Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Agricultural Education and Research.

Wednesday, 21 May 1986

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 366 No. 9

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5.

Mr. Hyland: Information on Liam Hyland  Zoom on Liam Hyland  asked the Minister for Agriculture in view of the importance of ACOT and AFT to farming development, if he would be prepared to restore to those bodies the recent cuts in their budget.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  There are no proposals for amending the grants-in-aid shown in respect of these bodies in the revised Estimates for 1986.

Mr. Hyland: Information on Liam Hyland  Zoom on Liam Hyland  Does the Minister agree [1817] that to cut the budget for agricultural education and research, as has been done by the Minister recently, and to do it at present is a vote of no confidence in and an abandonment of the agricultural industry?

In view of the fact that the budget has been so severely restricted will the Minister tell the House what areas of agricultural education and research should be scaled down by ACOT and the agricultural research bodies? In view of the fact that profit margins in most farming enterprises are diminishing, with the possible exception of perhaps the dairying industry — and even in that industry profits are diminishing — does the Minister not agree that it is now of greater importance than ever that additional money should be made available for agricultural education and research?

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  The two bodies in question operate quite effectively within the bounds of the money which has been allocated. Those two bodies received £51 million in the current year, £38 million of which is provided directly by the State. They have the finances which are necessary to perform the activities for which they were set up.

Mr. Hyland: Information on Liam Hyland  Zoom on Liam Hyland  The Minister's reply is extremely disappointing and totally evasive.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  The Deputy must ask a question.

Mr. Hyland: Information on Liam Hyland  Zoom on Liam Hyland  I am going to ask a question but I must lead up to it. There has been a cut of 6 per cent in terms of total allocation to both bodies. In this context there has to be a corresponding cutback in the level of services available.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  That is a speech. The Deputy is out of order.

Mr. Hyland: Information on Liam Hyland  Zoom on Liam Hyland  I want the Minister to tell the House, within the framework of that serious restriction in finance, what areas [1818] of agricultural education and research should be eliminated by those bodies.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  I have been accused of many things in my day but never evasion. To suggest that just because there is a cutback in the amount of money provided it will automatically mean a cutback in the quality of service being provided is not a logical sequence.

Mr. Hyland: Information on Liam Hyland  Zoom on Liam Hyland  Is the Minister suggesting that money has been squandered?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  The Deputy must allow the Minister to answer.

Mr. Hyland: Information on Liam Hyland  Zoom on Liam Hyland  The Minister is being evasive.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  We feel in this case as in many other cases — and there have been cutbacks right across the public sector in both State and semi-State bodies — that the cut-backs can be borne by the bodies in question without impairing their performance.

Mr. Hyland: Information on Liam Hyland  Zoom on Liam Hyland  Is the Minister therefore suggesting that in the past there has been a waste of public money in relation to the services which we are talking about?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  I am calling Deputy Noonan.

Mr. Noonan: Information on Michael J. Noonan  Zoom on Michael J. Noonan  (Limerick West): Can the Minister estimate the likely effects on farm income of the budgetary restrictions on these services? Does he agree with these cut-backs?

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  The likely effect on farm incomes as a result of these cuts is nil.

Mr. S. Byrne: Information on Seán Byrne  Zoom on Seán Byrne  The Minister did not answer the question.


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