Ceisteanna—Questions Oral Answers. - Industrial Employment.

Thursday, 16 November 1972

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 263 No. 10

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36.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce what action he proposes to take in regard to the report by the Industrial Development Authority to the effect that 2,000 jobs will be lost in industry, causing increased unemployment; and if he will make a statement on his plans to prevent such a situation.

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  I have recently had discussions with the Industrial Development Authority about the current situation. The authority now propose to increase their publicity and promotional campaign at home and abroad with a view to having a greater number of factories established here both in the immediate future and over the next five years.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  Is it not a fact that the chairman of the IDA told a pack of lies on television last year?

[1881]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  The Deputy should not make such a charge against a private individual.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  He admitted it.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  The Deputy is in the happy position that he can make this charge against a private individual that he is telling a pack of lies.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  He is not a private individual. He is head of this Government-sponsored organisation.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  The Deputy should not abuse the privileges of the House in this fashion.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  I am not abusing the privileges of the House. This man made this statement. He told us there would not be many redundancies last year and in fact there were 8,000.

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  The allegations made against the chairman of the IDA are completely unwarranted.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  I am calling Question No. 37.

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  This man is doing a wonderful job.

37.

Dr. O'Connell: Information on John F. O'Connell  Zoom on John F. O'Connell  and Mr. Treacy asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he will state the details of the report of Atkins Planning Consultants which recommends the closure of six wool textile firms; if he will indicate the firms affected; and the total number of resulting redundancies.

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  I am not prepared to give the details requested by the Deputy as this would not be in the interests of the industry. Copies of the consultants' report have been made available to management and trade union interests.

Mr. Treacy: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Surely the Minister will agree that the recommendations contained in the Atkins Report are of a startling nature with widespread consequences for a large sector of the textile industry? Surely he has an obligation to place these facts before the House? Can the Minister assure us that he is taking into account the [1882] social consequences which will arise from the implementation of this report, if it is adhered to by the Minister? Is he not aware that it will virtually wipe out whole communities dependent on the textile industry? Before implementing it will he satisfy himself that the Atkins Report is relevant to the situation, that it is a factual report and will he have regard to the latest information in respect of many of these mills which indicates their potential viability if assisted by the Minister and the various agencies under his control?

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  There is nothing extraordinarily startling in the findings of the Atkins Report because it was quite clear for some time, arising from CIO reports, that it was an industry which needed to look into itself with a view to rationalising and modernising itself. Everything possible is being done for this industry. The object of this exercise is to make sure that instead of the redundancies we have we will avoid still greater redundancy issues. I should like to stress that the allegation here is that the Minister for Industry and Commerce is closing mills. Where they close they do so due to the pressure of economic realities because they cannot pay their way. For a considerable time a number of those mills have been operating uneconomically and would have closed down long ago if the Government had not intervened to support them. The big difficulty now is to ensure the viability of the remainder of this industry and to achieve the maximum amount of continued employment within the woollen and worsted industry. No action by the task force which I have created will be taken except with that one end product in mind.

Mr. Treacy: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Is it not disgraceful that a report of this kind, which has such widespread implications, cannot be made available to Deputies?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  The Deputy may put a question but he may not discuss the matter. Would he please cease making a speech?

Mr. Treacy: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I am asking that the Atkins Report be circulated to Deputies. It contains a stiputation for [1883] the closure of nine textile factories, one of which is in my constituency. Will the Minister have particular regard to safeguarding the future of the Ardfinnan, Clonmel, mill which is the life's blood of the local community especially since re-adaptation has taken place there and that there is new management?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  The Deputy may not make a speech.

Mr. Treacy: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  All the indications are that this mill is viable—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  The Deputy is out of order in making a speech.

Mr. Treacy: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  How can the Minister justify acceding to the report?

Mr. Enright: Information on Tom Enright  Zoom on Tom Enright  Can the Minister state whether the Atkins group have carried out a survey into the textile industry in England and, if so, what recommendations of any such report were implemented? Can he say whether any such report has now proved to be accurate? Will he tell us also the address of the company? Perhaps he would tell us, too, why he engaged an English company to conduct an inquiry into the Irish textile industry when we are competitors with England in the industry? Was it not a great mistake to engage an English company in this occasion?

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  The Deputy is quoting the location of the industry and giving details concerning it and then he goes on to ask who are the company.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  Was public money spent on this report and, if so, why are Deputies not being given a copy of the report?

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  The simple, straightforward answer to that is that it would not be in the interest of the industry.

Mr. Enright: Information on Tom Enright  Zoom on Tom Enright  The Minister has not replied to my question.

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  I am anxious to give the Deputy a reply but it happens to be the reply to the next question.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  Is the Minister aware that among those who have received the report were the industrial [1884] organisation branch of his Department, the IDA, the trade unions concerned and the CFU, as also have the Woollen and Worsteds Association? All of these bodies have received this so-called secret report. Therefore, by what stretch of the imagination can the Minister assure the House that it would not be in the best interests of the industry for Members of the Oireachtas to read the report? Is he aware that three of the six companies concerned have been named and that one of them was quoted on today's news bulletin as being in receivership?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  The Deputy is making a long speech. He may not continue in this fashion. We are supposed to be at Question Time.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  If we received answers from the Minister, we would not find it necessary to ask ridiculous questions.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  The nature of the answers is no justification for speeches at Question Time. I am calling Question No. 38.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  Are Members of the Oireachtas the only people who are not to see this report?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  I cannot allow any further supplementaries on this question.

Mr. Enright: Information on Tom Enright  Zoom on Tom Enright  I propose, with the permission of the Chair, to raise the matter on the Adjournment.

Mr. Treacy: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Due to the unsatisfactory nature of the Minister's reply I intend, with the permission of the Ceann Comhairle, to raise the matter on the Adjournment so that the Minister will be forced to come in here and debate the report. I want an assurance——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  The Deputy need not make a long speech. The Chair will communicate with the Deputy.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  Deputy Enright has already sought permission to raise the matter on the Adjournment.

[1885]Mr. Treacy: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputy Enright has no question down on the matter.

Mr. Enright: Information on Tom Enright  Zoom on Tom Enright  Many of the questions I tabled were, wrongly, not allowed by the Chair.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  I am calling Question No. 38.

38.

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan  Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan  asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he will make available an unabbreviated copy of the Atkins report on the textile industry; and, if not, why.

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  I am not prepared to accede to the Deputy's request because I consider that to do so would not be in the interests of the industry.

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan  Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan  If the Minister considers that the placing of the report in the Library would not be in the interest of the 14 mills concerned, would he consider making it available to individual Members of the Oireachtas who have an interest and a responsibility in this matter?

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  I will consider that. If an individual firm decide to make a statement arising from the report or from discussions with the consultants, that is their business. Each of the companies concerned have had a copy of the report and have also had discussions with the consultants. The trade unions concerned have had copies of the report and have acted responsibly in connection with it.

Mr. Treacy: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Why can Members of the Oireachtas not have it?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): In view of the fact that many of these companies which it is now proposed to close have been aided substantially by State finance and since the report on which they are to be closed was commissioned by the Minister and paid for, presumably out of public funds, does the Minister not consider that the taxpayers are entitled to know what is in the report?

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  No. In the interest of the taxpayers and of the industry I do not think that a full disclosure would be wise.

[1886]Mr. Treacy: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  In the interest of skulduggery.

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  No, that is not so. There are firms named in the report that are likely to be able to continue for a considerable time but publication of the report—

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  Are they Fianna Fáil supporters?

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  I am not interested in finding out which political party they support.

Mr. Enright: Information on Tom Enright  Zoom on Tom Enright  Why is the Minister not agreeable to publishing the full report which was paid for out of public funds when he is allowing the names of three companies to be quoted? One of these companies, who are in Tipperary, are already in receivership. The receivers are moving in, too, in respect of the Irish Worsted Mills at Portlaoise and I am afraid that the third may come to the same fate. Why is the Minister not prepared to publish the report when he is sounding the deathknell of the three factories?

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  The Government have been maintaining and keeping these factories open for quite a while.

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan  Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan  I hope the Minister will consider my request.

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  I will go no further than to say I will consider it.

39.

Mr. Enright: Information on Tom Enright  Zoom on Tom Enright  asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce the date he received the Atkins report; if he has accepted this report and if he intends to act thereon; and if he will make a full statement on the position regarding the spinning and weaving section of the textile industry.

40.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he will make a statement in regard to the closing of a number of mills and the redundancies in the woollen and textile trade in this country; if he will indicate his plans to ease the hardships of the workers who will lose employment; and if in each case additional State-aided employment will be provided.

[1887]41.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he will make a statement concerning Government policy on the future rationalisation of the woollen and worsted industry.

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  With your permission, a Cheann Comhairle, I propose to take Questions Nos. 39, 40 and 41 together.

On 18th September, 1972, I received the report which is concerned with the position of 20 firms engaged in spinning and machine weaving and whose business is for the most part based on the home market. The report confirms that the sector is in a very weak position and that some firms are in imminent danger of closure. Moreover, the report states that if the industry were to continue in its present form there is a grave danger that further firms would be forced out of business, thereby creating far greater redundancies than those now envisaged. It is, accordingly, essential to set about restructuring the industry on the lines envisaged in the report.

To secure restructuring of the industry in a way that would provide employment opportunities at the highest level consistent with viability, I have set up a “task force” to work in conjunction with the consultants and with both sides of industry. As an exceptional measure, in the special circumstances of the industry, and having regard also to representations made to me by both sides of the industry, I have agreed that limited and short-term financial support should be provided where the “task force” consider it appropriate, or necessary, to those firms assessed as not viable and which would otherwise have to close immediately or in the very near future. Such support will be limited to the amount needed in any particular case to maintain activity at not more than its present level and to discharge only those obligations which would arise during the period of support.

The estimated total net redundancies if the consultants proposals were implemented in full would be 1994. It is envisaged that the unavoidable redundancies will occur gradually. I have requested the IDA to take all [1888] possible steps to provide alternative employment opportunities in the areas where closures are seen to be inevitable.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  Would the Minister not agree that this industry was, in fact, totally studied, first of all, in 1960, in the pilot study and, secondly, by the CIO some years later and that these reports identified problems and included confidential reports to the Minister, not published, on the position of individual firms and that the Minister and the Department had in their possession ten years ago and more the information required for any restructuring which is thought necessary? Would he not further agree that the failure to act on these reports, including the confidential reports, has contributed to the present situation and that firms now in danger could indeed, have been saved if action had been taken in accordance with the recommendations made and would he state why, in fact, no adequate action was taken on the basis of these reports?

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  None of the questions refers to the reports which may be ten years old. I want to say in this regard that there is no doubt that the reports issuing on this subject over a period and some ten years ago did indicate that the woollen and worsted industry would need to make a close examination of itself and that there have been COIP reports since in this regard along similar lines. This is why it surprises me when I am attacked for using a group like Atkins to examine this proposition and to make recommendations to me, especially in view of the fact that the appointment of those consultants was made with the agreement of both sides of the industry and that they were fully in agreement with the appointment of this group which they looked upon as experts in this field.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  Would the Minister not agree——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  Deputy Treacy.

Mr. Treacy: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Would the Minister be [1889] kind enough to give us some additional information concerning the task force to which he has referred in respect of the personnel involved, their qualifications and their terms of reference and could he please indicate whether the task force referred to have powers to vary the Atkins Report in any manner or are they obliged by the Minister merely to implement in their entirety the Atkins recommendations?

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  I do not think there is any reason for me to say that it is possible to set up a task force to implement a report that will have the power to vary the report. The report is a report of the situation as found by the experts in the earlier part of this year. Having accepted that report, the task force are examining the situation from the point of view of trying to carry out the restructuring operation, not from the point of view of trying to change the experts' report.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  What are their qualifications?

Mr. Treacy: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I asked for the names and qualifications of these people.

Mr. Enright: Information on Tom Enright  Zoom on Tom Enright  Would the Minister confirm whether or not the position is that the task force are a group who provide short-term aid at the moment to companies three of which have been named for closure and that it is only while they are discharging some of the orders on their books that they are being allowed to help them? Will the Minister not also agree that in regard to the closure of particular factories, particularly the worsted mills in Portlaoise, who have orders on their books for £250,000, of which £75,000 worth are for export, and also a company who have assets valued at approximately £300,000—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  The Deputy is continuing to make a speech.

Mr. Enright: Information on Tom Enright  Zoom on Tom Enright  Does the Minister not agree that they would be far better employed in trying to keep open some of the factories which are open and are working properly, whose employees have skills and have been a lifetime [1890] in the industry, instead of having airy-fairy factories coming and going?

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  Costing millions.

Mr. Treacy: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I have asked the Minister to give us the names and qualifications. I ask him to be good enough to do so.

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  Deputy Enright is playing a little game.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  I am calling Question No. 42.

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  I have to be allowed to reply to the question.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  The Minister has not replied. That is our complaint.

Mr. Enright: Information on Tom Enright  Zoom on Tom Enright  Would the Minister show some courtesy and reply, instead of throwing insults across the floor?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  Would the Deputy allow questions to continue?

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  Answers are what we want.

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  The Deputy said last week that he would not get a chance until after Christmas. I am glad he has got a chance this week. I take exception to the suggestion that any industry that goes into Portlaoise is what he described as airy-fairy. They are very welcome in Portlaoise. I hope that nothing that the Deputy said here today will interfere with any industrialist going in there.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  What are they costing?

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  They will give extremely valuable employment in the midlands.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  The Minister has still failed to reply to Deputy Treacy's question about the qualifications of the task force. He has refused to answer.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  It is a separate question.

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  I also tried to answer the backbencher's question.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  The Minister is not answering either.

[1891]Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  I cannot get a word in edgeways with this front bench shadow Minister for Industry and Commerce.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  The Minister has time to make snide remarks.

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  The situation is that, as already publicly announced, the task force is headed by a Mr. T.S. O'Neill, the executive director of the IDA. They are all Irishmen. I hope I have not to apologise for that. There is also a representative of the National Manpower Service of the Department of Labour, of AnCO, of Fóir Teoranta and of my Department.

Mr. Treacy: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  No one from the industry?

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  Is there anyone who knows anything about textiles, any representative of the textile industry?

Mr. Treacy: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Is there no representative of the trade union on this task force?

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  The industry and the trade union are linked in a consultative capacity with this task force.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  Have they any expertise in textiles?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  Could we get on to Question No. 42?

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  I am fully satisfied that when this task force will have completed their job——

Mr. Treacy: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  They are there only to do the Minister's dirty work. They are doing the dirty work that the Minister is not prepared to do himself.

Mr. Enright: Information on Tom Enright  Zoom on Tom Enright  Could I raise this matter on the Adjournment?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  Which matter is the Deputy referring to?

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  May I ask one supplementary?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  Yes.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  Would the Minister not agree that the pilot study in the early sixties clearly indicated the [1892] problems we are now facing and that the CIO Report in the late sixties, in the consultative procedure of which I personally participated, contained a great many recommendations and suggestions for adaptation and rationalisation and that the COIP Report in the late sixties and 1971 also contained major rationalisation proposals?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  Where is the Question? The Deputy is making a long speech.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  Would the Minister not agree now that the recommendations were known to him and to me and to trade unions and employers for the past eight years in respect of these industries and that the respective responsible bodies, the employers, managers and the Department of Industry and Commerce—I would not entirely exonerate the trade unions— did not ensure that those recommendations were fully implemented, thus preventing the quite dreadful situation that we are now facing where 1,000 workers must lose their jobs in this industry, and that it is a lesson to be learned?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  The Deputy is addressing the House. The Deputy is not seeking information. I am calling Question No. 42.

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  I agree with the Deputy that there was slowness in the implementation of the recommendations. The Government endeavoured to do their bit by introducing re-equipment and adaptation grants in order to encourage industry to adapt itself. I and my predecessor exhorted the industry to endeavour to adapt itself on the lines recommended in the report.

42.

Mr. Enright: Information on Tom Enright  Zoom on Tom Enright  asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce by whom the Atkins report into the spinning and weaving section of the textile industry was commissioned; the cost of the report; the registered headquarters, the principal office and address of the firm which made this report.

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  The report was commissioned by me with the agreement of both sides of the industry. The estimated [1893] cost of the report is £24,000. This does not include costs that may be incurred in connection with the implementation of its findings. The headquarters and principal office of the consultants is Woodcote Grove, Ashley Road, Epsom, Surrey, England.

Mr. Enright: Information on Tom Enright  Zoom on Tom Enright  Would the Minister state if, in fact, this company had held an inquiry into the woollen and textile industry, which report was commissioned by the British Government and if, in fact, this report has been implemented; or can he give us any information on this? Can he say if, in fact, many of the projections they gave to the British Government have since been proved to have been incorrect?

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  Everything the Deputy said up to the very last statement is correct and, in fact, the observations made in connection with the wool and worsted industry in Britain have proved to be pretty well 100 per cent factual and accurate.

Mr. Enright: Information on Tom Enright  Zoom on Tom Enright  For the information of the Minister——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  Question No. 43, Deputy Oliver J. Flanagan.

Mr. Enright: Information on Tom Enright  Zoom on Tom Enright  ——it is not and is the Minister——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  I have called Question No. 43.

43.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he will implement the undertaking given by the Government that they would draw on the finances of the EEC Social Fund in order to compensate for loss in Irish industry such as the textile industry where, as a result of the Atkins report, almost the entire economic activity will disappear in the affected rural areas; the action he proposes taking; and what EEC funds will be available in this regard.

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  I do not accept all the implications of the Deputy's question. I can say however that recourse will be had to the European Social Fund from the date of our entry to the EEC in any case deemed eligible for assistance from the fund. The possibilities in relation [1894] to the situation in the wool textile industry are being explored.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  Is the Minister aware of the discussion which took place in the European Parliament and which was reported in today's newspapers that, in fact, there is no European Social Fund in this sense of the term.

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  I am not so aware.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  Let the Minister read the paper when he goes home this evening.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  Question No. 44.

Mr. Enright: Information on Tom Enright  Zoom on Tom Enright  Is it correct that——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  I have called Question No. 44.

44.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce why the Irish woollen industry is in such dire straits at present.

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  I presume that the Deputy's question relates to the position of firms in that sector of the wool textile industry which has recently been examined——

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  Answer the supplementary. The Minister did not know about the EEC Social Fund.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  The Minister is answering Question No. 44.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  He was very careful not to answer the supplementary to Question No. 43.

Mr. Enright: Information on Tom Enright  Zoom on Tom Enright  A Cheann Comhairle, I was asking a supplementary on the previous question and I feel it should have been answered.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  The Minister is answering Question No. 44.

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  I was halfway through the reply.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  Would the Minister read it again? I did not hear it.

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  I presume that the Deputy's question relates to the position of firms in that sector of the wool textile industry which has recently [1895] been examined by consultants with a view to the formulation of proposals for its restructuring. The industry's difficulties can be attributed to various adverse factors including the following:—

—failure to rationalise resulting in overcapacity, too wide a range of production and high production costs;

—increased competition arising from technological and fashion changes;

—adverse market conditions worldwide in 1970 and 1971;

—low productivity and rising costs;

—weak selling;

—management weaknesses.

These factors have, of course, not affected all firms to the same degree.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  Despite this long litany of explanations, is it not the truth that the difficulties of this industry are entirely due to the operation of the Anglo-Irish Free Trade Area Agreement? Is that not the fact?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  That is a separate question.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  As a matter of fact a man in close contact with the industry said this to me the week before last: he said the Anglo-Irish Free Trade Area Agreement, of course, brought all this about. Is that not the case?

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  In relation to the CIO report of 1960-61 that would not be authenticated and the report was much the same. In addition to that, this present problem is being blamed on membership of the EEC.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  Let me make a remark about the CIO report for a moment. May I ask the Minister is it not a fact that the CIO was set up to examine things analytically, from a theoretical point of view, and is it not a fact that if the tariffs had been preserved—they went by the board under the—Anglo-Irish Free Trade Area Agreement—this situation would not [1896] be occurring now because we would have the home market preserved.

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  Not at all.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  Of course it is a fact.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  Would the Minister not agree that the causes of the problem he has mentioned were identified even in the original pilot survey of 1960, in which I myself was involved, and in the CIO report, and that, indeed, the CIO report identified individual firms likely to find themselves in difficulty? Would the Minister now say why, therefore, nothing has been done in the meantime and why he is now telling the IDA to look for alternative industries for these centres when the CIO specifically recommended that centres which were likely to be affected by free trade, and identified as such in the confidential report, should be given special assistance in order to provide an alternative industry 12 years ago? Why was that not done and why are we now finding ourselves in this position?

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  I do not think all of the reasons I have set out here could possibly have been covered——

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  Most of them were.

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  They could not have covered the adverse marketing conditions in 1970-71.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  Why was nothing done?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  I am calling Question No. 45.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  Will the Minister answer my question?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  I cannot allow this. Extra time was granted today in order to deal with questions and Deputies seem to be taking advantage of that extra time to prolong supplementary questions.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  It seems to me the Chair is taking the opportunity of helping the Minister to answer questions.

[1897]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  The Chair is doing nothing of the kind. The Chair is trying to help Deputies, those who have questions on the Order Paper, and there are Deputies who have had their questions on the Order Paper for four weeks now and, if these supplementary questions by the Deputy and others continue, they will not be reached until after Christmas.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  The Chair has a way of assuring that, when the Minister answers, we stay quiet. When he fails to answer we ask a legitimate supplementary. Surely that is legitimate procedure.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  Will the Deputy stay quiet now until I call Question No. 45 and the Minister answers it?

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  I will stay quiet that long.


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