Request to Move Adjournment of Dáil under Standing Order 30.
Order of Business.
Estimates, 1992. - Vote 41: Health (Revised Estimate).
Estimates, 1992. - Vote 35: Tourism, Transport and Communications (Revised Estimate).
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Bovine Disease Eradication Programme.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Deer Farming.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Common Agricultural Policy Reform.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Beef Premium Scheme.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Export Refund Payments.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - BSE Disease.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Milk Prices.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Irish Food Exports.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Animal By-Product Processing.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Soil Erosion.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Milk Quota Leasing Arrangements.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Illtreatment of Irish Greyhounds.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Headage Payments.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Recoursing of Hares.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - State Agency Appointments.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Rural Development Policy.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Mulder Quotas.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - BSE Development.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Teagasc Funding.
Adjournment Debate Matters.
Estimates, 1992. - Vote 35: Tourism, Transport and Communications (Revised Estimate) (Resumed).
Adjournment Debate. - Effects of Common Agricultural Policy Reform on Food Prices.
Adjournment Debate. - Treatment of Greyhounds Exported to Spain.
Adjournment Debate. - Ardee (Louth) Project.
Adjournment Debate. - Education Matters.
Written Answers. - GATT Negotiations.
Written Answers. - Common Agricultural Policy Review.
Written Answers. - Leader Programme.
Written Answers. - Subsidy Claims Review.
Written Answers. - Farming Entrants.
Written Answers. - Common Agricultural Policy Reforms.
Written Answers. - Agri-Tourism Scheme.
Written Answers. - Sale of Teagasc Land.
Written Answers. - Cheese Production.
Written Answers. - Depopulation of Rural Ireland.
Written Answers. - Disadvantaged Areas Scheme.
Written Answers. - Disease Control.
Written Answers. - Local Authority Finances.
Written Answers. - Non-Statutory Post-Mortems.
Written Answers. - Reclassification of South Kerry Areas.
Written Answers. - Community Preferences.
Written Answers. - Grant Payments.
Written Answers. - Common Agricultural Programme Reform.
Written Answers. - Fencing of Grazing Lands.
Written Answers. - Use of Plastic in Horticulture.
Written Answers. - Cost of Bovine TB Testing.
Written Answers. - Subdivision of Commonages.
Written Answers. - Departmental Use of Recycled Paper.
Written Answers. - Local Authorities' Staffing Levels.
Written Answers. - County Monaghan Castle.
Written Answers. - State Agencies' Board Appointments.
Written Answers. - Departmental Use of Recycled Paper.
Written Answers. - Extension of National Gas Pipeline.
Written Answers. - Departmental Use of Recycled Paper.
Written Answers. - Drugs-Related Crime.
Written Answers. - Details of Justice Interdepartmental Groups.
Written Answers. - Dublin Garda Numbers.
Written Answers. - Citizenship Applications.
Written Answers. - Funding of Higher Education Colleges.
Written Answers. - County Dublin School.
Written Answers. - Enrolment in Dublin School.
Written Answers. - Celbridge (Kildare) Second Level Education.
Written Answers. - County Kildare Primary Schools.
Written Answers. - County Kildare Post-Primary Schools.
Written Answers. - Ticknevin (Kildare) School.
Written Answers. - Wexford County Hospital.
Written Answers. - Monaghan County Hospital.
Written Answers. - Monaghan Bridge.
Written Answers. - Recycled Paper.
Written Answers. - National Lottery.
Written Answers. - Effluent Discharge.
Written Answers. - Town Bypass Routes.
Written Answers. - EC Waste Regulations.
Written Answers. - ESB Study.
Written Answers. - Delors II Package.
Written Answers. - Departmental use of Recycled Paper.
Written Answers. - Bonding Scheme for Meat Trade.
Written Answers. - Food Firms Foreign Investments.
Written Answers. - Milk Quota Applications.
Written Answers. - State Agencies Disposal of Properties.
Written Answers. - Grant Payments.
Written Answers. - Departmental Use of Recycled Paper.
 Chuaigh an Ceann Comhairle i gceannas ar 10.30 a.m.
Mr. J. O'Keeffe: This morning I seek leave to move the Adjournment of the Dáil under Standing Order 30 to debate the following matter of urgent importance: the slaughter of the innocent people of Sarajevo, the continuing aggression of Serbia, the inability to date of the European Community, and the United Nations, to resolve the conflict and the urgent need for Ireland to take a leading role at the United Nations and in the European Community in establishing a total trade embargo on Serbia and in bringing humanitarian aid and assistance to the besieged people of Bosnia.
An Ceann Comhairle: Having considered the matter fully, I do not consider it to be one contemplated by the Standing Order. Accordingly, I cannot grant leave to move the motion.
Mr. J. O'Keeffe: I regret that your hands are tied and should say that we in the Dáil are as helpless as other European institutions. I wish to express my utter revulsion at what is happening and demand action to bring it to an end.
An Ceann Comhairle: I can only tell  the House, which knows full well, that regrettably this has been an ongoing matter for some time. In fact, it was dealt with in this House at Question Time last Tuesday.
Mr. J. O'Keeffe: I raised it.
An Ceann Comhairle: There are many other opportunities and ways and means open to Deputies to raise such matters.
The Taoiseach: It is proposed to take No. 4, Votes 41 and 35. It is also proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that (1) the questions necessary to bring the proceedings on Votes 41 and 35 to a conclusion shall be put not later than 12.30 p.m. and 5 p.m. respectively; (2) in the case of Vote 41 the speech of the Minister and of the main spokesperson for Fine Gael and the Labour Party shall not exceed 20 minutes in each case and the speech of each other Member called on shall not exceed ten minutes; (3) the following arrangements shall apply in the case of Vote 35, (i) the Vote shall be divided into three parts for the purposes of debate, namely, Tourism, Transport and Communications; each debate shall be limited to one hour's duration and shall be deemed to relate to a separate motion for the purpose of Standing Order 44 and (ii) the speeches of the Minister and of the main spokesperson for Fine Gael and the Labour Party shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case and the speech of each other Member called on shall not exceed five minutes; (4) a Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon not later than 12.20 p.m. and 4.50 p.m. respectively to make a speech in reply which shall not exceed ten minutes; (5) in the five minutes preceeding such reply, any Member may request the Minister to clarify specific issues during the course of his or her reply; (6) any divisions demanded shall be postponed until 6.30 p.m. on Wednesday, 3 June 1992 and (7) the Dáil  at its rising today shall adjourn until 12.30 p.m. on Wednesday 3 June 1992.
An Ceann Comhairle: Are the proposals outlined for dealing with Votes 41 and 35 agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal that any divisions called today be postponed agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal relating to the Adjournment of the House agreed? Agreed.
Mr. Barry: In relation to the matter just raised by Deputy O'Keeffe the Taoiseach and Government should realise that this is a matter of great concern to many people particularly since it appears that the European Community is going down a road it has not travelled before. When ordering the business for next week would the Taoiseach allow time for a debate on the position in the former Yugoslavia to which Members of the House could contribute, express their concern and hear from the Government precisely what the Foreign Ministers will have decided in Chile this weekend.
An Ceann Comhairle: This matter could be more appropriately dealt with by the Whips.
Mr. Quinn: I understand that the House is due to rise around 10 July next. Would the Taoiseach say whether that information is correct? In addition, have the Government any plans to provide for an address to this House by President Robinson in view of her very successful State visit on our behalf to France?
An Ceann Comhairle: Matters appertaining to the President should not be raised in this fashion.
Mr. Quinn: I am sure you will agree, Sir, that in view of the great success of her visit to France——
An Ceann Comhairle: Please, Deputy Quinn, let us nor embroil the Presidency in argumentation or dispute in this House.
Mr. Quinn: The Taoiseach might like to reply.
Proinsias De Rossa: I realise that the matter I am about to raise has been raised a number of times in the House already. Nonetheless the crisis within the postal service is such that I consider the Government should take urgent steps to intervene now to have those services restored.
Mr. Farrelly: Has the Taoiseach any plans to meet the Olympic Council of Ireland, which is essential, particularly when one bears in mind that five members of our Olympic team are unemployed——
An Ceann Comhairle: It is not in order to raise that matter now, Deputy.
Mr. Farrelly: ——while training for the Olympic Games later this year. Five members of our Olympic team are unemployed in England. Yet the Government have failed to provide funds.
An Ceann Comhairle: Please, Deputy Farrelly.
Mr. Farrelly: The Government have failed to provide adequate funds to them. Where have all the national lottery funds gone?
Mr. Quinn: A very good question.
Mr. Howlin: In relation to promised legislation——
Mr. Currie: They will all be at the airport to welcome the Olympic team back home.
Mr. Farrelly: They will be beating one another to have photographs taken with them.
The Taoiseach: This is county council stuff.
Mr. Howlin: On promised legislation  may I seek clarification from the Taoiseach since great confusion has arisen. In regard to the Health (Family Planning) (Amendment) Bill, will the Taoiseach say whether the Government will be issuing a new Bill and withdrawing the one at present before the House or will the Government proceed with the Bill as already circulated?
The Taoiseach: There is no confusion. I think the confusion is in the Deputy's mind.
Mr. Quinn: Our absent friends are reluctant if not confused.
The Taoiseach: What I have said is that, as soon as the Minister for Health brings forward the relevant proposals the Government will take a decision on them and then proceed with the Bill in the House.
Mr. Howlin: The question I asked was: will the Government proceed with the Bill, as circulated, or will there be a new Bill? That is not a very difficult question.
The Taoiseach: It could be amended in the House or there could be a new Bill. Whatever the Government decided will be proceeded with.
Mr. Quinn: We are supposed to trust them.
Mr. Bell: On promised legislation, can the Taoiseach say whether — as the Minister for Social Welfare promised in the course of the debate on the Social Welfare Bill, 1992 — a Social Welfare (Consolidation) Bill will be introduced? In view of the complications that have arisen, resulting from the many regulations that will have to be introduced under the provisons of the 1992 Bill, will the Taoiseach say whether priority will be given to introducing a new consolidation Bill before the end of this year?
The Taoiseach: Arrangements are proceeding in that regard. It is hoped to introduce the Bill in the next session.
Mrs. Fennell: Would the Taoiseach confirm that last Thursday's Official Report — containing telephone numbers of abortion services in England — will not be confiscated, when published? That is something about which many people would like some direction.
An Ceann Comhairle: Please, Deputy.
Mr. Yates: The Minister for the Environment promised many times to introduce new legislation to tighten up on drink-driving regulations. Will the Taoiseach say when this Bill will be published and whether it will be taken this session?
The Taoiseach: Yes, and the text is being drafted.
Mr. Yates: Will it be taken this session?
The Taoiseach: That is unlikely.
Mr. Garland: Is the Taoiseach still proposing to travel to the Rio de Janeiro Summit, since it will not be a total nonevent in view of the decision by the environmental——
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy can put down a question on that matter.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Connell): I move:
That a sum not exceeding £1,534,327,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 1992, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Health (including Oifig an Ard-Chláraitheora), and certain services administered by that Office, including grants to Health Boards and miscellaneous grants.
I apologise to Members that copies of my  speech have not yet arrived. I did add some extra comments for the benefit of Members which were incorporated before I left to bring my statement up to date. That is the reason for the delay but copies are on their way. I would ask Members to please accept my apology.
Mr. Farrelly: Has the person bringing them the right to travel?
Dr. O'Connell: The gross non-capital provision in the Estimate amounts to £1,713,417 million. Allowing for non-capital appropriations-in-aid of £220.090 million, the net non-capital vote provision is £1,493.327 million, of which £28.806 million is national lottery-funded. The net non-capital provision represents almost 22 per cent of total Government spending on supply services in the current year and shows an increase of £177.014 million of 13.4 per cent over the original 1991 Estimate.
On the basis of the subhead provisions in the Estimate, the level of non-capital expenditure approvable amounts to £1,720 million. When account is taken of the income generated directly by health agencies, the total projected expenditure for 1992 amounts to £1,846.6 million.
Last year £28.135 million national lottery money was spent mainly on services for the elderly, child services and services for the mentally and physically handicapped. The 1992 national lottery allocation is £39.8 million of which £11 million is for the hospitals building programme. A sum of £6 million is for the payment of compensation to haemophiliacs infected with the AIDS virus. Substantial assistance will continue to be provided from the national lottery to services for the elderly, child care and services for the mentally handicapped and the physically disabled. A total of £1.6 million will be allocated to the health boards for distribution by them to local voluntary agencies operating within their areas.
The 1992 capital provision is £43 million. This allocation provides for all  contractual obligations and other priority commitments. Provision is being made for the continuation of the major projects at Ardkeen Hospitals, Waterford, Sligo General Hospital and the Rotunda Hospital and for the commencement of construction at St. Luke's Hospital, Kilkenny, the development of the laboratory and psychiatric unit at the Mater Hospital, Dublin and the bone marrow unit at St. James's Hospital, Dublin. Provision will also be made for the purchase of urgent replacement equipment and for a number of fire-precaution and asset renewal schemes.
In line with the recommendations contained in the report on the development of the psychiatric services Planning for the Future, the policy of targeting resources in the area of community psychiatric services will be continued in 1992. Hostels, day hospitals, day-care centres and other community facilities are being planned. A new mental health centre will be built at Longford in 1992. Construction will also commence on a new centre for autistic persons at St. Vincent's Hospital, Fairview.
The 1992 capital provision for physical disability and mental handicap will also be concentrated on the provision of community-based services. A capital contribution is being made towards the cost of the new Cheshire Homes at Monkstown and Sligo. Funding is also being made available for an acute unit and new residential facilities for mentally handicapped persons at St. Vincent's, Navan Road, Dublin. Funding will also be provided for a number of projects in the child care area, including the provision of a group home for children at Shanakiel in Cork.
An Bord Altranais are currently conducting a comprehensive review of the nurse training system. Such a review in respect of the training of any discipline would be significant but it is given added importance by the pivotal role of the nursing profession within the provision of health services. The review process is itself a complex issue and is, I know, being pursued in a thorough and comprehensive manner. I look forward to  studying the outcome and I shall sympathetically consider the recommendations that will emerge in the context of available resources.
My Department have commissioned a nursing requirements study which is being undertaken by management consultants. This study will draw together on a scientific basis a detailed picture of projected nursing skill deficits and the measures necessary to deal with these. Taken together with the results of the training review, the resulting data will provide a sound base-line from which to address any existing or potential imbalances in nursing manpower which could otherwise have an adverse effect on services.
The nursing profession is one area of the health services upon which there is a particular impact arising from the harmonisation of training criteria in member countries of the EC. I am pleased to report that we have made good progress in making the necessary arrangements to ensure full compliance with the Directive on general nursing.
A further aspect of current initiatives in regard to nursing which I would like to mention is the 1985 Nurses Act, which is the governing legislation in respect of nurse training and registration. I know that some dissatisfaction has been voiced from within the profession regarding the structures and procedures put in place by the 1985 Act. My own view is that there is considerable merit now in reviewing the operation of the Act given that it has been in place for a number of years. I am now in the process of initiating such a review in consultation with interested parties.
I would like to refer briefly to the issue of pay determination. In line with the provisions of the Programme for Economic and Social Progress my Department, together with health service employer and union representatives, are presently exploring the potential of the local bargaining provision of the programme in the context of various pay claims which have been lodged by the staff side. The debate on this is taking place against a background in which the public service pay bill has increased very  significantly in recent years and will again in 1993, taking account of existing commitments.
I would not wish to pre-empt the outcome of these discussions but I would like to stress that the policy the Government must adhere to in the health services, as elsewhere in the public services, is that any future special concessions in relation to pay or other conditions of employment will have to be funded on the basis of tangible productivity measures. The mechanism provided in the programme gives both sides a unique opportunity to look at all aspects of health services employment so as to optimise the output of the health system while providing for staff a secure and rewarding career structure. If approached in a positive frame of mind this process can open the way to a more constructive approach to the whole conduct of industrial relations in the health services. While the debate on this is at an early stage, I have every confidence that with some determination and ingenuity, solutions will emerge which will address the realistic aspirations of staff and give a fair deal to the ultimate paymaster — the taxpayer.
With regard to services for the mentally ill, the Government have decided to publish a Green Paper on mental health, which will consider policy issues and propose new mental treatment legislation. The printing of the Green Paper is under way and it will shortly be published and circulated for consideration. I am conscious of the need to provide those who wish to offer suggestions on improving the delivery of services to the mentally ill an opportunity to put forward their opinions.
The fundamental shift from an institutional to a community-oriented model of care for the mentally ill is now established in each health board area and resources will be allocated to ensure that this direction in the delivery of care will be maintained. More community facilities for the care of the mentally ill, such as hostel accommodation and day care facilities, were provided in 1991 and notable achievements were the opening of new 30 bed psychiatric units attached to Roscommon and Naas general  hospitals. Work on the provision of an acute psychiatric unit at the Mater Hosptial, Dublin, has commenced and will be completed by the end of this year. Planning of the psychiatric unit at the Mercy Hospital, Cork, is ongoing.
I am particularly anxious to ensure that the alternative community-based services should be of the highest quality and I am asking the inspector of mental hospitals and his staff to pay particular attention to this aspect of the service at this vital stage of development and allocation of resources.
This year I have been able to continue the considerable developments started in 1990 and 1991 for the elderly in community based and hospital services. The objective of Government health policy, as set out in the report of the working group on services of the elderly, The Years Ahead, is to support the care of dependent elderly people at home for as long as possible and to ensure that, when the elderly can no longer be cared for at home, there are appropriate specialist and extended care facilities to meet their needs.
The priorities of service development at present are to strengthen the capacity of the health services to care for the person at home, to provide more specialist facilities in acute hospitals and to meet the needs of the increasing numbers of elderly mentally infirm. Significant progress has been made towards implementing the recommendations of The Years Ahead. In the past two years £8 million has been made available to the health boards. This funding has enabled the health boards to expand home nursing facilities, to provide day centres and hospitals, to increase the number of physiotherapists and speech therapists in the community and to develop services for the old with dementia.
This year I have provided funding to both the Meath and Mater hospitals to establish special units for the elderly and these units should soon be fully operational with consultant and back-up staff in place. With the additional £1 million made available in this year's budget. I  intend to provide more extended care places for the elderly, particularly in the Eastern Health Board area where there is the greatest need for such places.
The drafting of regulations to implement the Health (Nursing Homes) Act, 1990, is at an advanced stage. These regulations will be discussed with interested parties in the nursing home sector in the near future with a view to their implementation as soon as possible.
One of my priorities in the current year is to expand facilities and services for people with mental handicap and their families to keep abreast of the needs of the growing and ageing population. This said, however, direct funding to agencies for the mentally handicapped is now 56 per cent higher than it was in 1986, and expenditure by the health boards has also increased significantly. A total of about £170 million was spent on services for people with mental handicap in 1991. The additional funds allocated in 1992 represent the single largest annual investment ever in these services and I am very pleased to have been able to achieve this.
The past three years have seen a consistent effort by the Government to expand and improve services for people with mental handicap. All Deputies agree this should be done. In 1990 the Government made a special allocation of £2 million available for the development of mental handicap services. In 1991 the Government provided a further £1 million to continue the expansion of services. Funding was provided to open 20 places in Cheeverstown House and 27 places in Aras Attracta, Swinford, County Mayo, as well as additional respite services in each health board area. This year an additional £5 million of revenue funding and a further £1 million capital has been made available to develop a range of new services, which will include additional residential places, day places and increased respite care facilities. Provision has also been made for the establishment of a genetic counselling service at Our Lady's Hospital, Crumlin.
I have referred to the provision of the commissioning of additional places at Cheeverstown House. The impasse  which prevented the opening of these additional places has been a matter of some concern on all sides of the House and I would like to avail of this opportunity to pay tribute to those who contributed to the resolution of that dispute. I am happy to report that both the Eastern Health Board and the board of Cheeverstown House are now working to the agreement negotiated by the federation of bodies providing services for people with mental handicap.
I would like to refer here to the report of the review group on mental handicap services Needs and Abilities, which confirms the correctness of many of the principles which underlie the present provision of services for people with a mental handicap. It indicates that with adequate support services, the overwhelming majority of people with a mental handicap can live in the community. It attaches great importance to the early identification of children with delayed intellectual development. If the abilities of these children are to be developed, their needs must be identified as soon as possible. I am glad to say that the Government have accepted in principle the recommendations of the report and are committed to their implementation under the Programme for Economic and Social Progress.
A special allocation of £3 million was made available in the 1991 budget specifically for the development of dental and orthodontic services and the 1992 allocations to health boards retains the special provision enabling the boards to provide for the continuing development of these services.
As Deputies will be aware, there is a continuing high level of demand for orthodontic treatment. Cases requiring treatment have been categorised depending on the severity of their condition in accordance with guidelines issued by my Department. I can make copies of these guidelines available to Deputies who wish to see them. Approximately 12,000 children are currently receiving specialist orthodontic treatment and it is estimated that a further 4,000 children are receiving  treatment at primary care level. Following a review of the salary and conditions of the post, a number of health boards have been successful in recruiting consultant orthodontists. This will allow for further improvements in service levels. I am urgently looking at ways in which the services can be further developed in a manner consistent with the cost-effective use of resources.
Policy reviews have been carried out in recent years on the services for people with a mental handicap and for those with a mental illness. The development of these services has benefited considerably from the debate generated by these reports. There has been no similar initiative in relation to services for persons with physical disabilities. Since taking office I have been concerned that services for people with physical disabilities have not been receiving the attention they deserve. There is a need for an in-depth examination of this area. Accordingly, I am at present finalising the establishment of a review group to make recommendations for the expansion and improvement of services for people with a physical disability within the framework of the commitments in relation to the physically disabled contained in the Programme for Economic and Social Progress.
As a result of discussions with the Irish Medical Organisation on the recently submitted report, Community Medicine and Public Health — The Future, the Hickey report, I have agreed in principle to the establishment of a regional public health function in all health boards to be headed by a director of public health who will be a member of the health board management team. It is intended to open discussions with the relevant staff organisations in relation to this matter in the near future.
A committee on cervical screening were established in 1988 to review the cervical screening service. This committee have produced a very constructive interim report which was circulated to all the relevant hospitals, organisations and individuals. I will gladly make a copy  of the report available to Deputies. I reconvened the committee in accordance with the undertaking given in the Programme for Economic and Social Progress and they will be meeting shortly. One of the major items to be included in their terms of reference will be a review of the operational efficiency of the test notification procedures. I can assure the House that I am fully committed to ensuring that the service available is both comprehensive and effective.
The Estimate provides for a wide range of important service improvements in acute hospital services, throughout the country. I should like to refer briefly to a number of these items. The commissioning of phase 1C in St James's Hospital was completed in January this year. The theatres, recovery area, burns unit and ward blocks, 279 beds, are now open. I would advise Deputies to visit the hospital to see these facilities which I believe surpass those available in London hospitals. These facilities replaced substandard accommodation on the site. In addition, I have announced the provision of capital funds to begin construction of a new oncology-bone marrow transplant unit to be built.
I have made special provision this year for the development of a medical genetics service at Our Lady's Hospital, Crumlin in line with the recommendations for a medical genetics service in Ireland made by a special committee. Funds have also been provided for the appointment of an additional consultant cardiologist. The recently opened oncology unit will also be brought up to full strength in the near future, with the appointment of a second consultant oncologist and some 15 support staff for the unit. Provision has also been made to enable Our Lady's Hospital to continue to train medical and nursing staff associated with the new national liver transplant centre. Special funds have also been allocated to enable the hospital to provide services for children affected with the HIV virus and AIDS related complaints.
A specific provision has also been made for the liver transplant programme  at St. Vincent's Hospital to allow the current arrangements with King's College Hospital in London to continue with a view to returning the programme to Ireland later this year. Special funding has been set aside to enable the establishment of a joint department of anaesthesia serving all the hospitals in the south Dublin area. Funding has also been provided for further development of the oncology service at St. Vincent's Hospital with the appointment of a further consultant oncologist.
Funding for ultrasound equipment to carry out cordocentesis, a procedure to detect blood flow within the foetus and to identify blood vessels from which to take samples, has been provided in the National Maternity Hospital. This means that babies who previously had to be referred abroad for the treatment can now be treated in Ireland.
To date no public hospital has acquired it own magnetic resonance imaging facilities. MRI scanning has been available to public patients only through private hospitals with the fee being paid by the referring hospital or health board. Agreement was recently reached with the Northern Ireland health authorities on a joint purchase arrangement for MRI equipment and, as a result, MRI facilities are to be located at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast and Beaumont Hospital, Dublin. The provision of the equipment, including building work at Beaumont Hospital will cost approximately £2 million and it is expected that commissioning should be completed before the end of 1992.
Deputies will be aware of the Government decision announced last September to prepare legislation to provide for a single new authority who will be responsible for all health and personal social services in the Eastern Health Board area. Because of the range and complexity of the services, and their vital importance to the community, I have to be satisfied that any changes will be based on the most careful, thorough and informed study of all the relevant issues. The process began with the work of the Commission on Health Funding. Following  publication of their report, the Dublin Hospital Initiative Group and the Hospital Efficiency Review Group were set up to examine the specific problems in the Dublin region and in the acute hospital sector. The failings identified in the existing system included the lack of co-ordination between hospital and community-based services, the resultant over involvement of the Department of Health in the management of individual services and the lost opportunities for achieving efficiencies through greater cooperation between agencies, both statutory and non-statutory.
An Ceann Comhairle: I am sorry to interrupt the Minister but the Chair is bound by the decision of the House this morning with regard to the amount of time available to the Minister and the other spokespersons. I am sad to say that the time available to the Minister is exhausted.
Dr. O'Connell: How many minutes have I left?
An Ceann Comhairle: None.
Dr. O'Connell: Finally, I wish to say that the new authority will take over the present functions of the Eastern Health board as well as some of the functions of the Department of Health. I referred earlier to this point. The Deputies have copies of my speech and if they wish to raise any questions my officials will be glad to be of assistance to them.
An Ceann Comhairle: As the Irish saying goes, ní fhanann an t-am ná an taoide le héinne.
Mr. R. Bruton: I am sorry the Minister did not have the opportunity to finish his speech. Nevertheless, I availed of the opportunity to glance through it. I should like to congratulate the Minister in the sense that this is the first formal Estimates debate in which he has taken part. I wish him well in his work. If most of my comments are somewhat critical it is principally because of the time constraints. I  welcome some of the measures announced by the Minister, for example, the special attention being paid to public health as an element of health care.
First, I wish to express the sympathy of the House to the family of the Raheny man, Noel Murphy, who died because he could not get a heart transplant. This is a reminder to us that we do not have an effective donor system. The Minister should push for the introduction of such a system. For my part, I intend to sign a donor card which is no bigger than a cheque card and can be kept in a wallet. This card commits a person, in the event of an accident, to donating their organs. It costs nothing and it should be encouraged.
This year we plan to spend a sum equivalent to £750 for every household in the country on health services but, in many instances, basic needs are not being met. We have to consider the Government's priorities in relation to health. I took the time to look at the spending plans for the past five years to see where the money was spent. In the past five years an overall cut of 2.5 per cent was imposed in the health budget. We can learn of where the most severe cuts fell in today's Estimates. They include: for people with a handicap, a 7 per cent cut over the five year period; on home nursing services for people needing care and support in the community, a 6 per cent cut; on psychiatric services, a 19 per cent cut and on preventive medicine, an 11 per cent cut. Fine Gael believe that those are priority areas that should have received extra funding rather than being singled out for the most severe cutbacks. If the Minister does the calculations he will find that which I have outlined is correct.
Priority does not lie in relentlessly increasing the drugs budget, which has been a feature of Government spending in the past five years. That does not address the problems in the health services. Sadly, basic needs are not being met. People with a disability are denied even basic rights such as the rights to education, therapy and a place for care as well as the right to avail of training and obtain gainful employment. We have  seen in the newspapers in recent weeks reports of 24 children who have no place to go. If those children were able bodied they would not be in this position. After receiving expensive training they will have to revert to doing nothing in their homes. More than 1,000 people are waiting for residential places. While the Minister's allocation this year is welcome, the overall services have been declining and do not provide for the escalating requirements in this area.
The country's 66,000 carers are struggling, with little or no support. They have to provide care 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year without a break and many are strained to breaking point. There are four times as many people with chronic illnesses being cared for at home as are being cared for in hospitals or in residential care, and the resources needed to support them are not available. The budget for public health nursing, home help service and therapy in the community amounts to less than £10 per week per person cared for at home. The total sum is less than the cost of running one good sized hospital. This is the area in which the most severe cuts were made under the Government's ruling.
People find it impossible to provide a public health nursing service because they are being constrained in their ability to travel to patients and so on. If the State had to provide care for the many people being cared for in their homes it would cost at least £450 million. Yet carers are given no proper support. The cost of caring is not recognised in the tax code. The carers' allowance is derisory and an insult to the people. As the Minister knows, only 3 per cent of carers receive the allowance. It is available only to people who are effectively on the breadline. A married couple on £100 a week would not qualify for the carers' allowance.
In the area of disadvantage there is a definite link between illness and poverty. In deprived areas of Dublin the death rates are double the norm. The incidence of major illness for an unskilled or unemployed  person as shown in the recent ESRI study is two-and-a-half times that of a professional and the incidence of psychiatric illness for an unskilled person is ten times that of a professional. Yet patients in disadvantaged areas suffer most as a result of the restrictions in recent years. I do not need to tell the Minister that the people in Tallaght, where there is a population of 250,000, have, for 12 years, been waiting for a hospital. These people got a firm promise in the 1989 general election from the Minister's party that work on the hospital would commence in 1990, but that did not happen. Many of the most deprived sections of the community live in that catchment area and those people are missing out on services that we know they should have. This is not an insuperable financial challenge. Last year the Minister provided £15 million in the Estimates to Ardkeen Hospital in Waterford which was needed, but all that is required in Tallaght is that a similar amount be provided each year during the period of construction of the hospital. That is not an unreasonable request.
Public patients still have to wait for an intolerable period for basic services that would transform the quality of their lives. I refer specifically to cataract removals, hip replacements and heart surgery. These are core services that should be an integral part of the health services. Many patients were very concerned at the cavalier way in which the Minister suggested that heart surgery is a fashionable operation. People who are in pain have been told by professionals, who hotly dispute the Minister's claim, that they need this operation. Such a claim suggests that the Minister's actions might result in waiting lists becoming longer. It is sad that in many cases it is only when patients suffer trauma and are brought to a casualty department that they receive care. That is unacceptable. The Minister should guarantee a maximum time for which a person would be expected to wait for surgery in those important areas. Guarantees of that nature are integral to a patient's charter.
There have been reports in recent  weeks of difficult children who become homeless in our towns and cities being left without help. The Minister will have read recently about a young child who was sleeping rough and was prey to the obvious hazards of substance abuse, prostitution and crime. A basic service is not being provided in that area.
Elderly people who have given a lifetime of service to this country are not receiving a proper service. Many of us know of cases of elderly people who fell and broke a limb being released from hospital prematurely and having to go back to homes where there was no support service available. Public health nurses and therapeutic services should be provided in these areas, but that is where the severest cuts are being made. Since 1988 the Department of Health were preparing legislation on nursing homes and an Act was passed, but four years later no regulations have been made to implement the provisions of that Act. Some nursing homes are not up to standard. In most parts of the country no subvention is available and even in the Eastern Health Board area where the subvention is provided it is inadequate, with the result that many people are living in penury.
If one spouse goes into a nursing home the other is left on subsistence levels, after the subvention. That is the way the system works. It is not acceptable. There are far too may gaps in these services. I cannot accept that the Department, who have had four years to think about this, are still struggling with the writing of regulations. It strains credibility beyond any level. I am glad the Minister has made a commitment to resign as Minister if this is not in place before the end of this year.
Dr. O'Connell: Within 12 months.
Mr. R. Bruton: I will have to check the record. My interpretation of what the Minister said was that it was 31 December 1992. We will have a new year election.
Mr. McCormack: There will be an election anyway, before that.
Mr. R. Bruton: The Government's spending priorities have not been designed to address these problems. Many of the problems have got worse because of the Government's approach. I was very disturbed at the Government's decision to reject the Health Commission's proposal for a common waiting list for four hospital services. That was the key to providing equity in access to health care. The principle they expounded, that access to health care would be on the basis of medical need, was thrown out by the Government. Instead, we are to have a policy of separate treatment, access and waiting lists which will copperfasten a two-speed health service. It is quite clear from the Minister's announcement of the allocation of beds in public hospitals that we will not have any equity in access to care under the Minister's new regime. The Minister overlooked the fact that there are substantial private beds in private hospitals that greatly outweigh the bed availability for public patients. There is no equity in what the Minister is offering to us.
A stack of legislation is not being implemented. The Child Care Bill, for instance, has been in gestation for at least seven years, if not longer, and still substantial sections of it have not been activated, even though they have passed into law. There have been many false dawns. The Programme for Economic and Social Progress was to mark a decisive watershed in the health services. An extra £190 million was to be provided for community care. We thought that at last the Government had recognised that community care in Ireland should not mean that the family would have to bear the burden, and that there would really be support services. All sorts of services were to be funded. There was to be speech therapy available, carers were to have access to nursing support and respite care and so on. Within seven days of the signing of the Programme for Economic and Social Progress we saw the reality in the details of the 1991 budget, when not one whit was allocated to this programme promised to the social partners.  By this year's budget, all pretence at honouring those commitments had been abandoned.
In the past 12 months we have seen a catalogue of unacceptable attacks on the few services that trickle down to patients. The drugs refund scheme was cut to such an extent that for a family who were just over the medical card limits, it was virtually abolished. We had the ludicrous rota of the accident and emergency services due to cutbacks. At the end of last year the Minister finally recognised the lunacy of this and that it did not even save money. We also had a totally unacceptable measure to grab £3 million from VHI reserves which had been set aside for the future health needs of VHI members, who are paying their full health levy of £250 a year and who are not availing of public health services to which they are entitled. Under our Constitution, revenue should not be gathered by taxing groups of people in that way. It is not in the common good which is the fundamental principle of our Constitution.
This Government have been very strong on promises, and I worry that the Minister will add to those promises. The Minister has on numerous occasions talked about solving all sorts of problems, but we have not seen the action. The Minister was to tackle the urgent need for modern family planning legislation, but only last week the Taoiseach told us that he had not even circulated the proposals to his colleagues.
I am seriously concerned about the management of the Department of Health in the last few years under the stewardship of a series of Fianna Fáil Ministers. The most basic element of management is being able to calculate how much is needed to provide a service. In 1990 the Minister overran his budget by £56 million, 4 per cent of total spending and in 1991 the Minister overran his budget by £104 million, 7½ per cent of the Health budget, even after the mid-year cutbacks. That is clearly a breakdown in the ability of successive Ministers to manage that Department. If that was  repeated in every other Department it would double our borrowing requirement and we would be in economic crisis. In the general medical services area the overrun in two years was 23 per cent despite the introduction of a system of capitation which the Minister claimed was designed to get a tighter control over spending and make the GMS more cost effective.
There is a serious lack of strategic thinking about the provision of care for people. Decisions are made on a hand-to-mouth basis and that was very evident in the mid-year cutbacks in 1991. Health targets have not been set and there are no quality of service indicators in our health services against which hospital managers can be judged. Health promotion and preventive medicine have been the Cinderellas of the service and have been subject to the most severe cutbacks. The Department are still no closer to allocating budgets for health providers on the basis of the services they make available. Efficient managers are not given the reward for excellence and the incentive to develop cost effective procedures. Despite persistent declarations by Ministers for Health that their priority is to shift the focus away from acute hospitals into the community, we have seen the opposite. The hospitals now control 73 per cent of the general Health budget and this share has been growing in the last four years. If we judge from last year's capital programme we will see that 95 per cent of that went to hospitals, building up the dominance for the future of the hospital budget.
The focus should be on community care, on primary care and on the GP service which could be the focus to develop many more services. General practitioners have the capacity to diagnose and treat many chronic illnesses effectively in the community, but their progress in developing those services has been arrested by the Department, who have not given out any grants under the scheme that was to encourage this development.
The AIDS crisis was not mentioned in  the Minister's speech. I know that the Minister cannot mention everything but that is an enormous priority. The Minister again announced that another consultant was to be appointed. That announcement was first made above five years ago and still the appointment has not been made. Events have overtaken the Minister. He will have before him the Comhairle na nOspidéal report on AIDS which says that the consultant requirement for AIDS treatment is four now, and that this will need to be reviewed in a few years. That is only an example of the lack of attention to this problem. General practitioners in the inner city are trying to provide care for patients with AIDS on a budget of about £18 per year, not per week. That is ludicrous.
Mr. Howlin: Since the Minister's party returned to office in 1987 I have spoken many times in health debates, on Health Estimates and various health matters. Today we have a new Minister, the third Minister for Health whom I have addressed in this House. I hope there is an opportunity to redress some of the mistakes of past years. I mentioned 1987 because it was a very significant year. It saw the launch, subsequent to a general election in which the health services figured largely on billboards across the country, of a policy which had a fiscal core but did not have a health strategy. The devastation caused by the series of decisions made in 1987 still has resonances in the health services which people have to endure.
It would have been my earnest hope that I could use the opportunity of this debate to congratulate the Minister for Health on progress made in respect of a wide variety of problems that we all know exist in the health services. The Minister came to office with a reputation as an activist and he has certainly talked up a storm and indicated willingness to grapple with issues which have been largely ignored for some years. So far there has been a lot of talk and very little action. Most, if not all, of the problems that he could readily have identified from his background in medicine and as a backbencher  in this House are still in evidence. In short, the crisis in the health services that dominated the general election campaign in 1987 and particularly in 1989, when Ministers and the Taoiseach finally acknowledged that there was a problem, still remain to be addressed. There are still queues and bed shortages and a difficult working environment in which we asked the best and most committed health workers to struggle to maintain decent standards of patient care. There is a crisis in morale and very little has changed since the Minister came to office. The problems may have slipped off the front pages of newspapers and out of the focus of television programmes, but that is because we get weary of the same stories. The evidence in regard to health services is known to every Member of this House and is a feature of our clinics and our relationships with constituents. Nothing has been done to generate any fundamental improvement in the people's health service since the most recent change in Government personnel.
The same is true in relation to a number of more specific areas such as Tallaght hospital, the Adelaide hospital, the situation in regard to carers, the whole area of administrative reform and the issue of AIDS, which was a crisis a few years ago. It is as if that crisis has passed.
Dr. O'Connell: We are taking care of it.
Mr. Howlin: Unfortunately the Minister has not taken care of it. That is a complacent attitude but the reality is that we have one of the fastest growing AIDS problems in the world. It is small now but potentially devastating. We need to keep the focus on AIDS, yet it did not merit a mention in the Minister's speech. These are just a few of the major issues which have yet to be tackled and in respect of which there is no clear policy from this Minister.
In the legislative area the Minister has failed to address a number of important matters. The issue of the Health (Family  Planning) (Amendment) Bill has reached the stage of farce. In the light of all that has gone on in recent days, one would have thought that this major measure would not have presented any great difficulty for the Minister but we still have no Bill. This morning on the Order of Business the Taoiseach could not say if the Bill is to be enacted or to be withdrawn. Where are we going if we cannot get basic answers to these fundamental questions for which this Minister is responsible?
It would be unfair to say at this stage that the Minister is in any way a failure but he ought to be on notice that his actions are being carefully watched by this House and by the people and if he does not soon begin to deliver on the words that are strong and promising we will become agitated and we will campaign again for him to move on. In relation to this Minister's performance, the jury is out and it is time for him to deliver.
I have only 20 minutes and rather than attempt in that short time to address in any clear way an analysis of all areas of health expenditure, I want to focus on a few areas. I hope the Minister will respond by giving his views. First I refer to the on-going crisis in Beaumont Hospital. Early in April I made a number of remarks in this House and elsewhere about the critical situation there. Those remarks were critical of the board of Beaumont Hospital. I called for a public inquiry into the situation there. Since then both I and other members of the Labour Party have received a number of letters from the board, all of them couched in overbearing and somewhat threatening language and all of them basically demanding retractions or repudiations of the Labour Party comments. According to the board, my comments are the source of “much public disquiet” about the hospital. I understand that similar tactics were employed by the board to try to silence media comment about the situation in the hospital also.
I have refrained from further comment  in the matter up to now, partly at least because there is a statutory inquiry going on into one aspect of the affair, and also because a pending inquest will have a bearing on one other issue involved, but it would be remiss of me not to refer to the issue in this debate.
The events that have surrounded Beaumont Hospital in recent years include the dismissal of two senior staff members, the suspension of another, a series of Medical Council inquiries based on serious allegations made within the hospital, a number of expensive court hearings, numerous letters to the papers making strong allegations of all sorts, a statutory inquiry, and an inquest. There have been at least two independent medical reports into some of these issues, together with a report which was apparently an attempt by the two independent experts involved to reconcile their original documents. Considerable sums of public money have been eaten up by all these matters. Patients and the public are deeply concerned and anxious about all these matters.
None of these events was instigated by me or by the Labour Party. The problems of Beaumont Hospital originated within the hospital itself, and not as a result of any outside agitation.
The position of the Labour Party has been clear from the outset of this whole affair, and I wish to reiterate it here. I will continue to reiterate that, despite any threats from the board of the hospital — that is what a public representative must do. We have not taken any side in the affair. We have called for a public inquiry to clear the air, and to provide necessary reassurances to the public who pay the hospital's bills and depends on its services. I hope the Minister will give a clean indication of his proposed actions to resolve these problems.
There is public anxiety about the situation. Wishing to have it go away will not have the desired effect. Instead of trying to silence criticism by publc representatives or by journalists the board of Beaumont Hospital should long since have called for the establishment of an  independent inquiry to clear the air once and for all.
I wish now to turn to another issue, one which I consider to be of paramount importance in the health services — there are very many issues I could address — the situation of the mentally handicapped in Ireland. Recently, the Minister for Health, in answer to questions in this House said he wished to make it his number one health priority. On that occasion I offered him my support and that of my party to do just that. I meant it then and I mean it now. The crisis in mental handicap is not just a health crisis, it is also an education and a training crisis. The Government's recent policy document on needs and abilities, not only calls for substantial increased funding for the whole area of mental handicap but also called for a much better co-ordination of and the delivery of services, particularly between the three Government Departments involved Health, Education and Labour.
Two salient facts underpin the present dilemma: first, the Government are already £25 million behind the financial commitment called for in their own report and, second, not only has there been no attempt to improve the co-ordination, deemed to be vital between the Departments concerned, but it appears that the Departments of Education and Labour have been specific and vigorous in regard to such co-ordination.
We have known for some time of the existence of huge shortfalls in the provision for residential needs of people with a mental handicap. That shortfall continues to represent a source of tremendous fear and insecurity for the parents and families of all the people involved and a major impediment to the goal of an independent life for as many people as possible with a mental handicap.
There is now emerging a second crisis area — the area of training and employment. Because of the underprovision over many years by the Exchequer, virtually all training services for people with  a mental handicap are entirely dependent on finance from the European Social Fund. Quite frankly, many administrators in this area spend more of their time too-ing and fro-ing to Brussels to secure that funding than administering the services.
It is a basic condition of all ESF funding that the training provided must be geared towards employment in the open market. That condition has been ignored and to some extent abused by some of the agencies in recent years. As a result, administration and control of the finance has been increasingly centralised in the hands of the National Rehabilitation Board.
The net effect of this has been that many young people, leaving special schools at 18 or 19 years of age, now face two levels of assessment before they can be guaranteed a training place. They have to be assessed first — as they always had been — to determine the extent to which further training will contribute to their development and the kind of training most appropriate to their needs. There is a new level of assessment now to determine whether or not, as a result of training, they are likely to secure employment in the open market. This newer assessment is becoming an annual feature. Young people with a mental handicap who embark on a three-year training programme can be told at the end of the first or second year that there is no longer a place for them or that they are no longer suitable for that particular type of training.
This, in turn, can have two further effects. First, a considerable number of young people are now sitting at home with their parents or their guardians, deprived of any training whatsoever because someone has determined that the training will not give them a job at the end. Second, the quality of the training has been effectively downgraded to try to fit the open market employment requirements.
As a result many people are being trained in boring and repetitive tasks which have no therapeutic or developmental value, but which have some  commercial value. There have always been employers even in the public service, who will hire cheap labour to do casual work, for example, pack bags, sweep floors, sort washers or something equally trivial. Considerable amounts of EC money, and smaller amounts of Exchequer funds, are being spent at present to train people with a mental handicap for that sort of life and that is not good enough.
There is another consequence, too, of this whole approach. Because of the condition I referred to earlier, EC funding is not availalbe for sheltered employment. The Exchequer is unwilling to spend a penny on sheltered employment. The result is that many of the agencies which offer sheltered employment facilities, some in high quality surroundings, are in a state of bankruptcy.
There is no future for many young people with a mental handicap unless they are provided with training geared to their real needs and with a decent prospect of sheltered employment subsequently. In recent years the Government have turned a blind eye to this fundamental reality. They have talked instead — and we heard it again today from the Minister — about concepts like integration of the mentally handicapped into the community.
Integration should be a choice which is open to the person with a mental handicap. Instead, I regret to say, it has become a code word for doing things on the cheap. Unless this issue is addressed at the most fundamental level — that means Irish taxpayers' money and not European money — I predict that within five years we will all see and become aware of the appalling and deplorable conditions which face many young people with a mental handicap.
The tragedy is that a community filled with goodwill towards people with a mental handicap are unaware of this reality. I can promise the Minister that if he means what he said in the Dáil, when answering health questions a week or two ago, about making mental handicap his number one priority he will get all the  support he needs from us. It is the only true mark of a caring and civilised society that it is prepared to pay special attention to the needs of these citizens who have no voice of their own.
I wish in the few minutes remaining to turn briefly to a couple of other areas. Instead of commenting I shall ask questions of the Minister. I know I should do this at the end but it may give the Minister and his officials time to consider their replies. Since the commission on health services funding reported in September 1979 we have been promised fundamental reorganisation but what we got was a series of committees. I should like to know the Minister's intentions. It is not good enough for the Minister to talk about giving the most careful, thorough and informed study of all the relevant issues. We are sick to the teeth of hearing about careful studies. There are so many reports in the Minister's office I am surprised there is room for himself. More committees have been established by him and his two predecessors than in any other Department. At one stage 22 different committees were sitting in the Minister's Department. It is time to act. Can the Minister indicate to the House today his intentions in relation to the administration and organisation of the health services? Has he rejected the notion the executive authority of the commission put forward? What are his priorities? Does he accept the notion of health being a right? That is what the commission recommended and they said it was also the view of the Irish people. What is the Minister's attitude in relation to the Health (Family Planning) Amendment, Bill? Will he accept the issue of ment handicap and make it the number one priority in his Department?
Acting Chairman (Mr. Wyse): I would ask the Deputy to conclude.
Mr. Howlin: What improved resources would he make available to carers? There are a number of issues I wish to raise at the conclusion of this debate. Our people are a caring people. They are willing to pay and support a Minister who will provide  a health service that will look after all our people. I hope this Minister, new to his brief, will prove to be that.
Minister of State at the Department of Health (Mr. Flood): I welcome this opportunity to take part in the debate on the 1992 Health Estimate. This year will see steady progress in the development of the health services both in the community and institutionally based services. My colleague, the Minister for Health, has already referred to a wide range of the developments which are taking place this year. I would now like to focus in particular on developments in the areas of child care services, public health, AIDS/HIV and drug misuse.
With regard, first, to child care services a number of important developments are taking place in this area in the wake of the enactment of the Child Care Act, 1991.
The Act represents the most comprehensive reform of the law in relation to the care and protection of children since the foundation of the State. It provides a secure legal framework for the future development of our child care and family support services. It envisages a fundamental change in orientation from a system rooted in charity and crisis management to one in which the emphasis is on prevention, participation and welfare rights. The principles enshrined in the new legislation will shape future policy developments in this area.
The Act contains a wealth of new and improved provisions designed to promote the welfare of children. These range from granting health boards new powers to provide child care and family support services, the introduction of new legal procedures to enable the health boards and the Garda to intervene where children are being neglected or abused, to new legal controls on pre-school services and children's residential centres.
Given the scale and complexity of the new legislative provisions, it has always been recognised by all sides of the House and by the various interest groups that the Act would have to be implemented on a phased basis over a number of years.  The implementation of the Act will require a sustained programme of investment to provide additional community care staff, to develop new and improved residential and community facilities and to evolve locally based responses.
This is acknowledged in the Programme for Economic and Social Progress which contains a specific commitment to gradually increase the number of community based child care specialists and home support services for problem families over the period of the programme.
The Government are committed to providing the additional resources needed to bring the Act fully into operation as soon as possible. As a first step, a sum of £1 million was set aside in last year's budget to fund essential service developments preparatory to the implementation of the legislation.
Among the new developments approved during 1991 were: 30 additional social workers; new hostels for homeless youth in Dublin, Galway, Sligo and Athlone; new residential services for adolescents in Dublin Cork and Limerick; new child psychiatric services in the North-Eastern, South-Eastern and Mid-Western Health Board.
As the House will be aware, the Minister for Finance announced in the budget that a special allocation of £2 million is being provided in 1992 to enable further developments to take place in the child care services in accordance with the commitment in the Programme for Economic and Social Progress. This is in addition to the £3 million already in the system and brings our investment in the Act this year to almost £5 million. The additional moneys will be used to give effect to a number of important provisions of the Act. These will impose a statutory duty on health boards to: promote the welfare of children who are not receiving adequate care and protection, provide accommodation for homeless children, provide or ensure the provision of an adoption service in their area, and to establish a Child Care Advisory Committee to advise and assist them in the performance of their functions.
 The additional moneys will enable health boards, in association with the voluntary sector, as provided for under the new legislation, to begin to develop a comprehensive range of child care and family support services, to recruit additional social workers, child care workers, child psychologists and child psychiatrists and to develop family resource centres and other special initiatives for families facing particular difficulties.
Over the past two months, there have been significant developments in relation to our approaches to the management of AIDS and drug abuse.
Last year, the National Co-ordinating Committee on Drug Abuse, which I chair, produced a comprehensive set of recommendations which form the Government Strategy to Prevent Drug Misuse.
In view of the link between intravenous drug abuse and HIV in Ireland, the objective of the strategy and drug misuse were further consolidated by the establishment of the National AIDS Strategy Committee.
We now have available to us two comprehensive, interdependent strategies which will enable us to approach the problem of drug abuse and AIDS, in a co-ordinated and integrated manner. I am also pleased to inform the House that almost £3 million has been allocated towards the implementation of both strategies.
To date, a total of 272 cases of AIDS have been reported. Of these 108 have died. The voluntary HIV-testing service indicates that over 1,200 persons are actually carrying the virus in Ireland. With the natural history of the infection, more persons will, regrettably, be progressing to full AIDS and will require on-going care and management.
AIDS/HIV are matters deserving of the closest attention and consequently comprehensive plans have been prepared to deal with the many social and medical challenges presented by AIDS and HIV. The implementation of these plans will draw on the combined efforts of the health services, voluntary organisations  and other areas of the public sector, such as the education system.
Government policy is to ensure that all persons with HIV/AIDS should receive the care and management appropriate to their needs. In view of the nature of the HIV infection, care and management of individuals will be required at all levels of the health services from primary care services through to hospice, palliative and respite care facilities. Our strategy is, therefore, to ensure that such a framework of services is available appropriate to the needs of the individual. This approach is in line with the recommendations of the Care and Management Sub-Committee of the National AIDS Strategy Committee.
Towards this end, a total of £315,000 has been allocated to the Eastern Health Board to establish, by 1 July 1992, two satellite clinics for the care and management of persons with HIV/AIDS. These clinics, which will be run by general practitioners, will operate closely with the community drugs teams which are also being established by the Eastern Health Board, and will provide the required range of risk-reduction services, aimed at preventing the further transmission of the HIV virus. These services will include methadone maintenance, the provision of condoms, needle-exchange, HIV-testing and counselling.
I have also allocated additional funds to the Southern and Western Health Boards totalling £75,000 to enable them to develop their services for AIDS and drug abuse and have asked each health board to implement, as appropriate, the recommendations of the National AIDS Strategy Committee. The Department will be discussing the implementation of the strategies in their areas, with the other health boards very shortly. A total of £50,000 has also been allocated to the voluntary sector in Cork and Galway.
The committee also support the conclusions and recommendations of Comhairle na nOspidéal on the management of AIDS at consultant level and in particular the creation and appointment of an infectious diseases consultant in north Dublin. The process of appointing the infectious  diseases consultant for the north side of Dublin has begun and I am confident that the service will be fully operational shortly. When operational, this service will relieve, significantly, the pressure on St. James's Hospital. This hospital has been at the forefront of the AIDS problem for many years now and I am glad to have been in a position to allocate additional funds to the hospital recently to enable it to meet the increasing service needs associated with AIDS. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the St. James's board, the management and the many categories of staff who are involved, for the pioneering work which the hospital has done in developing services for patients with AIDS. I know that it has often been very difficult and I want the hospital to know that their work is much appreciated.
I can assure the House that both the AIDS and drug abuse strategies will be kept under close review to determine the nature and scope of possible further measures required to minimise the difficulties which these problems bring both to the individuals affected and to society in general.
In the course of the year there has been an acceleration of work on EC measures designed to complete harmonisation of controls by member states in the food and drugs area in anticipation of the completion of the internal market at the end of this year. Ireland must be seen to contribute fully to the evolution of the necessary proposals and administrative actions which are required for this purpose.
In the food area, a wide range of regulations has been introduced to give effect to internal market directives. Among the most important of these was the Health (Official Control of Food-stuffs) Regulations made towards the end of 1991. These regulations implement the terms of a general EC Directive which aims at the creation of standards of inspection, sampling and training across the Community. A special allocation of £500,000 has been made to the health boards for recruitment of extra staff and improvement  of public analyst laboratory facilities.
A further directive is proposed which will lay down quality standards for laboratory practices and provide for a community inspection service. A draft food hygiene directive is also proposed which will, inter alia, provide for codes of practice for different sectors.
In the field of medicines control, four EC Directives have been adopted this year and four further measures are under examination. The measures adopted to date relate to such matters as advertising, labelling and consumer information, prescription classification and regulation of wholesaling. To a substantial extent, Ireland's national legislation already conforms to the standards agreed. The most significant of the proposals still under consideration at Community level is aimed at the establishment of a European system which will significantly reduce duplication of scientific assessment while at the same time ensuring that all relevant safeguards are maintained to protect public health.
My colleague, the Minister for Health, has already made reference to the significant level of resources which the Government have made available for the health services this year. The Government have been anxious to meet the needs of all our client groups and to maintain the momentum with regard to the development of community services as set out in the Programme for Economic and Social Progress within the constraints of overall resource limits. The developments which I have just referred to in the areas of child care, AIDS-HIV and public health clearly demonstrate the Government's commitment to the provision of a comprehensive health service of the highest quality.
Mr. Byrne: To try to cover all of the issues I should like to cover in the ten minutes available to me is asking too much. If time permits, the issues I should like to address are: the Minister's directive to build a central clinical waste disposal incinerator on the site at St. James's  Hospital; the incredibly damaging and real prospect of the closure of the only Protestant teaching hospital in Dublin, which would have consequences for the Protestant minority in our society, because of the ongoing bungling about the Tallaght hospital; the ever-worsening plight of the parents of patients and the patients suffering from mental handicap because of severe underfunding and particularly because of the underfunding for the provision of adult day places and adult residential places; the outrageous policy as initiated by the Minister in privatising public beds in our public general hospitals, a policy that would continue to give private patients priority over public patients with its two distinctive waiting lists — one for private patients and one for public patients; the continuing discrimination against public patients by which, for example, in the three private hospitals in this city — the Blackrock Clinic, the Mater Private Hospital and St. Vincent's Hospital — there are magnetic resonance imager scanners but none of the public hospitals has a scanner comparable to those.
It is about the outrageous treatment of women in health, from family planning services to the lack of a genetic counselling service, that I shall make my initial comments. In the light of the public debate that is raging now and has raged for several years, how can this Minister threaten, in an almost sectarian manner, to allow the Adelaide Hospital to close? I have received quite disturbing correspondence from the chairman of the board of the Adelaide Hospital, Dr. David J. McConnell, and I hope that the Minister will pick up that correspondence and respond to it in a progressive manner. The significance of the Adelaide Hospital lies in its distinct and unique ethos and medical ethics. That would disappear with the closure of the hospital. Many Catholic men and women are extremely happy with the ethos and medical ethics of the Adelaide Hospital, and in fact, for very many Catholics in this city that hospital was their first choice.
 The Minister has responsibility for the scandalous and out-of-date family planning legislation, which forbids condoms, coils, the pill, IUDs and so on from being prescribed under the general medical services system. I ask the Minister to explain to me what sort of a hypocritical nonsense is it that one cannot prescribe the pill under the general medical services system in this country yet the fourth highest drug prescribed is the pill? Mind you, the pill is not being prescribed for family planning purposes — because that is outlawed — but as a “cycle regulator”. Doctors prescribed the pill under the code name “cycle regulator” no fewer than 398,823 times in 1990 under the general medical services scheme.
Would the Minister tell the House, and tell Irish women in particular, where a pregnant and often distraught woman with a history of genetic problems in pregnancy can have an amniocenteses test carried out? The Minister, as a doctor himself, would realise the peace of mind often afforded women who have a history of difficult pregnancies and particularly those who have faced genetic problems. Why is there no genetic service in this country. Why have thousands of our citizens had to go to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast over the years for an amniocenteses test?
On the delicate issue of abortion itself, what has the Minister to say about his so-called patient's charter to the Methodists in Ireland for example, or to Protestants in general, particularly in the light of the threatened closure of the Adelaide Hospital and its ethos? In The Irish Times, under the heading “Methodist Notes”, “The Church supports limited abortion” this delicate issue was addressed. I should like the Minister to respond. The Methodist Church state that when the mother's life is at risk, their first concern would be for the mother, whose first concern must be one of commitment through her own continuing life to her family responsibilities. Their second point is that the limited abortion option would be supported when there was a risk of grave injury to the physical and mental health of the mother,  especially if she has family responsibilities, and also in the case of rape or incest. The fourth instance in which they cite support for limited abortion is that of gross abnormality of the foetus, for example, when a reliable investigation indicates that the foetus would be born without a brain or would not long survive birth. In cases of lesser abnormalities, they say that each decision should be made with extreme caution.
Whatever about a united Europe and European union, how can we address the problem to the one million Protestants living on the other side of the Border? How can we assure them that their ethos would be protected if there was a unitary State? I ask the Minister to rise to the challenge and show them, and the rest of us, that he does not believe in the extension of the confessional state to Northern Ireland.
What is the Minister going to do for all of those Irish women who have opted to travel to England for abortions? Irrespective of the future outcome, be it constitutional or legislative, Irish women will continue to seek abortions as a solution to their predicament. Would the Minister agree that because of the lack of access to information on appropriate aftercare, many women fail to have the important check-up after six weeks? I am sure that he knows that the lack of that check-up may leave minor infections undetected and put women's gynaecological health at risk. These are our citizens, these are our Irish women. Does the Minister, as Minister for Health, have an obligation towards them?
Why must we leave the care, the welfare, the sympathy, the understanding and the education of the medical position affecting those women in the hands of groups such as the Womens' Information Network, who provide non-directive counselling? Equally, the network provide an emergency telephone help-line service which offers non-directive pregnancy counselling and information on abortion. For the record, in case there is any unfortunate citizen of our State now requiring such counselling, I advocate that she should ring the following telephone  number, which would give her access to the Women's Information Network; 6794700.
Mr. Callely: Is the Deputy looking for coverage?
Mr. Byrne: That telephone number is available in the telephone directory.
Acting Chairman (Mr. Wyse): Deputy Byrne, you have exactly one minute left. Time is running out and I am trying to facilitate as many speakers as possible. I shall be strict as regards the remaining one minute.
Mr. Byrne: I should appreciate it if the Government Members stayed quiet for a moment so that I could make my point.
Why does the Minister believe that the people in the catchment area around St. James's Hospital should have to put up with the potential pollution caused by the building of a central clinical waste incinerator on their doorstep? Would the Minister assure the House that he will issue a directive cancelling the proposed project for the St. James's Hospital site?
Acting Chairman: The Deputy must conclude.
Mr. Byrne: I am concluding now.
Mr. Callely: The Deputy is fuelling the concern.
Mr. Byrne: In conclusion, would the Minister not agree with me that it would be completely wrong for all the clinical waste of every hospital and home, including the three private hospitals, to be deposited on the doorstep of our constituents living around St. James's Hospital.
Acting Chairman: I must ask the Deputy to resume his seat. Before calling on Deputy Fitzpatrick, I wish to inform the House——
Mrs. Fennell: On a point of order, I  oppose the order of speakers. I came into the House with a script——
Mr. Roche: The order was decided on the Order of Business.
Mrs. Fennell: I had intended to speak. Given the number of Fine Gael Deputies in the House, it is wrong and unfair that Fine Gael were allocated only 20 minutes while a minority party have ten minutes. I object strongly to that.
Mr. Howlin: It was agreed on the Order of Business.
Mrs. Fennell: The reason I object is that women's health issues have not been raised in the House and it was my intention to raise them. I wish to criticise what is happening this morning.
Mr. Roche: We are wasting time.
Acting Chairman: I am sorry, Deputy, but I cannot allow any further discussion.
Mrs. Fennell: This is yet another example of women being gagged in this House.
Acting Chairman: I do not think the word “gagged” should be used. This was agreed by the House this morning and, I understand, between the Whips.
Mr. Howlin: This was not raised on the Order of Business.
Acting Chairman: There is nothing more the Chair can do in that respect. I wish to inform Deputy Fitzpatrick that he has five minutes and that at 12.15 p.m. I will be calling on the Minister to reply.
Dr. Fitzpatrick: I seek the permission of the House to share my time with Deputies Callely, Burke and Roche.
Acting Chairman: Is that agreed? Agreed.
Dr. Fitzpatrick: I would like to refer  to the dental service. Let me make a few quick points. The first is that the problem in the dental service is one of management. We have staff but there is a problem about money. It, therefore, comes down to a question of how the available staff should be deployed and it is up to the Minister and the Dental Council to resolve it. I believe, however, that the Dental Council are engaged in restrictive practices.
It was accepted in 1963 that the Dental Hospital was unsatisfactory. Successive Governments made promises both to the hospital and the public that a new dental hospital would be provided but 30 years later we are still waiting for one even though the present hospital is a potential fire hazard and will have to be vacated within five years.
Finally, I call on the Minister, the Eastern Health Board and the Irish Dental Association to provide an emergency dental service at weekends. It is virtually impossible for anyone with a child in pain to find a dentist on a Saturday, Sunday or bank holiday Monday. As we approach a long weekend, I know that many families will go through a weekend of misery because they will be unable to find a dentist who will provide a service to relieve pain.
Mr. Burke: I welcome this opportunity to contribute to the debate on the Health Estimate and to thank the Minister for issuing approval recently for the Swords Health Centre.
There is a need to expand hospice care services. I congratulate all those involved for the excellent work they are doing. However, I ask the Minister to extend the service. If I had time I would speak at some length on the future of St. Ita's Hospital complex.
I would now like to concentrate on the need to improve the orthodontic services. The Government, of which I was a member, gave special allocations in 1989, 1990, 1991 and again this year, for orthodontic services. However, there are 19,000 young people on our orthodontic waiting lists and the problem is not being tackled properly. There is a need for  revolutionary thinking and I ask the Minister rather than operating through the health boards to operate through the private consultants so that this problem can be tackled. At present it is only being tinkered with. It is important that young people who need treatment receive it.
In conclusion, given that we are supporting the Irish Heart Foundation this weekend, there is a crying need for a heart ambulance in the North Dublin region.
Acting Chairman: I call on Deputy Callely who has less than one minute.
Mr. Howlin: He has less than 30 seconds.
Mr. Callely: There is very little I can say in the time available on this Vote. However, I hope I will be given an opportunity during the question and answer session to put some questions to the Minister. I would also like to focus on some of the points that have been made in this debate. The last speaker referred to the need to expand hospice care services. I, too, would like to refer to that matter in view of the growing number of cancer related deaths. I raised this question recently with the Minister and the figures produced speak for themselves.
Acting Chairman: The Deputy must conclude.
Mr. Callely: I would like to raise the two other points which relate to the policy document in regard to services for the elderly and the mentally handicapped. Much work needs to be done in this area. We need to adopt a stepped care approach in order to focus on services for the elderly and the mentally handicapped.
Mr. Roche: On a point of order——
Acting Chairman: I am sorry, but I am not going to accept any more points of order as the procedure was agreed by the House this morning. I am not responsible for the agreement——
Mr. Howlin: The Deputy may ask questions.
Mr. Roche: I merely wish to make the point that the speaking arrangements in the House are a total farce and that Deputy Fennell is absolutely correct. There are Deputies, including Deputy Fennell and I, who have gone to the trouble of preparing a script on important issues such as health——
Acting Chairman: I am sorry, Deputy but the Chair is carrying out the instructions of the House which were agreed this morning.
Mr. Roche: While I accept your ruling——
Acting Chairman: I will now allow Deputies to seek clarification from the Minister. I call on Deputy Callely.
Mr. Callely: I would like to put a question to the Minister.
Mr. Howlin: I assume that the order of the House states that party spokespersons may speak first.
Acting Chairman: I will try to facilitate all Members.
Mr. Callely: I participated in the debate on the Estimate for the Department of the Marine and it was a case of whoever rose first to pose a question. I did not have the time to focus on acute hospital services in my contribution. I would now like to focus in particular on the accident and emergency department at Beaumont Hospital.
Acting Chairman: The Deputy should ask a question.
Mr. Callely: It has been suggested that a triage nurse should be appointed. However, I have been informed by my constituents in the Dublin 3, 5 and 9 areas that there are unacceptable delays in the casualty department. I ask the Minister to state how he intends to address the  question of delays at accident and emergency departments, not just at Beaumont Hospital. Has the Minister any proposals in mind? It is my understanding that a recommendation was made by the chief executive officer of the Eastern Health Board——
Acting Chairman: I am sorry, Deputy, but I seek your co-operation on this. We must have brief questions.
Mr. Flanagan: On a point of order——
Acting Chairman: The Deputy is wasting time.
Mr. Flanagan: ——I refer you to the order of the House as agreed this morning. The purpose of the question and answer session is to allow Opposition spokespersons, and not Government back benchers, seek clarification from the Minister on matters raised during the course of the debate.
Mr. Callely: That is not correct.
Mr. Flanagan: It is not to be used by Government back benchers.
Mr. Callely: That is not correct and it is surprising that the Deputy does not know what is in the order.
Acting Chairman: This morning it was agreed that any Member could ask a question.
Acting Chairman: Does Deputy Richard Bruton wish to put a question to the Minister?
Mr. R. Bruton: I would like to ask him a number of questions. First, would he clarify if he has circulated amended proposals in relation to family planning legislation to his Cabinet colleagues and state what he plans to do for the 24 trainees at St. Michael's House who are due to finish their training shortly and have nowhere  to go? Can he give a guarantee that there will be no further raids on the VHI during 1992 similar to the raid that took place last week? Can he say what the over-run was on the initial Estimate last year and if this was approved in a Supplementary Estimate in the House? It is my recollection that there was a Supplementary Estimate of £55 million but that there was a larger over-run. May I also ask him if he has received the report of the Kennedy group on the Tallaght Hospital? He told us that this report would be made available to him during the month of April.
Acting Chairman: I will take a quick question now from the Labour benches.
Mr. Howlin: I understand Members' frustration. I think we will do better but, for the moment, this is an experimental process. I might again pose a number of questions. First, two issues in relation to legislation. What is the Minister's intention in regard to the Health (Family Planning) (Amendment) Bill? When precisely will the regulations with regard to the Health (Nursing Homes) Act be introduced? In relation to the reorganisation of health will the Minister say what are his specific plans? Does he accept the two tenets of the report of the Commission on Health Funding, first, that health services are a basic right and, second, does he propose to establish a single health executive, as proposed in that report? Does he now accept and will he quote mental handicap as his first priority, as he indicated in the House some two weeks ago? My last question is a parochial one: when will the new extension at Wexford General Hospital be opened?
Mr. Byrne: I have already asked about ten questions which, when combined with the number of questions now being asked, leads me to fear that none of us will receive an answer from the Minister since he has only five minutes in which to respond to them.
Acting Chairman: I am now calling on the Minister to reply.
Mr. Roche: Mr. Chairman, is there any chance that Deputies on this side of the House will be given any recognition?
Acting Chairman: I am asking Deputy Roche to resume his seat.
Mr. Roche: This is outrageous. I have risen three times already.
Acting Chairman: I am following the order of the House agreed this morning on the Order of Business. I am calling on the Minister to respond.
Mr. Roche: I came in here on the understanding that all Deputies would be heard. This is outrageous.
Acting Chairman: I am calling on the Minister to reply.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Connell): It is indeed regrettable that we have so little time for such an important topic. All Members should be able to contribute but they are not being given an opportunity to do so, which is regrettable. Indeed, we should seek greater time for a debate on the health services since they affect every single Member of this House and their constituents. I do not want to waste the remaining time available but we should examine that aspect. It is deplorable to have a mere two minutes to talk about the health services overall. How could one do so adequately within that timescale? I contend we should seriously apply our minds to having it debated properly.
Mr. Howlin: For example, seek a further debate on the services before the recess?
Mr. Flanagan: Will the Minister avail of an opportunity to take that matter up with the Government Chief Whip?
Dr. O'Connell: I will, indeed, because I should like to see more time being made  available and I hope the Whips will agree. Indeed, I will bring the views of all Members to their attention.
Acting Chairman: Valuable time is now being wasted.
Dr. O'Connell: I should inform Deputy Richard Bruton that the Supplementary Estimate provided over £50 million, including £1.5 million for capital expenditure. There was no question of its being £104 million, as was suggested by the Deputy.
Deputy Richard Bruton referred to the sad position obtaining because of lack of organ donors. I accept the need to intensify public support for organ donation. I will take a special look to ascertain how we can best support the statutory and voluntary organisations engaging in that campaign in order to make people more aware of the tremendous contribution they can make by becoming organ donors.
Deputy Richard Bruton referred also to resources for community services. I have to say to the Deputy that one cannot just close mental hospitals; one cannot just shake out all the staff from hospitals and say one will provide community services. It does not work like that. It would be great if it did.
Mr. R. Bruton: One could fund public health nurses.
Dr. O'Connell: One cannot close all large mental hospitals; one can do so only on a phased basis. Indeed, I am having costings carried out in regard to how we could close our large mental hospitals over the next four years; to ascertain whether, by selling the land, we could provide the necessary community services. But one cannot just do it and get rid of 4,000 or 5,000 staff. There are funds needed annually for mental hospitals and, whether we move towards providing greater community services, staff must be paid. Therefore it is not as simple as the Deputy maintains.
Deputy Howlin referred to the difficulties being experienced in Beaumont  Hospital. I fully accept what he said; it is a difficult, delicate position — he and I know that — but we must allow the current inquiry to proceed. I would ask Members to believe that I have been earnestly endeavouring to have that inquiry completed. As Members will appreciate, these difficulties are undermining the morale in the hospital which is not in the best interests of patients. I would appeal to the hospital authorities and staff to do everything possible to reassure patients. It is a wonderful hospital and we are spending a lot of money on it and we want to ensure we get an adequate return. However, many patients have come to me saying they received first-class treatment and care there. It would be my earnest hope that the inquiry be brought to a satisfactory conclusion before long. I might suggest that Deputies Richard Bruton and Howlin and I sit down together to ascertain what we can do in this respect. I would ask them to consider doing so.
Deputy Howlin referred to the reorganisation of the health services. At present we are receiving submissions from the group which are almost complete. Over 100 submissions have been received to date. I promise the House I will report back to them as soon as possible on that matter.
I should stress that I have not forgotten many of the things I said when I first assumed office but, like everything else, it is very difficult to get matters moving. Indeed, when one presents a ten-point plan, the first thing one must do is have it costed by the Department of Finance, which is what is causing the delay.
If Deputy Richard Bruton wants to examine the details of the Supplementary Estimates we will provide him with the necessary information with regard to apparent lack of control of expenditure on the part of the Department, but the position is not as he stated. He also held the Government responsible for the growth in expenditure on drugs. I should remind the House that new, sophisticated drugs emerge every year. They are costly, patented drugs. What happens is that  one puts a patient on a costly, new drug keeping him or her out of hospital. We do not cost savings in that way. We are now able to treat severe, malignant-type cases, normally hospitalised and in need of constant care, on an ambulatory basis. The same applies to other diseases affecting the gastro-intestinal system, respiratory complaints and so on. These patients can now be treated without being hospitalised but it is costly.
Mr. R. Bruton: But only 5 per cent generics.
Dr. O'Connell: These are demand-led schemes because we cannot predict or say tomorrow that only so many people can become ill. We have no control over that, so whenever more people become ill, it involves greater expenditure. That is what is happening. We are still endeavouring to control costs. There is an interdepartmental examination of the cost of drugs and their report will come before Government very soon. But we do examine every possible way of controlling costs. Indeed, I might point out that the savings apply to the Department of Social Welfare, not the Department of Health, since people are restored to health and enabled to work again.
I wrote down the points Deputy Richard Bruton made. For example, he claimed there has been a 19 per cent reduction in the allocation of funds to psychiatric services. In fact there was an 8 per cent to 10 per cent reduction — in real terms 8.4 per cent, information which was given in reply to a parliamentary question on 13 May. The Deputy may not have been furnished with the full details but it was an 8.45 per cent real decrease in revenue and a 9.92 per cent reduction in revenue and capital.
Mr. R. Bruton: What deflater is the Minister using?
Dr. O'Connell: I will give it to the Deputy now and he should look at it because even I was somewhat surprised at it.
Mr. R. Bruton: The Minister should use a proper cost index.
Dr. O'Connell: I have received a copy of the Kennedy report which I am studying and in respect of which I am preparing a document for Cabinet. There are two aspects to the Voluntary Health Insurance, the first is should their fees or premia be increased? The answer is “no”. But there is the separate issue of what constitutes the economic cost of a bed which is at present being examined. This long-term question is being examined, whether the VHI should pay the proper cost to public beds. We are having an economist examine that matter. I spent many years, including those in Opposition, thinking that, when we say so much should be the cost of a hospital bed——
Mr. R. Bruton: That is the problem.
Dr. O'Connell: Yes. When I find I am in error I change my mind. What does the Deputy do? That is what John Maynard Keynes said and I will quote him. I should say that the Department are at present discussing the matter of the regulations to be drawn up under the Health (Nursing Homes) Act with the chief executive officers of the relevant health boards. This will be completed very soon and then it will be discussed with the nursing homes. I should say that I, too, am impatient about the matter and I keep asking when their deliberations will be completed.
Mr. Howlin: What about mental handicap?
Dr. O'Connell: Yes, I have some details here about mental handicap because it is important to place on record what has been done. However, I should remind the House that mental handicap did not commence when this Government came into office in 1987; it has existed for many years. We have all been guilty of not giving priority to services for the mentally handicapped. However, we are all agreed that this is now an area of  priority. We will not solve the problem overnight, it will take time — perhaps a period of five to seven years. The service was allocated £170 million this year but an additional £5 million of revenue funding and a further £1 million capital has been made available. We have provided 80 additional residential places, 41 respite beds and 20 emergency places to provide home support. I will get a copy of this information to every Deputy because I think Deputies should be fully informed about what is happening. To this end Deputies should be briefed more often.
I wish to thank all the Deputies for their positive contributions.
Mr. Byrne: The Minister gave no answers to anybody.
Dr. O'Connell: I hope to work more closely with all Deputies and should anybody want more information, it is my intention that the Department of Health should provide it. That is the way we should operate, and we will.
Acting Chairman: Thank you, Minister.
Mr. Yates: The Minister is too nice.
Mr. McCormack: On a point of information, Sir.
Acting Chairman: I cannot take a point of information now.
Mr. McCormack: Will the Minister report back to us on our request for a full debate on the health services?
Acting Chairman: The Deputy will have to raise this matter by other means.
Mr. Byrne: On a point of order, Sir, given the Minister's willingness to answer all our questions on services for the mentally handicapped, may I request him, through the Chair, to give us a written reply to the series of questions which were not answered in the House?
Acting Chairman: I do not think that is a point of order. It is at the Minister's discretion.
Mr. Byrne: For the record, I think the Minister has acceded to my point.
A division being demanded, the taking of the division was postponed until 6.30 p.m. on Wednesday, 3 June 1992 in accordance with an order of the Dáil of this day.
Acting Chairman: The Minister and the spokespersons for Fine Gael and Labour each have 15 minutes and all other Members have five minutes.
Minister for Tourism, Transport and Communications (Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn): I move:
That a sum not exceeding £132,759,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 1991, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Tourism, Transport and Communications, including certain services administered by that Office, and for payment of certain grants and grants-in-aid.
I understand that separate questions will be put in respect of tourism, transport and communications.
This year's Vote for tourism shows a slight increase of just £1 million on the 1991 figure. In view of the importance and size of the sectors covered by the Vote, I have agreed to deal with the Estimate under the three separate headings of Tourism, Transport and Communications.
The year 1987 was a milestone for Irish tourism. The Government identified the sector in that year as a major force for  inducing wealth and job creation in this economy. Ambitious new strategies and real growth targets were agreed with the social partners in the Programme for National Recovery. The Government's commitment to and confidence in the sector continues in the Programme for Economic and Social Progress.
The most recent analysis of the industry shows that Irish tourism contributed three-quarters of a percentage point each year to the increase in GNP since 1987; is now our principal internationally traded service, contributing more than £500 million annually to the overall balance of payments last year; and most significantly, the sector has been responsible for one out of every three new jobs created in the Irish economy in the past five years and now supports one in every eight jobs in the services sector.
From 1987 to the end of 1990 overseas visitor numbers to Ireland grew at more than twice the annual growth rate for world tourism generally. Annual visitor numbers increased by 50 per cent, including a 115 per cent increase in tourist numbers from continental Europe. In 1990, for the first time ever in the history of the State, overseas visitors exceeded the three million mark and foreign tourism revenue the £1 billion mark.
The increased economic contribution of tourism led to the creation of new jobs at an average rate of 5,000 per year, bringing the total numbers of jobs now sustained by the sector to approximately 82,000. These results are a testimony to the Government's assessment back in 1987 of the growth potential of Irish tourism.
Last year was a particularly difficult year for international tourism and travel. Yet despite the combined and potentially devastating effects of the Gulf War and economic recession in some of our main markets, visitor numbers last year were just over 2 per cent short of our record 1990 performance while overseas revenue actually increased by 6.5 per cent.
This was a tremendous result at a time when most of our European competitors suffered a significant decline in tourism performance. In fact, it brought overseas  revenue from tourism to £1.2 billion- an increase of £482 million or 66 per cent since 1987. In other words the Government's target of increasing tourism revenue by £500 million in the five year period 1988-92 had almost been achieved in the four years to end 1991.
That performance, under very difficult international trading conditions, means that Irish tourism is well placed to return to growth again this year, confirmed by recently released estimates by the Central Statistics Office for the first quarter of 1992.
Despite the fact that Easter was not until April this year results for the first three months show a 3 per cent increase over the same period last year. The level of inquiries and bookings to date is quite promising but obviously continued economic recovery in our main markets will be a very important factor in determining performance for the year. Tourism is an internationally traded service and is accordingly subject to fluctuations which are totally out of our control. The effect of the Gulf War last year was a prime example. This year the German market has been upset by a series of pay disputes and other economic difficulties. However, Bord Fáilte and the industry will be pulling out all the stops to achieve our targets.
A key factor in the dramatic turn around in performance since 1987 has been radical re-appraisal of our strategy for marketing and promoting. The emphasis has moved away from general promotion of Ireland to a more sophisticated market-led approach. This approach concentrates on the development and marketing of specialist holiday products suited to the modern demands of key affluent markets. These products include top class golf, equestrian, cruising, cultural and heritage facilities. Promotional programmes are now clearly focused on real selling opportunities, with close linkages with favourable access developments created by our liberal access transport policies.
The industry itself is also becoming much more market oriented. Irish tourism products are on sale in an ever  increasing number of markets and the industry has realised that every product must be strenuously pushed in the market place if a return on investment is to be secured.
My Department's Estimates include an allocation this year of £21.5 million to Bord Fáilte towards their overseas marketing and promotion. This will be supplemented by almost £7 million assistance for marketing and promotion by the Irish tourism industry available from various sources including the EC assisted Programmes for Tourism, Interreg and the International Fund for Ireland.
This year's provision for Shannon Development, who are responsible, inter alia, for traffic and tourism development at Shannon and in the mid west region, is £1.775 million. In common with airports all over Europe, passenger traffic at Shannon in 1991 — and tourism in the mid west — was affected by the Gulf crisis and the economic recession in the US and UK. Despite these adverse trading conditions, an increase of 27.3 per cent was achieved in European traffic, making 1991 the most successful year ever in this sector and helping to contain the overall drop in traffic at Shannon to just over 5 per cent.
The prospects for Shannon for the present year are looking good, with new air services either just started or about to commence shortly. The major French tour operator Nouvelles Frontieres will be introducing two new charter series from Paris and Toulouse into Shannon for the first time this season. Aeroflot, which already operates 2,500 flights through Shannon each year, will be introducing new services linking Shannon with a number of new points, including Chicago in the US. They are also stepping up the frequency of their flights to Miami.
Last month, I signed an order providing for an extension to the existing customs-free zone to facilitate the establishment of a number of major aviation related developments planned for Shannon. The decision is further proof of the Government's determination to provide  all possible opportunities for the expansion of the aviation industry at Shannon.
Tourism investment will continue to grow in 1992, directed mainly to increasing the range and quality of our visitor attractions. This year will be the second last in the five year EC co-funded programme to which the European Regional Development Fund is contributing £118.4 million and the ESF is contributing £28.5 million. The objective is to provide financial assistance for investment in certain priority, product related infrastructural work and in the provision and development of certain other amenities specifically aimed at attracting additional foreign tourists and revenue to Ireland.
Over £128 million of EC aid is now committed to projects and training initiatives and the programme is expected to generate in excess of £300 million in new investment in Irish tourism by the end of next year. Assistance is also available for tourism development under the Interreg Programme. This programme was drawn up by the EC Commission to assist internal border areas in overcoming the special development problems arising from their relative isolation within national economies and within the Community as a whole. The objective of the tourism sub-programme within Interreg is to develop and market our Border area as a desirable holiday destination. Over £7.5 million is available under Interreg for tourism development on the southern side of the Border.
This provision has come at a timely juncture and gives the Border counties additional opportunities to maximise the benefits that will come with the reopening of the Ballinamore-Ballyconnell canal. Substantial progress has been made on this project and the canal is expected to open next year, on time and within budget.
The International Fund for Ireland, IFI, is also helping tourism investment in the Border counties under a number of schemes administered on the Fund's behalf by Bord Fáilte. They provide assistance for investment in tourism  amenities and facilities; for joint marketing of Ireland by both tourism boards; and, in certain circumstances, for the upgrading of lower grade hotels and guesthouses. To date, the fund has committed almost £22 million to tourism in the South, including generous assistance for an all-Ireland computerised reservation system and an all-Ireland genealogy project.
Looking beyond 1993, my Department have already begun preliminary work, in consultation with the Department of Finance and other relevant organisations, on formulating proposals for our bid for the next round of EC Structural Funds. The sector's strong performance in recent years, in terms of visitor numbers, revenue and ability to respond to investment incentives, leaves us well placed in these negotiations.
The recent budget again reaffirmed the Government's strong commitment to tourism with specific measures in relation to VAT, excise duties and car hire which are of particular benefit to the indutry. These included the retention of the special 10 per cent VAT rate for accommodation, the lowering of excise duty on cars and petrol and the special provision of £1 million towards relieving an anticipated shortage of cars for hire during the coming peak tourist season.
The Government have also taken a number of other recent initiatives with a view to the further development of this important sector. These initiatives include the establishment of a tourism task force——
Mr. Farrelly: Are they still in existence?
Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: ——our participation at Expo '92 and the recent Japan tourism mission to Ireland.
A special task force, appointed by the Government, are continuing their deliberations into the long term prospects for Irish tourism and I look forward to their conclusions later this year. The task force have been asked to review recent performance and future prospects, identify new commercial and marketing opportunities  and prepare new mechanisms for development with roles for the commercial and community sectors.
Ireland's participation in Expo '92, which runs from April to October, in Seville, should give a considerable boost to the profile of Irish tourism in the fast growing Spanish market. Over 100 countries are taking part and best estimates suggest that 18 million people from around the world will visit the Exposition.
The total cost of Ireland's participation is estimated at £3.5 million, of which £2.7 million has been allocated for the design, construction and fit-out of the Irish pavilion. The balance will go towards staging our calendar of cultural events and for the staffing of the pavilion. A sum of £2.25 million, sourced from the national lottery, has been included in my Department's Vote in 1992. The House passed a Supplementary Estimate last November to meet expenditure costs of £1.25 million in 1991.
The Irish pavilion makes a strong statement about Ireland. It underlines our attractions as an industrial and business location and a source of high quality products. It also emphasises our appeal as an attractive, quality tourist destination. Inside the pavilion we have mounted a visual presentation on the best of Ireland. We expect that approximately 500,000 visitors will visit the Irish pavilion and that our participation presents us with a very attractive promotional opportunity. In the first five weeks since the exposition opened visitors to the Irish pavilion topped 150,000, well ahead of expectations. I hope many Irish people, including Members of this House, will avail of the opportunity between now and October to visit the exposition.
This year also saw, in April, the first ever tourism mission from Japan to this country. The mission was led by the Vice Minister, Ministry of Transport, Tokyo, and included senior executives of the Ministry of Transport, Japanese airlines and leading Japanese tour operators and hoteliers. Although approximately 10,000 Japanese visitors came here in 1991, Ireland is still largely unexplored  by the Japanese tourist market. Based on our assessment of the Japanese Government's plans to further develop export tourism by breaking the 20 million mark within a decade, we are confident that Ireland has all of the necessary facilities to attract a significantly increased proportion of Japanese tourists travelling to Europe.
I was pleased to be able to announce, following my discussions with the mission, the agreement of the Japanese authorities to begin talks on an air transport agreement between our two countries to prepare the way for direct air services between Ireland and Japan. In another major breakthrough for Irish tourism during the visit of the mission, Miki Tourist Company Ltd., Japan's biggest ground operator to Europe, signed a contract with Air Lingus and Bord Fáilte which aims to treble the number of Japanese visitors to Ireland to 30,000 by the end of 1993.
Irish tourism has already established itself as a major force for economic progress, as a vehicle for regional development within the country and, in particular, as a cost-effective means of generating sustainable jobs. The Government and I will spare no effort in ensuring that Ireland gets its share of this growth.
Mr. Farrelly: I thank the Minister for splitting up the tourism, transport and communications aspects of her portfolio in the debate. This will give the spokespersons for the various parties an opportunity to contribute on the different areas.
The Minister said that £2.25 million had been made available from the national lottery for Expo '92. I welcomed that allocation when the Supplementary Estimate was brought before the House last year. While I welcome the fact that this money is being spent to promote Ireland abroad, I wish to point out that many Irish people also promote Ireland throughout the world. Every time one of our athletes wins a competition they help to promote Ireland. Another example is the Eurovision Song Contest, which was won this year by Linda Martin and  Johnny Logan. Approximately £2 million will be spent in staging the Eurovision Song Contest here next year. This will enable us to promote Ireland to approximately 500 million viewers throughout the world.
I regret that the Government do not see fit to allocate money from the national lottery to people involved in sports. Later this year 60-70 people will represent Ireland at the Olympics. If any of our athletes win a medal no doubt various Cabinet Ministers will be at the airport to greet them. Taking into consideration the important job done by these people in promoting Ireland abroad, I hope sufficient funds will be allocated to the Olympic Council of Ireland to enable them to prepare properly for the Olympic Games.
I wish to refer to the figures given by the Minister in her speech. Reference is continually made to the necessity to develop our tourism industry. A plan was put together by the Government four or five years ago to double the number of tourists coming to Ireland. Four hundred applications for grant aid were submitted by people involved in the agri-tourism business. Up to last August 210 applications had been approved, with £5.3 million in grant aid. The total investment in this area in real terms was £16 million. I should like the Minister to say whether extra funding will be provided for the 190 applications on hands?
The Minister mentioned a figure of £1.2 billion in foreign earnings. Income from home holidays last year was £0.5 billion and tourism related income amounted to £1.7 billion. The Government have reduced continuously since 1988 the amount of money made available to Bord Fáilte, from £28.5 million to £21.5 million this year. The income to the State in taxation has increased to £500 million. Bord Fáilte have been requested to increase tourism numbers into the country by one million in the next year or year and a half. Having had the opportunity of visiting the UK and Amsterdam and speaking to the Bord Fáilte representatives there, I do not believe that  it is possible to increase the numbers visiting Ireland without making available further funds to promote Ireland. In North America promotions are carried out on a three monthly basis. Similar action should be taken here if we are to promote Ireland on a continual basis. In addition, funds should be made available to the offices in the various countries on the basis of the increase in numbers to Ireland from those countries.
With the implementation of the Maastricht Treaty a number of changes will take place. From an Irish tourism point of view we welcome the declaration in the Treaty that by 1996 tourism will become a recognised, full-blown activity of the Community. The implications of this for Irish tourism are enormous. It recognises that tourism, in all its components, is now the single largest industry in the European Community and is in a position to receive much higher priority in the political concerns of the Community.
A wise Irish Government would ensure that in the interim between now and 1996 a series of measures would be drawn up and pressed home with the Community to move tourism to the top of the agenda. At present it is sixth place on a list of ten, with industry at the top of the list. I would ask the Minister whether she is in favour of a full commissionership portfolio for tourism post-1996, with a separate tourism budget. That is the only way we will gain in the area of tourism post 1996.
A European centre for tourism must be established to undertake the co-ordination of tourism research, development and analysis throughout the Community. Through new tourism products we must provide for a more diversified and larger tourism sector than we have known heretofore. Tourism will become the largest single industry in Europe in the not too distant future. The principle of convergence, leading to cohesion — the cornerstone of the Treaty — must be applied in relation to all future Community tourism funding policies. The principle of subsidiarity, respecting and promoting local and regional folklores and customs, must be enshrined in all future Community tourism policies. We must ensure  the preservation of the natural environment on which the tourism industry ultimately depends.
We must establish a European social idea whereby all workers and the least advantaged in society will be guaranteed the right to take holidays. We must seek the integration of existing tourism services such as a Euro-register of travel agents and a Euro-consumer charter of tourism rights in relation to accidents and criminal attacks. Only a short time ago we witnessed a number of such attacks in this country. I hope that the Government have made arrangements with the Garda to ensure the protection of tourists. We must ensure that Community policies in the field of taxation are tourism friendly and are so recognised in policies promoted throughout the Community. It is a matter of regret that the Government have not so far seen fit to initiate discussions at home or abroad to ensure that tourism is included more centrally in Treaties. To date the Irish Government have not worked on this most important area.
The fact that under this Government jobless figures have soared to 300,000 means that job creation must be a political priority for any succeeding Government. We believe that the present Government have not examined, explored or unleashed the massive job creation potential of a well planned, expertly managed, successful tourism industry. That is regrettable. In the tourism area, this Government are the worst Government in the history of the State, considering the reductions in the amount of money made available for that industry. When the previous Minister — I cannot say the same about the present Minister — at the end of a three or four year period, found he had done nothing to promote and provide adequate funds for tourism, he set up a task force, which is on the verge of falling apart at present. Last week I received a reply from the Minister to the effect that the task force would report in three or four weeks' time. However, she has said today that the task force will not report until later in the year. Therefore, it is evident that they have run into difficulties.
 Let us consider what has happened in the last five years. The five year plan for tourism, 1988-93, has collapsed. There was the rod licence debacle, the abolition of the business expansion scheme and a year by year reduction in the annual tourism budget, which I have mentioned. In the agri-tourism programme there are 190 applications awaiting approval for funds. Neither the Minister nor the Government are prepared to deal with any of the thorny problems in relation to the interpretative centres around the country. I proposed that these centres be constructed partly underground, which would solve the problem relating to objections. I have asked the Minister about the centre to be provided in my constituency but he has not responded. Proper negotiations should take place on this matter.
In relation to car hire for the tourist industry, I suggested to the Minister that excise duties be postponed until these cars are resold. The £1 million that has been allocated will simply provide the 2,500 extra cars required this year. In order to reduce the cost to the consumer we should consider the system operated in Denmark where duty does not have to be paid until the cars are resold.
The outbreak of public and private sector strikes in areas such as transport, banking and postal services destroy confidence in the tourist industry. Many people providing services such as holiday houses and bed and breakfast accommodation find they have received no bookings for the last month because of the postal strike; but, unfortunately, nothing is being done to solve this problem. As a result, the income of people in rural areas will be greatly reduced.
Finally, I would like to refer to the task force on tourism. Obviously, the Minister does not believe that this task force will come up with a positive result. Only a few days ago they were going to disband. It is interesting that the Minister said they will be finished at the end of the year. Has the Minister brought them back on the rails? At the end of the debate will  the Minister inform me of the position in connection with this?
The allocation in the budget this year for tourism is inadequate considering the £500 million of new product which has been created through private sector investment, grants and so on, since 1989. A reduced budget in order to sell that product will not work because of the far greater competition in world tourism. If we are in earnest about tourism we must provide an adequate amount of funds to deal with the markets abroad. The Minister should ensure that next year adequate funding will be made available to market Ireland abroad. The extra one million visitors cannot be persuaded to come here unless the money is provided. The Minister is the only person who can ensure that it is.
Mr. Moynihan: I welcome the Minister to the first tourism discussion in the House on the presentation of her Estimates for 1992. I wish the Minister well in the management of what will now be the country's major wealth and employment creation industry. Tourism can create much needed employment. Tourism is now one of the major service industries and accounts for up to 30 per cent of world trade. In Europe, the hotel catering and tourism industry is one of the fastest growing industries. Getting a share of that lucrative market will not be easy in view of international competition. There is a great need for a substantial increase in Government funding for the promotion and marketing of Irish tourism throughout the world. Because tourism is a vital part of our economy it should have a separate Minister and a separate Department. The tourism industry has tremendous potential for growth and development.
Within Europe the budgetary programme for tourism has been given low priority as it has in the Republic. In Europe we also need a commissioner to deal with tourism and its development in the Community. One can have the best product in the world but if nobody knows about it there is a problem. The promotion  which the industry and the Government manage to do overseas is totally inadequate and the lack of promotion will become more acute unless it is addressed.
A serious problem for Irish tourism relates to travel especially from north America from where it is substantially cheaper to fly to Britain. A 1992 schedule of costs from the north American continent shows that on American airlines, United Airlines and on British Airways the fares in the shoulder season are: to London $448, and to Europe is $548 and these flights do not touch down in Ireland. Delta airlines which does, has a main fare of $448 to London, $548 to Europe and $748 to Shannon. This clearly indicated the disadvantage to the north American commuter of landing in Ireland. Aer Lingus who do not fly direct from the north American continent to either London or Europe has a fare of $579 to Shannon. During the peak season they have flights to mainland Europe, London and Shannon. The three American airlines during peak season have fares of $548 to London and $648 to Europe, and they do not service Ireland. Delta during the peak season have a fare of $548 to London, $648 to Europe and $878 to Shannon. This exposes our noncompetitive position with regard to flight to Shannon. The Aer Lingus rate during the peak season to Shannon from the north American east coast is $699. The Minister can readily see our lack of competitiveness in this area and that this substantially damages our American tourist trade. Admittedly, many tourists will come back to Ireland from London for a short time.
We need to expand the sea ferry business to keep pace with the expansion of tourism. With the completion of the channel tunnel we will be the only island destination of the EC without direct land access. Many tourists like to take their own cars here in view of the totally inadequate car hire service we have in peak season. The success of the Cork-Swansea ferry gives an indication of the potential for an expanded sea ferry business. Prior to the combined efforts of the Cork Corporation  and Cork and Kerry county councils in giving the financial guarantees for the service, the project was written off as a non-starter by all the officials in this county. Its success is an indication of the opportunities in this area.
The cost of holidays in Ireland is of major importance. Tourists are very price conscious. We must pay attention to the attractiveness and the availability of the Irish tourism product and that includes price. Our competitiveness and our product as well as effective marketing combine in determining our market share of world tourism. We must have a full discussion on Irish tourism, its potential and its impact on employment. I am sure the Minister would agree that devoting one hour today on the Estimates is not enough. Whether the Members of this House come from urban areas or rural areas every one of them is interested, if not involved in some way, in the development and promotion of the tourism industry. There is need for major expansion.
It is 37 years since the last legislation on tourism. That was in 1955 when Bord Fáilte were established. The organisation were set up with a board of nine, nominated by the Minister and the Government. I would suggest, in view of the sectors in the economy which are deeply involved in tourism, that a democratic system of election to the board of the organisations either in whole or in part, should be considered. Well recognised bodies such as the Hotels Federation and others representing restaurants, town and country homes, guest houses and tour operators are the framework on which tourism is built, as well as many thousands of unionised workers who have wholetime employment in that industry. Many of these people could make a valuable contribution to the development and management of the tourist industry. They are fully conversant with all its aspects and aware of its potential. I am not in any way critical of the excellent people who have been members of the board, but in many cases they are people who have not been totally involved in the business and have had  other interests. New legislation might be considered on which the House could express its views.
I now refer to the rationalisation of the marketing and promotion work being done by Bord Fáilte and Shannon Development, budgetary provision for which is made by the Government. Bord Fáilte provide for the marketing and promotion of the Republic in north America, continental Europe and Britain. Shannon Development receive an allowance for the marketing and promotion of the mid-west. These organisations have separate offices and different personnel working in the same market. This matter should be examined. If there is not rationalisation and the Oireachtas continues to provide funds for these two separate bodies, will other bodies in other localities have the right to seek recognition and specific budgetary provisions from the Exchequer?
The Minister must consider how the grading of tourism structures here compares with standards throughout Europe. It is time for further legislative proposals which could be fruitfully considered by this House to provide a more comprehensive tourism service.
I appreciate the importance given to the development of regional airports. These are necessary facilities in the expansion of tourism. Nobody from the continent wishes to drive a car for very long journeys on Irish roads. For this reason the development of airports is vital.
I would stress the major contribution to Irish tourism which can be made by international conferences and congresses, especially at the shoulder periods. There is new growth in incentive conferences held by major international firms. Tourism promoters must be aware of the potential business.
Mr. McEllistrim: I congratulate the Minister on the excellent manner in which she has handled her portfolio as Minister for Tourism and Transport.
Mr. Farrelly: I notice the Deputy did not include Communications.
Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: He meant to say it.
Mr. McEllistrim: Tourism has become one of the most important industries, generating a very considerable revenue. I will concentrate on County Kerry where we have developed our tourist business very considerably. Revenue from tourism in Kerry last year was a record £145 million, surpassing agricultural income. That is no mean achievement.
On 1 September 1989 County Kerry was divided for tourism promotion purposes. North Kerry was transferred to the mid-west region, to be promoted and administered by Shannon Development. South Kerry remained in the south-west region to be promoted by Cork and Kerry Tourism. Kerry County Council considered on a number of occasions the impact of this division on the promotion and development of tourism in the country as a whole. They unanimously resolved at meetings on 16 September 1991 and 20 January 1992 that County Kerry should be united and promoted as a separate and distinct region for tourism purposes. I appeal to the Minister to make the decision that Kerry should be marketed as a single region.
Employment in County Kerry in tourism is estimated at 7,500, 17.5 per cent of the labour force. County Kerry has 8,210 bedrooms in hotels and guest houses and 7,524 beds in self-catering units and hostels. Dublin has 5,210 beds and Cork has 2,474. These are very important figures. Revenue from tourism in Kerry was £145 million last year. The present promotional literature shows a separate north Kerry and a separate south Kerry. The map showing north Kerry has no reference to the Dingle peninsula or Killarney. This is absurd. It is essential to advertise Kerry as one unit. At present we are extending Kerry Airport at a cost of £12.5 million. This will facilitate many more tourists coming into our country. The airport, which is being promoted by Cork and Kerry tourism, is a half mile from north Kerry, yet Shannon development cannot promote it.
The international festival of Kerry  brings approximately £15 million in revenue to Tralee in one week. Indeed, the Minister for Tourism. Transport and Communications has had experience of it as I met her there on a couple of occasions——
Mr. Yates: Late night frolics.
Mr. McEllistrim: ——when the festival was in progress. It is great to have a Minister who visits these places——
Mr. Yates: I hope the car did not turn over.
Mr. McEllistrim: ——and so has first hand knowledge of the type of festival involved. Kerry has the best beaches in the world and a number of major national visitor attractions such as Muckross House, Crag Cave, Siamsa Tire, the Geraldine experience at Tralee town, Blenderville Windmill, the National Transport Museum in Killarney and Derrynane House, all of which are marketed by different groups as well as by Shannon development and Cork and Kerry tourism. This is not right, Kerry should be marketed as one unit and I would request the Minister to have this done in the very near future.
Mr. Byrne: As a Dublin TD I am saddened at the almost daily reports of muggings and robberies of our overseas visitors. This is only the month of May, we are not yet into our peak season, and yet there has been an onslaught on our visitors as they walk the streets. I would ask the Minister to treat this matter seriously. For those of us who live in the city and are conscious of the benefits of tourism, the sighting of cars with foreign number plates parked in certain streets, particularly at locations in the inner city, makes one apprehensive. Last year I reported on at least four occasions to gardaí in and around Kevin Street on cars which had been broken into.
Mr. Farrelly: Mine was broken into too.
Mr. Byrne: The sighting of a car with a foreign number plate and a smashed side window is very disturbing but, of course, attacks on tourists are not confined to the inner city. It is disturbing and sad also when one goes to an isolated area, such as the Sally Gap in Wicklow, to see roadsigns advising people that the area is preserved, that shooting of deer, grouse and other wildlife is prohibited and then to see signs nearby reminding tourists not to leave their cars unattended and not to leave valuables visibly on display in cars. This isolated area which attracts tourists attracts thieves and robbers in turn.
There were frightening reports in the newspapers last week of an incident at the Sally Gap where tourists who were taking photographs and enjoying the scenery had their car, with an infant asleep on the back seat, stolen. This drives home the message that the thieves who are travelling around the countryside in search of easy victims are ruthless. The incident involving the murder of a German tourist in the Phoenix Park last year adds to the litany of ever increasing attacks on tourists. I am reminded of the need for safe, secure camp sites, particularly in the Dublin area, not only for young campers but for those using caravans.
Can the Minister tell the House what she intends doing to ensure that our tourists are protected from attacks? One can imagine the huge cost to the tourist industry when, having attracted these tourists in the first place, they return home the victims of muggings or robbery. I would urge the Minister to address this problem. Is she aware of reports that there are organised gangs specialising in the robbing of tourists? Can she arrange with her colleague, the Minister for Justice, to have more plain clothes gardaí on the beat in the city and especially on the tourist trails earmarked by Dublin tourism. These trails take visitors along the various roads throughout the city, often along side streets and through the old Viking parts of the city. I would particularly ask that such areas as St. Patrick's Cathedral, Thomas Street, Christ Church  Cathedral, Francis Street, Kilmainham. Fishamble Street and the City Hall be earmarked for special attention. These areas attract an increasing number of tourists but unfortunately, in turn, they seem to be targeted by robbers.
Miss Coughlan: Ba mhaith liom ar dtús comhghairdeas a ghabháil leis an Aire úr agus a ghuí go néire léi go han-mhaith ina cuid poist.
I regret very much the negative tones from Opposition Deputies in this debate. It does not help the promotion of tourism to emphasise the problems. As I have only a couple of minutes I should like to draw one or two points to the Minister's attention. I am enthused by the tremendous encouragement the Government have given towards tourism development but I would ask the Minister to consider, by way of encouraging investment especially in the north west region, the reinstatement of the business expansion scheme as it applied to this industry. I realise there were abuses of the scheme but the general tourist industry has sufferred as a consequence.
Bórd Fáilte are of the opinion there are sufficient beds available in this country: in the north west, and in Donegal especially, we are not of that opinion. I would like to see an upgrading of the available accommodation. Those in the industry need encouragement. I hope grant aid will be available to upgrade accommodation not only in the hotel business but also in guesthouses, town and country homes and in self-catering accommodation.
There is a need also to address the car hire problem which, when compared with other countries is exorbitant. Perhaps consideration would be given to the possibility of not charging VAT on cars being used for hire to encourage a greater volume of business in that area and also to reduce the costs to the hirers.
In her contribution the Minister referred to the new ties with the Japanese market. I am anxious that there be further progress in relation to marketing. I hope the Minister will take an opportunity to go abroad and further promote  the country and, especially, to promote our facilities for golf. Such facilities are readily available in the north west and in Donegal particularly and are of much interest to visitors from the Far East, for instance, especially Japan. We have not realised any of our potential in that part of the world. I would ask that special efforts be made to promote that aspect of tourism. There seems to be a line drawn from Dublin to Galway and everything goes to the south of it. There must be greater marketing of the north-west region. Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan, Monaghan and Mayo really have a lot to offer. Unfortunately, we have not been able to realise our potential. I hope the Minister will do her utmost to encourage the investment that is required.
I would like to congratulate the International Fund for Ireland for the tremendous input into the Border counties especially. I hope that will continue. In the negotiations for further European Regional Development Funds. I hope we will get a greater slice of the cake. We deserve it and I hope there will be some positive discrimination in relation to the less developed areas.
Ba mhaith liom a rá, san bomaite amháin atá fágtha agam, go bhfuil díospóireacht anois idir an Aire agus Údarás na Gaeltachta faoi chúrsaí turasóireachta a bheith ag an Údarás. Tá súil agam, cé go bhfuil an Ghaeltacht gar dá croí, go ligfidh sé don Údarás na dualgais sin a chomhlíonadh.
Within quite a short space of time I feel that Udarás have been very much tuned in to tourism in the Gaeltacht areas. I hope the Minister will see her way to off-loading some of her tremendous portfolio to such a body.
Acting Chairman (Mr. Hilliard): We shall now debate the transport element of the Vote.
Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: The completion of the Single European Market on 1 January next will place even greater pressures on our transport links with our main trading partners. If we are to avail  fully of the market opportunities that the Single Market will bring we need more than ever to have efficient transport systems and services.
At £108 million the Exchequer grant to CIE is the single largest item of expenditure in my Department's 1992 Estimate. The 1992 provision represents a cut in real terms of over £5.5 million, since 1988, on the CIE subvention. Policy in recent years has been to encourage a reduction in CIE's dependency on State funding through a combination of innovative marketing strategies, cost reductions and optimum utilisation of group resources.
Support for the railways over the years has accounted for a very substantial proportion of the subvention. Between 1980 and 1991 total direct State funding to the railways amounted to over £940, in addition to capital investment by CIE of almost £230 million in the rail network over the same period.
This year, of the total Exchequer subvention to CIE of £108 million, £90 million is being allocated to Iarnród Éireann. Some £45 million will go to the maintenance and upkeep of rail infrastructure. CIE will use the other £45 million to support the operation of socially necessary services which cannot operate on a fully commercial basis and to make interest and other exceptional payments, including £10 million in respect of interest on loans which financed the development of DART. Apart from DART interest, the deployment of Exchequer support is a matter for the parent company, CIE, and Iarnród Éireann themselves.
The Irish and British Governments recently announced approval at a meeting of the Anglo-Irish Conference for the upgrading of the Dublin-Belfast line, costing IR£73 million. It is expected that preparatory work will commence shortly on the project which is due for completion within five years. Estimated costs on the Southern side of the Border amount to over IR£43 million with the European Community providing 75 per cent of the balance being financed by Iarnród Éireann from own resources.
Meanwhile a detailed assessment of  the strategic options for the future of Irish railways is currently being carried out by CIE in conjunction with my Department and the Department of Finance. Consultants are being engaged to assist, and are expected to report later this summer. The results will form an important element in the formulation of an investment programme for the further development of the railways. I intend to pursue vigorously the possibilities of EC assistance for such an investment programme. CIE are allocating approximately £11 million of the 1992 subvention to Bus Atha Cliath and £4 million to Bus Éireann.
While international air transport experienced serious difficulties in 1991 because of the Gulf War and the effects of the recession in the key UK and US markets, current indications are that air traffic is making a recovery. Carriers are already reporting increasing buoyancy in the Irish Market, with healthy growth at State airports on cross-channel and continental European routes. Ryanair have doubled capacity on the Dublin-London route and Lufthansa have begun a new Dublin-Cologne service.
Transatlantic traffic is up almost 25 per cent on last year. Earlier this year, I granted Aeroflot fifth freedom rights on the Shannon-Chicago route, and have licensed a new Irish carrier — Translift Airways — which I hope will add new charter capacity next year on the transatlantic. Aer Lingus and Aer Rianta will both be seeking to capitalise to the maximum extent on this recovery.
For the reasons already outlined, Aer Lingus were particularly badly hit on the air transportation side in 1991, leaving them with a very tough task in getting airline finances back on course. This will call for unstinting effort and co-operation from both management and the work-force.
The 1992 public capital programme include £111.71 million for expenditure by Aer Lingus, a small drop of about 7 per cent on last year's outturn. Some £70 million of this will go on the European fleet replacement programme. Four new aircraft have been delivered in the last  two months leaving Aer Lingus with one of the newest fleets in Europe. No further acquisitions are planned for the time being.
TEAM Aer Lingus have completed their first year of operation and I recently opened a new £5½ million light maintenance hangar at their Dublin Airport base which is expected to lead to the creation of a further 170 new jobs there over the next few years.
Aer Rianta were also hit by the downturn in international transport last year. Passenger traffic at the State airports fell by 5 per cent. There was a marginal fall of £0.2 million on the contribution made by the company's subsidiaries again reflecting the difficult trading conditions, including decreases in passenger numbers at airports in the former USSR which affected turnover and profits in the overseas joint ventures. However, their overall trading performance still meant that Aer Rianta could show a profit, after interest and overheads, of £22.2 million and make a contribution of over £18 million to the Exchequer for 1991.
Aer Rianta invested some £33 million in fixed assets last year, financed from own resources, borrowings and some £7 million from the European Regional Development Fund towards airport development costs. Aer Rianta plan to invest another £18 million this year, again financed from a mix of own resources and borrowings, with an expected £6 million in European Regional Development Fund assistance. Almost £14 million will be invested in the three State airports: Dublin, Cork and Shannon, and projects will include adaptations to terminal buildings and aprons at Dublin and Shannon, continuing development of the new multi-storey car park at Dublin and the major extension to the terminal building at Cork. Four and a half million pounds will be invested in Aer Rianta's Great Southern Hotels operation.
The process of creating a more liberal regime in air transport within the European Community, which commenced in 1987, is due for completion, on target, by 1 January 1993. The new regime will give carriers much greater freedom to pursue  their commercial interests particularly in the areas of fare setting, access to markets and rights of establishment. This freedom will, of course, be subject to certain safeguards which have been specifically designed to prevent market behaviour which is anti-consumer or not in the interest of developing orderly and fair competition.
Under a recent air agreement with the EC, Norway and Sweden will become part of the EC air transport market, and the agreement creating the European Economic Area opens the way for further liberalisation, in due course, on a multilateral basis between the EC and EFTA countries. Meanwhile, new commercial opportunities are also emerging from outside the EC. My Department and the State agencies have been in contact with a number of Eastern European states to identify and develop opportunities for Irish operators.
Recently I signed an air transport agreement with Malaysia which, I hope, will lay the groundwork for improving links between Ireland and Australia. My Department are currently pursuing an air transport agreement with Japan, another market with significant potential for Ireland, and I expect formal discussions to begin later this year.
Before concluding on air transport I wish to say a few words about the Shannon stop-over. Since my appointment I have had a series of discussions with the interests involved. While the pros and cons of a change in policy have been well articulated and publicised by the various interest groups there is one issue which has not. Both proponents and opponents of change have emphasised the need for certainty on this issue for a number of years to come. I have been asked to ensure that whatever decision is taken will last for some years irrespective of changes in administration or Ministers and not to take a decision on this issue until I can be reasonably confident of achieving this objective. This is a request I have informed all concerned I will respect.
I have not as yet formulated proposals  for Government on this issue. There have been a number of proposals put to me in recent weeks which I wish to consider further and my Department have also to conclude discussions with certain interested parties. However, I can tell the House that I am particularly concerned to ensure that the pivotal role which transatlantic air services play in regional development and employment creation in the west of Ireland is in no way undermined. At the same time, I am acutely aware of the financial difficulties facing Aer Lingus which the airline itself has to address and which, I want to emphasise, are not solely attributable to the Shannon stop. I am also aware of their inability to undertake the investment in fleet replacement so urgently needed on their transatlantic operations.
When the Channel Tunnel is opened Ireland will be the only EC member state without a land link to Europe. As Europe's most peripheral member state, Ireland has unique transport needs. In 1990 KPMG Stokes Kennedy Crowley, on behalf of the Irish Government and the EC Commission, examined Ireland's requirement for improved access transport services. Based on their recommendations, the Government applied to the EC Commission for initial priority investment in direct shipping services to mainland Europe, which were regarded as essential by the consultants. However, the EC Commissioner for Regional Affairs, Mr. Bruce Millan, wrote to my predecessor and to the Minister for the Marine at the end of last year rejecting Ireland's application. Following discussions in early March with the EC Commission on the reasons for their refusal, I decided that a further submission should be made for EC funding for access transport services. This application addressed the concerns expressed by the Commission, who are expected to respond shortly.
The Irish Government in conjunction with the EC Commission are currently implementing an operational programme for peripherality involving major transport investment amounting to over £865 million. The EC contribution towards  this investment will be £555 million. Investments totalling £18.6 million up to the end of 1993 have been approved under the programme for the six privately owned regional airports at Sligo, Carrickfin, Galway, Connaught, Farranfore and Waterford, co-financed from the European Regional Development Fund and local sources. The objective of this development programme is to ensure that facilities at our regional airports will be adequate to enable them to cope with traffic demands for the foreseeable future.
Other public transport projects under the programme include work on the replacement of freight gantry cranes at Limerick, Sligo, Cork and Dundalk rail stations. Meanwhile, my Department are currently discussing with the EC authorities the possibility of European Regional Development Fund assistance under the current programme for the provision of commuter rail links on the south west rail corridor, including Clondalkin, and for the development of a rail link to Belview Harbour at Waterford.
Looking ahead to the possibilities for EC assistances for public transport in the next round of EC Structural Funds and the new proposed Cohesion Fund — bearing in mind the latter may have intervention rates as high as 85 per cent to 90 per — I intend to pursue vigorously every possibility, including funding for a public transport based solution to Dublin's particular traffic and transport problems. We are eagerly awaiting the results of the Dublin Transport Initiative, about which I spoke at some length in this House earlier this week.
This and other major studies and assessments will enable the Government to take decisions in due course on investments in public transport over the next four or five years, for which I will be pursuing the EC authorities for the maximum assistance possible.
Mr. Yates: As this is a limited debate and the Minister has covered several areas, I shall concentrate my contribution on the aviation sector. The Dáil has recently debated matters relating to both  light rail in Dublin and the railways. Inadequate opportunity has arisen for debate on aviation matters.
I put on the record of the House my very deep concern at the looming crisis in Aer Lingus. I do not share the Minister's optimism as outlined in her speech that a recovery is under way. I regret to say that my understanding from the accounts to be published this July is that the air transport loss to be recorded by Aer Lingus for 1991-92 will be £38 million. I am also advised that the loss for this year will not be on line with budget. I fear that, after borrowing is repaid there will be an air transport loss of £42 million. I believe that the position is worsening and that the present market indications are very difficult.
The extent of Aer Lingus's difficulties goes way beyond what might be attributable to an international recession, a UK recession, a US recession or even the negative effects on aviation of the Gulf War. We are dealing with a very serious and medium-term crisis. The cumulative position up to March 1992 shows an air transport loss of £100 million, and, as I have said, I believe that that will be worse for the current year from March 1992 to March 1993. That demonstrates that the recovery plan put in place by the management of Aer Lingus is not working and is not adequate. The air passenger market is very soft and the air fare war on cross-Channel UK routes — with Ryanair offering a £58 return fare, matched by Aer Lingus — will result in even higher losses on the cross-Channel routes. I believe that these losses are the most serious in the history of Aer Lingus.
The Minister will be aware that in the past few days Aer Lingus made a detailed submission to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Commercial Semi-State Bodies. I am not a member of that committee but I received a copy of the submission. It is clear that on top of those losses the capital requirements of Aer Lingus for the nineties are very substantial. From now until 1996 Aer Lingus require £700 million and from 1996 to the year 2000 they will require £600 million,  giving a total capital requirement of £1,300 million.
I tabled a Dáil Question to the Minister in relation to the Exchequer injecting equity or giving money to Aer Lingus. The Minister said — quite rightly — that there is a limit to what the taxpayer can afford and it is unlikely that there would be any resources available. Without misrepresenting the position, that seems to indicate a “No” response if Aer Lingus were to seek a major cash injection.
What other options do Aer Lingus have? Already one of the company's problems is that their gearing in terms of their rates of borrowing is very high. Interest on air transport last year amounted to £25 million, a multiple of four of the cost some years ago.
Aer Lingus have serious losses on the European and, in particular, the UK routes. The group have huge capital requirements and, on top of that, they face the transatlantic situation. The transatlantic situation is very simple, and whether one comes from Dublin or from Shannon it needs to be spelt out. There are three 747s in excess of 20 years old. In a couple of years those aircraft will be clapped out and will have to be replaced. My understanding is that the cheapest price on which replacements could be financed is on the basis of $800,000 a month or $10 million a year. The present economics of the transatlantic routes, which are not loss-making, will mean that Aer Lingus will face losses under the present arrangements. We all know of the intense competition that is now taking place on UK transatlantic routes. Therefore, it will be increasingly difficult for Aer Lingus to hold its market position. An array of enormous problems have to be faced.
The Fine Gael Party believe that the Aer Lingus legislation needs to be changed. The current position of Aer Rianta and Aer Lingus is no longer sustainable. It is now a matter of fact that Aer Rianta are technically insolvent and cannot continue trading. The management of Aer Lingus verified that fact  to the Oireachtas committee. Several steps need to be taken. When I suggest reviewing the legislation, I mean a 10-year corporate plan that would secure the future of Aer Lingus. It seems obvious that an outside equity injection into Aer Lingus is necessary, be that from an outside investor or be it by way of merger with another airline. There is no escape from this reality. If the Government do not have the £13 million and if Aer Lingus cannot borrow it, it must come from an outside source, it is as simple as that. This matter must be addressed urgently.
The recovery plan needs to be renegotiated because Aer Lingus costs are too high. There are excellent industrial relations in the company, I do not want to say anything provocative in that regard, but I do not believe the recovery programme is sustainable given Ryanair's advantage.
We should not throw the baby out with the bathwater in relation to competition on cross-channel routes because I fear that the plan of Aer Lingus is to bear the pain in the short term and to put Ryanair out of business by matching the £58 fare, which was originally for an off-peak period, but which will now apply to the whole season. The Minister did not refer to it but she will know that in December this year the previous three-year agreement in relation to the two airlines policy will expire and that she will have to make a decision as to whether it will be continued. It needs to be continued because competition has meant an increase in volume and passenger numbers which, in turn, has led to lower fares. If the Minister decided to revert to just Aer Lingus and British Midland it would mean going back to the bad old days of the cartel and lack of competition.
I am worried about the viability of regional airports. I do not know if they are all viable but cutthroat competition between airlines is not the way to solve the problem. The regional airports will not believe this but, in terms of the economics of regional air services, there should be a specific allocation of routes to individual carriers on an agreed basis. There is a case for Aer Lingus and  Ryanair to stop knocking the stuffing out of each other, to get together and to work out a rational approach to fares. I do not believe Aer Lingus will succeed in putting Ryanair out of business but they will do each other enormous damage in the short term. My information is very up to date in relation to the market and winning back markets by the surface carriers; the competition is so intense that ships are excellent.
A ten-year corporate plan for Aer Lingus is not enough to solve the aviation problem. We have been told that Aer Rianta made something in the region of £22 million this year. I want to give them credit for what they have done abroad but it is a scandal that airport companies make record profits while airlines make record losses. Our airport charges are too high; the Minister will be aware that in Britain the Civil Aviation Authority have now implemented a five-year formula whereby in the first and second years they must reduce airport charges by 8 per cent less than the consumer price index, in the third year by 4 per cent less than the consumer price index and in the fourth and fifth years the increase must not be greater than the consumer price index. Our airport charges must be reduced as they are amongst the highest in Europe. If that must come from the profits of Aer Rianta, so be it, it will boost aviation and benefit air passengers.
The Minister should follow the British example and set up a civil aviation authority in this country. To put it mildly, in the past there has been a conflict of interests in that the owner — the Department of Transport in effect — of Aer Lingus is the statutory authority in regard to aviation matters. Such a civil aviation authority would give an independent analysis in relation to matters of vested interest, such as the Shannon stop-over. It would provide an opportunity to have an independent investigation in relation to everything from the transatlantic issue to the way competition should develop. The Minister has again kicked to touch in relation to the transatlantic issue. I know that there are difficulties in my party in regard to this matter. I have  every concern for the mid-west group although I am fortunate not to be depending on them, or Dublin, for votes. It means that I can be objective about the matter.
I have contempt for the way the Minister for Industry and Commerce, Deputy O'Malley, attacked Aer Lingus. It is disgraceful that a company who are bringing nine out of ten passengers into Shannon should be castigated for explaining their problems in relation to fleet replacement. they have a bona fide case to make. I am sure that any State company reporting to the Minister, Deputy O'Malley, and showing the losses about which I am talking — £38 million last year. £42 million this year and £100 million in the last three years — would be asked serious questions. The cost of their fleet replacement must be addressed. The difficulty is the aspect of the bilateral agreement which would open the floodgates if it was changed. Shannon could be undermined and lose out. I do not believe that there should be a change if it would result in the position of Shannon being undermined. They deserve their position because they have built up the business. However, the question of a Los Angeles route is different, it is a new route which will not fly to Shannon and, therefore, the question must be teased out, through independent analysis, as to whether the bilateral agreement can be changed and copperfasten Shannon's position. If it cannot be done we will have to go back to the drawing board or maintain the status quo. If, as Aer Lingus and Delta say, they can create new routes while guaranteeing the Chicago, Boston and New York services, provided that we are only talking about extra flights going to Dublin, then it should be considered. My comments are personal as my party have not finalised their position. The position of Shannon should be underwritten in that regard.
The indecision of the Government is damaging all parties. I assure the Minister that I will give a very constructive analysis to any proposal she may bring forward in this regard. The problem will not go away, it must be dealt with. The situation in relation to aviation is very  serious, our recovery is not under way. I support the role of Aer Lingus in providing transport and developing tourism but I greatly fear that matters are not recoverable under the present structures.
It is unsatisfactory not to have a single Minister dealing with all aspects of transport. This will come to a head in the submissions about which the Minister spoke relating to the EC discussions on the next tranche of 1994-98 money because the Minister for the Environment, Deputy Smith, and the Minister for the Marine, Deputy Woods, will also have their hands out for money. If there was one Minister for Transport we could co-ordinate all aspects of prioritising EC funds to try to reduce our transport costs, which are twice the European average in terms of product prices.
In relation to the railways, I ask for fair play from the Government. I know the Minister is committed to seeking funds in this area but, unless we separate the funding of tracks and rolling stock, unless we have an investment programme for continuous welded rail on our mainline routes and automatic signalling, we will not be able to secure the future of the railways. We have discussed a system of light rail for Dublin and the future for Dublin transport lies in the development of public transport instead of catering for more motorists.
The Minister did not refer to the bus competition Bill. I will not be here when she replies to the debate but perhaps she will state whether she intends to go ahead with this Bill. I have tabled questions in the House regarding this. I should like her to outline policy direction on when we will have competition.
A very serious crisis is looking in Aer Lingus. Perhaps the Minister has not been advised of its extent. I hope the problem will be dealt with speedily through legislation and by a proper capital investment programme. Otherwise, as an island economy, in the new era of a very competitive transport transnetwork, there will be disastrous consequences for the whole economy.
Mr. O'Shea: Like Deputy Yates, I would like to spend most of my time dealing with the question of aviation, with particular reference to the sector that I have been involved in for over ten years, that is, the regional airports. Deputy Yates referred to the problems being encountered by these airports. I would like to refer in particular to the problems facing Waterford airport at present. It would be ungracious of me not to acknowledge that funding has been provided by the Minister's Department for the development of the airport. I note that my constituency colleague has just entered the Chamber. Like myself, he has been involved in this area for a long time. As I know he is on my side, I will address my comments to him.
In 1990, £1.6 million was raised locally, from shareholders, to form a public limited company to guarantee the future development of Waterford airport. Structural Funding was provided by the Minister's Department and thus the sum was raised to £3 million. Improvements have been made at the airport, which include the provision of navigational aids, the introduction of a localiser — a non-directional beacon and a DME were already available — the upgrading of runway lighting, the precision approach indicators, approach lighting, fire fighting equipment and air traffic control. Next month the new terminal building will be opened. Of all the regional airports Waterford airport caters best for passengers.
While great progress has been made in relation to the infrastructure of the airport there is a need to find a carrier to service it. Previously Aer Lingus operated a service to the airport. However this has now been withdrawn. There is not much point in going over the history of this and we should deal with the present situation.
Recently a report was commissioned by the airport company which was compiled by Coopers and Lybrand. It has been forwarded to Aer Lingus to make Waterford's case for the reintroduction of an Aer Lingus service to the airport.  The positive points developed in the report relate to the tourism industry. The report highlights the fact that in recent years £90 million has been invested in the region. However hand in hand with this there has been a reduction in the number of seats available out of the airport. In relation to scheduled services between Waterford and London, this year Ryanair will provide only 23,000 seats, whereas the demand last year was for 40,000 seats. This means that there will be a shortfall of 17,000 seats.
In 1990, the amount of revenue generated in the overseas tourism sector increased by 80 per cent over 1989. While the figure for 1991 is not yet available the indications are that it will match the 1990 figure. This was a tremendous achievement given all the problems encountered by the sector last year.
While I have mentioned the new terminal building, it is important also that I highlight the fact, in relation to the service operated by Aer Lingus to the airport, that a Shortts 360 was used. This plane, which is manufactured on this island and which has given good service, cruises at an altitude of 8,000 feet, whereas the new aircraft purchased by Aer Lingus, the Saab 340, cruises at an altitude of 20,000 feet, is pressurised and more speedy. Therefore if a service was to be reintroduced the Saab 340 would be much more acceptable to customers.
The area has a large population and industrial base. In her speech the Minister made a passing reference to the Belview development at Waterford. I welcome her comment that she is seeking European funds to develop a rail link with that terminal. Waterford port is the second cheapest container port in northern Europe, and when the Belview development has been completed — I hope the rail link will form part of it given its importance — the area will be much more attractive in relation to industrial development. However if we are to attract new investment to the area an air-link to Dublin will be very important.
Other countries wish to become members of the enlarged European union; these include Austria. There is a  great affinity between the Austrians and the Irish which goes back to the time St. Colman and St. Feargal went to Austria. Our trade figures with Austria are quite considerable and the balance is in our favour at present. However the Austrians are anxious to develop further trade links with this country. While many new opportunities are now available the lack of an air link between Waterford and Dublin with onward connections to European destinations will have a detrimental effect on industrial development.
Deputy Yates dealt with this point at some length but I should say that Aer Lingus have major financial problems. There is no getting away from that but the project which has been presented to Aer Lingus by Waterford Airport plc. through their consultants, Coopers and Lybrand, will not be a drain on their resources. It is envisaged that a feeder service would be of assistance to Aer Lingus in filling empty seats not only on their present services but on the services they wish to develop.
I wish to highlight the developments which have taken place in the tourism sector in the south-east region. In my home town of Tramore, Celt World will be officially opened tomorrow. This is an imaginative heritage project involving a total investment of £4.5 million. It is projected that between 200,000 and 300,000 people will visit this project per annum. In Cashel, another important tourist centre in the south-east, we have another heritage project, Bru-Boru, which again, is attracting large number of tourists. Furthermore, Waterford Castle which has benefited from Structural Funds and the business expansion scheme is comparable with Ashford Castle or Dromoland Castle, offering excellent golf and country club facilities. Indeed, the type of tourist/client this development will attract to the area will be the person who will require a speedy air link into the Waterford area. Then there is Mount Juliet in the chairperson's Deputy Pattison's constituency — again a golf and country club designed by Jack Nicklaus. The type of overseas tourist or client this development will attract would also  require speedy transport links, the bottom line being air links.
There has been considerable expansion of self-catering accommodation throughout the region. For instance, in the village of Dunmore East in County Waterford 100 additional units have been provided since 1989. There are many other tourist attractions such as the Rock of Cashel, Kilkenny Castle, the Waterford Crystal factory, running hand in hand with which there has been substantial investment in hotels in the area. In my area I might instance the Granville Hotel and the Tower and Jury's Hotels in Waterford.
What we are talking about here is integration and cohesion, part of the thinking of Maastricht, if you like, in another sphere — the tourism package to be implemented in conjunction with the transport package. I would earnestly request the Minister to use her best offices to convince Aer Lingus of the validity and urgency of Waterford's case to have the national carrier provide a service into Waterford. I stress this is not a begging bowl approach on the part of Waterford, the south-east region or indeed on the part of the airport company. There are clear indications that the provision of a feeder service from Waterford to Dublin would yield much extra business to Aer Lingus in terms of a greater inward passenger flow and additional tourists, making the important south-east region more accessible to those we want to attract to that region. I would ask the Minister to make every effort to assist Waterford and to persuade Aer Lingus of the validity of the case. I know this is not the first time she has heard of this. I know that her colleague, the Minister of State at her Department sitting beside her, has been pushing this case also.
I will refer briefly to Shannon. The Minister has said that she has not yet reached a decision in regard to the Shannon stopover, that she is listening carefully to the pro and contra lobbies and wants to reach a decision that will obtain over many years, thus bringing some certainty  into the overall position. I put it to the Minister that essentially this is not a mere commercial decision; rather it is a matter of overall regional policy as distinct from mere commercial interests. We cannot regard this matter as a single, isolated issue. Throughout the history of this State the west has been neglected and the only oasis in all of that area has been the development of Shannon. I might issue this warning to the Minister. When one examines what occurred at Prestwick Airport after the withdrawal of Atlantic services from that airport one finds a frightening scenario. I contend the Minister should take her decision in regard to the Shannon stop-over in the context of overall regional development, its importance to the Shannon region and the whole of the west. No doubt the Minister, coming from the west, has a great personal interest in the matter.
I should like to draw the attention of the House to a document produced by the Labour Party members of Dublin City Council and Dublin County Council. This is a submission on transport development for economic growth in Dublin which has been presented to Commissioner Bruce Millan, which also has the support of the Socialist Group. It is a very detailed document of much merit. One aspect interests me particularly and it logic becomes clear when one looks at European cities. I refer to the introduction of a light rail transport system in Dublin. Those of us who travel to and from Dublin, who encounter long delays and traffic congestion on our journeys to and from this House, will realise that the transport problems of the capital city must be tackled in an imaginative way that will solve those problems once and for all rather than merely engaging in piecemeal solutions. Such an overview is extremely important. The Labour Party will be strenuously promoting this document in ensuing months. We believe its contents constitute a formula/package which, if implemented, will greatly improve the present transport system in our capital city, which we all agreed is far from being satisfactory.
I would appeal to the Minister to do  her level best for Waterford by trying to pursuade Aer Lingus to provide the service to which I have referred, particularly bearing in mind that such an air link would augment tourism figures and revenue in the south east region generally. This would yield a proper and full return not alone on the investment of the State and the public in Waterford Airport but also on State and other investment in tourism facilities throughout the south-east region.
Minister of State at the Department of Tourism, Transport and Communications (Mr. Kenneally): The Minister has already covered the broad range of current issues in Irish transport. However, there are some ongoing developments in the legislative area on which I would like to update the House.
The House will recall the announcement last year by the Minister's predecessor of the Government's decision to establish a commercial semi-State company to operate air navigation services. I can now advise the House that the draft scheme of a Bill for that purpose has been approved and I hope to introduce the relevant Bill in the House later this year.
The new authority will control air traffic in Irish and neighbouring airspace in accordance with international agreements. It will also be the regulatory authority responsible for licensing pilots and certifying the airworthiness of aircraft. However, overall responsibility for safety policy and for the investigation of accidents will rest with the Minister.
The new authority will operate on a fully commercial basis and will continue the commitment to maintain the highest safety standards. The cost of services will be recovered by charging their users. I am also confident that the authority will be able to identify and exploit profitable opportunities in areas such as training and consultancy.
The five-year major equipment renewal programme at State airports, which commenced in 1987 and involved total budgeted expenditure of £20 million, is in its final phase and will be completed this year. As a result of this re-equipment  programme Ireland's air traffic control system and equipment are now on a par with the best that Europe can offer. However, air traffic congestion has been and continues to be a considerable problem throughout Europe. While we have addressed the problems in our airspace we are nevertheless dependent on our European partners doing the same in theirs. Ireland is to the fore in supporting the development of an air traffic control strategy programme for Europe initiated by the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC). This programme, adopted by the ECAC Transport Ministers in April 1990, is aimed at harmonising and integrating the multiplicity of air traffic control systems in Europe.
Speaking about air traffic control affords me an opportunity to respond to a couple of points raised by my constituency colleague, Deputy O'Shea, who spoke about tourism generally in the south-eastern region, placing emphasis on an air link between Waterford and Dublin to be provided by Aer Lingus. As he said, I am fully aware of the position at Waterford Airport since I have been a member of that board for quite some time. I am fully aware of the Deputy's interest and concern in the matter. I have been engaged in efforts to persuade Aer Lingus to reinstate their former flights linking Dublin and Waterford. To that end I have already met Mr. Bernard Cahill, the chairman of Aer Lingus and I have also spoken to him on the telephone. I already have a copy of the Coopers & Lybrand report, to which Deputy O'Shea referred. I have made arrangements for one of the authors of that report to meet with senior executives in Aer Lingus. That meeting has already taken place. I am committed to trying to re-establish the air link between Waterford and Dublin and let me assure Deputy O'Shea that my efforts in this regard will continue. In the course of his speech Deputy O'Shea referred to the local contributions to Waterford airport and he also acknowledged the part the State played in establishing and improving it. The Government are committed to that airport and moneys have been  provided to erect a new terminal building that will open shortly. It is hoped that the Taoiseach will come to Waterford in the near future to perform the official opening.
Deputy Yates referred to the bus competition Bill and I assure him that legislative proposals on competition in the bus industry are under consideration. Proposals are being examined in my Department to liberalise the industry with the objective of improving the level and quality of service available to the general public as well as introducing competition on a sensible and orderly basis.
Meanwhile the liberalisation process has been moving apace in the road haulage sector. A licensing framework on a harmonised basis throughout Europe, based on professional standards governing access to the occupation of road haulier rather than any quantitative restrictions on the number of licences, is now firmly in place and our attention has turned towards securing a free and more integrated road haulage market. While final agreement on the post-1992 regime is still outstanding, it is most likely that from 1 January next all properly established hauliers in each member state will have automatic access to operations of an international nature in the Community. The opportunities for Irish hauliers to seek business abroad continues to be facilitated not merely in the EC but through the wider forum of the European Conference of Ministers of Transport, representing 22 western and central European countries, and through the many bilateral road transport agreements that Ireland has and is continuing to forge with other European countries. The Minister and I are committed to creating the administrative and legislative framework which will allow Irish transport to expand and grow and to capitalise fully on the opportunities which the Single Market will open up for our transport industry.
Mr. Byrne: The Minister, I am sure, is aware that drastic problems require drastic solutions and it is no exaggeration  to say that Dublin is now facing a traffic crisis of drastic proportions. Unless urgent remedial action is taken there is a real danger that the city centre will grind to a virtual halt with a consequent disimprovement in the quality of life for those who live and work in this city.
The main problem is cars. Stark statistics show that 55,000 cars and commercial vehicles stream across the 25 Grand Canal bridges each morning between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. and return home each evening. This constitutes what can be accurately described as an avalanche of motorised iron which, if left unchecked, will steadily choke the city centre to death. We firmly believe that this avalanche must be stopped if the city is to survive.
At present approximately 52 per cent of commuters travel to work in the city by car or commercial vehicle compared with the 34 per cent who travel by bus or rail. We believe that any solution to Dublin's traffic problems requires an incentive for commuters to use public transport. We have to take a carrot and stick approach: there has to be an incentive to the commuters to leave their cars at home and use public transport together with a distinct disincentive to motorists who bring their cars into the city. We believe there is no other way to solve this problem. One of the most effective ways in which this change can be achieved is through road pricing. We appreciate that some people may see proposals for road pricing as “anti-motorist”, but this is not quite so. We believe the enemy is not the motorist: the motor car in the city at peak times is the common enemy of everyone who has to use the city and the people who reside in the city.
Road pricing proposals should not and would not be designed to discourage car ownership but simply to encourage a more discriminate use of the car. Because of the controversial nature of road pricing may I make two important points: first road pricing could only be introduced as part of an overall transport package which would provide for a vastly improved public transport system; second, motorists are already paying  heavily, though indirectly, for the chaos in additional fuel consumption and time wasted in traffic. The limited charges to be imposed on motorists who bring their cars into the city at peak times would almost certainly be cancelled by the saving in terms of time and fuel consumption.
I was delighted that the light rail transit system got such an airing as we essentially led that campaign. However, we have always argued that a light rail transit system of itself would not be the solution to our problem; it is only if we put in place a comprehensive and integrated transport plan that we can be successful.
Dublin is at an historic crossroads and is faced with the stark options of regeneration and survival or death by decay and abandonment, when those who live in the city leave and when others fail to move in. The survival of Dublin as a lively and thriving city depends on the survival of its inner core. The continued depopulation of the inner core with movement to the outer suburbs indicates that urgent steps are required if Dublin is to be saved as a real living city. Transport policies have a knock-on effect in many areas——
Acting Chairman (Mr. Pattison): May I remind the Deputy that he has exceeded his five minutes?
Mr. Byrne: We usually get a minute's warning and I am almost finished anyway. As I am saying, transport policy has a knock-on effect on many areas and has a major influence on the quality of life of citizens in the capital. An integrated transport policy could play a key role in shaping the future of Dublin. A real living city needs people living in the city centre. In order to attract families back into the city centre and to stem the flow of existing inhabitants migrating from the centre, the quality of life must be improved as roads and more cars make the city a less attractive place in which to live. Crucial decisions will have to be made in a number of areas which will determine whether the city will live and thrive or linger on by being commercially  alive during the day but being crime ridden at night.
Mr. Stafford: I have one or two points to make, but it looks as if I will make only one, and that is on the question of direct transatlantic flights into Dublin. I believe we should at all stages ensure that the agreements made will not unduly affect the status of Shannon Airport as a hub airport for transatlantic flights. However, we should be encouraging other airlines to operate in and out of Ireland. If we do not do this we will be in the serious position where people in North America will not perceive Dublin as the capital city of Ireland.
If we succeed in attracting transatlantic flights directly to Dublin we should ensure that at all stages Shannon Airport remains the premier airport for transatlantic services, but at the same time we should also ensure that Dublin, as our capital city and one of the major cities of Europe, should be a destination for direct transatlantic flights.
An Ceann Comhairle: We are dealing with priority questions which I hope, with the co-operation of the Deputies, to complete within the time stipulated in Standing Orders.
1. Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the present status regarding the bovine disease eradication programme; if ERAD is still in existence; if he will outline the extent to which round testing is taking place; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
13. Mr. Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he will outline his intentions in relation to the TB eradication programme.
Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Browne,: Wexford): I propose taking Questions Nos. 1 and 13 together.
The ERAD four-year term concluded in April this year and in accordance with the undertaking in the Programme for Economic and Social Progress, I initiated discussions with farming and veterinary organisations to review progress under ERAD and devise an agreed consensus on the bovine TB programme for the next four years to 1996. In the course of these discussions, the thrust of the programme has largely been agreed with the exception of a small number of issues. Discussions are also taking place with the EC Commission with a view to securing funding for the programme.
Under the current testing programme a herdowner can obtain a herd test on request, and testing has also been issued to coincide with the establishment of a leukosis-free status for the national herd. The volume of TB testing is well on target and almost one third of the country's 172,000 herds have already been tested in 1992.
Mr. Deasy: Is the Minister aware that the feeling abroad is that ERAD is falling asunder and that the entire TB testing scheme has ceased to function as it should? I understand that no round testing is taking place at present. This is rather an alarming state of affairs.
Mr. Browne: (Wexford): The Government are anxious to resolve the problem. As I said, two issues have still to be resolved — the problem involving the veterinary practitioners and the proposal by the ICMSA that the scope of the disease levies applicable to milk sold and animals slaughtered should be broadened to include mart sales. This proposal is at variance with the thinking of the IFA and ICOS. We are working to resolve these problems as quickly as possible.
Mr. Deasy: Does the Minister have an estimate of the cost of the bovine TB eradication scheme to date? Would a figure of £1 billion sound accurate?
Mr. Ferris: There is a question on the Order Paper relating to that issue.
An Ceann Comhairle: If this is the case, we sought not to anticipate that question.
Mr. Ferris: Perhaps the Minister would like to take both questions together.
An Ceann Comhairle: That would not be appropriate now.
Mr. Deasy: Does a figure of £1 billion sound accurate?
An Ceann Comhairle: I call Question No. 2.
Mr. Deasy: I will answer the question myself: the figure is probably in excess of £1 billion.
2. Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the plans, if any, he has to assist those involved in deer farming and, in particular, if headage payments will be allowed in respect of deer; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): Deer farming has been one of the enterprises eligible for aid under the alternative enterprises scheme, which forms part of the Operational Programme for Rural Development. The scheme provides for grant aid, at the rate of 50 per cent of the approved cost of fencing, housing and handling facilities to deer farmers in less favoured areas and 40 per cent elsewhere subject to a maximum investment ceiling of £20,000 per applicant over the period of the programme.
The scheme also provides for grants towards the cost of female breeding stock required to establish a new herd or expand an existing herd subject to a maximum grant of £4,000 per application. To date a total of £438,000 has  been paid to about 100 applicants under the scheme.
However, there has been an exceptionally high interest in the grant scheme for alternative enterprises and the moneys provided for this measure out of the EC Structural Funds allocated to Ireland in 1989 have now been fully committed. Further grant approvals are, therefore, not being made. I will be seeking a much increased allocation for these schemes when the priorities for the new round of Structural Funds are being considered.
The EC regulation under which the compensatory allowance scheme operates does not allow for the payment of headage on deer.
Mr. Deasy: Does the Minister agree that it would be a great incentive to deer farmers if headage was paid for deer? Is the Minister prepared to make a case for the payment of headage for deer?
Mr. Walsh: I take the Deputy's point. Deer farming is becoming an important alternative enterprise. If we could get the processing and marketing elements right it would be a suitable enterprise on many farms where there are quotas and where farmers cannot make an adequate income. In 1989 we sought Community funds for headage but our request was turned down on that occasion. I will be happy to pursue the matter again to see if it can be included in Community funding because most other quadrupeds qualify for headage payments.
Mr. Deasy: I thank the Minister for his reply and hope he will be successful in getting headage payments for deer. Has the Minister's Department or CBF carried out a study as regards the export potential of venison, if there is a shortfall in this product in the EC and, if so, can we play a substantial role in filling that shortfall?
Mr. Walsh: I asked CBF to look at the export potential of venison because the deer herd has been expanded and it would not do deer farming or the people  involved in that enterprise any good to end up with no market for this product. CBF are considering the inclusion of venison under the Act. A few outstanding issues — the payment of a levy by deer producers or an increase in the Exchequer grant aid to CBF — have yet to be resolved and are being actively considered.
3. Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he will outline the full implications for Irish farmers of the results to date of his Council of Ministers meeting on the review of the Common Agricultural Policy; if he will address in particular the changes in the milk, beef and cereals sectors; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
50. Mr. Sherlock asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he will make a statement on the outcome of the EC Farm Ministers talks on reform of the Common Agricultural Policy; and if he will outline the likely impact on consumers.
Mr. Walsh: I propose to take Questions Nos. 3 and 50 together.
The Common Agricultural Policy Reform negotiations which were concluded at the Council of Agriculture Ministers on 21 May were without doubt the most important development in the field of agriculture and food sector of the Irish economy since our accession to the Community.
Mr. Deasy: On a point of order, if the Minister has a very lengthy reply it may use up the rest of priority time. I believe that all Deputies would appreciate if the Minister could abbreviate his reply as much as possible.
Mr. Walsh: I have a very fulsome reply because I have a very good story to tell. Nevertheless, I can reduce it somewhat.
Mr. Deasy: The Minister can tell us the story in the bar.
Mr. Walsh: I want to make it crystal clear that I am happy with the outcome of the negotiations. I am also very glad that most farm leaders on reflection, mature and otherwise, are extremely happy with the outcome of the negotiations.
Mr. Deasy: I never thought I would see Tom O'Dwyer happy.
Mr. Walsh: He is coming round.
Mr. Ferris: We are wasting time.
Mr. Walsh: The conclusion of the negotiations eliminates the uncertainty surrounding this matter. The alternative to the reform proposals would be severe price cuts without compensation. I have just come from the inaugural meeting in the Department of the group set up to examine the food processing industry. They have been asked to respond adequately to the new situation in which we find ourselves. Last night a number of speakers, including Deputy Deasy, queried whether we were professional enough to take advantage of the market. I want the best and most professional people available to draw up a programme for me so that the Department can implement it next year. I will leave the details of the implications of the Common Agricultural Policy reform for Irish farmers for further discussion.
Mr. Ferris: I was hoping to get some details but I accept that we got a lot of information yesterday evening. As there will be no change in the milk quota, there will be no compensation. However, there is a proposal to reduce the milk quota. Will this reduction give a new level of compensation in the area of milk production?
Mr. Walsh: I am happy to confirm that there will be no quota cut and no price cut in milk in the current year. In the following year it is proposed that there will be a 1 per cent quota cut and a 2.5 per cent price cut in butter. That will come only about following a submission  by the Commission to the Council of Ministers in the light of market trends at that time. I will have to wait until the matter comes before the Council of Ministers before I can give any further elucidation on that question.
Mr. Ferris: If there is a price cut in butter or a quota cut in milk would the Minister guarantee that compensation will be paid to producers?
Mr. Walsh: I am sorry I cannot give any guarantee on the matter because it has not come before the Council of Ministers yet.
Mr. Ferris: Would it not be natural that that would happen?
Mr. Walsh: Milk prices are very buoyant this year. Milk and dairy farmers will benefit from the lower cereal and concentrated feeding costs. We have succeeded in having the co-responsibility levy dropped. Therefore, the outlook for milk and dairy farmers is excellent this year.
4. Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if his attention has been drawn to the fact that there is still considerable dissatisfaction concerning the operation of the beef premium scheme; if he will set up local task forces to see that all genuine applications are accepted for payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
118. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if the final review of rejected applications for beef and cow premiums has been completed; if there are indications as to an increase in the number of approvals; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Mr. Walsh: I propose to take Questions Nos. 4 and 118 together. I acknowledge that there were problems at an earlier stage with the 1991 special beef premium scheme but new arrangements  put in place earlier in the year have already resulted in the clearance of most of the problem cases and in particular those involving genuine accidental error. To date, some 88,717 applicants who lodged applications in the summer of 1991 have been paid and it is expected that all cases which can be paid will be cleared shortly.
There was a second application period for 1991 premium in December 1991 and it is expected that a further 4,500 to 5,000 applicants will be paid on foot of these applications. Over 1,500 of the December applicants were paid premia this week and the payments will be concluded over the coming weeks. The present position, therefore, is that over 90,000 applicants have already been paid under the 1991 special beef premium scheme. This figure which should increase by a further 3,000 to 3,500 is well in excess of the total number of payments made under the 1990 scheme when 87,899 applicants were paid; even the number of summer applicants paid under the 1991 scheme alone exceeds the total 1990 figure.
These figures are a clear indication of the success achieved in the operation of the 1991 special beef premium scheme. In these circumstances I do not believe that there is any necessity to set up local task forces. Some cases will inevitably fall outside the tolerances allowed by the EC for errors and these cases must, unfortunately, be refused. My Department have no discretion in such cases.
I am satisfied that everything possible has been done to resolve the 1991 problem cases and I am confident that the new arrangements which are being put in place for 1992 will result in a smoother operation of the special beef premium scheme in the future.
The position in relation to the 1991 EC suckler cow premium scheme is that close to 78,000 applicants have already been paid. Some further payments are due to issue over the next week and I expect the final outturn for 1991 to be close to the total number of payments under the 1990 scheme.
Mr. Deasy: It gives me no pleasure to  be at odds with the Minister but his reply does not coincide with the facts. The operation of the scheme is a disgrace. The Minister set up a task force to monitor cases of controversy, but Deputies on all sides of the House repeatedly receive complaints about people being disqualified on trivial grounds. Something must be done about this matter. It is the worst case of abuse of bureaucracy I have ever witnessed.
An Ceann Comhairle: Questions, please.
Mr. Deasy: The Order Paper is full of written questions every day about nonpayment of beef premia. I would ask the Minister to agree to the suggestion that local committees should be set up within each county to monitor the position, comprising representatives of the Department and the farming organisations. There is a crisis and the Minister does not seem to appreciate that.
An Ceann Comhairle: I am sorry, the question is going on too long, to the detriment of the Deputy's next question.
Mr. Deasy: I can suffer that.
Mr. Walsh: I repeat that I am making no excuses whatsoever. The scheme has been unsatisfactory and its administration has caused tremendous problems. As 100 per cent of the funding comes from Europe the only people suffering are the individual herd owners. This is one of the problems I addressed on my appointment. Early next week I hope to have simplified forms and help sheets issued to ensure that the people in Teagasc and the regional offices are of more assistance to people when applying for these premia. The substantially increased premia for the future should ensure a smooth operation of these schemes. It will be in my interest to ensure that this year and in the future all applicants are paid in the calendar year in which they apply.
Mr. Deasy: If the Minister is not prepared  to set up local committees — I can understand that he may have objections to that — would he be prepared to set up an all-party committee of this House, comprising the spokespersons of the parties and one or two Ministers of State, to discuss the matter? The administration of the scheme is unsatisfactory. People are suffering and that is unacceptable. Would the Minister agree to my suggestion rather than have Deputies clogging up the Order Paper with numerous questions on the issue? Obviously, the task force has not worked.
Mr. Walsh: When the recommendations of the task force were presented to me only a few weeks ago I immediately arranged for the simplified forms to be delivered to the printers. They, together with the help sheets, have been printed and within the next few days I will introduce——
Mr. Deasy: That is no good to the people affected in 1991.
Mr. Walsh: No, it is not, but only a very small number of problem cases relate to 1991.
Mr. Deasy: There are a few dozen cases in my constituency.
Mr. Walsh: I would be very glad to meet the Deputy to discuss those cases because, as I have said, I am offering no excuses for the problems that have arisen.
Mr. Deasy: May I ask——
An Ceann Comhairle: Sorry, I must now proceed to other questions.
Mr. Deasy: Would the Minister give a quick reply to Question No. 5?
6. Mr. McCartan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the total amount due to food exporters in outstanding export refund payments; the average waiting time for such repayments; if his attention has been drawn to the concern expressed by some exporters regarding the delays; if he intends to take any steps to ensure that payments are made more promptly; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Mr. Walsh: I am aware of the concern expressed by some exporters about alleged delays in the payment of export refunds. I take this opportunity to assure the House that the necessary steps are taken to ensure that properly documented claims are paid promptly. It is important to recognise that the export refund system is a complex one. Entitlement to payment may not be solely dependent on the exportation of eligible products from the Community but also in many cases on submission of transport documentation and on proof of importation into a non-EC country.
The total amount currently outstanding in export refund payments in respect of fully and accurately completed and properly documented claims is some £5 million. The average waiting time for payment of such claims is two to three weeks.
Mr. Ferris: The Minister mentioned some of the complications that have arisen, which necessitated delays. Were any of these delays caused by the country to which the meat was exported not qualifying under this scheme?
Mr. Walsh: That has not been the case. The reasons for the delays, I have been advised, were inaccurately completed documentation by the exporter, incomplete documentation in relation to transhipment requirements, entries on documentation on query with the customs authorities, export operations concerned under investigation by the customs authorities and or by the Department, and inadequate resources within the Department.
Mr. Ferris: In this £5 million was there  any figure which has been questioned in another place?
An Ceann Comhairle: Let us not talk about other places.
Mr. Ferris: It is relevant and it relates to public money.
An Ceann Comhairle: Let us not talk about other places.
Mr. Ferris: Is there a part of this figure that has been questioned?
An Ceann Comhairle: Question No. 7 please.
7. Mr. T. O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he has any plans to improve the levels of compensation for the voluntary depopulation of herds which have positive BSE outbreaks; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
56. Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he has satisfied himself with the diagnostic procedure, including blood testing, carried out by his Department in animals suspected of BSE, and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Browne,: Wexford): I propose to take Questions Nos. 7 and 56 together.
The only method of BSE diagnosis is by post mortem histopathological examination of the brain. I am satisfied with the diagnostic procedures operated by my Department.
Compensation for the voluntary depopulation of a herd in which an animal has been diagnosed as being infected with BSE is based on the market value of the herd. This results in a fair and adequate level of compensation and I have no plans to change current procedures.
Mr. Ferris: The Minister will be aware of some cases I brought to his attention, particularly with regard to the diagnostic procedure followed. Blood samples are being used by departmental officers purporting to clear animals which have been found on post mortem to have been infected with this disease. We talk about voluntary depopulation and voluntary compensation but are we serious about this disease? Will the Minister review the diagnostic procedure? Why go through the procedure of blood testing if it is valueless? Why clear animals on blood test results when the animal can be identified on post mortem as having this very serious disease?
Mr. Browne: (Wexford): There is as yet no blood test for BSE. The living animal may exhibit characteristics leading to suspicion of BSE. These include aggression, unco-ordination, unsteadiness and nervousness. A conclusive diagnosis is possible only on post mortem examination of the brain. Veterinary staff in the Department have received specialist training in the diagnosis of BSE and private practicioners have been alerted to the symptoms of the disease. I am aware of one case in County Tipperary where there was a constriction in the way the examination was carried out. After a further examination the departmental inspector formed the opinion that the animal was not suffering from BSE and the restriction was removed. However, a laboratory examination later indicated that the animal was infected with BSE. This inconsistency between the laboratory result and the conclusion drawn on the basis of a physical examination of the living animal can arise because the latter is based on a subjective evaluation of characteristics which may differ from animal to animal. Arrangements are being made to deal with the Tipperary case.
Mr. Ferris: Is the Minister aware that there is a further outbreak in the same herd? This is the Minister's responsibility and now we are talking about depopulating the herd. The farmer had made  every effort to convince the Department official that in his opinion, and the opinion of a vet, the animal was infected. Is the Minister satisfied with the procedure we are following for this very serious disease which could ruin our beef industry unless we come to grips with it?
Mr. Browne: (Wexford): I am satisfied. We are the only country that depopulates the full herd when one or more animals are infected. In the UK, and in other countries, they slaughter the infected animal. We depopulated the full herd for trade reasons because it could have serious consequences for the meat industry. I will communicate with the Deputy with regard to the further outbreak in Tipperary to which he has drawn my attention.
8. Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he will outline the way in which his Department came to be involved in meetings where anti-consumer fixing of milk prices was discussed; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
24. Mr. McCartan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he will confirm that meetings between a number of dairies at which the retail price of milk was fixed were held in his Department in the presence of departmental officials; if he will outline his Department's role in this matter; if he considers the holding of such meetings in his Department to be acceptable, especially in view of the findings of the High Court on such price fixing; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Mr. Walsh: I propose to take Questions Nos. 8 and 24 together.
On 18 May 1990 and 11 January 1991 my Department acted as mediator in negotiations between the National Dairies Association and the Irish Farmers Association at the request of both parties. The question at issue was the size  of the reductions in the price to be paid to farmers by the dairies for drinking milk, following upon earlier reductions in the price of manufacturing milk.
The result of the negotiations was a reduction in the price to be paid to farmers of 12p per gallon at the May 1990 meeting and of 5p per gallon at the January 1991 meeting. My Department played no further role other than to let the parties know that it was the Department's expectation that appropriate reductions in the retail price of milk should follow the reductions in the price paid to farmers. In the event, the retail price of milk fell on both occasions by an amount corresponding approximately to the reductions in the price paid to farmers.
My Department were not involved in any fixing of the retail price of milk.
Mr. Deasy: The Minister said that the reduction was in line with the price being paid to farmers but was that just the consumers good luck, or was it a generous gesture on the part of the retailers?
Mr. Walsh: The retailers took their responsibilities seriously. The fact that they were able to purchase milk cheap from farmers meant that on 1 May 1990 the price of milk to the consumer dropped by 1p per pint or 8p per gallon or 2p per litre. On 4 February 1991 the price of milk to the consumer again dropped by 1p per pint.
Mr. Deasy: Can the Minister dictate to the retailers if there is a drop in the price being paid to farmers, that they should reduce their prices accordingly?
Mr. Walsh: No. Both the retail price and the producer price of drinking milk used to be subject to State control, but not any longer.
Mr. Deasy: Is that satisfactory?
An Ceann Comhairle: Let us progress to other questions.
Mr. Deasy: Should not some provision  be made for the Minister to have control to ensure that there is a corresponding drop in the retail price when the price to the farmer falls?
Mr. Connor: Could we add this in, in the light of the Minister's comments on Common Agricultural Policy reform.
Mr. Walsh: In 1988 the control of retail prices was abolished. In the same year producer price control was effectively abolished when the European Commission decided that such control was contrary to EC law.
9. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he will outline the extent to which he expects Irish food products to improve market penetration in EC and other countries in the future having regard to world trade trends; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Mr. Browne: (Wexford): The value of Irish food exports has grown by almost £1 billion since 1985. This level of performance has been based largely on the ability of our food companies to compete in areas such as price, quality and reliability. These factors will determine the extent to which existing markets can be further developed and new markets prised open; in addition the introduction of the Single Market, and also the shift in emphasis away from EC market supports such as intervention under Common Agricultural Policy reform, should provide our companies with new opportunities within the EC provided they devote sufficient attention to quality. Food companies will continue to be supported in their efforts to develop EC markets by Government through the relevant State agencies.
Mr. Durkan: Has the Minister taken into account the possibility of competition within the EC market place from other agricultural countries in his calculations?
Mr. Browne: (Wexford): We have taken competition in the EC into account. There has been a great deal of structural change and streamlining in the industry. Much of this was facilitated by FEOGA grants and from substantial capital grants from the IDA. In the three years from 1989 to 1991 about £113 million was invested to which FEOGA contributed £44 million, and national aid £20 million. We recognise the importance of developing the food industry. As the Minister, Deputy Walsh, said earlier, he was in discussions with the new 15-man committee set up to develop and promote the food industry. We are capable of competing and selling our quality products on the EC market.
Mr. Farrelly: Do the Government intend to enter into negotiations with some of the main co-ops to develop new brands which might penetrate the European market? If so, is the Minister in favour of providing matching funds, pound for pound, to develop such new brands?
Mr. Browne: (Wexford): We are prepared to look at all options in developing the food industry's potential within the UK and EC markets. Irish food companies, notably Avonmore, the Kerry Group and Waterford Foods, have made strategic acquisitions in our major export markets as a means of enhancing market access. Linkages and licence agreements with European and US firms have been entered into which bring many of the benefits of size without having to move to levels of concentration common elsewhere within the EC. This Department will not be found wanting if companies want to develop and expand to meet the challenges within the EC.
Mr. Farrelly: Would the Minister be in favour of using any future funds that may become available through the sale of assets of food companies such as Greencore to penetrate markets in conjunction with successful companies? Has the Minister an opinion on that and is he  prepared to say that this money should be used for re-investment in the development of markets?
Mr. Browne: (Wexford): That is a separate question. If the Deputy puts down a question on this matter, we will answer it.
Mr. Farrelly: The Minister, Deputy Walsh, gave a side kick to the Minister of State not to answer it and to avoid the issue.
Mr. Durkan: Can the Minister confirm the extent to which he has evaluated the impact of the US in the food and agricultural produce area of our marketplace in the next five or six years?
Mr. Browne: (Wexford): A number of our processing companies have acquired US standards of hygiene and quality and it is up to those companies to develop markets within the United States. The Department will give them full support and some help.
Mr. Deasy: The Minister should bring in his crystal ball.
10. Mr. Kemmy asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he has had discussions with the Minister for the Environment regarding the minimum requirements for animal by-product processing to eliminate air pollution in areas throughout the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Mr. Browne: (Wexford): Implementation of the Air Pollution Act, 1987, is the responsibility of the local authorities in the first instance and I have no function in the matter. It a matter for the Minister for the Environment.
Mr. Ferris: The question was whether the Minister had any discussions with his colleague. This is an environmental requirement but it is also an important factor in the agricultural industry. We  must have a by-product processing industry to ensure that agriculture in all its facets is viable. There are constituencies, including mine, where by-product factories are engaged in processing but also impinging on the responsibilities of the Minister for the Environment. Did the Minister of State have any discussions with the Minister for the Environment? The Minister has not answered.
An Ceann Comhairle: I have no control over Minister's replies.
Mr. Ferris: I am trying to elicit an answer.
Mr. Browne: (Wexford): I have had discussions with the Minister for the Environment and I will communicate with Deputy Kemmy to the effect that he should put down a question to the Minister for the Environment.
Mr. Deasy: Would the Minister's Department grant-aid a pig enterprise which might cause a lot of air pollution because of the spreading of slurry in built up or tourist areas?
An Ceann Comhairle: These are specific queries worthy of separate questions.
Mr. Deasy: It is a problem.
Mr. Browne: (Wexford): A new industry setting up in any county is subject to local planning regulations.
Mr. Deasy: Would the Department grant-aid such an industry?
Mr. Browne: (Wexford): If it complied with all the regulations.
Mr. Ferris: The Minister's first reply was that this matter is the responsibility of another Minister. He now admits that he had consultations. What are the results?
Mr. Browne: (Wexford): It is for the Minister for the Environment to deal with the matter.
Mr. Ferris: The Minister should come to Cahir and he will know what the smell is like.
11. Mr. McGrath asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he will outline the action he proposes to take to deal with the problem of soil erosion on hills because of over-intensive stocking of sheep; and if he will give details of compensation that will be made available to farmers in remote rural areas who may lose income as a result of such actions.
17. Mr. Lowry asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he will outline the action he proposes to take to deal with the problem of soil erosion on hills because of over-intensive stocking of sheep; and if he will give details of compensation that will be made available to farmers in remote rural areas who may lose income as a result of such actions.
26. Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he will outline the action he proposes to take to deal with the problem of soil erosion on hills because of over-intensive stocking of sheep; and if he will give details of compensation that will be made available to farmers in remote rural areas who may lose income as a result of such actions.
27. Mr. McGahon asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he will outline the action he proposes to take to deal with the problem of soil erosion on hills because of over-intensive stocking of sheep; and if he will give details of compensation that will be made available to farmers in remote rural areas who may lose income as a result of such actions.
39. Dr. Lee asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he will outline the action he proposes to take to deal with the problem of soil erosion on hills because of over-intensive stocking of sheep; and if he will give details of compensation that will be made available to farmers in remote rural areas who may lose income as a result of such actions.
40. Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he will outline the action he proposes to take to deal with the problem of soil erosion on hills because of over-intensive stocking of sheep; and if he will give details of compensation that will be made available to farmers in remote rural areas who may lose income as a result of such actions.
45. Mr. McCormack asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he will outline the action he proposes to take to deal with the problem of soil erosion on hills because of over-intensive stocking of sheep; and if he will give details of compensation that will be made available to farmers in remote rural areas who may lose income as a result of such actions.
123. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he will outline the action he proposes to take to deal with the problem of soil erosion on hills because of over intensive stocking of sheep; and if he will give details of compensation that will be made available to farmers in remote rural areas who may lose income as a result of such actions.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): I propose to take Questions Nos. 11, 17, 26, 27, 39, 40, 45 and 123 together.
Certain EC initiatives in the environmental area are now developing which should be of assistance in tackling problems arising from over-stocking. Earlier this year my Department introduced two pilot Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESAs) in Slyne Head, County Galway, and the Slieve Bloom area of Counties Laois and Offaly. Aid is available to farmers who undertake measures to protect the environment, including reducing stock numbers where over-gazing is a problem.
Under the Common Agricultural Policy reform which was agreed by the Council last week the accompanying measures include an agri-environment programme which provides, inter-alia, aid for reduction in livestock numbers. Under this programme each member state will be required to draw up a national programme of measures to ensure protection of the environment and covering problems such as over-stocking.
My Department will be working on the preparation of a suitable programme over the coming months. Any scheme under the agri-environment programme will be voluntary for farmers.
Mr. McCormack: I am aware of the scheme in Bunowen-Ballyconneely which is not within an ass's roar of a mountain. This question is related to the over-grazing of heathers on mountains. When heather is grazed to a certain level erosion occurs. What steps can be taken to compensate farmers for restricting their grazing rights on mountains?
Mr. Walsh: In the ESAs grant-aid is available where a reduction in the stocking rate takes place. I should like to see this scheme implemented in a greater number of areas. A trial is currently being conducted in County Mayo by researchers from Teagasc, UCG and UCD relating to soil erosion caused by over-stocking in mountain areas, with particular relation to heathers. As soon as the results of this research are available I will see what appropriate action can be taken.
Mr. Garland: I am very pleased that the Minister and Fine Gael have realised what I have been saying, namely, that there is gross over-stocking in many areas. They are late converts. Would the Minister agree that the stocking rates are still far too high and should be limited to perhaps 300 per farmer? Would the Minister agree that the real answer is a headage payment for people and not for sheep? There should be a basic income for everyone.
Mr. Ferris: More would emigrate then.
Mr. Farrelly: There would be a certain amount for the Greens.
12. Mr. Bradford asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the removal of the clawback clause from milk quota leasing arrangements is making it impossible for small and medium sized dairy farmers to lease extra milk quota; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Mr. Walsh: Following my decision to remove the milk quota clawback arrangements, I immediately announced details of the temporary leasing scheme which has now been put in place. I have increased the amount of quota which a producer can offer to this scheme from the 70 per cent maximum which applied in previous years to 99 per cent.
As there is no transfer of land required under this scheme, and the arrangement is a simple procedure operated by the producer's own co-operative/dairy, this increased level of quota which may be leased along with the increase in the maximum payment from 20p to 25p per gallon should be an attractive option for quota holders who for some reason are not using their entire milk quota in the current year and would otherwise have had to consider leasing their land.
I have also maintained the priority category arrangements for the allocation of the quota offered to this scheme and again, small producers with quotas of less than 30,000 gallons are the first category which is given total priority.
Because of the changes which I have effected to the temporary leasing scheme, additional quota should become available to the priority categories.
Mr. Bradford: For once the reply gives me the information I sought because the Minister said “following my decision to remove the milk quota clawback arrangements...” It had intrigued me as to how this decision came about. I heard very little public demand for it and I am extremely concerned——
An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Bradford, this is Question Time.
Mr. Farrelly: Do not put him off his stride.
Mr. Bradford: Would the Minister agree that his decision makes it virtually impossible for small and medium sized quota holders to lease milk? I have studied the figures over the past number of years on the clawback scheme. Would the Minister agree that the clawback scheme was extremely effective in assisting smaller producers to lease milk? That advantage has now disappeared completely.
Mr. Ceann Comhairle: I am very sorry. I want to assist the Deputy in eliciting information but it must be done by way of supplementary questions; speechmaking is out of order.
Mr. Bradford: Would the Minister agree that small and medium sized milk quota holders will have grave difficulty in competing with larger quota holders to lease milk?
Mr. Walsh: First, I would like to give the reason for my decision. The European Commission expressed their intention to delete the clawback because the proposal was based on legal advice. Because of this and because of doubts about the legality of the clawback, it was, therefore, decided to remove our clawback arrangements with effect from 1 April 1992. In relation to the success or otherwise of the scheme, the reserve which the clawback created was small — about 370,000 gallons between December 1987 and March 1992. This would suggest that leases of land quota were generally being arranged between the small quota holders.
Mr. Bradford: Would the Minister agree that the reason the reserve was so small was that the incentive which existed for small quota holders has now ceased? Has any real incentive been put in place?
Mr. Walsh: The clawback was deleted  on legal advice. I immediately announced details of the temporary leasing scheme, which should make more milk available. I agree with the Deputy that it is extremely difficult for small quota holders to increase up to a viable quota unless there is sufficient flexibility in the quota scheme. In the Common Agricultural Policy reform proposals last week I succeeded in getting additional flexibility in quota leasing. We new have a situation where quotas are attached to land. We had the ridiculous situation where quotas were allocated to bungalow dwellers who had no interest whatsoever in maintaining a cow or two in their front garden.
An Ceann Comhairle: There are two Deputies offering. Deputy Ferris and Deputy Farrelly. Brief questions, please.
Mr. Ferris: My supplementary will be very brief because I have discussed this matter with the Minister privately. Does he intend that this liberalisation, which he discussed at the Common Agricultural Policy reform negotiations, concerning the relieving of bureaucracy would also apply to the Mulder quota, which is forbidden to be sold and which could be of assistance to small milk producers if they could get them?
Mr. Walsh: That issue was not part of the proposal adopted. The proposal adopted was for general quotas in legitimate cases of one person or within a family. I am sure many of the Deputies here, including myself, had cases where a parent wanted to divide a quota between two sons and was unable to do so because of the very restrictive regulations which applied. I hope, following the adoption of the additional flexibility in quota leasing, there will be a degree of fairness and latitude to help deserving cases.
Mr. Farrelly: The Minister stated that the decision was made because of legal implications. Was the decision made because of legal implications or because the co-operatives did not want to deal with the number of smaller producers  who would lease the actual quotas and they wanted to get rid of them?
Mr. Walsh: It was made exclusively because of legal implications.
Mr. Farrelly: I hope so.
An Ceann Comhairle: Let us come to Question No. 14.
Mr. Deasy: asked Minister for Agriculture and Food if his attention has been drawn to the constant reports of ill treatment of Irish greyhounds sold to greyhounds tracks in Spain; and if it is his intention to stop this trade completely or to have the situation closely monitored until such time as he is satisfied that the greyhounds are cared for in a proper manner.
124. Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he has fully satisfied himself with the method and standard of transfer of greyhounds to Spain from Ireland; if he will give details of any follow up veterinary advice; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Mr. Walsh: I propose to take Questions Nos. 14 and 124 together.
Transporters of animals, including greyhounds, are required under the Transit of Animals (General) Order, 1973, to ensure that the welfare of animals is safeguarded during transport. Consignments are subjected to monitoring by inspectors of the Department of Agriculture and Food to ensure that such requirements are observed and that standards of transport are satisfactory.
Most exports of greyhounds from this country to Spain have until recently been organised by Bord na gCon. However, the board suspended its involvement in such exports last October pending the carrying out of an assessment by the World Greyhound Racing Federation of the conditions within the Spanish greyhound industry. The asessment has been  completed and certain recommendations have been made to the Spanish authorities. Bord na gCon have not, however, resumed the trade.
Mr. Deasy: I was not concerned about the transport of the animals because I understand that is done in a proper and humane manner. I was worried about the continuation of the trade because it is obvious from newspaper reports over the past number of years that Irish greyhounds exported to Spain are treated in a diabolical manner. We should not be party to any such trade until we are satisfied that the Spaniards are willing to keep those animals in proper conditions. Am I right in reiterating the point that this trade will not be continued until such time as the Minister is happy that the Spaniards will conduct themselves properly?
Mr. Walsh: Yes, I would like to give Deputy Deasy that undertaking. I am aware of his interest in the greyhound industry. It seems that greyhounds exported to Spain, after long and distressing journeys, were kept in the worst possible conditions in Spain and afterwards were expected to run on tracks sometimes while they were ill or injured, thus rendering them of no further use. It was further alleged that many of these greyhounds ended up in Spanish laboratories for experimentation. No responsible Member of this House would want that kind of ill treatment to continue.
Mr. Deasy: Have Bord na gCon discerned whether there has been an improvement in the treatment of these dogs?
Mr. Walsh: The information I have is that the World Greyhound Racing Federation concluded that greyhounds for export to Spain, under the aegis of Bord na nCon, would have to be certified, checked and monitored by a veterinary surgeon as healthy and fit to travel, the vehicles checked, an assurance given that the dogs were up to standard before being expected to run and that the kennelling  was up to the highest standards of ventilation, light etc.
Mr. Farrelly: The Minister informed us that Bord na gCon ceased the export of greyhounds to Spain. Is he aware that a member of the board purchased 35 greyhounds for that purpose since this decision was made by the board without taking into consideration the decision that was made, but with a view to making a quick buck, and without also taking into consideration the conditions there? The Minister also said that his reply is given on the basis of reports. Why do we not send someone out there to check on this situation and, if it is as bad as this, what action will the Minister take in connecion with the member of Bord na gCom who purchased greyhounds after the decision was made to cease the exportation of greyhounds?
An Ceann Comhairle: The Chair is concerned about reflections cast upon a member of Bord na gCon who might well be identifiable. If serious charges are being made against a person outside this House I would much prefer that they were made by substantive motion rather than in this fashion. This is a privileged Assembly. We should be slow to cast aspersions on people outside the House who have no redress against such accusations.
Mr. Farrelly: It is no reflection. Is the Minister going to reply?
Mr. Ferris: My question recognises the fact that Spain is within the European Community. In 1993 there will be free borders and we will be able to freely export all products, including people, money and animals. Can I take it from the Minister's reply that he will not preclude exports to any country within the Community of animals, which complies with the regulations, to a legitimate purchaser who would look after the animals properly? Surely we cannot stop trade with a fellow member state.
An Ceann Comhairle: The question  deals with Spain and I am concerned that we might go outside that area.
Mr. Ferris: It is Spain I am talking about. Spain is a member of the Community.
Mr. Walsh: I have no knowledge of the allegation which has been made. However, we asked the World Greyhound Federation, when these reports came to our attention, to examine and report on the conditions which obtain within the Spanish greyhound racing industry. While the federation reports that no deliberate acts of cruelty were observed they, nevertheless, came up with recommendations. The recommendations were sent to the Spanish greyhound authorities who subsequently informed Bord na gCon that the main recommendations in the report had been implemented. However, the present position is that exports of greyhounds through Bord na gCon remain suspended.
An Ceann Comhairle: Let us have a reply to No. 15, please.
Mr. Farrelly: Will you ensure that the board adhere to it?
Mr. Ferris: There has been no answer at all to my question.
Mr. Walsh: The position is that we are mindful of the possibility of cruelty and——
An Ceann Comhairle: I have called Question No. 15. Let us have a response.
Mr. Farrelly: The English press are making a meal out of it, unfortunately. We should have it checked out.
Mr. Ferris: I cannot get an answer to my question.
An Ceann Comhairle: Supplementaries should cease when the Chair calls another question.
Mr. Ferris: I had asked a Supplementary before you did so.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Chair always facilitates Deputies, including the Deputy concerned.
Mr. Ferris: But the Minister did not——
An Ceann Comhairle: Let us have no further argument about it.
Mr. Farrelly: After being a blooded friend of his for years.
15. Mr. Boylan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when headage payments will be made to a person (details supplied); the reason for the delay in making these payments in view of the hardship being caused; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Mr. Walsh: This applicant has already been paid his grants under the 1991 beef cow and equines headage and suckler cow premium schemes. He has been deemed ineligible for grants under the 1991 special beef premium scheme as he listed on his application form two animals on which premium had already been paid. He did not apply for grants under the 1991 sheep headge scheme. There was no delay in making the payments due in this case.
Mr. Connor: This man is typical. How on earth can the Minister justify this type of question having to be answered? I agree that the Minister's answer today said it has been paid but there are still thousands like this man in the country.
An Ceann Comhairle: This question refers to a specific case. I am not allowing any extension of that case.
Mr. Connor: It has a general relationship which is very relevant.
Mr. Durkan: I have a question on that case.
An Ceann Comhairle: On that case only.
Mr. Durkan: Has the Minister evidence that a deliberate omission was made in the application?
Mr. Walsh: In this case the applicant was deemed ineligible for grants under the 1991 special beef premium scheme as two of the 33 animals applied for had already received the premium.
Mr. Durkan: The question I want the Minister to answer is if he or his Department can state that the omission was intentional because that is crucial to whether or not he can qualify.
Mr. Walsh: In general what I have asked the Department to do in cases of accidental or innocent error is to pay people. In this case there was no question but that the two animals concerned had already had the premium drawn in respect of them so they were deemed ineligible, but in all those cases——
Mr. Connor: Who adjudicates on whether errors are accidental or innocent?
Mr. Walsh: There is a relatively small number of cases to be reviewed individually so that people would not be deprived of quota particularly now that there is a higher rate of grant. There is a responsibility on the herdowner to take greater care in filling up the application forms.
16. Mr. Garland asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food whether the Irish Coursing Club are obliged to release hares after a coursing meeting; and if he will make a statement on the situation relating to the recoursing of hares other than on the same day.
Mr. Walsh: There is no legal requirement on a coursing club to release hares at the end of a coursing meeting. However, a standing directive from the Irish Coursing Club to all their constituent clubs requires that, at the conclusion of every coursing meeting all hares must be tattooed and released back to the wild. The directive also requires that this should be done under the supervision of a control steward of the club. The Irish Coursing Club are recognised under the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958, subject to the general control and direction of Bord na gCon, as the controlling authority for the breeding and coursing of greyhounds.
The rules of the Irish Coursing Club make it an offence for a club to course a hare more than once on any day of coursing or trials. In the event of a meeting lasting more than one day a number of hares may be coursed again on the second or third day but at the conclusion of the meeting, must be tattooed and released back to the wild.
Mr. Garland: Is the Minister totally satisfied that these conditions are being strictly observed by the coursing club, because we have information to the contrary?
Mr. Walsh: My information is that these regulations are being observed.
Mr. Gregory: Could the Minister indicate to us what information he has that these regulations are being observed? The only way the Minister could be objectively satisfied would be if there was a wildlife officer in attendance to witness whether or not the hares are released. It is a fact that wildlife officers are rarely in attendance at coursing meetings. If this is not the case, could the Minister indicate how regularly wildlife officers attend coursing meetings. Further——
An Ceann Comhairle: I am not sure that that is part of the question, Deputy.
Mr. Gregory: Let me further ask the Minister to ensure that these regulations  are being adhered to by directing that wildlife officers attend all coursing meetings and witness the release of hares.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy is raising a separate matter warranting a separate question.
Mr. Gregory: It relates to the issue in question.
Mr. Walsh: It is a separate question. The Wildlife Act is administered by the Office of Public Works. I do not have a detailed reply to the Deputy's question but I can certainly ask my colleague in the Office of Public Works and pass the information on to the Deputy.
Mr. Gregory: Let me make the position clear. The question relates to whether or not hares are being recoursed in contravention of the regulations and the Minister stated in his reply that he had information that this was not happening. I am asking the Minister if he could indicate to me where his information comes from. I am suggesting that the controls steward of a coursing club to which he refers is not an independent source of information. Coursing clubs have been shown——
An Ceann Comhairle: We have had some specific questions.
Mr. Gregory: Will you allow the Minister to answer? Coursing clubs have been shown, according to replies to parliamentary questions, to be using diseased and sick hares.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy is embarking on a speech. This is not good enough.
Mr. Gregory: I am not. I am making a point——
An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Gregory, please desist. Allow your supplementary questions to be replied to.
Mr. Gregory: Could I make one final point?
An Ceann Comhairle: A question, Deputy.
Mr. Gregory: By way of question, which I have tried to explain, I am simply making the point——
An Ceann Comhairle: There is no need for explanation.
Mr. Gregory: ——that coursing club officials are not independent sources of information.
An Ceann Comhairle: I have heard all of that before. The Minister to reply now, or else we shall proceed to the next question.
Mr. Walsh: The legal position regarding the Irish Coursing Club controls is governed by section 26 (2) of the Greyhound Industry Act, which recognises the Irish Coursing Club as being subject to the general control and direction of Bord na gCon, the controlling authority for the breeding and coursing of greyhounds.
18. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the persons he or his predecessor has appointed to boards of State agencies since the terms of the review of the Joint Programme for Government was agreed on 18 October 1991; if he will outline, in respect of each such appointee, whether he/she has made and signed a declaration in respect of any interests relevant to their membership of such bodies; and if so, where such declaration may be inspected by members of the public.
Mr. Walsh: Since October 1991, when the terms of the review of the Joint Programme for Government were agreed, the following appointments have been made to the boards of two of the State bodies under the aegis of my Department. To the board of Teagasc, Professor  Charles Daly was appointed on 26 February 1992 and Mrs. Mary Walsh was appointed on 26 February 1992. To Coras Beostoic agus Feola, were appointed: Mr. Philip Lynch, the chairman, on 27 February 1992; Mr. Edmund Sullivan on 27 February 1992; Mr. Dan Browne on 3 March 1992; Mr. Edward Power on 3 March 1992; Mr. John Elmore on 3 March 1992; Mr. Michael Reilly on 3 March 1992.
In October 1991 all board members of Teagasc signed an undertaking to the effect that should any conflict of interest arise in the course of their duties they would immediately advise the board. At present there is no facility for inspection of these undertakings by members of the public.
In the case of CBF, arrangements are in train for the completion of a declaration of interests by each board member. However, such arrangements are not yet finalised.
Mr. McCormack: As there is no inspection procedure in place, how does one determine whether the terms of reference or the agreements entered into by those people are adhered to? Members of State boards who offer themselves as candidates for the Dáil or Seanad are obliged to resign immediately from the State board — just to be a candidate. The same kind of procedures should apply to other members of boards.
Mr. Walsh: Board members signed an undertaking that should any conflict of interests arise in the course of their duties they would advise the board itself and they have a responsibility to do that. We are particularly lucky in this country that we have very reputable people serving on our boards — they are not remunerated terribly well.
Mr. Ferris: Eighty per cent of the time.
Mr. Walsh: I certainly welcome the professional people who have agreed to serve on boards.
19. Mr. Byrne asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when it is intended to establish the national consultative council to advise on the progress and implementation of rural development policy which was promised in the Review of the Programme for Government; if he will outline the way the council will function; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
64. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food whether the Government will establish a national consultative council to advise on the progress and implementation of rural development policy.
Mr. Walsh: I propose to take Questions Nos. 19 and 64 together.
I expect to be able to establish the National Consultative Committee on Rural Development shortly.
The committee will be part of the new national structure for promoting rural development now being put in place. The principal purpose of the committee will be to monitor the progress and implementation of rural development policy and to advise me accordingly and to keep the operation of the new structure under review.
Mr. J. Higgins: I wish to ask the Minister whether an interdepartmental meeting took place in his Department yesterday to set down new criteria — additional and restrictive criteria — for the Leader programme. I ask the Minister whether he is aware of the success of the programme in introducing the “bottom up” approach. The programme has enabled many communities to unleash much of their latent resources. Does the Minister know that the IDA, Bord Fáilte and several other State agencies are hell bent on strangling many of those initiatives by encroaching on areas that the Leader programme and those local communities have taken on to themselves and are developing so successfully?
Mr. Walsh: I am not aware of such a meeting. It may very well have taken place, but I certainly was not at it. I am a great supporter of the Leader programme, by which local communities can put forward projects to be decided by the local steering committee of the Leader programme. The steering committee decides which projects are to be grant aided.
Under the European Community regulations the Department have forwarded guidelines to Leader programmes. In the case of one Leader programme at least, I should prefer the guidelines to be not as restrictive as they are, because my understanding of the Leader programme is that it was truly a “bottom up” programme and that if a local steering committee felt that a programme was beneficial to a community then it should be proceeded with. However, I was advised as late as yesterday that up to £50,000 of grant can be made available by the Leader programme to any local community project but that for a sum greater than £50,000 those involved in the project would have to adhere to the guidelines. I am concerned that bureaucracy and red tape might creep into this scheme. I should not like to think that any other State bodies would try to muscle their way into the scheme.
Mr. Farrelly: Examination of the successful Leader applications, which number 15 to 17, shows that applications received from a certain part of the country have not been successful. All of those applying under the Leader scheme displayed a positive commitment. Will a decision be made to allow people to make new applications soon so that they might receive consideration, especially in relation to applications from parts of the country that have not be touched by the programme and have no immediate possibility of receiving a grant?
Mr. Walsh: I have spoken to the European Commission, and specifically the Commissioner himself, who is very keen on this programme. I am hopeful that additional funds will be made available.  Sixteen or 17 applications qualified under the first tranche and the total number of applications would have been double that.
Mr. Farrelly: There were no successful applications from one part of the country, not one.
Mr. Walsh: I am not familiar with the geographic location of successful applications, other than I am glad that west Cork was one area so designated.
Mr. Farrelly: I am sure it was.
Mr. Ferris: All of us support the Leader programme but widespread delays have been experienced in relation to the agencies that have been approved by the Department as being the administrative agencies. There are those who have made applications for funding and projects which should fit into the terms of the criteria and are still waiting for a result after 12 months. We will either have to announce the plans and projects soon or local people who are leaders in their communities will experience frustration.
Mr. Walsh: I agree that there has been a delay in the start up of the projects. I suppose that is because the scheme is completely new. The majority of the 16 successful Leader applications have been legally signed up and it is now a matter for them to get on with the job. I have another concern about proposed projects, in isolated rural areas at any rate. I feel that it may be quite difficult for remote areas to come up with the pound for pound funding. I should like consideration to be given to a proposal for 75:25 per cent funding, particularly for isolated areas.
Mr. J. Higgins: I thank the Minister for his unqualified support for the programme. I should like to ask him to investigate whether or not such a meeting took place and to do everything in his power to ensure that absolutely no restrictions  are put on communities which are obviously finding their way and which are doing tremendous work in the development of programmes. Could I make the further point that Brussels is disgusted at the prospect that there would be a row back, and that would lead to very successful IRDs being pulled out, particularly in the west.
Mr. Walsh: I shall investigate that and communicate with Deputy Higgins.
20. Mr. Spring asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he will outline the implications of the recent European Courts of Justice decision on Mulder quota applicants; if he will give details of the number of Irish beneficiaries and the amounts involved; whether assistance will be offered to these applicants to process their claims; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Mr. Walsh: The decision of the European Court in the case for compensation which was brought by J. M. Mulder and others was handed down on 19 May 1992. This judgment, which refers specifically to these five producers, obliges the Council and Commission of the European Communities to make good the damage suffered by these producers as a result of the original quota regulations. The court must be informed within 12 months of the date of the judgment of the amounts of damages payable, arrived at by agreement between the parties. It would be inappropriate for me to anticipate the outcome of this matter at this stage.
Mr. Ferris: Could the Minister confirm that the Commission are considering all other applicants who would be, by precedent, also entitled to compensation under the Mulder quota? Now that the court has found in favour of three or four individuals, does the Minister know that the Commission are considering all other equivalent applicants?
Mr. Walsh: I do not have that information  in my brief but I shall seek it out and communicate directly with Deputy Ferris.
Mr. Ferris: Does the Minister have any idea——
Mr. Walsh: Unfortunately, I do not. I shall communicate with the Deputy.
Mr. Farrelly: Taking account of the fact that a small number of farmers have now spent years fighting the courts in Europe on this issue, does the Minister intend to help in any way to ensure that the matter is brought to a finality as early as possible?
Mr. Walsh: I should like the matter to be tidied up as quickly as possible because the present position does not serve any useful purpose.
Mr. Ferris: Does the Minister have any idea about the number of people in Ireland who are involved, which was not part of his reply?
Mr. Walsh: The European Court judgment found against the Commission decision and Mulder producers were subsequently awarded additional quota. In Ireland's case generally, 90 per cent of the original production, about 1,600 Mulder quotas, has been allocated, representing about 30 million gallons in the Community as a whole. I do not have the specific number of Irish Mulder quotas.
21. Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he will give details of any information available to his Department regarding the suggestion that insecticides used to kill off warble fly in cattle may play a role in the development of BSE; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Mr. Browne: (Wexford): No information exists in this country which links the use of organo-phosphorus compounds for warble fly treatment in cattle  with cases of BSE. Organo-phosphorus compounds are broad spectrum insecticides which have been use extensively in many species of animal for over 30 years.
The first case of BSE in Ireland was recognised four years ago at a time when the use of organo-phosphorus preparation for warble fly control was greatly diminished. Therefore, the suggestion that these preparations can trigger or otherwise influence the development of BSE must be regarded as purely speculative.
22. Mr. G. O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he will outline his plans for the proper funding of Teagasc to allow it to carry out its functions as set down in legislation.
Mr. Walsh: Teagasc are in receipt of funding from a variety of sources including Exchequer and EC contributions. The Exchequer and EC amounts were increased from £36.5 million in 1990 to £41.5 million in 1991 and a further increase has been provided for in 1992.
I am satisfied that Teagasc have adequate resources to carry out their statutory functions. A thorough review of Teagasc's operations and financing is being undertaken by the body at the present time. It will be a matter for the Authority, in the first instance, to decide on any proposals that come forward from the review.
Mr. Ferris: The Minister referred to the EC and State Exchequer funding contributions. Can I take it that the balance of the cost of this service is now being borne by the farmers? Is the Minister aware of the complications in the restructuring of the Teagasc service, which means they must dispose of a lot of property, including buildings in the Minister's constituency — and mine — which is not even their property but belongs to the ratepayers of the counties? Is he aware that this is the implication of the lack of funding from the State, the European  Community and indeed from the farmers themselves, who seem to have to pay for everything?
Mr. Walsh: A breakdown of the funding shows that the Exchequer contributed £33.5 million, the EC contributed £9 million and that £14 million came from contract fees, advisory charges, etc.
Mr. Ferris: What about farmers?
Mr. Walsh: Farmers were not particularly involved. The food industry and co-operatives paid Dunsany and Moorepark under contract for much of the work carried out for them. All this came to a total of £58.8 million. As I said, a review is taking place at present and it is a matter for the Authority to decide on the future financing of Teagasc. No proposals from that review have been brought to me.
An Ceann Comhairle: The time for questions has expired but I will allow very brief questions from Deputy Farrelly and Deputy Ryan.
Mr. Farrelly: Is the Minister satisfied with the present level of service provided by Teagasc to the farming community, taking into consideration the cutbacks and the number of farmers who are not in a position to engage Teagasc because of the cost involved?
Mr. Walsh: I am satisfied that Teagasc provide a very professional service to farmers. I was concerned about small farmers who could not avail of the services because of the cost involved and additional finance was made available to make it possible for small and less well-off farmers to avail of the service without charging them. I hope that will ensure there will be a comprehensive service from Teagasc throughout the country.
Mr. Ryan: Obviously, we must await the findings of this report. However, I should like the Minister to give a commitment to this House in line with the one given by his predecessors that the  Government did not have proposals to close or relocate the research centre at Kinsealy. The chairman of Teagasc did not say that Kinsealy would not be closed down——
An Ceann Comhairle: That is a separate matter and indeed the Deputy raised it in the House before. It is not relevant now.
Mr. Ryan: The point is——
An Ceann Comhairle: That must be the end of Question Time for today.
An Ceann Comhairle: I wish to advise the House of the following matters in respect of which notice has been given to me under Standing Order 20 (3) (a) and the name of the Member in each case:
(1) Deputy Durkan — The conflict that exists between the spirit of the Programme for Government as agreed by both Government parties, with particular reference to retention and expansion of indigenous jobs, and the apparent approval by the Government of Bord na Móna's proposals to close Lullymore briquette factory with a loss of 150 jobs; (2) Deputy Connaughton — The problem relating to funding by the Department of Education of the proposed extension to St. Mary's College, Ballygar, County Galway; (3) Deputy Flanagan — allegations of serious ill-treatment of Irish greyhounds exported to Spain and the need for the Minister for Agriculture and Food to investigate matters with a view to addressing the problem; (4) Deputy Hogan — The need for the Minister for Industry and Commerce to outline the measures that will be taken to ensure that food prices will fall as a result of the recent Common Agricultural Policy reform agreement; (5) Deputy Kitt — When grants will be paid for boundary fencing, grading and levelling and toilet facilities for the handicapped, at Crumlin national school, County Galway; (6) Deputy Farrelly — The reason approval has not been forthcoming from the EC for the turkey processing factory at Ardee, County Louth,  where 300 jobs will be created, and the steps the Government intend to take in this regard; (7) Deputy Flaherty — The crisis in funding of the home help service in the Ballymun area which has resulted in no new referrals being accepted, a waiting list for service and the collapse of the whole service by October-November if the crisis is unresolved and (8) Deputy Garland — In view of the undoubted benefits to Ireland's economy as set out in a recent ESRI report, the reason Ireland has opposed the proposed energy tax at EC level.
I have selected for discussion the matters raised by Deputies Hogan, Flanagan and Farrelly.
Debate resumed on the following motion:
That a sum not exceeding £132,759,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December 1991, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Tourism, Transport and Communications, including certain services administered by that Office, and for payment of certain grants and grants-in-aid.
—(Minister for Tourism, Transport and Communications.)
Minister for Tourism, Transport and Communications (Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn): The third part of my portfolio is Communications in which I intend to cover the main issues in the broadcasting, telecommunications and postal spheres.
The package of broadcasting legislation enacted in 1988 comprising the Radio and Television Act and the Broadcasting and Wireless Telegraphy Act changed the map of Irish broadcasting in a most fundamental way. Apart from a  small number of diehards, the pirate problem is gone. Instead we have a vibrant independent local radio sector, providing real choice of programmes to the Irish listener. Of the 22 local radio stations currently in operation many have achieved local audiences as good as or better than RTE Radio 1 and 2 FM. In addition to its success in a social and cultural context, the independent broadcasting sector had to be applauded for its job creation impact. Six hundred and fifty jobs, around half of which are permanent, have been created and the ensuing economic spin off in the individual local radio franchise areas and, indeed, the country as a whole is not insignificant.
Unfortunately, the development of the independent broadcasting sector has not been without its difficulties. The non-emergence to date of an independent television service which the 1988 legislation facilitated, the collapse of Century Radio and the teething problems of some local stations all show that independent broadcasting is not a licence to print money.
Broadcasting is a major influence on all our lives. It is particularly important at present, given the revolutionary changes taking place in broadcasting technology, to take the time to reconsider our concepts of the nature and purpose of broadcasting services here. A mere ten years ago not many would have envisaged the plethora of sports channels, film and other special interest channels, general entertainment channels which are available to anyone with the necessary receiving equipment.
Since taking up the Communications portfolio I have embarked on a review of our broadcasting legislation and structures. The most pressing reason for my review has been the problems caused by section 3 of the Broadcasting Act, 1990 in particular, which are being experienced by a number of sectors.
Section 3 of this Act limits the income which can be earned by RTE from advertising, sponsorship and other commercial activities and on the amount of air time which can be devoted to advertising on RTE. The intention was that the portion  of the advertising market which could not be satisfied by RTE would find alternative outlets in the independent services envisaged.
I have embarked on a round of discussions with the sectors affected by or with a direct interest in broadcasting matters. I have met advertisers, advertising agencies, independent film makers, the Independent Radio and Television Commission and local radio operators. I will be meeting other interests. I have also met Irish language interest groups as I believe broadcasting has a pivotal role in the preservation and development of our national language and culture. I will return to this point later.
At my meetings with the groups mentioned above a number of serious operational difficulties arising from the “CAP” provision in the 1990 Act were expressed to me. While I have not yet formulated my proposals for Government on this issue, I have to say that at this juncture it is hard to see how the capping provisions of the 1990 Act have had any positive effect.
Why, the House might ask, does the Minister not simply accept that these provisions are not working and introduce a short Bill simply repealing the offending provisions? I could, but it is not that simple. I want to put in place a legislative regime which will cater for broadcasting development into the next century. I want to get the legislative environment right. My review has the following broad objectives: I want RTE to retain and strengthen its position as our national broadcaster, I also want the independent production sector to get moving again in a businesslike way; we also need a legislative environment which will allow independent broadcasting to build on its successes to date and we must also ensure that Irish companies have access to a strong domestic television service at reasonable rates in order to advertise their products and services. I realise the urgency of the situation but I intend to take as much time as is necessary to determine the extent of change needed.
To return to the theme of the Irish language and broadcasting, I want to  make it clear that this is a fundamental part of my review. Television and radio have the potential for an immense positive or negative effect on the preservatior of our national language and heritage. I have appointed a special adviser to assess how the language is served by broad casters and by broadcasting legislation a present and how this can be improved. One possibility is, of course, the establishment of a Teilifís na Gaeilge service I will be closely examining ways and means of providing such a service and determining the resources needed and to be realistic, afforded. Where such resources will come from must also be determined. It will be news to no one that a separate television service does not come cheaply.
Another important broadcasting development is the introduction of multichannel television services throughout the country through the establishment of MMDS systems. The introduction of this new retransmission system has generated some degree of controversy although much of the comment on it is quite uninformed and often betrays a vested interest at source. Let us be clear about our objective; it is to provide real multichannel television choice to the entire country in a professional, technically competent and cost-effective manner. I am fully satisfied that MMDS is the best in fact the only, option open to us in order to achieve that objective.
Turning to telecommunications, we now have a system which can hold its own, in terms of quality, with anything on offer in Europe today. The reliability of the telephone service, as measured by the percentage of connections at the first attempt and by the level of faults occurring, continues to improve. The lates in telecommunications technology in the form of what is known as integrated services digital networks, ISDN, is being introduced, on a trial basis, with help from the EC STAR Programme and waiting lists for the telephone service continue to fall.
During the year ended 4 April 1991 the company recorded pre-tax profits of over £93.5 million and a dividend of £35 million  payable to the State, was declared. Increasing competition for international services, increasing transfer of business to leased lines, lower growth than forecast and increases in labour and other costs point towards a reduction in profit margins in the short term at least. This problem is currently being addressed by the board of the company and will be dealt with in the next edition of the company's corporate plan which will cover the five years from 1993-94 to 1997-98.
I have asked the company in drawing up this plan to consider particularly such issues as the return to a faster growth path as the recession eases; the realistic scale of emerging competition and how best to counter it; cost control and how productivity might be brought into line with other telecommunications operators. A prime concern of mine is the very high level of charges for international calls from Ireland. This problem was adverted to in the Culliton report and is referred to by many commentators on Irish business and by bodies representing Irish industry.
The introduction of cost based tariffs, that is, charges based on the cost of providing the service, would go a considerable way towards alleviating this problem and this is the direction being urged in the European Communities. I must stress that it is simply not possible to reduce long distance charges and leave it at that. At its present stage of development Telecom Eireann cannot afford to forego significant revenues to bring down charges in one area without a compensating increase in charges in another area.
The combination of highly qualified and skilled people with a modern telecommunications network means that Ireland is now a desirable location for both European and American service industries. This is particularly true in the area of internationally traded financial services but it also applies to other database services. Jobs have already been created in places like Loughrea. Castleisland, Fermoy and Tipperary in processing information such as insurance  claims for US companies after close of business in the US but during normal office hours in Ireland and transmitting the finished product to the US in time for business opening the following day. The recent development of Minitel has also led to provision of jobs in service bureau from Bray to Letterkenny with the prospect of more as the Minitel service develops and expands both nationally and internationally.
The strength of Ireland's telecommunications infrastructure has been recognised as a vehicle for job creation in the area of telemarketing. This is a system of marketing through the intensive use of inbound and outbound telephone calling and databases by specialised foreign companies which might set up here. I understand that telemarketing projects have the potential to generate up to 1,200 jobs in this area and I am confident that, with co-operation between the various agencies involved the establishment of these jobs will help to set against the loss of jobs in Telecom Éireann.
Deputies are already well aware of the nature and extent of An Post's financial problems, and of the efforts being made by the company to resolve those problems.
During the 15 months since An Post's recovery proposals were announced in February 1991, a range of initiatives have been taken to try to ensure that meaningful management-union negotiations could take place and that the course would be cleared for the implementation of measures to reverse the company's loss-making trend. The Labour Relations Commission as well as an independent tribunal set up by the Commission devoted considerable time and effort to that process. I understand that a total of 41 meetings were held since March 1991. The failure of management and unions to agree on recovery measures and the unions' resistance to the recruitment of temporary and part-time staff to reduce overtime levels and costs in the Dublin area are major disappointments.
There have been accusations made  against the management of An Post that they are adopting a hard line approach and not playing fair with the unions. These accusations are well wide of the mark. Towards the end of last year the company paid an outstanding arbitration award to their staff at a cost to the company of £11 million. In addition, the company recently paid the first phase of the Programme for Economic and Social Progress, the annual cost of which is £7.2 million. These payments were made by An Post to their staff while negotiations with the unions to seek cost savings were proceeding. So far no cost saving measures have been accepted by the unions. Also, I understand that the company gave the unions access to their books to check the proposed savings figures.
The plain but unpleasant fact is that An Post are in serious financial trouble and there is an immediate need for remedial action. An Post have suffered financial losses since 1989. Their accumulated losses to end 1991 amounted to £13.8 million. The company were projecting a loss of £8.5 million for 1992 before the postal dispute took place. Their annual overtime bill is £21 million.
At the meeting last Monday between the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, the Minister for Labour and myself there was an exchange of views on the dispute in An Post. It was agreed that we, the Ministers, and ICTU would keep in touch with a view to assisting the parties in their preparation for possible further discussions at the Labour Relations Commission.
The commission recently sought and received elaboration from the tribunal on a number of aspects of their recommendations. Following further consideration of the matter the Labour Relations Commission have invited both parties to discussions this evening. It is my fervent wish that these talks will arrive at a successful conclusion. The House and indeed the general public should know that the Labour Relations Commission have been deeply involved over the last few months in attempting to resolve the issues which have given rise  to this dispute. Therefore, I believe that the parties should avail of this knowledge and expertise to assist them in reaching a settlement.
Finally, I have been accused of adopting a pro-management approach to the resolution of the financial problems of An Post. Let me once again, for the umpteenth time, put the record straight. As I stated recently in the House, I have to consider the national interest. That includes the interests of An Post, all of their staff, postal customers and, very importantly, the taxpayer. My objective is that An Post should continue to provide an efficient and cost-effective postal service in an environment free from service disruption and that the company continue to play their full role in the economic and social life of the community.
Mr. Currie: As in politics nothing is ever totally black or white in industrial relations. In recent times there has not been a better example of Government responsibility for industrial disruption than the present postal dispute. The Government own An Post and are responsible for the policy guidelines within which they operate. The financial crisis central to the present dispute has been known to the Government for at least the past four years. The crisis was acknowledged by the then Minister 16 months ago when, at the time of the publication of the viability plan, he promised urgent action to deal with it.
The Minister for Tourism, Transport and Communications, throughout this dispute, has been part of the problem rather than of the solution thereto, by her one-sided approach which has hardened the attitudes of management and unions and which has queered the pitch of her colleague, the Minister for Labour. The Minister has told us today that she must consider the national interest. Of course, she has to consider the national interest, particularly in relation to something over which she has direct control. We must ask: what is the national interest today? I would suggest that the national interest today is the settlement of this dispute at  the earliest possible opportunity; that is today's national interest.
The complacency of the Government over the past five weeks, in the face of an ever-deteriorating position, has been inexcusable. Last Thursday I heard that the Minister and her colleague, the Minister for Labour, were to meet the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, when I breathed a sigh of relief and thought there was hope. Then I heard that the meeting announced for Thursday was to take place instead on Monday. I wondered why. Had there been some great new development in Irish political life; was it pluralism at last coming into its own? They could not meet on Friday, perhaps because the Muslims have their day of rest on Friday, they could not meet on Saturday, perhaps because the Jews have their day of rest on Saturday, neither could they meet on Sunday because that is the Christian day of rest. No, there was no such reason. Rather was it a lack of urgency — Thursday to Monday, a whole weekend lost while the country and the postal service deteriorates and hardship increases. That is the sort of urgency we have witnessed.
This dispute has resulted in hardship to individuals and financial loss to business and commerce. Each day it continues the situation worsens. Those whose business is seasonal, as in the case of tourism and travel, those totally dependent on the post, such as mail order firms, are in a disastrous position. The sales of our two largest mail order firms have dropped so sharply they have had to lay off staff. For example, Family Album Limited in O'Connell Street have had to lay off ten out of 40 and Oxendales have let many go. The managing director of Oxendales reckons that mail order firms generate £71 million-plus for An Post annually. He was quoted last week as saying: “We are extremely upset at the lack of urgency with which the Government are addressing this dispute”.
Millions of pounds are being spent on alternative delivery methods. A survey undertaken by Dublin Chamber of Commerce shows two-thirds of city businesses  are suffering serious cash flow problems, with 29 per cent claiming marginal problems and only 6 per cent claiming they are unaffected. Cash flow is the single greatest problem especially for companies with overseas debtors or a large number of small debtors, the cost of collection being uneconomic. In short, the very livelihood of people with small businesses is in jeopardy. Does this not require urgent action? Would a speedy end to this dispute not be in the national interest?
Internationally, in the aftermath of the bank strike, our reputation for reliability and stability is being questioned. Business and, therefore, jobs have already been lost, with more suffering the same fate daily. Does this not require urgent action? Would action of that nature not be in the national interest, as the Minister described it?
The old, the sick, the under-privileged, the lonely, all in our society who particularly rely on the post for communication with relatives or for the receipt of money are being subjected to considerable hardship and inconvenience. Does this not require urgent action? To use the Minister's words: would action on this level not be in the national interest?
Consider the position of the “non-combatants”, those on the edge of the dispute though not directly involved, like the 200 postmen in County Dublin, who are working at delivering what letters are available for them and whose wages were made up and ready for payment when management intervened and the thousands of spouses and children who face into this holiday weekend without a pay cheque or welfare benefits after a period of five weeks. Surely this requires urgent action. Would it not be in the national interest to do something about this problem?
The postal dispute is the answer to those who claim for this coalition Government political, financial and management skills, or, indeed any pretension to be caring or sensitive.
An Post's financial losses have been central to the dispute. The annual deficit in 1990 was £9.8 million. The annual  deficit in 1991 was £12.9 million. Because of the financial crisis we had the viability plan which created uproar in rural Ireland in particular, in consequence of the proposals for closing 550 post offices, the installation of roadside letter boxes and the loss of 1,500 jobs. Because of the financial crisis we have the current proposals of An Post, which include the employment of temporary staff in circumstances where permanent jobs will be lost, a proposal which is the flashpoint of the current dispute.
As a result of An Post's efforts to implement these proposals and the unions' resistance to them we have the absurd position that by the end of this week the dispute will have cost An Post an estimated £6.5 million. So much for proposals designed to rescue An Post from insolvency. In addition, business has been lost, some of which will never come back, adding to An Post's longer-term problems.
There is another factor, a development which both management and unions in An Post should take careful note of and of which they should be warned. The hardship, inconvenience and financial loss which has resulted from this dispute has led to an increasing tendency to question the very existence of An Post in their largely monopolistic and protected position. They should pay attention to the clear signals emanating from Brussels in this regard.
My message to the Minister for Labour — I do not wish to address it to the Minister for Communications for the reasons I have given — is to get in there now and clear up this mess. This absurd dispute, if allowed to drag on, could be the worst in the history of the Post Office. It has the potential to be that. It is capable of resolution. Three of the four points at issue have already effectively been resolved — the phasing out of overtime, the relocation to the Naas Road and the closure of the productivity agreement.
That leaves one issue, the question of permanent versus temporary jobs. I am confident from discussions I have had that an acceptable formula can be found. The Minister for Labour should call the  two sides together and find that formula, and he should do so today.
As for the Minister for Tourism, Transport and Communications, there is one useful thing she can do. She can put on the record of his House today exactly what the position is in relation to An Post's viability plan. There has been speculation and leaks that the plan has been shelved, scrapped, amended out of all existence. Will the Minister please clear the matter up? And will she at the same time release the Foley McKeown report, commissioned from NESC by the former Minister.
The Minister has a responsibility to unburden herself also of her alternative proposals for the future funding of An Post and a resolution of their financial crisis. We will then be in a better position to judge whether there is a hidden agenda to the postal dispute, as so many fear.
The Minister referred to the colossal amount of money paid out in overtime and perhaps I should draw her attention to the irony of this. The last time we had a major debate on An Post was when we debated the motion I tabled on 11 June 1991 when the gallery was full of postal workers who had been on a protest march. An Post had decided to write to the union on that date on the very issue of overtime. May I now quote from that letter from Mr. John Russell, Director of Personnel:
As you are aware the office is heavily dependent on the working of overtime in order to maintain quality of service. There is, accordingly, a special obligation to cover overtime which is part of the current normal operational arrangements for the office...
There is also, of course, the standard requirement to work overtime in “the exigencies of the service”. The operational plan for that C.S.O. related to the company's quality of service target of 90% next day delivery, is to clear the night mail every day. Failure to work overtime would undermine this plan and the quality of service would suffer as a result....
In the circumstances I consider it  necessary to ask you to ensure that the normal overtime arrangements are adhered to by, issuing a formal instruction to the branches that overtime is to be worked as usual on Tuesday next.
It looks as if the union is not the only one responsible for excessive overtime and I ask the Minister to bear this in mind.
I will refer briefly to the Broadcasting Act, 1990, and to broadcasting policy. Broadcasting policy is a shambles. The level “playing pitch” is more cratered than the surface of the moon. RTE have earned £8 million above their cap. Advertising on RTE television is so expensive and so limited that money is pouring out of the State to UTV and Sky. The national radio and television alternatives to RTE have failed to get off the ground as the history of Century and TV3 clearly shows. Our people are being denied the high quality Irish alternative they deserve.
Independent Irish producers have been forced into the corporate market to survive because the effect of the cap has been to reduce the number of advertisements being made and restricted independent production. There is unanimity among all sections of the media industry that the Act requires radical change but differences between the Government parties and within Fianna Fáil have resulted in delay after delay.
I will now deal with Telecom Éireann. As an island on the periphery of Europe and the only part of the Community without a land link to mainland Europe it is essential for us to redress our peripherality and isolation by efficient and cheap communications. The telephone is essential to our business life. To pay more for phone calls than our competitors is the same as paying more for labour, electricity, fuel or raw materials. It pushes up the cost of our product and makes us less competitive. In short, it costs us jobs.
Telecom Éireann made a profit last year of nearly £100 million. Yet using a basket of costs for typical business usage, connection, rental and call charges, our international calls are 16 per cent higher  than costs in the Netherlands; 20 per cent higher than in Belgium; 27 per cent higher than in the UK and Germany; 36 per cent higher than in the USA and 40 per cent higher than in France.
In a situation where we have the highest unemployment in the history of the State and when our economic survival depends to such a large extent on doing business with the rest of Europe, the cost of international telephone calls is suicidal.
The stage has been reached where Telecom Éireann are beginning to lose business because of excessive international charges. Businesses are finding it cheaper to make reverse charge arrangements with foreign telephone companies rather than use Telecom Éireann. Indeed, there is speculation that communication giants like AT & T and South Western Bell are entering the Irish market to capitalise on this reverse charge market.
I note that the Minister said:
At their present stage of development Telecom Éireann cannot afford to forego significant revenues to bring down charges in one area without a compensating increase in charges in another area.
I believe we simply cannot afford not to reduce our charges. The real cost of calls has reduced dramatically because of technological advances and the potential for profit is substantial. The recent returns for British Telecom seem to indicate that they have a licence to print money. I have no reason to think that the position in relation to Telecom Éireann is any different.
Telecom Éireann should be told that their international charges are a serious liability to our quest for foreign business, that they retard job promotion and in present circumstances are almost in the category of national saboteurs. If there is no positive response from Telecom Éireann the Minister should use her powers to instruct them to reduce the costs of international calls to at least the average level in other member states.
Mr. Kemmy: We are living in a more open world. At the end of this year we will see the completion of the Single Market. It is time we ended our siege mentality. The fact that this is 1992 is as good a reason as any for doing this.
As Deputy Currie said, we are living on the periphery of Europe. We should not use this as a mealy mouthed excuse for sitting on our hands and doing nothing; rather we should use it as a stimulus to integrate with Europe and find new markets in the world. Nineteen ninety two is also as good a time as any to assess the role played by communications in our society both nationally and internationally. Very often we take television, radio and newspapers and the good work of RTE in terms of good news, current affairs and documentary programmes for granted. I believe RTE have helped to change Irish life for the better.
Despite the panegyric of the Minister about local radio I wish to point out that after four years many local radio stations are in serious financial trouble. The Minister did not allude to this point in her speech. An examination of the wages structure in the 22 local radio stations would make for very interesting reading. The quality of the programming on local radios is very uneven. There is a lack of professional standards and often a lack of balance. We heard much about the need for competition before local radios were set up. Some local radio stations are barely viable. Indeed some of the pirate stations often had more balance and better programmes than the local stations. We need better news, current affairs programmes, documentaries and more middle of the road music on local radio stations. There is far too much bad pop music on local radio stations at present.
Higher standards need to be implemented so as to ensure that there is a national broadcasting code. Local radio stations also need to employ more fulltime staff. As the Minister said, approximately half the staff working in these stations are fulltime. They also need to employ professional journalists who will present balanced news and current affairs  programmes. In short, we need better local radio programmes than we have at present. After four years, it is time to look again at the principle of local radio. We can learn from the mistakes which have been made in the present set-up. The wing and a prayer philosophy followed by many local stations is a poor substitute for high quality programmes.
The technological revolution in communications is showing no sign whatsoever of slowing down or being reversed, and wishful thinking will not make it go away. There will be greater expansion of satellite stations during the next decade.
The Minister and the Government would do well to give greater encouragement to Irish film makers. Some developments have taken place in this area but there is not enough self-confidence among Irish film makers. A formal course for Irish film makers was recently established. I welcome this development; it is a welcome way to learn a new trade. However, it is a poor reflection on us that we did not set up such a course long before now. We need far better programmers if we are going to get even a toehold on the film world. If we do not produce good films this industry will not survive in a competitive world. In this context, we could learn a lot from the Australian experience. During an era of satellite television, videos and mass communications last week's prohibition on The Guardian was foolish, infantile and should not have been allowed to happen in a civilised society. I hope it never happens again as long as I am a Member of this House.
In speaking about communications it would be wrong of me not to avail of the opportunity to comment on the current postal dispute. The Labour Party are extremely disappointed that this dispute was allowed to occur in the first instance. It should never have been allowed to occur in our society. We also deeply regret the manner in which the dispute has been handled by the management of An Post and the Government during the past five weeks. The word “cohesion” has become the buzz word in Europe.  Scarcely a day passes without the world being told either in the newspapers or on radio and television about the need for more cohesion in our society. We are also told about the benefits cohesion will bring. I have seen very little cohesion in the efforts to resolve the postal dispute. There has been an absence of cohesion between the parties concerned. I am well aware of the lengthy negotiations which have taken place between An Post and the trade unions. The Minister referred in her speech to 41 meetings. The figure of £21 million has been bandied about as the amount paid in overtime to An Post workers. I read in the press yesterday that An Post lost £14 million last year and expect to lose a further £30 million by the end of this year. This dispute will not be resolved by reciting figures; one can cite figures until the cows come home but they will not solve this problem.
The Government have adopted a Mexican stand-off approach to this dispute. This attitude is not good enough. Good industrial relations or the restoration of good industrial relations will not be achieved by a negative approach; they will not happen by themselves and, above all, they will not be achieved in a vacuum. An Post have used some unpleasant and unpalatable tactics in this dispute. Nine hundred and seventy An Post employees, including 200 postmen and postwomen in County Dublin, who were paid at a different centre are not now being paid by the company. An Post have also phoned 170 sub-postmasters and told them to take their wages out of the cash they handle in their offices. By adopting this policy I believe An Post are in direct contravention of section 45 (2) of the Postal and Telecommunications Services Act, 1983, which states.
Save in accordance with a collective agreement negotiated with any recognised trade union or staff association concerned, a member of the staff of the Department of Posts and Telegraphs who is transferred on the vesting day to either company shall not, while in the service of the company, receive a  lesser scale of pay or be brought to less beneficial conditions of service than the scale of pay to which he was entitled and the conditions of service to which he was subject immediately before the vesting day.
I believe An Post are in direct contravention of that provision. The Minister cannot preside over such a situation without taking action. The Government have a duty to create a framework or infrastructure which will make for good industrial relations not only in An Post but in other organisations. The need for such action is very evident in the challenging times in which we live. The Government have not taken such action in regard to the postal dispute.
I am disappointed that the Government have not availed more of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions to resolve this dispute. They have an excellent record in recent years in helping to solve industrial disputes. It could well be said that in many cases the Irish Congress of Trade Unions have shown a far more acute awareness of the need to avoid and settle disputes than the Government or employer organisations. They also give their services free; they cost the country nothing. They are only too well aware of the problem of unemployment and the many serious issues with which we have to deal. They have repeatedly shown a heightened sense of responsibility of the need to face up to their duty. I wish the same could be said about the Government and An Post in this context.
The Irish Congress of Trade Unions have requested the Minister, the Government and the management of An Post to adopt a more flexible approach to the negotiations. They have pointed out to the Minister that the trade unions were prepared to accept three of the four recommendations put forward by the three man tribunal set up to consider the dispute. They have repeated that the unions are prepared to negotiate the fourth recommendation. Surely this is a way forward. It is a formula for recommencing the talks with a view to ending  the dispute and creating good industrial relations in An Post.
The unions have agreed to phasing out overtime, and that is a matter that should have been referred to in the Minister's speech. Nobody likes to lose wages and the agreement by unions and workers that overtime be phased out over a period of time is a positive way forward. I would urge the Minister to use the Labour Relations Commission to bring an end to this dispute. To get talks going is not a sign of weakness on the Minister's part but rather it is a sign of strength. There is an obligation on all of us to compromise and find a way forward. If there is a row in our own homes it must be solved by negotiation. By standing back from the problem we will not solve it; we must move forward. If money is due to the workers it should be paid. That would help ease their hardship and would create goodwill.
In order to create a good industrial relations climate positive thinking is necessary on the part of the Minister and the Government. I urge the Minister to avail of the good offices of Congress, who have a good track record and are ready, willing and able to solve this dispute. I know that Peter Cassells, a man of impeccable rectitude and principle, and Kevin Duffy, a most experienced negotiator who have helped to solve other disputes, including the recent bank dispute, will meet the Minister and anybody involved with a view to solving the postal dispute. There is co-operation on all sides and it is a reflection on this House that the dispute is being allowed to continue. There is no reason that it should continue for another day. I have 32 years negotiating experience in trade unions and I believe that with a little effort and goodwill the dispute can be solved.
The Minister, together with the Labour Court and the Labour Relations Commissions, should take action to solve the dispute and in so doing she will not lose face. Some time ago when Dr. Patrick Hillery was Minister for Labour  he incurred the wrath of people by trying to create a climate of good industrial relations between trade unions and employers. In the new united Europe it is very necessary to create good industrial relations. There is no easy way forward for our country which faces many problems. Unless the Minister and the Government show leadership in this area there will be further disputes down the line. If the Minister is magnanimous enough to tackle the problem head on, and to speak to the unions and the workers, she will create much goodwill and will help solve this problem which is resulting in a haemorrhage of money and resources at a time when our country can ill afford it. I would urge the Minister to invoke the service of Congress in this dispute. If she does so, it could be solved within three days.
Proinsias De Rossa: In the five minutes available to me I will concentrate on the postal dispute. The failure of the Government to intervene to seek a solution to the postal dispute is a sinister development in Government policy. An Post, who are already in financial difficulties, are incurring additional losses of several hundreds of thousands of pounds for each day the dispute is allowed to continue. The pro-management bias of the Government in this dispute is in stark contrast to the active, even-handed role played by the Minister for Labour in seeking a solution to the recent bank dispute.
Incalculable damage has been caused to business through lost orders. We can only guess the number of tourists who will go elsewhere because they have failed to receive replies to queries or confirmation of bookings. At the same time thousands of spouses and children of postal workers who have not been paid for several weeks are facing destitution because of the rigid and inflexible application of the regulations regarding supplementary welfare allowance, not to speak of the refusal of An Post to pay these workers.
The marked deterioration in industrial  relations in both the public and private sectors over the past few months must be a matter of serious concern. We are now seeing a noticeably more “macho” approach by management and this is reflected in the decision of the management of An Post to engage in mass suspensions and the penalisation of workers not directly involved by the withholding of wages. If this trend is allowed to continue we are likely to face prolonged industrial disruption which will cause lasting economic and social damage.
Any reasonable person would acknowledge that the issues involved in the postal dispute are complex, involving not just the rights of postal workers, but also the possibility of job opportunities for the unemployed. What we can say with certainty, however, is that management acted in a grossly irresponsible way when they decided to unilaterally implement a series of sweeping changes at the very time at which these changes were under ballot by the unions. This was the immediate cause of the dispute.
In contrast, the position of the unions has been quite restrained. Despite the withholding of wages and the mass suspensions, there is no strike — not one postal worker is on strike. The union have put forward their own set of proposals which they estimate would save the company £1.7 million, but these proposals have been spurned by Mr. Hynes. The union have also indicated that they are prepared to allow for the phased elimination of overtime, the relocation of staff in Dublin and the negotiation of a productivity agreement. The Communication Workers Union are one of the more progressive unions in the State and it is appalling that they have been driven into this dispute by a management who were seeking to use tactics which I thought had been eliminated by Irish management in the last ten years or so.
The single item agenda of Mr. Hynes seems to consist of replacing as many  permanent workers as possible by part-time employees working for lower wages and under grossly inferior conditions. The Communication Workers Union have indicated that the terms under which people are being asked to work in this casual way include, for instance, that they would be employed in a temporary capacity on a week to week basis, that the company would reserve the right to terminate their employment at any time, that they would attend at the request of the company from Monday to Saturday and that the days and times of attendance be determined from week to week. The workers would have no security, no continuity of service, no uniform or wet gear, less holiday pay than other staff and would not be in a position to get mortgages or loans from banks or building societies. I cannot see how the Government can stand over any company over which this House, directly or indirectly, has influence and allow for those kinds of conditions to be created.
The role of the Minister for Tourism, Transport and Communications in this dispute has been disastrous. Her appointment to the Cabinet in February was widely welcomed — indeed, I welcomed her appointment — but she has been a grave disappointment. She seems to be totally under the spell of Mr. Hynes and his colleagues. Far from doing anything to find a solution, she has fuelled the flames of the dispute by a series of partisan speeches which have caused great anger among postal workers.
One must ask what is the reason for the grossly one-sided position of the Minister for Tourism, Transport and Communications. Why have she and the Minister for Labour, Deputy Cowen, done nothing in this regard? We are seeing a sinister twist to Government policy. We are seeing exposed the hidden agenda of the new Government under the Taoiseach, Deputy Albert Reynolds, which is the smashing of the unions in An Post to prepare the ground for a wider assault on unions in the public service. That is a  disastrous course for the Government to take and it must be reversed. The Government must assert their authority and instruct Mr. Hynes and his management colleagues to return to the negotiating table and to seek a negotiated settlement to this dispute. Negotiations will have to take place at the end of the day and it is surely time for management to return to the negotiating table forthwith.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I should advise the House now that under the new arrangements there will be five minutes during which any Deputy can ask a specific question. It seems a strange arrangement where there are so few already offering, but I have to advise the House on that position. If there is any specific question any Deputy wants to put now, he can put it before the Minister concludes.
Mr. Currie: I have asked my questions. It is answers I want. I have a suspicion that I might have to ask more questions after the Minister has spoken, but I doubt if I will get an opportunity to ask them then. It is a rather strange arrangement, as the Leas-Cheann Comhairle says.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: It is experimental. Its operation on an earlier Estimate on Health was quite satisfactory. There was not sufficient time to provide for all the questions that would have been presented.
Proinsias De Rossa: It is a good innovation. It is certainly worthwhile. Will the Minister seek this weekend to bring the management and unions around the table to find a solution to this disastrous dispute?
Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: When speaking I indicated that the Labour Relations Commission have today invited both sides in this dispute to come to the negotiating table. Because of that, Members  of the House would not want to encourage me in some way to subvert the traditional labour relations machinery, which is accepted by this House and in which I have total confidence. I know Deputy De Rossa is not suggesting that. It is my intention to ensure that every assistance is given to the Labour Relations Commission to bring both sides to the table to negotiate.
Proinsias De Rossa: In that event will the Minister promise not to make any further statement until such time as the Labour Relations Commission have completed their work and got the management and the unions together so that she will not cause any further problems as a result of her statements?
Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: The Deputy accused either myself or the Government of being sinister. From the little bit of Latin I learnt going to school “sinister” means “left”. I do not believe Deputy De Rossa would accuse me of being left wing. I would draw the attention of the House to the fact that since the beginning of this dispute I have not made any public statement other than those I made at the Communications Workers Union Conference in Tralee, at the Communications Managers Union Conference in Galway and in response to specific Parliamentary Questions, Private Notice Questions and Adjournment Questions that were raised in this House. I have very deliberately not gone on any of the airwaves to talk about this dispute because I felt that both sides at the end of the day will have to resolve the problem.
Mr. Currie: As I suspected, it is the answers to the questions which are most interesting and from which further questions arise. The Minister has been dexterous in her reply. From the little bit of Latin that she and I share, the Minister will know that “dextra” means “right” and that “sinister” means “left”. We have reached the stage where the crisis is  so great and the hardship, inconvenience and lost of jobs is so great that intervention has to come. Unfortunately, the Minister has put herself in a position in which she is totally outside of this. She is surplus to requirements in this issue. It is up to the Minister's colleague, the Minister for Labour, to get involved in this and he ought to get involved now. I say that more in sorrow than in anger.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: That is a question to the Minister for Labour and obviously he cannot answer that now.
Mr. Kemmy: There is a good deal of goodwill for the Minister in her new office. The Minister has considerable experience in Europe and knows why the German system of industrial relations has come unstuck in recent time. Surely the Minister should know from her European experience that the way forward is not through confrontation or through a stand off but through getting the parties together. The device I suggested of invoking Congress is surely one that is well tried. I urge the Minister to do that this evening and neither the Minister nor the Minister for Labour would lose face. If the Minister takes my advice, goodwill will prevail on both sides and the matter will be resolved within three days. Will the Minister do that?
Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: It is not a question of face-saving or loss of face. There are not any winners in this dispute, as I said at the beginning. Deputy Kemmy urged me to use the Labour Relations Commission machinery and the Labour Court. Before the Deputy came in I had replied that the Labour Relations Commission had invited both sides to the negotiating table this evening. I support that wholeheartedly. That is the way to go. We should not intervene with the tried and tested industrial relations machinery that is there.
I take this opportunity to express my  thanks and the Government's thanks for the tremendous work that has been done by the Labour Relations Commission in the past five weeks. They have done an enormous amount of work, way and above the call of duty. I will continue to support them.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I invite the Minister now to make her ten minute reply.
Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: I thank the many Deputies who made constructive contributions to his debate since 12.30 p.m. today. In the 15 minutes left to me——
Mr. Currie: Ten. Time is running out for you in all respects.
Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: In the ten minutes left to me I will respond to a number of the questions that were raised. On tourism this morning, a number of Deputies raised the question of the task force. They are meeting frequently and are continuing to examine major tourism issues. I hope to meet the task force in the next couple of days. I can confirm that the members of the task force are determined to complete their task. They have been considering the question of issuing interim reports. That is the response which I gave to the Parliamentary Question to which Deputy Farrelly referred. They might decide not to do that and to issue one final report. Were they to issue an interim report, that would come very quickly; but were they to decide only to produce a final report that would come later.
Mr. Farrelly: They are not going to break up?
Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: On the level of the Bord Fáilte grant-in-aid to reflect growth in tourism, it is important to note that tourism performance over the last three years has increased by almost 50  per cent, despite the fact that the subvention to Bord Fáilte has remained the same in cash terms. There is not a direct connection between reducing and maintaining the level of grant aid. There is no basis for the assertion that that in turn means a reduction or a maintenance of tourism numbers.
One of the points that a number of Deputies have brought to my attention over the past number of months is that SFADCo, for instance, were given responsibility for tourism in certain areas and that that has created an anomaly whereby the counties of Kerry, Tipperary and Offaly are being marketed by two separate agencies. North Kerry is being marketed by SFADCo and South Kerry by Cork-Kerry Tourism and so on. I have asked Bord Fáilte to look at that problem. It would be much better to have a full county being marketed by one agency. I have also asked my Department to look at how we can correct that.
The hotel grading system is a statutory function of Bord Fáilte. I understand that the board have reached agreement with the Irish Hotels Federation on the introduction of a new star grading system for hotels. It was introduced on a trial basis this year and it will be implemented countrywide, if successful. With regard to accommodation grants, I do not have any plans to introduce a grant system for accommodation facilites. The current Government strategy for achieving tourism growth in the period up to 1993 is to develop the sector through the development and provision of high quality marketable amenities and facilities, special marketing and improved competitiveness, a better distribution network and so on.
Membership of Bord Fáilte was mentioned by Deputy Michael Moynihan. He suggested that members should include only those employed or involved full time in tourism. I am not convinced that it would be in the best interests of the board to limit their membership in this way.
Deputy Farrelly raised the lack of support  from the national lottery for the Irish Olympic team. He also mentioned grants for agri-tourism and he made a very strong case in relation to the interpretative centres. These are matters for the Ministers for Education and Agriculture and Food and the Office of Public Works. In my capacity as a Deputy people have made representations to me in regard to the interpretative centres. I have been talking to my colleague, the Minister of State, Deputy Treacy, and he has met the groups involved, particularly in relation to the Mullaghmore site. I will communicate Deputy Farrelly's views to him.
Mr. Farrelly: He said he wants to meet us but he has not done so yet.
Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: I will raise that matter as well. Deputy Moynihan raised the question of carriers and services between the US and London and Paris, as opposed to the carriers between the US and Ireland. Of course, the range of carriers and services is much greater between the US and London and Paris than it could be between the US and Shannon or Dublin. Government policy is that air fares to and from Ireland should be at least as competitive as those of countries with whom we compete in international markets. Traffic on the Atlantic has been performing very well this year with a 29 per cent increase in April over the same month last year.
Deputy Yates raised the question of the financial results of Aer Lingus and their capital requirements. I share his concern about the deterioration in the financial results. The general performance of air transportation worldwide has been adversely affected by the Gulf War and the recession in the UK and the US. There are signs of an overall traffic improvement. Aer Lingus will have to take all appropriate measures themselves to ensure that the airline returns to profitability at the earliest opportunity. They are aware of the  urgency which I attach to this matter and I will inform them that this urgency is shared by Deputy Yates and others.
The Deputy also referred to the future capital requirements of Aer Lingus, some £1,300 million over the next ten years. This amount is not based on any set of figures agreed between my Department and Aer Lingus. Discussions are currently taking place between Aer Lingus and my Department on the preparation of the corporate plan to cover the next five years. The future capital requirements of Aer Lingus will be discussed in the context of the corporate plan.
Deputy Yates asserted that airport charges are too high. Airport charges have not been increased since April 1987. As to the impact of airport charges on the revenue of Aer Rianta, I would point out that revenue from commercial activities accounted for 54 per cent of total revenue and the subsidiaries accounted for a further 16 per cent. I am surprised that the Deputy should be critical of Aer Rianta's performance in those circumstances.
I dealt in my speech with the Shannon stop-over question. All Deputies appreciate that the resolution should not be dependent on a change of Government or a change of Minister but should be based on a policy that will see us well into the future. Certain interests have been to see me in very recent weeks and have put certain proposals which I and my Department are continuing to examine with them.
We have been discussing Dublin transport at great length over the last couple of nights. Anything I had to say has been said. I welcome the support of Deputies for the application we are making to the EC to help us resolve Dublin's tranportation problem. I take the point that it cannot be done in isolation. My Department on their own cannot deal with the application to Brussels. The resolution of the problem is not confined to public transport. It is equally concerned  with roads development and the development of the port. The Ministers for the Environment and the Marine and I are conscious that a co-ordinated effort has to be made in our application to the EC for support.
A number of Deputies raised the difficulties experienced by some of the regional airports. I accept that a number of airports have been having difficulties. I appreciate the problems in Waterford as outlined by Deputy O'Shea. The Minister of State clarified the position in regard to on-going discussions with Aer Lingus. I come from an area which has a regional airport with its own problems in regard to services and I am aware of the difficulties. I appreciate that Waterford Regional Airport is an important factor in attracting tourists to the south-east. I could not agree more with those who talked about the necessity of securing conference facilities and marketing them abroad.
A division being demanded, the taking of the division was postponed until 6.30 p.m. on Wednesday, 3 June 1982 in accordance with the order of the Dáil.
Mr. Hogan: It is dishonest of any Government Minister to suggest that food prices will fall quickly in response to the recent agreement in Brussels in respect of the Common Agricultural Policy. Are consumers expected to treat this Government seriously on the issue of food prices when one considers that they have increased over the past two years by 3 per cent, while at the same time farm incomes have fallen by 27 per cent? It is worth looking at a few examples to illustrate this point. In 1990 a farmer received £1.30 per pound for a  leg of lamb but today the same lamb is making just 80p per pound. This represents a decrease of 38 per cent in the price paid to the farmer. The price being charged by the retailer to the consumer in 1990 was £2.30 per pound approximately. Today a leg of lamb is retailing in Dublin at £2 per pound, which is a reduction of just 14 per cent. Pork prices dropped by 60 per cent to producers over the past ten years but we all know that bacon and rashers are retailing largely at the same prices as they were two years ago. Beef prices have fallen by 15 per cent to the farmer during the past two years while retail prices have fallen by just 5 per cent on average. Furthermore, there are regional variations in respect of prices charged to consumers. In Dublin food products are 10 per cent approximately more expensive than in other centres throughout the country. These brief examples clearly demonstrate that prices paid to producers are not reflected in the prices charged to consumers in this jurisdiction. The resultant largely greater margins of profit for processor and retailer, with the Government acting as mere spectators in allowing this anti-consumer practice to continue unabated, is regrettable.
The Minister for Industry and Commerce has repeated time and again that competition is the only means of forcing down prices. Therefore, there is no need for regulation in the marketplace. Experience has shown in the area of food and drinks that Irish consumers are not discerning. Irish consumers do not seek further information or insist on going from one shop to another or one pub to another to ascertain price before they purchase. I regret to say this Government do not place, or have not placed, high on the agenda the issue of support for consumer organisations or the implementation of better structures for greater consumer information.
Fine Gael have proposed on a number of occasions that the Office of Consumer  Affairs and Fair Trade should take on a more active role in monitoring prices in the food area. To ensure greater inspection and enforcement of the necessary regulations additional staff is required in that office.
Regional offices need to be established throughout the country that will provide more information to consumers on the issue of food prices. An ideal opportunity to do this now presents itself to the Minister for Industry and Commerce because on the completion of the internal market some 604 surplus staff from customs and excise will have to be redeployed. I was disappointed recently that the Minister for Industry and Commerce, Deputy O'Malley, rebuffed the idea that some of those staff would actually be redeployed to the Office of Consumer Affairs and Fair Trade. I am calling on the Minister this evening to indicate what measures the Government intend to take to ensure that the expected reduction in food prices to the producers will be reflected in the prices charged to consumers. The time for action rather than political rhetoric is now. It was disgraceful to hear the Minister for Agriculture and Food talk about a bonanza for consumers as a result of the Common Agricultural Policy reform package. History will show that when there is a reduction in food prices for producers they are not reflected in the consumer basket. I look forward to the Minister's reply.
Minister of State at the Department of Industry and Commerce (Mrs. O'Rourke): I thank Deputy Hogan for his thought-provoking contribution.
Mr. Flanagan: Action provoking.
Mrs. O'Rourke: Fair enough, let us talk about it.
Mr. Farrelly: Let us do something about it instead of talking.
Mrs. O'Rourke: The Minister for Agriculture and Food, Deputy Walsh, and I, in my capacity as Minister of State with  responsibility for consumer affairs, are about to set up a monitoring committee to ensure that the revolution — if I may call it that — in the agriculture sector is transformed into a revolution in the customer's basket. If that does not happen, all the major reforms which have taken place and which will show a clear line of revolutionary thinking within the agriculture sector will not be effective unless we in Ireland see a reduction in the cost of food items. To that extent I am at one with Deputy Hogan in the submission he has put forward in that regard. I would, however, add a small political note to the proceedings.
Mr. Flanagan: As usual.
Mrs. O'Rourke: It was Fine Gael who, in a previous Coalition Government, demolished the whole monitoring of prices arrangements throughout the country. We proceeded with that so I am rowing back from it. Indeed, the Minister for Industry and Commerce through the Competition Act and the competition body — as the Deputy has rightly said — has seen that competition is the order of the day. Be that as it may, I agree with the Deputy when he says that Irish people are not good at going from shop to shop, grocer to grocer, butcher to butcher — I do not see why they should have to do so — in an endless stream to see whose prices are lowest. Some of that may be enjoyable but if you are shopping with three or four young children — and other children are expected home at 12.30 p.m. demanding their lunch — and you want to know the price of lamb etc. in a particular shop, that is carrying the concept of competition a bit too far. Furthermore, I think Irish people do not stand up for their rights.
The Maastricht Treaty recognises that we are entering an era of a people's Europe, a consumer's Europe. In the preamble to the Maastricht Treaty reference is made to the rights of consumers.  It is correct that the very notable success which the Minister for Agriculture and Food, Deputy Walsh, the agricultural team and Commissioner MacSharry succeeded in achieving in the agricultural field should be translated into everybody's pocket, otherwise it will seem a far away Utopia. We should begin to see changes on 1 January 1993 and for a period thereafter. Next January would be too late to begin to think about these changes, that is the reason I say the debate is timely and the reason other debates on consumer prices are timely. I do not want to see producers increase prices in the six months from July to December in anticipation of price reductions whereby once again the consumer would be the loser.
IFA studies and surveys have shown clearly that price reductions — the Deputy is correct — have not been passed on to the consumer. Increasingly agricultural production will be geared, not towards food mountains in intervention but towards the needs of the marketplace and of the consumer. That is what will be important.
We are living in an era when transparency and openness is all important. I am determined that the rights of consumers will be protected and that prices, affected by the agricultural revolution, will be translated into a shopping basket revolution. I invite Deputy Hogan who has responsibility for consumer affairs, and any other Deputies who wish to join with me in this task. If this House speaks with one mind on this issue the deliberations of the Minister for Agriculture and Food, Deputy Walsh, the Minister of State, Deputy Browne and myself will bear fruit. The debate is timely and I hope we will have other occasions to deliberate on these very important issues.
Mr. Hogan: I suggest it was a typical Deputy O'Rourke solution to set up another committee.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: This is not the time for suggestions.
Mr. Flanagan: I am grateful to your office for allowing me make a brief contribution on this very important matter this evening. There is widespread abuse of greyhounds in Spain where the greyhound industry is in a deplorable and sorry state. Many of these unfortunate dogs are Irish animals which are purchased cheaply here and subjected to vile and cruel treatment in Spain. The suffering caused to these defenceless animals is a scandal and while we in this country cannot resolve the problem we can at least ensure that no Irish dogs are involved. We can do this by introducing a total ban on live exports of greyhounds to any country where the regard for treatment of animals is in question.
I urge the Minister to set up an investigation on the matter of these serious allegations as quickly as possible. These dogs are kept in deplorable conditions without proper housing, water, or electricity and under extreme over-crowded conditions. The defenceless animals have been described as running machines, housed like battery hens and forced to run in very high temperatures and conditions of humidity. I am concerned at the manner in which the dogs are transported to Spain and that they remain for 21 hours on the ferry boat before being transported the long distance from the ferry port through France to southern Spain. The dogs, I understand, are packed 60 to a lorry in narrow crates, a type of crate that has been banned in the UK. That is why they do not use the land bridge route but rather the 21 hours on the boat because the crates are not allowed to travel through the UK.
The Minister may have to look at the Greyhound Industry Act and consider appropriate amendments to ensure that outlawing of this unsavoury practice.  Last autumn, following a considerable outcry, Bord na gCon imposed a ban on the export of Irish greyhounds to Spain. I have information to suggest that this ban is now being flouted and that exports sales to Spain have again resumed.
I understand that recently in Limerick Spanish greyhound agents purchased 36 greyhounds to race in Barcelona under very poor conditions. Allegations have been made that the agents I refer to may, in fact, have been Bord na gCon representatives. If this is true it is extremely serious and I would ask the Minister to investigate this matter without delay. Is it true that Bord an gCon agents negotiated the sale of greyhounds to Spanish dealers in spite of a number of complaints to the auctioneers from concerned parties present in the course of the auction? It would be quite extraordinary, and indeed outrageous, if a representative from Bord na gCon was acting as such an agent having regard to the ban imposed on the export sales by that very body itself.
I urge the Minister to use his good offices to call a halt to this obscene and disgraceful trade in live animals. It has been established beyond all reasonable doubt that gross ill-treatment of Irish greyhounds continues and I would be grateful if this matter could be addressed at the earliest opportunity.
Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Browne, Wexford): I would like to thank Deputy Flanagan for raising the issue. Deputy Farrelly had a question on this matter in the Dáil today. We have no evidence of Bord na gCon acting as an agent but we will have it checked out to see what the position is.
Transporters of animals, including greyhounds, are required under the Transit of Animals (General) Order, 1973, to ensure that the welfare of animals is safeguarded during transport. The order implements the relevant provisions of EC Directives 77/489/EEC and 81/389/EEC governing the protection of  animals during transport. Consignments of animals exported from Ireland are subject to monitoring by inspectors of my Department to ensure that such requirements are observed and that standards of transport are satisfactory. The question of protecting the welfare of animals at the point of destination is a matter for the authorities in the importing country.
Most exports of greyhounds from this country to Spain have until recently been organised by Bord na gCon. Allegations of ill-treatment of racing greyhounds in Spain were denied by the Spanish delegates at the 1987 and 1990 World Greyhound Racing Federation conferences. At the conferences, delegates from the Spainsh greyhound federation also indicated that they were unaware of any grounds for these allegations and assured the governing council of the World Greyhound Federation of their determination to investigate and pursue any substantiated incidents of ill-treatment. Allegations of this nature have also been discussed by one of my predecessors with the Spanish Minister for Agriculture who gave assurances that the allegations of ill-treatment and cruelty were without foundation.
Arising from more recent suggestions that conditions under which Irish greyhounds are kept and raced in Spain were inadequate, the governing council of the World Greyhound Federation responded positively last October to a request from Bord na gCon for an investigation into conditions within the Spanish greyhound racing world and into alleged cruelty to greyhounds in Spain. The assessment has been completed and recommendations have been made to the Spanish greyhound federation. While certain improvements have been recommended, the general conclusion of the World Greyhound Federation is that no deliberate acts of cruelty to the greyhounds were observed. The World Federation investigation team also recommended that the federation urge the EC Commission  to make regulations for Community-wide standards for protecting the welfare of greyhounds.
The federation further indicated that they were in the process of drafting a welfare charter for greyhounds which they hoped would receive the support of the EC. The federation report was sent to the Spanish greyhound federation who have subsequently informed Bord na gCon that the main recommendations in the report have been implemented.
It has to be stated that Irish greyhounds are sought for their racing ability and that it is in the interest of those concerned to ensure that the animals are transported and maintained in conditions conducive to ensuring good performance.
In regard to any suggestion that the greyhounds are used for experimental purposes, EC legislation, under Directive 86/609/EEC, lays down specific requirements for the official registration and control by each member state of experimental facilities and animal supply sources. Under Spanish law no animals can be exported direct to Spain for experimentation unless the supply establishment is one that has been approved here. As regards greyhounds actually exported for racing but which might be used for experimentation when their racing careers are over, Spanish law makes provision for regulating any unacceptable practice in this regard.
Mr. Flanagan: That is a red herring.
Mr. Browne: (Wexford): It should be noted that the World Greyhound Racing Federation has recommended that the Spanish greyhound federation should ensure that greyhounds at the end of their racing life be either adopted through a recognised agency, used for breeding purposes or humanely euthanised. Bord na gCon have been informed by the Spanish greyhound federation that such dogs whose racing careers are finished are put down.
Mr. Flanagan: The Minister says that the allegations are without foundation. Why did Bord na gCon themselves impose a ban?
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: There is no provision for additional questions, unfortuntely.
Mr. Flanagan: There is no smoke without fire.
Mr. Farrelly: Thank you, Sir, for allowing me raise this matter. I will not delay the House for very long. The Minister is aware of the facts. The Government here and the IDA approved an application that they received for the development of a processing plant in Ardee, an investment of about £70 million. Three hundred jobs would initially be provided in the town and surrounding areas where many other jobs were promised by major potential employers but which did not materialise.
There are, in total, 200 farmers signed up for the processing, some at an advanced stage in the building of houses for producing a product for the factory. Many of these farmers require this alternative enterprise. I wonder what has happened taking into consideration (a) that the IDA approved this development, (b) that the Government gave it the go ahead and (c) that it went to Brussels where the majority of applications for FEOGA grants are accepted once Government approval has been obtained here. I want to know why we have not had full Government support for the project to ensure that this application was approved for the sake of the job potential and the farming potential. In real terms we are talking about 1,000 jobs in total connected with this application.
Have there been other influences on the Government here from other organisations in the business we are talking about putting pressure on Government  not to go ahead with this application? This has been a year in Brussels. I would like the Minister to allay fears. Is there a possibility that it could be reinvestigated and that the Government will approve it and seek approval in Brussels?
Mr. Browne: (Wexford): I would like to thank Deputy Farrelly for raising this and outline how we can get the project back on the rails. The application for FEOGA grant assistance in respect of a turkey slaughtering and processing facility at Ardee, County Louth, was selected by my Department for inclusion in an operational programme which was sent to the EC Commission in July 1991. Substantial aid was requested from the Commission for the project.
The Ardee investment included the provision of new slaughtering capacity for turkeys. Under Regulation (EEC) No. 866/90 and a Commission decision on selection criteria, it was necessary to provide sufficient evidence to the Commission to prove that this investment would not lead to an increase in overall turkey slaughtering capacity in this country. To comply with this requirement evidence was provided to the Commission to show that turkey slaughtering capacity, equivalent to that being created by the Ardee investment, was to be abandoned at another slaughtering plant. This was to be achieved by the removal of the turkey processing equipment from the latter premises under a legal agreement. However, after submission of the application for FEOGA assistance to the Commission developments took place which culminated in the appointment of a provisional liquidator and the subsequent sale of the facilities in the premises where capacity was to be abandoned.
The Commission became aware of these developments and sought legal advice on the matter. Their legal advice was that the evidence supplied to prove that equivalent slaughtering capacity was to be abandoned was no longer adequate.
Consequently the Commission, which  makes the final decision on the award of aid to investments, have stated that the investment applied for cannot be proposed by the Commission for a grant in the framework of Regulation (EEC) No. 866/90. In view of this, the application contained in the operational programme cannot be progressed any further. However, my Department, including myself, are in contact with the IDA and with the promoters of the proposed project with a view to seeing whether an alternative proposal, which would meet the Commission criteria, can be framed. Any such alternative would, of course, still be subject to availability of FEOGA funds and to a further Commission decision.
I should like to assure Deputy Farrelly that every effort is being made to try to get this project back into operation and to determine perhaps a different way of meeting the criteria. I certainly should like to know that the plant was up and running and was providing the jobs necessary in the area. I shall keep the Deputy informed as the developments progress.
Mr. Connaughton: I thank you, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, for allowing me to raise this matter this evening. Without intending any disrespect to my colleague, Minister Browne, I express my regret that the Minister for Education is not here to hear my case. I shall be very brief.
St. Mary's Secondary School, Ballygar, County Galway has some very poor prefabricated buildings which have long outlived their usefulness. The outdated conditions under which the students and teachers operate are causing widespread concern and parents are adamant that their children are entitled to better facilities.
The Department of Education decided, after much negotiation, not to proceed with the repair of the existing  buildings and to grant aid a new replacement building. This project was to be a low cost but totally adequate and serviceable building and a grant of £125,000 was offered.
The parents' committee of the school employed their own structural engineer who costed his design plans at £185,000. The committee could, with difficulty, accept this offer and would have tried to make up the balance of £60,000 as their contribution. However, as per instructions from the Department, the plans were not acceptable and a design plan was subject to the normal tendering process put the cost of the building at £285,000.
Recently when the Minister met a deputation the grant aid was increased by £70,000. Unfortunately, the size of the local contribution is still too high and cannot be met by a community made up largely of small farmers and many unemployed people.
I ask the Minister (a) to increase the grant aid to £225,000 at least and (b) to allow construction work to start in late June when the exams are concluded.
Parents of children attending St. Mary's College, Ballygar, cannot accept a situation where the local contribution demanded is much higher than anything demanded for similar projects in other areas.
Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Browne): I apologise for the absence of both Ministers at the Department of Education, who are away today. It is possible that the Deputy will get a better answer from me.
I am glad to have the opportunity to inform the Deputy and the House about the project in Ballygar. Coláiste Mhuire, a co-educational secondary school, is the sole provider of post-primary education in the catchment area. It has a current enrolment of 281 pupils. Long-term projections is for an enrolment of 220 to 229 pupils. The school consists of some good  permanent accommodation and a prefabricated block provided in 1968.
In 1990 the school applied to have the prefabricated block replaced by a permanent structure. An architect from the Department visited the school on more than one occasion and was happy that a very satisfactory upgrading repair job could be undertaken at a cost of about £75,000. That figure was confirmed by the school's architect. However, the school authorities insisted that only replacement by permanent buildings would be acceptable. Following numerous meetings and much correspondence, a maximum grant of £125,000 was approved in 1991 by the former Minister for Education, Mrs. Mary O'Rourke, towards the cost of replacing the prefabricated block with a masonry structure consisting of 564 square metres. The principal accepted the proposal by letter of 17 December 1991. He also submitted tenders with that letter, the lowest thing being for £267,520. He stated that the school authorities had approximately £60,000 towards the cost of the proposed building and that the remainder of the required funds would be obtained through a major fund-raising campaign. The shortfall between the Department's grant, the school's funds and the tender price plus fees would be approximately £100,000. The tender report has been examined by the building unit's technical staff and has proved to be satisfactory. In the meantime, the board and management of Coláiste Mhuire have requested that the grant of £125,000 be substantially increased, as the shortfall of £100,000 could not be met by local funding. The Minister recently met a deputation on this issue and will give his decision very shortly.
Mr. Connaughton: That is not exactly what happened. He said that he would give them £70,000.
Mr. Browne: (Wexford): There is no mention of £70,000 in my briefing.
Mr. Connaughton: That will be a major debating point, and Deputy Kitt knows that, too.
Mr. Browne: (Wexford): The Minister will give a decision shortly.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The issue will have to wait for another occasion.
Mr. M. Kitt: The board and management of Crumlin national school, County Galway, received a letter from the Department of Education on 19 July 1990 stating that the Department had sanctioned a grant of £2,600, two-thirds of the estimated £3,900 cost of carrying out grading, levelling and boundary fencing at the school. That letter was received almost two years ago. Unfortunately, the grant has not been paid.
The school also sought the provision of toilet facilities for their handicapped pupils, one of whom is wheelchair-bound. Previously he was carried into the toilet by one of the teachers. He is now getting to an age at which it is no longer possible for that to be done. It is imperative that suitable toilet facilities be provided for him and for others who may be similarly handicapped. It is envisaged that one of the existing toilets be adapted to accommodate a wheelchair-bound person and that suitable ramps be provided both inside and outside the school to allow wheelchair access to the school and to the toilet.
We were very disappointed to hear in February 1992, more than a year later, that no action had been taken. Despite the fact that a representative from the Office of Public Works had called to the school, taken measures and carried out investigations, nothing happened. The Irish Wheelchair Association commissioned appropriate plans for the adaptation of an existing toilet.
If the matter was urgent a year ago it is even more urgent today. It is totally unacceptable that a lady teacher should have to carry a grown handicapped male  student — almost as heavy as herself — into the toilet a number of times per day. Will the Minister state the position in relation to the grants sought for boundary fencing, grading and levelling and the provision of toilet facilities for the handicapped in Crumlin national school, County Galway?
Mr. Browne: (Wexford): I should like to thank Deputy Michael Kitt for raising this issue and I am glad he has given me an opportunity of outlining the situation in regard to grant moneys for improvement works at Crumlin national school, County Galway. Two grants are involved, one towards the cost of boundary fencing, levelling and grading of the school yard and the provision of toilets and other facilities for a physically handicapped pupil.
The position regarding item No. (1) is that a grant of £2,600 has been sanctioned for the necessary improvement works. The matter has been referred to the local Office of Public Works for supervision of these works and for certification in regard to payment of the grant moneys. Certification is still awaited in the Department. There has, I agree, been a long delay in this matter and I will ensure it is resolved at the earliest possible date. I will keep the Deputy fully informed of the situation.
In regard to item No. (2) I have requested, as a matter of urgency, a report from the local Office of Public Works regarding the provision of toilet and other essential facilities for the physically handicapped pupil concerned. I understand that a report will be in my Department very shortly. A grant will be sanctioned immediately so that works can commence at the earliest possible date. I should like to express my thanks to the Deputy for his persistent efforts to ensure that facilities are made available in this very deserving case.
Mr. M. Kitt: Will the Minister of State  use his good offices with the Department of Education to have a supplementary boiler provided at Coláiste Seosaimh Secondary School, Glenamaddy, County Galway? This has been the subject of many inquiries and investigations by the Department. The original boiler gave a great deal of trouble, the school looked for a supplementary boiler but, when the Department's inspectors called to the school, it transpired that new piping was required and that additional work would have to be carried out.
The Department have at last agreed that the work should go ahead. I understand that tenders have been received by the Department for this work, I imagine the costs involved amount to about £30,000. The most important matter now is to get approval and the go-ahead so that work can be carried out during the summer months to ensure that the students attending this school next September will have a supplementary boiler in the school to provide heating. I hope the Minister will give me a positive reply in this regard.
Mr. Browne: (Wexford): An application for the installation of a second boiler and replacement piping at Coláiste Seosaimh, Glenamaddy, together with an engineer's report on the heating system in the school was submitted to the Department in 1991. Following a visit to the school and an examination of the documentation submitted by my Department's senior engineer, sanction issued to the school in July 1991 to seek tenders for the necessary work.
In March 1992 the relevant tender documentation was submitted to my Department and has been examined by the senior engineer.
I know the Deputy is aware of the difficult financial situation that exists in my Department. However, bearing in mind the seriousness of the problem in the school, in the context of the availability of capital resources it is hoped to  convey a decision in this matter to the school shortly.
Mr. M. Kitt: Has a contractor been appointed?
Mr. Browne: (Wexford): I do not have that information but I expect a decision very soon.
Mr. Carey: Inch is in the parish of Kilmaley and is within about two miles of Ennis. As a result it is suffering and people in the parish are making a great effort to keep this national school alive. I very much regret that the Department of Education have failed to restore the school bus service which was withdrawn last year.
There have been many meetings between different people — political on one side and bureaucratic on the other. I have verified the details which I will give as accurate. There are 13 children who should be eligible to travel on the school bus. Regina Fitzpatrick lives in Gortmore and the three Killeen children Rory, Vincent and Brendan, live in Clonfeigh. Brendan and Paul Warren live in Capalea and Eilis Barry lives at Tullassa; Lisa Hogan also lives at Tullassa and so do David and Shane Hickey. All those children are living over three miles from the school. John, Michael, Noelle and Yvonne Fitzpatrick live in the townland of Cragleigh; J.J. and Mark Mungovan also live in the area.
When the examining officer was requested to change the bus route he reexamined the entire route and he prevented some children from travelling on the bus because he claimed they were nearer another school. Prior to this the Fitzpatrick family had attended Inch national school. In the meantime, the Department of Education built Cloghleigh school near Ennis. That was 14 or 15 years ago, it was decided that the Fitzpatick family should not attend Inch national school but nobody did anything about it. The parish is suffering very  badly as a result and is likely to be subsumed into Ennis. I am sure if the Minister of State knew that a small parish on the outskirts of Wexford town would be sucked into the town he would not like it. In this case the very sincere manager, Fr. Desmond, who is very upset over this, feels that he has been exploited by the Department of Education. The Minister, and his officials, should at least meet the board of management as this has never been done.
The examining officer claimed that there was a right of way from Gortmore down to Shallee, a farmer's road on which there is no public right of way. That has been the hold-up in this case and I am very disappointed at the attitude of the Department of Education officials to this.
Mr. Browne: (Wexford): I assure Deputy Carey that I would certainly like to see schools in rural areas protected. He might like to know that we also have an Inch in County Wexford.
I would like to thank the Deputy for his contribution to this debate. At the outset, I would like to say that the Department of Education have a responsibility to ensure the safe delivery of approximately 165,000 primary and post-primary pupils to schools throughout the country. We also have the responsibility to ensure that the State gets the best possible value for the money it expends on the provision of this service. In the current year, approximately £36 million will be spent on the provision of this service.
Eligibility for primary school transport, on distance and attendance grounds, is determined by reference to the nearest school. In order to be eligible for free school transport, children under ten years of age must live at least two miles from their nearest school, while older children must live at least three miles from that school.
Bus Éireann, the agent for my Department, administer the primary school  transport scheme on the ground. That company assesses the eligibility of all primary children seeking school transport and determine eligibility and routes in accordance with the terms of the primary school transport scheme.
In order to establish, or retain, a school transport service under the terms of the primary school transport scheme:
There must be a sufficient number of children in a distinct locality attending their nearest national school to ensure that the average daily number of eligible children conveyed each term is not less than ten.
In the case of Inch national school, County Clare, the average daily number of eligible children being conveyed from the Tullassa, Cappalea and Clonfeigh locality, during both the easter and summer school terms, 1991, had fallen to six and, consequently, the school authorities were informed by my Department that the service from this locality would have to be withdrawn at the end of the summer school term, 1991.
The parents and school authorities subsequently submitted a list of children to my Department in the hope that a sufficient number of eligible children were available in order to have the service restored. The Department, on further investigation, found that both the school authorities and parents were counting ineligible children for whom Inch national school was not their nearest  national school. Ineligible children cannot be counted towards the retention of a service. The Department also found that the numbers of eligible children had fallen further to five since the service had been discontinued.
The parents' body included in their list certain children from the Cloughleigh school area in order to make up the required ten. Under the terms of the transport scheme children from another school area may not be counted for purposes of establishment or retention of a service. Such children are only allowed to travel to a school other than their own on an incidental fare-paying basis. The parent's argument is that Cloughleigh school is overcrowded so their children cannot attend it. The Department investigated and found this not to be the case.
A new list of children has recently been forwarded to the Department. Again, the school authorities and parents have included ineligible children for whom Inch national school is not their nearest national school. Consequently, the situation remains as before. Only six eligible pupils are currently available for transport, so that the numbers are still insufficient.
I will pass on to the Minister for Education Deputy Carey's request that he meet a deputation from the board of management to see what can be done about this matter.
The Dáil adjourned at 5.40 p.m. until 12.30 p.m. on Wednesday, 3 June 1992.
5. Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he will guarantee that the compensatory measures contained in the Common Agricultural Policy reform package will be retained in full during the forthcoming GATT negotiations; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
60. Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the current position in relation to the agricultural chapter in the GATT negotiations; and if he will outline Ireland's latest proposals on same.
119. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the impact the recently concluded Common Agricultural Policy review will have on the GATT negotiations; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): I propose to take Questions Nos. 5, 60 and 119 together.
There has been little progress in recent months in relation to the agriculture, or indeed any, chapter of the GATT negotiations. As the House will recall, the Director-General of GATT, Mr. Dunkel, presented proposals for a final solution to all parties late last December.  The Community position on the agriculture chapter, which I fully endorse, is that the proposals call into question the foundation of the Common Agricultural Policy, are not acceptable and have to be modified. The Commission has been mandated by the Council to negotiate necessary improvements to the text and has been conducting multilateral and bilateral negotiations with our trading partners. While there has been little progress so far other participants have been left in no doubt that the Community's interests will have to be taken into account if an agreement is to be concluded.
The recent Common Agricultural Policy reform agreement will greatly strengthen the Community's position in the negotiations. The Community has agreed a far-reaching reform of its agricultural policies and it is now up to other parties to make a response to this historic agreement. The reform, unlike the Dunkel proposals, will allow the Community to protect the legitimate interests of its producers while also meeting its obligations in the international trade forum. There is no specific deadline for the conclusion of the GATT negotiations but all parties are committed to achieving this goal and it is to be hoped that a satisfactory agreement can be reached soon.
Ireland's priorities in the negotiations have always been to ensure that whatever commitments are entered into will not prevent the Community from continuing to operate support measures to benefit the Irish agricultural and food sector and the wider economy. More specifically, I will be seeking to redress the fundamental imbalances of the Dunkel proposals. Those imbalances relate in particular to the lack of coherence between individual commitments, the inclusion of Common Agricultural Policy reform compensation, headage and structural payments in the category of supports to be disciplined, the tariffication methodology, the minimum access provisions, volume limitations on export subsidies, absence of rebalancing and the inadequate peace clause. I  am pleased to report that I received specific assurances from Commissioner MacSharry that there will be adequate and durable funding to finance the compensatory measures, agreed under Common Agricultural Policy reform, and that the Community will continue to insist on their exemption from discipline under a future GATT agreement. These are very important points for me and for many of my colleagues in the Council.
I can assure the House that I will be pursuing Ireland's interests in the GATT negotiations with the same vigour with which I approached the Common Agricultural Policy reform talks.
23. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he will quantify the long term effects of the recently announced Common Agricultural Policy review with particular reference to on and off farm employment; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): At this stage it is not possible to quantify the long term effects of the Common Agricultural Policy reform measures. However, initial estimates by my Department indicate that in the first full post Common Agricultural Policy reform year farm income will increase by around £70 million or 5 per cent over its 1991 level. This should have a stabilising effect on the numbers working in the Agricultural sector.
In the food sector, the reform arrangements include a major incentive for production of beef cattle in particular to become less seasonably biased. The new arrangements, particularly the new beef slaughter premium are designed to lead to a more even seasonal distribution of beef production in Ireland, enabling meat processing plants to provide a steady and increased supply of added value products to their customers with a consequent increase in the level of employment.
28. Mr. J. Higgins asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if, based on the original intention that the EC Leader Programme would seek to stimulate enterprise by promoting alternative projects in rural areas and that this programme was initially intended to extend over the period 1991-93, and in view of the fact that we are exactly half way through the programme, he will outline the reason (a) the decision to allow local development companies to set their own agendas and plans has been rescinded; (b) local companies are going to be restricted from proceeding with such plans by the imposition by his Department of restrictive and negative criteria which have in the past weakened the thrust of similar and related schemes operated by State agencies; and (c) the freedom of decision making is to remain with the selected local community companies operating under the Leader Programme.
31. Mr. J. Higgins asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if, based on the original intention that the EC Leader Programme would seek to stimulate enterprise by promoting alternative projects in rural areas, and that this programme was initially intended to extend over the period 1991-93, and in view of the fact that we are exactly half way through the programme, he will outline the reason (a) the decision to allow local development companies to set their own agendas and plans has been rescinded; (b) local companies are going to be restricted from proceeding with such plans by the imposition by his Department of restrictive and negative criteria which have in the past weakened the thrust of similar and related schemes operated by State agencies; and (c) the freedom of decision making is to remain with the selected local community companies operating under the Leader Programme.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): I propose to take Questions Nos. 28 and 31 together.
 The essential features of the Leader Programme, namely the provision of global grants to the groups and their freedom to decide on the projects to be aided under their business plans, remain unchanged.
The selected groups were made aware from the outset that their business plans would be approved subject to compliance with national and EC sectoral policies. For the information and guidance of the groups, comprehensive guidelines on the areas of investment in which they may engage are now being issued. These guidelines provide for considerable flexibility to enable the groups to implement the Leader Programme in the spirit intended.
29. Mr. Browne (Carlow-Kilkenny) asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if, in view of the limited number of unsuccessful applicants, he will further review cases where farmers have been disqualified over technical errors in filling out application forms for subsidy claims in the livestock section such as the case of a person (details supplied) in County Carlow.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): The person named has been deemed ineligible for grants under the 1991 special beef premium scheme as four of the 20 animals on which he applied for premium had already received payment in 1990.
Under EC Regulations he is also debarred from the scheme for 12 months from 31 July 1991.
This case is outside the tolerance for errors allowed by the EC and I have no discretion to alter the decision to refuse grants in such situations.
30. Mr. Bradford asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he is concerned at the drop in the level of new entrants to farming over the past number of years; his views on whether the inadequate level of farm installation aid and the continuing imposition of stamp duties is a contributory factor in the decline in new farm entrants; and if, in view of the present cost to the State of an industrial job, he will seek extra incentives to assist those who wish to enter farming.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): Since the introduction of the scheme of installation aid for young Farmers in 1986 some 2,044 applicants have received premia totalling £11.5 million.
Following negotiations with the EC the conditions for eligibility have been relaxed. A young farmer on setting up in full time farming for the first time can now have up to two years in which to satisfy the labour requirement. In addition leased land can be taken into account in calculating the labour input. The revised conditions should extend the benefits of the scheme to a bigger number of applicants.
The installation aid is not the only incentive for new entrants to farming. Young farmers also qualify for an additional 25 per cent aid for works carried out under the on farm investment aid schemes operated by my Department.
The various issues affecting land transfer will be considered in the context of the preparation of the Development Programme for the agriculture and food sector on which work is already underway in my Department.
33. Mr. Connor asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food his views on whether (a) the Common Agricultural Policy Reforms agreed to by him on behalf of this country means that the contribution of agriculture to the overall growth in GDP in the Irish economy over the next decade will be fixed at negative and (b) this is in the national interest given that agriculture contributed about 9 per cent to overall growth in GDP in the economy in the decade of the 1980's.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): Agriculture has contributed  between 8.4 per cent and 11.9 per cent to overall gross domestic product over the last 10 years. Recent preliminary calculations carried out by my Department indicate that in the first full post Common Agricultural Policy reform year, the overall contribution of agriculture to GDP will increase; the extent of its contribution in coming years will of course depend on dynamic changes which will occur such as the adjustment by farmers of their production to the new set of prices, costs and subsidies.
These calculations indicate that any losses incurred by way of either price or volume cuts as a result of the Common Agricultural Policy Reform measures will be more than compensated for by way of increased direct payments and reduced input costs. In addition, these measures will also be accompanied by a range of socio-structural actions relating to early retirement, agri-environment and forestry.
I am confident that the agreement reached will help to stabilise farm incomes and enable the agriculture and food sector to continue to make a substantial contribution to the overall well being of our national economy.
36. Mr. Moynihan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he will outline his proposals for the expansion of the agri-tourism scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): The agri-tourism scheme forms part of the Operational Programme for Rural Development which is part funded by the EC Structural Funds. Due to the exceptionally high demand under the scheme, funds made avilable for the period 1989-93 have now been fully committed. Efforts to secure additional EC funds have not been fruitful to date.
I am very aware of the interest which this scheme has created and am keeping the situation under review. My officials have, at my request, impressed on the EC  Commission the importance of adequate funding for this measure. In the programme to be prepared for submission to the EC in relation to the post 1993 round of Structural Funds, I will be seeking a considerable increase in the allocation for this scheme.
37. Mr. Taylor asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if, in respect of the recent sale of 53 acres of Teagasc land at Kinsealy, County Dublin, the board of Teagasc received a valuation of the land from their estate agent prior to putting it on the market.
41. Mr. Taylor asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if, in view of the disparity that exists in the sale prices of the two parcels of Teagasc land at Kinsealy, County Dublin he has satisfied himself that both transactions showed an adequate return to the State.
44. Mr. Ryan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the reason there was no reserve price on the recent sale of 53 acres of Teagasc land at Kinsealy, County Dublin.
54. Mr. Ryan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he will justify his decision to sanction the disposal by Teagasc of 53 acres of land at Kinsealy, County Dublin for £227,500, given that 6.5 acres of adjoining land was disposed of for £100,000 in 1989.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): I propose to take Questions Nos. 37, 41, 44 and 54 together.
The sale of the two lots of agriculturally zoned land was by public tender following wide public advertisement. As the conditions of tender did not oblige Teagasc to accept any tender it was not necessary to have a reserve price.
Teagasc obtained a professional valuation prior to the sale.
The difference in price for the two allotments, one of 6.5 acres and the  other 53 acres, can be explained by: the different sizes of the two allotments; the more favourable location of and access to the 6.5 acres in relation to roadways; changes in market conditions between 1989 and 1992.
I am satisfied that, in the circumstances of the sales, both transactions showed an adequate return to the State.
38. Mr. Garland asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if, in relation to the EC regulations on hygiene and sterilisation during cheese production, he intends to take measures to protect the autonomy of private traditional farmhouse cheese units who have to use unpasteurised milk for their unique cheese products.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): The proposed EC Council Directive setting out the rules for the hygienic production of milk and dairy products is still under consideration, so at this stage it is not possible to make definite statements about its contents. However, I am seeking to ensure that dairy products made from unpasteurised milk can, subject to certain safeguards, continue to be produced and sold.
46. Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he will give details of the total number of people leaving the land each year since 1987; and if he will outline the policy changes which he will make to redress the depopulation of rural Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): The following figures from the Labour Force Survey indicate the numbers employed in agriculture, forestry and fishing: 1987, 164,000; 1988, 166,000; 1989, 163,000; 1990, 167,000; 1991, 155,000.
As employment in forestry and fishing account for only a small proportion of  the total number of jobs, the variations in the figures may be taken as relating to changes in the numbers engaged in agriculture. The Labour Force Survey is a self-classification of activity and many of those in the reported drop of 12,000 between 1990 and 1991 could still be engaged in agriculture but may be classifying themselves as having another activity as a principal occupation.
The objective of my Department is to promote the agriculture and food industry and to stimulate wider rural development. All the Department's activities including participation in the EC decision making process and the implementation of EC schemes and programmes have, therefore, as one of their aims the issue of stabilising the rural population.
There are a number of specific measures supported by the Structural Funds particularly aimed at stimulating rural development. The principal one is the operational programme for rural development which complements all the other operational programme under the funds. This programme contains a number of measures aimed at farm diversification which include animal production, horticulture, agri-tourism, forestry and services in rural areas. Other actions covered by the programme concern measures in support of small and community enterprise, rural infrastructure, research and development and marketing in the food industry and training. In all, public funding of over £100 million is available for the programme in the period 1991 to 1993.
The Leader programme is the EC's own initiative on rural development. As already announced, 16 Irish groups will receive national and EC aid totalling £35 million to implement their own business plans over the next two years.
In addition the new national structure for promoting rural development which should be in place before the end of the summer will be a further significant step in promoting local “bottom-up” initiative and in stabilising the rural population.
47. Mr. Sheehan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food whether farmers who are situated in the areas throughout the country who were successful under the extension of the disadvantaged areas scheme last year will qualify for cattle headage payments under the 1992 cattle headage scheme.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): Farmers whose holdings are situated in the areas throughout the country that were successful under the extension of the disadvantaged areas scheme last year will qualify for cattle headage payments under the 1992 cattle and equines headage scheme provided, of course, they comply with the terms and conditions of the scheme. They were also eligible for disadvantaged areas scheme grants in 1991.
48. Mr. Kavanagh asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he will outline his plans to control diseases such as rabies, foot and mouth disease and others when the common frontiers policy of the EC comes into force; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): The advent of the internal market will require a reorganisation of the veterinary controls operated by my Department and staff are currently engaged in preparing for the new system, the requirements of which are laid down in a wide-ranging body of EC legislation. These preparations include evaluation of manpower and other resource requirements, installation of computer equipment, reallocation of tasks currently performed at frontier posts and designing procedures for the conduct of veterinary checks in the internal market.
There will be freer movement of animals and products throughout the Community after 1 January 1993. Special emphasis has been placed on ensuring that this freedom will not be to the detriment  of animal health. Considerable success has been achieved in regard to control of the major diseases. For example, foot-and-mouth disease is no longer found in the Community. Movement of animals out of areas infected with serious diseases will be strictly prohibited and there will be an onus on the official authorities of exporting member states to ensure that animals leaving their territory are free of disease, do not come from infected areas and meet the extensive veterinary health requiements of the various EC directives.
Animals being imported into Ireland will be spot checked by veterinary officers of my Department at the place of destination. In addition safeguard measures permitting examination at any stage during transport may be put into operation if a serious disease threat is suspected.
The Commission have not yet submitted proposals in relation to controls for rabies under the Single Market.
49. Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if, in relation to S.I. No. 89 of 1992, which comes into effect on 1 June 1992, and places responsibilities on local authorities, he has had discussions with the Minister for the Environment about the financial burden on local authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): The Regulations under the Abattoirs Act, 1988 which come into force on 1 June introduce full ante and postmortem examination and stamping of meat for the domestic market and the payment of veterinary inspection fees to local authorities in respect of animals slaughtered.
At the time of introduction of the Act it was recognised that in the case of some local authorities the receipts from veterinary inspection fees might not be sufficient to cover the cost of employment of a whole-time veterinary inspector as prescribed.  A provision is included in the Act for the sharing of a veterinary inspector's services between two local authorities. No discussions have taken place with the Minister for the Environment on the matter.
53. Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that all non-statutory post-mortems have now ceased at the Cork Regional Veterinary Laboratory; and if he will outline the steps he is taking to resolve the problem.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): I am aware that due to action taken by the Veterinary Officers Association, certain difficulties did arise in relation to the carrying out of non-statutory post-mortems, at the Cork Regional Veterinary Laboratory.
I understand that such post-mortems are being carried out in the normal way at present.
57. Mr. O'Leary asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he will arrange with the appeals tribunal to give priority to the survey of the remaining district electoral divisions in the constituency of south Kerry with a view to having them re-classified as severely handicapped as a matter of urgency; and if he will make a statement on the matter, having regard to the plight of the small holders in these particular district electoral divisions.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): The listing and processing of reclassification appeals is nearing completion and the appeals panel will shortly be reviewing each area under appeal to assess the situation. As the Deputy will appreciate, the appeals panel is an independent body and will itself decide on the necessity or otherwise for a further survey of the areas under appeal.
58. Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the action he will take in the EC to protect the principle of community preference, particularly in relation to imported low price cereal substitutes; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): Community preference is one of the basic principles upon which the market organisation mechanisms of the Common Agricultural Policy is founded. It protects European farmers against low-price imports and world market fluctuations by customs duties or levies at the Community's external borders.
There is no question of the Community abandoning this principle. The recently agreed Common Agricultural Policy reform package is designed to correct the market imbalances which have been so prevalent in recent years and to offset the consequential income losses by direct payment to farmers. It does not undermine the principle of Community preferences which will still be necessary to ensure that the Community plays a lead role in international trade. An eventual GATT agreement could involve adjustments to the Community's border protection system but the Commission has given an undertaking that it will ensure that Community preference is fully respected in the final result.
The position of cereal substitutes is that a number of such products can enter the Community at zero or low level of duties under arrangements agreed to in earlier multilateral negotiations in GATT. The Community, as I am, is concerned about the impact of these products on internal markets and is seeking to modify these arrangements in the current negotiations. In this regard, it has indicated that it could accept the conversion of the variable levy system into tariffs provided certain conditions are met, including the securing of effective protection against imports of cereal substitutes. This is an important point for several member States including Ireland.  The proposal is, however, being strenuously resisted by other parties in the negotiations. Nevertheless, the Community remains committed to achieving this objective and it is one of several issues which it is pursuing with the other parties in the continuing GATT negotiations. In any event the measures agreed in respect of the cereals sector in the Common Agricultural Policy reform package will go a long way towards solving the problem of imports of low price cereal substitutes. The package provides for a substantive decrease in EC prices for cereals which will lead to increased competitiveness with cereal substitutes and a reduction in the imports of these products.
Ireland is a major exporter of agri-food produce and it is in our national interest to ensure that the principle of Community preference is safeguarded. While there is no threat to this principle, the House can be assured that I will do all in my power to ensure that this situation continues.
59. Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food whether a company (details supplied) received any grants from his Department or through FEOGA; if so, if he will outline the value of any such money paid; if he has satisfied himself that value for money was obtained from the public money involved; if he has received any complaints from members of the public regarding the operation of the plants; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): The company in question received no grant aid from my Department towards the cost of its new pig slaughtering and processing plant or for any other purposes. The EC Commission awarded FEOGA grant aid totalling £4,215,058 to the company. Payments amounting to approximately £3.022 million have been made to date.
Prior to grant approval, the project was examined and evaluated in detail as  to its contribution both to job creation and to the overall plan for the rationalisation and modernisation of the pig-meat industry. The job projection at the time has been met by the company and the overall plan is proving successful.
I have received no complaints from members of the public regarding the operation of the plant.
61. Mr. Connor asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he will outline the net gain under the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy package agreed to by him on behalf of Ireland to that category of farmer, mostly in the western region, whose average farm size is less than 50 acres and, by modern definition, uneconomic.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): As yet, it is not possible to quantify what the benefit of the Common Agricultural Policy reform proposals will be to farmers in particular farm size categories. Clearly, this will depend on the type of enterprise carried on as well as on the size of farm. On an overall basis however, the increase in family farm income in the first full post Common Agricultural Policy reform year, should be of the order of 5 per cent over the 1991 level. The thrust of the Commission's proposals consists of a partial redirection of Community support from price-supports to direct payments to farmers to offset consequential income loss. Such payments, which go directly into farmers pockets, lead to a more equitable distribution of Community support to producers and should in particular benefit the smaller producer.
In addition, the extensification provisions which apply in particular in the beef sector, should mean that the smaller less intensely stocked farms will get the maximum benefit from the headage compensation agreed.
63. Mr. T. O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he has had discussions with the Minister for Energy concerning the cost implications of requiring the fencing of mountain grazing lands from forest lands; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): Provision of adequate fencing on land adjacent to afforested land to prevent trespass of animals is strictly a matter for the owners of such land. I have, therefore, not discussed the matter with the Minister for Energy.
Grant aid for fencing forming part of general land improvement work is available under the farm improvement programme operated by my Department.
66. Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he will grant-aid the use of plastic on a commercial scale for the propagation of fruit and vegetables.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): Grant-aid is available for plastic clad structures for use in horticultural production, on a commercial scale, under the farm improvement programme. The rate of grant is 35 per cent of approved cost subject to a maximum investment of £180,000 per applicant. For those who do not qualify for grant-aid under the farm improvement programme grants at 25 per cent of approved cost are available under the greenhouse grants scheme.
67. Mr. Pattison asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the estimated total cost of the 1992 round of tuberculosis testing; the percentage of these costs which are being borne (a) by his Department and (b) the farmer; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): It is estimated that the total cost of the 1992 programme of bovine tuberculosis testing, including administration costs, together with expenditure on brucellosis eradication, will amount to £60.3 million. Fifty-three per cent of the cost will be borne by the Exchequer and 47 per cent by farmers through the disease levies.
68. Mr. Moynihan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he will outline the present position in regard to the subdivision of commonages throughout the country following the High Court decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): The recent ruling of the High Court in connection with the division of the commonage at Glennanmadoo and Bunnahowna has had implications with regard to planning and title requirements.
The Land Commission is in the process of changing its procedures in order that any future commonage division scheme reflects the decision of the High Court.
69. Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce the quantity of recycled paper used by his Department in 1991; if he will outline the percentage of all paper represented by this amount; if he will further outline the source of such paper; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. O'Malley): During 1991, my Department used approximately 330,000 sheets of recycled paper which represents 1.6 per cent of the total paper used in the Department in that year. This supply of recycled paper was purchased from a private company. My Department intend to continue to examine the possibilities for the use of recycled paper.
70. Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for Finance the quantity of recycled paper used by his Department in 1991; if he will outline the percentage of all paper represented by this amount; if he will further outline the source of such paper; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister of State at the Department of Finance (Mr. N. Treacy): The only requirement my Department has for recycled paper products is in the form of envelopes, a certain number of which may be made from recycled paper. It would not be possible to abstract the recycled element in terms of the overall stationery requirement.
As there is no native producer of paper in the State, official requirements are sourced from Irish importers.
The use of recycled paper in my Department is based on favourable comparison in terms of quality and cost with new paper.
71. Mr. J. Bruton asked the asked the the Minister for Finance if any study has yet been done on the implications for staffing levels in Meath County Council and other local authorities of the decision he has taken to centralise motor vehicles administration.
Minister for Finance (Mr. B. Ahern): I have not centralised motor vehicle administration. Provision has been made in the Finance Bill for a vehicle registration tax which will be administered by the Revenue Commissioners. Local Authorities will retain responsibility for the licensing of vehicles, including collection of road tax. The question of staffing levels in local authorities is a matter for the Minister for the Environment in the first instance.
72. Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for Finance if the Office of Public Works will purchase Maghernacloy Castle, Carrickmacross, County Monaghan, for the State as (1) it is the finest example of a fortified dwelling in the State, (2) it was inhabited continuously until about eight years ago, (3) it is now falling into disrepair due to neglect and (4) it is in danger of imminent disintegration; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister of State at the Department of Finance (Mr. N. Treacy): Due to their present, extensive level of commitments, the Commissioners of Public Works are unable to consider the acquisition of the Castle. However, the question of taking the Castle into State care will be kept under review, in the light of altering circumstances.
73. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Finance if he will give details of the persons he or his predecessor appointed to Boards of State agencies since the terms of the review of the Joint Programme for Government was agreed on 18 October, 1991; if he will outline, in respect of each such appointee, whether he/she made and signed a declaration in respect of any interests relevant to their membership of such bodies, and, if so, where such declaration may be inspected by members of the public.
Minister for Finance (Mr. B. Ahern): Mr. Edward McRedmond was appointed as chairman of the Industrial Credit Corporation in March 1992 and Mr. Padraic White was re-appointed to the same board, also in March 1992. Mr. Robbie Kelleher was appointed to the board of ACC on 20 May 1992. Declarations in respect of any interest relevant to their membership have been made by these directors, and the register of interests is available at the companies' registered offices.
74. Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for Energy the quantity of recycled paper used by his Department in 1991; if he will outline the percentage of all paper represented by this amount; if he will further outline the source of such paper; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Energy (Mr. Molloy): Recycled paper used in my Department in 1991 amounted to 610 reams. This represented 30 per cent of the total paper requirements for the year. In addition, paper tissues and hand towels used in my Department are made almost exclusively from recycled paper. My Department purchases re-cycled paper from various companies in the trade, based on suitability and, the best available price and value for money.
Use of recycled paper declined in 1991 when it was established that the paper then in use was causing serious damage to this Department's heavy duty photocopier and laser printers. It was accordingly decided to discontinue the use of recycled paper on these machines until a suitable type of recycled paper becomes available and is demonstrated to be acceptable for this purpose.
75. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Energy if it is proposed to extend the national gas pipe line from the Intel site, Leixlip, to the university town of Maynooth, County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Energy (Mr. Molloy): Bord Gáis Éireann (BGE) has a statutory obligation to develop and maintain a system for the supply of natural gas on a commercial basis and any proposals for the extension of the gas grid are assessed by the board in the light of that obligation.
I am advised by the board that it has no plans at present to extend a supply of gas to Maynooth, but that such an extension may be considered in the future, if and when adequate gas demand can be identified to justify the capital cost involved.
76. Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for the Marine the quantity of recycled paper used by his Department in 1991; if he will outline the percentage of all paper represented by this amount; if he will further outline the source of such paper; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for the Marine (Dr. Woods): In 1991, my Department used in the region of 100,000 envelopes made from recycled paper.
As details of the quantities of other recycled paper used in my Department are not readily available it is not possible to express this in percentage terms. I am committed to increasing the proportion of recycled paper used in my Department and to this end I have recently decided to use recycled paper for photocopying purposes.
Most of the paper used in my Department is sourced through the Government Supplies Agency.
77. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Justice if the provisions of the Maastricht Treaty will be helpful in the fight against drugs-related crime; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Flynn): The Treaty on European Union will make an important contribution to the fight against drug related crime.
The Treaty, building on co-operation which has already been taking place between the member states of the European Community for many years, will provide a new framework for co-operation within the Union on justice and home affairs matters. Police co-operation for the purpose of preventing and combatting drug trafficking and the fight against drug addiction are matters specifically identified in the Treaty in that context as areas of common interest for the Union. The Treaty therefore recognizes the importance which attaches to  co-operation on these matters and will allow the development of even closer co-operation among the Twelve in meeting the challenge of drug related crime.
In addition the Treaty envisages the creation of a European Police Office (EUROPOL) and will provide the framework for its development in the years ahead. Europol will have an important part to play in the fight against drug trafficking and drug related crime generally as is clear from the decision of the European Council that its initial function will be to organise the exchange of information on drugs among the Twelve when it decided to establish Europol at its meeting in Maastricht on 9 and 10 December, 1991.
78. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Justice if he will outline the composition, terms of reference, date of appointment and results to date of (a) the interdepartmental group on the administration of justice, (b) the interdepartmental group on urban crime and (c) the advisory group on the investigation and prosecution of serious fraud.
79. Mr. Shatter asked the Minister for Justice if he will outline the composition, terms of reference, date of appointment and results to date of (a) the interdepartmental group on the administration of justice, (b) the interdepartmental group on urban crime and (c) the advisory group on the investigation and prosecution of serious fraud.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Flynn): I propose to take Questions Nos. 78 and 79 together.
The Interdepartmental Group on the Administration of Justice was established in October 1989 with the purpose of developing on a co-ordinated basis policy measures in relation to various areas of the criminal justice system. The group, which was chaired by the Minister for Justice, comprised senior officials from the Departments of Justice, Health, Education,  the Attorney General's Office and the Garda Síochána. The group presented its findings in 1990. Most of the recommendations of the group either have been, or are being implemented.
The Interdepartmental Group on Urban Crime was established in November 1991 with the purpose of providing a wider response to urban and juvenile crime than can be provided by the Garda Síochána on its own. The group comprises senior officials from the Departments of Justice, Education, Environment, Health, Labour and Social Welfare, the Garda Síochána, as well as representatives from Dublin County Council, Dublin Corporation and IDA. The group is currently focusing on the needs of the Ronanstown area of Dublin and it will in due course look at areas of Cork and Limerick cities. The first report of the group is due shortly.
The Advisory Group on the Investigation and Prosecution of Serious Fraud is at present in the course of being established. Its purpose is to consider what measures are necessary to enhance the State's capacity to deal with cases, or possible cases, of large scale fraud and to make recommendations thereon. It is intended that the group will be in a position to issue its first report by the end of the year.
80. Tomás Mac Giolla asked the Minister for Justice the total number of gardaí based in each district in the Dublin area; and the allocation to each station within each district.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Flynn): The particulars sought in the question are outlined in the following table:—
|Total “A” District||202|
|Total “B” District||551|
|Total “C” District||185|
|Total “D” District||156|
|Total “E” District||176|
|Total “F” District||173|
|Total “G” District||118|
|Total “H” District||220|
|Total “J” District||149|
|Total “K” District||206|
|Total “L” District||235|
|Total “M” District||171|
|Total “N” District||137|
|Total “P” District||123|
|Total “R” District||178|
|Total “U” District||176|
|Total “W” District||153|
|Central Detective Unit||158|
|Special Detective Unit||417|
81. Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for Justice when a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8 applied for naturalisation in this country; the current status of the application; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
82. Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for Justice when a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8 applied for naturalisation in this country; the current status of the application; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
83. Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for Justice when a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8 applied for naturalisation in this country; the current status of the application; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
84. Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for Justice when a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8 applied for naturalisation in this country; the current status of the application; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Flynn): I propose to take Questions Nos. 81, 82, 83 and 84 together.
Applications for certificates of naturalisation in respect of the persons in question were received in my Department on 11 October 1990, 29 October  1991, 19 February 1990 and 20 June 1990 respectively. The applications are being considered in accordance with the statutory provisions and decisions will be made in the near future on completion of the usual procedures.
85. Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for Education if his Department has decided to fund higher education colleges on the basis of unit costs at each college; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
86. Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for Education the comparative unit costs at each higher education college for the years 1989 and 1990 in the arts, science and engineering faculties; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mr. S. Brennan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 85 and 86 together.
The information sought by the Deputy in relation to comparative unit costs is not available in my Department.
New funding arrangements are currently being introduced for the university sector in consultation with the universities and the Higher Education Authority. The basis of the new system is the determination of a budget for each institution based on cost effective levels of activity derived from unit cost analyses. Broadly similar arrangements will be introduced for the other colleges in due course.
87. Tomás Mac Giolla asked the Minister for Education the steps, if any, which are being taken to repair the damage done to a school (details supplied) in County Dublin, especially the technical drawing room, in a recent fire; and if he can give an assurance that the school will be fully restored before the September re-opening.
Minister for Education (Mr. S. Brennan): My Department's consultant  architects are currently preparing a detailed report and specification of the work required to reinstate the damaged section of the school in question. Pending receipt of the architect's report, I am not in a position to give an undertaking that the work can be carried out before September. However, every effort will be made to have the necessary repairs completed as soon as possible.
88. Mr. Currie asked the Minister for Education if his attention has been drawn to the fact that 40 plus children who expected to be enrolled for a school (details supplied) in Dublin 15 are not now being enrolled because of a lack of accommodation; when additional accommodation will be provided for the educational needs of the Laurel Lodge/ Carpenterstown area; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mr. S. Brennan): According to the information available to my Department, all applicants aged four years or over on 1 April 1992, which was the enrolment date for admission to the school in Dublin 15 referred to by the Deputy, have been accepted.
A suitable tender has been accepted for the provision of two additional prefabricated classrooms at the school in question. The school authorities have been authorised to proceed with the contract and it is expected that the new accommodation will be available for September next.
The planning section of my Department will continue to examine the question of what extra provision may be required to cater for the future educational needs of the Laurel Lodge-Carpenterstown area and how best such provision can, if necessary, be made.
89. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education if he will outline his present proposals regarding second level education in Celbridge, County Kildare; if these proposals are sufficient to meet the long term second level requirements of the area; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mr. S. Brennan): There are two post-primary schools in Celbridge — the Salesian College with an enrolment of 573 boys and St. Wolstan's College, managed by the Holy Faith Sisters, with an enrolment of 514 girls.
My Department has recently offered to grant-aid the provisions of additional accommodation at the Salesian College, Celbridge, to cater for its anticipated enrolment next September and the school's response to the proposal is awaited.
The question of providing for the long term needs of the Celbridge area, at post-primary level, is being examined by my Department in the light of the announcement by the Holy Faith Sisters of their intention to withdraw from the Management of their school and the increasing demand for pupil places in the area.
90. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education if he will outline the number of primary schools, if any, in County Kildare which are likely to have work on the provision of extra facilities commenced in the current year; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mr. S. Brennan): It is planned to commence an extension to one national school and build replacement schools for two other national schools in County Kildare during 1992.
It is my intention to commence the above facilities during 1992, but the Deputy will appreciate that some building factors beyond my control may militate against my intended time-scale.
91. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education if he will outline the number of post-primary schools, if any, in County Kildare which are likely to have work on the provision of extra facilities commenced in the current year; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mr. S. Brennan): The planning for the provision of additional accommodation at two post-primary schools in County Kildare is proceeding with a view to possible commencement in 1992. However, pending completion of the planning process, it is not possible to indicate precisely when construction will commence.
92. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education whether the number of children now attending Ticknevin primary school in County Kildare, along with those likely to attend in the new school year, now warrants the appointment of the extra school teacher required; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mr. S. Brennan): The staffing of a national school is determined by the enrolment in the school on 30 September of the previous year. In the case of Ticknevin National School there were 65 pupils enrolled on 30 September 1991, which warrants a staff of principal plus two assistants for the 1992/93 school year.
My Department notified the Chairperson of the Board of Management of Ticknevin national school on 14 April 1992, that the appointment of a second assistant will be sanctioned with effect from 1 September 1992.
93. Mr. Cullimore asked the Minister for Health in view of the chronic overcrowding situation at the old Wexford County Hospital, he will outline when the new £10 million extension to Wexford Hospital will be opened.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Connell): I understand from the South-Eastern Health Board that negotiations are ongoing with staff associations in relation to the opening of these new facilities. A further meeting is being held this week and I have been informed that the board would then hope to be in a position to announce an opening date in the near future.
94. Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for Health the plans, if any, he has for the provision of a modern coronary care unit in Monaghan General Hospital, County Monaghan; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Connell): The further development of the coronary care unit at Monaghan General Hospital is a matter in the first instance for the North-Eastern Health Board. This matter will have to be considered by the board in the context of the board's priority development requirements and the resources it has available for these purposes.
95. Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for Health the plans, if any, his Department have to replace old and obsolete equipment in the various departments in Monaghan General Hospital, County Monaghan; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
101. Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for Health if he will fund the provision of new ultrasound equipment for the maternity unit at Monaghan General Hospital, County Monaghan; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
102. Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for Health if he will fund the provision of an echocardiography system for Monaghan General Hospital, County Monaghan; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
103. Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for Health if he will fund the provision of an ECG testing system for Monaghan General Hospital, County Monaghan; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Connell): I propose to take Questions Nos. 95, 101, 102 and 103 together.
The provision of equipment at Monaghan General Hospital is a matter in the first instance for the North-Eastern Health Board.
The board has submitted to my Department a list of equipment requirements for its hospitals, including the provision of several items at Monaghan General Hospital. These will have to be considered in the light of the many competing priority equipment requirements nationally and the resources available for this purpose.
96. Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for Health the number of Domestic staff employed in Monaghan General Hospital, County Monaghan; the way in which this number compares with the number employed in the other hospitals in the North-Eastern Health Board area; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
98. Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for Health the number of permanent clerical office staff employed in Monaghan General Hospital, County Monaghan; the way in which this number compares with those employed in the other hospitals in the North-Eastern Health Board area; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
105. Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for Health the number of permanent nursing staff employed in Monaghan General Hospital, County Monaghan; and the way in which this figure compares with the number employed in the other hospitals in the North-Eastern Health Board area.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Connell): I propose to take Questions Nos. 96, 98 and 105 together.
The North-Eastern Health Board has furnished information on the matters referred to by the Deputy and this is set out in the following tabular statement:—
Number of permanent staff including job sharers expressed in whole time equivalence at March, 1992.
|Cavan General Hospital||21||120||80|
|Monaghan General Hospital||13||68||45|
|Louth County Hospital||12||74||61|
|Our Lady's Hospital Navan||20||89||36|
The provision, organisation and management of services at these hospitals are a matter for the North-Eastern Health Board in the first instance. The identification of staffing needs, within the context of the overall financial resources available is thus a matter for the board. It is also a matter for the board to deploy its staffing and other resources as it sees fit.
The data contained in the attached table, particularly that relating to nursing staff, must be seen in the light of the additional services provided at Cavan General Hospital, and at Our Lady's Hospital Navan. As the Deputy is aware the former is the main centre for paediatric services for the Cavan/ Monaghan area and has an acute psychiatric unit, whilst the latter provides the regional orthopaedic service. The provision of these additional services is reflected in the staffing figures given for these hospitals.
97. Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for Health whether satisfactory facilities exist for relatives attending seriously ill patients at Monaghan General Hospital, County Monaghan; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Connell): The provision of services at Monaghan General Hospital is a matter in the first instance for the North Eastern Health Board.
I understand that the board proposes to provide a waiting room and facilities for light refreshments at Monaghan General Hospital for relatives of seriously ill patients.
99. Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for Health if conditions in the laboratory in Monaghan General Hospital, County Monaghan are consistent with the basic requirements of fire regulations; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Connell): My Department have made inquiries of the North Eastern Health Board, which is the board with primary responsibility for Monaghan General Hospital, and I understand that conditions in the laboratary at the hospital are considered to be consistent with the basic requirements of fire regulations.
100. Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for Health the plans, if any, he has to fund the appointment of additional senior house officers to the medical wards of Monaghan General Hospital, County Monaghan; if the number of such appointments is currently adequate; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Connell): The identification of staffing needs at Monaghan General Hospital is a matter for the North Eastern Health Board in the first instance. Proposals for the filling of new and replacement posts are reviewed on a monthly basis by my Department. This review is undertaken having regard to service and personnel criteria in the context of the priority  afforded to each post by the agency concerned and with particular regard to the availability of financial resources.
Under existing personnel policy, it is, therefore, the responsibility of each health agency to submit prioritised manpower proposals to my Department including details of service requirement and proposed funding arrangements.
Proposals in respect of the posts referred to by the Deputy have not been included by the North Eastern Health Board in its most recent manpower submission to my Department.
104. Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the fact that Monaghan General Hospital, County Monaghan, is losing revenue from outpatient charges due to inadequate staff for the collection of revenue; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Connell): I have made inquiries of the North Eastern Health Board and I am informed that all patients referred to Out-Patients Department of Monaghan General Hospital are checked for eligibility. Those required to pay the out-patients charge are advised according at the time. Receipts are issued on the spot to those who pay. Bills are issued to those who don't pay and followed up with a reminder where appropriate.
I am conscious of the fact that of the number of out-patients attending Monaghan General Hospital, a high proportion of these are medical card holders and as the Deputy is aware no charge is raised in such cases.
I am concerned that the income generation potential of all agencies should be maximised and I am placing particular emphasis on this in the current year.
106. Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for the Environment the current status regarding the decision to replace the bridge on the N2 at Emyvale, County Monaghan; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Smith): A road grant allocation of £260,000 has been provided in the current year for the widening and strengthening of this bridge. The tender for the project was approved in September 1991. It is now a matter for the county council to complete the formalities which will allow work to commence.
107. Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for the Environment if he will outline the source of recycled paper used by his Department in 1991; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Smith): My Department arranges for its supplies of recycled paper through the Government Supplies Agency.
108. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for the Environment the amounts received in County Meath from the national lottery allocation of (a) IR£2 million for the local authority library service, (b) IR£4 million for amenity projects and (c) IR£1 million for swimming pool renovation.
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Smith): A total of £45,800 has been paid or approved for payment in 1992 to date to Meath County Council in respect of allocations made under the amenities-recreational facilities grants scheme in earlier years. Further payments will be made during the year as claims are received and processed. There is no provision in my Department's Vote for new allocations in 1992 under the scheme.
Capital grants for swimming pools and public library projects are paid on the basis of claims submitted by local authorities for costs incurred on approved projects. There are no projects in County  Meath at the stage where funding is currently required.
109. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for the Environment if he will list the towns where effluent is discharged into watercourses without treatment within the meaning of paragraph 2.9.6 of the Government's submission to the UNED Conference.
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Smith): The elimination of pollution by sewage discharges to coastal and inland waterways is a major objective of the environment action programme. The EC Urban Waste Water Directive which will come into force in June 1993 will require treatment of sewage from inland and coastal centres of population. In anticipation of this directive, the environment action programme outlined a new programme of investment that would eliminate untreated discharges from major coastal towns. It has been a long standing policy to provide treatment in inland towns. The planning of schemes has already commenced for the following larger towns and cities, as referred to in the question: Dundalk, Drogheda, Dublin (Ringsend), Howth, Wexford, Waterford, Cork, Tralee, Limerick, Galway and Sligo.
110. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for the Environment if routes have yet been chosen for the bypass of the towns of Balbriggan, Julianstown and Drogheda.
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Smith): The final choice of routes for these by-passes must await the outcome of environmental impact assessments and motorway schemes. In the case of Balbriggan, I understand that Dublin County Council have identified a preferred route in the context of an environmental impact study which the authority is now finalising.
111. Mr. J. Bruton and Mr. J. Mitchell asked the Minister for the Environment the local authorities which have and have not yet implemented waste plans under the European Communities (Waste) Regulations 1979 and the European Communities (Toxic and Dangerous Waste) Regulations 1982; and the date on which each such authority was asked to prepare such plans.
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Miss Harney): The obligation for the local authorities concerned to prepare a general waste plan and a special waste plan derive respectively from the European Communities (Waste) Regulations, 1979 which came into operation on 1 April 1980, and the European Communities (Toxic and Dangerous Waste) Regulations, 1982 which came into operation on 1 January 1983. All local authorities concerned have prepared general waste plans, and all but six have prepared special waste plans.
112. Mr. J. Bruton, Mr. J. Mitchell and Mr. Carey asked the Minister for the Environment the date, methodology, pricing and other assumptions of the ESB study, referred to by his Minister of State (details supplied) on 12 May 1992 to the effect that waste incineration for district heating would be uneconomic.
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Miss Harney): The main conclusions of this study, which was carried out more than ten years ago, were that waste incineration for district heating, while technically feasible, would be of doubtful economic viability. I am not in a position to comment on the methodology and other assumptions of the study.
113. Mr. Barry asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs whether the Government propose to approach the Governments of Greece, Spain and Portugal to ensure that sufficient funds will be available for the Delors II package which is designed to finance the cohesion fund promised at the Maastricht Summit in December 1991.
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Andrews): In the negotiations on the Delors II Package Ireland has major interests in common with Greece, Portugal and Spain. The Commission has proposed that the allocations to the Structural Funds and to the new Cohesion Fund taken together for these four countries should be a doubled. the Cohesion Fund was established by the European Union Treaty and will operate only in Ireland, Greece, Portugal and Spain.
We maintain contacts with the other countries in our approach to the negotiations on the Commission's proposals. This contact is important given our common interests on many of the issues arising in the context of the Delors II Package.
114. Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will outline the source of recycled paper used by his Department in 1991; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Andrews): All the paper used in my Department is supplied through the Government Supplies Agency which is attached to the Office of Public Works.
My Department has tested a number of samples of recycled paper with a view to finding a product which would meet minimum quality standards at a reasonable cost. The situation in regard to quality and price continues to be monitored and my Department will be happy to increase its use of recycled paper when a suitable product is identified.
115. Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he intends to introduce a bonding scheme for firms involved in the livestock and meat trade to safeguard producers and suppliers in areas where companies collapse; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): At the outset of the UMP receivership, I asked my Department to examine the implications of introducing arrangements to protect suppliers of livestock against financial loss in the event of the commercial failure of processing firms. This examination is not yet completed.
116. Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he is concerned about the level of investment abroad by Irish food firms; if his attention has been drawn to the total sum of money and jobs involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): I have no function in relation to specific investment decisions made by private companies.
Irish food companies have contributed strongly to the growth of the domestic economy over the last number of years. I expect that they will continue to do so and in the process will continue to secure jobs and make further contributions to the Irish economy.
Such companies are always searching for investment opportunities which will generate profits and which fir their growth strategies.
It would be all too easy for companies not to expand even where the opportunities lie abroad. Such investments help to secure jobs and profits in Ireland and often afford these companies increased market access, international experience and new technology. There is no evidence that I am aware of that such investments  have been detrimental to the Irish economy.
117. Mr. Enright asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he has received an application for an additional milk quota by a person (details supplied) in County Laois; if he will outline the present position regarding this application; and if any additional milk quota will be allocated.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): An application by the producer concerned for additional milk quota has been considered and both he and his cooperative have been notified of the successful outcome in this case.
120. Mr. Ryan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he will outline the number of properties disposed of by ACOT, An Foras Talúntais and Teagasc since 1985 for which approval was required and granted by him; and if, in each case, he will give details of the property involved including the acreage of land and the actual sale price.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): The information requested by the Deputy is not readily available. It is at present being compiled and I will arrange to have it forwarded directly to him as soon as possible.
121. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when beef and cow premiums will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): My Department is unable to trace any 1991 cattle schemes applications from the person named.
122. Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when an installation grant for young farmers will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Smith): The applicant in this case has been deemed eligible under the scheme and payment will be made within the next two to three weeks.
125. Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for Social Welfare the quantity of recycled paper used by his Department in 1991; if he will outline the percentage of all paper represented by this amount; if he will further outline the source of such paper; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. McCreevy): Almost 17 million buff manilla envelopes and 1,200 boxes of toilet tissue derived from recycled paper were ordered by my Department from the Government Supplies Agency in 1991. The agency has indicated that the paper is imported and that it does not maintain records in such a way as to enable the precise source of supply to be given.
It is not possible to say what proportion of overall requirements this represents in volume terms. In cost terms, however, recycled paper amounted to some 11 per cent of the Department's total expenditure for printing and stationery in 1991.
The Department is committed to using recycled paper where quality, suitability and cost considerations allow. The Department has, however, high grade requirements for security reasons — e.g. for pension orders — which cannot be met by recycled paper and uses many machines such as laser printers and photo-copiers which will not operate reliably on such paper and which can be damaged if unsuitable paper is used.
126. Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for Labour the quantity of recycled paper used by his Department in 1991; if he will outline the percentage of all paper represented by this amount; if he will further outline the source of such paper; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Labour (Mr. Cowen): My Department did not use any recycled paper during 1991. I am currently having the possibility of using recycled paper investigated.