, County Louth.

Minister for Education (General Mulcahy):  The working drawings and specification in respect of the proposed new national school at Stabannon, County Louth, have been completed by the Commissioners of Public Works. Copies of the working drawings will be forwarded without delay to the Louth County Council for their approval. As soon as the approval of the county council is received, the Commissioners of Public Works will be in a position to invite tenders.

Mr. Donegan:  asked the Minister for Education when tenders will be invited for the building of Mell School, Drogheda.

General Mulcahy:  I regret that I am [1040] not in a position to say precisely when tenders will be invited for the erection of the new national school at Mell, Drogheda, but I understand from the Commissioners of Public Works that working drawings and specification are in course of preparation and will be completed within a short time. The commissioners will then proceed to invite tenders.

Mr. P.J. Burke:  asked the Minister for Education when it is proposed to build a new national school in Brittas, County Dublin, to replace the existing school which is in a very bad condition.

General Mulcahy:  My Department has sanctioned a grant for the erection of a new national school at Brittas, County Dublin, and the case has been referred to the Office of Public Works for the preparation of plans and the completion of the other preliminary arrangements which require to be made before work may be started on the erection of the building. Because of the very large amount of school building work which the commissioners have in hands at present, it is not possible to say how soon the stage will be reached when actual building work will be commenced.

Mr. P.J. Burke:  Is the Minister aware that this school is in a shocking condition and will he try to get the matter expedited?

General Mulcahy:  The position with regard to this school has been having my attention for quite a long time and I am happy to note that the position with regard to having an adequate and big enough site has been satisfactorily overcome. Nothing will be left undone to expedite the matter.

Mr. Davern:  asked the Minister for Lands whether the Land Commission have considered the propriety of acquiring the estate of Colonel Gregg, Ballyknockane, Kilsheelan, Clonmel, for division among the smallholders, landless men and cottiers in the area, and, if so, with what result.

[1041]Minister for Lands (Mr. Blowick):  The Land Commission have considered the question of resuming this holding and have decided to take no action in the matter.

Mr. Davern:  Is the Minister aware that the lands in question are owned by a gentleman who held a commission in the North of Ireland as officer commanding the B Specials in Omagh? In the interests of goodwill and peace, would the Minister say if he would reconsider the question of acquiring these lands on the slopes of Slievenamon mountain and hand them over to the people with the best right to them?

Mr. Blowick:  The question of acquiring lands is not a matter for the Minister. It is one of the expected matters in the Act, reserved to the Land Commissioners themselves. They have examined this particular case very thoroughly for a considerable time past and have decided not to acquire them.

General Mulcahy:  What does the Deputy mean by goodwill and peace?

Mr. Davern:  Let the Minister come down and find out for himself.

General Mulcahy:  What does the Deputy mean by goodwill and peace?

Mr. Davern:  You take his side and you will find out soon.

General Mulcahy:  It is very doubtful who is taking that gentleman's side.

Mr. Davern:  I am not taking his side, I can assure the Minister.

Mrs. O'Carroll:  asked the Minister for Justice whether he has yet reached a decision in regard to the issue of open-necked tunics and shirts to prison officials, and, if not, if he will state the reasons for the delay; further, for what period this proposal has been under consideration.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. Corish) (for the Minister for Justice):  I have approved of the issue of open-necked tunics. This decision will be [1042] communicated to the Prison Officers' Association at a meeting of the departmental council under the Civil Service conciliation and arbitration scheme which will be held before the end of this month.

Mr. Davern:  asked the Minister for Agriculture whether he has yet received the report of the Milk Costings Commission and what is the present position in the matter.

Minister for Agriculture (Mr. Dillon):  The answer to the first part of the Deputy's question is “No”. As regards the second part, I am not in a position to add anything to the full statement which I made to the House on the matter on 26th May, in the course of my reply to the debate on the Vote for my Department.

Messrs. Donegan:  and Hughes asked the Minister for Agriculture what is the position with regard to the market for the coming season's crop of feeding barley.

Mr. Dillon:  I have had discussions regarding a market for home-grown feeding barley of the 1955 crop with various organisations representative of farmers, including the National Farmers' Association, Macra na Feirme, the Beet Growers' Association and others.

I also had consultations with representatives of the principal buyers of feeding barley, who have assured me that they will purchase all the feeding barley on offer at a price of not less than 40/- per barrel delivered for grain in good sound condition and suitable for grinding into feed.

I am arranging to restrict sales of imported grain to such extent as may be necessary to provide an outlet for such quantity of home-grown feeding barley as may come on the market.

While I am satisfied that a market will be available for all feeding barley offered, I would point out that it is in the growers' interest not to “rush” deliveries but to market the crop in an orderly way so as to facilitate handling [1043] and storage of all grain to be marketed this season.

I still believe, however, that growers in a position to do so can get the best returns for their barley by feeding it to live stock on their own farms.

I would like to add to that answer that, owing to the proximity of the recess, I have not had the customary long notice for it. If there is any aspect of that question I have not covered, I would be grateful to the Deputy if he would ask a supplementary question on it.

Liam Mac Cuinneagáin:  asked the Minister for Agriculture whether iron spikes have been fixed in certain stretches of the River Foyle by the Foyle Fishery Commission, and, if so, why; whether the spikes are a danger to boats on the river, and whether warning notices have been erected.

Mr. Dillon:  I am informed by the commission that stakes have been fixed in the river bed as a measure of protection against illegal net fishing in certain waters in the upper reaches of the River Foyle which are closed to net fishing under regulations made by the commission and which have been often raided by poachers. The maximum projection above the bed of the river is two feet and there is a minimum clearance of four feet at low water above the top of any stake. The commission is satisfied that where the stakes are located they do not constitute any danger to boats and warning notices have not accordingly been erected.

Mr. Cunningham:  Is the Minister aware that in the present very dry spell the level of the river is much lower than normal and that there is danger for boats which are not on illegal business bound in passing over these places?

Mr. Dillon:  I am sure the Deputy will appreciate that there is a considerable number of nocturnal peripatetic persons who would be very grateful for notices indicating clearly [1044] where these stakes are placed. The purpose is to put the stakes where they do not expect to find them. The Deputy may rest assured that the subject is kept under constant review so as to ensure that, whatever the level of the water is, they constitute no menace to legitimate traffic on those waters.

Mr. T. Byrne:  asked the Minister for Defence if he will state the recommendations made by the board of officers which was appointed in 1950 to survey the position arising from the shortage of houses available for married soldiers, and what steps have been taken to implement the recommendations.

Minister for Defence (General MacEoin):  The recommendations of the board of officers appointed in 1950 to survey the position arising from the shortage of houses for married soldiers are for departmental use only and I regret that I cannot make them available. I can assure the Deputy, however, that all possible steps are being taken to meet the shortage which undoubtedly exists.

A scheme of 88 houses at Blackhorse Avenue, Dublin, is nearing completion and proposals for the initiation of further schemes at military posts outside the Dublin area are at present under active consideration.

Mr. O'Malley:  asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs why it is not possible to send telegrams from many sub-post offices throughout the country.

Minister for Posts and Telegraphs (Mr. Keyes):  The acceptance of telegrams at sub-post offices involves certain additional expenditure which is not warranted if the telegraph traffic is very light. However, with the virtual completion of the scheme for providing a telephone in every rural sub-post office, it is now possible to send a telegram from practically all such non-telegraph sub-post offices by telephoning the message to the nearest telegraph office.

[1045]Mr. T. Byrne:  asked the Minister for External Affairs whether any action has yet been taken in regard to the proposals contained in paragraph 328 of the majority report of the Commission on Emigration and other Population Problems; and whether he is prepared to allocate a grant from State funds for the establishment of a social bureau in Great Britain to look after the welfare of our emigrants.

Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Cosgrave):  The question of providing safeguards against dangers to the welfare of young persons emigrating to Great Britain is, among other matters, at present the subject of detailed study by my Department in conjunction with the other Departments concerned. The recommendations of the commission on emigration are being given due consideration in the course of this examination. Until this study is completed I cannot give a decision on the matter.

Mr. Donegan:  asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider taking such steps as are necessary to provide on Aer Lingus planes tax-free beer, spirits and cigarettes for travellers en route, as are provided by British and continental airlines.

Minister for Finance (Mr. Sweetman):  Aircraft bound for places other than Great Britain and the Isle of Man are granted the same facilities by the Irish customs in regard to duty-free stores as are granted by the British customs. In the case of aircraft flying between Britain and this country, however, duty-free stores are not allowed nor are they allowed by the British authorities. The same position holds as regards ships. I am not satisfied the circumstances warrant an alteration of the present practice.

Mr. Davern:  asked the Minister for Finance when it is proposed to carry out a survey of the River Suir with a view to removing obstructions which are responsible for serious flooding.

[1046]Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance (Mr. Donnellan):  As I indicated in reply to a previous similar question by the Deputy, works of the nature referred to would fall to be undertaken by the Commissioners of Public Works only as part of a comprehensive drainage scheme under the Arterial Drainage Act, 1945. I am not in a position to say when a survey of the River Suir for the purposes of that Act can be carried out.

Mr. Davern:  Would the Parliamentary Secretary say if he will consider the proposal to amend the Arterial Drainage Act, 1945, with a view to having rivers of this kind not done piecemeal?

An Ceann Comhairle:  That is surely a separate question.

Mr. P.J. Burke:  asked the Minister for Finance whether he is aware of the serious flooding of farms and houses adjacent to the Broadmeadow River, Swords, and, if so, when it is proposed to carry out drainage operations there.

Mr. Donnellan:  I cannot at present say when the Broadmeadow catchment area is likely to be reached in the arterial drainage programme.

Mr. P.J. Burke:  Could the Parliamentary Secretary state what the priority is?

Mr. Donnellan:  It is not usual to state what the priority position is.

Mr. P.J. Burke:  asked the Minister for Finance when dredging operations will commence in Howth Harbour, and whether the dredger will be left in the harbour until the work has been completed.

Mr. Donnellan:  The intention is to commence dredging operations at Howth Harbour about November next when the Sisyphus will have completed her existing engagements. An extensive programme of dredging at Howth is contemplated; it will be undertaken in sections over a three year period but will not be continuous.

[1047]Mr. P.J. Burke:  It is put back for a few months more.

Mr. O'Malley:  asked the Minister for Local Government whether he is aware of the confusion caused throughout the country at the recent local elections because, in certain cases, up to 60 names appeared on the ballot paper, and that, as a result, the counting of votes was delayed and the cost of the elections greatly increased; and, if so, if he will consider taking such steps as are necessary for the adoption of a more expeditious and less costly system of election; further, if he will consider dividing areas into wards or dispensary districts.

Minister for Local Government (Mr. O'Donnell):  I am not so aware. Large numbers of names appeared on the ballot papers in the Cork, Limerick and Waterford county boroughs each of which forms one electoral area returning 15 or more members. Only in the case of Cork which returns 21 members did the number of names on the ballot papers approach 60. The actual number was 57.

I have not received any representations from the local authorities concerned to have these electoral areas divided. If I do I shall have the matter examined sympathetically. I should point out, however, that legislation would be necessary to divide Limerick. In the case of Cork or Waterford the matter can be dealt with by ministerial Order made on the application of the city council.

Mr. Davern:  asked the Minister for Local Government what is the cause of the delay in having the proposed Fethard regional water supply scheme advertised for tender, and if, in view of the urgent need for water in Killenaule and Drangan, he will take steps to have the work expedited.

Mr. O'Donnell:  The original scheme submitted by the sanitary authority for the supply of water to the Fethard area, including Killenaule and Drangan, [1048] proved on examination to be impracticable, as the proposed sources were not shown to be adequate. Extensive revisions in the design were accordingly required. The revised proposals were approved in principle last month and the sanitary authority have been asked to furnish detailed documents accordingly. When these are received I will have them examined as expeditiously as possible.

Mr. Davern:  asked the Minister for Local Government what is the cause of the delay in advertising for tenders for the proposed extension of the Galtee regional water supply to New Inn, Rockwell and Rosegreen.

Mr. O'Donnell:  I have requested the sanitary authority to submit further information for the purpose of a detailed technical examination of their outline proposals for the provision of this extension. Submission of this information is awaited.

Mr. Davern:  asked the Minister for Local Government whether he is aware of the acute shortage of houses in the Slievardagh mining area, County Tipperary; whether it is proposed to carry out a survey with a view to having a special housing scheme initiated for the villages of Ballingarry, The Commons, and Lisnamarock; whether he has received proposals in the matter from the appropriate authority; and what is the present position.

Mr. O'Donnell:  I understand that the housing position in the Ballingarry dispensary district was recently investigated by Tipperary (S.R.) County Council who are taking steps to acquire sites for cottages to meet housing needs in the district. The extent of the needs and details of the proposals to meet them have not yet been submitted to me by the council.

Mr. Donegan:  asked the Minister for Local Government if he will state the [1049] areas in County Louth for which resolutions deciding to make planning schemes under the Town and Regional Planning Acts have not been adopted.

Mr. O'Donnell:  There are no such areas in County Louth.

Mr. Corry:  asked the Minister for Local Government whether he is aware that tenders have now been received by the consultant to the Youghal Urban Council from three Irish contractors for the reconstruction, without any interruption of traffic, of Youghal bridge; that the average of the three tenders is less than £250,000, which is less than half the cost estimated by the consultants to the Cork County Council and the advisers of his Department; and if, in view of the large saving which would accrue to the ratepayers and the taxpayers by the acceptance of one of these tenders, he will have the decision in the matter reviewed.

Mr. O'Donnell:  I am not aware that the Youghal Urban District Council has any statutory powers, functions or duties in relation to the construction or reconstruction of a bridge to improve road communications between the counties of Cork and Waterford at Youghal, including any power to appoint a consultant engineer to prepare plans and other documents for the purpose of inviting tenders for the reconstruction of the bridge. No such consultant has been appointed with my knowledge or consent. I have no information on the three tenders stated to have been received, save a note of the amounts and the names of three firms given to me by the Deputy. I have no knowledge of the documents upon which any such tenders may have been based, but they could not form the basis of a valid contract.

It was arranged by a joint committee of the county councils of Cork and Waterford, being the road authorities responsible for the road of which Youghal bridge forms part, that the Cork County Council would apply to the Minister for Local Government for a bridge Order for Youghal bridge. An application has been made accordingly [1050] by the Cork County Council. Any representations which the Deputy may wish to make on the matters raised in the question should be made to the Cork County Council and not to me.

Mr. MacBride:  Would the Minister not consider it advisable to refer any information he has in regard to these three tenders to the Cork County Council with the suggestion that they might consider the matter?

Mr. O'Donnell:  As the Deputy is aware, the Minister is endeavouring to denude himself of any dictatorial powers he may have under the various Acts. The Deputy who put down the question is a member of the Cork County Council and I have no doubt he will have the ear of the council and could make any representations to them much better than I could.

Mr. MacBride:  Arising further from the Minister's reply, would the Minister not consider that if there is any foundation for the statement contained in the question that a saving of possibly £150,000 would be effected by reconstructing the existing bridge it would be desirable if the existing bridge were reconstructed?

Mr. O'Donnell:  If the county council put any proposition to me for sanction whereby they would save £150,000 or any sum, provided my technical advisers so advised me, I certainly would consider the matter. But, so far, from the bridge authority, namely Cork County Council, the consultants and engineers they have consulted in the matter, and from the technical advice tendered to me by my Department, I am not at the moment in a position to accept what the Deputy says, namely, that there would or could be a saving of £150,000. If the bridge authorities submit any proposals to me, I will refrain from making a bridge Order pending personal consideration of the matter.

Mr. MacBride:  Can the Minister say, as a result of the representations made to him and of his own investigations in the matter, he does not consider there is certainly a question to be investigated?

[1051]Mr. O'Donnell:  As a result of my own observations, I had the matter re-examined by the technical advisers who see no reason to alter the original decision given by them.

Mr. T. Byrne:  asked the Minister for Health whether an agreement has been arrived at between Stewart's Hospital, Palmerston, County Dublin, and the Dublin Board of Assistance in regard to the admission of patients and children requiring specialised treatment, and, if not, what is the cause of the delay.

Minister for Health (Mr. T.F. O'Higgins):  The difficulties in this matter, which related to the form of agreement to be completed by the two bodies concerned, have been overcome.

Mr. James Tully:  There are two other points I would like to make before concluding. One is in connection with appeals from a decision of the Department of Social Welfare when debarring people who applied for social welfare benefits. At the present time the system is that they are allowed to appeal and are requested, if they so desire, to attend at an office of the Department of Social Welfare so that they can be heard. As a matter of fact, it very often happens that the office where those people are asked to attend is some place where it is almost [1052] impossible for anybody to reach except by car at the hour which is laid down for their attendance.

Let me give an example. Somebody in Oldcastle, County Meath, who appealed against the decision of the Department of Social Welfare, is required to attend at a social welfare office in Mullingar. There is no public service of any kind between Mullingar and Oldcastle. There is a train from Oldcastle in the morning to Drogheda. I can see no good reason why the Department cannot make arrangements so that people who wish to appear to give evidence, when they have submitted an appeal, would be facilitated to the extent that the appeal would be heard at some place where it would not be impossible for them to attend. These people are very often unemployed and they should not be required to travel to places where it would cost them a lot of money to travel.

With regard to the second matter, at the present time there is a regulation whereby somebody whose wife has died and leaves a family of small children can be paid 12/- per week on behalf of a daughter who is over 16 years of age who is minding the children. I am afraid that very many local officers of the Department of Social Welfare do not give that information to such people when they make an application. As a matter of fact, on one or two occasions not only has this information been denied to people but they have been told that there is no such regulation. I brought several cases to the notice of the Minister with the result that the people concerned were paid what they were entitled to be paid. A notice setting out what the people are entitled to get should be sent to the officers of the Department of Social Welfare and that notice should be made available to applicants when they sign on for benefit at any of the local offices.

Mr. MacBride:  I do not propose at the end of this session to delay the House for long. I simply rose to make an appeal to the Minister for Social Welfare to take a special interest in the training of sightless people. I know the Department has already done [1053] a considerable amount of useful work in that direction. I would appeal to the Minister to see what way the existing training facilities for blind people could be employed. Quite apart from the normal sympathy one would have with people deprived of their sight, it should be borne in mind that these people are capable in every other respect of working and are anxious to have an opportunity to earn their own livelihood and serve the community generally. Many of them have been trained for various occupations and have proved extremely successful. My only purpose in rising, therefore, to-day was to ask the Minister to take this particular question under his wing particularly and to devote as much personal attention as he can to the problem. It occurred to me, too, that possibly the Minister could use his position and influence in the Government to ensure that whenever there are blind people who had been trained even as telephonists or as typists their services should be availed of by Government Departments generally. A number of them, I think, are already employed in different telephone exchanges and have proved quite successful. I feel that the Minister could render valuable service to these people who are already undergoing a tremendous disability in life by ensuring that whenever they are trained an opportunity would be made available to them either as telephonists or typists in Government Departments.

Mr. Davern:  I am sorry that Deputies took advantage of the Estimate to make attacks on officials who are not able to reply. I, like everybody else with long experience, have many complaints, perhaps, but before making any charge against officials concerned I always try to find out whether it was their fault or not, and I am quite satisfied that 90 per cent. of the charges or allegations of undue delay either in presenting claims or in forwarding cheques are entirely due to the negligence of the insured people. It is quite true that all insured people have been educated in the past 20 years to a very considerable extent, but we have not come to the end of the road yet and we have insured [1054] people withholding their cards, withholding information as to where they worked and many other matters of that kind, with the result that their cards are not in order and there is a delay and the delay is 90 per cent. due to their own negligence. That is my long experience.

I am not going to condone in any way any charges against either the Department or the Minister or the agents with regard to these alleged delays. As I said, we have been educated quite a lot—and our insured people have been educated—but there are many steps of the road to be followed yet, and I say that in the case of one section of the community in particular, that is the people in casual employment, though their cards are franked for them in the period during which they are in receipt of unemployment assistance or national health benefit, there are other periods in which no such provision is made for them with the result that they are in arrears. I would like the Minister to consider seriously the reintroduction of the old arrears cards. There was no safer safeguard that I know of to ensure that insured people would not be without benefit or that they would not allow periods to go by when they would get into arrears, than the old arrears card that was issued every October or November. I think many of our people benefited extensively by them and I would ask the Minister to reintroduce them, if possible, or at least to consider the question, because I think it is well worth considering.

We have another section of the community, and that is the old spinsters who were never really in insurable employment, or perhaps, should I say, there was never any contract of service whereby they would be insurable. When they come to the age of 60, they are no longer of any use to their employers and if they have not a charitable relative the institution seems to be the only place for them. I would like the Minister to consider them in future legislation. I think they represent a section of the community that have been overlooked up to now. It is not a very large section. They have gone beyond the market age for marriageable purposes and many of them [1055] find it difficult, perhaps, to bring themselves down to draw home assistance or reliefs of that kind but if there was some other fund such as the National Health Insurance for them, I think it would be a very good thing.

Mr. James Tully:  Start a lonely hearts' club for them.

Mr. Davern:  We could try it and see how they would get on. Deputy Tully referred to the means test applying to workers in employment and again to people who transferred their farms under a valuation of £30 and it is not quite fair to say that they can transfer to anybody—it must be a son or daughter.

Mr. James Tully:  I said that.

Mr. Davern:  But the spirit behind that is very good. I could advance many arguments against it, too, but the spirit behind it is good and I do not think the Minister should ever alter it because we have had up to recent years the son of 40 who is still “a gossoon” and the daughter of 35 who is still “the little girl”. We have got away from that stage and we do not want any return to it. I think there was an amendment to the old age pensions code back in 1932 and again, I think, in 1952. These did a good deal towards enticing old people to transfer their holdings to their sons at a time when they were of marriageable age and not keep them waiting for the period to come when they would qualify for the old age pension themselves.

As I said when speaking on the Budget, I would like to see the question of old age pensions which are now costing the country I think almost £10,000,000 divorced completely from politics and if we are ever able to do that in the lifetime of the present Dáil I think we shall have many valuable contributions here towards allaying the misery of many of our own people. I suggest that the Minister instead of doing away with the means test should add a further schedule to it that would be for, say, £26 for those with no means whatever, and I would increase [1056] the pensions substantially. I do not think any other section of the community would need any apology for that because the person who has to depend solely on an old age pension, whose means would not exceed £26, would deserve from the Government of the day and from everybody else the greatest consideration possible.

I know there are great difficulties about this. On one side of the road you have the prosperous farmer, and because he is prosperous, he is able to get his children married and he is able to pay the legal expenses to get his farm transferred. Being in good financial circumstances, naturally his sons are an attraction for many of the good-looking girls of the neighbourhood.

On the other side of the road you have perhaps a small farmer with seven or eight cows, and because he is not in good circumstances or has not been able to make a general family settlement, he cannot qualify for the pension, although there are four or five in the family and the financial position is anything but good. That man has not been able to make any provision for his family because of the small acreage he holds. You find cases of that sort all over, and if someone could find a remedy for them I am sure he would get a very good welcome from the Minister.

I seriously suggest to the Minister that he should consider the position of those people who have to depend entirely for their existence on the old age pension. They have no other income, either in cash or in kind, so that if the Minister were to increase their pensions, I think it would meet with the full approval of everyone in the country.

In regard to National Health Insurance, we have advanced many leagues, and I think that the provision we are making is as good as that made by any other country in the world, that is considering the means at our disposal. There are, however, a few little snags in connection with this service. People go out of insurance for no good reason that one can see or their employment may cease. Then they become ill and they continue to send in certificates, but [1057] these certificates will not qualify them for benefit unless they are able to resume work for a certain number of weeks. These cases, I admit, are very rare, but there should be some way found of remedying that situation. Lastly, we have had complaints in regard to the period within which a woman must notify her marriage with a view to obtaining benefit. I know of one case where the lady concerned got seriously ill. She was not able to notify the local agent of her marriage. Unfortunately, when she did go to do so she went on the wrong day as the agent was engaged in his office in the next town. That lady has been deprived of benefit despite the fact that she had a very serious illness and was in hospital for several months. I think that, where a bona fide case of that sort is put to the Minister, he ought to extend the period within which a married woman can claim her marriage allowance.

Mr. McQuillan:  I propose, first of all, to say a few words about social services generally. I think that we can look forward to great things as far as the old age pensioner, the widow and all those in these categories are concerned, as a result of the fact that we have a member of the Labour Party now occupying the responsible position of Minister for Social Welfare. Under recent changes made by the present Government, the new old age pension amounts to 24/- per week. Great play has been made of this supposedly generous increase by the various Parties which comprise the present Government. I know, however, that the Labour Party, as a Party, are not satisfied, and cannot be satisfied, that the sum of 24/- per week is sufficient for that neglected section of our community.

I know that I cannot be challenged on that statement. If I can give proof here that members of the most conservative Party in this House, the Fine Gael Party, feel that the sum of 24/- a week is not sufficient, then I have no doubt whatever that the present Minister will have the staunch backing of the Fine Gael Party for any proposed further increase that he intends to make for the old age pensioners.

[1058] There is a Deputy in this House who is described as lecturer in economic theory. That is Deputy John O'Donovan. He is a man who has the ear of the Government. I understand that he is one of their key advisers in economic matters. On Tuesday last, Deputy O'Donovan gave a lecture at the summer school which was being held in U.C.D. In the course of his lecture to the students attending that summer course, he referred to the social services in Ireland, and he stated, according to the report which appeared in the Irish Times of Wednesday, 13th inst., that, “the social services were at a modest level and that the new old age pension of 24/- a week was just equal in purchasing power to 10/- per week before the war”.

That statement was made by one of the most responsible members of the present Government. We know that he belongs to a confessedly conservative Party. In view of that fact, surely, there will be no difficulty now in the progressive members of this Government ensuring that the progressive policy they have with regard to social services will be put into operation at the earliest possible opportunity. I will be looking forward with interest to the proceedings in the next 12 months in this regard, and I feel sure that we can depend on the present Minister doing whatever is possible for that section of our community—the old people, the widows and the orphans.

There is one other matter that I wish to refer to. I must say at the outset that I regret very much having to refer to it here, but, unfortunately, there is no other means at my disposal for exposing what I consider to be the very grave injustice that was perpetrated recently by the Department of Social Welfare. It was in connection with the appointment of an individual to the post of temporary local agent in the Roscommon area. Some time ago, rather than discuss the matter publicly in this House, I informed the Minister personally of the situation as I found it in connection with this appointment. The Minister at the time was non-committal but he agreed that I had been [1059] fair about it. I had warned him of the position as I knew it and I told him it was my intention to have the matter raised in this House.

Briefly, the position is this. Last October the then local agent retired in Roscommon and it became necessary to appoint somebody in his place. As far as I am personally concerned, the Minister and his Department know that I made no recommendation on behalf of any candidate. Although I am the public representative that is closest to the situation and I was approached by several people to make recommendations on their behalf, I refused to do so because my belief was that a fair decision would be made. However, I can assure the House that my eyes were opened when I saw what really did happen.

The former occupant of this post retired and on 1st October an official— I will not mention the names of any civil servants involved—from the Agency Section of the Department of Social Welfare called to a Mr. O'Doherty who is the local branch manager of the labour exchange. This official asked Mr. O'Doherty would he be prepared to take over the agency duties following the resignation of the former occupant of the post. Mr. O'Doherty intimated that he was willing to take over the duties of local agent in order to oblige and facilitate the Department of Social Welfare. As a matter of fact Mr. O'Doherty, who is an officer on the Reserve of our Army, volunteered to forego his annual training period for that purpose.

As a result of this invitation to accept the post Mr. O'Doherty applied on the 1st October, 1954, to be appointed. He received a communication from the establishment branch on the 20th of the same month in which he was informed that the Minister was prepared to offer him the appointment. The record of that is: establishment 121/54. The letter continued that if he was prepared to accept the appointment he should inform the Department of his decision. Mr. O'Doherty wrote back on the 21st October notifying the Department of his willingness to accept [1060] the post. Two days afterwards he received a letter acknowledging receipt of his acceptance of the post and informing him that the appointment would take effect as on and from the 25th October.

On the 27th October, two days after Mr. O'Doherty had received intimation from the Department in connection with his acceptance of the post, an advertisement appeared in the local provincial newspaper, the Roscommon Champion, stating:—

“A vacancy exists for a temporary local agent for the dispensary district, Roscommon, Athleague and Ballyleague. Applicants must be resident in the area and in a position to supply a suitable office in Roscommon.”

Note that fact: “In a position to supply a suitable office in Roscommon.”

“Applications received after the 11th December will not be entertained. Particulars of the duties and salary will be supplied on application to the Secretary, Department of Social Welfare.”

Mr. O'Doherty, having seen that in the local newspaper, could not understand what had happened and, in order to safeguard his own position, on the 29th October he repeated his application of the 21st. In the second application he pointed out that due to the information given to him in a former letter of the Department he had gone to the expense of purchasing a small car to enable him to carry out his extra duties as a local agent. Nothing happened as far as the appointment was concerned until the 7th February, when Mr. O'Doherty received a letter from the Department notifying him that an interview for the post would be held in a certain hotel in Roscommon. The date of the interview would be the 14th February, 1955. He attended that interview, as did a number of others. The interview consisted of officers of the Department of Social Welfare.

Mr. O'Doherty is a man of 43 years of age and he was asked in the course of the interview did he not consider, at the age of 43, that it would be better if a younger man was appointed. I understand from Mr. [1061] O'Doherty that he was very emphatic in his statement that he felt that as an Army officer on the Reserve and as a temporary branch manager he was young enough, able enough and healthy enough to carry out the duties of local agent as well. I emphasise the necessity of taking note of the fact that he was asked in connection with his age whether it would be a disadvantage if he was appointed.

That is all that happened as far as Mr. O'Doherty was concerned. He was still carrying on the job which he had got used to and in which he had got experience. He heard nothing further and he still held the post until the 4th May. On that date he received this document purporting to come from the Department of Social Welfare. I will deal with the document first. When I saw this I could not believe for some time that a document like that would issue from the Department of Social Welfare. Generally in any document coming from a Department the address is on the right-hand side. In this document the address is typed on the left-hand side. I will read it. It is from the Department of Social Welfare, Establishment Branch and is addressed: Mr. H.D. O'Doherty, Branch Manager, Branch Employment Office, Roscommon:—

“I have to inform you that Mr. Joseph Galvin, Mount Talbot, Roscommon, has been appointed local agent to the vacancy at Roscommon and will assume duty on 9 Bealtaine, 1955. Your services on agency duties, therefore, will terminate on 7 Bealtaine, 1955, and it will be necessary for you to have records, files, etc., ready for transfer to Inspector ‘So-and-so’ on 9 Bealtaine, 1955.”

Now, he received that communication on 4th May, 1955, telling him that he must hand over all documents on 7th May, 1955. This was a temporary appointment; all these appointments are of a temporary nature but, in the letter appointing him to the post, certain matters were mentioned and one of them was:—

“This appointment, which is on a temporary basis, will—[1062] (1) be terminable on one week's notice in writing by either side to be given at any time without cause assigned.”

Note the one week's notice! As far as this unfortunate man was concerned, he did not even get the courtesy of one week's notice. The letter which he received from the Department on 4th May is dated 3rd May and and he is told in that to hand over on 7th May, having held the post in a temporary capacity from the previous October and carried out his duties in an efficient and able manner. That is the courtesy he received—three days' notice.

That is only part of the picture. I want to make two cases on this. First of all I want to make the case in connection with this man, Mr. O'Doherty, who acted in a very able manner for a temporary period and then I want to make another case in connection with another applicant. There can be no objection, as far as the Department of Social Welfare is concerned, to combining the two offices of temporary branch manager and local agent. I have gone to the trouble of investigating the position in many exchanges. In the following areas the posts of local agent and branch manager are combined: Kenmare, Carlow, Kilrush, Cavan, Youghal, Bantry, Castletownbere, Athy, Portarlington, Thomastown, Rathdowney. These are only some of them. Evidently it was, or is becoming, departmental policy to combine, where possible, these two appointments in order to achieve greater efficiency.

Some people may say that one job is sufficient for any man. Let us remember that the appointment as branch manager was a temporary appointment and the total amount of remuneration paid to Mr. O'Doherty was the sum of £410. There was no other allowance of any description. Out of the £410 he had to provide an office and the necessary staff, and he had to be constantly on duty. Therefore, no one could say that he was overpaid if he was allowed to hold both appointments.

I regret having to raise this matter. [1063] I pointed out that one of the questions the interview board asked Mr. O'Doherty was: Did he not consider that at the age of 43 he was a little bit ripe, shall we say, for the post? I very much regret that politics entered into this appointment in no uncertain fashion. I have often in the past criticised appointments where I believed they were made on a political basis and I shall continue to do so irrespective of what Party my criticism may affect. As a result of that interview an individual was appointed who will be 60 years of age next November. His main qualification for the post was the fact that for the last seven to nine years he has been the leading organiser of the Fine Gael Party in the constituency. As an individual, I like him; I have nothing against him personally. I think he is an upright man, but I deplore the fact that his main qualification for this post was a purely political one and I want the Minister to-day to produce for us here the results of that interview board and the place that this individual got. I challenge the Minister to tell me he got first place.

I do not blame the Minister personally. I think that the Minister was, to put it very bluntly, codded by a little backroom section of the old Tory-Fine Gael Party in Roscommon town which pulled a fast one. It is a well-known fact that Mr. O'Doherty's father was the most prominent Fianna Fáil supporter in the town and this bunch of coconuts disliked him intensely. They waited many years for an opportunity to get a rap at him and, when they could not get a rap at him, they got it at his son—a man who never took any active part in politics, a man who was a member of the Defence Forces, first in the Volunteer Force from 1935 onwards and right through the emergency; he was released from service on 22nd June, 1946, and the reference from his commanding officer stated that he carried out his duties very satisfactorily, proving himself a reliable and hard-working officer of temperate habits: “His conduct throughout his service has been exemplary.”

In case the Minister in referring to [1064] this matter might feel like saying that the successful applicant had more qualifications other than being merely an organiser for Fine Gael, let me hasten to say that the successful applicant was also a member of the Defence Forces, and a very good member of the Defence Forces. I want to know is there any policy in the Department of Social Welfare to enable a young man to get the chance of a livelihood in this country. I understood that Labour Party policy envisaged retirement, gratuities and pensions at the age of 65. I also understood that it was their policy that where there was an opportunity of providing a livelihood for a young man he should get first preference.

Mr. O'Leary:  The Deputy said the job was a temporary one. There would be no pension.

Mr. James Tully:  What is the job worth?

Mr. McQuillan:  I will ask the House to forget about Mr. O'Doherty. I mention this case in order to show that he was, in my opinion, a man eminently suitable for the appointment and I believe that public opinion was that he could not be beaten in any interview board. As I said, a number of people were interviewed. It would be very interesting if we could get the results of that interview board and see the particular place each individual got at that board, because it is a very important thing to have in the public mind a feeling of confidence that an interview board means something and that it is just not a cover or a smoke-screen to be put up in order to go through the formalities. We find that the holding of this interview in Roscommon in connection with this appointment was purely a waste of time and so we find in the public mind the opinion that all these interviews are just a cover. That is the seriousness of matters of this kind.

There was another applicant for this job. If the people in this House felt that Mr. O'Doherty was not entitled to the appointment as local agent they had more applicants to choose from [1065] who had all the qualifications necessary to carry out the work. They had much more deserving applicants than the man appointed.

From time to time I have asked questions in this House as to Government policy in connection with the rehabilitation of people who were unfortunate enough to suffer from T.B. Some weeks ago I put down a question specially to the Minister for Health regarding the Government policy in connection with persons who suffered from T.B. and I asked what provision was made for them in connection with employment. In the course of his reply on the Estimate for the Department of Health the Minister referred to my remarks on this subject and in Volume 151, column 1565, he states:—

“A number of Deputies referred to the problem of rehabilitation. I hope to be able to make an announcement with regard to that in the near future. As I indicated in my statement, we are establishing a national body and this body will be charged with the duty of examining what facilities are needed and working out a policy for rehabilitation. It will aim at providing these unfortunate incapacitated people with some form of employment and some means of earning their daily bread in the same way as everybody else. Accordingly, a scheme of that kind and work of that kind will need co-operation from employers and employees ... I think a Deputy mentioned that the Government could do a lot. I entirely agree with that. I think that in the Government services there will be a possibility of absorbing many of our disabled citizens, but that will not be sufficient if the large industrial employers cannot or are not able or willing to provide employment and help in the problem of resettlement.”

The Minister for Health made it quite clear that, as far as he was concerned, priority would be given to ex-T.B. patients where they were suitable and could be employed and he actually made a plea to big business and the trade unions and the industrial concerns to do what they could. He said that the Government services could not absorb all the ex-T.B. patients in [1066] employment and he asked non-State bodies to do what they could.

The Minister for Social Welfare is in close co-operation with the Minister for Health. The two Departments were, up to recently, under the one Minister. What is the position here? In this very appointment in Roscommon town one of the applicants had spent two years in Castlerea sanitorium. He is now in his own home in Roscommon. He has an office available to carry out the work and the transport to bring him wherever it is necessary for him to go in the course of his business. What happened when this man went before the interview board? Did he get the appointment? There was no question of that man being a Fianna Fáil supporter.

I think that the Minister for Social Welfare was not made completely aware of the position, and I think that it was my duty to raise that matter here in this House. It may sound a small matter to Deputies who are not familiar with the locality, but I think there is a principle involved. If a Government states that it is going to do all in its power to relieve the anxieties of people who suffer from T.B., and if the Minister for Health states that every effort would be made to absorb these people into Government employment where possible how can that policy be reconciled with the case of the Department of Social Welfare appointing a man almost 60 years of age to the post of local agent while a T.B. patient was there, able and fit and capable of carrying out correctly and efficiently the functions of local agent? That is all I have to ask, and I hope that the Minister in his reply will deal with it.

As far as the individual who has been appointed is concerned I have nothing against him personally, but I can say to the Minister that the information he has was from a little group of people who are anxious to get their own back, after a number of years, on Mr. O'Doherty's folk for their activities in the political field against the Fine Gael Party. The Minister was never made aware of that, and I am only sorry that I did not intervene much earlier so that he might know what was liable to happen behind the scenes. If the [1067] Minister had known I am certain that this appointment would never have been made.

I would like to ask, at this stage, that, since the appointment is a temporary one, the Minister might have the matter reconsidered. Whether the period of the appointment is for the next few weeks or otherwise there will be a question raised with regard to the office accommodation that has been made available in the town by the present holder of the position.

Mr. Corish:  I think it would be appropriate that I should deal with the question raised by Deputy McQuillan in the course of his speech. I do not know whether or not, and I do not say this against either Deputy McQuillan or the aggrieved person, but I do not know if Deputy McQuillan has been briefed by Mr. O'Doherty. If he has been briefed, I think, in his own interests, that Mr. O'Doherty is acting in a very wrong way. He is an official of the Department of Social Welfare and I think that, in fairness to himself and to me and to the officials of the Department, he should have brought the complaint, in the first instance, to the appropriate officers.

One of his complaints is that he received a notice which he interpreted as being a notice that he was appointed to this particular office and that subsequently he saw an advertisement in the papers inviting applications for the position of local agent. Surely at that stage it was up to Mr. O'Doherty to make his official complaint. If he believed that the notice he had received was to the effect that he had secured the position, then, when he saw the advertisement in the papers, surely at that stage it was up to him to make a complaint either to the establishment officer, or, if he liked, to me directly.

I am not aware of or concerned with any branch of a Tory group or Fine Gael group in the town of Roscommon. As a matter of fact, I have never heard of them before. It is true to say that Deputy McQuillan came to me some time ago and mentioned this to me. He said that he was warning me that he was going to raise this matter [1068] by way of question and answer, and I must say I waited for Deputy McQuillan to table the question. I am glad he raised it here to-day, but he does not seem to have any objection to the particular gentleman who got the position. He is a bit dubious about his age, but I am perfectly satisfied, and I think Deputy McQuillan will agree, that even though he is 60 he is perfectly capable of carrying out the duties of the position. If his premises are not satisfactory I am sure that my officials will take care of them and will report to me that the premises are not adequate and are not the proper type of premises in which he could administer his particular job.

In respect of the second applicant whom Deputy McQuillan mentioned, the person who was a patient in a sanatorium for two years, I am not aware that this information was included in his application form—at least I do not remember seeing it, though I am not saying that it was not in it.

Mr. McQuillan:  He was asked about it by the interview board.

Mr. Corish:  Whether or not it was reported on the application form or on the official file I am not aware; but the very fact that Mr. O'Doherty was offered this appointment in the first place did not necessarily say that he had a prior claim to it. It has often been the position in the past not alone in respect of branch managers but in respect of different other officials in the Department of Social Welfare to take over these positions for a time until there is somebody appointed.

I do not intend to produce the results of the interview board in this particular case. It is a hackneyed expression for me to use, but it is not the practice. I would adopt the practice if I thought it would be adopted in respect of all other appointments in the State. Possibly Deputy McQuillan would like that course as well, but it has not been the practice, and I do not think it would be fair to do it in respect of this particular appointment. I only want to say that [1069] as far as I am concerned I am not interested in what a man's politics are.

Mr. McQuillan:  I know that.

Mr. Corish:  He could be one of three things in Roscommon. He could not be Labour, because I do not think we have tremendous support in Roscommon, but he could be Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil or Clann na Poblachta which, I believe, is fairly strong there.

Mr. McQuillan:  Not too strong now. It is on the way out.

Mr. Corish:  I want to assure Deputy McQuillan that as far as I am concerned if he believes he was wrongly treated by the Department it is still open to him to make his complaint either through the establishment officer or to me, and if I believe he has a grievance I certainly will undertake to give it my utmost consideration.

Mr. McQuillan:  I am more concerned with the ex-T.B. patient and the principle involved than I am with the other man.

Mr. Corish:  I must confess again that this is the first special indication I had of this person. I do not remember finding under his name that he was a patient in a sanatorium for two years, but again let me say this, that the very fact that he had T.B. would not entitle him to get the first claim on the position. There are other qualifications, as the Deputy is probably aware, such as general education and general ability to do the job.

Mr. McQuillan:  He has a higher standard of education than the man who has the job. That is a well-known fact. He has a secondary school education.

Mr. Corish:  The Deputy will appreciate that I cannot at this stage comment on the different qualities of the applicants by reason of the fact that I have not the file before me.

Mr. McQuillan:  I understand that, and that is the reason why I asked that the question of the interview board should be re-examined.

[1070]Mr. Corish:  In any case let me assure the Deputy or Mr. O'Doherty that if he believes he has a complaint with regard to the treatment he got or the way in which he was appointed I will be pleased if he submits it through his establishment officer, who in turn will come to me.

Mr. McQuillan:  On a point of fact do I take it that there has been a threat issued to me that it is wrong for me to look for this information from the Minister, and a threat through me to Mr. O'Doherty? Is the Minister aware that I went to Mr. O'Doherty and asked him what happened in connection with his interview? I asked each client about the interview and got information from each client. I think it is most unfair and very sinister that a suggestion should be made in this way to threaten the man in a temporary capacity down the country “If you open your mouth without doing it through the regular channel out you go.”

Mr. Corish:  I do not think that anybody in the House could consider my remarks in the manner in which Deputy McQuillan has taken them. I merely said to Deputy McQuillan, and I think it is a fair offer, that if this gentleman believes he has a grievance against me or the officials of the Department I will be pleased if he submits it through the establishment officer of the Department who in turn will transmit it to me.

Deputy Kennedy, who spoke here in connection with the use of Irish in the Department of Social Welfare, described what he had done in order to promote the Irish language. I want to say in the first place that I have not undone anything that he initiated in respect of the promotion of the Irish language, but possibly we may differ as to method. I would hate to slow down the Department of Social Welfare by insisting even in any small degree that certain of the officials should use Irish where I believed it would slow up the work.

I have issued instructions to the establishment officer in the Department of Social Welfare, who in turn asks the officials of the Department to use the Irish language where they can [1071] in ordinary matters such as “Hand me the file”, “Where are you going?”“You are later this morning”, “You are early this morning”, or some small phrases like that. But I do not believe that the Civil Service generally and in my Department is geared up in any great respect to do its job through the medium of the Irish language entirely. It would be difficult even if they were geared up to do their job in the Irish language inasmuch as a very small percentage of the public can do their job through the medium of Irish.

In the filling of forms and the answering of queries there is no evidence as far as I can see that the general public want to do their business through the Irish language. But as I say, within the Civil Service itself and by ordinary means I think we can make some improvements towards the restoration of the language by the use now and again and in a certain mild form of the language by the officials.

Deputy Kennedy also asked what was the position with regard to decentralisation. I am afraid I must confess to Deputy Kennedy that as yet there is no decision, speaking for myself, and I must say that a Government decision has not been taken on this. I am in favour of the principle of decentralisation, but I often wonder why decentralisation should be regarded as being peculiar to the Department of Social Welfare. I certainly would be in favour of sending to some other part of the country —not necessarily Galway—some sections of the Department. I favour that in principle, but I have still got to see how it would work out in practice.

I think that my predecessor, or should I say the previous Government, did also accept the principle of decentralisation, but they too had difficulty, or recognised that they would have difficulty, in trying to transfer, say, the widows' and orphans' pensions section, the old age pensions section or the children's allowances section to some other part of the country. I think that my predecessor and the previous Government were thinking in terms of [1072] Galway. I want to say that I am not wedded, nor is the Government, to the idea of transferring any part of the Department to Galway in particular. If there is to be decentralisation as far as my Department is concerned I am sure every other provincial town in Ireland will be considered.

There is another thing that struck me about decentralisation of the Department of Social Welfare. I think it is true-if not the Minister for Finance may correct me—that we have fairly reasonable accommodation for the Civil Service in Dublin at the present time and I wonder if I were to shift 200 or 300 civil servants from Aras Mhic Dhiarmada what would we do with the accommodation that was left? As it is I think it is a section which is fairly comfortable as far as accommodation is concerned. The Government will consider decentralisation not so much in relation to the Department of Social Welfare but in so far as every other Department in the State is concerned.

Deputy Kennedy asked about the progress being made in the building of new employment exchanges in the West. I should like to tell him and the House that the new employment exchange at Westport is practically completed and will be ready for occupation in the near future. A new exchange is also being built in the West at Ballina, County Mayo. That exchange will be open before the end of the year. In regard to Tralee a site has been obtained for a new employment exchange there and it is expected that the preliminary work will be completed soon and that the work will be started in the near future. I am very concerned, especially realising how it affects my own town, about the need for new employment exchanges all over the country and I shall, as far as I can, try to press the Government to have these provided in the shortest possible time.

Apart from the fact that new exchanges are needed, there is need also I think at the present time, considering the slow down in building operations, to make up that lag and give much necessary employment. I would also like to tell the House that in regard [1073] to Dublin City I am endeavouring to establish branch offices in certain suburbs. I think the House will agree that to have only two employment exchanges in the City of Dublin imposes a hardship on those people who now find themselves living in the suburbs; it is hard and expensive for many workers to have to come from places like Cabra and Ballyfermot into the centre of the city to sign in the employment exchanges and to draw allowances. Therefore, I am considering the establishment of six branch employment exchanges to facilitate workers who find themselves living in the suburbs.

Practically every year, during the debate on this Estimate there are complaints, and justifiable complaints, with regard to the delays in the payment of sickness benefits. As a Deputy and as Minister I have been very concerned about these complaints. I have taken a particular interest in the problem since I assumed office 12 months ago. I think that after that time we can report progress. It may not be evident to many of the Deputies that this is a very difficult problem. The records of the Department show that while there are such complaints, it must be admitted that many of the complaints are not real. A person might go to a Deputy and say that he has been cut off from benefit or that his benefit has been cut down. The Deputy regards that as a mistake made by officials in the Department, but on inquiry it is found that there is a good reason for either the cutting down or the cutting out of benefits; it is governed by the number of stamps a person had in the previous qualifying year.

I have also taken steps to reorganise that section and I think an improvement has been effected. I want to ensure that as few complaints as possible will occur. These complaints do occur not because the staff or the organisation is any worse than in any other sections but the staff has a more difficult job. I would be the first to admit a mistake if it were made, but as Deputy Davern said the insured contributors themselves make mistakes from time to time by failing to get their [1074] employers to stamp their cards or by failing to send in the cards. Some of them who get married fill in their application forms forgetting that they have become married and therefore they get the minimum benefits. When they are filling in their application forms they forget they have wives and children and there may be a few weeks' delay before there is an adjusting payment made to them.

The employers, I might say, are not blameless in this regard either; sometimes they default in sending in the cards at the proper time and sometimes they fail to put on a proper number of stamps. All these things cause delays in the payment of benefits—sickness and disability benefits. It must also be appreciated that 40,000 people are in receipt of these benefits and that accordingly mistakes can easily be made. Again, let me repeat that in so far as it is possible I will try to insist that there will be very few delays in that particular section. Deputy Tully said that there was discourtesy shown by certain officials. I suppose officials in all Departments and many of ourselves are not blameless in that respect but I should like that Deputy Tully, or any other Deputy who has similar complaints, would give me the names of those concerned. I shall have steps taken to see that the complaints are remedied.

Mr. James Tully:  I was talking about local officials.

Mr. Corish:  It does not make any difference. They are employees of the Department of Social Welfare and I would not tolerate discourtesy by any members of the staff of my Department in so far as their relations with the public are concerned. After all they are dealing with a very humble and deserving section of the community—with the type of person more entitled to respect than a lot of other sections. As I have said, if Deputy Tully or any other Deputies have complaints to make let them inform me and I shall have no hesitation in inquiring into them.

Deputy MacBride spoke about the training of blind persons. Again, let me say I have taken a particular interest in the training of blind persons [1075] and their rehabilitation. The officers in the Department have been extremely good in this regard and in the past year a lot of progress has been made. Many of these people have been placed in Government Departments and successful efforts have been made to place many others in private employment. All of these people have been very good employees, in fact in most cases it has been found that their outlook has been as good as that of persons with the faculty of full sight.

Deputy Davern mentioned spinsters. I cannot say much about spinsters at the present time but we all read with interest about a move made by the Italian Government recently when they introduced allowances for spinsters of a certain age. I am afraid I am not in a position at the present time to make any promise about the spinsters although I have the utmost sympathy for them but if we gave them an allowance at a certain age would it not discourage them entirely from ever seeking to marry? There have been complaints about the differentiation between the worker who earned a certain amount—say, £4 10s. a week— and whose wife was over 70 years of age. We had reference made to farmers who had holdings of under £30 valuation.

I do not know if anything can be done in that regard in the immediate future—to try and remedy all the grievances there are in respect of application of the means test. It would cost a colossal amount of money—something like £4,000,000—and while I still agree with the principle of the removal of the means test, if I had £4,000,000 to spend I would prefer to give greater allowances. In any case the application of the means test in regard to farmers whose holdings are under £30 valuation is part of the 1952 Social Welfare Act and were we to do anything it would mean the introduction of amending legislation.

A farmer, say, whose valuation is under £30, for the purpose of getting the old age pension, transfers the farm to his son or daughter and, therefore, qualifies for and receives the pension, but I am afraid many of the farmers [1076] are still the boss on the farm and derive the same income as they did before. I know the idea my predecessor, Deputy Dr. Ryan, had in that and it was very laudable—to encourage the son or daughter to marry —but I think the experience has been or, at least, my experience leads me to believe that in many cases, whilst the transfer is legally effected, these farmers, who are now old age pensioners, still run and control the farm and derive most of the profit from it.

I think it was Deputy Davern who mentioned the hardship it was to a married person who was deprived of the marriage grant because of her failure to notify the marriage. I can say to Deputy Davern that I have sympathy with him in respect of that particular problem, and I think I can say that I will take steps to extend the period during which notification should be made.

These were the main points raised in this debate. I would like to thank the Deputies for the way in which they have discussed the Vote.

Vote put and agreed to.

Mr. Corish:  I move:—

That a sum not exceeding £1,842,670 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1956, for payments to the Social Insurance Fund (No. 14 of 1950 and No. 11 of 1952).

Vote put and agreed to.

Mr. Corish:  I move:—

That a sum not exceeding £11,721,000 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1956, for Old Age Pensions and Pensions to Blind Persons, Children's Allowances, Unemployment Assistance, Widows' and Orphans' Non-Contributory Pensions, [1077] and for Sundry Miscellaneous Social Welfare Services, including Grants.

Vote put and agreed to.

Minister for Finance (Mr. Sweetman):  I move:—

That a sum not exceeding £5,150 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1956, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Secretary to the President, and for certain other Expenses of the President's Establishment (No. 24 of 1938).

The Estimate provision of £7,750 shows an increase of £330 on the amount voted in 1954-55, due to additional provisions of £230 in sub-head A and £100 in sub-head B. Sub-head A refers to salaries, wages and allowances and sub-head B to travelling and incidental expenses.

Vote put and agreed to.

Mr. Sweetman:  I move:—

That a sum not exceeding £149,490 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1956, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Houses of the Oireachtas, including a Grant-in-Aid.

The total Estimate of £225,490 shows a net decrease of £1,910 as compared with the amount provided in 1954-55. The decrease is due mainly to decreases of £2,393 in salaries, wages and allowances of staff on sub-head E owing to certain staff changes, £1,872 in sub-head A, owing to an increase in the number of Deputies who hold office and whose salaries are consequently borne in other Votes, and £900 in the Grant-in-Aid for inter-parliamentary activities.

These decreases are partly offset by increases totalling £3,500 for travelling expenses of Deputies and Senators.

Vote put and agreed to.

[1078]Mr. Sweetman:  I move:—

That a sum not exceeding £85,440 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1956, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Central Statistics Office.

The total Estimate is £128,160 of which £42,720 is included already in the Vote on Account.

The Estimate shows an increase or £25,930 on 1954-55. Staffing costs have increased by £15,350 and travelling expenses have increased by £480. In addition, there are increases of £200 in respect of telegrams and telephones and of £9,900 for special statistical inquiries, which increase is entirely in respect of the national farm survey.

Vote put and agreed to.

Mr. Sweetman:  I move:—

That a sum not exceeding £22,620 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1956, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (No. 1 of 1923).

The Estimate consists almost entirely of staff costs. In fact, the only other item of any consequence is the item for Appropriation-in-Aid, which amounts to £6,300 and which arises from fees receivable for commercial audits of the accounts of State-sponsored enterprises and allied concerns. The Estimate shows a net decrease as compared with 1954-55 of £230.

Vote put and agreed to.

Mr. Sweetman:  I move:—

That a sum not exceeding £108,340 be granted to complete the [1079] sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1956, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Minister for Finance, including the Paymaster-General's Office.

The total net Estimate of £162,340 shows a net decrease of £12,200 as compared with the amount provided in 1954-55. This is mainly due to a net decrease of £11,260 in the amount for salaries, wages and allowances of the Department, including the Paymaster-General's Office.

Vote put and agreed to.

Mr. Sweetman:  I move:—

That a sum not exceeding £1,223,440 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1956, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Revenue Commissioners, including certain other Services administered by that Office.

The net Vote Estimate for 1955-56 shows a decrease of £12,610 as compared with the Estimate for 1954-55. This decrease is mainly due to the decrease in the provision under sub-head G and to an increase in the estimated receipts under sub-head S.

The decrease under sub-head G is in respect of expenditure for plant and machinery in the staffing branch for which it was necessary to provide less this year.

Vote put and agreed to.

Mr. Sweetman:  I move:—

That a sum not exceeding £50 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1956, for Remuneration for the Management of Government Stocks.

[1080] The total Estimate for the year is £43,250 and of this £43,200 has already been included in the Vote on Account. There is an increase of £7,000 this year compared with last year owing to the fact that the aggregate of stocks managed increased in the year from last year.

Vote put and agreed to.

Mr. Sweetman:  I move:—

That a sum not exceeding £16,590 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1956, for the Salaries and Expenses of the State Laboratory.

The total provision of £24,890 represents an increase of £4,640 on the amount provided in 1954-55. The increase is due mainly to the provision of extra staff and to certain improved salary scales.

Vote put and agreed to.

Mr. Sweetman:  I move:—

That a sum not exceeding £18,890 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1956, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Civil Service Commission (No. 5 of 1924 and No. 41 of 1926) and of the Local Appointments Commission (No. 39 of 1926, No. 15 of 1940 and No. 9 of 1946).

There is a net decrease of £610.

Vote put and agreed to.

Mr. Sweetman:  I move:—

That a sum not exceeding £8,300 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1956, for the [1081] Salaries and Expenses of Commissions, Committees and Special Inquiries.

The total provision of £12,500 represents a net decrease of £450 on the amount provided in 1954-55.

Vote put and agreed to.

Mr. Sweetman:  I move:—

That a sum not exceeding £612,330 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1956, for Pensions, Superannuation, Compensation (including Workmen's Compensation), and Additional and other Allowances and Gratuities under the Superannuation Acts, 1834 to 1954, and sundry other Statutes; Extra-Statutory Pensions, Allowances, and Gratuities awarded by the Minister for Finance; fees to Medical Referees and occasional fees to Doctors; Compensation and other Payments in respect of Personal Injuries; etc.

The total net Estimate for Superannuation and Retired Allowances for 1955-56 is £918,330, an increase of £105,300 over last year's original net Estimate or, since a Supplementary Estimate for £50,000 had to be taken during that year, an increase of £55,300 on the net amount finally provided for 1954-55. The increase in expenditure is due mainly to the fact that the number of pensioners continues to grow and also that the proportion of pensioners who have retired on present salary levels is increasing.

Vote put and agreed to.

Mr. Sweetman:  I move:—

That a sum not exceeding £319,000 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1956, for Rates and Contributions in lieu of Rates, etc., in [1082] respect of Government Property, and for Contributions towards Rates on Premises occupied by Representatives of External Governments.

There is an increase of £4,000 on the Estimate for 1954-55.

Vote put and agreed to.

Mr. Sweetman:  I move:—

That a sum not exceeding £5,000 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1956, for Secret Service.

Vote put and agreed to.

Mr. Sweetman:  I move:—

That a sum not exceeding £19,000 be granted to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1956, for Expenses under the Electoral Act, 1923, and the Juries Act, 1927 (No. 12 of 1923 and No. 23 of 1927).

The provision is the same as last year's.

Vote put and agreed to.

Mr. Sweetman:  I move:—

That a sum not exceeding £3,600,989 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1956, for the increase of the Grant to Local Authorities in Relief of Rates on Agricultural Land (No. 35 of 1925; No. 28 of 1931; No. 23 of 1939; No. 36 of 1946; and No. 36 of 1953).

This estimate includes authority for the full amount of the Estimate—for the £4,750,989 less £1,150,000 already voted on account.

Vote put and agreed to.

[1083]Mr. Sweetman:  I move:—

That a sum not exceeding £78,380 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1956, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Attorney-General, etc., and for the Expenses of Criminal Prosecutions and other Law Charges, including a Grant in Relief of certain Expenses payable by Statute out of Local Rates.

The total Estimate shows a net increase of £820 on the previous year.

Vote put and agreed to.

Mr. Sweetman:  I move:—

That a sum not exceeding £269,924 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1956, for Grants to Universities and Colleges, including certain Grants-in-Aid.

This Estimate shows a decrease of £28,850 on the previous year.

Vote put and agreed to.

Mr. Sweetman:  I move:—

That a sum not exceeding £20,670 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1956, for certain Miscellaneous Expenses, including certain Grants-in-Aid, Compensation and other Payments in connection with Injuries to Property (No. 24 of 1941) and payments of Compensation for Death or Personal Injuries.”

The amount shows a decrease of £330 compared with the previous year.

Vote put and agreed to.

Mr. Sweetman:  I move:—

That a sum not exceeding £283,500 be granted to complete the sum [1084] necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1956, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Stationery Office; for Printing and Binding, and the provision of Stationery, Paper, Books, Office Machinery and other Office Supplies for the Public Services; and for sundry Miscellaneous Purposes, including the publication and sale of Reports of Oireachtas Debates, Bills, Acts and Other Government Publications.

The decrease is £45,260.

Vote put and agreed to.

Mr. Sweetman:  I move:—

That a sum not exceeding £45,500 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1956, for the Salaries and Expenses of the General Valuation and Boundary Survey Office, including certain other Services administered by that Office.

This Vote shows an increase of £470 on that for the previous year.

Vote put and agreed to.

Mr. Sweetman:  I move:—

That a sum not exceeding £40,300 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1956, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Ordance Survey and of Minor Services including the Facsimile Reproduction of Ancient Manuscripts.

This shows a decrease of £1,940.

Vote put and agreed to.

The Taoiseach:  I move:—

That a sum not exceeding £18,250 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge [1085] which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1956, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Department of the Taoiseach (No. 16 of 1924; No. 40 of 1937; No. 38 of 1938; and No. 24 of 1947).

Last year, when introducing the Estimate for my Department, I promised to resume in the present year the practice of giving a brief survey of the general economic position of the country, against which the results of Government policy might be evaluated. The present parliamentary year is drawing to a close; the Estimates of the different Departments of State have been subjected to a detailed debate in the House; the present Government has just completed its first year of office: all these circumstances render an economic survey particularly appropriate at this stage.

It is possible this year to give a general survey without a surfeit of figures, as the current statistical survey published by the Central Statistics Office has been available for some time past; this fulfils a promise which I made last year that, if possible, the survey would be published some weeks before the present debate in order that Deputies might have available in a convenient form the statistical background necessary to evaluate the present state of the economy and the extent to which progress has or has not been achieved.

We are, perhaps, inclined to take somewhat for granted the extension of statistical activities and the advance in statistical techniques which have combined to render possible the publication of the Statistical Survey. Certainly, it is much easier to present an economic review when the essential data are not alone available but also conveniently available. There is more involved here than the convenience of the administrator. The prompt publication of important statistical material is essential to the well-informed discussion and criticism of public policy both inside and outside the House.

Economic policy cannot be created in a vacuum of public indifference and apathy and it is essential, therefore, [1086] that the basic economic statistics should be published promptly and regularly, so that those qualified to form and lead public opinion can do so on a firm foundation of fact. It was with the object of strengthening and extending the statistical arm of administration that, when last in office, we arranged for the formation of the Central Statistics Office as a separate unit attached to my Department. This innovation, which, I am glad to note, was continued by the previous Administration, has proved a success and I think I can say, without any exaggeration, that both the Departments of State and the general public have benefited.

The national income statistics, which are, perhaps, the most important set of statistics in the survey, form a natural and convenient starting place for an economic review. If it were necessary to define the economic policy of the Government in a single sentence, it might be expressed as a steady increase in real national income per head of population. If we wish to get down to fundamentals, we must to an extent disregard the changes in national income as measured in current prices and concentrate instead on the trend of real national income, that is, on the flow of goods and services accuring to the country each year. There is unfortunately no internationally agreed method of computing real national income and it is indeed possible to arrive at several somewhat conflicting results by adopting the different methods in vogue. If the national income at current prices is deflated by reference to the price index of personal consumption on goods and services, it will be seen that real national income in 1954 increased by some 2 per cent. over 1953. Real national income, with the significant exception of 1952, has been rising slowly but steadily since the end of the war. It now stands at about 24 per cent. above the pre-war level. An unofficial calculation of national income for the year 1926 indicates that real national income has risen by over 40 per cent. since that year.

Lest we be misled into a false degree of complacency by this record [1087] of progress, it is salutary to point out that it represents an annual rate of growth of some 1.3 per cent.; even if the war years are excluded the annual rate of growth only becomes 1.6 per cent. This rate of growth falls far short of the increases secured in other countries and can only be regarded as disappointing in view of the rapid strides made in productivity, inventions and innovations in the last few decades. This rate of growth falls far short of what is required to solve our interrelated problems of a stationary population, persistent emigration, structural unemployment and underemployment on the land.

It is none the less interesting and instructive to analyse further this rate of growth in order to discover what forms the increase in the standard of living has taken. The expression “standard of living”—or “level of living”, to adopt the U.N. terminology—is a very wide concept, embracing most of the numerous facets of human life. No single index is comprehensive enough to measure it. It is true that per capita real national income is often used as an index, but this approach gives only an approximate and undifferentiated picture. What we are concerned to find out is the detail behind the index—the components which make up the increase. Not all of these components can be measured physically and even when they can, for example in the case of a reduction in working hours, we would have to find out what was done with the increased hours of leisure before being in a position to judge whether the improvement did in fact add to human welfare.

Subject to this reservation, it is instructive to take a quick glance at what might be called the economic indicators of progress in the last 30 odd years. Thus, under the heading of health we might note that in this period the expectation of life increased substantially; for males the increase was over six years and for females nearly nine years. The crude death rate decreased from 14 per 1,000 of the population in 1923 to some 12 in 1954, while in the same period infant mortality [1088] rates per 1,000 live births decreased from 66 to 38. The number of hospital beds, excluding mental hospitals, per 1,000 of the population increased in the last 20 years from less than six to about eight and a half. In accordance with the trend in other countries, the increase in the level of living has not been concentrated in food and nutrition. Our daily calorie intake in 1952 was 3,515, an increase of less than 4 per cent. on the pre-war average, while our daily protein intake actually showed a slight decline. It was in accordance with international trends that the percentage of gross national expenditure at market prices spent on food declined from 30.6 per cent. in 1926 to 25.5 per cent in 1954. This decline has been accompanied by a decline in the resources allocated to total personal consumption of goods and services—from 77.1 per cent. in 1938 to 74.8 per cent. in 1954, and by a small increase in savings which, as a percentage of gross national expenditure, increased from 8.1 per cent. in 1926 to 9.1 per cent. in 1953.

The improvement in the level of living has been particularly evident in the case of housing. Since the State was established, over 250,000 houses have been built or reconstructed. In 1926, the average number of persons per room was 1.19; this had fallen to 1.01 in 1946. The proportion of persons living more than two per room was 27.2 per cent. in 1926; the corresponding 1946 figure was 16.8. In view of the considerable progress made in the housing sector since 1946, we can be sure that the next full census of population will reveal further improvements. These figures, however, still fall far short of the standards reached in other countries.

The first year in which statistics are available of the average number of hours worked per week in all industries is 1937, in which year the number of hours worked per week was 43.9; the corresponding figure for the latest available year viz., 1953, was 45.0. The unemployment percentage was 15 per cent. for 1938—the first year for which the percentage was calculated; the percentage had fallen to 8.1 per cent. by 1954. While these figures are, as I mention later, subject to a number of [1089] reservations and qualifications, they support the general conclusion, that, compared with pre-war, unemployment in the non-agricultural sphere has been almost halved.

In some countries, an increase in the level of living takes the form of an increase in educational facilities. In view of the broadly based system of primary education which we inherited on the establishment of the State, it is hardly surprising that there has been little change under this heading in the last 30 years. We have, however, gone some way towards overtaking the vast arrears in school accommodation and over 1,000 new primary schools have been built since 1922, while an even greater number of major improvements have been carried out. Important advances were secured in the fields of technical, vocational and secondary education. Thus in the case of secondary education the attendance or enrolment expressed as a percentage of the children aged five to 14 years in primary schools increased from 4.9 per cent. in 1926 to 10.8 per cent. in 1953. The number of students enrolled in technical institutions per 100,000 of the population increased from 2,174 in 1926 to 3,052 in 1953.

In many under-developed countries, an increase in the level of living is often accompanied by an improvement in transport facilities; such an improvement is often a condition precedent to an increase in the level of living. In fact, however, the modern Ireland has inherited a road and rail system which in some respects is in excess of current requirements. Its extensiveness provides the country with flexible means of communication, but, as the House knows, the upkeep and modernisation of a railway system designed in the first instance for a much larger population has imposed serious technical, economic and, indeed, social problems on successive Governments. I am happy, however, to be able to report that the prospects for placing our railways on a more satisfactory technical and economic basis are brighter than ever before. And I need hardly remind the House that while a good road system is quite as indispensable [1090] as the railways for our domestic needs as well as for the development of the tourist industry it nevertheless imposes heavy burdens on the Exchequer that require careful consideration on all sides of the House.

We do not need to have regard to any statistics to be aware of the fact that our increased level of living has to an extent taken the form of an increase in the number of motor cars. Between 1938 and 1954 the number of motor cars per 100,000 of the population almost trebled, while there were even greater increases in the case of other mechanically propelled vehicles.

This outline, necessarily brief and incomplete, gives an indication of how we have enjoyed the fruits of the increase in real income since the State was established. The most significant fact is that this increase has not been accompained by an increase in population. It is a sobering thought that if we had been content not to advance beyond the 1926 level of living and if we could have eliminated the non-economic causes of emigration, we could support at present a population some 40 per cent. greater than our actual population. This statement is, of course, subject to many qualifications, but there is no gainsaying the fact that we have been content to divide amongst a stationary population the fruits of a limited annual increase in the flow of goods and services; emigration was the main method by which an acceptable rate of increase in real income per head has been achieved for those that remained.

It is only a myth that the Irish are vanishing; for over a generation the Irish population has remained stationary and, particularly in recent years, has been enjoying a progressively increasing standard of living; but it is salutory to reflect that the increase in total national income would have been spread over a bigger number of people had emigration not taken place. If those who emigrated had remained at home and if it had been possible to engage them in productive work that added real wealth to the national income then their standard of living as well as that of the community as a whole would have increased.

[1091] Instead of engaging in indiscriminate deploring of emigration, we should draw the obvious moral from what has taken place. We must attempt so to arrange our affairs as to make it possible for a growing number of the annual natural increase in population to be employed in productive work at home. For many years a large part of our population was under-employed, in the same way that a large part of our natural resources are still under-employed. By under-employment we mean that persons are engaged in work which does not make the addition to real wealth which their labour would contribute if it were productively and fruitfully employed.

Work in itself has no economic virtue unless it is productive in the sense of creating goods and services which will be of benefit to the workers themselves and to the rest of the community. Work which is economically unproductive may have a social and moral justification, but in the short run at least it is unlikely to increase real national income. It merely means that the existing real national income is distributed over a greater number of people. To make the efforts of labour more fruitful, capital is needed and that is why this country has so much to gain from productive investment. We must direct that investment of capital where it will provide the most useful return. Our agricultural industry is potentially the industry which can give the most spectacular return from new capital.

Later on I shall have some remarks to make about the prospective course of the balance of payments. But this I can say here: unwarranted deficits in balance of payments must always be avoided; but a clear distinction must be made between deficits which are not justified by the current productive efforts of our people and deficits which represent an addition of economically rewarding investment to the productive resources of the community. Improved methods of technical, vocational and agricultural education can also contribute enormously towards increasing the skill of our workers. It is the combination of skilled labour and capital [1092] that in the long run can add most to our real wealth.

Our gratification at the remarkable strides which Irish manufacturing industry has made should not prevent us from examining our achievements in that field with a most critical eye. We must recognise that in many instances the capacity of the Irish market to absorb more home-produced manufactured goods is probably limited and that there may not be great scope for further development unless export markets can be found. In certain cases thanks to the initiative and enterprise of enlightened businessmen, satisfactory export markets are being found. The exploitation of these markets is not going to be an easy task, however rewarding it may be. Where we depend on imported raw materials; where we must include in the cost of our finished product freight charges on these imported raw materials; where in addition we must include the cost of freight charges on the export of the finished commodity, we are obviously adding seriously to the cost at which these finished articles can be sold abroad in markets where they must compete with goods of the same character which can be produced more cheaply.

In saying this, I am not suggesting that there are insurmountable barriers to the development of our export trade in manufactured goods; I am pointing to the difficulties, pointing to the fact that we cannot afford any complacency, pointing to the obvious conclusion that in a highly competitive world the exploitation of new export markets for Irish manufactured goods is not going to be easy of accomplishment. Unless these export markets can be found and developed, the only hope there is of a substantial extension of Irish manufacturing industry will depend on the extent to which we can increase the demand of the home consumer. That can best be done by increasing the prosperity of Irish agriculture. Agriculture is the industry in which we have to a striking degree a comparative advantage. By increasing agricultural production and stimulating agricultural exports, we will be able so to enrich the Irish agricultural [1093] community as to enable it to purchase a growing volume of home-produced, manufactured articles. Our exporters are not going to be daunted by the problems of export markets but their efforts in those directions can be notably supplemented by extending the home market for their goods.

Whatever differences may exist regarding the means, there are practically no differences regarding the end of Government economic and social policy. We are all agreed on the necessity for increasing production as a firm basis for greater employment, the elimination of the economic causes of emigration, the improvement of our social services, etc. Of this many-sided problem there are two aspects in particular which I wish to stress— productivity and investment. It is not sufficient to increase production; productivity must at the same time be increased if we are to secure a market for our increased production both at home and abroad.

This theme of productivity is foremost in current international commentaries; the latest annual report of the O.E.E.C. pointed out that “... today, however, the problem of raising productivity has pre-eminence”. If this can be said of the more advanced industrialised countries, it applies with all the greater force to us and we can be sure that our future as a viable economic unit, capable of sustaining an increasing population at an increasing level of living, will stand or fall according as we succeed in overtaking our arrears in this field. What I am saying is nothing new; the present and previous Ministers for Agriculture and Industry and Commerce have stressed it frequently in the past. In the agricultural sphere an important function of the proposed agricultural institute will be to co-ordinate and intensify agricultural research so as to provide a firm and solid basis for an extension in agricultural production.

As regards industry, the drive for increased productivity must come primarily from private enterprise and can only succeed if employee as well as employer is conscious of the urgency of the problem. The State can, however, [1094] help in a variety of ways. The agreement which we made with the United States Government in regard to the disposition of Grant Counterpart Funds provides for the expenditure of £350,000 on the provision of technical assistance to industry and agriculture. This fund will enable the Government to pay portion, normally one half, of the costs of technical assistance projects. Pending the execution of the necessary sub-agreement with the American authorities, provisions of £42,000 and £15,000 for technical assistance have been included this year in the Votes for the Department of Industry and Commerce and the Department of Agriculture. Technical assistance may take the form of visits to Ireland by foreign experts and visits of Irish industrialists abroad; the technical investigation of manufacturing possibilities in this country; the engaging of industrial consultants, etc.

The Institute for Industrial Research and Standards occupies a central position in the drive for increased productivity but the success which it can achieve will depend on the co-operation of industrialists, both in bringing specific problems to the institute's notice and in adopting the suggestions which the institute may make for their solution. In order that it may become more closely in touch with the problems of industry the institute proposes in the near future, to dispatch some of its scientists and engineers to individual factories so as to learn at first hand the difficulties confronting manufacturers.

It is also proposed to strengthen the institute's facilities by the erection of three research laboratories out of grant counterpart moneys specifically provided for that purpose; the relevant sub-agreement was signed recently. At the request of the Minister for Industry and Commerce and in conjunction with the Industrial Development Authority, the institute is examining the question of setting up in this country a national productivity centre which would work in liaison with the European productivity agency established by O.E.E.C. The establishment of such a centre would bring private enterprise more closely into contact with the stream of European thought on the subject.

[1095] The Irish Management Institute is also doing useful work in this field. Conscious of the importance of technical and other education, the Management Institute has established a joint committee representative of business, the universities and the vocational educational schools to examine the most desirable forms of education and training for management and the best methods for their provision. At the employee-level, the training schemes at present provided by vocational educational schools for a wide range of industries and trades have played an important part in the drive for increased productivity.

Productivity is an elusive concept difficult to isolate and measure. The only available indices in this country relate to the volume of output per wage earner in transportable goods industries. This index, to base 1936=100, stood at about 120 in 1950. After remaining relatively constant for the two following years, the provisional index increased to 133 in 1953 but fell back slightly to 132 in 1954. The rate of increase over pre-war compares favourably with that of other O.E.E.C. countries but our comparatively good showing is due, in part at least, to the fact that our increase was from a relatively low base.

Lest there be any misconception, I should point out that the index, while expressing output per wage earner, does not purport to represent solely the productivity of labour; the increase is attributable to the greater productivity of capital as well as of labour and it should not be forgotten that in the years 1946 to 1952 over £80,000,000 of additional fixed and working capital was injected into the transportable goods industries.

The question of productivity and efficiency raises the issue of tariffs—an issue in which it is only too easy to be misrepresented. There is a broad measure of agreement with the necessity for a regular review of tariffs to ensure that, if moderate tariffs are required for the development of new industries, such tariffs do not constitute a shelter-belt behind which high-cost firms perpetually remain high-cost [1096] firms. The latest O.E.E.C. report contains many references to this problem. While admitting the justification of modern tariffs to protect the development of new industries, the report recognises that it would be economically wasteful to promote forced industrialisation behind high tariff walls.

The report also draws attention to the tendency of tariff systems to spread and harden and to encourage positions of privilege and structural maladjustment. Despite all this, the report frankly recognises that in this field Governments may have a difficult choice to make. The process of tariff review is a slow one but it is important that a start should be made so that industrialists may be under no delusion regarding our determination to use the tariff weapon, not as a feather bed, but as a spring-board for efficient and productive industrialisation. I am sure that this is what efficient and progressive industrialists themselves would desire. A start has already been made and several tariffs have already been referred to the Industrial Development Authority for review.

Another aspect of industrial policy which commands support from all sides of the House is the proposal to encourage actively but within proper safeguards the investment of foreign capital in this country. There is a growing realisation that, in the 20 years which have elapsed since the Control of Manufactures Acts were enacted, conditions and circumstances have so changed as to warrant modifying the rather negative attitude towards foreign capital which is enshrined in the Acts and embarking instead on a more positive policy.

The Minister for Industry and Commerce has already given an indication of the steps taken and proposed to attract foreign capital. We are under no delusions that foreign capital will form a queue for admission into this country. The O.E.E.C. report on private United States investment in Europe and the overseas territories pointed out that “The basic fact is that no great quantities of American capital are just waiting for an invitation from European countries to come over here. If the United States investor [1097] is to cross the Atlantic he will have to be wooed aggressively.” That comment is capable of general application in our circumstances.

What we are all striving for is a high level of investment in this country in which foreign investment would take up any domestic slack. The policy of wealth creation, the policy of raising incomes and standards, to which this Government are committed, requires a high level of capital formation, particularly of productive capital formation. Comparative figures issued by O.E.E.C. illustrate the extent to which our capital formation is deficient. The percentage of our total annual resources devoted to capital formation was 12 per cent. in 1952 compared with an average figure of 18 per cent. for all O.E.E.C. countries. Inadequate as our figure of 12 per cent. is, there are two aspects of it which are disturbing— the extent to which it was not financed by domestic savings and the degree to which it was dominated by State capital investment.

The House is already aware that the latter aspect is the subject of a comprehensive review, and it would be premature to attempt to forecast the conclusions. One thing is clear; if domestic capital formation is inadequate and if the State capital programme is running at a high level, then it would be preferable if the deficiency were made good by the sector. As the extent of the public sector's borrowing in post-war years may have had repercussions on the industrial capital market, the views of the Industrial Credit Company, Limited, have been sought regarding the facilities by which industry obtains capital for development and the improvement, if any, of such facilities which may be necessary or desirable.

Another factor which is revelant in this connection is the amendment of our statute law relating to companies, a question which must be deferred until we have received the report of the committee established in 1951 to review this matter.

Capital investment is one side of a medal the reverse of which is the central problem of economic development, namely, savings. The marked recovery [1098] of savings in the last three years has enabled the level of fixed capital formation to be maintained despite the sharp fall in external disinvestment. The existence of external assets enables us, as it has in the past, to maintain a level of capital formation in excess of that justified by our level of domestic savings, a process which of course cannot be continued indefinitely as our external assets are by no means inexhaustible. It does not require an excess of prudence to arrive at the conclusion that external disinvestment should be regarded as a marginal supplement to savings and that it should be in addition to and not in substitution for such savings.

In most countries the level of private savings is dominated by company savings—a recognition of the well-known fact that on average companies distribute to their shareholders no more than one-half—and often considerably less than one-half—of their taxed income—and the short explanation of our relatively poor showing as regards savings is the relatively small proportion of our national income which accrues to companies. If we look at the personal savings ratio alone—that is the ratio between personal savings and net personal incomes after tax—we find that in recent years our experience has not been discouraging though we still fall short of the very high levels reached in some European countries.

It is disappointing, however, to have to record that personal savings fell in 1954. In 1952 savings expressed as a percentage of national income amounted to 9 per cent. The percentage increased to 13 per cent. in 1953 but fell back to 10.7 per cent. in 1954. The fall was confined to personal savings as there was a slight increase in company savings. The personal savings ratio fell from 10.3 per cent. in 1953 to 8.6 per cent. in 1954. What happened last year was that the entire increment in national income was consumed and more besides; in fact we were able to maintain fixed capital formation only by running down stocks and work in progress, whereas we added to such stocks in 1953.

This process cannot be continued [1099] indefinitely and if we wish to maintain and improve our 1954 level of fixed capital formation, without increasing the existing moderate rate of foreign disinvestment, we will have to recover the savings ground lost last year. If we wish the end of increased investment—not indeed as an end in itself, but as a firm basis for increasing the level of production, employment and incomes—then we must will the means of increased savings. In his Budget speech the Minister for Finance expressed the hope that before the end of the year a more intensive and broadly based campaign would be inaugurated to speed the savings drive. I am sure that every Deputy will wish this campaign God speed.

So far I have not dwelt in any detail on the economic aspects of the immediate past as I thought it better to place such aspects against their long-term background.

The Budget which the Minister for Finance introduced this year has been generally accepted by all Parties in this House and by the country as a complete and comprehensive expression of financial and economic policy. If I am asked to say briefly what our economic policy is, I point to the Budget as a unified and coherent expression of the policy to which this Government is committed. This year's Budget was a clear and unambiguous indication of the Government's determination to finance the services of the State by sound, non-inflationary methods; and to create flexible conditions for the favourable implementation of economic policy. I have long held the view that the annual Budget should be more than a purely financial instrument; it should also be an instrument of economic policy.

The Budget which the Minister for Finance introduced satisfies the severest tests of financial rectitude and at the same time is based on broad and progressive principles. It conferred substantial increases in benefits on important sectors of the community without demanding corresponding increases in taxation. Without any increased rate of taxation per head the Budget increased the benefits per head that [1100] each member of the community derived from the proceeds of taxation.

The relatively favourable outcome of external trade in 1954, evidenced by a reduction of £3.8 million in the import excess of that year, has not been maintained so far in the current year. In the first five months of 1955, though exports and re-exports were £4.4 million greater than in the corresponding period of 1954, imports increased by £11.9 million and the import excess accordingly increased by £7.5 million. A detailed analysis of external trade is available for the first quarter of this year; it shows that compared with the first quarter of 1954 the volume of exports increased by 8½ per cent. but the volume of imports increased by about 12 per cent. The increase in the volume of imports is hardly surprising as it follows a reduction in 1954 which was particularly evident in the latter part of the year and may have, in part, reflected a reaction to rising import prices.

It is not surprising to find, from the national income statistics, that the volume of stocks and work in progress was reduced by some £5,000,000 at the end of 1954 and it may be that the increase in the volume of imports in the current year was the result of industrial restocking. The analysis of imports for the March quarter of this year shows that materials for industry and agriculture formed 64.8 per cent. of the total, as compared with 61.8 per cent. in the first quarter of 1954 and since the output of manufacturing industries increased by 2½ per cent. in the March quarter of 1955 (compared with the March quarter of 1954) it is reasonable to infer that the increase in imports is in part associated with increased industrial production and is not entirely being dissipated in the boosting of consumption.

A disturbing factor in the external trading sector is the increase in import prices. These started to rise in the second half of 1954 in a delayed reaction to a general world-wide increase in commodity prices. Unfortunately, our export prices were weakening at the same time, with the result that the terms of trade—that is the ratio between our export and our [1101] import prices—moved against us; to base 1938=100, the terms of trade dropped from 111 in 1953 to 108 in 1954. Export prices had fortunately recovered in the opening months of this year and the terms of trade have benefited accordingly. World commodity prices have, in general, weakened slightly and it would be in accordance with normal experience if our import prices fell after the usual time lag. As regards exports, an outstanding feature of the increase to date is the extent to which it is accounted for by an increase in exports of live cattle. There has been a parallel and regrettable decrease in processed cattle exports but there are grounds for believing that this may have been a seasonal factor and not indicative of the outcome for the year as a whole.

Last year, when introducing the Estimate for my Department, I said, in reference to the balance of payments deficit,—“while I am not to be taken as assuming the mantle of a prophet in this hazardous field, may I venture the opinion that we are not likely to be faced with any crisis before the end of the year?” I do not believe that we need fear any crisis before the end of the present year. But the developments of the past few months require us to keep the situation under very careful consideration. The experience of our own country, and indeed of other countries, in recent years, is a vivid reminder that not the least disturbing feature of a serious deficit can be the economic dislocation and social disruption caused by the monetary and fiscal methods often adopted to correct it.

Experience abroad has shown that even when stringent credit restriction and import controls reduce deficits in the balance of payments they tend to bring other evils in their train. They tend to operate indiscriminately against the business enterprise that deserves to be encouraged and against those activities that warrant restriction. They may stifle the efforts of the very enterprise whose efforts are a condition precedent to the restoration of equilibrium in a country's external payments. This indeed is one field in which prevention is better than cure; [1102] and that is why careful vigilance of the course of the balance of payments is preferable to drastic, crude and unpredictable measures for restoring equilibrium after things have gone wrong.

The rise in import prices has had repercussions in another sector. The consumer price index cannot fail to be affected by such an increase, particularly when it is reinforced by a strong tendency for domestic agricultural prices to increase; in the first quarter of this year the agricultural price index increased by nearly 6 per cent. It is hardly surprising therefore to find that the consumer price index has shown a slight upward tendency. Between May and August, 1954, the index rose by two points from 124 to 126; it remained at this figure in November, 1954, and February, 1955, but rose by a further point, to 127, in May last. Of the increase of three points since May, 1954, nearly two and a half points are attributable to increases in food prices. It is significant that over two points of this increase in food prices had taken place by August, 1954—when we had been in office for just two months—and presumably reflected trends which had been in force for some time previously. It is equally significant that the index of food prices has been held virtually stable since August, 1954. This is no accident; it is the result of deliberate Government policy which took the form of a subsidy on butter—estimated to cost £2.2 million this year—and the stabilisation of tea prices. The combined effects of these reliefs is to reduce the consumer price index by 1.08 points. The present index is 127.49 points and if these reliefs were not operative the index would be increased to 128.57; as the index is rounded off to the nearest point, it would be published as 129-compared with the actual index of 127.

There has been no marked change in recent years in the percentage contribution of the various sectors to national income. In the agricultural sphere it was highly encouraging to find that although the weather was very unfavourable the volume of gross agricultural output increased by some 3½ per cent. last year. The volume index for that year was some 10 per [1103] cent. greater than pre-war and was the highest ever recorded. The volume figures have increased in each of the last four years and we are now reaping the fruits of increased agricultural investment by way of drainage and reclamation, fertilisers and limestone, machinery, veterinary services, etc. Experience in agriculture in the last few decades has been one of minor fluctuations around a constant norm. The slight but consistent upward trend in recent years affords some basis for the hope that we are about to bid good-bye to this norm forever. While problems still arise in some particular sectors the outlook for agriculture as a whole is certainly more promising than for a long time past, provided always that we can keep our prices competitive and thus sell at home and abroad the added output which technical progress and intensive investment promise to make available.

For some years past the industrial sector has accounted for a little less than one-quarter of the national income. On the average, in West European countries the corresponding percentage is over 40 per cent. so that it will be seen that we have still some distance to go before we reach the West European level of industrialisation. In our case the last stages will undoubtedly be the hardest as we have already skimmed the cream from the milk. The volume of net industrial output increased by about 2½ per cent. last year, an increase which is inadequate to meet our problems. In the immediate post-war years, when we were overcoming the arrears of the war period, the annual increases were of the order of some 10 per cent.; the average annual rate of increase in the last four years was by comparison a mere 2 per cent.

For more up to date figures we have to rely on the quarterly sample of transportable goods industries. These showed that the relatively disappointing out-turn for 1954 was due to a tapering off of the increase towards the end of the year. The volume figure for the last quarter showed a marginal decline of some 0.1 per cent. on the corresponding 1953 figure, due in part [1104] to a fall in the sugar industry as a result of bad weather conditions. That the check was but a temporary one was borne out by the fact that the index for the March quarter of this year showed an increase of 2½ per cent. over March, 1954, and was in fact the highest ever recorded for a March quarter.

The quarterly sample of transportable goods industries also throws some light on the current trend in employment and earnings in manufacturing industries. In the last quarter of 1954 the total employment in these industries exceeded 150,000 for the first time. The corresponding figure for the March quarter, 1955, showed an increase of 3,000 over March, 1954. Weekly earnings in manufacturing industries are now two and a half times the 1938 level. They have remained relatively stable, apart from the usual seasonal fluctuations, in the last three years with a slight upward tendency which has had the effect of leaving the index for the March quarter of this year some 3 per cent. higher than 12 months previously.

It will be clear from what I have said that the sample quarterly inquiry of transportable goods industries is one of the most important carried out by the Central Statistics Office. Without it we would be in the dark regarding the up to date movement of production, employment and earnings in manufacturing industries. In this field it is essential that our statistics should not alone be reliable but that they should be up to date. I am glad to say that most industrialists cooperate in completing the returns in good time, but this co-operation is set at naught by the persistent refusal of a small though important sector to furnish the returns in good time. The results of the inquiry should be available within four weeks and in any event not later than six weeks after the end of the quarter to which they relate, but because of the non-co-operation of a small number of concerns the results are usually not ready until some 11-12 weeks after the quarter in question.

The returns required by the Central Statistics Office are not complicated or [1105] difficult. Furthermore, in some countries the inquiry is made monthly instead of quarterly, as in this country. I would earnestly appeal, therefore, to that small handful of industrialists who are largely responsible for the delay to complete the returns as promptly as their fellow industrialists. They can rely on the co-operation of the Central Statistics Office in disposing of any difficulties which may stand in the way of earlier returns.

No reference to the industrial sector would be complete without a reference to the unemployment problem. In view of the highly seasonal nature of unemployment in this country, it is customary, when analysing the trend of unemployment, to compare the numbers on the live register on any given date with the corresponding number 12 months previously. On this basis the present level of unemployment shows a fall of some 5,000 to 6,000. At the end of June this year the live register figure was 47,605 compared with 53,577 at end June, 1954, and 63,589 at end June, 1953 though it is only fair to add that the 1953 figure is very much affected by certain transitional effects of the Social Welfare Act, 1952. The live register figures are an imperfect guide to the unemployment problem. Even in the summer months, when they exclude most of the rural under-employment, the numbers registered included many who by reason of age, infirmity, etc., are more unemployable than unemployed.

An analysis of the register on these lines would isolate the hard core of the unemployment problem—the numbers genuinely seeking and capable of work. In the absence of such an analysis the best single guide to unemployment is possibly the unemployment percentage, that is, the number of currently insured persons on the live register divided by the estimated currently insured population, excluding, in both cases, persons whose principal occupations are agriculture, fishing or private domestic service. The percentage was 7.3 (the lowest recorded) in 1951, rose to 9.1 in 1952 and 9.6 in 1953, but declined to 8.1 in 1954. For the first five months of [1106] 1955 the percentage was 8.16 compared with 9.2 for the corresponding period in 1954. An unemployment percentage of 3 per cent. has been held to be consistent with full employment and the difference between our current figure of 8 per cent. and 3 per cent. is one measure of our unemployment problem.

It would be a delusion to regard it as the only measure. To do so would be to ignore two salient factors—rural under-employment and emigration. We have unfortunately no current reliable index of emigration but we have little grounds for believing it is no longer a problem. It is perhaps significant that in 1954 the long-term tendency towards a reduction in the number of males engaged in agriculture was arrested—an indication perhaps that in the emigration experience of that year there was a shift in emphasis between rural and urban areas.

In recent years growing doubts have been cast on the previously held view that emigration was a bad thing in itself. The Commission on Emigration and Other Population Problems drow attention to the fact that emigration does not in all cases spring from a single cause and is not in all cases to be deplored. Even allowing for this, it cannot be denied that emigration is often an involuntary reaction to lack of employment facilities at home. To this extent it constitutes a problem and a challenge for Government. The reports of the Commission on Emigration and Other Population Problems which were received last year are at present being examined by the Departments concerned, and when this examination is completed we will, I hope, be in better position to assess the problem and the means of dealing with it.

It does not require much thought to arrive at the conclusion that there is no single simple solution. The problem must be tackled on a number of fronts. While the general prescription is clear enough, it is on details and methods of procedure that disagreement arises. What we require above all is faith in the future, a faith which must primarily be based on what has been called the fourth dimension of economics—confidence, buoyancy, incentive [1107] and initiative. It will be the Government's object to restore and foster this fourth dimension.

Mr. Lemass:  Having heard the Taoiseach's speech, I rise with considerable enthusiasm to move: “That the Estimate be referred back for reconsideration.” This is the last debate in the present session of the Dáil. The Government has decided to adjourn the Dáil for a period of more than three months to escape the questions and the criticisms of Deputies for that period. I can understand the Taoiseach's motive in endeavouring to send back to the country the Deputies of his own Party, stuffed with statistics which most of them will find it very difficult to digest; but the Taoiseach, no doubt, hopes that the effort to digest them will keep them occupied until the Dáil is due to reassemble at the end of October. I hope now that I will be able to purge these Deputies of some unnecessary or irrelevant data and to give them a few hard facts to chew over.

I think it will be good for the Deputies opposite to get the script of the Taoiseach's lecture and to study it very carefully during the recess. They will get a lot of information. No doubt many of the statistics which the Taoiseach quoted are available in more convenient form in the Statistical Survey, or other publications; nevertheless, there is no Deputy opposite who will not benefit by a study of these statistics. But no matter how carefully or how frequently he studies the Taoiseach's lecture, he will not find in it any indication of the Government's intentions regarding the practical problems that are worrying the people of this country now and that are likely to become more worrying before the House reassembles in October: the upward movement of prices; the particular proposals which are now under consideration by the Government in relation to specific prices which have often been the subject of political controversy in the past; the unrest that is developing amongst the wage earners of the country and the many movements which [1108] are in progress directed towards securing higher wage rates and the possibility of these movements producing industrial unrest during the coming quarter; the continuing high level of emigration and of unemployment; the many practical problems which are facing those engaged in agriculture and in industry who are concerned, from day to day, not with the theory of expanding production but with the real difficulties of doing so.

I would have expected that the Taoiseach would have chosen this occasion, the final debate in the longest session of the year, to deal with these practical issues. I can understand that his position is somewhat difficult. He is the head of a Government, not all the members of which are in agreement as to the principles upon which practical policy should be based; and that position forces him to occupy the time of the Dáil with generalities, compels him to avoid hard statements of intention in relation to practical issues because no intention can be determined until it is no longer possible to avoid the issues.

We have during the course of the past year, like every member of the public interested in national affairs, studied the speeches made by Ministers throughout the country as well as here in the Dáil in an effort to find out if there was any consistent policy inspiring the Government's actions. We have found no trace of any such policy. We have tried to deduce from the attitude of Ministers at Question Time, or when various matters were under debate here, what their policy might be in various eventualities and we have received many conflicting indications, all of which lead us to the opinion that the Government has indeed no policy in the normal sense of that term; that it is exclusively interested in the political aspects of its activities and not interested at all in their effect upon the real welfare of the country.

That concern of the Government, an excessive concern with the maintenance of their political front regardless of the consequences upon the welfare of the country, is particularly noticeable in relation to the definite [1109] matters of current interest to which I have referred.

Prices: we have discussed here in the Dáil on many occasions during the past year the issue of prices in relation to the campaign that was conducted by the Parties comprising the present Government prior to the election of last year. I am not going back now over the long record of promises made by the spokesmen of these Parties on that occasion, promises long since repudiated and apparently forgotten. I do not want Deputies to think that the record of their promises will not be produced again and again. It certainly will. They will not be allowed to forget them as easily as they would like to forget them. But, on this occasion, I am trying to extract from the Taoiseach, if I can, what the real policy of the Government is in relation to the present trend in prices. Forget, for the time being, these promises!

Mr. O'Leary:  What about the local elections?

Mr. Lemass:  Forget what the supporters of the Coalition Parties may expect from the Government in relation to prices! Has the Government any policy at all in relation to the present price situation? The trend of prices is upward. Is the Taoiseach satisfied that it is better to allow prices to take their course, or does he think he should do anything about them? There was, perhaps, no subject of public interest upon which members of the present Government, when in opposition, were more eloquent. We want something more than eloquence from them now. In so far as the Government has any function at all to influence and control the trend of prices responsibility is now on the members of the present Government. Do they think themselves that they have any function or responsibility to attempt to influence the trend of prices?

Mr. O'Leary:  Why did you put them up?

Mr. Lemass:  The fact that the price trend is upward will, I presume, not be denied. The attitude which the Government [1110] has taken about prices so far indicates that their only concern is the possible reaction of a rise in prices on their political fortunes. They have always thrown an atmosphere of political controversy about the issue of prices whenever it was raised. An example of that was the decision of the Government to withhold from publication the mid-May price index number until the day after the voting in the local elections.

The Taoiseach:  That is absolutely incorrect. We never did anything of the sort and I want to nail that before the Deputy tells any further lies.

Mr. Lemass:  I will not ask the present occupant of the Chair to deal with this unruly interruption.

The Taoiseach:  There is no truth whatever in that allegation and the Deputy knows there is no truth in it.

Mr. Lemass:  The monthly publication of the Statistical Office dealing with economic indicators came out with a blank space where the price index number should have been and when the official concerned was asked for an explanation the answer given was that the index number would be released as soon as Merrion Street sanctioned it.

The Taoiseach:  As soon as who sanctioned it?

Mr. Lemass:  Merrion Street—that is you.

The Taoiseach:  I can say that so far as I am responsible that price index figure was dealt with in exactly the same way as on any other occasion.

Mr. Lemass:  Will the Taoiseach explain why the White Paper was published in June with a blank space where the consumer price index figure should have been?

The Taoiseach:  It was done exactly the same as it has been done during all my period in office and I interfered in no way whatever. Will the Deputy stop talking lies before it goes any further?

General Mulcahy:  Why did the Deputy not put down a parliamentary question on the matter?

[1111]Mr. Lemass:  That is some indication of the truth of my assertion that so far as prices are concerned the Government's only concern is the probable effect of a rise in prices on their political fortunes. They do not care a rap about a rise in prices so far as the people are concerned.

Mr. O'Leary:  What did you do?

Mr. Lemass:  I will not ask the Chair to deal with this disorderly Deputy, but if he persists in his interruptions I will have to ask to have him silenced. I am tired of having reasoned speeches interrupted by the same Deputy. The Taoiseach spoke for over an hour without a single interruption and if that example of good manners does not have effect we will have to ask to have the Deputy dealt with.

Mr. O'Leary:  He did not blackguard anybody as you did.

A Deputy:  He is no blackguard.

Acting-Chairman (Mr. Palmer):  I have to ask Deputy O'Leary to refrain from further interruption.

Mr. Lemass:  Everybody who is concerned with the future development of the Irish economy and with its capacity to give a higher standard of living to an increasing number of people must be troubled at the prospect of a continued rise in prices which is bound to undermine our competitive capacity in other markets and to cause a demand for higher wages which must, in time, cause prices to rise still further. Does the Government intend to do anything about it? Does the Government think they can do anything about it? For three years the theme of every speech on this subject of prices by every member of the present Government was that the level of prices was definitely within the control of the Government; that the Government of the day was entirely responsible for every upward movement and that a proper system of price control could so regulate the price of commodities that the cost of living would not increase.

There is not a Deputy opposite who did not make a speech at some time [1112] or other expressing that point of view. Does the Government now believe that? Do they think it possible for them, through any administrative action, or through the Prices Advisory Body or any other such machinery, to prevent prices rising? Do they intend to operate any such machinery?

We know they have made a contribution to the cost of living. They increased the subsidy on butter and offset the cost of that subsidy to the Exchequer by cutting down the price guaranteed for wheat and reducing the scope of the flour subsidy. We now have the Taoiseach admitting that two and a half of the three points increase in the consumers' price index since he became Taoiseach is due to an increase in food prices.

He says he has stabilised the price of tea. That is the term he uses for the instructions issued to Tea Importers, Ltd., not to increase the price of tea and to carry the resultant loss on bank overdraft. In the current issue of The Economist any Deputy can see that the current prices quoted for Indian common teas are precisely the same as they were this time 12 months ago. The Government's gamble on tea has not come off apparently and if the price trend disclosed by present price quotations persists during the remainder of the year the Government has got to make a decision about tea prices before November next.

They announced that the present arrangement under which the losses incurred on the sale of tea would be carried on bank overdraft would operate until November. What are they going to do in November? Are they then going to allow the price of tea to rise or are they going to subsidise it? If they value my opinion in the matter it is that they have now talked themselves into a position in which they can do nothing else but subsidise it no matter what increase in taxation will be required to pay that subsidy.

At the present time, according to newspaper reports, the publicans' association is pressing the Prices Advisory Body, which is the Government's front in this matter, for permission [1113] to increase the price of beer and spirits. The manufacturers of cigarettes and tobacco are pressing for authority to increase the price of cigarettes and tobacco.

Will the Government tell us what their attitude is to these applications? If the Prices Advisory Body reports back to the Government that, having examined the costs of production or distribution, they think that higher prices are justified, will they be sanctioned? Has the Government any policy? There are three courses they can take, and three only. When they get such a report back from the Prices Advisory Body they can sanction higher prices, or they can refuse to sanction them regardless of the consequences upon trade or employment, or they can provide subsidies. Has the Government considered this matter at all? Surely one would expect that this Government that was so excessively concerned with every minor fluctuation in prices 12 months ago would at least have given consideration to their own policy now.

Is there a policy, and if so what is it? We have had the Minister for Finance in the Budget statement, which the Taoiseach now describes as the only statement of Government policy that is available, telling the Dáil and warning the country that an upward trend in prices is to be expected. To what extent does the Government intend to allow the upward movement in prices to manifest itself? Do they intend to impose any check? Do they intend to try to offset it by an extension of the policy of subsidies?

Deputies who sit behind the Government may be content to wait and see, but I am sure that an increasing number of those members of the public, who were led by the vigorous declarations of present Ministers of their opposition to any increase in prices and by their belief in their capacity to bring them down, to give them political support are growing highly impatient about the delay on the part of the Government in making its intentions known. How long does the Taoiseach think it is possible to keep silent on this issue, to avoid giving to the [1114] Dáil and to the country an indication of what the Government thinks it can do or intends to attempt?

The Taoiseach has said that everything depends on getting an increase in production and productivity. Nobody will disagree with that, but there is a responsibility on the Government in office to prepare plans designed to facilitate and encourage and help forward an increase in production and productivity. Has the Government any such plans? Their attitude appears to be that they are content to sit back and hope everything will work out to produce some improvement for which they can claim the credit.

So far as agriculture is concerned— that is our basic industry—we have to note that while there was, according to the Statistical Survey, a 3½ per cent. increase in the volume of agricultural output between 1953 and 1954 that was entirely due to an increase in the sales of live stock off farms and to some increase in the production of live-stock products; but it covers a decrease of 10 per cent. in the output of crops. So far as agriculture is concerned I am prepared to concede that a large part if not all of the blame, just as a large part if not all of the credit, for any alteration in the position that occurred in 1954 lies with the Fianna Fáil Government. The pattern of agricultural production was determined in the first half of the year when there was a Fianna Fáil Government in office.

Ministers who speak about an upward movement in the number of people employed on the land and try to secure that any credit due for that improvement in the position will accrue to the present Government always choose to ignore the fact that the calculation of the number of people employed on the land takes place in the month of June. The area sown to crops was fixed before June. The arrangements that made possible the considerable export and the very high price of cattle in the latter half of last year were all made before June, while the Fianna Fáil Government was in office. So far as responsibility or credit for the position in 1954 is concerned we are prepared to accept it; but will the Government note the present trend? [1115] Another enumeration of live stock on farms was carried out in January, and that enumeration showed that the number of cattle, pigs and poultry had all gone down as compared with last year. Is there any Deputy who thinks that the area sown to crops this year is likely to be higher than last year? What is the trend of agricultural production? In any case what does the Government intend to do about it? Is there a policy? Can that policy be stated not in vague clichés such as we have had from the Taoiseach but in concrete terms that the man working on the land will be able to understand?

The same is true regarding industry. It is true that in 1954 as a whole industrial production was, as the Taoiseach stated, 2 per cent. over 1953, but as the Central Bank pointed out in its report the trend was again in the wrong direction. The Central Bank said:

“In the first quarter of 1954, production in transportable goods industries was some 5 per cent. higher than a year earlier, but the increase during the year was appreciably smaller than in 1953, the provisional index for the last quarter of 1954 having actually fallen below both the index for the previous quarter and that for the last quarter of 1953.”

I have perhaps given special care to the speeches made by my successor as Minister for Industry and Commerce in an effort to detect from them if I could any evidence of a clear policy, any indication of an intention to direct the development of industry on a line that was likely to produce any substantial results. We have had from him as we had to-day from the Taoiseach references to the desirability of attracting foreign capital. We have had the announcement of an intention to send a mission to America in an effort to find American capital. The Taoiseach, I think, shares my lack of faith in the possibility of these efforts being very successful.

I stated here in the debate on the Department of Industry and Commerce —and I repeat it—that general statements [1116] of that kind are harmful unless followed immediately by a definite indication of the precise steps that the Government intends to take. In so far as those who are engaged in industry are concerned, those who may to-day or to-morrow contemplate expanding their investment in industry or starting a new one, are concerned, all they know is that there is a vague intention on the part of the Government to bring in foreign capital. Nobody knows precisely under what conditions it will be allowed in, the sectors in which it may be employed, the possible effect it may have upon the profit prospects of existing or new industries.

If there is any appreciation in the minds of the Government of the dangers of vagueness in matters of that kind we will get from them a specific indication of what they intend to do. We must face the fact that 95 per cent. of future industrial progress here will be financed by Irish capital and you must not, therefore, warn Irish capital out of that field by vague talk of bringing in foreign capital. I have no objection to the offering of inducements to investors outside Ireland to interest themselves in Irish industrial progress under conditions which make possible the maintenance of the protection which it is necessary to give to smaller Irish firms against the possibility of great foreign combines being allowed in here to establish branch factories to compete with them in markets they are already supplying.

I am not averse to the idea of reviewing the Control of Manufactures Act. I agree that circumstances have changed very considerably since that Act was devised. It was necessary then, if we were to get any industrial progress, to give an assurance to those who entered Irish industry that they would be protected not merely against imports from abroad but against the possibility of the establishment here of branches of powerful foreign organisations to compete with them. That was what the Act was designed to do and it is still necessary for that purpose but many of the provisions of that Act could perhaps be modified now.

I think the Minister for Industry [1117] and Commerce was unwise to have made any announcement of that kind until he had the terms of the Act ready to bring to the Dáil. I expressed the same view when I pointed out as premature his announcement on the establishment of the oil refinery. I know a great deal about the negotiations which led up to that announcement; in fact, in so far as I have been able to ascertain by parliamentary questions, there have been no changes since I ceased to be Minister for Industry and Commerce but, as I have told the present Minister for Industry and Commerce, I considered myself under obligation to make no reference to that possibility until every detail of the agreement which has to be negotiated with these powerful oil distributing organisations had been fixed.

Many of the concerns which had shown an interest in the possibility of establishing an oil refinery here have taken the Minister's announcement as nothing more than a warning off. I have spoken with their representatives. They were in fact given to understand by the Industrial Development Authority that that public announcement by the Minister had no other purpose than to tell them that the gate to the field had been closed and that only those major oil companies were going to be allowed in. Well, I am not averse to the idea of using these major distributors as instruments for securing the establishment here of an oil refinery; I can see many practical advantages but I have had long experience in dealing with them.

I know they adopted the most ruthless tactics to kill the pre-war refinery project and while it is undoubtedly true that their whole outlook and policy have changed in relation to refineries in Europe, I know also that they will drive a hard bargain if they can. Accordingly, I think the Minister destroyed his own bargaining position when he warned all the other competitors out of the field and left himself in the political situation that it will be a serious reverse for him if he does not conclude an agreement, which now will be framed on a basis that the companies will probably dictate.

[1118] There are other projects which must now be gathering dust in the office of the Minister for Industry and Commerce and about which we would like to know something. There was the major project for the establishment of the nitrogenous fertiliser industry. That project had reached the stage where it had been established as far as expert investigation could establish it as practicable based on Irish resources. A provisional plan had been prepared which involved the location of a factory somewhere in the middle of the country near the Shannon, adjacent to the Suck Valley bog, which is the only major bog in the country not at present developed or earmarked for development for fuel production. There were other reasons also for the selection of that site. The Fianna Fáil Government early in 1954 had voted the money necessary for the completion of the plans for the factory—they had asked Ceimicí Teoranta to prepare the plans—plans which could be given over to an operating company to proceed with them, assuming a separate company was to undertake the task rather than Ceimicí Teoranta.

Nothing has been done since. There are vague rumours going around relating to prospective developments in Waterford and elsewhere. I do not know what the foundation for them is. There is of course an alternative to the project of which we had approved— it involved the production of ammonium nitrate which would introduce to our farmers a type of nitrate fertiliser with which they were not familiar even though it could be produced here cheaper than it could be imported. If there is a Government decision in favour of development of the older type of nitrogenous fertiliser—ammonium sulphate—let us get on with it even though half of the raw materials must be imported.

Possibly there will be scope for further development in the chemical field but I am suspicious of the attitude of the Government in that regard. All those projects were alive in 1947, and in 1948 the first Coalition Government put a stop mark on them all. Ceimicí Teoranta were instructed to stop all activities and investigations [1119] in regard to these projects. The present Coalition may have learned something by the mistakes they made during their first period in office but, nevertheless, the 18 months' delay in arriving at a final decision upon that nitrogenous fetiliser project appears unnecessary and unjustified.

I was seriously perturbed about the explanation given by the Government for its decision to suspend operations on the grass meal project in County Mayo. The statement that the project was uneconomic was made, although no evidence was produced that that was so and I do not believe it. The statement was made that we embarked upon that project against expert advice and, to a limited extent, that is true. There was a number of old officials in some of the Government Departments who were against the idea, but the newer men, the experts of the Sugar Company who had experience of that kind of work— people who had new ideas and new techniques—were all for it. But one explanation of the Government was that the development of this bog in Mayo might interfere with existing private enterprise undertakings in other parts of the country. No project of a major kind in the West of Ireland was undertaken during the past 20 years except against the advice of some experts. Had we listened to the advice of experts there would be no sugar factory in Tuam.

Mr. Crowe:  A very doubtful project was the sugar factory in Tuam.

Mr. Lemass:  We have either got to decide now that we are going to take risks in order to achieve western development or we have got to abandon it altogether. If no new industrial project is to be started in the West that might possibly interfere with some private enterprise undertaking in the East then western development is at its end. I brought before the Dáil a Bill which was designed to secure for those who were prepared to undertake industrial activity in the West the possibility of State aid, not because we wanted to favour one individual against another but because we realised that [1120] without such aid, even though it might be regarded as being detrimental to private interests elsewhere, nothing would happen west of the Shannon otherwise than in exceptional circumstances. I think the Government's decision in regard to Glenamoy is very significant—significant because of the various explanations offered by the Government for that decision.

Mr. Egan:  It was significant too that the Deputy's Party lost a seat in North Mayo.

Mr. Lemass:  Deputies opposite are concerned only with politics; they do not mind what happens to their constituents or to anybody else as long as they do not lose votes.

Mr. O'Leary:  Why did you not give Wexford a beet factory?

Mr. Lemass:  If we had listened to Deputy O'Leary's advice——

Mr. O'Leary:  Deputy Ryan would not put it there. He let it go to Tuam where they do not grow beet.

Mr. Lemass:  It was the policy of the Fianna Fáil Government, of which I was a member and of which Deputy Dr. Ryan was a member, to push by every possible means in our power the centre of gravity of economic activity westward, if we could. We believed that, if we could succeed in doing that, not merely would the West benefit, not merely would this appalling drain of emigration of the young people from the West be checked but that the whole country would be stronger, that the East as well as the West would benefit from that policy. I still believe that and if I ever become Minister for Industry and Commerce again it is that policy that I will try to implement.

Mr. O'Leary:  You went away from that policy.

Mr. Lemass:  Unemployment is, from many points of view, a test of policy. I have said here before, when I spoke in this House as Minister, that I was always prepared to accept as the test of the efficacy of the policies and programmes that we implemented their effect in increasing the number of jobs [1121] in the country. We did increase the number of jobs considerably but nevertheless, as the Taoiseach has pointed out in his statistical survey, we have not gone nearly far enough to give this country the one essential condition which it must have for continuing progress, that is, a steadily rising population.

Whatever difficulty the Taoiseach may have about the statistics, emigration is continuing at the rate of 25,000 a year. That is what the statistical survey says and those of us who have any experience of conditions in the country believe it will, if anything, be greater this year. That absorbs the whole of our natural increase in population. Without emigration, our population would increase naturally by about 25,000 a year and we have got to be thinking in terms of an expansion of economic activities on a scale which will enable us, not merely to get rid of the existing 8 per cent. of unemployment but to retain the greater part, if not the whole, of that natural population increase.

At no time during the year did any member of the Government show the slightest concern about this unemployment position. They quoted, it is true, the live register statistics to suggest that there had been an improvement, but not one of them could attempt to point to a single measure taken by them which contributed to that improvement. The Taoiseach now tells us that the live register is an unreliable guide to the dimensions of our unemployment problem but when I said that two or three years ago I did not get the concurrence of the present Taoiseach in the accuracy of the statement.

Mr. Killilea:  It did not suit, that time.

Mr. Lemass:  Let us be clear as to what has happened. Again turn to this statistical survey that the Taoiseach quoted. It is clear from that—in fact they say so in so many words—that the decline in unemployment was most marked in the early months of 1954.

An Ceann Comhairle:  Will the Deputy give the page?

[1122]Mr. Lemass:  Page 31 of the Irish Statistical Survey, 1954. So that, even in regard to that matter, the trend is not encouraging. It is true that the heavy continuing volume of emigration is making its contribution to the solution of the problem. It is true that statements made by the Taoiseach and his Parliamentary Secretary suggest that they are not unappreciative of the measure of that contribution but, in so far as Deputies expect from the Government some indication of an intention or a plan or a programme or a policy for dealing with it, we have had none.

I do not know if all the members of the Government accept the view, which the Taoiseach appeared to express, that the economic problems of this country are due almost entirely to a level of investment activity in the private sector which is altogether inadequate by any standard. I hold that view strongly. I hold that no plans that we can make in relation to industry or agriculture, for afforestation, bog development or power development or anything else, will be effective unless we can devise ways and means by which the level of investment activity by private persons is increased.

Again, I want Deputies opposite to note that we are moving in the wrong direction. The amount of new capital expenditure in 1954 was less by £9,000,000 than what it was in 1953. The percentage of national resources which went to investment in 1954 was 12 per cent. as against 15 per cent. in 1953, as against 17 per cent. for Western European countries as a whole. That decline in new investment in this country took place between 1953 and 1954 although in England, during the same period, there was a 5 per cent. increase, although there was in all these Western European countries, on an average, an increase of slightly over 5 per cent. It is that we are going in the wrong direction and all the platitudes of the Taoiseach, all the vague statements of desirable ends which we get from him, do not compensate us for the lack of practical measures designed to bring that about.

Members of the present Government may criticise the steps taken by their [1123] predecessors to expand the level of investment here. It may be that we could have sought the same ends by other roads but at least we knew where we were trying to go and we tried, to the best of our ability, to get there. We were not trying to do what the present Government are doing, that is, concealing inactivity and ineffectiveness behind a shower of irrelevant statistics. This final debate of the summer session of 1955 is the opportunity which the Government should avail of to deal with these matters and to make clear their intentions and their attitude towards them. Is it reasonable to ask this Dáil to adjourn for three months, leaving the members—like the public—in ignorance of what the Government intend to do, if anything, about these matters——

Mr. O'Leary:  Did your Party not agree to it?

Mr. Lemass:  I will agree that Deputy O'Leary is the wisest member on the Coalition Benches.

Mr. McGilligan:  Who would you put up as champion on your side, leaving yourself out?

Mr. Lemass:  If it came to a choice between Deputy O'Leary and Deputy McGilligan I think I would give it in favour of Deputy O'Leary.

Mr. McGilligan:  That is the best compliment we have got for a long time.

Mr. Lemass:  I must criticise the failure of the Taoiseach to deal with the issues I have mentioned on this occasion. I hope he will realise he has an obligation to the House to deal with them before the Dáil goes on this long holiday which the Government have planned.

Mr. O'Donovan:  When Deputy Lemass started his speech this evening he told us he was not going to refer to the promises which had been made by the inter-Party Government before they came into office. That was a [1124] change: it had that much merit. I think it was the first time in which he spoke in a general debate in this House in the last 12 months that he did not refer to what he called the “promises” of the new Government.

Mr. Lemass:  I can have it done yet. I have a load of them.

Mr. Killilea:  We are not finished yet.

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Parliamentary Secretary, without interruption.

Mr. O'Donovan:  His tone was quite different to-day from his tone at the corner of York Street on the Friday before the general election. On that occasion, he could not understand what we were at: we were making no promises. He could not make out Labour or Fine Gael policy. He did not know where he was. That is sufficient about the promises and his 12 months' campaign about them.

I should like, though, to refer to the actual promises made by the Government—the 12-point programme. Does Deputy Lemass suggest that, in the past 12 months, the Government have not made every reasonable effort to carry out the 12-point programme? First of all, let us take the question of prices: I will come back to it again in some more detail owing to the line taken about it by Deputy Lemass. The Government said: Recognising that the main issue in the general election was the question of prices, the Parties forming the Government are determined to reduce the cost of living in relation to the people's incomes and particularly to effect a reduction in the price of foodstuffs. They reduced the price of one essential foodstuff and they kept the price of another foodstuff level. They are two very important foodstuffs.

Deputy Lemass came back to the subject of tea after a silence of about four or five months since his scheme was torpedoed in, I think, February last. To-day he came back to it for the first time. We will see what the events show in relation to tea but one thing is certain and that is that the action taken by the Government at a time when they should, strictly speaking, [1125] have increased the price of tea by 3/- a lb. was an earnest of their interest in the cost of living and in the efforts of the people to make ends meet. We all know what would have happened to the price of tea if Fianna Fáil had been the Government of this country——

Mr. J.J. Collins:  How would you know?

Mr. O'Donovan:  We had three years' history of it.

Mr. McGilligan:  What about 1952 and the cost of living then? You raised it in 1952.

Mr. Killilea:  What about the £10,000,000?

Mr. O'Donovan:  I might deal with it. It takes only a moment. With regard to the £10,000,000, you brought in £9,250,000 Supplementary Estimates. That is the literal truth about it.

Mr. McGilligan:  That gets away from increasing the cost of living deliberately.

Mr. O'Donovan:  The second main point was to reduce taxes. Have we not started out on the road to reducing taxes? Is it not obvious from the fact that the Minister for Finance produced nearly £7,000,000 of extra benefits and extra expenditure of one sort or another without any additional taxation? Is it not obvious from that that this Government are in earnest?

The Leader of the Opposition pleaded that in 1952 his Government were faced with £15,000,000 additional expenditure—so, of course, he proceeded to cover that £15,000,000 plus an additional £10,000,000. In fact, if the Government then in office in 1952 tackled the problem the way this inter-Party Government did in January and February of this year, when a special committee was set up and worked intensively for many weeks on the Estimates, the Government of that day could certainly have reduced the £15,000,000 by many millions.

Notice taken that 20 Deputies were not present; House counted and 20 Deputies being present.

[1126]Mr. O'Donovan:  I was saying that the Minister for Finance has shown by his first Budget that the present Government have every intention of reducing taxes.

“To expand agricultural production”. Is there any doubt whatever about the policy of the present Government in that connection? I do not think anybody could suggest that any step which could be taken in relation to agricultural production has been omitted in the past 12 months. I move to report progress.

Progress reported; the Committee to sit again.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. Corish):  I move amendment No. 1:—

In page 4, to insert the following new section before Section 8:—

8—(1) Where a weekly payment (including a weekly payment which commenced before the appointed day) to a workman in a case of total incapacity has been continued for not less than two years, the court, on the application of the workman made at any time after he has attained the age of 21 years, if it is satisfied that the workman remains totally incapacitated as a result of the injury and that he is likely to continue to be so incapacitated for the rest of his life, may by order provide for the payment by the employer, by way of redemption as from the date of the application of his liability to make the weekly payment, of a lump sum of such amount as may be determined by the court, subject to the limitation that the amount so determined shall not exceed such amount as would, if invested on the date of the application in the purchase of an immediate life annuity, purchase an annuity for the workman equal to 75 per cent. of the annual value of the weekly payment.

[1127] (2) In determining, under sub-section (1) of this section the amount of a lump sum, the court, as well as having regard to all other matters which it considers relevant, shall have regard, in particular, to the age of the workman and to his expectation of life.

(3) For the purposes of sub-section (1) of this section a life annuity shall be deemed to be purchasable at a price calculated in accordance with the table set forth in the Second Schedule to this Act and not otherwise.

(4) The court shall have a discretion to grant or refuse an application under this section and, in exercising that discretion, the court, as well as having regard to all other matters which it considers relevant, shall have regard, in particular, to whether the making of the order would be for the benefit of the workman and whether the making of the order would cause undue hardship to the employer.

(5) This section shall not apply to a case of partial incapacity which, by an Order under Section 24 of the Act of 1934, is required to be treated as a case of total incapacity.

(6) This section shall come into operation on the appointed day.

(7) This section shall be construed as one with the Act of 1934.

I introduced the original Section 8 into the Bill in an attempt to remedy what many people regard as a hardship on injured workmen, that is, that their compensation takes the form of a weekly payment and that they have no right, as employers have, to apply to the court to have the weekly payment commuted for a lump sum. I mentioned that the workmen settle for lump sums by agreement with the employers or the insurance companies in about 800 cases in the year but that nearly half of these agreements are not registered in the courts, and that there is a widely-held belief that these voluntary settlements are rarely to the workman's advantage. The purpose of Section 8 was to protect the interests [1128] of injured workmen by bringing in the courts to determine whether there should be a lump sum settlement and, if so, what the amount of the lump sum should be.

The original Section 8 was modelled on Section 27 of the 1934 Act, which gives employers the right to apply to the courts for redemption. It was obvious from the start that the section as introduced would give rise to many new complexities and difficulties. I mentioned, for instance, the difficulty that might be experienced in proving that incapacity to earn—which is the only kind of incapacity with which the Workmen's Compensation Acts are concerned—was permanent.

The debate on the Second Reading left me with the feeling that I had not got the general view of the House on Section 8. The amendment which was put down to delete the section apparently made Deputies think harder about the problem. The debate on this amendment made it clear that, while there were objections to giving men who were only partially incapacitated the right to have their weekly payment commuted for a lump sum, there was a general feeling that some provision of this nature should be made for injured workmen whose incapacity was permanent.

The amendment which I now move is an attempt to meet that expression of opinion by the House. It provides that, where a workman has been in receipt of a weekly payment of compensation in respect of total incapacity for not less than two years, he may apply to the court for the redemption of the weekly payment and, if he satisfies the court that he is totally incapacitated and is likely to remain so for the rest of his life, the court may order redemption if it is satisfied that it would be for the benefit of the workman and would not cause undue hardship to the employer. The amount of the lump sum will be fixed by the court having regard to the age of the workman and his expectation of life, but the amount shall not in any case be greater than that already provided in the Act of 1934 for redemption in cases of permanent incapacity. Sub-section (5) of the new section excludes [1129] from the operation of the section cases in which the workman's incapacity is partial only but is deemed to be total under Section 24 of the Act of 1934. This section certainly does not do all we would wish to do, but it does give a right to apply for redemption in the type of case to which the House was most favourably disposed. It is a big change and introduces a new principle into the workmen's compensation code, but it should not be regarded as in any way our last word in this matter.

During the Committee Stage debate, it was suggested that the original Section 8 went too far and that what was wanted was a simple section giving a workman the right to receive compensation by way of a lump sum rather than in the form of a weekly payment, as at present. A provision of this kind would be tantamount to scrapping the code of workmen's compensation as it has stood for nearly 60 years and replacing it by a new one. Compensation has always taken the form of a weekly payment which was some fraction of the pre-accident wages, subject to an overriding maximum, so that it has not been necessary to attempt to foresee how long the incapacity will last. The compensation ran only from week to week and could be varied or ended at any time, according as the workman's circumstances changed. To provide instead a lump sum payment involving a precise estimate of the length of time the incapacity to earn would continue would be a change of the most fundamental kind, which would require the fullest consideration and should hardly be made by amendment on the Report Stage.

Taking everything into consideration, I hope the House will agree that the section as it now stands is an honest effort to do the best we can at the moment to give the most deserving type of case the right to apply for redemption.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Corish:  I move amendment No. 2:—

In page 5, to insert the following new Schedule after the existing Schedule:—

[1130] SECOND SCHEDULE

TABLE SHOWING PRICE OF AN ANNUITY OF £1 ON A SINGLE LIFE.

Age last Birthday of Proposed Annuitant Price of Annuity of £1
Males Females
£ s. d. £ s. d.
21 years 24 0 11 25 0 9
22 ,, 23 17 0 24 17 0
23 ,, 23 13 0 24 13 2
24 ,, 23 8 11 24 9 3
25 ,, 23 4 10 24 5 3
26 ,, 23 0 7 24 1 3
27 ,, 22 16 3 23 17 2
28 ,, 22 11 9 23 13 0
29 ,, 22 7 3 23 8 9
30 ,, 22 2 7 23 4 6
31 ,, 21 17 10 23 0 2
32 ,, 21 13 0 22 15 9
33 ,, 21 8 0 22 11 3
34 ,, 21 2 11 22 6 8
35 ,, 20 17 9 22 2 0
36 ,, 20 12 5 21 17 3
37 ,, 20 6 11 21 12 6
38 ,, 20 1 4 21 7 6
39 ,, 19 15 7 21 2 6
40 ,, 19 9 9 20 17 5
41 ,, 19 3 9 20 12 2
42 ,, 18 17 7 20 6 10
43 ,, 18 11 4 20 1 5
44 ,, 18 5 0 19 15 9
45 ,, 17 18 5 19 10 0
46 ,, 17 11 8 19 4 2
47 ,, 17 4 10 18 18 1
48 ,, 16 17 10 18 11 11
49 ,, 16 10 7 18 5 7
50 ,, 16 3 4 17 19 0
51 ,, 15 15 10 17 12 4
52 ,, 15 8 3 17 5 6
53 ,, 15 0 7 16 18 5
54 ,, 14 12 10 16 11 2
55 ,, 14 4 11 16 3 10
56 ,, 13 16 11 15 16 4
57 ,, 13 8 11 15 8 7
58 ,, 13 0 10 15 0 10
59 ,, 12 12 8 14 12 10
60 ,, 12 4 6 14 4 9
61 ,, 11 16 9 13 16 11
62 ,, 11 8 11 13 8 9
63 ,, 11 1 1 13 0 6
64 ,, 10 13 4 12 12 1
65 ,, 10 5 8 12 3 8
66 ,, 9 18 1 11 15 1
67 ,, 9 10 8 11 6 5
68 ,, 9 3 4 10 17 10
69 ,, 8 16 1 10 9 4
70 ,, 8 9 0 10 0 11
71 ,, 8 2 0 9 12 7
72 ,, 7 15 3 9 4 6
73 ,, 7 8 7 8 16 6
74 ,, 7 2 2 8 8 8
75 ,, 6 15 11 8 1 1
76 ,, 6 9 9 7 13 7
77 ,, 6 3 11 7 6 4
78 ,, 5 18 3 6 19 4
79 ,, 5 12 9 6 12 6
80 ,, or over 5 7 7 6 5 11

[1131] Amendment agreed to.

Bill, as amended, received for final consideration.

Agreed to take the Fifth Stage to-day.

Question—“That the Bill do now pass”—put and agreed to.

Mr. O'Donovan:  I mentioned three of the Government's promises—to keep the cost of living down, to reduce taxation and to expand agricultural production. Another promise was to improve the conditions for private enterprise in this country. Deputy Lemass dealt with that at some length and I propose to come back to it later on in some detail. At the moment, I would just say that Deputy Lemass's concern for private enterprise in the previous Government did not prevent that Government from hogging the whole of the capital market in this country during the period for which they were in office from 1951 to 1954. One can pay lip-service, if one likes, to the idea of private enterprise and of making adequate facilities available for it; but it is a different matter to provide the conditions in which the facilities will be available, and that is what the present Government have done.

I think it is unlikely now that a national loan will be required this year and I would hope that in these circumstances, in the autumn of this year and the beginning of next year, many of the private enterprise firms who have been depending on bank accommodation for their working capital will have an opportunity of going to the market and getting permanent capital, so that they will no longer be in the position of depending on what is really short term accommodation.

The sixth point was to increase employment and reduce emigration. Whether the Government were responsible or not, the fact is that employment has increased and that there are not and could not be, despite Deputy [1132] Lemass's opinion, as many people emigrating now as were emigrating during the years 1951 to 1954. I shall come back to that point again.

“Social welfare benefits will be increased”—the Government have already increased old age pensions by 2/6 per week. To my mind, it is a modest enough increase when one considers that, in purchasing power, it brings the old age pension just back to the level at which it was before the war in 1938. Having regard to the fact that the national income has increased since that time by 20 per cent., I think, as I have mentioned, it is a moderate enough level, but at least it is a far better level than it was on the two occasions when Fianna Fáil left office. The standard rate of old age pension when they left office in 1948 had been increased by nothing like the increase in the cost of living. Last year the standard rate of old age pension at 21/6 was well below the increase in the cost of living as compared with 1938.

“To secure the building of more houses by private and public effort and in particular by improving the credit facilities and easing loan charges”— that has been done, that is item No. 8.

Item No. 9 involved the removal of the health services from the field of acrimonious political discussion. By the efforts of the Minister for Health that has been done.

I come now to two items in that programme which have not been attended to yet in the way which the Government hopes to deal with them. No. 10— to establish a Ministry specially concerned to deal with the cultural and economic problems of the Gaeltacht; no one would deny the seriousness of those problems. That is a specific promise of the Government. No. 11, as has been indicated by the Minister for Education, has already been put in hands—“to examine the whole field of education in the light of experience gained since the establishment of native Government and with special regard to the position of the national language”.

No. 12 has in fact been carried out— it related to the restoration of democratic [1133] rights in respect of local government by the amendment of the County Management Acts. I come back now to the only one of them which I omitted, “to restore the unity of Ireland and to safeguard the Irish cultural tradition”. The position the Government has taken in that matter was dealt with yesterday by the Minister for External Affairs.

This is the printed document which was issued before the formation of the present Government. Could any reasonable person say that an honest effort has not been made to implement that document as it was issued at that time?

I come back now to Deputy Lemass's speech. He claimed that any development in agriculture which occurred all through the year 1954 was due to the Fianna Fáil Party, to the Government which was in office until June of last year, and that all the credit for the position which has existed, the relatively satisfactory position which has existed in agriculture, must go to the Fianna Fáil Party. All right; I grant that, for the purposes of discussion. Why then did Deputy Lemass say that the increase in the cost of living of three points is the responsibility of the Government, when two of those three points occurred between May and August of last year? In other words, part of it had occurred before the Fianna Fáil Government had left office and in actual fact it was a marginal matter whether the third point did not occur previous to last February. It is the inconsistency and the illogical position taken up in these two parts of his speech that I am putting into comparison with one another. The cost of living did go up three points in the last 12 months and two of those points occurred in the first three of those 12 months.

For all the talk and generalisations we heard from Deputy Lemass during his speech, with a single exception of the reference to tea, he did not quote a single example of a mistake made by the Government in an economic decision which they took, in any decision in relation to economic policy. He made continuous references to the future. It is very easy to deal with the future in that particular way, to act [1134] the part of the gentleman who says: “the bogey man will get you if you don't watch out”. I am inclined to think that the prices position in the world may not be as easy as it was for the last Government. They were very fond of saying that the difficulties which met them were due to external conditions. That is not so. World wholesale prices reached their highest in March and April of 1951 and they dropped 10 per cent. in the following two years.

When Deputy Lemass came into office he signed price increase Orders for a multitude of industrial products, based on these high prices of raw materials—which are roughly half the cost of our industrial products. There was a drop of 10 per cent. in the price of these new materials and, therefore, in this half of the cost of industrial products, yet I am not aware of any instance of any significance in which Deputy Lemass signed a prices Order reducing the price of any industrial product during the succeeding three years when he was in office up to June of last year. Why did the people not get the benefit of this reduction during that period?

Deputy Childers is very fond of referring to the year 1953 as a great year of recovery. I have two points I want to make in relation to that matter. The first of these points is that the year 1953 was bound to be a year in which there would be recovery, because of the slough into which the economy had descended at the end of 1952 and the beginning of 1953. Such recovery as happened was due, in the main, to a policy of borrowing on a vast scale. Nobody would object to that borrowing if it had been put to good purpose, but the purpose to which it had to be put was the recovery of the country following the damage which had been done by the mistaken policy in the 1952 Budget.

According to the Statistical Survey for 1954, page 50, the domestic physical capital formation was nearly £78,000,000 in the year 1953, far the highest figure of any of the recent years, more than £4,000,000 higher than the year 1951. How was that brought about? It was brought about by borrowings by the [1135] Minister for Finance and the Dublin and Cork Corporations, new capital borrowings, that is, actual issues on the market. Of course, there were other assets available to the Government like the savings in the Post Office Savings Bank and so on, but the actual capital issues amounted to just under £30,000,000.

In the year 1950, Deputy McGilligan, then Minister for Finance, was supposed to be “borrowing us into insolvency” and the total amount of new capital raised in that year was £19.4 millions. It is for that reason that I have some doubts, from a strictly economic point of view, about some of the figures which appeared in the Taoiseach's statement:—

“Percentage savings, as computed by the Central Statistics Office, amounted to 13 per cent. in 1953 but fell back to 10.7 per cent. in 1954.”

This question of savings is bound up with the other matter of capital formation because, as computed by the Central Statistics Office, capital formation is equal to savings, plus depreciation, plus external disinvestment. There would be no reason at all to disagree with depreciation and external disinvestment. They are easily computed but if you compute capital formation by adding up all the bricks, mortar machines and so on which are produced or imported into a community in a year and then say that, after taking into account provision for depreciation and external disinvestment, the remainder is savings you are bound to get, or almost bound to get, a figure which is higher in a year when there are large-scale issues of public borrowings than in a year when there are no such issues.

It is my submission that this borrowing in 1953 by the Government and the local authorities was largely the creation of new money and that it was, therefore, responsible for the increase in capital formation and that it did not represent savings. Therefore, I am inclined to think that one should be very careful about making year to year comparisons of savings. It is a very difficult matter. You can know at certain times. For example, after [1136] the outbreak of the war in Korea it is quite evident that from a monetary point of view there were no savings, thinking in terms of money, because everybody was stocking up with goods in case there was a major war. Subsequently, these goods were gradually used up and while they were being used up there tended to be monetary savings.

Might I say that in entering this caveat about these figures I am in a minority? The particular method of approach to computing these savings used by the Central Statistics Office here is that used in most modern countries and our efforts in relation to the matter are remarkably good, that is, from the calculation point of view. In other words, the statistics office here sins in a very numerous company. But from a personal point of view, even if I were alone in my opinion, it would not worry me to say that the results of these calculations are at times quite inaccurate—but I am not alone in the matter.

For example, it has been said recently in Britain in The Economist— I cannot give the exact date but it was towards the end of last year—by one of the statisticians who have engaged in the study of this matter that in Britain there was a missing £500,000,000 in relation to a recent year. If there is a missing £500,000,000, you can put any name you like on it. You can call it a balance or you can call it savings if you feel like it. If it is one way it is savings and if it is another way it is disinvestment. When you have figures of this sort, balancing a figure added to another figure against a third figure, it is the very same as a balance sheet. This national income accountancy is exactly the same as the old company balance sheet. A great deal of hard work goes into it just as a great deal of hard work sometimes goes into balance sheets. It follows that if there is this defect over short periods in this method of calculation any explanation of a fall in personal savings from 10.3 in 1953, say, to 8.6 in 1954 is open to doubt.

Items like stocks and work in progress which come into it relate to moments in time and it is difficult to bring such items which relate to [1137] moments in time into comparison with the process which occurs through time —that is the process of saving. As I say, I have no doubt that savings did increase in 1953 compared with 1952 and 1951. I grant that. It is a reasonable proposition but whether, in fact, they were greater in 1953 than in 1954 is a matter which is open to doubt.

Let us come back to the speech made by Deputy Lemass for a moment. He suggested in the opening sentences of that speech that the Government had decided to adjourn the Dáil for more than three months to escape questions. The Government have decided, with the agreement of the Opposition, to adjourn the Dáil because the work which was put in hands has been completed and for no other reason. If some of the questions which we heard yesterday, two of them in particular, are to be regarded as the embarrassing questions, I think it is just as well for the Opposition that the House is going to adjourn for more than three months.

He suggested that the Government were afraid of the upward movement of prices and quite blandly suggested that there was no reference to the problem in the Taoiseach's speech. There was, in fact, a detailed reference to it—a reference of some length. Deputy Lemass also stated that the Taoiseach was the head of a Government not all of whom were agreed on principles of practical policy. He gave no example, no instance of that. He mentioned no single instance. He threw out that general statement and again he gave us no single instance of it. He suggested that the Government was carrying on administration on a day-to-day basis. I have shown, I think, that the Government has covered in its first year in office a considerable part of the programme which it set before the people as its programme.

Deputy Lemass suggested that there was an excessive concern with the maintenance of a political front. Deputy Lemass made a statement and wrote to the newspapers about the system of voting in the local elections. I do not think that anybody would defend a system of voting in which a person gets a ballot paper with 20, 30, 40 and even 50 names on it but that [1138] is a matter of administration of elections. It should be quite easy to deal with that particular matter so as to reduce the number of candidates in any area to some number like ten or 12. It has been suggested by many people that quite a modest deposit by candidates in the local elections would result in a considerable reduction in the number of such candidates.

In the considerable portion of his speech which Deputy Lemass devoted to prices, past, present and to come, his general line might be put in the question which he asked at one stage: Has the Government any policy at all about prices? I will answer that question. It is a general question and I shall answer it in the only way in which you could answer such a question. In present circumstances, in the position which the Government finds itself in recent months, the Government's policy is to keep down prices anywhere and everywhere it can. That is the Government's policy and it is quite obvious that I am speaking the truth when I say that. There is not one title or jot of evidence that can be produced which indicates that statement is not correct.

He also asked the general question about the cost-of-living index going up —“does the Government think they can do anything about it?”—and at that point he made what was really a very foolish suggestion. I do not think he quite meant it. It must have been his irritation over the local elections. I do not really believe he meant it. He said that because, in some stencilled document or other that we all get, there was a blank for the cost-of-living index for the month of May, it had been held up in Merrion Street, and when put to the point he said, “in the Taoiseach's Department”. It certainly was not to my knowledge held up in the Taoiseach's Department. That is the only answer one can give to that. The Taoiseach said it was dealt with in the usual way. I do not really believe—to be fair to him—that Deputy Lemass meant that. He may have looked for the figure and may have been irritated when it was not there where he would normally expect to find it. That may perhaps account for it. [1139] He dealt at some length with the industrialisation of the West and on that I would like to make the following observation. An Foras Tionscal when first set up by Deputy Lemass put in hands some projects and did in its first year or so achieve some good. I am not going to go into figures for it now. I have not got them with me, but there is no denying that it practically ceased to operate during the year 1953 and the first half of 1954. It was resurrected by the present Government and one of the reasons it ceased to operate was that the people who were operating it were the same people as were developing industries here and were concerned with matters like the Industrial Credit Company and were concerned with industries in the eastern part of the country. If I were in earnest about setting up a body to develop industry in the West, I certainly would not have the same personnel on it as we have on the committees concerned with the development of industry in the eastern part of the country.

Deputy Lemass also said that you could not invest in the West if you were going to turn down every proposition which conflicted with private enterprise in the eastern part of the country. To the best of my belief, when Deputy Lemass was Minister for Industry and Commerce his instructions to the people who were operating An Foras Tionscal were that industries were not to be set up west of the Shannon by An Foras Tionscal if they competed with private enterprise in the eastern part of the country. I am not necessarily quarrelling with the principle behind that decision; I am quarrelling with the nature of the speech that Deputy Lemass made here this evening on the subject, he having given that decision. I think it is reasonable to quarrel with it.

Deputy Lemass suggested—quite rightly in my opinion—that the level of investment in private enterprise has been inadequate in recent years. Of course it has. That is borne out by the figures on page 12 of the current report of the Central Bank. What was the best year for new capital [1140] issues for private enterprise in the last five years? The best year by streets was the year 1951 when there were issues for industry and commerce— that is for private enterprise—of £4,500,000. The issues in 1950 were £1.4 million; in 1951, as I have said £4,500,000; in 1952, £1.4 million; in 1953, £.9 million; in 1954, £.7 million. In 1953, in the year when the State and Dublin and Cork Corporations borrowed £29.9 million, you had private enterprise issues amounting to £.9 million. Take the first two years of the period, when the previous inter-Party Government were in office in 1950 and 1951—taking them together—the State and Dublin and Cork Corporations floated loans amounting to about £25,000,000, while new capital for industry and commerce amounted to a modest enough total of £5.9 million. Compare this with the years 1953 and 1954 when the State and local loans amounted to £54,000,000 and the private enterprise capital raised amounted to £1.4 million.

On this subject I think there is a good augury that we are on the verge of a change; it now seems unlikely that there will be a national loan this year, and I would, therefore, hope that the many issues of new capital which private enterprise has been unable to make since the year 1951 will at long last be made, and that these companies who have been depending for so long on bank credit will be able to put their affairs on a more satisfactory basis from the capital point of view.

Deputy Lemass referred to the grassmeal project. I thought the grassmeal project had been threshed out at some length in this House and I understand from the local election results in that particular part of Mayo that the people of that particular part of Mayo are satisfied with the arrangements the Government has made for the development of those particular bogs.

Mr. Blowick:  They are more than satisfied: they knew that the whole thing was a joke.

Mr. O'Donovan:  I cannot see then what point there was in drawing it up and making references to the Gowla proposition.

[1141] Finally, Deputy Lemass said the present Government were sitting back and doing nothing and that the previous Government had made great efforts to expand the level of investment here. How can you expand the level of investment when you, first of all, set out on an austerity programme and you then turn that austerity programme into a policy of panic borrowing? For example, in the capital formation that I mentioned in the year 1953, the £78,000,000, all the schemes of works by the Special Works Committee of the Dublin Corporation are included in that. Is that capital formation in the real sense of the term? It certainly is not productive capital as mentioned by the Taoiseach in his speech this evening.

I think I have indicated, first of all, that the Government have carried out their pledges to the people to a remarkable degree during their first year in office, and secondly, that Deputy Lemass was able to quote no real instance that they had not done so. He made a lot of general points and, in particular, he acted the part of the bogey man in relation to the coming period, but he made no specific points of any significance in relation to the decisions which have been taken by the present Government in the past 12 months.

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Taoiseach to conclude.

The Taoiseach:  To say that I am surprised at being called upon to conclude is, I suppose, to make one of the grossest understatements that has ever been made in this House. Deputy Lemass was complaining that we were going away for three and a half months, shirking our duty, as he would have it, by not telling our policy. I would have thought that the troops behind Deputy Lemass would have sprung to attention and gathered in a solid phalanx to attack the policy of this Government and their misdeeds. I would have expected that Deputy McQuillan who, this morning, criticised us for this long adjournment, would have come in and said something about it. But here we are. He never sat through a single line of the statements that I made this afternoon [1142] or listened to a single word that was spoken by the Parliamentary Secretary on the economic programme.

I have nothing to reply to on this Estimate. I have carried out the undertaking that I gave last year. The present Leader of the Opposition approved the practice, which I instituted when I was in office before, of giving an economic survey. Even last year, when we were dealing with the Estimates that had been prepared by our predecessors, although we had no opportunity of formulating or putting into practice the details of our policy, I did resort, at least in some degree and to some extent, to the practice that I had initiated, and I think I got the approval of the Leader of the Opposition.

Deputy Lemass comes here this afternoon and sneers at the statement that I had prepared. He called it a lecture and referred to it as a series of platitudes, but he did not make a single comment of any constructive character on the entire speech that I made in giving this survey. I have considerable sympathy with Deputy Lemass. The charge that he made against us as a Government was that we were apparently more concerned with our political fortunes or front than in formulating and in giving practical application to policy.

The fact that the Opposition have no policy, the fact that the Opposition are intense in their criticisms of the present Government's policy, the fact that they are not prepared to help the country to recover from the depredations to which the country was subjected over the three wasted years of Fianna Fáil Government, from 1951 to 1954, is demonstrated by their action in this debate. Deputy Lemass whipped himself into a factitious and fictitious rage this afternoon and succeeded in saying nothing.

Deputy Lemass is a specialist in truculent misrepresentation. He started his speech this afternoon, and if I had not promptly stopped him I have no doubt that his remarks would have set the line for the subsequent portions of his speech and perhaps of the speeches that might have followed. He accused me of having deliberately withheld the [1143] figure of the cost of living for last May until after the date of the local elections. I promptly characterised that statement for what it was worth and described it in appropriate language. The figure for the cost of living, in accordance with the practice in the Taoiseach's Department, is submitted to the Taoiseach and I understand that was the practice both when I was in office before and when Deputy de Valera, now the Leader of the Opposition, subsequently came into office. It was brought into me last year shortly after we came into office, on the 22nd June, and on the same day I directed that it be published. This year it arrived in my office from the Central Statistics Office on the 22nd June, and it was brought to my notice by the officers of my Department on the following day. Directions were given by me to release it immediately in full.

Deputy Lemass had not the ordinary common decency to apologise for the attempt that he made to misrepresent my actions—and it was on this misrepresentation that he supported his allegation that I and my colleagues are more interested in our political fortunes, or front, than we are in the fate of the country. He made that charge twice. The only suggestion he made by way of foundation for that charge was the allegation that I had delayed the issue of the cost of living figure until after the local elections. I have characterised that as being utterly and completely and in every respect false. He had not the decency or the honesty to accept that and to withdraw the charge which was not merely a reflection on me but was a reflection on the very competent officers of my Department. At all events, the country can take a line from the tone of the speech of Deputy Lemass to-day as to the type of Opposition which is going to discharge the serious responsibilities which fall upon an Opposition in a democratic Parliament.

When we were in opposition I took the view that there were responsibilities and very heavy responsibilities upon an Opposition and that it devolved upon an Opposition to be as constructive as possible and not merely [1144] to oppose. I endeavoured to discharge that responsibility to the best of my knowledge and ability and having regard to the materials available to me. We endeavoured when we criticised, seriously and actively criticised the policy of the then Government, to offer an alternative policy. What have we got to-day?—this master of truculent misrepresentation merely suggesting that my colleagues and I are more concerned with our own political fortunes than with the welfare of the country. He gives no proof for that except the misrepresentation he made about the non-publication of the cost-of-living figures.

Mr. Traynor:  You got every Estimate on the Order Paper through. That is co-operation surely.

The Taoiseach:  I do not understand what Deputy Traynor is trying to suggest.

Mr. Traynor:  I am trying to suggest that, as far as we were concerned, as an Opposition we endeavoured to facilitate the Government in getting the business through, something which was not afforded to us when we were in opposition.

The Taoiseach:  I am not complaining about that. I think Deputy Traynor has not heard the speech of his colleague and apparently he does not understand what Deputy Lemass accused us of. The accusation Deputy Lemass made against us was that we were more concerned with our own political fortunes than with formulating a proper policy for the country. That has nothing to do with whether you facilitated us in the conduct of the business.

Mr. Traynor:  It has something to do with constructive co-operation from an Opposition.

The Taoiseach:  Constructive opposition does undoubtedly facilitate the Government in the conduct of the business but I am speaking about constructive policy, constructive proposals, directed to policy. It is the right and the duty of an Opposition to criticise Government policy. It is also their responsibility, when they criticise it, [1145] to put forward alternative propositions constructively. That is the point I wish to make and which Deputy Traynor apparently has not grasped.

Deputy Lemass criticised our policy this afternoon in reference to foreign capital, to our desire to get foreign capital into this country. He made rather an attack upon those powerful companies who are coming into this country and who, we hope, are going to do great good by their project for building the oil refinery. Why did Deputy Lemass take it upon himself to sneer at those companies? What was the point of that? Deputy Lemass went to America in the autumn of 1953, as I understand it, to persuade people in America to invest their money here, to get foreign capital from America invested here in building up this country. Why did he criticise my colleague, the Tánaiste, because he said he was sending a mission to America to try to interest American capitalists in investing their capital in this country? He said that the Tánaiste was vague and had no specific proposals with reference to what was to be done with the capital when it came in here or what was to be done in relation to the Control of Manufactures Acts.

It had been my intention to have turned up the speeches that Deputy Lemass made while he was in America on the subject of inviting foreign capitalists to invest their money here. That he did invite them I have no doubt. That he did mention the question of the Control of Manufactures Acts in a veiled sort of fashion I also have no doubt. In the time at my disposal, due to being called upon to reply to this debate at such short notice, I have not been able to get the texts of Deputy Lemass's speeches on this subject. But I was in the United States at the time and I remember being interested in the then Tánaiste and his attitude towards the Control of Manufactures Acts because I had taken a certain view of those Acts which I have expressed to-day in the speech I made in presenting the Estimate for my Department.

Deputy Lemass says that the Tánaiste was vague and that he should not leave our industrialists here under a misapprehension as to what were our [1146] proposals in relation to the Control of Manufactures Act. I think the Tánaiste has already made our proposals abundantly clear. There is nothing vague about what he had to say on the matter. Deputy Lemass was striking at us over here and not even caring what effect that will have upon our efforts to get foreign capital. He then says: “I am not averse to having foreign capital over here. I am not averse to the Control of Manufactures Act being modified in certain particulars.”

I would say to the industrialists of this country and to those people whom we hope, with some reason, to induce to invest their capital here, that we have a policy that will in every respect safeguard their interests and safeguard the rights of our own industrialists. I would have thought Deputy Lemass would have said: “We are in favour of the investment of foreign capital here. I went to America in the autumn of 1953 to try to woo these people to invest their money in Ireland, in Irish industry, in our under-developed country. I do not think I got any result from my trip to America at that time but nevertheless I wish the Tánaiste success in his efforts.”

That was not the way Deputy Lemass approached this as Deputy-Leader of the Opposition. He said he was not averse to foreign capital and he was not averse to the modification of the Control of Manufactures Act. Had he said in 1953, in the autumn, when he went to America, or had he said even now: “I am in favour of foreign capital coming here and I think the Control of Manufactures Act ought to be modified in the following particulars—(a), (b), (c) (d) and (e)”, then I would have some respect for Deputy Lemass and some belief in his sincerity as regards getting foreign capital brought into this country for the benefit of the under-developed parts of our economy.

Is Deputy Lemass sincere in saying that he is in favour of foreign capital? If he were sincere would he have taken the line he did to-day, criticising the Tánaiste because he is sending a mission to America to induce foreign capital [1147] to come here, criticising him and saying he was vague about the Control of Manufactures Act, when the Tánaiste had made it abundantly clear that the licensing provisions of the Control of Manufactures Act would be operated in a way that would be favourable to those people who are investing their moneys here and at the same time would safeguard our own people, who have invested moneys here in Irish industry, from being exploited in any way by those powerful bodies of which Deputy Lemass apparently is so much afraid?

Why does not Deputy Lemass come out and say: “We are all agreed on the necessity for getting foreign capital in here to supplement our own people's savings. We are all in favour of a particular type of manufacture here which will not in any way interfere with our own native industrialists. We are all in favour of foreign capitalists manufacturing here for export abroad but how will that adversely affect our industrialists?” Why does Deputy Lemass not say that he is in favour of that and will help us with it? Why does he not say that he has now come to the conclusion that he is not averse to a modification of the Control of Manufactures Act, in order that we may all come together and be all on the one line, in order that we may present a united front to those people who may be prepared to come in here? Why does he not say: “I will indicate now to you that I am in favour of a modification of the Control of Manufactures Act in the following particulars”— stating what those particulars are?

He criticised my colleague, the Tánaiste, because, as he alleged, he was vague. I have repudiated that suggestion. But, even if it were true should he not have said to the Tánaiste: “Let us no longer be vague. This is a policy upon which we are all united. We are all united on that policy. Let us now agree that, in order that industrialists or financiers in America and elsewhere may know where they stand, the Opposition as well as the Government is prepared to modify the Control of Manufactures [1148] Act in the following respects—(a) to (e) and so on”? But Deputy Lemass did not say that and I regard that omission as a test of the sincerity of his remarks to-day on the criticisms he made in that part of his speech with which I am dealing now.

Deputy Lemass had the effrontery, in the course of certain other observations, to suggest that the very highly satisfactory prices which we were able to secure for our agricultural exports at the end of last year were due, if you please, to the various steps that had been taken by the Fianna Fáil Government in the early part of 1954. If there had not been an inter-Party Government in 1948, and if Deputy James Dillon had not become Minister for Agriculture, not merely would we have not got those high prices for our cattle but we would not have had any cattle for which to get high prices.

One of the first things Deputy Dillon did when he became Minister for Agriculture in the first inter-Party Government, was to close down a factory in my Parliamentary Secretary's, Deputy O'Sullivan's, constituency in Bandon: it was a factory for the slaughter of calves. By a reversal of that policy of slaughtering calves, by increasing live-stock production, by setting on foot arrangements for the eradication of disease in cattle and, above all, by the imaginative scheme of land reclamation and drainage and the investment of Irish money in the land of Ireland, Deputy James Dillon brought about the situation wherein cattle increased every year from 1948 until 1954; and it was because of that policy that we were able not merely to have cattle for export last year but also to get high prices for them, prices which we shall continue to get.

Many people forget that the prices we were able to get for our cattle last year were obtained because of the link between the price of British cattle and the price of Irish cattle, a link secured by Deputy James Dillon and his colleagues when they went to London in June, 1948, and negotiated the trade agreement of that year. The prosperity of our agricultural industry, which we are now very fortunately enjoying, goes back to the year 1948, and to the dispositions [1149] which were then taken to secure increased agricultural production.

Does Deputy MacEntee forget that he repeated in his famous Budget speech of 1952 the statement that appeared in the White Paper produced by the Department of Finance in the previous autumn, the statement that there was no prospect of any increase in agricultural production? The policy of the Budget of 1952 was based upon that assumption. It was alleged that the balance of payments position was so that we could not look to our agricultural exports to help to redress that adverse trade balance and, therefore, Deputy MacEntee, then Minister for Finance, had to take corrective measures, as he described them, in his Budget of 1952, and subsequently.

It was suggested by Deputy Lemass this afternoon that the Fianna Fáil Government were responsible for the increased production in cattle, for the boom in cattle prices and in our agricultural produce generally. Deputy Lemass was deputy Prime Minister of that Government in which Deputy MacEntee was Minister for Finance and Deputy MacEntee's Budget policy and his economic policy were framed on the basis that there was no possibility of rectifying, or helping to rectify, the adverse balance in our trade with Great Britain because, he said, there was no possibility of any increase in agricultural production. We pointed out at that time that steps had been taken in 1948, in 1949, in 1950 and in 1951 to deal with that situation and that the situation was gradually correcting itself and there would ultimately be a vast increase in agricultural production. We said that, because of that anticipated increase, the fears Deputy MacEntee had about the adverse trade balance were groundless. We were laughed at. We were told we did not know what we were talking about.

But we were proved to be correct; and I want to emphasise to-night that Deputy Lemass, who was in fact the leading member of that Government, the economic and financial policy of which was based upon these fallacies, has certainly showed considerable effrontery in coming in here this afternoon [1150] and alleging that the high prices we got for our cattle at the end of last year and the vast increase in our agricultural exports were due to the dispositions and steps taken by the Fianna Fáil Government in the early part of 1954.

Deputy Lemass also referred to certain projects which, he said, were gathering dust in the Department of Industry and Commerce. I have heard him make that statement again and again. He did refer to certain proposals in relation to the manufacture of fertilisers. Now, I have not had time to verify what I am about to say; but may I just make this comment, subject to the reservation that it is made from recollection of conversations that took place about this matter: there were certain proposals in reference to the manufacture of fertilisers. I have not had an opportunity of verifying the facts since this charge was made, but my recollection is that some of these plans were subsequently admitted by the people who put them forward to be plans that they would not ultimately recommend. They recommended them originally and, had they been proceeded with, millions of pounds of the Irish taxpayers money would have been lost.

At the moment there are plans being considered by the Minister for Industry and Commerce and by his Department in relation to the manufacture of fertilisers. I think it was nitrogenous fertiliser that Deputy Lemass referred to; one of the reasons for the delay in that case is that we are taking very good care to ensure that there will be a reconciliation between the claims of industry and the claims of agriculture, so that, when plans for the manufacture of fertiliser, which is the raw material of the agricultural industry, are being put forward we will be in a position to ensure so far as we can that, if these things are manufactured here, the effect will not be to raise the cost of the raw materials of the agricultural industry to the farmer. Is not that the proper thing to look at? Deputy Lemass never looked at it in that way. He rode rough-shod over the interests of the Irish farmer when he was Minister for Industry and Commerce.

[1151] I made speech after speech on the necessity for reconciling those two interests and I said, and I say again, that there is no real conflict between the interests of those engaged in our manufacturing industries and the interests of our farmers. I referred to-day, in the statement which I made, to the absolute vital necessity, if we are to maintain our prosperity and maintain the prosperity of our farmers, of keeping the costs of the agricultural industry down to the minimum.

The Irish farmer has no tariffs and no quotas. He has to produce by the sweat of his brow the materials on which subsequently the economy of the country must depend—the materials for our exports of agricultural produce. He has to sell that produce in a highly competitive market without subsidies and tariffs and it behoves this Government, and every other Government, to see that the costs of the agricultural community are not increased and to see that the farmer is not put in a position where he is cut out of the market because he is not able to compete in the export markets by reasons of increases in the cost of his raw materials.

Do Deputies on the Opposition side of the House appreciate that? That is one of the reasons why there has been a delay, if there has been a delay, and I do not think there has been any undue delay, in reference to the fertiliser factory. We have to see, above all things, that any part of our policy does not result in creating a position where our agricultural produce may be priced out of the competitive [1152] markets in which we have to sell it. I do not think that any remarks made by Deputy Lemass deserve any further comment from me.

Deputy Lemass suggests that we are a Government that apparently has no joint principle or policy. He suggests that we are too concerned with our political fortunes. The country outside does not believe that. The people outside do not believe it. They are satisfied with this Government, that we are acting as a unified body with a common policy and an agreed programme. We are a collection of human beings and we may fail, but if we do fail, no one will be able to say at the end of our term of office, whenever that may come, that we did what Fianna Fáil did. We did not make it a matter of deliberate policy to increase the cost of living, restrict credit and give three years of wasted effort and misery, irresponsible Government and political insecurity such as the country never experienced before.

We will be able to say that we did not deliberately increase the cost of living. We may fail in our endeavours to bring it down but we will be able to say that we tried to bring it down; that we were human beings and that we did our best to bring it down. We will not go to the country, as the last Government went to the country, with a record of a Government having brought avoidable misery and deliberate hardship on a country that was surprised when that Party was elected as a Government to govern it in the year 1951.

Motion put.

The Committee divided: Tá, 49; Níl, 57.

Tá.

Aiken, Frank.
Allen, Denis.
Bartley, Gerald.
Beegan, Patrick.
Blaney, Neil T.
Boland, Gera'd.
Brady, Seán.
Brennan, Joseph.
Brennan, Paudge.
Breslin, Cormac.
Briscoe, Robert.
Burke, Patrick J.
Butler, Bernard. [1153]Flanagan, Seán.
Flynn, John.
Geoghegan, John.
Gogan, Richard.
Hillery, Patrick J.
Hilliard, Michael.
Kelly, Edward.
Kenneally, William.
Killilea, Mark.
Lynch, Celia.
McEllistrim, Thomas.
MacEntee, Seán.
Calleary, Phelim A.
Carter, Frank.
Childers, Erskine H.
Colley, Harry.
Collins, James J.
Crowley, Honor M.
Crowley, Tadhg
Cunningham, Liam.
Davern, Michael J.
Derrig, Thomas.
de Valera, Vivion.
Egan, Nicholas.
Fanning, John. [1154]Maher, Peadar.
Moher, John W.
Mooney, Patrick.
Moylan, Seán.
Ó Briain, Donnchadh.
Ryan, James.
Ryan, Mary B.
Sheridan, Michael.
Smith, Patrick.
Traynor, Oscar.
Walsh, Thomas.

Níl.

Barry, Anthony.
Belton, Jack.
Blowick, Joseph.
Burke, James J.
Byrne, Thomas.
Carew, John.
Casey, Seán.
Coburn, George.
Coogan, Fintan.
Corish, Brendan.
Costello, Declan.
Costello, John A.
Crotty, Patrick J.
Crowe, Patrick.
Deering, Mark.
Desmond, Daniel.
Dillon, James M.
Dockrell, Henry P.
Dockrell, Maurice E.
Donnellan, Michael.
Doyle, Peadar S.
Dunne, Seán.
Esmonde, Anthony C.
Everett, James.
Finlay, Thomas A.
Finucane, Patrick.
Flanagan, Oliver J.
Giles, Patrick.
Glynn, Brendan M.
Hession, James M.
Kenny, Henry.
Keyes, Michael.
Kyne, Thomas A.
Larkin, James.
Leary, Johnny.
Lindsay, Patrick J.
Lynch, Thaddeus.
MacEoin, Seán.
McGilligan, Patrick.
McMenamin, Daniel.
Manley, Timothy.
Murphy, William.
Norton, William.
O'Carroll, Maureen.
O'Connor, John.
O'Donnell, Patrick.
O'Donovan, John.
O'Hara, Thomas.
O'Higgins, Michael J.
O'Reilly, Patrick.
O'Sullivan, Denis J.
Palmer, Patrick W.
Reynolds, Mary.
Rooney, Eamonn.
Sweetman, Gerard.
Tully, James.
Tully, John.

Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Ó Briain and Hilliard; Níl: Deputies P.S. Doyle and Mrs. O'Carroll.

Motion declared lost.

Vote put and agreed to.

The Taoiseach:  I move:—

That a sum not exceeding £13,500 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1956, for a Grant to An Chomhairle Ealaíon (No. 9 of 1951).

I very gravely doubt whether the Deputies in their present mood want to hear anything about art or the steps that have been taken to improve art, and certainly they are so anxious to get home, so desirous to leave this House, that I do not propose to detain them very long. At the same time I must keep them for one minute only, just to refer to one or two facts which I think are of importance in this connection. The Arts Council, An Chomhairle Ealaíon, were fortunate this year in securing the services of Professor Thomas Bodkin as a consultant. I think that is greatly in the public interest, and we are to be congratulated that the services of that very eminent specialist are at the disposal of An Chomhairle Ealaíon.

The second matter I want to mention is a matter of some importance on which I would like to ask for the co-operation [1155] of all Deputies and all sections of the House. Deputies who have read Dr. Bodkin's report on the arts in Ireland, will, perhaps, remember that it was one of the functions suggested for An Chomhairle Ealaíon, the Arts Council, that they should do their part in the effort to secure the return of the Lane pictures. This year An Chomhairle Ealaíon have taken a decision to reprint the book on the Lane pictures which set out Ireland's case for the return of the Lane Pictures which had been prepared in 1932, in a cheap edition, by Professor Bodkin. That book has been brought up to date and the latest arguments and all relevant facts incorporated in the new edition which is to be published by An Chomhairle Ealaíon.

I think we can view with gratitude and satisfaction also the fact that Professor Bodkin gave a broadcast on the Lane pictures quite recently and that through him we will be able to get a very excellent and a very cogently argued broadcast from Radio Éireann from Sir Alec Martin, Managing Director of Christies and an associate of the Wallace Galleries—a man who stands very highly in art circles in England. He is a man who, as an Englishman, would naturally like the Lane pictures kept in England, but now recognises the moral right of Ireland to these pictures. He will come on the air this month and explain his conviction of Ireland's moral claim to the Lane pictures in strict conformity with the wishes of the late Hugh Lane with whom Sir Alec Martin was closely associated.

Mr. MacEntee:  First of all, let me say that we on this side of the House very heartily approve of the steps taken to recover the Lane pictures. As far as we are concerned, we shall give the Government and those acting on their behalf all possible co-operation. It is quite true we are all anxious to get away, some of us for a breath of fresh air, but I understand there are certain members on the other side of the House who are also anxious to get away in order to dine out and if we have shortened the debate in order to facilitate them to that extent I think [1156] we are entitled to have some better return for it than the sneering to which the Taoiseach has treated us. After all it takes two sides to make a debate. Now what happened in the Estimate for the Taoiseach's Department? He got up and prepared and read us a lecture.

The Taoiseach:  Is this a debate on the Arts Council? Why did the Deputy not make this speech on the Taoiseach's Estimate? Is he trying to get in now on the Estimate for the Arts Council?

Mr. MacEntee:  I will tell the Deputy why: we did not think we should bandy words with a political obstetrician. It was quite clear when the Taoiseach was lecturing the House on the Vote for his Department that it was not out of his own mind he was speaking—that he was delivering to us the brainchild of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Government.

An Ceann Comhairle:  It was for art's sake probably. However, this is not relevant to the discussion.

Mr. MacEntee:  It is not, but when the Parliamentary Secretary to the Government had spoken there was not anything to reply to, so there was no use flogging a dead horse in the debate. Deputy Lemass did give the Taoiseach something to reply to, but he has not done so. We are now giving the Government an extra day and we hope they will have a very pleasant holiday.

Vote put and agreed to.

Votes 1 to 66 reported and agreed to.

Minister for Finance (Mr. Sweetman):  I move:—

That towards making good the supply granted for the service of the year ended on the 31st day of [1157] March, 1955, the sum of £478,350 be granted out of the Central Fund.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolution reported and agreed to.

Mr. Sweetman:  I move:

That towards making good the supply granted for the service of the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1956, the sum of £70,928,093 be granted out of the Central Fund.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolution reported and agreed to.

Leave granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to apply a certain sum [1158] out of the Central Fund to the service of the year ended on the 31st day of March, 1955, and the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1956, to appropriate to the proper supply services and purposes the sums granted by the Central Fund Act, 1955, and this Act, and to make certain provisions in relation to borrowing.—(Minister for Finance).

Agreed to take remaining stages now.

Bill read a Second Time, put through Committee, reported without amendment, received for final consideration and passed.

The Dáil adjourned at 8.35 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 26th October, 1955.

Mr. Rooney:  asked the Minister for Lands whether the Land Commission have completed acquisition proceedings in respect of the Remount Farm, Lusk, and when they will be in a position to consider the merits of applications for holdings on this estate.

Mr. Blowick:  The acquisition of these lands is under consideration and I expect that a final decision will soon be reached.