Dáil Éireann

02/Jun/1959

Prelude

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Nitrogenous Fertiliser Factory.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - State Assisted Firms: Employment of Irish Nationals.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Medical Posts in Dundalk Hospital.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Medical Posts in Local Authority Hospitals.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Treatment of Cancer.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Medical Superintendent for Mental Institution.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Staffs of Voluntary Hospitals.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Signing of Unemployment Register in Dundalk.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Post Office Receipts.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Exchequer Receipts from Stamps on Cheques.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Economic Expansion: Estimated Increase in Employment.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Reactor Cattle in Laois.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Acreage Grants from Land Project Funds.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Milk Deliveries to Creameries.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Reactor Cattle in Laois.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Lowering of Meath River Bed.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Planting of Laois Land.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Afforestation in North Tipperary.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Students taking Lectures in Music.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Referendum and Presidential Election Arrangements.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Register of Electors in Cork City.

Medical Posts in Local Authority Hospitals. - Statement by Minister for Health.

Medical Posts in Local Authority Hospitals. - Message from Seanad.

Medical Posts in Local Authority Hospitals. - Order of Business.

Medical Posts in Local Authority Hospitals. - Estimates for Public Services.

Committee on Finance. - Vote 61—Office of the Minister for Social Welfare (resumed).

Committee on Finance. - Vote 62—Social Insurance.

Committee on Finance. - Vote 63—Social Assistance.

Committee on Finance. - Social Welfare Bill, 1959—Second Stage.

Committee on Finance. - Social Welfare Bill, 1959: Money Resolution.

Committee on Finance. - Social Welfare Bill, 1959: Committee and Final Stages.

Committee on Finance. - Estimates for Public Services, 1959-60.

Committee on Finance. - Vote 50—Industry and Commerce (Resumed).

Adjournment Debate. - Medical Posts in Local Authority Hospitals.

[681] Do chuaigh an Ceann Comhairle i gceannas ar 3 p.m.

Paidir.

Prayer.

1.

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins:  asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce whether the proposal for the construction of a factory and plant to engage in the production of nitrogenous fertiliser will be proceeded with; and, if so, whether this factory will be sited in the West Offaly area.

Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. S. Lemass):  As has already been announced, the Government have decided to reserve Blackwater bog in West Offaly as a source of milled peat for a factory for the production of ammonium nitrate fertiliser and I have set up a representative Committee to examine the merits of various proposals received from firms of international standing in the chemical and fertiliser industries in regard to the erection of the proposed factory.

This Committee is expected to submit its recommendations at an early date and it is the intention of the Government, following consideration of the Report of the Committee, to take a final decision.

Meanwhile, I am not in a position to make a statement about the location of the proposed factory.

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins:  Can the Minister give any indication as to whether the report is likely to be available in the immediate future or in the long term.

[682]Mr. S. Lemass:  I expect it before the end of this month.

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins:  Before the 17th?

Mr. S. Lemass:  Before the end of the month.

Mr. Dillon:  Is there any inquiry being made (1) into the suitability of ammonium nitrate as a nitrogenous fertiliser for our conditions and (2) as to the world capacity for the production of nitrogenous fertiliser in its relation to potential consumption?

Mr. S. Lemass:  All aspects of the matter are being fully considered.

Mr. Dillon:  Have been or are being?

Mr. S. Lemass:  Are being.

Mr. Cosgrave:  Will the report be published or is it confidential?

Mr. S. Lemass:  I could not say that until I see it. It may comment upon proposals received in confidence from some of the firms concerned.

Mr. Dillon:  Bearing in mind that ammonium nitrate is the product which blew the port of Texas to blazes within the recent past, will the Minister at least undertake to publish those parts of the report which deal with the question of the suitability of this fertiliser for our conditions and with the world capacity for the production of nitrate related to world consumption?

Mr. S. Lemass:  All aspects will be considered.

Mr. Aiken:  The Deputy wants to blow it up along with beet and peat?

Mr. Dillon:  I do not want to blow up any trains.

An Ceann Comhairle:  Order!

2.

Mr. Casey:  asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce whether he will take such steps as are necessary to secure that where state assistance, [683] whether by way of loan, grant or guarantee, is given to a firm, priority in employment will be given to Irish nationals where they are capable of filling the positions concerned.

Mr. S. Lemass:  Under existing arrangements, an alien, other than a subject or citizen of Britain or the British Commonwealth, may be employed only if his employment is authorised by an employment permit granted by the Minister for Industry and Commerce. Before such a permit is granted, the availability of suitable Irish nationals is, of course, considered. These arrangements are regarded as adequate.

A main objective of industrial policy is to increase employment opportunities for Irish nationals. The Deputy will appreciate, however, that there must be reasonable provision for the employment of some non-nationals where the promoters of industrial projects regard their employment as essential to the success of the industry.

Mr. Casey:  Am I to take it from the Minister's reply that it is Government policy that one of the fundamental justifications for State aid to Irish industry is the consideration of increased opportunity for employment of our own people at home? If so, can he explain why in some cases preference is given to non-nationals? They may not be regarded as aliens because they are British citizens, but preference is given to non-nationals as against nationals in certain of our Irish industries which have received substantial State aid.

Mr. S. Lemass:  I think the Deputy will appreciate that I could not answer a very general question of that kind.

Mr. Casey:  Is the Minister not aware from the Industrial Credit Company that a firm of carpet manufacturers in the City of Cork do not appear to be conversant with or enthusiastic about the principles outlined by the Minister, and that, in a recent case, they have supplanted an Irish national by a “wide boy” who is a friend of one of the directors concerned? Will the Minister undertake [684] to investigate the position if I lay the facts before him?

Mr. S. Lemass:  I do not think I should comment on the affairs of a particular company.

Mr. Casey:  I am not attempting to comment on the affairs of a particular company. I am simply asking the Minister to state clearly that, as far as he is concerned, the policy of the Government is that where an industry receives substantial State aid, preference should be given to Irish nationals in the matter of employment where they are competent to fill the posts concerned. Can the Minister comment on that?

Mr. S. Lemass:  The whole purpose of our industrial policy is to provide increased opportunities of employment for Irish nationals. That objective cannot be attained unless these industries are successful. The arrangements necessary to ensure their success in the case of a private concern rest with their managements.

An Ceann Comhairle:  This is now becoming an argument and not a question.

Mr. Casey:  Can the Minister say if, in the case of an industry securing substantial State aid, there is a condition attaching to that aid whereby they employ Irish nationals where they are competent to carry out a job?

Mr. S. Lemass:  So far as the Deputy is referring to State grants, there are no conditions of any kind attaching to these grants and no process by which conditions can be enforced. The essential feature is that they are without strings.

Mr. Casey:  Surely, if the policy of the Government in a case where substantial State aid——

An Ceann Comhairle:  I am calling the next question. The Deputy will please resume his seat.

Mr. Casey:  I think, Sir——

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Deputy will resume his seat.

[685]Mr. Casey:  I have not elicited the information I am entitled to seek under the Standing Orders of this House.

An Ceann Comhairle:  I am the authority as to the number of supplementary questions which may be asked. I am ruling that no further supplementary questions may be asked on this matter now.

Mr. Casey:  Might I submit——

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Deputy will not discuss my ruling in this manner.

Mr. Casey:  I am submitting that I have not yet elicited the information I seek on this matter.

An Ceann Comhairle:  That is not my function. My function is to see when sufficient supplementary questions have been asked. I am ruling that a sufficient number of supplementary questions have been asked in this case.

Mr. Casey:  With respect, Sir, I contend——

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Deputy will resume his seat.

Mr. Tierney:  On a point of order, may I take it that the Minister has made it clear that there is no condition attaching to this?

An Ceann Comhairle:  That is not my function at all. My function is to decide the number of supplementary questions that may be put on a question.

Mr. Casey:  With respect, I submit that I have not been afforded an opportunity of getting the information I seek.

An Ceann Comhairle:  The necessary information——

Mr. Casey:  With your permission, Sir, I propose to raise the subject matter of this question on the Adjournment.

Mr. S. Lemass:  Raise it on the debate on the Estimate.

[686]Mr. Casey:  No; I shall raise it on the Adjournment.

3.

Mr. Coburn:  asked the Minister for Health whether he is aware that Louth County Council are experiencing difficulty in filling medical posts for the new county hospital in Dundalk; and whether there is likely to be an early settlement of the dispute between his Department and the Irish Medical Association in regard to the terms of appointment governing such posts.

Minister for Health (Mr. MacEntee):  The senior medical staff at the County Surgical Hospital will transfer to the new County Hospital when completed.

I am aware that the Louth County Council, in common with most other Councils, have experienced difficulty in recruiting junior medical staff. That difficulty existed before the Irish Medical Association decided to impose its recent boycott on medical posts in local authority hospitals. It remains to be seen whether the boycott will further aggravate the position.

A post of county physician has been authorised for the new county hospital. That post has not yet been advertised.

The decision to lift the boycott on local authority hospital posts rests with the Irish Medical Association which imposed it. I have no information as to their intentions.

Mr. Coburn:  Is the Minister aware that at a recent meeting of the Louth County Council, it was stated by the county manager that he was experiencing difficulty in filling these medical posts and can he say whether any progress is being made or has been made with the I.M.A. in regard to this matter?

Mr. MacEntee:  I am not in negotiation with the I.M.A. in regard to these posts. The I.M.A. imposed the ban without informing me as to the reason for doing it. I have told them that if they wish to meet me, I shall meet them when they restore the status quo ante.

[687]Mr. T.F. O'Higgins:  Could the Minister indicate whether he is willing to receive a deputation from the I.M.A. in relation to this difference and allied differences?

Mr. MacEntee:  No; I do not propose to do so. If the Deputy will be good enough to await the statement which I propose to make in reply to Question 4, he will understand what my position is.

General Mulcahy:  Before this matter and this difficulty arose, can the Minister say what steps he was taking to deal with the shortage of applicants for vacant positions in these hospitals?

Mr. MacEntee:  All the steps that are open to me within the limited resources at the command of myself and the ratepayers.

4.

Mr. Booth:  asked the Minister for Health whether he is aware that arising out of his letters dated the 14th April, 1959, to the Cork County Manager, as published in the daily press on the 21st May, 1959, the Irish Medical Association requested its members to communicate with the Association before applying for posts in local authority hospitals; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Mr. MacEntee:  I have seen in the press the announcement referred to.

As my statement in regard to this matter is necessarily rather a lengthy one and as the matter is one of considerable public interest, I would propose, a Cheann Comhairle, with your permission, to make it before the commencement of public business.

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins:  What does that mean? Does it mean that the statement which the Minister may then make can be questioned and queried in this House?

Mr. MacEntee:  No.

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins:  In relation to the procedure, a question has been [688] tabled, put down to the Minister by a Deputy to elicit information——

An Ceann Comhairle:  No.

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins:  The question has been tabled—Question No. 4—to elicit information from the Minister in accordance with the procedure of this House. Surely the Minister must give the information subject to the right of Deputies to question the Minister on the statement he makes? I should object very much if the Minister made a statement which may not be questioned.

Mr. Corish:  I thought the Minister asked the permission of the Ceann Comhairle.

An Ceann Comhairle:  Yes; it is with the permission of the House.

Mr. Corish:  I was under the impression that it was the Ceann Comhairle who decided whether or not an answer——

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Ceann Comhairle is, I hope, not in the habit of outstepping his functions.

Mr. MacEntee:  I think Deputy O'Higgins has unwittingly misled the House. I was asked if I was aware of certain newspaper reports and if I would make a statement on the matter. I said I would make a statement on the matter, with your permission, a Cheann Comhairle, at the commencement of Public Business.

General Mulcahy:  On a point of order, is it not open and more natural for the Minister to make a statement now in regard to the question on the Order Paper? Is he not fully entitled to make this statement now?

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins:  May I indicate —I have seen this question and I have heard the Minister's reply—that the Minister can make the statement which he has indicated only with the permission of the House? I do not want to prevent the Minister making any statement he desires to make but I do suggest that I and other Deputies who may be interested in this matter, as I am sure the House will be, should be [689] entitled to question the Minister on his statement in the same way as if he made the statement in reply to a question. In my short experience in this House, similar questions have been addressed to Ministers over a number of years. Ministers have always made a statement in reply to the question and their replies have been subjected to the rigour of supplementary questions and such questions as might arise properly on the reply. The Minister for Health should not seek to get preferential treatment in regard to a matter as important as this is.

Mr. MacEntee:  I am not seeking preferential treatment. The permission I am seeking is often accorded to Ministers and Deputies. Deputies may wish to put questions and there are two ways of doing that. The matter may be raised on the Adjournment or Deputies may put down short notice questions to-morrow when they have fully considered the statement I am going to make.

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins:  This is a matter of importance. The Health Estimate has concluded in the last few days. The Minister could have made a statement to this effect on his Estimate when it could have been fully discussed. It is quite wrong that the Minister should now seek to run away from Question Time to make a statement after Question Time and to seek a privilege whereby he can avoid being subjected to Supplementary Questions. I do not think that is right.

An Ceann Comhairle:  Statements are made to the House with the permission of the House, and such statements are not subject to discussion by the House. That is the practice.

Mr. Dillon:  May I suggest a way out of this difficulty? If the Minister wishes to leave his answer to this question to the end of questions and then provide it as his answer to the last Question on the Order Paper, I think by that means he avoids inconveniencing anybody else and at the same time meets what appears to be a reasonable request that Deputies should be entitled to ask supplementary questions, particularly in view of the fact [690] that on Question 3 we had Supplementary Questions withheld at the Minister's request because he said he thought his answer to Question 4 would meet the subject matter of the Supplementary Questions contemplated. Would that not solve the difficulty?

Mr. MacEntee:  I did not say precisely what the Deputy has said in the concluding portion of his remarks; but the suggestion Deputy Dillon has made would be quite acceptable to me if the Chair will permit my deferring the answer to Question 4 until the end of Questions.

An Ceann Comhairle:  That means the statement will be a reply to question 4.

Mr. Dillon:  This is a most admirable deliberative assembly. We can settle anything.

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins:  If we had more Dillons in the House.

5.

Mr. Russell:  asked the Minister for Health if he will state the total number of persons who received treatment in the specialist cancer hospitals in 1958.

Mr. MacEntee:  The statistics do not show the number of persons who received treatment as distinct from the number of admissions of patients to hospitals or attendances of patients at out-patient departments. The statistics of attendances at out-patient departments do not distinguish in all cases between patients who receive treatment and those who attend only for diagnostic attention. The number of patients admitted to cancer hospitals during the year 1958 was 5,363 and the number of attendances at out-patient departments and clinics conducted by these hospitals was 18,570.

6.

Dr. Browne:  asked the Minister for Health if he is aware that an advertisement seeking a medical superintendent for a mental institution (particulars of which have been forwarded [691] to his Department) specifies that the new appointee must be a Protestant; and if he will insist that the most highly qualified medical practitioner, irrespective of his religious beliefs, be appointed.

Mr. MacEntee:  While no particulars have been furnished to my Department, I understand that the post mentioned has been advertised and that the advertisement specified that the new appointee must be a Protestant. The institution in question is a voluntary institution and I have no direct functions in relation to the appointment of staff.

Dr. Browne:  Is not this a most undesirable precedent if the Minister allows this appointment to go through? Would it not mean that the young patients who are in that hospital and who are Protestant children will, very likely, be denied the opportunity of availing of the services of the most highly qualified medical man irrespective of religion? Secondly, could the Minister not suggest that it is undesirable that precedents such as this should be allowed to go on record because it may be used——

An Ceann Comhairle:  This seems to be quite irrelevant.

Dr. Browne:  ——at a later date to justify religious discrimination on similar lines by Catholics?

Mr. MacEntee:  I have pointed out that this institution is a voluntary hospital and that I have no direct function in relation to the appointment of staff.

Mr. Dillon:  I want to ask a supplementary question. Is there anything wrong in a Protestant hospital for Protestant children of feeble minds asking that the doctor in charge of these feeble-minded Protestant children should be a Protestant? If it were a Catholic Home, I would think it perfectly reasonable to say——

An Ceann Comhairle:  That surely is not a supplementary question.

Mr. Dillon:  I want to ask the Minister does he agree with me. Let us [692] face this: Is there anything wrong in the custodians or those responsible for feeble-minded Protestant children asking that there should be a Protestant doctor in charge of them any more than there would be in the custodians of feeble-minded Catholic children asking that there should be a Catholic doctor in charge of them? So far as I am concerned, I think they are perfectly right?

Mr. MacEntee:  I think the Deputy has stated the Catholic point of view in the matter.

Mr. Dillon:  I do not know whether it is Catholic or not but I think it is right.

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins:  It is good sense anyhow.

Dr. Browne:  Is it not very desirable that in this allegedly non-sectarian hospital the sole criterion of the treatment of the sick children whether Protestant or Catholic should be that the best qualified medical man should be made available? Surely that is the most important consideration?

Mr. Dillon:  Is it in fact non-sectarian or is it only for Protestant children?

Dr. Browne:  Under the Constitution it is.

Mr. Dillon:  But in practice?

Dr. Browne:  Is it not a fact that there is a precedent for the Department of Health suggesting to a voluntary institution that they should, in circumstances such as these, recommend or ask that the Local Appointments Commission should make the appointment in order to ensure that the best qualified person should get the post and would the Minister not be prepared to follow that precedent?

Mr. MacEntee:  I have nothing to add to the reply I have given.

7.

Mr. Moloney:  asked the Minister for Health whether in view of the fact that a large part of the income of [693] voluntary hospitals in Dublin is derived from the Hospitals' Trust Fund which is under his control, and from capitation fees by local health authorities who are recouped by him as to fifty per cent. out of voted moneys in respect of patients for whom they have assumed responsibility, he will see his way to impressing on the authorities of those hospitals the desirability of recruiting their staffs on merit alone.

Mr. MacEntee:  I am in full agreement with the Deputy that recruitment of staffs of voluntary hospitals should be on merit alone, but I have no direct functions in regard to the matter.

If the Deputy will refer to subsection (5) of Section 25 of the Public Hospitals Act, 1933, he will note that when I make a grant from the Hospitals' Trust Fund to a hospital, I am expressly precluded from attaching to such grant any condition relating to the appointment, dismissal or control of the hospital staff.

Before any hospital can be availed of for the treatment of local authority patients, my approval of the hospital is necessary and such approval will not be given, or continued, by me where I am not satisfied that the staffing of the hospital is on a satisfactory basis.

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins:  I wonder if the Minister would indicate to the Deputy who asked the question—as he is not in the House—that voluntary hospitals provide the main portion of the services for patients under the Health Act and that public representatives might assist the health services more by recognition of the work these hospitals are doing rather than by ill-informed criticism of a tendentious character?

An Ceann Comhairle:  That seems to be entirely irrelevant.

8.

Mr. Coburn:  asked the Minister for Social Welfare whether he is aware that grave discontent is being felt by persons in receipt of unemployment assistance in Dundalk who [694] are over 65 years, and who are now required to visit the employment exchange daily to sign the register; and if he will make arrangements for less frequent attendance at the exchange in respect of these persons.

Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. MacEntee):  I dealt with this matter in reply to a similar question from the Deputy in relation to unemployment benefit just a year ago. On that occasion I described the signing requirements laid down by my Department for unemployed persons. These requirements are exactly the same in the case of unemployment benefit and unemployment assistance. They are as follows: Unemployed persons who reside within two miles of an Exchange are required to attend there every day; unemployed persons residing between two and four miles are required to attend on three days a week; unemployed persons residing between four and six miles are required to attend only on one day a week while those over six miles are not required to attend at an exchange at all. These requirements apply generally to all unemployed persons between the ages of sixteen and seventy. As I said on the previous occasion I do not think these requirements can be regarded as unreasonable and bearing in mind that in order to be eligible for unemployment assistance every unemployed person declares that he is capable of and available for work I do not see how they can be said to cause hardship to unemployed persons. I do not, therefore, propose to make any change in them.

Mr. Coburn:  In view of the fact that some of these men are 68 or 69 years of age and that, although they must declare themselves to be eligible for work, it is very unlikely that they would be offered work by any employer on account of their age, would the Minister not consider the possibility of exempting persons in the age group 65 to 70 from daily attendance?

Mr. MacEntee:  Whether they are being requested to attend daily depends on where they live. I have given a very full reply to the Deputy and I do not propose to repeat it.

[695]9.

Mr. Sweetman:  asked the Minister for Finance why there is such a large increase in Post Office receipts for the period between 1st April, 1959, and 16th May, 1959, as compared with the similar period of last year.

Minister for Finance (Dr. Ryan):  The Deputy, presumably, is referring to Post Office revenue receipts paid into the Exchequer as shown in the weekly Exchequer Return published in Iris Oifigiúil. These receipts showed an increase of £400,000 in the period mentioned by the Deputy as compared with the corresponding period last year. £100,000 of the increase was due to increased revenue and the remaining £300,000 was accounted for as follows.

It has been past practice to pay Post Office revenue into the Exchequer in monthly instalments at the end of each month. Arrangements are now being made, however, to have Post Office revenue paid into the Exchequer weekly instead of monthly so that it will be available for Exchequer purposes at an earlier date. The new procedure has not yet been completed but in anticipation of its introduction an instalment of £300,000 was paid into the Exchequer on the 14th May on account of the amount which otherwise would have been transferred at the end of the month.

I might mention that Post Office revenue paid into the Exchequer for the months of April and May, 1959, totalled £1.5 million as compared with £1.35 million for the same two months last year.

10.

Mr. Haughey:  asked the Minister for Finance if he will state the total receipts into the Exchequer for the year ended 31st March, 1959, from stamps on bank cheques.

Dr. Ryan:  The receipts from stamp duties on cheques for the year ended 31st March, 1959, were £229,522.

11.

Mr. Russell:  asked the Minister for [696] Finance if he will state relative to the Government's Programme for Economic Expansion the estimated increase in industrial, agricultural and other employments in each of the years 1959/60 to 1963/64.

Dr. Ryan:  I would refer the Deputy to the reply to a somewhat similar question by Deputy Declan Costello on the 27 November last.

12.

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins:  asked the Minister for Agriculture if he will state under what circumstances five hundred reactor cattle are held on land on the Franks Estate, Leix; whether he is aware that this land is watered by the river Nore which flows through many farms in the area; and, if so, whether he considers that there is any danger of infection being spread.

Minister for Agriculture (Mr. Smith):  About 350 cattle which were purchased as reactors are now grazing on the Estate in question. I am aware that the land is bounded by the River Nore. The animals are under constant veterinary supervision, and I am informed that the danger of spreading infection from the Estate is negligible.

Mr. Dillon:  Could the Minister tell us what purpose he has in keeping these 350 reactor cattle?

Mr. Smith:  It is largely experimental. When we arrived at the stage of declaring the West of Ireland and some other counties clearance areas we knew we would have to take up many young reactor cows in addition to what we had been taking up. We felt the Land Commission might have some fairly large areas of land that they might not intend to divide this year and that as an experimental effort it would be worth while taking it for at least one season to see what the result would be. Before doing so we were assured by our veterinary people that there was no danger at all such as that envisaged in this question.

Mr. Dillon:  Am I correct in believing that this is part of the general experiment by the Minister of acquiring immature reactors and simply keeping [697] them for a limited period until they reach a degree of maturity which will make their sale a reasonably economic proposition to the Department?

Mr. Smith:  We are trying to see if we can reduce the average loss to the Exchequer by this means. In addition, the canning factories very often close down around the month of June; we would be obliged to continue our operations in relation to the clearance areas even after that date—not so much through the Summer as at a later period —and we would want some place to keep such stock as we might have to take out.

13.

Miss Hogan:  asked the Minister for Agriculture when and why it was decided to discontinue the making of acreage grants out of Land Project funds to Comhlucht Siúicre Éireann in respect of reclamation work for farmers.

Mr. Smith:  The decision was taken in July, 1958. In view of the difficulty of adequately maintaining the works carried out and also of maintaining fertility, it was considered that the expenditure of State funds in respect of the reclamation of virgin bog by farmers is not warranted.

Mr. Dillon:  This does not relate to the work at Gowla Bog?

Mr. Smith:  It does not relate to work being done by the Sugar Company on any bogland owned by themselves.

14.

Mr. Russell:  asked the Minister for Agriculture if he will state the total amount of milk delivered to creameries in (a) each month of 1957 and 1958, and (b) the current year to the nearest available date.

Mr. Smith:  Approximate figures of milk deliveries to creameries are collected weekly but not by calendar months. The figures for each period of four weeks since the 1st January, [698] 1957, are contained in a tabular statement which I propose, with the permission of the Ceann Comhairle, to have circulated with the official report.

The following is the tabular statement:—

APPROXIMATE Figures of Milk Deliveries to Creameries.

Four weeks ended 1957 1958 1959
gallons gallons gallons
29th January 3,552,000 3,695,000 2,290,000
26th February 4,102,000 4,724,000 3,421,000
26th March 8,507,000 9,691,000 7,615,000
23rd April 18,604,000 17,270,000 14,726,000
21st May 34,090,000 33,105,000 27,186,000
18th June 41,632,000 42,217,000
16th July 39,141,000 41,949,000
13th August 37,213,000 37,788,000
10th September 35,075,000 31,821,000
8th October 28,501,000 25,328,000
5th November 20,668,000 16,230,000
3rd December 11,295,000 7,825,000
31st December 5,441,000 3,528,000

15.

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins:  asked the Minister for Lands under what circumstances land on the Franks Estate, Leix, which was acquired by the Land Commission for the purposes of the Land Act, is now being used for holding approximately five hundred reactor cattle, thereby depriving local small-holders of grazing for their cattle and creating a source of danger to health in the area.

Minister for Lands (Mr. Childers):  The lands on this Estate have been made available to the Department of Agriculture for the current letting season because of the importance of facilitating the work of that Department in the Scheme for the Eradication of Bovine T.B. It is not anticipated that there will be any resultant delay in the allotment of the Estate.

16.

Captain Giles:  asked the Minister for Lands if he is aware that many farmers with land in the valley of Drumlargan adjoining the forest at Summerhill, County Meath, cannot avail themselves of the land reclamation scheme because of the high level of the bed of a small river which runs through the Langford Estate; and if [699] in view of the great loss which these farmers suffer through flooding, he will have steps taken to lower the bed of the river at the few points which cause the damage.

Mr. Childers:  My Department has had no previous complaints about this matter but it will be investigated as soon as possible.

17.

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins:  asked the Minister for Lands whether he is aware that the Forestry Division propose to plant approximately one hundred acres of excellent grazing land on the Thompson Estate, Cardtown, Mountrath, which will result in depriving small holders in the area of grazing for their cattle; and, if so, whether he will give instructions to the Forestry Division to prevent this waste of good land.

Mr. Childers:  No decision has been reached regarding the future utilisation of vacant lands at Cardtown property, Ossory State Forest.

A number of applications have been received from local people for the sale of portions of the Cardtown lands to them and some offers of lands on an exchange basis have also been received. Pending full consideration of these applications there is no question of devoting the lands to forestry purposes.

18.

Mr. Fanning:  asked the Minister for Lands if he will state the acreage of land offerred to the Forestry Division for afforestation purposes in North Tipperary and the amount accepted and acquired; and when it is likely that the remaining lands will be taken over.

Mr. Childers:  The total productive area held by the Forestry Division at the four Forests in North Tipperary on 31st March, 1959, was 7,311 acres of which a total of 5,754 acres was actually planted, leaving a plantable reserve of 1,557 acres. The planting programme for the area for the current year totals 1,066 acres.

[700] The total productive area acquired in North Tipperary in 1958/59 was 890 acres.

Statistics for lands on offer for forestry are not kept on a constituency basis and I can only give the Deputy figures for County Tipperary as a whole. At a recent date the total area on offer to the Forestry Division in this County which has been inspected was 11,592 acres, consisting of 149 separate lots. Sales had been closed and possession was pending in respect of 5 cases totalling 339 acres, offers had been accepted and title was in course of clearance in 37 cases totalling 2,270 acres, negotiations had been opened for the purchase of 38 areas totalling 2,034 acres and further investigations were in progress in 69 cases totalling 6,949 acres. In addition there were a number of cases at the preliminary stages of investigation.

19.

Mr. Barrett:  asked the Minister for Education if he will state the number of students who took lectures during the present academic year from the professors and lecturers of music in the following universities, viz., University College, Dublin, Trinity College, Dublin, University College, Cork, and University College, Galway.

Minister for Education (Mr. J. Lynch):  The number of students who took lectures during the present academic year from the professors and lecturers of music in the Universities is as follows:—

University College, Dublin 57
University College, Cork 20
Trinity College, Dublin 67

The course in music in Trinity College, Dublin, consists of the history of music only, the lectures in which are given in connection with the Arts Faculty, no lectures being given for the Mus. B Degree course which is an extern one.

Lecturse in Music are not given to students in University College, Galway. I regret that in the reply given recently to a question from the Deputy it was [701] stated, in error, that there was a professor of Music in University College, Galway.

20.

Mr. M.J. O'Higgins:  asked the Minister for Local Government if, in order to minimise any confusion likely to arise from the decision of the Government to hold the referendum and presidential election on the same day, he will ensure that in each polling booth separate and clearly marked ballot boxes will be available, and that different coloured ballot papers will be issued for the referendum and election, respectively.

Minister for Local Government (Mr. Blaney):  I would refer the Deputy to subsection (2) of section 4 of the Referendum (Amendment) Act, 1959, which provides that where the polling day at a constitutional referendum is also the polling day at a presidential election the ballot papers at the referendum shall be of a different colour from those at the presidential election. The Section also provides that the local returning officer may, if he thinks proper, provide separate ballot boxes for the ballot papers for the referendum and for the ballot papers for the presidential election.

Mr. Casey:  Can the Minister say what is the position if the ballot papers are put into the wrong box where two boxes are provided?

Mr. Blaney:  It will not matter.

21.

Mr. Barrett:  asked the Minister for Local Government if he is aware that the list of electors for the Cork City constituency has been for some years and is still being produced in an inadequate fashion which is apt to confuse those using the list for purposes of house-to-house ' canvass, for the addressing of literature to electors whose names are therein contained, and for ensuring that voters are able to vote at the most convenient centre; and if he will state the steps, if any, which he will take to ensure that future [702] registers of electors in the constituency are prepared with due regard for the purposes aforesaid.

Mr. Blaney:  I was informed last week by the Cork County Registrar that a number of complaints had been made to him in regard to the manner in which the Register of Electors for the Cork borough constituency is compiled. He stated that the removal of many of the more serious grounds for complaint would appear to depend on the making of a new scheme of polling districts by the local authorities concerned. I have informed him that he should formally bring these complaints to the notice of the Cork Corporation and the Cork County Council so that appropriate action can be taken as soon as possible.

Minister for Health (Mr. MacEntee):  I propose to read as part of my reply to Question No. 4 the statement to which I have already referred.

The letters to the Cork County Manager, referred to in the question, conveyed my findings arising out of a Sworn Inquiry held into the circumstances of the death of a patient in Fermoy Hospital.

The patient in question was a married man, aged 29 years, a farm labourer with three children, the oldest aged five and the youngest two years. He was a non-paying patient. He was admitted to the County Hospital, then at Fermoy, after 5.30 p.m. on the 10th May, 1957, as a case of suspected sub-acute appendix. He was seen in the hospital by the House Surgeon at about 6.00 p.m. and again at 7.00 p.m. The House Surgeon telephoned the County Surgeon at his home in Mallow, 20 miles away. The County Surgeon did not see the patient, but in the course of this telephone conversation, it was decided that an operation should be performed. The County Surgeon instructed the House Surgeon, who, at that time, had had, since qualification, only about eight months' surgical experience, to start the operation at 8.15 p.m. and said that he would probably be over.

[703] The House Surgeon, accordingly, commenced the operation as directed about 8.15 p.m.

These facts are not in dispute.

It was no part of the duties of the House Surgeon to carry out operations as substitute for the County Surgeon. The relevant duties of a house officer, as laid down in the Regulations clearly indicate this. For convenience I shall quote them:—

“To take charge of all patients on their admission to the hospital and to assign them to their proper wards pending examination by the surgeon or the physician of the hospital, as the case may require.”

“To visit the several wards of the hospital at least twice daily and at such other times as the due performance of his duties may require, and to report to the surgeon or physician of the hospital, as the case may require, any condition of a patient or other matter affecting the hospital, or the patients therein, which he considers requires attention.”

“To attend at the hospital in any case of sudden emergency when sent for by the matron or other responsible officer.”

“In case of urgency or sudden emergency, to send at once for the surgeon of the hospital or the physician of the hospital, as the case may require.”

“Generally to assist the surgeon of the hospital and the physician of the hospital in the performance of their respective duties and to observe and execute all such orders and directions as may be given by the surgeon or physician of the hospital, as the case may be, applicable to his office.”

On the other hand, the duties of a County Surgeon include the following:

“To examine the state of all surgical cases on admission to the hospital and to decide whether the cases are suitable for treatment therein.”

“To attend all surgical cases in [704] the hospital and see that they receive such surgical treatment and advice and assistance as may be necessary.”

“To perform all such surgical operations as may be proper to be performed by him in the hospital.”

All the foregoing duties which I have quoted are brought to the notice of appointees to these posts.

During the course of the operation to which I have referred, a complication arose with which the House Surgeon could not cope and about 9.00 p.m. a nurse, acting on his instructions, telephoned the County Surgeon's home in Mallow. The County Surgeon had not yet left for Fermoy. The County Surgeon told the nurse that he would be in the hospital in three-quarters of an hour. He appears to have arrived in the hospital at about 9.45 p.m. Shortly after the County Surgeon's arrival the patient got a spasm or convulsion. The convulsions became consistently worse and the patient died at 12.45 a.m. on the 11th May, 1957.

When the matter came to my notice I decided that the facts could be established only by a sworn inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of the patient, and into the manner in which the County Surgeon had performed his duties. The Inquiry was held in November, 1957 and occupied 11 days.

Having considered very carefully the evidence given at the hearing and the report of the Inspector who held the Inquiry, I caused the Cork County Manager to be informed, by letter dated the 14th April, 1959, that I was satisfied that:—

(1) In accepting the diagnosis of the House Surgeon and giving him instructions to operate, without personally examining the patient, the County Surgeon was, in all the circumstances, acting contrary to his terms of appointment;

(2) In the particular circumstances, the County Surgeon acted improperly in remaining in Mallow without any adequate reason and in not going to Fermoy to operate on or to attend at the operation on the patient (until he received a telephone [705] call when complications had developed during the operation);

(3) The practice of the County Surgeon in instructing the House Surgeon to start operations when in Mallow and leaving for Fermoy was undesirable. It introduced unnecessary risk.

The letter went on to state that I was satisfied that I would be justified in removing the County Surgeon from office but that in view of the length of time which had elapsed between the holding of the Inquiry and my decision—a delay which arose out of circumstances for which neither I nor the Inspector was responsible—the County Surgeon should be afforded an opportunity to resign as an alternative.

The County Surgeon refused to resign by the specified date and I extended the period in order to afford him an opportunity to reconsider the matter. The County Surgeon still refused to resign and I made an Order removing him from office as from the 25th May, 1959.

In regard to the House Surgeon, as I have already mentioned, it was no part of his duties to operate, in substitution for the County Surgeon. In the event, he was unable, owing to lack of experience at the time to cope with the emergency which arose in the course of the operation—and while I felt that I should take into account that he was acting on the instructions of the County Surgeon, I could not entirely exonerate him from his share of responsibility for this tragedy. Accordingly, I caused a further letter, also dated 14th April, 1959, to be addressed to the Cork County Manager, requesting him to inform the House Surgeon that, in my view, he was lacking in judgment on the occasion in commencing the operation without having previously satisfied himself that experienced surgical opinion and help would be readily available to him to overcome any difficulty which might arise in the course of the operation.

The letters in question to the Cork County Manager were, at the request of the members of the Cork County [706] Council, read to them at a meeting of the Council on 20th May, 1959 and were published in the daily press on the following day.

I have no information regarding the precise reasons why the Irish Medical Association should have seen fit to attempt to impose this boycott on all medical posts in every local authority hospital—regional hospital, county hospital, district hospital, fever hospital, mental hospital, orthopaedic hospital, sanatorium and county home in the State. These hospitals at any time cater for about 40,000 patients. The only explanation I have is that which appeared in a single daily paper on Monday, 25th May, attributed to an unnamed spokesman of the Association and was to the effect that the purpose was “to allow the Organisation to make clear the duties of any younger medical practitioner taking up a job in a public hospital”; that the house surgeon referred to above had done “nothing more than his diligent duty” and that “until the responsibility and duties of house officers in local authority hospitals were clarified by the Minister the present action of advice from headquarters would continue”.

It was recognised by me that the house surgeon was an inexperienced young man at the time. The reproof administered to him was of the mildest and, in fact, he has since been employed, with my consent, in a more senior post. In the light of this, it is impossible for me to accept that the reason for the far-reaching boycott is, as stated by the Irish Medical Association spokesman, concern for the house surgeon concerned or for house surgeons generally.

If the boycott was imposed in retaliation for the action I have taken against anybody, that person must be the County Surgeon who delegated to a young man, who then had only very limited experience, a duty which it was no part of that young man's duty to perform and which the County Surgeon himself should have performed. I have been unable to trace in the voluminous evidence that there was, in the case of the unfortunate patient who died, a [707] degree of urgency such as would necessitate an operation before the County Surgeon could reach Fermoy—indeed there was ample time for the County Surgeon to reach Fermoy between the time at which he decided that there should be an operation and the time he fixed for commencement of the operation.

I think every reasonable Deputy will agree that this attempt on the part of the Irish Medical Association to paralyse the local authority hospital services, which, as I have said, cater at any one time for about 40,000 patients, in the interests of one of its members who proved to be so negligent in the performance of his duty towards a husband, the father of three young children, is unjustified and reprehensible. I cannot see how such action will advance the interests or enhance the reputation of the medical profession as a whole nor can I believe that it has the support of the general body of responsible medical practitioners, least of all those who are attached to local authority hospitals.

If ever the word infamous were to be appropriately applied, surely it is to the conduct of a person who, sitting in his home, and without even seeing the patient concerned, in flagrant dereliction of his duty, directs an inexperienced junior to commence and continue an abdominal operation which ends in the death of a young husband entering on the prime of life, leaves his young wife a widow and deprives three very young children of their father. An even grosser infamy, however, would be for a Minister for Health to condone and palliate such conduct, by failing to punish it with the severity for which it cried out. It is to coerce the Minister for Health to do this that the Irish Medical Association have taken action in support of the dismissed officer. The boycott which the executive of the Association has imposed is an attempt by inflicting hardship and suffering on innocent persons, to intimidate the whole community. I am sure, as such, it will be repudiated by all right-thinking persons.

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins:  Since the [708] Deputy who put down this Question has not a supplementary question to ask, may I put this to the Minister? The Minister has read a long statement. I would ask the Minister would he agree that the tragedy which gave rise to the inquiry which led to the Minister's statement now should not lead to yet another tragedy, namely, a further state of war between the Minister's Department and the Irish Medical Association? Would the Minister agree that this would be a fair approach: would the Minister not think it desirable in relation to the matters to which he refers in his reply to the question tabled by Deputy Booth, and referred to also in an earlier question on the Order Paper, to meet the Irish Medical Association and discuss with that body all outstanding differences between his Department and the medical profession? Would the Minister not think that a desirable thing to do?

Would the Minister further indicate whether in the past two years he has ever met the Irish Medical Association to discuss any outstanding matters with them?

Mr. MacEntee:  These are all separate questions and some of them do not arise directly out of this matter. I have already made my position clear. It is that I think it would be infamous for me either to condone or palliate what was done by this surgeon; and it is to coerce me into that condonation and palliation that the Irish Medical Association have taken this action.

I have already indicated in writing to the Irish Medical Association that I am prepared to meet them at any time provided they restore the status quo and when they lift the bans which, without giving me any reason for their action, they have imposed.

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins:  If the Chair will bear with me for a moment, I want to urge on the Minister that no interest is served by exchanges between the Minister and the Irish Medical Association. Such a course will only lead to quite a lot of trouble. I want to urge on the Minister that we should not have another paper war. That can be avoided if the Minister at this stage [709] is willing to indicate to the Irish Medical Association that he is prepared to meet them and to discuss outstanding differences.

Mr. MacEntee:  One matter I will not discuss is the merits of my action in removing the county surgeon who was responsible for this young man's death.

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins:  I do not think the Minister should be asked to do that.

Mr. MacEntee:  Furthermore, as far as the other matters are concerned, I have already indicated that I shall be prepared to meet the Irish Medical Association provided they restore the status quo.

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins:  I want to tie this up with Question No. 3. The Minister invited me to put a supplementary question to Deputy Coburn's question on this matter. Apart altogether from this difficulty which has arisen in Cork, the Minister is aware that there is, and has been for some little time, some discontent amongst the medical profession in relation to the terms and conditions offered to certain local authority medical posts and surgical appointments. Would the Minister be agreeable to meeting a deputation of the Irish Medical Association to discuss these particular difficulties?

Mr. MacEntee:  I am sorry. I have already answered that question. Let me add that I have no reason to believe that the discontent to which the Deputy has referred is either deep-seated or widespread.

Mr. Casey:  Is the Minister reasonably satisfied that the alternative arrangements made by the Cork County Council to deal with urgent surgical cases in this health area are adequate to meet the situation pending the final clarification of this matter?

Mr. MacEntee:  I think they are.

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins:  I should like to give notice of my intention to raise this matter on the adjournment.

An Ceann Comhairle:  That is the [710] subject matter of Question No. 4. I shall communicate with the Deputy in the course of the afternoon.

An Ceann Comhairle:  Seanad Éireann has passed the Presidential Elections (Temporary Provisions) Bill, 1959, without amendment.

An Tánaiste:  It is proposed to take business in the following order: No. 10, Votes 61, 62 and 63; then Nos. 2 and 11; then back to No. 10 for Votes 50 to 66, inclusive.

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins:  Is Social Welfare to finish?

An Tánaiste:  All the Social Welfare business first, and then back to Industry and Commerce.

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins:  There will be no breaking-in on Social Welfare?

An Tánaiste:  No.

The Dáil, according to Order, went into Committee on Finance and resumed consideration of Estimates for Public Services for the year ending 31st March, 1960.

Debate resumed on the following motion:—

That a sum not exceeding £321,600 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, 1960, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Minister for Social Welfare. —(Minister for Social Welfare.)

Mr. Tierney:  With regard to pensions and social welfare legislation, if an ex-Army man of either the Irish or the British Army receives an increase in his Army pension, his old age pension is reduced by an equivalent sum. The same principle is applied [711] in relation to those drawing benefits such as home assistance or disability allowances. Remembering the poor circumstances in which these people live, I would urge on the Parliamentary Secretary that he should issue a direction to local authorities not to make any reduction in relation to the proposed increases. In the past increases have been taken into calculation. The home assistance officers, and others interested in these matters, reduce the assistance given to these unfortunate people by an amount equivalent to the increase granted by this House. The Parliamentary Secretary should make it quite clear that no such reductions should be made in future.

It is my honest belief that we approach old age pensions from the wrong angle entirely. Old age pensioners who have been industrious and thrifty all their lives pay for that thrift and industry when they reach 70 years of age. On the other hand, the small farmer or the labourer who has been neither industrious nor thrifty is automatically awarded the full pension. The existing anomaly should be removed. I believe—I do not know whether or not the House will agree—that the day will have to come when there will be no means test whatsoever for old age pensions. When a man or a woman reaches 70 years of age, and has given many years' work to the State, he or she should be entitled to the old age pension without any means test. The means test costs more in finding out whether or not John So-and-So or Mrs. So-and-So is entitled to a pension than would pay for the pensions to which I believe they are entitled at 70 years of age.

People employed by the Department of Social Welfare in branch offices have grievences of various kinds. In places up and down the country, these people are employed full-time and the rate of wages they receive is very small when compared with that of their fellow-workers in the Civil Service. A case in point is that a Social Welfare worker in a fairly big industrial town may have to deal with a couple of thousand [712] people and he receives a very small wage. Strange to say even when he works a full twelve months, he is entitled to only one week's holidays. I believe a county council worker gets two weeks' holidays while a Social Welfare worker in a branch office down the country is entitled to only one week. The conditions applying to that are that he must employ someone over 21 years of age who is capable of carrying out the work in that branch for the week, but the Social Welfare man must take full responsibility for that other man's actions. The wages laid down by the Department of Social Welfare for that man in a branch office are £4 15s. I believe there is room for improvement in that case. Some time ago, an increase of 10/- per week was given to civil servants. I find it hard to understand why the people who are actually dealing with the poor and who have a vast number of people to deal with were given an increase of only 5/-.

The last plea I wish to make to the Minister is in regard to road workers. So far as they are concerned, the county councils in the 26 Counties have adopted a Superannuation Act. In North Tipperary, workers who have been making superannuation payments for only a certain number of years will not qualify for a full pension under the Superannuation Act. They feel that if they pay only a certain amount in respect of superannuation, the Department of Social Welfare will make up the difference, while if they pay over a certain amount, the Department will take it from them. The Parliamentary Secretary should go carefully into the case of a worker who is paying superannuation for only ten or 15 years and may qualify for roughly £1 10/- a week —I am just instancing figures—and if he only qualifies for that amount possibly he will receive only 10/- per week old age pension. The whole thing should be gone into very carefully in an effort to draw up a fair scale for the lower paid worker paying in respect of superannuation and for the ex-army man, whether ex-British or ex-Irish Army, who is receiving a small amount of money, in an effort to give him a small increase. The Parliamentary Secretary should deal with each case on its merits.

[713]Mr. J. Brennan:  I just want to make one point in relation to the old age pensions means test. I shall not, like the previous speaker, advocate that the means test should be completely abolished. That is a matter on which there are two schools of thought. I am concerned with the statutory limit in so far as it operates against certain individuals. The pensioner who is living alone very often has no relatives to look after him or her, and I believe the statutory limit of £104 should not, in that case, be rigidly enforced. As the law stands at the moment, it must be.

As a member of an old age pensions sub-committee, I frequently come across cases of people who are just up to the statutory limit or a few shillings over it, who are put in the same category as pensioners living with their married sons, or other members of their families, who are in a better position to exist on the statutory limit than the person who has no relatives, no friends, and very often no property, ownership of a dwelling or anything like that. From my experience of those cases, I believe the Parliamentary Secretary should have an examination carried out to see if we are not right in saying that undue hardships are being inflicted in many cases. I do not think it would impose an excessive strain on the Exchequer if some adjustment were made.

The case I have in mind, which I came across recently, and the similar case to which the previous speaker referred suggested to me that I should try to impress on the Parliamentary Secretary the importance of looking into such cases. I do not think it is possible for any person who has to depend entirely on the statutory limit of £104 per year, without any other means whatever, to exist on that. I find that the means test is just as rigidly imposed in those cases as if the applicant were living with relatives in a household where many people with other sources of incomes would, in any event, look after him.

Mr. Lindsay:  From the outset, one cannot help being in sympathy with the view expressed by Deputy Brennan [714] just now in relation to that type of old age pensioner who is living alone and has no other means. While Deputy Brennan does not go so far as to urge the abolition of the means test, I am afraid I would, and do, strong in the belief that resultant advantages, both from the point of view of the State and the people of the country, would be manifold and well worth striving to attain.

The means test, as applied to old age pensioners inter alios, in my opinion, is conducive, if not to fraud, certainly to—if one could call it so— white deceit or white lies being told in relation to their actual holdings at the time they apply for pensions. We are all familiar with assignments that take place some short time before applications are made, and of the various and many portions of evidence that must be offered to show that a particular assignment did not carry with it any of the badge of seeking to get an old age pension in a way other than the ordinary way.

Apart altogether from that aspect, I am satisfied, and I think a big number of people throughout the country are satisfied, that the complete abolition of the means test in relation to old age pensions would go a long way towards solving our problem with regard to savings, particularly small savings.

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Deputy of course knows that would require legislation.

Mr. Lindsay:  Of course I do, but at the same time, I do not think I am outside the ambit of the scope of things when I say this.

An Ceann Comhairle:  I shall allow the Deputy to go a good way, but advocating legislation is not in order.

Mr. Lindsay:  One could get around it in this way by a relaxation of existing legislation, without the necessity for bringing in anything further. I am satisfied that a relaxation of existing legislation would help. If people know, in so far as the statutory limit is concerned, that in their means test they will not be penalised for having [715] accrued savings, whether in savings banks, in the post office or somewhere else, they will not be deterred in their efforts to save and provide for themselves and possibly their families by the fear that this strict limit in the means test will be operated against them.

Throughout the country, considerable anxiety has resulted from increased activity in the matter of examination and re-examination of applications for old age pensions, unemployment assistance and unemployment insurance generally. There is one aspect of it which is causing the greatest concern of all, that is, the case of the younger people who live together in a house and are recipients of some one of the social welfare benefits. They are being penalised by reason of the fact that the number of animals on the holding is being attributed to each and every recipient. There is also the other case, that a man and wife, living on a holding, to a certain extent have advantages from it, but it is not their own. They are only there on a day to day basis and could be removed at any time by the real owner, whether he be a father, an uncle, or anybody else, and I think that the taking into account of the advantages which they have from living on such land could also be relaxed. As Deputy Tierney urged, there is room for a recasting of the whole outlook on social welfare in a country such as this and particularly with regard to old age pensions.

Mr. Russell:  First of all, I should like to say that I am not quite sure whether it is to be taken as a matter of congratulation or reproof that we spend approximately 25 per cent. of the Budget each year on social welfare—something in the nature of £25,000,000. Of course the argument can be put forward that if conditions in the country were more prosperous, there would be less necessity to pay social welfare benefits. As against that, I think we must face up to the fact that a big proportion of the £25,000,000 is paid each year to classes of people who, in any event, would have to be assisted by any community calling itself a Christian state.

[716] It is not without significance that of the figure of £25,000,000, some £20½ million is paid out by way of social assistance to one or other necessitous class, and 50 per cent of the entire £20,000,000 which goes to social assistance goes to old age pensioners. I do not think any member of the House would agree that the recipients of old age pensions are overpaid or are over-generously treated. It has been suggested by some of the previous speakers that it would be a good thing to do away with the means test altogether, but I must say, having regard to the present circumstances of the country, I think that would not be a practical step to take. I take the view that if we are to spend money on social welfare, or social assistance, our first duty is to assist those in greatest need and to give those in greatest need the greatest possible amount to help them.

Deputy Brennan drew a contrast between the old age pensioner living with his family—possibly a farmer who has transferred his farm to a son or daughter, or some other relative, and continues to live with them—and the old age pensioner living alone in Dublin, Cork or Limerick, with no other possible source of income except the maximum old age pension recently increased to 27/6d. per week. If such a person lives in a corporation house, he or she will pay a minimum rent of possibly 6/- a week, leaving little over £1 a week to subsist on for seven days of each week, or just three shillings a day. If we have any extra funds, I think the first people to help would be the type of person I have just mentioned, the old people living alone in the cities and large towns. Without wishing to be ungenerous to those people living with their relatives, I do think the greatest need amongst old people at the moment is that of the old people who live alone in our cities and towns.

If any increases were to be given to any other section, I must say I should be inclined to direct my attention to the youngest, the very opposite section to the oldest. I should like to see an increase in the amount of children's allowances. I think this is possibly the [717] best and most practical way of helping families of all kinds, young and old, rich and poor alike, and when the Minister is in a position to consider increases in social welfare, social assistance in general, I should like to see some increase given in the amount of children's allowances.

Next I should like to deal with a category of persons to which, not only myself but I think most Deputies in the House, have alluded from time to time by way of questions in the Dáil and when the annual Estimate for Social Welfare comes before us for consideration. I refer to the body of people whom I regard as the worst off section of the community today, namely, those who are dependent on unemployment assistance. Even after taking into consideration the recent increases given to this class, we here in Christian Ireland, 37 years after the State was established, expect a man, his wife and two or more children to live on £2 a week or even less in rural areas. The expression “two or more children” means three, four, five, six and in some cases seven children. Every Deputy, every city councillor and every county councillor knows of families living on that small amount of money. The only way they can exist and keep body and soul together is by becoming beggars of the local authority or of individuals. It is a tragic state of affairs.

It is a condemnation of this State of ours in the mid-twentieth century that, in spite of all the progress we have made and in spite of all the speeches made over the years about our regard for the poor, the sick and the needy, we still at this stage expect a man, his wife and family to exist on a little over £2 a week. I am aware that it can be argued that it is not intended that a man and his family should have to depend solely on that amount as it is a form of assistance to help him in periods of unemployment or when he is no longer entitled to unemployment benefit. However, we must face the facts.

Apparently we shall have a continuation of a high level of unemployment in this country for a number of years [718] to come. I think that even the members of the present Government will agree that, in spite of their efforts of the past two years or more, we are, substantially, still in the same position as we were when they came into office in 1957 and indeed for many years prior to that. It looks to me as if, in spite of the fact that we are now about to devote a substantial sum of money to investment in public and private enterprise, we shall have to carry thousands of people each year who will be dependent either on relief works for a couple of weeks of the year or on social assistance of one kind or another.

Irrespective of what Government may be in office, there is an obligation on us to bring the miserable sums payable to these people up to some sort of reasonable standard so that they can exist and keep body and soul together. I am conscious that we cannot do everything we would like to do. I am quite certain the Parliamentary Secretary would like to be far more generous. However, in a small country with limited resources, I suggest first things should come first. In this instance, if necessary by cutting some of the other headings, a substantial increase should be given to people in the unemployment assistance class.

The arguments I have advanced in regard to unemployment assistance recipients applies equally strongly to the non-contributory widows' and orphans' pensions.

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Deputy is advocating legislation and that is not permitted on Estimates. I have given the Deputy a good innings.

Mr. Russell:  Thank you; it is very hard to avoid it. The blind are another class we will have with us, in spite of advances in medical science. I see that the total payments this year have been reduced from £15,000 to £14,500. These are completely helpless people who are dependent on the State or on voluntary assistance. This is an opportune moment to pay a tribute—I am sure the Minister would pay the tribute —to the several voluntary societies that help blind persons. No praise is too high for the work these societies do for a very helpless section of the community.

[719] Last on the list, I want to refer to the fuel grant which amounts to £162,000 and is a payment of the local authorities to subsidise the price of fuel during severe winter months to necessitous persons. This was brought in, generally I think, during the emergency and was applicable to certain areas. I suggest to the Minister that as this has now become an established social service, the amounts given to the various areas should be related to the persons living in those areas. I am particularly conversant with the position in Limerick City. Up to a few years ago, the total amount given to the Limerick Corporation was £1,250 as against four and five times that amount granted to very much smaller areas. During his period of office as Minister for Social Welfare, I am glad to say that Deputy Corish substantially increased the amount payable to Limerick Corporation to its present figure of £5,500 but even this figure compares very unfavourably with the payments to some smaller centres. I suggest the time is opportune to review this whole scheme of payments in respect of the cheap fuel scheme and to make a payment relative to the number of people living in the area concerned.

Other Deputies have referred to decentralisation in regard to the payment of social welfare benefits. I add my voice to that plea. Every Deputy has come across cases where there would appear to be an inordinate delay in dealing with claims for social insurance or social assistance. I think the Minister could, with benefit, give more authority and more autonomy to managers of branches of his Department. It would save a good deal of trouble and a lot of delay for the people concerned. While these delays are taking place, I think some arrangement could be come to between the Minister's Department and the local authority to ensure that the people waiting for payments will receive out of home assistance from the local authority an amount equal to what they will ultimately get from the Department. In theory, that is supposed to happen. They are supposed to get home assistance to keep them [720] going. We all know that the actual home assistance paid out to people waiting for unemployment assistance or unemployment benefit or some other welfare payment is substantially less than what they ultimately get. If some hard and fast arrangement could be come to so that the local authority could automatically be reimbursed when the person concerned got the payment, it would save a good deal of trouble and a lot of unnecessary suffering.

I want to refer to the various dispensary and other buildings to which people go to receive assistance of one class or another. Some of these buildings are more reminiscent of a century ago than of the enlightened modern outlook on social welfare generally. Some steps should be taken to make these places brighter, more cheerful and more presentable than many of them are at present. In Limerick City, there is only one permanent home assistance officer to deal with a very substantial number of home assistance cases daily. Some help should be given to allow him to deal with the cases expeditiously and to prevent the long waits which some people have to undergo at present. I hope the Minister will review the position and, if not this year perhaps next year, will give some increase to one class in particular, namely, people receiving the present miserable sums for unemployment assistance.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. Kennedy):  The first matter with which I should like to deal is Deputy Corish's motion, referring to the extension of the first Unemployment Period Order. The basic reason for extending that Order is that we found, and find, that the end of October is the period for harvesting work, particularly in the beet fields, and for threshing and such operations. This is a very limited Order. The House should be aware that if a man has a £4 valuation in land he is in receipt of unemployment assistance the whole year round and he is not interfered with. It is when his valuation exceeds that amount that the first Unemployment Period Order applies. [721] As I said, we have extended that because we find that the harvesting is not finished and there is a lot of threshing to be done. The number of people in the Twenty-six Counties affected by the extension of that period for a fortnight over the past year was 3,305 and they have land which is in excess of £4 valuation. On examination of this subject, we decided on that extension, and that is the main reason for extending the period.

Deputy Corish also referred to national health agents. We have a very open mind on this whole question. It is not from the point of view of economy that we are not filling vacancies. The national health agent should be more than a glorified postman for delivering national health benefit cheques. There is a set of rules laid down for the carrying out of the duties of a national health agent but I do not think that they are observed in all cases. In a good many cases, they are not observed. We decided as an experiment—and we are not tied down to any system; the matter is under examination—to have the work done from the offices where vacancies occur without interfering with the livelihood of any national health agent, and it is working reasonably well.

As a rule, national health agents have various other occupations. They are rent collectors or rate collectors and they are not depending on this occupation. In fact, the scale of pay varies from £1 a week up to the salary of the whole-time officer in certain urban areas. The Department of Social Welfare is a new department. It has been built up by bringing in a few people from Industry and Commerce, a few from Local Government and the unified society and so on. In the short period of its existence, the officers in charge have done a marvellous job in trying to bring cohesion into the service and not have it all in watertight departments.

The first beginning was the unified stamp. The principle underlying the unified stamp is something which we should like to extend into all the services. I remember when I previously occupied this position going into the town of Westport and when I sought [722] out what we call the labour exchange, I was directed to one place; the national health agent was a mile away, up in the hills, and you had to go to the quays in Westport to get the Social Welfare officer. That was all very well for me, but for the ordinary citizen who had to be served, it was possible that he would have to visit the three places. It was very unfair to that citizen to have to walk miles for a service which should be unified in the town of Westport and in any other town. Our whole approach to this is to have such unification as to give the best possible service and it is not from the point of view of economy principally—we shall economise where we can and it is up to us to economise where we can— that we are trying out this experiment to which Deputy Corish refers.

Mr. Corish:  The Parliamentary Secretary will remember that on this occasion, I was not critical. I merely asked him——

Mr. Kennedy:  I know that. I appreciate the Deputy's co-operation but other Deputies have mentioned the matter and as the Deputy had the motion down, it led off the debate.

Mr. Corish:  How is it working out? That is what I am interested in.

Mr. Kennedy:  It is working out very well in the towns; I shall not say so much for the rural areas. The beneficiary knows what he has to do and is immediate to the labour exchange and he gets his directions from the officers in the labour exchange. I assure the House that the matter is under close examination, with the view to giving the best possible service to the beneficiaries and the insured.

The question of home assistance and home assistance officers has cropped up throughout the debate. I should like to see as far as I can, whilst I am in the Department, home assistance officers who are established officers, pensionable officers and whose duties are the administration of home assistance and nothing else. It is a very important service and I would ask the co-operation of Deputies in all [723] Parties who are on public boards to work towards that aim. This matter of a home assistance official having a small pay for administering home assistance, being a rent collector and probably a rate collector and a whole lot of other things——

Mr. Corish:  The job is too important to be given to any Tom, Dick or Harry.

Mr. Kennedy:  It is.

Mr. Corish:  It is one of the most important jobs in the Department.

Mr. Kennedy:  As the Deputy knows we cannot force the local authority.

Mr. Corish:  Could you not submit regulations for recruitment? That would ensure that the right types were employed.

Mr. Kennedy:  We have approached the local authorities again and again and asked for their co-operation, particularly where vacancies occur. In some cases, we have got co-operation and in others we have not but we shall keep knocking at the door until we have. We regard this appointment as a very important one. That is all I have to say on the matter at the moment.

Mr. Corish:  If the Parliamentary Secretary did nothing else but made an improvement in that respect, then his term of office would have been worth while.

Mr. Kennedy:  I appreciate what the Deputy says. It was said during the debate by at least one Deputy that a branch manager, in addition to doing the work of the office, has to pay a substitute. That is wrong. Very often the substitute is a wife or a sister. It is merely a nominal appointment in cases where the officer concerned falls ill and the person has to take up the running of the office for him. That is all it amounts to in the majority of cases.

Deputy J. Brennan referred to the means test. He is a good Northern Deputy. Might I remind him of the Northern proverb that “every mickle [724] makes a muckle”? If we were to abolish the means test in regard to old age pensions alone, the cost to the State would be £2¾ million. But you could not abolish the means test on one thing only. You would have to abolish it in regard to widows' non-contributory pensions and so on down along the line. The cost would be such that the State could not bear it at the moment. It is very doubtful if in our economy—we are a nation of small farmers and we depend principally on agriculture—you could have a complete welfare State here. Personally, I do not believe you could. You must cut your cloth according to your yard.

The point was made that we should go easier on persons with £104 a year and living alone than on persons with the same income but living with their families. That is all very well. But the people in whom I am principally interested are those who have been referred to by the Deputy from Limerick—the people who have not 4d. in the year, those who have nothing at all. They are the people who deserve the sympathy of the State. As far as the Department are concerned, it will be indicated to the local authority that when the 2/6d. increase comes in the old age pension, it should not interfere with any home assistance given within the recent past by way of amelioration for the difficult conditions under which recipients live.

Mr. Sherwin:  That is what the Parliamentary Secretary desires—that the half-crown should not be taken into consideration?

Mr. Kennedy:  Yes. But there is always the smart Alec who tries to get away with it. You have to keep a weather-eye out for him.

Mr. Corish:  You have them in every profession—politicians, lawyers, doctors.

Mr. Kennedy:  That is why there is a need for a Department. There has been complaint about the delay in investigating claims for old age pensions. The rules are there. An old age pension committee is supposed to meet within seven days from the receipt of the claim. The committee [725] is supposed to meet and is supposed to do many things. All I can say is that the old age pension claim is paid from the day of its receipt in the Department where the applicant is then 70 years.

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins:  If the claimant is still alive.

Mr. Kennedy:  We shall bear in mind the representations made about delays in dealing with the investigation of old age pensions. If the claimant would get the claim form in the Post Office and the birth certificate and send them on in time, that would be very helpful.

Deputy Tierney said that the means test was applied in the case of thrifty people, whereas people who were spendthrifts got full social welfare benefits. I know labouring men who boast that they have contributed to insurance all their lives and never claimed sixpence benefit of any kind. I said to one of them: “Do you grudge the benefit your neighbour gets when he falls sick or is unemployed?” and he replied: “Certainly not.”

Mr. Corish:  Would a no-claims bonus not be an incentive?

Mr. Kennedy:  I do not know.

Mr. Corish:  The Parliamentary Secretary should investigate it.

Mr. Kennedy:  Deputy Lindsay complained that local agents of the Department of Social Welfare did not get the full cost of living increase of 10/- granted to the Civil Service generally. That increase applied only to full-time staff. Local agents are classified as part-time and thus qualified only for the increase applicable to part-time staff, namely, 5/- a week.

Deputy Russell advoocated an increase in children's allowances. That is very admirable, but, as the Deputy knows, it is the second biggest figure of expenditure in the Social Assistance Vote, being over £7,000,000. Any appreciable increase would be very costly. But certainly the representations on that matter will be borne in mind.

Deputy Lindsay referred to the value [726] of stock on a farm being taken into account when computations are being made in regard to old age pensions, unemployment assistance and so on. In that respect, we do not treat the people living in a house as individuals; we treat them as members of a family. I think that is the approach in every European country on this side of the Iron Curtain—that the family is treated as a unit. But when we are making a computation of the value of the stock, we do not take that into account when the son or the daughter applies for social benefit. It is taken into account only in the case of the parents. We do not take it into account in every individual case. When it is disposed of in the case of the parents, it is done.

Deputy Cunningham made a complaint in regard to the delay in paying the benefit in respect of social assistance. The principal cause of the delay is in the case of doubtful stamping. There has been enough of that to cause us to pause and investigate. We certainly pause to investigate wherever we have any doubt. The practice is sufficient to make us look up to see that a person does not pay two guineas for 13 stamps and draw £80 from the State.

Deputy Corish dealt with the New Ross office in relation to the social welfare offices. In my introductory remarks on this Estimate, I indicated that our objective was to have an office in a town where our services at least would be centralised so that the citizen coming to look for his rights would not have to trot up and down everywhere. We know the New Ross arrangements are bad. We shall try during the year to rectify them. Everything has to go through the bottle-neck of Finance. We are aiming at a decent building for a social welfare office where the old age pensioner and others can go in without having to run all over the locality looking for an officer.

Mr. Corish:  Could the Parliamentary Secretary state whether the efforts as yet have been successful to any degree in providing the offices he describes in New Ross.

Mr. Kennedy:  I do not think I am [727] giving away State secrets when I say that Finance allows two offices a year. We have got two now.

Mr. Corish:  I told the Parliamentary Secretary that these people are being interviewed in the homes of the social welfare officers.

Mr. Kennedy:  That is a very wrong arrangement and should not happen.

Mr. Corish:  I think there is some accommodation, even temporary accommodation, that could be got for them in public offices in New Ross.

Mr. Kennedy:  We shall examine the Deputy's point of view. Deputy Moloney spoke about the remuneration of local agents. As I said, some are paid £1 a week and others are paid a pensionable salary, and wherever an agency occurs, we are not filling it. We are trying an experiment as to what is the best way of giving disablement benefit, doing it in the most economic way and with the best benefits to the recipient.

The Workmen's Compensation Commission has held 75 meetings since it first met in 1956. It is hoped that the work may be finished within the next 12 months. The total cost of the Commission up to 31st March, 1959, was £8,656.

Deputy Moloney advocated that Gardaí should attend on one day per week to certify evidence of unemployment by persons living in isolated areas. We could not accept that. Kerry may be the exception—I do not know—but this contention that claimants for unemployment assistance have to footslog miles to certify their unemployment at a Garda barracks is the exception in the country. The bicycle is very much in use all over the country. I know a good deal of the west, Donegal and my own county and I know the east of the country. In those parts at any rate, the people come on bicycles. The isolated case which Deputy Moloney makes for a part of Kerry would not justify our doing what he advocates for the rest of the country.

Deputy Norton raised a point about [728] the delay in replying to Deputies and that the thing was a fait accompli when the Deputy got the reply. We shall try to avoid that as much as possible, particularly in regard to the representations from Deputies, but I think that affiction does not apply to the Department of Social Welfare alone. As a Deputy, I have often experienced it in other Departments. As far as we can, we shall hurry up the reply.

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins:  On that, would the Parliamentary Secretary stop the practice of sending out the printed document to Deputies?

Mr. Kennedy:  I think the origin of that was an economy.

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins:  It is not really an economy. The Deputy generally writes in again and then you get a proper letter back.

Mr. Kennedy:  If the Deputy writes to me about anything, I shall send him a letter. Deputy Norton desires that, where an appeal is made against the decision of the medical referee, the claimant should not again be referred to the same referee. This is a matter of some practical difficulty and I am sure the Deputy is aware of it. This matter is under consideration. While every effort is made to have the reexamination carried out by a different referee, it is not always practicable to have a different referee. As far as we can carry out the desire expressed by the Deputy and other Deputies, we shall try to do so.

We shall try to expedite during the coming year the question of appeals and have more dealt with locally and decisions come to more rapidly. This business of wet time has been under examination and I am glad of the co-operation of the Labour Benches in this matter. It is being examined at present. The climate of opinion that we want, created by the contribution of Deputy Kyne, is certainly a help. There certainly have been great abuses in regard to wet time stamping. In all these matters we want everybody's co-operation, especially in resisting fraud of any kind. The more it can be [729] eradicated, the better benefits we can give and the better health services we can create. It will be for the national good if we can get general co-operation. The trade union leaders, I knew, were always against anything that was not above board and I was very glad to note Deputy Kyne's contribution on the question of wet time.

Deputy Kyne referred to the reluctance of the Department to co-operate in the recovery of benefits lost by reason of an employer's failure to stamp insurance cards. The Department in such cases explains to the insured person his right to recover lost benefits and I think it is only right that the aggrieved person should exercise his rights in these cases. Under the Social Welfare Acts the Minister is empowered to take action and, in fact, each year sums are recovered from employers and paid to the insured persons concerned. The insured person should know his rights. Last year, in replying to the debate, I said that a simple action by the employer would help the Department. The employer should insist when employing a man, whether casually or whole time, that the man hand in his insurance card straight away. That would make for straight dealing between employer and employee and would help the Department very much.

Deputy Corish and others referred to the necessity for wider powers of decision in certain cases relating to unemployment benefit and unemployment assistance. That matter is under active consideration and in the present year we mean——

Mr. Corish:  Does the Parliamentary Secretary remember the example I gave last week?

Mr. Kennedy:  Yes, but I do not think it was a good one.

Mr. Corish:  He was knocked down on Friday, anyhow.

Mr. Kennedy:  It is certainly a justifiable complaint if an agent has a shop himself. The regulations imply that he should have an office separate from [730] his shop. It revolves round the question of making the agent a man in full occupation of his post so that he will not be dependent on anything else, just like the branch manager or the home assistance officer.

There is no arbitrary rule in the investigation of means but in some of these cases, where 20 years ago a qualification certificate was given to a claimant who is now seeking the old age pension, the pension officer must take present values into account. Values of certain things have gone up very considerably in that period. I shall not go into all the stock on the farm——

Mr. Dillon:  I thought you would say a word about calves.

Mr. Kennedy:  Even calves have gone up in value very much in the past 20 years.

Mr. Dillon:  The Parliamentary Secretary is very discreet in his reference to them.

Mr. Kennedy:  I think I shall continue to be discreet; otherwise Deputy Dillon and I might cross swords on the matter. The fact is that, on reexamination of a claim, say, for old age pension or non-contributory widow's pension that was not examined for 20 years, it is found that values have gone up.

Mr. Dillon:  If an old age pensioner survives 20 years in receipt of his pension, he might be allowed to enjoy it for the remainder of his days.

Mr. Kennedy:  No, I am referring to a man with a qualification certificate for unemployment assistance for 20 years who becomes an applicant for the old age pension. There is a re-investigation of means. In that period, the values of agricultural produce have gone up. In all these things, we should like to give greater benefits under social assistance but of the £25,000,000 spent on social assistance and social insurance, £20,000,000 is spent on social assistance. That is a very big sum and one cannot select one particular body of beneficaries and [731] give them increased benefits, leaving the others out because there would very soon be a public outcry that the same benefits should be given to the others. That claim could not be successfully resisted. Therefore, one must approach the matter with caution and bear in mind the resources of the nation and the ability of the taxpayer and the contributor to bear the burden. Consequently, these must be the primary considerations, even while considering all the representations made by Deputies.

May I say, in conclusion, that over the past quarter of a century our social welfare legislation has been very considerable? It has penetrated every home in the land and its scope has increased enormously. Even allowing for the depreciation in the value of money during that period, the sum involved is very large. It is quarter of the current expenditure. We should like to make it more but we are dealing today with services costing £25,000,000.

Mr. Dillon:  I should like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary one question. It has been alleged to me that in the City of Dublin certain old age pensioners in receipt even of the full pension are in a state of destitution and malnutrition. Am I right in believing that there is a statutory duty on the local authority to give by way of home assistance to an old age pensioner who is destitute an additional sum sufficient to bridge the gap between destitution and sufficiency to maintain a reasonable standard of existence?

Mr. Corish:  Yes, definitely.

Mr. Kennedy:  The Deputy is right in his assumption but a person in the category to which the Deputy refers must first make an application to the local authority and, as the Deputy is aware, there are certain people with a sense of pride, which is understandable, who will never do that. However, where the application is made the local authority is bound to give the necessary assistance.

[732]Mr. Dillon:  I do not press the Parliamentary Secretary for an answer because if I wanted an answer I should have intervened in the debate, but would he consider—and this is a representation I have made to previous occupants of his position—the question as to whether it would not be possible to concern himself to find out the causes of destitution amongst the old and the afflicted in the city, so as to put into operation the existing code of social services where that was desired by the afflicted person and desirable from the social point of view? There are some cases where people are suffering unnecessary destitution because they simply do not know what the social services can provide if they are properly availed of. What I have in mind is some kind of almoner system that would keep an eye on old people who are obviously failing to get from the social services what they could get if they knew how to go about it.

Mr. Kennedy:  I shall bear that in mind.

Vote put and agreed to.

Mr. MacEntee:  I move:

That a sum not exceeding £2,917,000 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, 1960, for payments to the Social Insurance Fund (No. 14 of 1950 and No. 11 of 1952).

Vote put and agreed to.

Mr. MacEntee:  I move:

That a sum not exceeding £13,654,000 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, 1960, for Old Age Pensions and Pensions to Blind Persons, Children's Allowances, Unemployment Assistance, Widows' and Orphans' Non-Contributory Pensions, and for Sundry Miscellaneous Social Welfare Services, including Grants.

[733]Mr. Corish:  On a point of order, I wish to inquire if motion No. 2 on the Order Paper is being put?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  The position regarding motion No. 2 in the member's name is that if passed it could not have statutory effect since the statutory period of 21 days had expired. When a member tables a motion to annual a statutory instrument and that motion must be taken within a certain number of sitting days of the House, it may be assumed that he will make the necessary inquiries as to the expiry of the statutory period. That information would be available to the Deputy in the Library. It is not the duty of the Chair to take the initiative.

Mr. Corish:  I would not call it sharp practice but that is what it amounts to. Could the Leas-Cheann Comhairle tell me when the 21 days expired?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  So far as I can recall, it was last Wednesday. The motion would have had to be put last Wednesday.

Mr. Corish:  The Leas-Cheann Comhairle will also remember I was not allowed to move the motion because the Ceann Comhairle explained there could not be two motions before the House. That is a technicality which could have been overcome. I could have been allowed to move the motion for the purpose of having a vote.

Mr. MacEntee:  I am sure it was purely accidental. If the House had sat last Thursday and the debate had been taken, we should have disposed in the normal way of Votes, 61, 62 and 63 and Deputy Corish would still have been in time to move motion No. 2.

Mr. Corish:  Industry and Commerce intervened. However, I should like to be recorded not as dissenting against the Estimate for the Department of Social Welfare but as disapproving of the Minister's Unemployment Assistance (Unemployment Period) Order.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  I should like to point out to the Deputy [734] that it was agreed to take the motion with the Estimate and the Estimate was postponed for a week in order to facilitate the Deputy.

Mr. Corish:  That does not get over the fact that it was discussed here on the 20th. However, I do not intend to make any fuss about it.

Vote put and agreed to.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. Kennedy):  I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time.

The object of this Bill is to implement the decision of the Government, as announced by the Minister for Finance in his Budget Statement on the 15th April, 1959, to increase certain Social Assistance payments. It provides for increases of 2/6d. a week to all old age pensioners, to Unemployment Assistance recipients with an adult dependent, and to widows in receipt of a non-contributory pension, all, or part, of which consists of an allowance in respect of the widow. It is proposed that the Bill will come into operation on the 1st August, 1959.

The proposed increases will cost the Exchequer £1,313,000 in a full year. Of this amount, Old Age Pensioners will receive £1,062,000, Unemployment Assistance recipients £85,000 and Widows (Non-Contributory) Pensioners £166,000. With these increases the total expenditure on Social Assistance services administered by my Department will come to some £21,794,000 annually, of which sum old age pensioners will receive £11,462,000.

Mr. Corish:  Most of what could be said on this Bill was said on the Budget so I do not propose to detain the House. We welcome the increase that is given, small though it may be, especially in view of the fact that the people catered for by this Bill have been hit so hard in recent years by the [735] reduction in the food subsidies and various other increases in the price of foodstuffs over the last two years. I should like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary or the Minister to get the co-operation of the local authorities in respect of the increases that are now given to these people. It has been the practice of many local authorities, where old age pensioners, widows or people on unemployment assistance are also in receipt of home assistance, to deduct the half crown given by the Minister for Social Welfare by way of an increase in the old age pension, widow's pension or unemployment assistance.

The Parliamentary Secretary has expressed his sentiments in connection with that sort of behaviour by local authorities in concluding the debate on the Estimate for the Department. I should like to know from him if he can do anything by way of regulation to prevent this 2/6d. being filched, so to speak, by the local authorities. He may not have any statutory power to do anything. He may say when winding up this Bill, as he said ten minutes ago, that he would deplore a reduction in home assistance by the amount of the increase that is now given. That statement may or may not get publicity in the daily papers. I think the Minister or the Parliamentary Secretary should send a circular to each local authority telling them that this 2/6d. is given specifically to these people to compensate them to some extent for the increase in the cost of living and that he would deplore any reduction in either home assistance or disabled person's maintenance allowance.

I know one branch of local government that will certainly get their hands on this 2/6d., namely, the county home section of local authorities. It seems to be the invariable practice of county homes to take, if not all, the major part of an increase that is given to old age pensioners who are inmates of county homes.

The notable thing about this Bill is that, as far as unemployment assistance is concerned, single people will [736] not get any increase and it is only the principals in a family who will get the benefit of the 2/6d. per week. The practice has been in Acts of Parliament that when unemployment assistance has been increased, allowances to dependents have been proportionately increased. In the last Social Welfare Bill that provided an increase of 25 per cent. in sickness benefit, unemployment benefit and widows' and orphans' contributory pensions, increases were also given to the various dependents. An increase was given to the wife of a recipient and to the two children of a recipient. It is bad that the Minister and the Government did not decide on this occasion to give dependents of persons in receipt of unemployment assistance some increase also.

We welcome the small increase that has been given but 2/6d. does not compensate these people for the withdrawal of the food subsidies and the general increase in the cost of living. It may be said that the cost of living has gone up by so many points since they last got an increase but the cost of living index figure does not reflect properly the cost of living as it affects an old age pensioner. The cost of living index figure includes items which are of no concern to an old age pensioner. It includes newspapers, tobacco, possibly cinemas, clothes. The old age pensioner has to clothe himself but cannot afford to purchase as frequently or to buy the type of clothing that would be bought by a person under 50 years of age. The fact remains that since the last increase in old age pensions was given in 1957 the cost of foodstuffs has increased by 17 per cent. That is the main item with which the old age pensioner is concerned.

The pattern has been to give an increase of 2/6d. over the years. On this occasion, the Government that boasted that the economy of the country was on the upgrade could have afforded to give a little more than 2/6d. to the old age pensioner and should have considered the question of giving proportionate increases to dependents of persons in receipt of widows' non-contributory pensions and unemployment assistance.

[737]Mr. Dillon:  Deputy Corish says that he hopes the local authorities will not filch the 2/6d. They certainly cannot filch this 2/6d. because it has been filched already. It was filched in anticipation the day they put 7d. on the lb. of butter, £1 on the bag of flour and 4d. on the 21b. loaf. That operation saved the treasury £9,000,000 and a great deal of the burden fell on the old age pensioners of this country. They got 1/6d. to compensate them for it. Everybody else in the community got 10/- a week but the old age pensioners got 1/6d. and the small farmers got nothing and now the old age pensioners are to get a further 2/6d. which I do not think is very exciting in the case of old people who have lived substantially on bread, butter and tea and who have now got to pay more for all.

I want now, for it is relevant to the Second Stage of this Bill, to return in somewhat greater detail to a question that I asked the Parliamentary Secretary when he was concluding the debate on his Estimate. This Bill is primarily designed to make adequate provision for old age pensioners. I want to draw the attention of the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary to the fact that it has been publicly stated in Dublin by somebody who professed to be in a position to know that the hospitals of the City are filled with old people who are in fact suffering from malnutrition as a result of their inability to purchase the minimum necessary diet from the resources available to them. I confess that that statement rather shocked me and it occurred to me to ask the question which I did put to the Parliamentary Secretary largely for the purpose of directing public attention to the facts.

As I understand the position, if there is an old person living alone with no family assistance to fall back upon, if he or she has nothing but the old age pension, the local authority has a statutory duty to provide home assistance sufficient to bring that pension up to a level which will enable him or her to live in frugal comfort. If that is not so, I put it to Deputies that we should not sleep abed of night in [738] peace. It would be a shocking thing in a society such as ours, where apparently everybody has a motorcar, that there should be old, destitute people living in our midst hungry because they have not the wherewithal to buy the minimum necessary food and I do not believe there are Deputies on any side of this House who would desire that situation to continue.

I remember pressing the view on a previous occasion that if I were Minister for Social Services I could not rest easy if I did not know the reason for any family in this City being destitute. I do not believe that there is room in our society for a hungry person, hungry through no fault of his or her own. I do not think it is enough to say that, if people are hungry, they ought to forage about until they find the food necessary to assuage their hunger.

When one is dealing with old people, many of whom are perhaps a little mentally afficted or bewildered by the adversity which has come upon them, I think it would be the desire of all of us to go a step further than merely saying that, if they avail of the services that are there, their difficulty can be overcome. I think we would all want to feel that we brought these services effectively within their reach. I do not know how one can do that if one has not got some machinery to find out the answer to why an individual, or a family, in a two-pair back in a street like Dominick Street, is destitute while an individual, or a family, in apparently identical circumstances in a similar two-pair back in another street may be poor but is certainly neither destitute nor hungry.

I certainly cannot rest easy if it be true that there is a constant stream of old people into the hospitals of this city who are brought there as a result of malnutrition arising from destitution. There is no use making high-falutin speeches deploring that such things should be, if one is not prepared to offer some practical suggestion for meeting the problem. I want to suggest now that either through the agency of voluntary bodies, such as the St. Vincent de [739] Paul Society, the Legion of Mary, the Sick and Indigent Roomkeepers' Society, or, if needs be, through the agency of the Civil Service itself, some system of almoners should be established, so that, if somebody comes to me and says: “I declare that in such-and-such a street in Dublin there are families and old age pensioners destitute, and it is a great scandal”, I may be in a position to say: “Now, listen. It is no use standing in the street flapping and saying it is a great scandal and something ought to be done. There is an almoner into whose district that street falls and, if this deplorable state of affairs is a fact, write in to the Department of Social Welfare, or to whatever is the appropriate authority—possibly the Department of Health—and state your problem; they will hand your allegation to the almoner in charge of that district and he will go and visit.”

It may be true that there are families here in our midst who, through the ill-health of the parents, because of feeblemindedness or through some other unanticipated complication, are enduring destitution. If that is so, the machinery of the social services will be brought to bear upon their problem and we shall resolve it in that way, and they will not be left in destitution simply because they are not able to fend for themselves.

I remember one time going to the length of persuading the then Minister for Social Welfare to meet a deputation from the Legion of Mary. We would concoct a scheme for a pilot scheme to be instituted in respect of one street, and all we would ask the Department of Social Welfare to do was to provide one room, preferably in the area to be serviced, and a member of the Legion of Mary would undertake the duty of almoner in that area. Then, if I had any problem, if it was reported to me or came to my knowledge that there was a family or an old age pensioner destitute in any room or cottage in that street, I could refer it to the Department of Health, who would refer it to the almoner, who would investigate the case promptly for the purpose of finding out what should be done.

[740] I should like to believe that our social services, costing up to £20,000,000 per annum now, are of a character sufficient to guarantee that destitution will not be suffered to continue in our society. I do not think anybody on any side of this House would calmly accept the proposition that our financial resources are not sufficient to protect our people from destitution. We have all about us the evidence of a prosperous society. I put it to the Minister: can anything be done in the cities? I do not think anything is necessary in rural Ireland. The problem is very much more manageable in rural Ireland. If there are old people or destitute families, neighbours have much more access to them; they know their circumstances and can help them in a way that may not be practicable in urban conditions. Can we take a few areas in Dublin—areas like Meath Street, Marlborough Street —I think Dominick Street is largely pulled down now so the problem is not there any longer—and possibly some of the new housing estates, like Crumlin or West Cabra, and experimentally introduce an almoner into each of these areas, so that, if allegations of this kind are made in future, they can be checked upon promptly?

It is true that cases of destitution do exist. I have had no recent experience in St. Vincent de Paul work in the city of Dublin. I have lived now for a long time in rural Ireland. Some years ago, when I was younger, I was a member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society and I remember that one would find cases in tenement rooms where destitution was very largely due to some familial difficulty, such as simplemindedness on the part of the breadwinner, an incapacity on his part to keep a job, or sometimes some delicacy in a mother which made her, through no real fault of her own, a bad provider. Sometimes you found that there was insobriety which absorbed the family income to the great detriment of the children.

I remember one case I found in which there was real destitution in face of industry and diligence of an admirable kind. She was a widow-woman. Her house was spotless. She was, one might almost say, literally living on the smell of an oil rag. In [741] those days, social services were not as good as they are now and it was very difficult to meet the problem there, though the St. Vincent de Paul Society did their part. But what struck me then was the immense difference that a capacity to meet adversity could make in the circumstances of the family afflicted. And that goes for a family just as it does for the individual old age pensioner.

Where that incapacity to meet adversity results in destitution, then we ought as a society have a duty to come to the aid of those afflicted. If they are not able to help themselves, there should be some sympathetic person who would go to them and say: “Look; your circumstances are such that you ought to sit down now and we will prepare an application to the home assistance officer, or invoke the assistance of the Department of Health or the Department of Social Welfare, and, between all the various resources at our disposal, we shall be able to build up an economic structure for you which will at least ensure that you will not go hungry or cold and that you will have a decent room to live in.”

It may be that the suggestion I am making of a district almoner is not the best suggestion. I am simply putting it forward so as not to be in the ridiculous position of saying that something will have to be done, without making any proposal as to what might be done. It might be that my plan would work if given a chance. There may be some other plans which are better, but unless somebody else has a better plan, may I put it to the Minister that this is a problem we ought to face, and that we ought to be able to say with perfectly clear consciences to anyone who professes to know that there is a steady stream of old people into the city hospitals as a result of malnutrition consequent on destitution: “That is not so, or if it is so, it is because social services are not being properly availed of. That constitutes the real problem. We will provide the machinery which will ensure that that failure to avail of social services will not continue any longer.”

Mr. Kennedy:  Destitution is primarily a matter for the public assistance authorities.

[742]Mr. Dillon:  Primarily a matter for us, here, is it not? We can authorise the public assistance authorities to do certain things, but the primary responsibility is ours.

Mr. Kennedy:  We have no statutory power to direct the public assistance authorities to take no cognisance of these increases, but they know the feelings of the House and, by and large, in nearly all cases, they have not taken them into account.

Deputy Corish reffered to the deductions by local authorities for maintenance from the old age pensions received by the old age pensioners in institutions. So far as I know, the local authorities in the Midlands, anyway, give a substantial portion of the old age pension back to the recipients to spend as they like. I do not think that after any old age pension increase in recent years they took the full sum, anyway, given to the pensioner, whether it was 1/6 or 1/- or whatever it was, immediately it became the possession of the old age pensioner. I do not believe from what I know of the local authorities—and what applies to the Midlands probably applies all over —that they will do that with the 2/6 which people will get under this Bill.

The big problem to which Deputy Dillon referred is one of people living alone. You cannot compel them to go into suitable homes. Apart from the county homes and the country institutions, there are many charitable homes which would take them in, but in many cases they will not leave the room which they occupy, and that is where the difficulty lies. The Dublin Board of Assistance, which is the authority in Dublin who deal with these cases of destitution, are dealing with 1,200 of them. They supplement the old age pensions in 1,200 cases. There may be cases which do not come to light—the appointment of an almoner is the duty of the local authority—but it would be very helpful if the voluntary societies to which Deputy Dillon referred would help individuals. We have been in touch with at least two of them in the past two years and they are very helpful, not in the direction to which Deputy Dillon referred, but in a general [743] direction. I cannot go into detail here, but certainly if they could be knit together, if their efforts all over the city could be co-ordinated, it would be very helpful.

The Deputy referred to cases of people who are partially mentally afflicted. Apart from the provision of the necessaries of life for these individuals who are living alone, there is the preparation of food and many other things which would lead to very prolonged debate. I shall bear the Deputy's representations in mind. It is a very complex problem, and, as I said a moment ago, I am in touch with at least two associations in Dublin with regard to this matter, and I shall discuss the whole problem with them.

I do not think there is anything else either Deputy Corish or Deputy Dillon said in the debate which calls for a further reply from me.

Question put and agreed to.

Agreed to take remaining Stages today.

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

That it is expedient to authorise such payments out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas as are necessary to give effect to any Act of the present session to provide for increases in the rates of pensions under the Old Age Pensions Acts, 1908 to 1957, unemployment assistance under the Unemployment Assistance Acts, 1933 to 1957, and widows' (non-contributory) pensions under the Widows' and Orphans' Pensions Acts, 1935 to 1957.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolution reported and agreed to.

Bill put through Committee, reported without amendment, received for final consideration and passed.

[744]An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  This Bill is certified by the Ceann Comhairle to be a Money Bill within the meaning of Article 22 of the Constitution.

The Dáil, according to order, went into Committee on Finance and resumed consideration of Estimates for Public Services for the year ending 31st March, 1960.

Debate resumed on the following motion:—

“That the Estimate be referred back for reconsideration.”—(Deputy Cosgrave.)

Mr. Dillon:  When I intervened in this debate I was directing the attention of the House, first of all, to the deplorable fact of the continued rise in the cost of living, and secondly to the alarming fact that there was a reduction of 30,000 in the number of men employed in this country. I was expressing the hope that some member of the Fianna Fáil Party would intervene, at some stage of the proceedings, and tell us what they thought of that, and then I went on to draw the Minister's attention to the fact that the whole doctrine of economic self-sufficiency, with which he has associated himself for so long, has now blown up. It has proved ineffective to provide the employment that he hoped it would. It has put an immense burden of cost upon the community and what is worse now, it threatens to isolate us between two trading blocs—one, which we call the Scandinavian, and the other, which we can call Little Europe.

In that connection it is striking to look at the Minister's own words as reported at column 587, Volume 175, No. 5 of the Official Report when he was opening this debate. He says:—

It seems, I think, clear that the whole trend of events throughout the [745] world is towards the formation of economic groupings between nations. Indeed, it appears likely that, in the future, small nations like ours will have difficulty in maintaining viable economies outside the ambit of wider economic combinations.

Those are very grave words. I understand the Minister is shortly to become the Taoiseach, but it is a strange envoi for his 25 years' labour that the policy which he has so strenuously pressed upon the country has led us finally to the position in which he is himself obliged to warn us that it appears likely that, in future, small nations like ourselves will have difficulty in maintaining viable economies outside the ambit of wider economic combinations. Therefore, these have been 25 lost years; they have been very costly and for that I think the Minister must accept his full share of responsibility. God knows, I often found myself a voice alone protesting against many of the follies that he wished upon us, but I am prepared to say I am not now deeply interested in where the responsibility for all those economic follies lies. What I am concerned about is the future.

I have believed throughout my whole public life that the whole idea of economic self-sufficiency is the purest cod; it always was, it is now, and it ever will be. The striking fact for us is that the Fianna Fáil Minister for Industry and Commerce, the future Taoiseach, now announces he has come around to that view but, from that, certain consequences ought to flow.

I think there are two things urgently necessary to be done. Up to now the Minister for Industry and Commerce has shown himself desirous, if it were possible, of arranging for the participation by this country in the Common Market and, through no fault of his, the Common Market project appears, for the time being in any case, to have collapsed. That development was grave enough from our point of view but it is made much graver by the emergence of the Scandinavian concept, but still I do not think the situation is irremediable. I think what we ought to do is quite simple—to say we were prepared to operate the Free Trade Area [746] concept when it envisaged participation by all the Rome Treaty Nations, and by Great Britain and the other nations. We are still prepared to operate that and we are prepared to organise in an association of that character with Great Britain in the morning and, for the purpose of our negotiation, we would not come empty-handed.

Great Britain is our largest customer but we are the second largest customer she has in Europe. Let us sit down together and work out between ourselves a Free Trade Area agreement, fixing all and sundry with notice that if others want to join us on the same terms as we have negotiated between ourselves they would be made very welcome, but we are not prepared to start off in another interminable wrangle leading nowhere. We are prepared to negotiate with our principal customer a viable free trade agreement on the lines of the free trade agreement envisaged by the O.E.E.C., due regard being had to the relative positions of Great Britain and ourselves—one a hugely wealthy, industrial nation, the other a relatively poor, agricultural country with a great capacity for development, not only in the sphere of agriculture but in industry as well.

I want to offer the Minister for Industry and Commerce proposals that could march with a bilateral Free Trade Area, which would make very real effective contributions to industrial development at the same time. Now, at first glance, it may seem paradoxical to speak of a bilateral Free Trade Area. I have always believed that to get 15 nations to agree about anything at a conference in Paris is virtually impossible, and I have always believed that if you wanted to get any degree of effective co-operation between 15 sovereign Governments the only way to go about it is to get two—at a maximum, three, but preferably two—to work out a viable, commonsense, reasonable agreement in which neither party gets all they want but both parties get a considerable part of it. Then say: “That may be a poor thing but it is our own. If anyone else wants to come in, he is welcome but let us not start the argument all [747] over again. That is the nearest we could get to equity between us. If anyone else wants to come in and share it, he is welcome but we are not going to have any more wrangling and tangling about it. We are prepared to accept that as the best thing, poor as it is; it is the best that ourselves and our partner were able to agree upon.” Mind you, if an Anglo-Irish agreement of that kind were worked out which would secure equity to both parties we might be surprised at the number of nations who would be prepared to say: “Very well, we are prepared to join you.”

I am prepared to go on record as saying that if we are to follow the Minister's broad view as expressed at Col. 587 of the Official Report, to which I have referred, ultimately from a world point of view what we want is an Anglo-American Free Trade Area in which there would be free passage for men, money and goods throughout the Commonwealth countries and the whole United States of America, and then simply say to the other nations of the Earth: “If you want to join that, join it, and if you want to stay out then stay out and no hard feelings.” I believe if we got that kind of a world Free Trade Area, in the fullest sense of the term, of free passage of men, money, and goods throughout its whole territory, that would be really going places. I believe that into such an association a united Ireland could ultimately find its way, but I recognise at once the difficulties of realising that in the immediate future are formidable and depend not on us but on Great Britain and the United States of America.

Ad interim, I think we might provide a very suitable example and that is to arrive at an analogous arrangement between ourselves and Great Britain, with a standing invitation to any other nation who thought as we do to come and join us. If we started that ball rolling, I am not at all sure that we could not build up, with the help of other countries, not a rival but an alternative to Little Europe of which Little Europe might itself some [748] day become jealous. Although the Rome powers are making considerable progress at the moment, many teasing problems still confront them and might yet confound them.

I could conceive ourselves and Great Britain working out an agreement which, the longer it endured, the more it would redound to the advantage of both parties. If this scheme is to fructify, it must be based on a proposal to Great Britain that, in exchange for import facilities into this country for her manufactured goods, she must equate the position of our agricultural producers in certain sectors of the agricultural industry with the prices and conditions she provides for her own farmers.

That, in itself, however, while it might make fair provision for the agricultural side of our society—and, without that, there could be no agreement of an enduring character—would not cover the problem of developing industrial employment in this country. Let us be precise. It would be futile to make out a trade agreement on the floor of Dáil Eireann because an agreement envisages two parties, one of which is Great Britain.

What I mean when I say “equate the position of our farmers with that of the farmers of Great Britain” is that in respect of certain commodities such as bacon, butter, cattle, pigs, sheep—I deliberately exclude eggs because I believe England is now self-sufficient in eggs and is, in fact, herself an exporter and is not, therefore, open to receive additional quantities of eggs—if we were put on a parallel with the British farmer the scope for expansion of production here is almost limitless and without any substantial volume of imports of raw materials. The raw materials of all these industries could be produced from our own soil. If we got a price ratio of the kind I envisage, they could be produced economically from our own soil, leaving our farmers a modest standard of comfort which would, I believe, multiply employment on the land.

But when you come to face the question of providing Great Britain with adequate inducement to participate in an arrangement of that kind you must [749] reconcile increased imports from Great Britain with increased industrial production in our community. I do not think these two things are irreconcilable. I want to direct the attention of the Minister to the fact that I am not the only person who thinks that.

There appears in the Financial Times of Wednesday, 22nd April, 1959, an article by Mr. Leslie Gamage. It is a long article from which I shall not by any means quote in extenso. However, Mr. Gamage says to his own people in Great Britain that the plain fact is that we have to get out of our heads that the only type of industrial export available to us in the future is the finished product. We have to realise, in the changing world in which we live, that we ought to raise the standard of living of the people resident in our traditional export markets and sell them the means of raising their standard of living so as to expand their capacity to purchase what we have to sell. In the initial stages, Mr. Gamage puts forward the case that the two things essential are know-how and equipment. I now quote from the article:—

The export of know-how along these lines has been criticised in the past on the grounds that, by sharing our knowledge, we were hastening the setting up of local industry and thus endangering our markets for the future. This argument fails to hold water on several counts. First, it is impractical by present-day standards: industrial expansion of less developed countries is obviously desirable for the higher living standards which it brings. And with the loans that are now available to many of these countries, quite apart from those that can partly finance their development from their own resources, their industrial expansion is already under way; and if they do not get their know-how from Britain, they will certainly receive it from the U.S., Russia, or Western Germany and others.

Secondly, an industrial revolution on the scale that is now taking place in many of our traditional overseas markets will, as their national income and standard of living improves, [750] give us a bigger, not a smaller, market—though we must realise that the goods required by such countries may change in type, for example, machine tools instead of electric fans. Furthermore, as the economies of the countries now exporting primary products broaden, they will become less dependent on world price fluctuations for their primary exports and will themselves offer a more stable market.

That is merely an extract from an article which I commend to the attention of anyone interested in this problem. I want to put a more radical suggestion even than that envisaged by Mr. Gamage which I put to the Minister before and which I am profoundly convinced, the more I think of it, is of real value.

There is not a doubt that at present in the world a great struggle is going on for the minds of men. The argument very largely is the argument between individual liberty and serfdom. Mr. Khrushchev, the Premier of Russia, puts the case strongly and confidently that, in the end, serfdom is bound to win. You may have a rough and ready way of doing things but, even if you have a generation of desolation such as they have had in Russia and are now experiencing in China, the nett result is an immense increase in the standard of living and, even if that results in a cost of millions of deaths, they are soon forgotten. Mr. Khrushchev, and Mr. Stalin before him, said in effect: “We admit horrible things have to be done but the nett result is worth it all.”

I do not think the Minister or I would agree with that sentiment. The principal proponent of the economy and philosophy founded on freedom is the United States. I think where they have gone wrong is that they have believed that in sharing their wealth they are promoting freedom and individual liberty in the world. There is no doubt that they have shared their wealth on a magnificent and dramatic scale but I think they have been giving the people what they do not want.

At first glance, if the United States Government offered us tommorow £100,000,000, or the equivalent in [751] dollars, the temptation to take it would be well-nigh irresistible but probably prudence, if it prevailed, would charge us to refuse it on the grounds that that was a once only transaction and that we would build up for ourselves desires and customs on the basis of that gratuitiously acquired wealth which subsequent dependence on our own resources, which is the essential of the preservation of liberty, would make it impossible for us to provide for ourselves.

I think at this time I am bound to say that I am shocked to hear people in this country seriously flirt with the idea that now that England is so well off, now that she is pouring so much money into Northern Ireland, ought we not consider equating our position with that of Northern Ireland? They are afraid to say: “Ought we not re-enact the Act of Union?” But it is no harm to remember that the love of money is the root of all evil and there are unthinking elements in our society at this moment who would seriously contemplate campaigning in this country on the proposition that the financial reward of surrendering independence would be so substantial and immediate that we really ought to think about it.

They are the people who begin by asking: “Ought we not go back into the Commonwealth?” They say: “Look at Northern Ireland and all the bounties and subsidies they have there and all the money they get from England. Look where we would be.” To these people, I want to say that if they propose to sell this country, they could get a better price. If they want to put up this country on the block for international sale and to be bid for, whoever would be prepared to bid would pay a better price than the doles and grants which the Northern Ireland Government are getting in exchange for the surrender of their independence.

I assume that there is nobody in this House who seriously proposes that in order to secure economic advantage for our people, we should consider the sale of our national independence, but it is shocking to realise how some people can be so dazzled by the longing for money that [752] they consider that, and it is time somebody said in public what I am saying to these people: “If you want to sell this country, and get authority from the people, do not sell it for the doles which Northern Ireland is getting.” This country is worth more than that and we would be much more dearly bought by plenty of bidders if anybody wants to sell it. I do not want to sell it and I am not prepared to enter into negotiations with anybody, however well-intentioned, if one of the agreements is that surrender of our national sovereignty should be part of the bargain.

I do not think that any of our friends outside have any thought of that kind at all. I do not think the British Government or the United States Government have any thought of that in their minds and would be shocked and almost nauseated by the idea. I know whereof I speak and I have heard some of them speak of the position in Northern Ireland compared with Ireland but what they have said is not for publication. I believe you would find, in discussions with either the British or the United States Governments, a ready acceptance of the proposition that the maintenance of the present constitutional position is desirable and wise and makes possible a more frank and cordial relationship between ourselves and Great Britain especially, than any previous constitutional link that bound us to each another.

I believe that there is growing between ourselves and Great Britain a firmer and stronger understanding as a result of our present constitutional position than was ever possible in the past and I believe that many of the loud-mouthed pseudo-patriots in the country who are always shouting “Up the Republic” have not awakened to the fact that we have accepted not only the advantages but the responsibilities of independent Republican status. One of those is constructively to face the position to which the Minister for Industry and Commerce referred when he envisaged the possibility of the viability of our economy being no longer possible outside the ambit of wider economic combinations. I have [753] said that I thought that America in her desire to counter the propaganda of the Soviet had sought to give her friends what they did not really want and has overlooked the immense benefit that she could confer at relatively insignificant expense to herself.

I would be prepared to make the case to the United States that the help she could give this country would cost her nothing—nothing at all. If and when the Minister has time to turn his mind to the article of Mr. Gamage to which I referred, I think he will find enshrined there the germ of the same idea as I have adumbrated on two occasions. Certainly he accepts the urgent necessity of free democratic powers, like Great Britain and the United States of America, realising that it is to their own advantage to help relatively undeveloped countries to rise in the sphere of industry and that it is no menace to them because, although they may have to change the nature of their industrial exports, the rise in the standards in those other countries will call for other forms of exports which they are equipped to deliver.

Therefore, I want to say to the Minister for Industry and Commerce that I believe he could do a great service not only to this country but to the world if in the suitable language of diplomacy—not in the fairly crude forms in which we express ourselves here—he said to the United States: “What we want is the opportunity of earning money in our own country. Instead of mobilising the countless hundreds of millions which you have done so magnificently for the countries of the Orient and indeed for Europe, all we ask is this: you have a vast industrial complex in the United States and already the Rockefeller interest have voluntarily built up a great corporation devoted to the task of locating industry for the South American Government and countries in Middle America, from Mexico south to Brazil, and great and valuable work is being done on that line.

“Could not the American Government challenge some of its great industrial enterprises such as General [754] Motors, United States Steel or Firestone Rubber”—the Minister knows the kind of companies to which I am referring—“and other companies of that kind and ask them if they would not undertake to participate with their own Government in demonstrating to the world that there is a much more effective way of providing a decent standard in freedom for a people prepared to work than the way of slavery which Communism declares to be the sine qua non of industrial development and that they should locate in Ireland, as a matter of policy, 12 plants, each designed to employ 500 to 1,000 men.”

I think that would have to be done as an act of faith in the initial stages, and would have to be done in an act partly of public duty because I do not believe there is a cohesive economic argument for it if it is disassociated from the practice of making the philosophy of freedom prevail against that of Communism. The immense advantage that confirms upon a country like Ireland at once is that we get forthwith a considerable volume of employment in the production of merchandise for which there already exist marketing channels through which to move. I see no other way for a small under-developed country such as this to get into international markets on a viable and enduring basis.

We cannot escape from the vicious circle that if you have not markets, you cannot generate mass-production; and if you have not got mass-production, you cannot get the markets. If you go out to look for the markets before you have the production wherewith to supply them, instead of doing good, you can do harm. If you fall down on delivery after your first excursion in search of trade, build up production and then go out on your second effort, you will find that every contact you have made on your first trip will turn away from you on the ground that they have suffered economic loss as a result of your failure to deliver on the first occasion.

I have examined that question ad nauseam and I know of no way in [755] which that vicious circle can be broken, except on the lines of which we have an illustration in the case of the Athy wallboard factory. There is no harm in recapitulating it. The only thing holding that factory back and threatening it with financial ruin was the fact that it had not got a marketing channel through which to dispose of its capacity output. It made contact with the firm of Bowater, and in two years a complete metamorphosis takes place. Not only are all their stocks passing freely into consumption, but I understand the factory is now doubling its capacity for production. That is all as a result of bringing it into contact with a progressive and adequate marketing organisation.

I do not believe that even if the Athy factory had been battling in that market for the past 40 years with the assistance of the Government, they would have got a footing in it. It is not until you try to make your way in that you discover the labyrinthine difficulties of trying to force your way into a market which is tied to large producers of that particular line of goods. As soon as the consumer can shake himself free, he is always under the threat that if he deals with another small entrant, he may find himself cut off from his supplies by the large and influential person who ordinarily caters for that market.

If you could get America to initiate a demonstration of that kind in this country, it has this immense advantage for her. This is one of the few countries that have not got the incalculably invaluable invisible export of a Communist Party. If we had an active and viable Communist Party here, we would have a great many people battering at our door seeking an opportunity to pour in money to offset the Communists, but the poor old Communists here are not worth 3½d. We are one of the only countries in the world that have not got that considerable invisible export, an active Communist Party, but it has this advantage. In every country where they are working every move made by the United States Government to try to help to maintain the independence and viability [756] of a free nation is frustrated and misrepresented by the Communist Party and everything possible is done in order to make the best efforts of the organisations operating for the United States ineffective.

Here is a country where their efforts can be understood, will be given the fullest co-operation, and where their efforts can be made in the absence of a running guerilla campaign to try to sabotage every plan they initiate or organise. Here can be given a demonstration to the whole world of what real co-operation, with a friendly effort to help in the development of our economy, can produce. But that is not the end of the story. To me, the whole thing would be dust and ashes if it ended with twelve branch factories of American organisations planted here. I think that is only the beginning. In time, I think there would begin to arise around each of these factories native industrial efforts to supply the components on which those factories are dependent.

I do not know if the Minister recalls that in the early stages of the motor car industry in Great Britain, every motor car company made its own gaskets. Then one small workshop started to make gaskets, not for the factories, but to sell to the garages. Eventually, one company said: “If you are making gaskets to sell as replacements, what about making them for our entire output?” They got in with the Rover Motor Company or some such company. That has grown into one of the great industrial enterprises in England today in which they are making all the gaskets used by practically every company in England. It has proved more economical for the motor car companies, even those the size of the four-company B.M.C., to leave it to specialists to make them rather than have each one set up its own gasket department.

I could conceive of small Irish industries of that kind growing up around large industrial units of the kind I have suggested as being established as a matter of policy by a United States consortium in this country. I should like to see a United States consortium because I am pro-American. [757] That is quite frank. I am sure there are those who would sooner see British or West German companies, but I would sooner see Americans. I am pro-American; I like them. I think they get on and really mean it when they say they want to help under-developed countries develop and share in their standard of living. I believe that out of that would come a real economic dynamic in this country, which would be utterly independent of the whole loathsome structure of tariffs and quotas, and all that goes with it, which is to me a horror and a disaster because it develops in our community a growing demand for the right to be inefficient. I am not such a disciple of efficiency as to say I am prepared to sacrifice everything to it, but I detest the whole structure of price control and regulation which grows out of the fact that individuals are accorded the right to manufacture here for consumption on the home market at fantastic prices—any price they like to ask almost—inferior goods.

I want to see industry in this country based on the production of competitive industrial products which can stand on their own legs in any country in the world, which will evoke greater industrial effort on the part of our people, of individuals, of small men availing of the opportunities offered by these larger industrial units to supply the components which they may require for the production of the finished article, whatever it may be. I can conceive a chemical company finding it could buy from a small rubber manufacturer here rubber bottles suitable for the distribution of its goods. One could multiply the cases where one can envisage small industries growing up operated by our own people to serve large industrial units with international marketing organisations. Then we can produce in this country, given the opportunity perhaps in our time, a B.A.T.A. such as was produced in Czechoslovakia before the war.

But something must prime the pump, spark the fire, if we want to get effectively into world trade, and I suggest it is along the lines I here adumbrated. That is the reason I direct the Minister's attention specially to the article by Mr. Gamage. It shows that the plan [758] is not in our mind alone. It has been adumbrated so recently as April 22nd in the Financial Times. It is being operated at the present moment in South America and in the Middle East and I am not sure that it is not being promoted by the State Department of the United States. Therefore, I urge the Minister, without delay, to examine the possibility of negotiating a free trade area with Great Britain and then making a real step forward which will involve a very dramatic impact on the whole economic life of this country by providing 10,000 new jobs in factories built by a friend, the United States of America, in this country primarily for that end and in the confident belief that from it great developments will flow, not only for the benefit of this country but for the benefit of the world and the United States and all she stands for as well.

There are certain other matters I want to refer to, Sir. I watch the operation of virtual unrestricted hire purchase on our economy with growing alarm. When I walk out to my own doorstep in a small town in the west of Ireland and see £50,000 worth of motor cars parked on the street of a town with a population of 1,200 in the middle of an ordinary week-day, I begin to wonder if there is not something fundamentally wrong in our whole approach to life. Twenty-five years ago, the presence of £1,000 worth of motor cars on that street would have caused quite a sensation. Forty years ago, the passage through that town of a motor car—there were plenty of horses and carts going through—would cause quite a sensation. Now there is a capital investment of £50,000 standing about the streets. That could be reproduced in every country town in Ireland. Look at the streets in the city of Dublin. Am I exaggerating when I say that 85 per cent. of those cars are bought on hire purchase? Averaging the recently purchased with those purchased two or three years ago, 50 per cent. of them represent borrowed money that a great many of the borrowers probably cannot afford.

I cannot afford to buy a television set. Yet if I drive out the canal way through some of the new housing [759] estates, I observe chimneys bristling with television aerials. No one can challenge my solicitude for good housing or my readiness to bear my full, fair share and ask my neighbour to pay his full, fair share of providing everybody in this country with a good house. If that means the subsidisation of housing, I think it is our duty to do it, but damned if I think it is fair that I should be asked to subsidise television. What is happening at the moment is that you can see sticking out of the chimneys of houses heavily subsidised a television mast, the weekly instalment on which approximates pretty closely to the amount I am paying towards subsidisation.

These may be unpopular things to say but unrestricted hire purchase is a cause of inflation. What is the use of imposing restraint on a variety of public services, if, at the same time, you say the people can buy anything they want and that all the finance is freely available? I have been watching the trade returns for the first four months of this year. What is the adverse balance of trade for the first four months of this year? I think it is running at about £10,000,000 per month on the trade. Is that not right?

Mr. S. Lemass:  Not quite, on visible trade.

Mr. Dillon:  I credit ourselves with £5,000,000 a month for invisible exports and that leaves us, I think, with an adverse balance of payments to date of £4,000,000 a month. If that continues, we shall reach the end of this year with an adverse balance of payments of something between £40,000,000 and £50,000,000. That is a very alarming picture. I do not want to raise any unnecessary scare but the great mistake is to let those things roll along until they become so menacing that you have to take ferocious action to restore the balance.

Mr. O'Malley:  Hear, hear!

Mr. Dillon:  What is an even greater danger is that, when the necessity to [760] take these steps arises, you will have a lily-livered Government in office and what is even worse a lily-livered Opposition thirsting for office and saying: “We will go out and say all the things you are doing to get the ship back on an even keel are unnecessary. Put us in and we will provide jobs for 100,000 people. We will bring down the cost of living and if the women vote for us, we will get jobs for their husbands. Let us get cracking.” Then that lily-livered Opposition get in, and sit wringing their hands while there are 30,000 fewer people employed, while butter goes up 7d. per lb., bread 4d. a loaf and flour £1 a bag, while at the same time the balance of payments begins to go down the drain.

That is the danger. Heretofore, we have never met that danger without a Government who were prepared to take any and all measures to prevent any evil consequences. What guarantee have we that we will always be so fortunate? These measures were taken at great political cost paid to a Party so sunk in dishonesty and fraud that they were slavering for the opportunity of cashing in. Now that we know we have an opposition of that kind, what guarantee have we that if a similar situation arises, the Government will not be of that kindred and then where will we be? It is to provide against that danger that I am directing the attention of the Minister for Industry and Commerce to the fact that after the first four months of this year, we are running an adverse balance of payments of something between £40,000,000 and £50,000,000 per annum, or at that rate. If it continues, the situation at the end of this year will be extremely critical because we will have stripped ourselves of one of our most effective weapons of control. We had the full scope of the levies to check imports. The Fianna Fáil Government have converted all those levies into taxes. The balance of that Government's revenue this year is largely dependent upon the yield of the levies we put on to stop imports. Fianna Fáil have converted them into revenue-yielding taxes and they cannot afford to stop it without throwing their Budget out of balance.

[761]An Ceann Comhairle:  The Deputy is travelling beyond the Estimate.

Mr. Dillon:  Surely the balance of trade is relevant?

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Deputy travelled outside that, I think.

Mr. Dillon:  I am talking about the balance of payments. They do not realise where they are. They are flopping along quite comfortably, leaving it to the Tánaiste who knows what he is doing. I think he does and he is getting a bit worried.

Mr. S. Lemass:  Not on that account.

Mr. Dillon:  The Minister may be optimistic at the moment that things will come out all right. I think even the Minister will agree with me that if the first four months of the year are running an adverse balance of payments at the rate of £40 million——

Mr. S. Lemass:  Not at all. There is no evidence of that whatever.

Mr. Dillon:  Is not the adverse balance of visible trade in the first four months about £40 million?

Mr. S. Lemass:  The average balance of visible trade was about £5 million a month last year.

Mr. Dillon:  I am talking of this year. It is between £9 million and £10 million for the first four months and from that we must make all the appropriate subtractions for exceptional conditions. Of course the Minister will give great weight to these considerations because they are of a reassuring character. They have to be paid for. God grant we have a good harvest. If we do, some of these items of expenditure may not recur but suppose we do not?

What I have been saying derives from the general observations I have made in regard to hire purchase. I think the question of hire purchase should be looked into. I believe a great many people in this country have involved themselves in a volume of debt which is not provident, which they may find it extremely difficult to meet and which at the moment must [762] be putting an immense strain on the whole economy of the country.

Why does the Minister propose to spend £9 million on the erection of a nitrogenous fertiliser factory particularly when the fertiliser is to be ammonium nitrate? I know the files that are there. Every Minister for Agriculture since the State was founded agreed that ammonium nitrate is not the right nitrogenous fertiliser for this country. All my predecessors and all my successors agreed on that. Their expressed opinion is on the files and yet every time the Minister for Industry and Commerce has come back with one or other variant on his proposal. On each occasion the Department of Agriculture has pointed out that to venture a huge capital sum to manufacture nitrogenous fertiliser here is bad policy and that of all the nitrogenous fertilisers that could be produced ammonium nitrate is the worst. It is the one form you cannot mix for the purpose of making a balanced fertiliser with either potash or superphosphate or lime. If you use ammonium nitrate you must use it alone. It will not mix. If you mix it with others and try to store it it will turn into rock as hard as Wicklow granite. If you want to use nitrogenous fertiliser you must use sulphate ammonia; you cannot use nitrate of soda because it will turn into rock also.

Quite apart from that aspect of the matter, nitrogenous fertiliser is the one fertiliser we do not want. Our economy should be based on fixing nitrogen from the air through the medium of clover. That is fundamental. If you put out enough phosphate and potash of lime the land will produce the clover and fix the nitrogen from the air and that is the most economical method. But if you want to use nitrogenous fertiliser for a crop or for some tillage procedure, or even for exceptionally early grass, if you want to get nitrogenous fertiliser in bad manure form, it is one branch of the fertiliser industry in which they have never yet succeeded in effectively establishing a ring.

I well remember when I was Minister for Agriculture a certain great firm associated with the sulphate of ammonia industry increased the [763] price of sulphate of ammonia by 15/- a ton. I remember actuating the Irish sugar company—I think it was—at the time to import Chilean nitrate and within ten days the representative of that big firm came into my office at the Ministry and said: “We are cancelling the increase of 15/-.” I said: “Why did you put it on?” He replied: “There was no harm in trying.” There were no hard feelings about it. He thought we would not go to the length of bringing in Chilean nitrate of soda because we had not been importing since before the War. He thought that was the acceptable time to jerk up the price of sulphate of ammonia and he came in quite good-humouredly and said that the increase had been cancelled. I said: “The other stuff is coming in now and we shall not stop it. We have no intention of stopping it.”

Traditionally that has been the position down the years. Suppliers of sulphate of ammonia and all fertilisers in that category always found themselves open to competition from natural nitrate and have never raised the prices above a certain level without finding Chilean nitrate coming in at a better price. Over and above that, since the last war, the world capacity for the production of nitrogenous fertilisers has grown to a point which is almost 20 per cent. over world capacity to consume it. In the name of commonsense and sanity, why should we at this moment launch out on a project to spend £9,000,000 to produce the wrong fertiliser when there is gross over-supply in the world and when competition between the synthetic product, sulphate of ammonia, and the natural product, Chilean nitrate, has always kept the price lower in this country than in almost any other country in the world? Nor is that the end of the story, because there is scope for the establishment of fertiliser plants in this country and I believe if the Minister for Industry and Commerce built a decent superphosphate plant at the deep water at Foynes for the supply of the West and the South-West of Ireland he would do a very useful public service. I wish the Government [764] of which I was a member had done it and I think it ought to have been done a quarter of a century ago. I shall not go into the details of that story which is as well known to the Minister as it is to me.

We have been making superphosphate in this country up to very recently with the equipment that was producing it 40 years ago. Is that not so? There is ample scope for the installation of one or two factories for the manufacture of superphosphate. What I am uneasy about is that this is going to be sold to this country on the proposition that it represents insurance against wartime scarcity. That is the greatest cod because this proposal to produce ammonium nitrate is based on turf and you cannot get an ounce of turf without diesel oil. For every ton of turf you need a large proportion of diesel oil. There is a relation between diesel oil and powdered turf. If you have no diesel oil you have no powdered turf. It brings me back to the days when Deputy Aiken used to tell us that hand-won turf would one day be of great assistance to the agricultural industry and a great source of revenue in relation to labour. Those were the days when the Egyptian Bee was to provide an alternative to the livestock industry of this country.

I have lived through all these follies before. One of the arguments produced for ammonium nitrate is that it would make us independent in times of war but it is no easier to get diesel oil than to get ammonium nitrate. If you should get a quantity of diesel oil it should not be used for the making of ammonium nitrate which we do not want. We could draw out of the air through the medium of the clover plant all the nitrogen we could conceivably require provided we had a sufficient stock of phosphate, potash and lime. Goodness knows we have an unlimited source of lime if we are prepared to grind up the Aran Islands. I shall not go into that, but there is a lot to be said for grinding up the Aran Islands. It does not strike the Minister as odd that it is necessary to grind up the north coast of Africa in order to bring superphosphate here but when I suggest grinding up the Aran Islands that [765] is out of the question. To transport that superphosphate 1,200 miles is all right but to grind up the Aran Islands and carry the material 12 miles is preposterous nonsense. Lime is more necessary in Connemara than phosphate is and you are bringing phosphate 1,200 miles and you will not bring the lime from Aran.

Mr. S. Lemass:  You can always go down to the Burren.

Mr. Dillon:  Except that there is a great deal to be said for transport by water from the Aran Islands.

Mr. S. Lemass:  Why transport by water? There is the Burren there.

Mr. Dillon:  The Burren is not in Connemara.

Mr. S. Lemass:  No, it is in County Clare.

Mr. Dillon:  If the Minister would consider carrying that large tonnage over Connemara roads as compared with carrying it over the Atlantic Ocean, he would find that transport over the Atlantic Ocean is more facile. However, these are merely details we can go into on another occassion. In relation to any proposal to set up superphosphate plants, there is an addendum for these reasons: (1) we want the superphosphate; (2) we can stock-pile the raw material from a form of rock we can import without any possibility of deterioration; but (3) I am convinced that the establishment of a pretty extensive industry of that character is a sine qua non of successful development of copper mines in this country.

I think you are building up for yourselves a big headache if you copper mine this country. I hope to see the Allihies developed as the richest copper mines in Europe, as Avoca has been developed, but in the process of this development you are piling up a growing slag heap of pyrites, and if that pyrites is allowed to accumulate there indefinitely you are going to have a Rio Tinto situation created in this area in which every drop of water in the neighbourhood is poisoned to a point of great danger. The absurdity is [766] that pyrites is the most valuable raw material for the manufacture of superphosphate, but the superphosphate is closely interlocked with the sulphuric acid and it is regarded as preferable to operate on sulphuric acid.

The existing plants were originally designed for the sulphuric acid process and we have to consider at once that there is a great deal to be said for their point of view that they do not want to convert, but if you want to build new plants there is no reason why they should not be built. We are hawking pyrites all around the world trying to get rid of it not only for what it will fetch but to clear it off the site and not poison the whole neighbourhood. Why will the Minister not divert his capital appropriation in the capital programme from ammonium nitrate to superphosphate?

Mr. S. Lemass:  Why not do both?

Mr. Dillon:  We shall argue about the other thing some other time. You have made provision for ammonium nitrate but no provision for superphosphate.

Mr. S. Lemass:  The trouble about superphosphate is there appears to be too much of it.

Mr. Dillon:  Do not worry. We are putting out about one-tenth of the quantity. The Ceann Comhairle will not allow me to tell the Minister how to deal with that situation, but if the Minister, when he is Taoiseach, and appoints a successor, will support me when he stipulates for parish agents, I promise him there will be ten times the quantity of superphosphate put down in the land of Ireland per annum as is being put out at the present time.

Mr. S. Lemass:  A £4 subsidy helps, too.

Mr. Dillon:  Quite honestly, I do not think you want anything. The reason why the subsidy is necessary is because the people have never been taught how to use it or what an immense difference it can make, and you are going the wrong way about giving it to them. The trouble is that certain people are getting 90 per cent. [767] of the benefit and the people who lack it and whose land lacks it are not putting it out at £9 any more than they did at £13. I put out this year £20 of it but I suppose everybody like me put out all the superphosphate they could lay their hands on. We may have to put out a bit more to try to build up the phosphate content of our land, and benefit by the subsidy. It is we who benefit but the neighbours whose land is brown will still be brown because they have not been taught how to use it.

I should like to go into this whole question but I do assure the Minister that under a proper system of agricultural instruction throughout this country, with the ideal being one parish agent for each rural parish and the minimum being one parish agent for each three parishes, he need have no anxiety about the capacity of our people profitably to use vastly increased quantities of superphosphate. If he concentrated his exertions there, we could postpone the argument about ammonium nitrate to some future date. There he will have something really valuable for the economy of this country.

There is one other question I should like to ask the Minister and I think the Minister gets irrational when he faces this question: Why are we increasing, and spending large capital sums in increasing, our capacity to produce electricity when our capacity is already grossly in excess of our capacity to consume? Surely that is daft. These facts are ascertainable with reasonable certainty. I asked the Minister recently in a Parliamentary Question about the extent to which a great many of the power stations were in fact being used and some of them are not being used more than 30 per cent. of their total capacity. Surely that is daft. It is economic insanity to lavish scarce capital on the erection of power stations that we cannot use or that we must leave operating at a half or little over a half of our capacity to produce. I have never heard from the Minister any rational explanation of that and I [768] think the time is long overdue when we should get it.

There is another question I must ask the Minister and I am astonished that he has not felt the obligation upon him to be more communicative to this House about it. I understand that we bought three jet airplanes. I do not know whether the Minister appreciates that there has been a good deal of leaning backwards not to press him or harry him with questions about them. I suppose the Minister knows why. We had some kind of idea that the Minister was engaged, possibly, in difficult and delicate negotiations with other European companies and desired to equip himself effectively to prosecute such negotiations by concrete evidence that we were participating in the operation of jet aircrafts on the Atlantic route. If that is so, up to a point I think he could rely on the Opposition to assist him in such negotiations but there comes a point when it becomes extremely difficult for the Opposition to know what to do. Are We to remain silent in order to avoid embarrassing a responsible Minister in the prosecution of delicate negotiations or are we to put the whole question in issue lest, under a false pretence, we are committed to a course of policy which we could not possibly have approved had we been forewarned of the true nature of the departure?

Mr. S. Lemass:  There will be a Bill before the Dáil in a few weeks' time.

Mr. Dillon:  In which the whole policy will be stated? I do not want to press the Minister unduly on that. I am bound to say that I see no prospect at all of our being able to operate jet transport across the Atlantic. If it is to be explained before any further commitments are to be entered into, I am prepared to accept that but I think it is a bit late in the day to consult Dáil Éireann because we are already pretty deeply committed.

I want to ask the Minister another question. I do not expect the Minister to accept my bona fides but they are none the less genuine. I can assure the Minister that nothing is more inimical to success than secrecy which [769] begets rumour. What is the capital structure of a dockyard in Cork? Whose money is being invested? Is the foreign interest putting in at least half the capital? I, perhaps, do not take an orthodox view about it. In promotions of an international character for which I was responsible when I was Minister I insisted that the foreign entrant should have at least 49 per cent. of the capital so that for every £ we lost he would lose another and that for every £s business he would put in our way he would get 10/- of the profit and that policy paid off well in my limited experience of promoting industry. It is suggested to me that the bulk of the capital of the Cork shipyard is Irish capital and that we are carrying all the capital risk and the entrepeneurs who provide the knowhow are carrying relatively little.

In the light of what the Minister says in his opening statement, I think that commitments are now so far entered into that common prudence demands that a responsible Opposition should ask the Minister to define the position in regard to the capital structure of that enterprise. In the earlier stages, when he was engaged in negotiotions, perhaps, prudent discretion was justifiable and he was, perhaps, entitled to look to us for restraint in that matter, which, I think, we can claim to have exercised. The Minister had this to say, as reported at column 575:—

It is the intention to undertake the buildings of vessels up to 50,000 tons. Deputies will have seen the announcement from the company that their development programme is being expedited so that it is now contemplated that they will be in a position to take orders before the end of this year for new ships to be built at Cork. That will be of great benefit to that locality. It is contemplated that when the development plans are completed some 1,800 workers will be employed at the shipyard.

In the light of that I do not think it is unreasonable at this stage to say that the Dáil is entitled to be informed [770] of what the capital structure of that company is.

At column 574 the Minister said:

It is a matter of some concern that there is still a very substantial importation of agricultural machinery on which duty is chargeable— types of machinery which it is contemplated could be manufactured in this country on a scale which would meet the country's full requirements. Discussions I had with the representatives of the Wexford engineering firms were directed towards consideration of the possibility of securing an expansion of their production so as to eliminate that unnecessary item from our import statistics.

That is just crazy. To describe imports of agricultural machinery as “that unnecessary item from our import statistics” is the language of insanity.

Mr. S. Lemass:  Imports of dutiable machinery.

Mr. Dillon:  Yes. That is really the language of insanity. If I went to the Minister himself and said to him in regard to any new factory established here which wished to adopt more up-to-date methods and, therefore, proposed to import machinery which attracted a tariff, that these imports were unnecessary, he would tell me I was daft, that I was trying to tie down Irish industry in a strait-jacket of antediluvian methods. It is just as fantastic to say to the agricultural industry that they should not bring in modern and up-to-date machinery.

The Minister may say that they can get a perfectly adequate substitute here at home. A great many of them think they cannot and would not be paying a heavy tariff on imported machinery if they thought they could. I think I was wrong to consent ever to the imposition of tariffs on agricultural machinery.

Mr. Corish:  If it is for the benefit of Wexford, you need not worry.

Mr. Dillon:  It was done on the representation—I do not think I am being unfair in saying—that mass unemployment [771] was threatened in the towns of Wexford and Enniscorthy—

Mr. Corish:  Wexford.

Mr. Dillon:  ——two big agricultural machinery manufacturing districts—and that a crisis was upon us. When you are faced with the thought of hundreds of men losing their jobs and finding themselves and their families bereft, it is not always easy to keep a perfectly clear head and a cool heart. On the whole, I think I was wrong. I should have resisted. I did not.

I did make an arrangement that the matter should be discussed with the farming community after it had been operated for one year. That arrangement was repudiated, wrongly in my opinion, by the present Minister for Industry and Commerce. I think that was an indecent thing to do on his part. But that is another story. It is insane to prevent the agricultural industry from getting the best and most effective agricultural machines. I think I was wrong to go to the point of permitting a protective tariff to be put on. That simply meant, however, that it discouraged the man, if there was any vacillation or doubt in his mind, from choosing the imported article because he had to pay more for it; but he still had it open to him, if he was convinced he really needed it, by paying an extra £5, £10 or £15.

If it is the intention now to extend that to the point envisaged by the Minister in his speech, in which he says the aim is to eliminate that unnecessary item from our imports statistics, then the Minister has gone clean crazy. Sometimes, when I think of the Minister heading the Government here, where 80 per cent. of the economy depends upon agriculture, it makes my blood run cold, more particularly if he does not contemplate shifting the tulip we have in the Department of Agriculture because, with him as Taoiseach and Deputy Smith as Minister for Agriculture, God help the agricultural industry of this country. One would be bad but the pair would be a major cataclysm.

[772] I do not suppose the Minister will answer the questions I have put to him. I think the questions proposed are of value and I think the suggestions I have made are the suggestions that would provide us with an immediate prospect of a dynamic advance in our general economy. Today, as I have always done, I regard agriculture as the fundamental and enduring prop of this country, but I do not despair of any valuable industrial development if that development is operated on the lines I suggest.

There is one last word I want to say. It is about emigration. One of the greatest crimes the Fianna Fáil Party perpetrated against this country was its dirty, fraudulent campaign that the inter-Party Government were indifferent to the problems of unemployment and emigration and that, if Fianna Fáil got the chance, they were in a position to put an end to both. That was a falsehood. It was a double falsehood, and, the worst of it was, it tended to corrupt public life and to involve us all in a kind of pall of public loathing.

There is no doubt whatever, in my long experience of the public life of this country, I have never felt more nauseated with the role of politics than I do at the present time. It is a terrible thing in a free democracy when politicians are no longer respected by the people. It is a terrible thing in a free democracy when the description of a politician should have a pejorative sense on the lips of our people because, if the people do not respect us here in this House, they will ultimately come to despise Parliament; and, if they despise Parliament, Parliament will perish; and, if Parliament perishes, the freedom of all of us will die in our time. And all that comes very largely from this business, this dual fraud of pretending that the Government in office do not care about unemployment and emigration and that the Opposition are in a position to cure both if given the chance. That was a fraudulent, shameful misrepresentation for which we are paying a shocking price today.

I hear a lot of talk about emigration and the terrible tragedy it is that people leave this country to earn more abroad. I want to suggest to the House [773] that what we here are calling emigration is to be distinguished from two other things that traditionally bore that name. One is the emigration known to our grandparents here, a by-product of poverty and despair, an undiluted horror for those who had to go through it. Such emigration does not exist in this country at all today. The emigration of seventy years ago was a flight from hunger and destitution—it was always a blind flight to wherever the escapist could go. Some went to Glasgow. Some went to the slums of Liverpool. The luckier ones went to the slums of Manhattan, Philadelphia, and Boston. Most of them found their way out. Many of those—God help them— who went to Liverpool lived and died where they landed, in the slums of that City. The same was largely true of those who went to Glasgow, though some of our people prospered relatively there.

All that belongs to history. Now, the other thing from which I want to distinguish emigration is the old meaning of the word, which indicated that a person left one country and chose another, consciously choosing between one country and another. That used to happen. I think a great many of our people, not influenced by destitution, chose America because it was full of romance, drama, and potential adventure; and they wanted to go there for the wide open spaces and the opportunity.

The emigrant with whom we are dealing today does not belong to either of those categories. This is an entirely new world phenomenon which is common to every country. I refer to the drift from the land. There is a reluctance on the part of people to live in rural conditions. Mark you, I had an interesting and dramatic experience last week-end. I took occasion to go down to Knocknagow and I stood on Drummond Bridge overlooking the Anner, the place where Kickham wrote The Homes of Tipperary. I started looking at the homes of Tipperary about which Kickham wrote. There is only one left. All the others have fallen down. The homes of Tipperary about which Kickham wrote were a series of small houses in and around Drummond Bridge over the Anner.

[774]An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  I feel the Deputy is getting away from the Estimate.

Mr. Dillon:  I am on the subject of emigration.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  The pattern of emigration does not arise on the Estimate.

Mr. Dillon:  Emigration does not arise on the Estimate for the Department of Industry and Commerce. Where else does it arise?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  I can not see how a debate on emigration of this nature can be based on the Estimate for the Department of Industry and Commerce.

Mr. Dillon:  Where else?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  Perhaps it could be dealt with on a separate motion.

Mr. Dillon:  Not at all. If that is not the policy of the Government, what else is it? Surely the Government has some policy for emigration.

Mr. Corish:  It is not a policy “for” we want; it is a policy “against”.

Mr. Dillon:  Has the Minister any policy for emigration?

Mr. S. Lemass:  We are discussing at the moment the administration of the Department of Industry and Commerce.

Mr. Dillon:  Oh, no. There is a motion to refer back, and surely the Minister has a policy on emigration.

Mr. S. Lemass:  We are now discussing the administration of the Department of Industry and Commerce.

Mr. Dillon:  We are discussing the policy of the Department of Industry and Commerce with regard to emigration.

Mr. S. Lemass:  The administration of the Department.

Mr. Dillon:  I am making the case —mind you, if you would only waken up and face the position honestly and truly there would be a germ of hope; [775] because it is quite a revolutionary concept—that the movement of our people to Great Britain is not a movement of emigration. It is a movement from the land to the city.

One thing is certain. People will move to the city. The question we have to ask ourselves is: in how far have we made up our minds that it is desirable to abandon the whole agricultural background of our society, and aspire to provide an industrial set-up here in Ireland, sufficient to absorb the natural outflow from the land that is proceeding here, as it is proceeding in South Dakota and North Dakota, in all the states of the Union of America, throughout the whole Continent of Europe, in Canada, Australia and New Zealand as well? We want to make up our minds about this. Do we accept that as inescapable and build industrial centres here sufficient to receive them, or do we say we preserve the agricultural background of our country, and we accept what was looked upon as emigration 50 years ago but which can no longer be truly described in that term? It took longer to come from Knocknagow to Dublin 50 years ago than it takes to go from Knocknagow to Los Angeles at the present time, and the journey between Tipperary and Liverpool, Birmingham, London or Manchester is trivial when compared with the journey between Tipperary and Dublin 50 years ago.

If we accept that, are we to say to our people, if they can earn £20 per week in industrial employment in any city in Great Britain, that there is something wrong about their going? I am putting it to the House that if we are to face the problem of emigration realistically, we have got to realise that so long as ours is a free people, and so long as we have what no other nation in Europe enjoys, free access and a ready welcome in any part of the Commonwealth or the United States of America, we shall continue to have emigration. If that is looked upon calmly and deliberately, and if it is faced in close association with an effective effort to expand production and markets for the agricultural industry, and to increase the number of viable [776] industrial activities in this country in accordance with the plan I adumbrated at the beginning of my observations on this Estimate, we have nothing to fear from emigration.

Any emigration that takes place will merely establish the claim of our people to their fair share of the new world which is in the process of development at the present time, and for us to renounce the clear right we have to our share, not only of the benefits but of the responsibilities of securing the development of that new world on the right lines, would be wholly wrong. I do not want to see anyone forced to leave this country but I do not want to see anyone forced to stay. There is a loathsome “drim and droo” being sung on the radio at present about a gentleman who lived in a mud-walled cabin on the hill.

Mr. Haughey:  Teddy O'Neill.

Mr. Dillon:  Is it? He gets mawkish and lachrymose about the mud-walled cabin on the hill, and he spends a protracted period looking back——

Mr. O'Malley:  He should apply to the Minister for Local Government for a reconstruction grant.

Mr. Dillon:  ——to his mother and father who are living in the mud-walled cabin on the hill, and his father is lighting his pipe by the light of a turf fire, still in the mud-walled cabin on the hill.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  That does not seem to be relevant.

Mr. Dillon:  The point I want to make is that the lachrymose exile is looking back with nostalgic longing on this gruesome picture of these two rheumatic old persons living in this grossly unsuitable house on the side of a hill in conditions that have not obtained in this country, thank God, since we chased the landlords out.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  That might be relevant to a housing debate but certainly not to a debate on the Estimate for Industry and Commerce. The Minister is not responsible.

Mr. Corish:  For what—for housing?

[777]Mr. Dillon:  I am seeking to convey to the House that a great deal of this talk about emigration is fraud, a great deal of this talk is dishonest, a great deal of the suggestion that emigrants are driven from this country by economic want is untrue. They go by election; they go because they think it is in their best interests to go. If it is right for a man earning £4,000 a year in this country to emigrate in order that he may get £8,000, I am damned if I can see anything wrong in a man earning £5 a week emigrating in the hope that he will earn £20.

If this whole business could be kept in the correct proportion and a policy operated on the lines adumbrated by me here today, the residual emigration would be no subject for lamentation but, seen in proper perspective, would be the realisation of a privilege and a duty to which all our people are heirs, and which will ultimately result in great benefits not only to this country but to our people and to the world as well.

I wonder will any of these prudent plans be adopted? I scarcely hope they will be, by this administration, but I am full of high hope that in the referendum we shall so shake your foundations that you will blunder into a general election and then, even if we do not realise all these dreams, we shall get an opportunity of having a great stab at them.

Mr. O'Malley:  If anyone wants a repast, I should like to let him know I shall be speaking for exactly an hour and he can depart now. Anyone wandering in here tonight would imagine that the Deputy who has just concluded was speaking on the Financial Resolution or on the Estimate for the Department of the Taoiseach but certainly not on this Estimate, even though there is a motion to refer it back.

Mr. Dillon:  Come, come! It is a bit early for you to be teaching me procedure.

Mr. O'Malley:  I think it would be the height of impertinence for a comparatively new Deputy, such as I am, to have to get up in this House and point out to a former Minister of [778] State where he made certain mistakes.

Mr. Dillon:  You are very welcome.

Mr. O'Malley:  During the course of his speech, Deputy Dillon chose to throw a scare about the deficit in the balance of payments for the first two months of this year, a scare which, no doubt, we shall see published in to-morrow's papers. In February, the latest available date, the import excess was £6.96 million, and the Minister for Industry and Commerce intervened to point out to Deputy Dillon that obviously he was not making any concession or allowances for the invisible figures. Visible exports in recent years have fallen short by an amount of £70,000,000 a year, and there have been substantial fluctuations as referred to in the Economic Expansion booklet. This gap, to a certain extent, is bridged by tourist expenditure, income from external assets, emigrants' remittances and other receipts, but the deficit in the balance of payments occurred in varying amounts from 1947 to 1956.

I should like to point out to Deputy Dillon that a balance in external payments was achieved in the financial year ended 31st March, 1957, the first time for many a long year. This matter is so important, that is, the scare which has been raised by Deputy Dillon today, that I must correct him. He stated he was alarmed at the deficit in the first two months of this year.

Mr. Dillon:  Four months.

Mr. O'Malley:  The latest available figure I have is February, 1959, and the import excess in that month was £6.96 million.

Mr. Dillon:  What was it in March and April?

Mr. O'Malley:  I have not got the March and April figures. This time last year, it was £5.72 million, but let us forget last year and stick to this. The import excess is £7,000,000 and the Deputy suggested that if that trend continued, the deficit in the balance of payments would be something of the order of £70,000,000 or £80,000,000.

Mr. Dillon:  I said the deficit in the [779] balance of payments would be in the order of £40,000,000.

Mr. O'Malley:  Yes—it would be something like £40,000,000.

Mr. Dillon:  Not £70,000,000.

Mr. O'Malley:  The import excess in February was £6.96 million. This time last year, it was £5.72 million, and I think we ended up the financial year to 31st March, 1958, in quite a satisfactory manner. I am amazed that Deputy Dillon spoke about the balance of payments for the first month, the second month, or the first four months of the year. For the month of January, 1956, the import excess was £39,000,000.

Mr. Dillon:  For the month of January?

Mr. O'Malley:  For the month of January, 1956. Would the Deputy credit that? In the month of February, 1956, the import excess was £29,000,000; in the month of March, 1956, it was £9,000,000; in April, 1956, it was £7,000,000; and in May of that year, £13,000,000. Deputy Dillon wondered if this trend continued, would this lily-white Government, as he called us—

Mr. Dillon:  Oh, never that. That is the last adjective in the whole dictionary.

Mr. O'Malley:  Lily-livered.

Mr. Dillon:  Yes.

Mr. O'Malley:  He wondered would it be possible for us to arrest the trend, but I think I have shown the Deputy that he need have very little fear on that score.

Deputy Dillon mentioned the levies as if they were the greatest thing the Coalition Government ever introduced. As a matter of fact, it was due to the manner in which the Coalition Government allowed the deficit in the balance of payments to run that the levies were necessary, in the first instance.

[780]Mr. Dillon:  Why did you not abolish them?

Mr. O'Malley:  I shall come to that in a second.

Mr. Booth:  Some were, as rapidly as was possible.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  Deputy O'Malley might be allowed to make his speech.

Mr. O'Malley:  The levies were the result of the inability of the Coalition Government to arrest this very serious trend—£39,000,000 deficit in January, 1956, £29,000,000 in February, £9,000,000 in March, £7,000,000 in April and £13,000,000 in May. When the Minister for Health was speaking at that time, he said our criticism was not with the levies but with the delay of the Coalition Government in introducing measures to arrest this appalling position. Again, when the Minister for Finance was introducing his Budget this year, he pointed out that the full levy was now left on only a very short list of less essential goods. Thirty-five of the levies were scrapped in toto and in other items, there were reductions of 33? per cent. and 20 per cent. That meant a net loss to the Exchequer this year of £220,000. Please God, the day is not too far distant when we shall be in a position to scrap them entirely. For the record, in 1958-59, when the Minister for Finance brought the revenue from the levies into the current Exchequer account, all they yielded was £1.8 million.

In introducing this Estimate, the Minister was very factual and even though he spoke for one and a half hours, or one and three-quarters hours, he was quite brief dealing with the second major Government Department next to Agriculture. He was non-political in his speech and, when one analyses the time spent by other Deputies, including Deputy Norton, Deputy Cosgrave and, indeed, Deputy Dillon, in making their speeches, one finds they had very little criticism to offer. That shows one thing, that the Department of Industry and Commerce, which down the years has been going from strength to strength, is now in a position that the Estimate which [781] it has produced on this occasion can surely be said to be not alone beyond criticism but has certainly lived up to the most ardent hopes of many of us.

The Minister stated that it is proposed to transfer the administration of the Industrial Grants Act, 1956, to An Foras Tionscal and thus enable the I.D.A. to concentrate on its promotional activities. It is also intended, I think he said, to change the scope of the Act without weakening in any way the underlying policy of the Undeveloped Areas Act. Deputy Norton expressed the hope that the Industrial Grants Act, 1956, would not be scrapped. Anyone recalling the occasion and manner in which this Act was introduced to the Dáil will readily admit it was introduced as a political measure and a gimmick. Remember the date the Industrial Grants Act was introduced, December, 1956. They were the dying days of the last Coalition. The then Minister for Industry and Commerce had the power, if he wished—I think under Section 3 of the Undeveloped Areas Act—to extend the scope and the jurisdiction, and the powers, so to speak, of the Undeveloped Areas Act to any area he specified or designated, by Ministerial order.

Deputy Norton's attitude, in giving free grants as opposed to loans, was very interesting. One of the provisions of the Industrial Grants Act, 1956, was that grants up to £50,000 or two-thirds of the cost of the factory would be obtained outside the Undeveloped Areas Act, free, gratis and for nothing. Deputy Norton's idea changed very quickly. Speaking on the Undeveloped Areas Bill, 1951, as reported in the Official Report, Volume 128, column 1063, he spoke as follows on the subject of grants and loans:—

We are now engaged in passing a Bill the object of which is to make £2,000,000 available to promote private enterprise in the undeveloped areas. That £2,000,000 does not belong to private enterprise. It is £2,000,000 of public money which has to be raised from the pockets of the taxpayers and which may be raised in such a form that every citizen, and particularly the lowly [782] section of our community, will have to contribute. As custodians of the public interest, we ought to concern ourselves with how this public money will be spent. While it may be necessary, in order to encourage industry in the undeveloped areas, to give grants in special cases where no other method of inducement will encourage the establishment of an industry, we ought to be careful I think when it comes to giving a grant to any person, firm, or corporation which in fact may not need a grant.

If the capital was not available for industry, the Industrial Credit Company was there and the Trade Loans (Guarantee) Act was passed. In December 1956, the present Minister suggested, when speaking on the Industrial Grants Bill, that, in view of the tightness of money at that time and the policy of the banks, the powers of the Industrial Credit Company should be extended to enable it to invest in private companies. The present Minister was giving us all the reasons why the Industrial Grants Act, 1956, was superfluous.

One of the weakest features of the Industrial Grants Act, 1956,—this is an interesting point and it is why I was so pleased the Minister announced certain changes; I wonder whether anybody noted it—was that it ruled out anyone in the undeveloped areas from getting a grant under that Act. It did not mean that because an industry was sited in the undeveloped areas it de facto qualified for a grant under the Undeveloped Areas Act.

Mr. Haughey:  It never applied to Dublin or Cork.

Mr. O'Malley:  That is news to me. It is an interesting point that when the Industrial Grants Act, 1956, was introduced, and even still at the present time, nobody in the undeveloped areas could qualify for a grant. As I stated, people or industrialists seemed to be of the opinion that because an industry was sited west of the Shannon or in the area scheduled in the Undeveloped Areas Act it automatically qualified for all the facilities of that Act. That [783] is not so. There are cases on record in An Foras Tionscal, very many of them, which have been turned down and the rejected applicants took it badly. The reason they were turned down is that they did not go to the trouble to appreciate the conditions of the Undeveloped Areas Act and that the facilities of the grant would be given to promoters of new industries under the Undeveloped Areas Act if, by siting the industry there, it became non-competitive with other industries.

Take a furniture factory which would be selling its products in Mayo, Galway or around Connaught generally. Such a proposition was turned down and rightly so. There was a proposition for a printing factory to sell in the domestic market around Galway City because it would not compete with existing industries on the Eastern seaboard or in other parts of the country. We have the position at the present day that a factory in Connaught, say, such as I have described, is refused concessions under the Undeveloped Areas Act and cannot qualify due to its location. As regards Deputy Norton's famous Industrial Grants Act, 1956, the Minister has fortunately announced that it will be brought into line with conditions which at present exist.

The Industrial Grants Act, 1956, was the greatest political ramp we had from the last Government. It was introduced in the dying days of the Coalition when they got the wind up and knew they would be facing the country soon. They thought that up in December, 1956. I do not purport to know a lot about administration, and so on, but how the officials in the Department of Industry and Commerce, in the I.D.A. or in An Foras Tionscal were expected to administer that Act is a mystery to me. Not alone could they not administer the Act but how they could interpret certain sections of it is quite beyond me.

Deputy Norton glossed over one very important point in the Minister's speech, namely, that the subsidy of 50 per cent. for rural electrification, cut out by Deputy Norton when he [784] was Minister for Industry and Commerce, was restored as and from 1st April of this year. Deputy Norton made certain prophecies about the effects of this cut in July, 1955. I shall not bore the House by going into them but if anybody is interested in reading what Deputy Norton said about the cut of 50 per cent. in the rural electrification subsidy I will refer him to Vol. 152 of the 1st July 1955. His prophecies then about the effects of this cut make sorry reading now and, significantly enough, what the present Minister for Industry and Commerce predicted would happen as a result of the cut in that subsidy has all come to pass. Fortunately the cut has been restored.

There is an important point to which I should like to refer. It was dealt with in passing by the Minister in his speech; it has regard to the position of foreign assurance and insurance companies, operating in this country. This matter has received a tremendous amount of publicity, not alone in the national newspapers but in the provincial Press as well. Perhaps it is understandable to a certain extent. It is gratifying to note that discussions are taking place at present in London whereby it is hoped that some of these companies will make a greater investment in Ireland.

In my opinion there would be very little to worry about on this score if we supported our own Irish companies. It should be realised, however, that the Irish companies themselves must initiate a campaign showing how their rates compare with the rates of foreign companies. Let us have it out in the open once and for all. How do the rates of the Irish companies compare with those of foreign companies? If it is established, and if they can prove to the ordinary fair-thinking man in the street, that their rates are competitive, then undoubtedly they are worthy not only of support but shall get a substantial volume of business from every industrial concern and every man in the street who goes in for insurance whether it is life, accident or under any other heading.

It would be interesting, however, to ascertain the amount of money—let [785] us be fair about it—placed in Irish offices which is transferred to foreign companies. I agree that it is essential to spread risks in certain instances, and I am satisfied that we ourselves get a small share of the spread, or, what they call in the trade, reinsurance, particularly in the maritime section of insurance. I am not at all satisfied—they have their chance now and they can answer it in public—that if you or I go to an Irish insurance company—most of them are very reputable—we think that we are doing business with an Irish firm and that 100 per cent. of our money is going into the coffers of that Irish company. We go away satisfied that, at least, we have done a good day's work and made our little contribution. Are we quite sure that a very substantial proportion of that money is not given, by telephone or by letter, to Lloyds or some other underwriting house in England?

As I said, I feel that the insurance and the assurance companies in Ireland could put a further spurt on themselves, either by more competitive rates, should that be necessary, or by means of a publicity drive. But I think a sine qua non of the success of the insurances companies in this country is to show the Irish public that their rates are just as competitive as those of foreign countries. Having done that I think they will get the support which they merit, making due allowances, of course, for the absolute necessity to reinsure and spread the risks of certain insurances.

I was glad to hear, in reply to a Parliamentary Question, that it is proposed to transfer certain matters regarding the E.S.B. Fisheries, at present dealt with by the Minister for Industry and Commerce—I am only referring to this briefly—to the Minister for Lands. It is not that I have any criticism to make with regard to the Department of Industry and Commerce in this respect, because in fact they have no function whatsoever with regard to charges on fisheries. That is the particular function of the E.S.B., just as it is the function of the E.S.B. to fix the charges for current under legislation enacted in this House back [786] in 1926. I do see, however, an opportunity for having a section brought into the new legislation which will transfer these functions and responsibilities from the Minister for Industry and Commerce——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  The Deputy would not be in order in discussing that matter on this Vote.

Mr. O'Malley:  The only point I make is that a section could be introduced whereby any charges made by the E.S.B. would be subject to the Minister's sanction.

I do not think any aspect of our national economy looks brighter than the tourist industry. As we all know the crying need at present is for the provision of new hotel accommodation. A very serious bottleneck exists in the industry in that regard. It is pointless to seek an increase in the number of tourists coming here if we have not the proper facilities available for them and at present we have not got them. However, it is good to know that large scale developments are taking place which should go a substantial way towards relieving this congestion. Already a start has been made in Bunratty, County Clare, and we hope to have news of a definite nature regarding the new Limerick hotel within a few weeks.

There are other proposals of a substantial nature which are well advanced for other parts of the country but I do not propose to refer to them at this juncture; I do not think it would be fitting that I should. I should like to put on record the tremendous co-operation and encouragement which interested parties in tourism have received, in regard to the construction of new hotels, from the chairman of An Bord Fáilte, Mr. Brendan O'Regan, and from the Director General, Mr. T. J. O'Driscoll. Some may be inclined to say that that is what they are there for. When one sees these people working at meetings and conferences with interested parties, often long into the night, it certainly augurs well for our tourist industry.

Reference was made by Deputy Norton to Aer Linte. I was very [787] pleased to hear him support the decision of Aer Linte to purchase the jet aircraft. Nevertheless, one must surely be forgiven for wondering what reception Deputy Norton would have received if, in his capacity as Minister for Industry and Commerce, he went to a meeting of the coalition Cabinet dominated by Fine Gael and placed such a proposal before them. However, that does not arise, fortunately, at this stage.

The ordinary person interested in the advancement of his city or town has at last been educated to the fact that private enterprise must play its part, that local initiative counts more than anything, that a visit to the Department of Industry and Commerce or the passing of a pious resolution that a factory should be located in such and such a place is a complete waste of time and is not the way in which industries are started. The Industrial Development Authority, as it is proposed to allow it to operate, will concentrate on the development of projects and the administration of certain grants will be transferred to An Foras Tionscal. That will clarify the position and make the task of the Industrial Development Authority easier. It is very helpful and encouraging to visit Dr. Beddy in the Industrial Development Authority or An Foras Tionscal and find such co-operation and information. As far as I am concerned, I must say that any official ever consulted in regard to the North Munster area has always proved most helpful.

The Minister curtailed his speech at the end, even though he spoke for 1½ hours. There were two items in it of particular interest to us in the South. They are referred to in Economic Development. One is the question of the market which exists for the export of high-grade sweets. In 1957, the sweet industry here exported over £600,000 worth of sweets. The view expressed by the writers of Economic Development was that the Government have a concern in Limerick, the Dairy Disposal Company, and they suggested that this company should play a pilot role in the export of high-grade sweets. They went on to show [788] how it could absorb the milk surplus in the production of chocolate crumb and so on, but they held out the greatest hope for the export of high-grade sweets. They also pointed out that there was a ready-made industry for the condensed milk factory in Limerick, if they went in for broiler chickens. I understand they are investigating that matter. It has tremendous possibilities but the only drawback is there must be low-cost feeding stuffs.

There is another very important statement in Economic Development, which I am sure the Minister would have referred to, had he had time. It also affects Limerick. It pointed out, to my amazement, that the gross turnover in leather last year was £6.5 million and that 5,913 people were employed in the tanning of leather in this country. Last year, we exported £2,000,870 worth of leather and imported £1,383,000 worth. The conclusion drawn by the experts who prepared this report was that there was a ready market in this country for high-grade leather, but that, first of all, our existing tannery facilities would have to be improved and our technicians would have to obtain the know-how; but, that having been done, they felt two things would result: the importation of high-grade leather could be substantially reduced, if not entirely eliminated, and there could be an export of high-grade bags, shoes and other analogous leather articles, with the proviso that they were properly designed by an industrial designer. Unfortunately, it appears that 70 per cent. of our hides are affected by some insect or other and it cost this country £250,000 a year.

I should like to make a brief reference to the developments which are taking place at Shannon Airport with regard to new industries. I have no intention of attempting to discuss any of the proposed projects. Everyone is well aware that it is hoped to have factories of a very substantial nature started there. Negotiations are taking place and have taken place over a long period, but I believe there is a misapprehension, not only in the area but in the country generally, with regard [789] to certain aspects of this industrial expansion in Shannon.

Deputy Cosgrave, even though he put down a motion to refer the Estimate back, made quite a reasonable speech. In fact, his contributions in this House, if I might be so presumptuous as to say so, are always of a constructive nature. He said that he thought the facilities which were enjoyed at Shannon Airport for new factories should be extended to Ennis and Limerick. We all know roughly the facilities at Shannon. If you lease a factory there at the normal cost, you will get a tax remission for 25 years. To give these facilities to Ennis or Limerick would be to negative the entire set-up in the industrial area of Shannon. It would negative the Shannon Free Airport Authority. I am not aware whether the Minister intends to make changes in the political gimmick I call the Industrial Grants Act, 1956, which no one understands, or if he intends to make certain proposals in regard to the Undeveloped Areas Act, but it would be very detrimental to Shannon to bring an area near it, such as Limerick, within comparable or striking distance of those facilities.

That might strike one as being a peculiar statement, but to any person conversant with the matter it is quite obvious that any increased activity in Shannon, the factory area, the Airport itself or in the catering area as a result of increased activities by air companies, including passenger lines and freight, flying through Shannon, benefits Limerick, Ennis and the surrounding towns, but there are people who are so blind that they will not see that.

It stands to reason, on the grounds of economics alone, that if a new industry starts in Shannon Airport the labour pool is obtained from the nearest areas which happen to be Ennis, Limerick city and the surrounding district. There is a limited pool there as well. I say that Shannon Airport should not be looked on as an isolated area. It should be regarded as being the focal point of an industrial drive benefiting North Munster generally. I have done everything in my power to educate the people to that view. With the coming of this new [790] legislation, I think it is quite possible that Limerick will be in a favourable situation. I think the Minister in contemplating such legislation, with particular reference to Limerick, should bear in mind the air freight in the proximity of Shannon in regard to the grants he might give. A considerable sum of money—half a million pounds —through the goodness of the Government has been spent on the port of Limerick. It is a first-class port at the present time.

There is another matter and I cannot understand why some people never seem to mention it. Our labour relations down there will have to be improved. Happier relations must exist between the employer and the employee. I am glad to say that in the negotiations taking place at the present time, both the employer and the employee in such places as Limerick realise that the advancement of the whole community depends upon co-operation and harmony. If restrictive practices are put into operation by any section of the community, they can strangle the whole economy of the area.

It should not be tolerated. I am happy to say that trade union conditions in Limerick are approaching the point where we should be on a par with the best area in the country. I conclude by saying what I said at the outset. It was encouraging to read the Estimate. It was non-political and completely factual. If all the Estimates in this House were produced with such an encouraging outlook, then it would be a happy thing for the country generally.

Mr. Faulkner:  We are all aware of the need for the Undeveloped Areas Act. There was a very serious problem to be dealt with in those areas which necessitated that certain action be taken. That action was taken. I should like, however, to make a few comments on its possible effect, not so much on the areas to which it applies but rather on the areas to which it does not apply. So that the Act should be effective in the areas to which it applies and, on the other hand, not deprive the areas to which it does not apply of getting [791] new industries, I feel that the Department should have clearly in their mind the type of industry suitable for those areas and the type of industry which would not be suitable so as to be able to deal with the applications of foreign industrialists to set up an industry in this country with the greatest possible speed and in order to reduce confusion and recrimination about grants and so forth at a later stage in the negotiations.

I have given this matter much thought because in my constituency, which, as well as being an intensive tillage area, is also a highly industrialised area, we have a social problem of our own which, while it differs from the social problem of the undeveloped areas, is yet a very real one.

Since our industrial expansion began in this country around 1932 under the present Minister, many industries have come to my constituency, to Drogheda, Dundalk, Ardee and to the various rural areas. Many of our older industries expanded considerably also. Together with the normal population increase, there was an influx of people from other areas to work in these factories, with the result that if we take Drogheda, for example, the population increased from 12,000 in 1926 to 17,000 today. Some of the major industries were established there in the past 25 years, and if we take it that the workers getting employment in these factories at that time were around the average age of 30—which I think might be a bit high—their average age today is 55. These men will continue working for the next ten years, but in the meantime they have grown-up families seeking employment. Where industrial employment has been in operation for a long time, there is a natural fall-off from the top, due to retirements, and there is a consequent intake at the bottom to fill the vacancies thus caused. Because our industrial expansion began such a short time ago, we have not that situation here, so we have not sufficient openings as yet for our youth. I realise this position will right itself in time, but meantime it is clear that providing more industries is the only way to absorb these young people.

[792] I am pointing this out to show that areas such as mine, which I have no doubt, from the point of view of industrialisation, is one looked upon with envy by people in other parts of the country, have very real problems also. Another factor which enters into this is this. At the time of our industrial expansion, we were able to keep the natural increase in population at home and so more houses were needed. A number of workers obtained employment in the building industry, but although houses are still needed in my constituency, as in the rest of the country the back of that problem has been broken to a large extent, and former building workers must now be absorbed into industry.

Arising from this, I would suggest that where an application is made to the Department by an industrialist with a view to setting up an industry here, the proposed industry should be examined thoroughly and quickly as to the part of Ireland in which it would be suitable and the industrialist should be advised as early as possible on that point. Before the decision is reached as to where the industry would be most suitable, no mention should be made of the size of grant available. When a prospective industrialist is thinking in terms of hundreds of thousands that he can get in grant and then finds that because the industry would not be suitable in an undeveloped area, the maximum grant is very much lower, there is a feeling of frustration and anti-climax. That does not help to engender goodwill towards us. From my own experience, foreigners find it very difficult to differentiate between developed and undeveloped areas in a small country such as ours. I am particularly interested in this matter because I feel that Drogheda lost an industry because of certain confusion in regard to grants.

The industrialists concerned decided at the beginning that Drogheda would be the most suitable place to set up the industry. At that time, so far as I know, they did not know there was any difference between the amount of grants available, or at least thought that an undeveloped area was an undeveloped site. When they [793] came here, they discovered there were better grants available in other parts of the country and they set out to follow these grants. They were encouraged, naturally, by the people in the undeveloped area, but after very protracted negotiations lasting almost two years, they decided that Drogheda would be the most suitable place, grant or no grant. By that time, another factor entered into consideration and the industry was lost to the country.

Matters which must be taken into consideration in regard to the setting up of industries are the proposed Free Trade Area, proximity to the Common Market, and the desirability of producing our goods as efficiently as possible, so that we shall be able to compete in these markets.

Once again, I should like not only to congratulate but to thank the Minister on behalf of the people of Dundalk and district on the courage and initiative he showed in setting up Dundalk Engineering Works. There are 937 men now employed in Dundalk, between industries and reconstruction. There is very little difference, in fact, between the number employed in these industries and the number originally employed in the G.N.R. locomotive works. These industries are strengthening our economy because the greater part of their products is being exported and a considerable proportion of them is displacing goods on the home market which were originally imported. Apart altogether from the employment afforded by these industries, they are much more valuable as an asset to the economic life of the country than the old G.N.R. works were.

The general attitude of the Fine Gael Party regarding the setting up of these industries is to be deplored and if I did not know it before, I know now why the people will never place their trust in that Party. The obvious annoyance of the leaders of Fine Gael at the success of the venture was quite apparent in the statement of Deputy McGilligan when, as reported in the Official Report at Col. 527 of Vol. 173, he said:—

“Dundalk Urban Council... deplored the dismissal of 300 [794] men from the engineering works earlier in the day.”

and a priest appealed to the people of Dundalk to rally around and help what he called “this stricken town.”

The Deputy made that statement here as if the 300 men had lost their employment the day before he spoke and he intended that should be believed throughout the country. It was obvious the people of Dundalk would not believe it but it would be grist to the Fine Gael mill in other parts of the country.

Deputy Corish also mentioned the Dundalk Engineering Works and tried to dismiss the greatness of the accomplishment there with an airy wave of the hand. As reported in the Official Debates at Cols. 851-52, Vol. 173, he said:—

Twelve or eighteen months ago, the Engineering Works at Dundalk closed and the town was faced with the position where hundreds of men were actually unemployed. That situation could not be allowed to continue. Ministers and Deputies were interviewed and the people of Dundalk, the workers especially, kicked up such a row—they were not unruly but they protested—that the Government were induced to do something.

According to Deputy Corish, it was as simple as that; the people protest and an industry falls from the sky. No initiative, no courage and no planning is needed. I am afraid Deputy Corish's statement will carry no more weight in Dundalk than Deputy McGilligan's. The whole attitude of the Opposition in regard to the Dundalk Works reminds me of the story of Christopher Columbus and the grandees of Spain. When Columbus sought financial support from the King of Spain, the King agreed to give it, but the grandees tried to get the King to withdraw his support and said it was not possible to find a short route to India by sailing west. They also said the sailors going with Columbus were being put in grave danger. Columbus set out and discovered America and when he came back, the nobles who had previously said it was not possible, [795] now said that it was simple, that all he had to do was to get into the ship, sail west, and he could not but reach America. That reminds me of the attitude of the Opposition. In the beginning, the Dundalk Works were going to be “a flop” but when they succeeded it was “a simple matter” to arrange.

I appreciate that the members of the Labour Party should be worried about this matter because Deputy Norton, leader of that Party, when Minister for Industry and Commerce, was told by the Six County Minister of Commerce, a year and a half before the Coalition went out of office, that it was the intention of his Government to close down the lines in the Six Counties. The very fact that the works at Dundalk were catering for the railway lines in the Six Counties made it clear that when these lines would be closed down, there would be very considerable redundancy at the Dundalk Works. Nothing whatever was done about it. When we came into office, there were no plans to deal with this very serious situation. The industries established there now have been successful so far and are giving every sign of being a complete success. Very fine efforts are being made in my constituency to encourage the buying of more and more Irish goods. The local Press, various organisations and men in public life are stressing the value to our economy of buying Irish goods. Our people are rapidly coming to realise the importance of this effort and its effectiveness in combating unemployment and emigration.

The efforts to stimulate interest in local industries is a stepping stone to the realisation of the importance of buying Irish goods generally. In local industry people can see their relatives, friends and neighbours working. They realise that when sales are good there is full employment and when sales are bad there is short time. They learn that each time they buy a foreign article of a type similar to that produced in the home industry they are helping to disemploy a local person and that that local person may be a son, a daughter or a husband. From this local knowledge [796] they realise that the same thing applies all over the country. They appreciate that if they buy Irish goods they will help local employment and increase employment throughout the country.

When we read of the colossal amounts of money spent by this country in buying large quantities of foreign goods of a kind which are already being produced here, we can understand we have still a hard road to travel. I was particularly taken some time ago by Deputy Hilliard's call to “sell Irish”. He hit the nail on the head in regard to this matter. Many of our people are inclined to buy whatever is proffered to them in the shop without any consideration as to where it is made. It would be particularly helpful if our shopkeepers would display Irish goods in as attractive a manner as possible and try on every possible occasion to sell Irish goods. It is a patriotic duty. On St. Patrick's Day when we feel a certain amount of enthusiasm it is a relatively easy matter but in our day-to-day work, whether we like to admit it or not, patriotism takes a back seat.

And we must face up to the hard economic facts. If our shopkeepers are not selling Irish goods to the extent they might, there must be a reason for it. Is it because the Irish article in some cases is inferior in quality to the imported article? Is it because there is a higher percentage profit on an imported article? It is our duty to find out what the reason is and to try to eradicate it.

Throughout the country groups of people are coming together in an endeavour, by local effort, to entice industry to their own areas. This is a very good sign. It is a sign of confidence in the steps being taken by the Government. It is now much better understood that the Government cannot just place industries here and there. These industries must be looked for. We know that in our own lives we must make an effort to get anything worth-while and in cases where we get something without effort it is very often not appreciated. The same thing applies to the getting of an industry for a particular place. The local effort must be made.

[797] Generally speaking, there are two ways in which an industry can be set up: by local business men with Irish capital or as a subsidiary of an industry, the products of which are well established on the world market. Because of our lack of experience in management and technical know-how and because of the very real difficulty of breaking into foreign markets, the chances of the first method being successful are not so good now. For that reason, we must concentrate on the second method.

The incentives offered by the Government to foreign industrialists to come in here are adequate and are improving our industrial position and providing jobs for our people. In the successful promotion of industry, a good management team are vital. A good management team are rarely satisfied with their industry, no matter how it is progressing. They are always anxious to get more and more knowledge. One of the soundest ways of acquiring this knowledge is to travel and see how their own type of industry is operated in the more progressive industrial countries. Industrialists from the United States, Germany, Sweden, Britain and Japan travel very often in other countries for this purpose. In this country, not very many industrialists are inclined to do this. I do not know why it is. It may be because we are an island people and inclined to look in rather than look out. I would suggest the Government could give leadership in this matter by promoting trips abroad at management level. They could draw to the attention of industrialists the desirability of such trips and give financial aid, if it were thought necessary. I would also think it would be possible to set up a section in the Department to advise on management, something on the lines of the Industrial Research and Standards Bureau. This section could also give considerable assistance in deciding what industries would suit this country best when applications are made here.

Irishmen have proved themselves very successful business executives and [798] we should not have foreigners taking charge of our industries, unless it is absolutely necessary. It is only a temporary solution and it has a bad effect on morale. To be successful, we must have pride in our reputation as industrialists and for that reason it is important that key positions should be held, where at all possible, by our own people.

In industry, the question of buying and selling is of paramount importance. It is a truism to say that the day you buy is the day you sell, and there are many manufacturers who believe that buying and selling are at least as important as manufacturing. We could ask ourselves what we know of buying and selling technique at international level. Our difficulty is that we still have an inferiority complex in regard to our own products and we are inclined to apologise for them even when they are considered by foreigners as being of a very high quality.

We should train our salesmen well. Our salesmen not only sell our products but they are the eyes and the ears of their firm. The salesman knows the price, the quality and the manner of presentation of his own article. He compares his firm's article with similarly produced articles in other countries and reports back to his firm. If the firm is a go-ahead firm, it bends its energies towards trying to improve its own product and this is what gives maximum efficiency in our industries.

I would suggest to the Minister—I do not know how feasible it is—that we should set up shops of the supermarket type in London which would sell Irish goods exclusively, both agricultural and industrial. These would act as pilot shops and people who buy Irish goods would know exactly where to get them. Such pilot shops would also create a demand for Irish goods, and, the demand having been created, other shops would stock these goods.

There is another matter which I should like the Minister to consider. A number of foreign firms have shown their faith in the industrial future of this country by setting up industries here and, to a lesser degree, by setting up selling agencies. I am informed [799] that it takes 10 per cent. of sales to pay the operating expenses of selling agencies and that such agencies give a certain amount of employment here. Many of the firms in question manufacture various kinds of products, some of which are manufactured in their Irish factories and others which, for one reason or another, are not manufactured in this country. When a State or semi-State body invites tenders for products manufactured by these firms, which are not manufactured here either by an Irish firm or the Irish factory of the firm in question, these firms should get priority over other firms who have not invested anything in this country. There would be difficulty with regard to that, but a foreign firm which has not invested in this country but which simply sends a man over here for a few days with a tender, because of the fact that its costs here are nil, can very often tender at a lower figure than the firms who have invested money in this country. We should support those who help us.

At present, large grants are being given for the establishment of new industries in this country. In some instances, the sucess of the industry may be problematical but it is only right that we should take a chance. Otherwise, we would not get new industry at all. I should like to make a suggestion to the Minister which, I have no doubt, has been put forward frequently, that, in the case of a highly successful industry that is paying very high tax on profits, it might be a sound proposition to give the firm large extra tax reliefs if they were prepared to embark on a development programme which could not be associated with repairs to buildings or replacement of plant and which would guarantee to put a certain number of people into permanent employment. The money would be well spent in such a case and the risk would not be very high.

There are three steps in the promotion of industry: assembling and packing; processing and actual manufacture. An interest in assembly very often leads to manufacture. For that reason, I consider that the Minister did a very good job when he took the [800] levies off raw materials and component parts.

Finally, I should like to say that I believe the policy of the Government is leading to what the Minister has described as another break-through in industry.

Mr. Kyne:  Anyone who heard or read the Minister's opening statement could not accuse him of being either exhaustive or too brief in describing the activities of his Department. His speech was full of hope and promise of good things to happen in the future. We were treated to statements about the implementation of Government policy, the issue of White Papers and all sorts of promises, but when the speech is condensed and considered from the point of view of one who is interested mainly in employment content, one finds very little hope of a serious decline in the unemployment position or in the emigration difficulties.

It is true that in the year under review in the Estimate, there was a decline in the number of unemployed persons on the Live Register. I should be very foolish if, in face of the facts issued by the Central Statistics Office, I did not admit that. I have grave doubts as to whether that decline has been achieved by an improvement in the employment position rather than by the fact that emigration has taken a further toll. No satisfactory proof has been forthcoming that it is a take-up of employment that is affecting the position. In fact, in reply to a Parliamentary Question tabled some weeks ago, the responsible Minister was compelled to admit that the number of insurably employed persons last year was lower than in the preceding three years. I think it was the Minister for Social Welfare who endeavoured to prove that this was not the result of the unhappy position of fewer people being employed but was accounted for by the fact that persons insurably employed received so much extra wages that they now went out of insurable employment. That kind of explanation will fool very few people in this country.

I was particularly struck by the absence of anxiety on the part of the [801] Minister in connection with the increasing cost of living. He must be aware that the combined trade union movement of this country are viewing the position with fear. There are rumours and demands within particular unions that the officials should move for a further round of wage increase. Should that happen, its effect on industry and the national economy will not be good. It would be much preferable from the trade union point of view that there should be stabilisation of prices and a gradual reduction of prices, which we earnestly hope will come about. I would suggest to the Minister that every effort of his Department should be beamed on achieving that desirable object.

The method by which that is to be achieved will have to be left to the Minister and the Department, but I sound that note of warning, that, unless some stabilisation of prices, or even some reduction in the cost of living index figure, be achieved, there is a great danger of unrest starting up that might force the trade union movement to do something which they are not anxious to do, that is, to start another round of wage increases, with consequent bad effect on the economy and, in particular, a very bad effect on those who have to live on fixed incomes, such as pensions or some other allowance which will not be consequentially increased, following an increase in wages.

No one will deny the Minister's claim that money is now cheaper and freer and that credit is better than in the years prior to the present Government taking office. The question that arises now is of how much importance is that fact in the life of the country. We all know that the availability of money should lead to increased employment, particularly in construction works and in building generally. Unfortunately, when we come to examine the position home, we find that that is not the case. There is no indication of such works and there is no evidence of increased employment arising out of the availability of money. People have varying views on the situation. I am sorry to see so little use being made of the money now more freely available than at any time when the inter-Party [802] Government were in office. Everybody knows we ran through a stromy period. For whatever reason, it was difficult to get money. Now money is more freely available but that availability does not appear to have the effect many of us hoped it would have in improving the economy of the country and in improving the employment situation in general.

There are just one or two points on which I should like some information from the Minister, if he thinks them of sufficient importance, when he comes to reply. A complaint has been made to me as a member of a local authority that pipes essential for water supply schemes or sewerage schemes— I am not quite sure which—manufactured from asbestos and imported here are now subject to a levy which has the effect of increasing their cost according to size—from two inches to six inches—50 per cent to 100 per cent. This step has been taken to protect a new Irish industry manufacturing plastic pipes. While all of us are anxious to see new Irish industries developing and while all of us welcome protection given to home industries, an undesirable position can be created in certain circumstances. The information I have is that the new Irish company are selling only a couple of pence per yard cheaper than the combined old price plus the levy. If that is true, local authorities will have to pay practically double for the materials they need in this particular direction.

It was conveyed to me that the Department of Local Government made representations to the Minister, but unsuccessfully. If that is so, I am afraid my appeal will scarcely meet with satisfaction. If the Department of Local Government failed, I can hardly hope to be successful. However, I appeal to the Minister to examine the position to see if there is anything in the complaint. If the position is as stated to me, it will mean that local authorities will have to pay a much higher price for piping. That will entail a consequential increase in rates. The only other alternative is to abandon the schemes they have in contemplation. That will mean less employment for men who are badly in need of employment.

[803] In connection with the proposed shipbuilding in Cork, I should be interested to learn from the Minister if there is any truth in the rumours that the bulk of the money required to finance this venture is being found mainly from Irish sources. Questions tabled here have failed to elicit any information on the matter. Perhaps it is not wise to look for information. If it is untrue that the bulk of the money is Irish money and that there is very little outside investment, it is desirable that the Minister should indicate that the position has been examined and that there is no truth in the rumour.

Like Deputy Norton, I should like to have some information on the financial position of Aer Linte. The Minister, in reply to Deputy Norton, said he would make a full statement at a later date when he comes to introduce a Bill here. It is desirable that public uneasiness should be set at rest by a clear statement on a matter of this importance.

The Minister must be aware of the position in relation to some of our tanneries. Due either to the high price of hides or to a scarcity of hides there is a falling off in employment. In a tannery in which I am interested some 20 men will be laid off next week. Up to this we have been doing excellently. Almost 40 per cent. of our trade is for export. This is a matter of some importance to us and it is desirable the Minister should investigate the position to see if there is anything that can be done to eliminate the threatened dismissal of these 20 workers. All of them have enjoyed full employment for the past five or six years in that industry.

I was glad to note that the Minister and his Department are now prepared to welcome foreign capital here. The Labour Party has been pressing for that for a number of years, but up to this year it was something that was never readily accepted. One would think that bringing foreign money in here was tantamount to committing a crime against the State. The idea apparently was that profits should be reserved for Irish industrialists. To the ordinary Irish worker and the [804] ordinary people it does not matter very much from what source we get the money or from what country we get the technical know-how and assistance necessary to provide well-paid employment and put a competitive article on the export market.

I am one of those who believe that every Government should get an opportunity of developing its policy. I believe it takes a number of years for a policy to produce results. Because of that, I have not been critical of any of the schemes proposed by the Government. Even though they have now been two years in office I am quite prepared to say that, perhaps, the year to come may be as full of good things as the Minister indicated. I certainly join with him in hoping that his belief in an improvement in things to come will be achieved, but I say that unless they come within a reasonable time, many of us who were willing to accept his beliefs that his policy would show improvements, will be inclined to say that time is now running out.

Mr. Russell:  This discussion has entered a far wider field than the Minister, perhaps, anticipated when he concluded his speech introducing this Estimate. That was only to be expected, as Deputies generally feel that the Minister for Industry and Commerce, besides holding the portfolio he now holds, also unofficially holds the portfolio of Minister for Economic Affairs, so the Minister will excuse Deputies if we go rather further afield in our remarks than is strictly encompassed by the Minister's introductory statement.

We are coming to the end of a political era with the forthcoming withdrawal of the Taoiseach from active political affairs. It is also true to say that we are coming to an end, if we have not actually come to the end, of an economic era in this country, and the speeches of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, both inside and outside the country, particularly since his Government came back into office two years ago, are clearly indicative of the fact that he, at least, appreciates the necessity for [805] re-thinking in terms of present-day world-wide conditions.

During the course of this debate, the Minister has had to listen to criticisms of a policy of which he was largely the author over the past 20 or 25 years, a policy which had for its impetus a system of high protective tariffs on a very wide range of manufactured goods. I know it is easy to be wise after the event and for me, a new Deputy in the House, it is not possible to re-create the conditions which motivated the Minister and the early Fianna Fáil Governments 20 or 25 years ago, when they decided on this policy of protection.

There is no doubt that many protected industries have been a tremendous success. They have justified the hopes which the Minister placed in them, and they have gone further by showing an ability to export to world markets in competition with the products of far older and more highly industrialised countries. The trouble is that we have not had enough of these industries, and I must confess that my own personal feeling is that behind this wall of protection has grown up, to some extent at least, a feeling of security, conservatism and reaction to change which certainly does not go hand in hand with a progressive economy and a desire to expand, to take risks and to go out into the world to compete with manufactures of other countries.

Not only will we have to change our methods of trading and manufacture, but we will also have to have something in the nature of a psychological revolution amongst our industrialists and, indeed, our agriculturists, if this country is to produce the expanded national economy which alone can guarantee it a rising level of employment and standard of prosperity. Even the most amateur economist will agree that in conditions of a static economy, you cannot expect to have a rising level of employment and you certainly cannot maintain anything but a low standard of living.

As a dynamic to this break-through, if I may use that expression, the Government recently published a programme for economic expansion which [806] visualised for the next five years an expenditure of £53 million in addition to the normal public capital programme. The two together will amount to some £220 million over the next five years, including the current year. It is expected that this expenditure, together with the expenditure in the private sector of the economy, will spark off a new revival in industrial and agricultural expansion. I sincerely hope it does, and I certainly wish the Minister and his Government every success in their efforts, but will it? I do not know if any assessment has been made of the amount of capital required to employ or provide the number of jobs which we require, not only if we are to maintain even our present small population, not to speak of increasing it, but also to bring back some of the people who have emigrated over the past 20 or 25 years.

In the course of his speech, the Minister mentioned that Foras Tionscal had approved grants amounting to £2,232,000 which represent a total capital investment in the undeveloped areas of some £5½ million, and said that the various projects covered by this investment were expected to employ some 4,000 workers. I know you cannot work this out by a simple process of arithmetic, but it is no harm to realise that that expenditure works out in terms, per worker, of £1,400. I do not know whether that is a high or a low figure in present day conditions. As I say, I have no information available to me to indicate what the Government think is necessary to provide 30,000 jobs per year to absorb the natural annual increase in our labour force.

I do not know if the five year plan is sufficiently ambitious or sufficiently expansive to provide that number of jobs, or if it is directed in such a way that the type of employment given will be of a productive nature, or at the very least, financially self-sustaining. We have, over the years, established a number of State-sponsored companies. Again, some of them have been an outstanding success, particularly companies like the E.S.B. and the Irish Sugar Company, but others have been of very doubtful value. One is tempted [807] to ask if the capital employed in some at least of these enterprises might not have been better employed in assisting the private sector of the economy to expand.

The Minister said that there is no financial inducement or assistance available to non-nationals that is not available to native promoters and that of course, is perfectly true as regards new enterprise, but the same thing does not apply to established Irish businesses which want to expand their businesses within the country, or to add to them. They can do that through ordinary commercial channels and through the good graces of whoever happens to be their bank manager. I sometimes feel if greater consideration had been given to some of the old established and more newly established Irish industries that have been such a magnificent success over the years, perhaps with less cost to the taxpayer we might have achieved higher employment.

I was glad to learn from the Minister that it is proposed to amend the Industrial Grants Act of 1956 and that he will be shortly introducing legislation to put that into effect. I do not know what the Minister has in mind but I should again like to repeat a point of view I put forward just a year ago when speaking on this Estimate. I feel the best type of development is not that at present carried out under the aegis of the Undeveloped Areas Act which is confined in its application to a part of the country, even though it is a part which badly requires industrialisation and which, for years, has laboured under the difficulties inherent in congested districts. I have always thought the best possible target for assistance would be centres such as Galway, Sligo, Limerick, Waterford and Tramore, places with reasonably large populations that could sustain industries of sufficiently large type, not only to compete in the home market but to export abroad.

Cities like Limerick with a population of, say, 50,000 would be in a position to provide the amenities and facilities which the modern worker regards as necessary to his pleasure and to his comfort. I think if you carry [808] the process of subsidisation too far you will find yourself spending a lot of money putting factories into most inaccessible places that would not be able to contain them after a certain number of years, whereas putting them in larger centres of population outside Dublin they would, in time, become self-sustaining and would be in a position to complete both outside and inside the country.

In that regard I have always thought it would have been better policy, instead of confining the present inducements and encouragements to the free zone at Shannon Airport, to include a much wider radius taking in Limerick City and its contiguous areas. If Limerick City could be built up into having a population not of 50,000 people but of 60,000, or 70,000 people, its contiguous hinterland would benefit and the small towns and villages, not to mention the countryside around it, would reflect its prosperity. It would also be a better way of dealing with the oft-repeated desire of successive Governments to achieve a sensible measure of decentralisation.

During the course of his speech the Minister failed to touch on one or two significant matters which I would have liked him to mention. One is the question of cross-Channel shipping, in which I have taken some interest since I came into this House. I fail to see how we are ever going to be efficient in terms of export unless and until we have some measure of control over cross-Channel shipping. In saying that I appreciate that there may be no profits in cross-Channel shipping at the present time. Indeed, I am quite prepared to accept the contention of the cross-Channel shipping owners that these routes are nonpaying, but I think there is the wider issue that we should be able to influence and direct cross-Channel shipping in our own interests when the necessity arises.

Perhaps it is not an opportune time to introduce the somewhat thorny subject of the ferry service and container service, but again I do feel if our exports are to be quick, efficient and competitive, we must at some date, and the sooner the better, introduce [809] a ferry service and its concomitant container service with Great Britain.

I am disappointed, and have previously expressed disappointment, that the Government have made no move to purchase an atomic reactor. I do not know what their objections are, or whether there is no suitable type of reactor at present being made, but I do feel that we shall not make any significant progress in the application of modern scientific developments to industry or agriculture until we have an atomic reactor in this country.

Possibly it is outside the Minister's ambit but I do feel it is so closely associated with his Department, with his plans and hopes for the expansion of industry and commerce, that some reference might have been made by him to an expansion in scientific and technological education. Contrary to past experience, we are told nowadays that there is no shortage of capital or technicians, that we can either supply the capital from home resources or borrow it from outside, and we can always import technicians if we cannot produce them at home, but we are supposed to be short of ideas. I suggest that as long as we continue to neglect technological and scientific education, particularly outside Dublin, we shall be short of ideas. We shall allow people who have been trained to leave the country, young intelligent men and women, to provide new ideas for the countries of their adoption.

From time to time various opinions are expressed in this House as to what part private enterprise and State enterprise should play in the economy of the country. I have always felt there was a place for both and, if we accept that fact, there should be no question of a conflict of interests between the private sector and the public sector of the economy. If you admit, as I believe, that private enterprise has a fundamental part to play in the expansion of the economy you must allow it freedom and a fair reward to operate in competitive conditions.

At the same time the same argument must be applied in regard to State enterprise. If the reward for risk or the reward for effort is not to be paid [810] in the form of dividends to shareholders, some other yardstick of efficiency must be found to judge public enterprise. It may not be possible to ask them to repay the capital given in the form of grant or loan by the Exchequer, but at least they should be required to be efficient, to produce the service or the goods concerned at reasonable cost, to make reasonable provision for depreciation and they should be financially self-sustained. In return for receiving substantial amounts of the taxpayers' money, I think they should be regarded thereafter as being able to carry on on their own. In a small country such as this, one of the vital necessities is the conservation of our capital. Unless we conserve our capital and make the best possible use of it, we may find ourselves in the position of having to go, like beggars, to outside lending agencies to obtain capital under very unfair, if not humiliating, national terms. For that reason, I was glad the Minister indicated he had had encouraging talks with foreign insurance companies doing a substantial business in this country. I know the Minister would be the last to suggest that any impost should be put on these companies in respect of carrying on business here. I agree it is not too much to ask them to reinvest at least a proportion of the substantial premium they are drawing from our people in the country itself. Naturally, we can only expect them to invest their shareholders' or their clients' money in worthwhile enterprises here that will give them a fair return.

The references to the balance of trade running against us again in the past four months were timely, if only to draw attention to the fact that in this country as far as I can see, and for years to come, we shall have to be very cautious and wary of allowing any substantial import of unnecessary goods, even if these goods give pleasure to a section of the community. If they can be done without and if they do not interfere with exports from this country, we should be quite relentless, if the necessity arises, in cutting out any form of unnecessary or luxury imports or, indeed, anything which we can provide [811] in this country from our own resources.

In the same context, I would refer to the fact that for years we have had a long series of unfavourable trading relations with countries other than Great Britain or the Six Counties. This type of trading is another way of eking out our very scarce and badly needed capital. In 1958, with the exception of very few countries, we had a long list of unfavourable trading balances with countries in Europe and in the Far East. Some effort should be made to come to terms with these people on the old-fashioned but certainly sound basis of some form of barter trading, if not £1 for £1, then 15/- or 10/- for the £, at the lowest. The balance against us in some of those cases is so ridiculously high that one wonders if it is worth trading with them at all.

I think the Minister referred to the Institute for Industrial Research and Standards. I wonder if the time is not opportune to consider the establishment of the counterpart of the Agricultural Institute—in other words, to establish an industrial institute proper, one of the primary functions of which would be to examine in what way we can make the best possible uses of the raw materials we produce here, how we can turn them into goods for use in our own country, but particularly how we can turn them into goods for export.

I was most interested in the Minister's references to the Free Trade Area which, for the present at least, seems to have gone into abeyance, if it has not collapsed altogether. I completely agree with the views the Minister expressed as to the undesirability in present circumstances of this country taking part in the discussions on the Scandinavian proposal for a seven-country free trade area.

Next to Great Britain and the Six Counties, it is obvious that our best interests lie in the original conception of a 17-country Free Trade Area in Europe. I hope, and I am sure, the Minister will do all in his power to see that that original magnificent conception of a Free Trade Area in Europe will be revived. Meanwhile, it might [812] be worth considering some form of joint discussions between the Six Counties, Great Britain and ourselves to see what efforts can be made to increase the export of agricultural goods from this country in processed form or otherwise and also to try to get an increased exchange of manufactured goods between the two States and Great Britain.

The Six Counties, ourselves and Great Britain represent a population of some 58,000,000 people. Great Britain is highly industrialised. The Six Counties are industrialised in a sector at least and we have no mean measure of industrialisation down here. In addition, we have a rapidly developing agricultural industry. The three units concerned could form a very useful and expanding trading area that could later be associated with a free trade area in Europe.

On other occasions, the Minister mentioned that he had considered that the best chances this country had of exporting industrial goods lay in high grade industrial products produced by skilled labour with an essentially Irish character. I agree with that view. Looking as far ahead as we possibly can in these days, I do not think we can possibly hope to compete with countries such as Great Britain, the United States and Germany in the manufacture of mass-produced goods. However, I think there is a valuable market in Great Britain and on the Continent for specialised products produced by skilled labour and using our native ideas and our native traditions and culture. I hope more factories will engage in the manufacture of that type of product.

Naturally, our quickest and most promising section of the economy for expansion and for the production of goods for export must remain agriculture for many years to come. In that connection, I think the primary difficulty at the moment is not production but marketing. I hope that aspect will receive the attention which its importance demands.

Next to agriculture, tourism is our most important and most encouraging outlet for expansion. It might not be a bad idea to consider advertising the room available on our roads for [813] driving. Most Deputies will recently have seen references to the appalling conditions on roads in Great Britain where it is practically impossible to get, say, from London to any of the seaside resorts. If it were generally known in England, Scotland and elsewhere that this country can offer very favourable driving facilities to motorists it would encourage them to bring their cars over here and spend money in this country.

Before I conclude, I should like to refer to a matter to which I do not think the Minister referred on this Estimate—the introduction of a new Companies Bill which I think I am correct in saying is on the stocks and about to be introduced. Recent events have made a lot of people very uneasy about the way in which outside interests can come in here, apparently without any stay, start up a company and appeal to the public by way of very attractive dividend enticements. It is very easy to be wise after these events and to say that a gambler or a speculator should take his due and if he gets into trouble it is his own concern. The fact is that when these things happen generally they reflect on the commercial community as a whole and they certainly cause a tremendous amount of uneasiness and resentment amongst the public. I hope when the Minister comes to drafting this Bill he will keep in mind——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  The Deputy would not be in order in advocating legislation on the Estimates.

Mr. Russell:  Very good. I shall leave it at that, but I hope I have said enough now to impress on the Minister's mind the point I was trying to make. I should like to end on this note. All the efforts of the Minister, the Government, the Boards, the banks and lending institutions will be of no effect unless the people as a whole, and individually, are prepared to work and to save and to use enterprise and spirit. After all, a country's initiative and success are only the accumulated efforts of every individual man and woman in the country. If we want to succeed, want to get on and want the country to take its rightful place [814] amongst the nations of the world, it behoves every one of us to support the Government in their efforts and, more important, to show by our individual efforts that we want to succeed. No country can get on merely by exhortation and leadership unless the people are prepared to co-operate and give support.

Now that we have reached what I earlier described as the end of an era, the turning in the road, it behoves all people, young and old, to show that spirit of enterprise, courage and willingness to self-sacrifice which was demonstrated in other more dangerous times, 35 or 40 years ago. I often feel if we could have directed into our economic affairs the same spirit of national effort that we directed into our political affairs we would not now be lamenting the fact that our population is so small, that unemployment is so high and that emigration is so persistent. I think every Deputy, irrespective of his political affiliations, wishes the Minister well in his efforts and if, through his efforts, the country can get the dynamic drive that is required to set it on the road to prosperity and happiness, he will get the support of every member of this House.

Mr. Booth:  The Minister has been criticised by Deputy Norton and others for what they described, as far as I remember, as a rather pedestrian performance. In my view he has prepared and delivered a very realistic review of industrial development and of our economic situation. I, personally, would have very much more confidence in a report such as he has produced than in a very highly coloured one which might appear to be relying too much on imagination.

The Minister referred to the possibilities of industrial expansion through interesting industrialists of other countries to set up new industries in this country. I feel that there is a tremendous scope for development of this nature. I still feel that the activities of the Industrial Development Authority, and Coras Tráchtála in its sphere also, are not sufficiently appreciated and possibly not sufficiently supported, certainly [815] not to the extent which they might be. The Minister referred to the opening of a special office of the Industrial Development Authority in New York to which Cyril Count McCormack has been appointed. Again I feel that one office in New York cannot make any really significant impact on the United States. I feel that further people of the cailbre of Count McCormack could very well be engaged to spread the news of Ireland's industrial potential.

The same thing applies to our representation in Europe where one representative has been appointed to cover Europe. I know that finance is not unlimited but at the same time I believe it is rather a fanciful effort to put one man to cover the whole of the Continent of Europe, or even Western Europe. I would hope to see increased co-operation between the Department of Industry and Commerce and the Department of External Affairs so that, through our Embassies abroad, publicity could be made available to anyone interested, and also that interest might be created where at present it does not exist at all.

The Minister referred to the activities of various State-sponsored companies and later in the debate Deputy Crotty was, I think correctly, ruled out of order for commenting on the activities of the E.S.B. I hope that some means will be devised whereby State-sponsored companies can be made responsible in some way, either to this House or to a Committee of this House. We are not able, as Deputies, to raise questions about the activities of such State-sponsored companies as those activities are controlled by boards of directors who are free to act as they think best and the Minister has no responsibility. I should like to see that situation rectified to some extent so that the public might have some way, and members of this House in particular, of expressing their views to the boards of directors of these companies.

The Minister commented very favourably on the successful culmination of the effort of the trade union movement [816] to unite. I should like to join in the congratulations which he expressed. It is a tremendous source of strength to the country to have a united trade union movement but I think that is only a first step and I hope there will be considerable developments. There is a considerable unity amongst employers. We have now achieved virtual unity of the trade unions but there is an unfortunate tradition that employers and trade unions seem to come together only in moments of crisis. I hope the Minister will use his good offices to encourage the trade unions and the employers' organisations not only to get together but to stay together and to stay in consultation with each other so that crises will not arise. When a crisis has arisen it is almost too late to do anything about it.

In particular I would hope that by reason of such co-operation we might be able to achieve a national wage policy. I am always distrustful of the interference of any Government in these matters. I feel it would be far better that the employers' organisations and the united trade union movement could keep in touch with each other to try and work out a national wages policy so that work would be rewarded properly, fluctuations in the cost of living dealt with automatically and productivity rewarded on an agreed basis so that each individual case would not have to be fought out on its merits, if any. I believe that this is now possible in a way which was not possible before. I hope that the Minister will be able to contribute towards achieving a national wage policy voluntarily planned by the trade unions and employers.

I agree with the Minister's tribute to the Labour Court and all the work it is doing. I support him in his good wishes to the Labour Court in its efforts to solve the problem of container traffic through the Port of Dublin. I do not think, however, that the container traffic is by any means the only problem. The tragedy is that there is a feeling of anxiety among the dock workers, particularly in the cross-Channel section. They are unsure of themselves and of the permanency of [817] their employment. By reason of their anxiety as to whether their jobs are safe, they are not co-operating to the maximum in productivity. It is a fact that it takes three to four times as many men to unload or load cross-Channel ships in the Port of Dublin as it does in the port on the other side of the Channel, whereas with a better organised labour force in the deep sea section of Dublin Port the productivity is at least as high, if not higher than, that of cross-Channel ports.

There is always the tendency to say this is due to wilful obstruction and restrictive trade practice by the workers in the cross-Channel section. But I feel it is much more likely that this is simply due to their anxiety as to whether their jobs will be still there or whether, if they increase their productivity, they will not simply succeed in working themselves out of a job. That can be the only excuse for the position at the moment where very costly and efficient unloading plant is not being used and is being allowed go to waste, where hoists, which are capable of taking up to four tons weight, are taking loads of only one cwt. at a time.

The only way to deal with that is by a general review of the dock labour force, to discover some way in which some security could be given to dock-workers in the cross-Channel section that they will not be able to work themselves out of a job, that they will have a guaranteed working week and some incentive whereby increased productivity will be suitably rewarded. Here again I do not think it is the Minister's direct responsibility, but I would hope that he would use his good offices in every possible way towards achieving some solution of this problem and giving stability to the labour force engaged in the cross-Channel section of the port and also increasing the economic working of the port generally.

I was glad that the Minister told us there would be some revision of the Restrictive Trade Practices Act. I have always spoken in criticism of this Act, the legislation generally and the way in which it has worked. I am still as [818] critical as ever. I only hope that the proposed amendments will be as drastic as they should be. I have had during the past year personal experience of dealing with the Fair Trade Commission and it has convinced me more than ever that it is a body entirely incapable of dealing with restrictive trade practices of any magnitude. All it has done is to encourage cut-price shops and cut-price trading. I know the damage it has caused in my own business. I have no confidence whatever in it and I should like to explain why.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  Has the Minister any responsibility for its decision?

Mr. Booth:  That, I do not know. The Minister has a certain responsibility for the Restrictive Trade Practices Act and he has undertaken certain responsibility for the amendment of the Act and stated that he proposes to amend it. I should like, if I had your permission, to try and explain the points which I would hope might be dealt with in that proposed amendment. I do not know whether that is in order?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  The Deputy would not be in order in advocating legislation or modification of legislation.

Mr. Booth:  All I wanted to do was to comment on the Minister's own suggestion that he proposed to introduce legislation. I hope I am in order, not in following him in detail into that, but in hoping that the proposed legislation will avoid some of the dangers which have arisen through the operation of the present Act.

I was glad that legislation is pending also on the question of the Hire Purchase Act, 1946. It was primarily designed to protect the interests of the borrowers, but it was done in such a way that it placed the lender in a very difficult position indeed. I gather from what the Minister stated that some amendment is now being drafted which would protect the lender or hirer. The whole function of hire purchase is becoming an increasingly important part of our national economy, and if [819] some protection is not given to those advancing the money, the whole system tends to break down.

On the question of the Free Trade Area, it is disappointing that the original negotiations under O.E.E.C. should have temporarily broken down. I would hope that the Minister would keep very carefully under review our own situation here. I should like some information at some stage as to how the Industrial Development (Encouragement of External Investment) Act, has in fact worked out. I have been doubtful all along as to the efficacy of this legislation, but possibly the Minister can give information at some stage to show whether it has produced the good effects which he hoped from it.

If we are to enter any Free Trade Area, we shall have to re-think our whole control of manufacture policy. I feel that this is possibly not fully appreciated in certain industrial quarters, although probably the Minister has it carefully in mind himself. If we are to go into a Free Trade Area, initially we shall have to allow free entry to anyone who wishes to set up an industry here. The sooner we get used to that the better. The excuse is sometimes given that undertakings were given to people who set up industries from native resources that no foreign competition would be allowed. But economic development has now made it impossible to keep those undertakings, if, in fact, any such undertakings were ever given. I would hope that the Minister would be successful in his own efforts to keep this on a basis of agreement between the 17 O.E.E.C. countries. I think we can rest assured that he will safeguard our interests generally in the matter.

On the whole, I think that the lack of speeches on this Estimate is a tribute to the Minister himself. It is not due to any lack of interest but to a general confidence in him and his Department to proceed as rapidly as possible with the industrial development of the country and to deal with the problems of unemployment and emigration.

[820]Mr. Carew:  What I found particularly interesting in the Minister's speech was the statement that there were some 180 proposals for new industries before his Department, and also that there were 90 firms with proposals for extending existing industries. I do not know what is the nature of these proposals or what percentage of them may be of any interest to the country. A certain number of these proposals will eventually be successfully carried through. I wish to confine my remarks as much as possible to my own constituency and to the industries which may be attracted to my constituency from these proposals.

Outside firms or firms from within the country which intend to establish industries there are rather concerned with the special grants made available. In that respect, Limerick is in the position that, while it is not in an undeveloped area, it is close to one and being close to one, when Limerick is in question, it is of special interest to people examining the proposals to think if it is worth while going a distance of, say, 20 miles outside Limerick and obtaining far more substantial grants than they get in Limerick City.

Two industries have been established within 20 miles of Limerick. They have got very substantial free grants. I am not saying that in any derogatory sense nor do I say it because I do not like my neighbours to have a share of what is going. I am glad the Minister is here to hear my remarks. I do not want to delay him very long. I want to put the viewpoint of Limerick, and the unemployed of Limerick in particular, before him. Recently, a deputation, headed by the Mayor of Limerick and composed of the President and Vice-President of the Chamber of Commerce and also other members of the Industrial Committee of which I am a member, came to see the Minister. He received them graciously. I can assure the Minister that we in Limerick appreciate his interest in any proposal which we may be able to put before him in the future.

The Minister is well aware of the industries concerned which are quite close to Limerick. There is one with a capital of £500,000 and there is a grant [821] of £180,000. That is a very substantial grant. I do not know whether that would obtain in regard to any type of industry. This was a particular industry, an industry which the country did not enjoy. I dare say that the Minister may have done more in that case than he might do in other cases. There is another industry established close to us also with a capital of £114,000. They received a grant of £50,000. I want to point out that that is very attractive inducement to an industrialist to come into an area. While one would like to have it in one's own area, if one's neighbour can offer better conditions, he will go to the neighbour.

Limerick needs some substantial industry. The Minister is aware that we have lost in the past couple of years a very valuable industry in Spillane's tobacco factory. I do not blame the Minister for that. That happened through circumstances outside his control. It is not the tobacco end that is missed so much, perhaps, because we still have in Limerick a very old-established and very successful tobacco industry. I refer to Carreras' tobacco factory. They cater for the tobacco trade which, I understand, is not as prosperous as it used to be. The habits of tobacco smokers have changed a good deal. We have lost the cigarette factory of Carreras. They have gone to Dublin. The loss of that factory to Limerick is very much felt. It represents a loss in wages of approximately £1,000 per week. The factory is now up for sale to anyone who wishes to buy it but it seems that it cannot be sold as a cigarette factory. We miss that factory in Limerick.

I do not blame the Minister or his Department. It was a matter between the owners of the factory and the firm. It was Dublin's gain and Limerick's loss. The reason I mention it is that the Minister might, perhaps, give us special treatment in regard to any project we might put before him. I am not asking the Minister to show us any favouritism but I am asking him for a little special consideration in view of the circumstances. For that reason, I felt, when I heard from the deputation which met the Minister [822] recently and who told me about the manner in which he received them, that we would not be disappointed if we had a proposal to put before him. I wish to thank the Minister for the manner in which he received the deputation. I myself am interested in industry. I think Limerick should get some industry, whether through the Minister's efforts or through the efforts of people in Limerick.

There are many young people in Limerick seeking employment. There is an industrial tradition in Limerick. There is a certain amount of skill among the young people. It is the young people with that skilled tradition behind them who are leaving us. It is much easier to develop that skill in an industry established in the city where you have that industrial tradition than to go into an area where no such tradition rests.

There is another matter which perturbs us in Limerick. We are 60 miles inland. We always felt—and we still feel—that we are in a very important distributing area because, being an inland city, we have the advantage of having a very substantial countryside around us. Be that as it may, we do not seem to have attracted industrialists in the same way as seaport cities, such as Dublin, Cork, Waterford and Galway. I wonder is it that industrialists, particularly those interested in heavy industry, are inclined to aim at getting into seaport cities. If that is so, it is not very encouraging to us in Limerick when we have been giving our attention to the possibilities of furthering the industries we have and perhaps attracting new ones.

I want to say I was very pleased by the Minister's opening remarks about the projects that are in his Department. I feel, in view of the manner in which he received our deputation, that we have a friend in the Minister, as far as our interests are concerned. Unfortunately, we have a large number of unemployed in Limerick, young people and older people in different trades, and due to many circumstances, some of our industries are not giving the employment they formerly gave. [823] We hope, as time goes on, our industries will regain some of the prosperity they had in the past. I refer to the tanning industry, a very old Limerick industry in which fortunately we have maintained a very high reputation for the production of sole and harness leather. But changes have come, and substitutes have emerged, and the employment in those industries is not as good as it was some years ago.

In Limerick, I think we have workers as good as in any part of Ireland and we have some skilled workers retained in these industries as far as possible. I feel—and I think the Minister has said it repeatedly—that if we are to get worthwhile industries that will give service and efficiency to the country at large, we must get the technical assistance required for those industries. In that respect, I think the Minister has done something very helpful in giving encouragement to firms who want to send industrial workers abroad to get technical training. I have some experience of a number of those who went to England and they have benefited considerably as a result of some months spent over there. They have come back armed with certain knowledge and experience that has enabled them to get more efficiency in the use of machinery than was possible previously.

It is true that many of our industrial workers are trained as boys in the industry and that experience is very useful. In the old days, it was essential, but at present in a competitive world where there are changing ideas in the industrial field, one must be constantly on one's toes in regard to technical advances and the training given to skilled operatives. For that reason, I feel it will be a matter for those who may be putting their money into industry and for the Minister and his Department who may be confronted with requests for grants for training to lay special emphasis on that point. In the Minister we have a man who is really interested in expanding our industries and I wish him well in the efforts he has made in that respect.

Mr. N. Lemass:  I should like to [824] take the opportunity of referring to a few items about which I am rather concerned. In his statement about the Restrictive Trade Practices Act, the Minister said that some modifications of the Act are desirable. Whether or not the Minister has considered certain lines of departmental policy which, to my mind, have had an adverse effect on our desire to increase employment and stem emigration I do not know but I want to refer mainly to resale price maintenance.

The British Board of Trade set up a commission to investigate this matter, and, after a very thorough investigation, they decided that resale price maintenance was not only justified but very desirable in the case of branded goods, goods bearing the manufacturer's name and readily identifiable goods, which the manufacturer is able to stand over for value and quality. I do not think the wholesaler's importance has ever been realised at Government level. I feel he has a very important part to play. For instance, in the textile industry of which I have some experience, if the wholesaler is sure of a fair retail price, he is prepared to purchase from the textile mills during offseasons and as a result, maintain a continuity of employment and avoid the slack periods that may otherwise occur during which workers are let off for a while and then take the first boat to Liverpool. I believe it would be in the interests of that and of every industry, if the manufacturer could guarantee the wholesaler that he could resell the goods he bought at a reasonable profit.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  The Minister, I take it, would have some responsibility in this?

Mr. N. Lemass:  I should like to hear the Minister's views on the policy of the resale price.

Another thing that developed probably out of the lack of resale price maintenance is cut-price shops which some people say are very desirable as a means to keep down the cost of living, but it must be realised that several people have lost employment through inadequate profits, by not [825] getting a fair return for their investment and staffs have had to be reduced to allow businesses to work on smaller profits. I am firmly convinced that, for branded goods at any rate, some system of resale price maintenance should be set up. I also take into account the workings of the Fair Trade Commission and the Restrictive Trade Practices Act, as a result of which a chemist now has to sell jewellery to maintain his business because the grocery shop is selling goods that are properly prescribed by a chemist. A chemist is a qualified man who has studied his profession and he is competent to compound and distribute appropriate medicines to his customers where I maintain a grocer is not.

There is another matter about which I am rather worried and on which I should like the Minister to comment when he is replying if he is in a position to do so. That is the obligation, if any, on C.I.E. to maintain the canals they have closed so that they will not be a menace to the health of the citizens of Dublin or be allowed to deteriorate to such an extent as to take away from the tourist attractions of the city. I should like to feel quite sure, if the Minister is in a position to inform us, that a bill will not fall some time on the ratepayers of the city as the health authority to do this work which to my mind is properly the responsibility of C.I.E.

There has been long negotiation about the Common Market in Europe but, in spite of this, practically all the funds made available by the Government for advertising are directed to America. There is a much greater market potential in Europe and in the Middle East than in America, particularly in the development, say, of our whiskey exports. By neglecting publicity in Europe we are putting ourselves at a disadvantage if we are to become a member of any Free Trade Area. I should like the Minister to consider making additional moneys available for publicity and expansion of our exports particularly to Europe. We have an unfavourable trade balance with every European country.

The majority of industries that have [826] been established here depend largely on female labour. There is plenty of work for girls in this country and the main reason why women are emigrating now is to improve their marriage prospects. I know of several factories, particularly in the clothing trade, which have idle machines because they cannot get girls to operate them. I hope most future industrial expansion will be directed towards giving employment to men because if the men get work you will find that the ladies will stay here too.

Mr. Casey:  Listening to Deputy Booth's contribution a short while ago I could not help being amused. Deputy Booth sought to upbraid speakers from the Labour benches because we had described the Minister's introductory speech as pedestrian and unimaginative. Of course it was pedestrian and unimaginative and when that criticism was made one would think that people like Deputy Booth sitting behind the Minister would be discreet enough to leave it at that. Reading the Minister's speech and comparing it with some of his pre-election speeches and some of the pre-election documents distributed in the various constituencies throughout the country, one could only say it was almost incredible that the one man was the author of both.

We had in the Minister's speech introducing his Estimate simply a dull narration of a summary of files which had obviously been collected for his benefit in the Department. He got about 20 or 30 files and told us what had happened over the last year in relation to these files, what the position was and what might happen in the future. We got no dynamic speech from the Minister such as we had been conditioned to from his election address prior to the last general election. I can well remember in my own constituency in Cork City a fourpage leaflet being distributed in which the people of my constituency were told that the twin problems of unemploy and emigration could be solved. I do not know whether the Fianna Fáil organisation aspired to such heights in other constituencies but they certainly took the biscuit when they stated quite unequivocally that the [827] problems of unemployment and emigration could be solved in one way and one way only, and that was to return the Fianna Fáil Party to Government. We were told they had a scheme to put into operation. We were told the Tánaiste had a five-year plan whereby 100,000 new jobs would be created. We were told the Fianna Fáil Party were anxious to get back into power, to get cracking, and to resume where they had left off when they were unfortunately interrupted by the first inter-Party Government.

I do not want to produce quotations as I have done in the past. I do not think it appropriate and I do not think it would serve any useful purpose. However, I do think it would be a very good thing if the Minister, even at this stage, went back and read some of the propaganda distributed throughout the country prior to the last general election. It would be a very good mental exercise for him and for those sitting behind him. In spite of all that, Deputy Booth stands up here tonight and upbraids speakers from these benches because we described the Minister's statement as unimaginative. I do not wish to develop that theme any further. I intend to intervene only briefly and I hope the Minister will pay particular attention to the one point I do wish to develop and that he will elaborate on it in replying to the debate.

During the course of his speech, amongst other things, the Minister outlined, for the benefit of the House and for the benefit of the country, the steps taken by past Governments and which will be taken by his Government, if he is there in the future, to promote the industrial arm of our economy by extending inducements and facilities of all kinds to industrialists, whether foreign or native, for the purpose of establishing new industries. I think it is permissible to say that on all sides of the House, while we may differ as to the means to be employed in this direction, we are unanimous that it is vital to our economy to give industry the very necessary transfusion of capital to bring about the results we all desire.

It is quite true to say that some of [828] the Deputies are of the opinion that this can best be done by embarking on a wider field of State enterprise. Some of us feel that very many industries, which have been allowed to blunder along in the hands of private enterprise, might be better served by being operated as State or semi-State organisations so that resources which are largely untouched and unexplored may be exploited. There are other Deputies who consider that our common objectives can best be attained by continuing our trust in private enterprise, notwithstanding the frustration and disappointments that have been experienced. Their view is, that we should continue in all fields to encourage private enterprise by State aid of every description in the form of grants, loans and guarantees.

I do not wish at this juncture or in this debate to develop the argument as to which is the correct approach. I have my personal opinion on that and other Deputies have their opinions, as they are entitled to. I do not think the time is ripe to argue on those lines or that any useful purpose would be served in doing so but I am confident that both schools of thought are unanimous on one matter —that whatever line of policy is pursued in stimulating existing industries and creating new ones, all our efforts should be designed to afford greater employment opportunities for our own people at home. I do not think anybody from any political camp has suggested that we should develop industries and give State aid to them simply for the purpose of putting extra profits into the pockets of comparatively few people. All are united in the aim of stimulating industry because of a desire to have more of our people working at home, fewer people emigrating and to have a higher standard of living for those employed in this country.

It is for that reason that I should like the Minister when replying to the debate to state clearly and without ambiguity that it is the accepted public policy of his Government, of the Government that preceded it and, I hope, of the Government that will [829] succeed it, in extending State aid to industries, to create employment in this country for our own people.

I may not be up-to-date but up to recently that was my impression. I thought it was appreciated by everybody, that the Minister had made it sufficiently clear, that successive Ministers had made the point and that everybody knew the position in that regard but I have recent evidence that that is not so. I have recent evidence of companies that have benefited largely from State aid and it appears to be no part of their policy to implement what I had thought was the policy of this Government and previous Governments and future Governments. They are either unaware of it or are deliberately ignoring it.

I had occasion to-day to table a Question to the Minister on this matter. I asked the Minister:—

Whether he will take such steps as are necessary to secure that where state assistance, whether by way of loan, grant or guarantee, is given to a firm, priority in employment will be given to Irish nationals where they are capable of filling the positions concerned.

It is a sorry state of affairs that, in this year of grace, after all the State aid that has been given to Irish industry, a Deputy should have to table such a question. It is lamentable that at this stage a Deputy should have to ask the Minister if he will take steps to ensure that any firm which benefited by public money by way of loan, grant or guarantee, should give preference in employment to Irishmen where they are capable of carrying out the work. However, because of information that came to my notice recently, I was constrained to put down that Question.

The Minister answered it quite candidly, as follows:

Under existing arrangements, an alien, other than a subject or citizen of Britain or the British Commonwealth, may be employed only if his employment is authorised by an Employment Permit granted by the [830] Minister for Industry and Commerce. Before such a permit is granted, the availability of suitable Irish nationals is, of course, considered. These arrangements are regarded as adequate.

The Minister went on to say:

A main objective of industrial policy is to increase employment opportunities for Irish nationals. The Deputy will appreciate, however, that there must be reasonable provision for the employment of some non-nationals where the promoters of industrial projects regard their employment as essential to the success of the industry.

We want to be quite clear on this. The Minister has stated here that, first of all, any alien other than a British citizen or a citizen of the British Commonwealth requires a permit from the Minister for Industry and Commerce before he can take up employment here. We are quite clear on that and I do know that the Minister has at his disposal machinery of which he freely avails, to consult the trade unions. Before he issues such a permit, he takes adequate steps to ensure that such alien is a person with qualifications not possessed by an Irish citizen. It is quite obvious that British citizens and citizens of the British Commonwealth are under no such restriction and there is a reason for that also, which I fully appreciate. But, I do think that where there are Irish people available and competent to do a job in any industry set up in this country with substantial State aid there should be no question at all of employing a non-national, whether he be an alien in the strict sense of the word or a British citizen.

To illustrate the point I am making, I want to bring to the notice of the Minister a specific case. I do not know if it is happening very widely. I should hope it is not because this particular case proves beyond yea or nay that the policy, which I had hoped was the policy of the Government and am convinced is the policy of the Government, is not appreciated or, if it is appreciated, is being largely ignored by certain firms in this country [831] which were set up with substantial State aid.

I know of a company in my constituency where the main shareholders are the Industrial Credit Company and the fact that the Industrial Credit Company, which, in effect, is the taxpayer, is the main shareholder would lead one to expect that priority in employment, where the candidate is suitable and competent and of proven ability, would be given to an Irishman or, if preference were not given to him, that at least he would get a fair crack of the whip with anyone else who wanted to compete with him.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins:  On to-day's Order Paper there appeared a question in the name of Deputy Booth who, as we know, represents the constituency of Dún Laoghaire and Rathdown. The question referred to a situation which has arisen in County Cork. Arising from Deputy Booth's question, the Minister read a statement—a rather long statement—to the House with regard to the situation in the hospital in Mallow arising from his decision on an inquiry relating to the discharge of his duties by the county surgeon. The Minister in his statement referred to the action taken by the Irish Medical Association in banning to their members the county surgical post in Mallow and county surgical posts elsewhere.

As a result of the Minister's statement, I asked your permission to raise the matter on the Adjournment in order that the position might be more fully discussed. I cannot help feeling that the question tabled by Deputy Booth, representing Dún Laoghaire and Rathdown, in reference to a situation in another part of the country must have been a question in respect of which the Minister had some prior notice. Equally, I cannot help feeling that the statement made by the Minister [832] to-day was made with some specific design and intention.

Be that as it may, my purpose in raising this matter on the Adjournment is not for the purpose of having the matter referred to by the Minister discussed here in any spirit of acrimony. It is not in that spirit that I raise this matter. Neither am I speaking on this Adjournment Debate on behalf of any particular organisation or association. I have no contact whatsoever with the Irish Medical Association, but I am concerned, and very closely concerned, with a development which appears to me to be taking place now.

It appears from the Minister's statement that he conceives the position to be as follows. Arising from the decision to which he came as a result of the inquiry held, it appears that he believes now that, because of the decision to which he came, the Irish Medical Association have decided to boycott the filling of the county surgical post in Mallow hospital. I do not believe that is the case. I do not think that the Minister was fair in his statement to-day to the Irish Medical Association or was giving a reasonable account of the situation there to the Dáil and to the people.

From my observation of events over a number of months, it appears to me that as early as January of this year the Irish Medical Association expressed their dissatisfaction as a professional body with the terms and conditions offered by local authorities in respect of certain posts in their hospitals. As early as January of this year, the Irish Medical Association, to use the expression used by the Minister, banned hospital posts in hospitals such as the new hospital in Bantry and the new hospital in Dundalk. There may have been others of which I am not at the moment aware.

The Association, long before this problem arose in Mallow, had expressed their dissatisfaction with the terms and conditions offered, with the approval of the Minister, by local authorities. It, therefore, appears to me that, irrespective of whether or not the vacancy arose in Mallow in the way in which it has arisen, the attitude [833] of the Irish Medical Association would have been precisely the same. It is accordingly both intemperate and unreasonable for the Minister to attempt to connect the two situations which have arisen in the manner in which he has. It has unhappily been the custom for different Ministers for Health to attempt to play to the gallery by attacking the Irish Medical Association. I suppose they are fair targets on occasion. But the Association happen to be a professional body, a trade union if you like, concerned with the conditions, pay and prospects of their members. That is the reason the Association exist. That is the reason they are recognised under statutes of this House. It appears to me to serve no interest to attack the Irish Medical Association if, in pursuance of the objects of their Association, they are concerned with the terms and conditions offered to their members.

I do not wish to express any view on the inquiry which the Minister had conducted. I adopt that attitude, not in acceptance of the rather lengthy statement the Minister made to-day but simply because I do not know the facts. It appears to me—again, this is purely a personal opinion— that the Minister in administering, as he so described his action in his statement to-day, a rather mild rebuke to the house surgeon in Mallow hospital was perhaps rather unfair to a man who was bound in accordance with his duties to obey the directions of the county surgeon. On reflection, the Minister may perhaps feel that the house surgeon concerned was put in a dilemma that frequently faces young people in different walks of life; he was bound to obey the directions of his superior; if, in doing so, something untoward happened, he was immediately blamed. The house surgeon in question was bound to do what he did, and he did it. I understand the point of view has been expressed that the unfortunate death which occurred was in no way due to anything the house surgeon did, but was due rather to a circumstance which could not, in fact, have been avoided and which arose only after the county surgeon visited the hospital. All that admittedly has reference to [834] the merits of the case and, as I say, I am not sufficiently informed to discuss those.

I am, however, concerned about another aspect. The present Minister has been Minister for Health for more than two years now. I know well that if, in politics, one blows one's own trumpet one tends to deafen everyone else and no one can hear a note. I do not intend to do that, but I do say very sincerely that, so far as I am concerned, this matter is not raised from the point of view of political interest, partisanship or anything of that kind. I direct the Minister's attention now to the fact that when he became Minister a little over two years ago there was a fruitful atmosphere in existence as between the Department and the medical profession outside.

On many matters there was not complete agreement, but there was a situation in which any difficulties that might exist or might arise could be met by a discussion between the Minister's excellent officials and the Irish Medical Association or other professional bodies concerned. As the Minister is concerned to ensure that the best medical services are provided for the people, I am very disturbed to learn that over the last two years, since the present Minister became Minister for Health, he has never once met the Irish Medical Association. He has never received them to discuss any difficulties, and difficulties are bound to arise. He has never received any deputation from the Association for the purpose of ironing out any difficulties that arise from time to time. That is an unfortunate situation and I would urge upon the Minister not to permit that situation to continue.

It would be a tragedy if, arising from this difficulty in Mallow, tempers should become inflamed on either side; and tempers can become inflamed in the Custom House just as well as outside it. Should tempers become inflamed nothing but trouble will ensue. I do not think it would give the Minister any satisfaction if, in two years' time, or whenever he leaves the Custom House, he is able to say: “I am the Minister for Health who trampled into the mud the Irish doctor and the Irish medical man.” Neither do I think it [835] would give doctors and medical men generally any satisfaction to be able to say: “We are the profession who put the present Minister for Health out of office.” I would urge upon the Minister not to permit this present unhappy situation to exacerbate in any way the relations between his Department and the Irish Medical Association.

The Minister said to-day that he felt he should not be asked to receive any deputation to discuss the merits of his decision. The Minister is quite correct in that. Whether the Minister's decision was right or wrong, it is the Minister's decision, and the Minister should certainly not be asked to hear an appeal from himself. I would, however, urge upon the Minister that he should regard the ban or boycott imposed by the Irish Medical Association in relation to the Mallow post, not as an isolated ban or boycott, but as something symptomatic of a feeling of dissatisfaction on the part of the members of the Association in relation to many other local authority posts.

There is a problem to be faced and it will not be solved by the issuing of statements from the Custom House which will be replied to through the Press by statements from I.M.A. House in Dublin, each side in quite the same situation, at pains to get words intended to cause discomfiture to the other side but, so far as the medical services of the country are concerned, they will not benefit the slightest. All that can be avoided if the Minister would come off his high horse, to some extent, and agree to meet a deputation from the Irish Medical Association to discuss with them, as a reasonable man, a problem which is of concern to the people. I have no doubt if reason permeates the Minister it will permeate everyone else as well.

Minister for Health (Mr. MacEntee):  I just want to correct what I think is a misapprehension on the part of Deputy O'Higgins, that the situation to which Deputy Booth referred in his Question, relates only to County Cork. Quite the contrary, as I pointed out in my statement this afternoon, the ban imposed by the Irish Medical Association, [836] because of the action which I took in relation to the former county surgeon in Mallow, applies to the whole country and, therefore, is the concern of Deputy Booth, as it is equally the concern of every member of this House, every member of a health authority and of every person in this country.

The reason for that ban is not concealed by the Irish Medical Association. They have stated:

“In view of the Minister for Health's letter dated April 14th to the Cork County Manager and published in the daily Press on May 21st, medical practitioners who have applied for, or are considering applying for resident, or nonresident posts in local authority hospitals, are asked to communicate with the Secretary of the Association.”

As I said, this is a national issue, raised because I had removed from office a county surgeon who had signally failed to fulfil the obligations imposed upon him when he accepted the post, and in consequence of which a very tragic and terrible thing occurred. I have no desire to be at odds with the Irish Medical Association or any other professional organisation in this country, but I have a duty to this Dáil to ensure that the Health Acts are carried out by those concerned with the provision of the health services, in the manner in which it was intended they should be. I have every right to resent, and I do resent, the arbitrary and arrogant conduct of those who apparently are now leading the Irish Medical Association.

This ban was imposed, as I said in my statement to-day, without any information being given to me as to why it should be imposed. It was first imposed on 22nd November, 1958, in relation to certain county surgeon posts. On 16th December, 1957, following certain communications which we had made to the I.M.A., sending them revised conditions of service, the I.M.A. stated my letter would receive their consideration. I have received no reply to that letter, or no representations in respect of that letter since that date.

[837]Mr. T.F. O'Higgins:  Did they not ask for an interview?

Mr. MacEntee:  Wait now. They asked that I should receive a deputation in relation to the duties of county surgeons and their remuneration. They were informed it was proper they should discuss that matter, in the first instance, with the county managers.

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins:  Of course that is absolute rot.

An Ceann Comhairle:  Order!

Mr. MacEntee:  I did not interrupt the Deputy, and I have only five minutes in which to reply. I stated they should first discuss that matter with the county managers, as representing the ratepayers, who are equally concerned with the Minister for Health in this matter, and that then they should, if necessary, come to me, or the county managers could come to me, with whatever agreement they might have made with the representatives of the I.M.A.

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins:  Send the fool further.

Mr. MacEntee:  Sir, I shall have to sit down. I have listened with patience to Deputy O'Higgins but he does not want this case to be made. He does not want me to establish the sort of conduct which he expects a Minister of State to tolerate from the representatives of the I.M.A. As I said, they did meet the county managers on, I think, the 12th June, 1958, speaking from memory. There were discussions between the I.M.A. and the county managers, and on that occasion the representatives of the I.M.A. undertook to submit a memorandum to the county managers. They have not done so but they have imposed a ban, and they have not told me why they imposed that ban.

I heard nothing from that Association in relation to general questions until the 14th of February last when they wrote asking me to receive a deputation, and to their letter I replied in these terms:

In reply I am to inform you that the Minister would be prepared to [838] receive a deputation, but by reason of previous engagements and pressure of public business, it would not be possible for him to do so until after Easter. In the meantime, he would be obliged if a statement detailing the various matters which it is desired to discuss were forwarded to him. I am also to state that, in view of the request for a discussion and in order that the discussion may be without prejudice, the Minister would expect that steps would be taken by your Association to withdraw the proscription which has been placed on recruitment to several important posts concerned with the provision of health services to the community and to restore the status quo in regard to these posts. When an intimation has been received to the effect that action on these lines has been taken, the necessary arrangements for the fixing of a meeting can be completed.

I received a reply to that letter on 20th March stating:

In reply to your letter of the 13th instant I have been instructed to state that my Association agree with the Minister that it is most important that any discussions between the Minister and the I.M.A. should be without prejudice, and the Association is prepared to suspend their disapproval to the certain key posts mentioned in your letter of the 13 instant, if other matters which, in its opinion are equally prejudicial to objective discussion of the problems, be also withdrawn. To achieve this it is felt that selection or interview boards for these appointments and the filling of these posts should be postponed until the Association has had an opportunity of placing its views before the Minister.

We shall be grateful for an intimation from the Minister that this suggestion is agreeable to him.

I replied to that pointing out that I had no function with regard to the holding or postponing of any competition for a permanent post in the local authority service once it had been advertised. I further stated:

[839] The matter is then one for the Local Appointments Commissioners. Accordingly, the Minister can take no steps in regard to the competitions already advertised even if he felt that the circumstances warranted action as proposed by the Association.

In these circumstances, the Minister has directed me to repeat the offer contained in this Department's letter of 13th March to meet representatives of the Association to discuss [840] outstanding matters when the existing proscriptions have been lifted and the Association has furnished a list of the items it desires to discuss with him.

That offer still stands open, notwithstanding what the I.M.A. have done in order to justify homicide by culpable negligence, such as took place in Cork two years ago.

The Dáil adjourned at 11 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 3rd June, 1959.