Thursday, 28 February 1946
Seanad Éireann Debate
Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. Lemass): This is a Bill to make better provision for the management, control, operation and development of harbours. I feel sure it is not necessary to stress the need for ensuring that the management and control of our harbours is as efficient as it can be made. Ports and harbours are an integral factor in the transport economy of the country. They provide the links between land and sea routes for external trade and, to a smaller degree in this country, for internal coastwise communication. The development of industry and commerce may influence the character of the facilities required at particular harbours, or may alter the relative importance of harbours, but it does not lessen the importance of harbour facilities to the State as a whole. As good transport services are vital to the expansion of industry and commerce, the proper management and development of our harbours is essential, particularly in an island country such as this.
Senators will have noticed that this Bill, which deals with a special type of transport facilities, is unlike other Bills dealing with transport matters that we have had under discussion from time to time in so far as it does not propose any concentration of those facilities in large units. It has come to be accepted in this country and elsewhere that undue competition in transport is not in the ultimate public interest and that the transport needs of the country can be served more efficiently and progressively  by concentrating transport facilities in large units. Other Bills which we have had before the Oireachtas from time to time dealing with transport matters provided for such concentration but a different principle is being applied in respect of this legislation. There is, I think, a substantial difference between transport services and harbour facilities. Harbour facilities are more akin to roads than to commercial transport businesses and it is not considered that centralisation is an effective means of securing greater efficiency or better service. This Bill does not, therefore, propose to achieve any concentration of harbour facilities.
The knowledge of the state of confusion and mismanagement which existed in many harbour authorities led to the establishment in 1926, by resolution of both Houses of the Oireachtas of a Harbours Tribunal. That tribunal was set up following on the adoption of these resolutions by the Dáil and Seanad, and carried out a very full investigation into the state of the law relating to harbours and the practice of harbour authorities. It visited all the principal harbours of the country and heard the evidence of commercial interests and of witnesses from various organisations concerned with the efficiency of the harbour facilities.
The report of the tribunal was published in 1930 and during the course of the years between 1930 and 1940, it was examined in detail and decisions taken to prepare proposals for legislation to give effect to its recommendations. There was a very large number of old Acts which had to be considered, and a great deal of detailed matter to be taken into account. The Bill now before the Seanad was, in fact, ready for introduction in 1940, but having regard to conditions then existing, and the general desire in these conditions to avoid unnecessary legislation, and having regard also to the difficulties  that would have been experienced in putting the Bill into operation in those conditions, it was not introduced until after the war had ended.
The Ports and Harbours Tribunal to which I have referred found that the administrative control of the harbours of the country was regulated by a very large and unco-ordinated volume of legislation, both general Acts and local Acts, and that wide diversity existed as between one body and another in the character and extent of their powers and functions as well as in their constitution and make-up.
The tribunal drew attention to the fact that no attempt had been made at any time to co-ordinate the activities of the various Acts, to assist or supervise their operation and development, or for the protection of the interests of the users of the ports and harbours. In their report they made two main recommendations. The first was that the provisions of the various general Acts relating to harbours should be replaced by a general consolidating Act embodying in modern form such of the existing statutory provisions as experience had shown to be valuable and desirable.
The second main recommendation was that the Department of Industry and Commerce should be given the general oversight of harbour administration and be placed, as regards harbours, in much the same position as that occupied by the Department of Local Government in relation to local authorities. The tribunal further proposed the adoption of a fresh policy based upon its suggestions and recommendations to the end that the various harbour undertakings might, under the general guidance of the Department of Industry and Commerce, be brought to the highest level of efficiency in the interest of the trade and commerce of the State.
The Bill, as drafted, gave precise effect to all the main recommendations of the tribunal. Any departure there was from the recommendations of the tribunal was on matters of minor detail only. The procedure adopted was to base the Bill on the tribunal's recommendations and to bring it to  the Dáil in that form. It received a Second Reading in the Dáil and was then circulated to all harbour bodies in the country and other bodies interested in harbour facilities which were asked to submit any observations they had, and to make suggestions on the provisions of the Bill for such changes and additions as they considered necessary.
A very large number of suggested amendments was received from these harbour authorities and other bodies, and they were very closely examined, and such of them as appeared to involve an improvement of the Bill without departure from the main principles laid down by the Ports and Harbours Tribunal were adopted and embodied in the Bill by amendments moved on the Committee Stage of the Bill in the Dáil.
The Bill, as it comes to the Seanad. embodies, therefore, not merely the recommendations of the Ports and Harbours Tribunal but also the modification of these recommendations which the harbour authorities themselves proposed and which were adopted by the Government and by the Dáil after the Bill had been first circulated. The Bill applies to the four principal harbours, Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford and to 21 other specified harbours. All the harbours governed by the Bill are those mentioned in the terms of reference of the tribunal, except the harbour at Buncrana which developed into an important port subsequent to the establishment of the tribunal, and consequential on the expenditure of a large sum of money on the development of that harbour.
The harbours are grouped into two classes—the four main harbours, and the 21 secondary harbours. There is, however, provision in the Bill by which a harbour may be moved from one class to another by Ministerial Order, or a new harbour included in either class, if the development of its trade and the  expansion of the facilities provided there, justify such inclusion.
It will be understood that in the course of time, some harbours will gain in importance, others will lose in importance, and there is power to change the status of a harbour following such changes under the Bill as drafted. The provisions of the Bill apply equally to all the specified harbours, with the exception, that the harbour authorities for the four principal harbours are comprised of a larger and more diversified membership, and each of them is required to have a general manager, and to promote a superannuation scheme for the benefit of officers and established staff. The provisions of the Bill which relate to the reconstitution of the harbour authorities, and the provisions which relate to the general procedure of harbour authorities and the removal from office of members of harbour authorities for stated reasons, will come into operation on a day in an appointed year. The Bill provides that it need not be the same day for each authority. All the other provisions of the Bill will take effect as from the date upon which the measure is enacted.
I assume it is not necessary to elaborate the case for the reconstitution of harbour authorities. As Senators will be aware, many of the existing harbour authorities are constituted in a manner which is not only obsolete and inconsistent with democratic principles but one which does not make for efficient management. There is at present, as I have mentioned, considerable diversity, and each harbour board is constituted on a basis peculiar to itself. At Cork, the harbour commissioners are largely composed of members appointed by the Cork Corporation.
At Foynes the harbour commissioners co-opt their successors and at certain harbours, provisions for the appointment of commissioners have become obsolete and vacancies exist which cannot be filled until the existing legislation is amended. The number of the members of harbour authorities varies from as few as seven in some cases, to as many as 37 in another. The system of election of harbour boards has, in practice, been largely one of co-option and nomination of representatives  of those firms and shipping companies which were actively interested as users of the harbour. In many cases the harbour authorities have come to be regarded as closed corporations.
The principle of election is not followed generally. There were in fact no contested elections at Dublin or at Sligo for many years before the emergency. At Dundalk, a contested election is exceptional, and in the case of that harbour, at an election held in 1944 only eight persons voted out of an electorate of 500. There has been, it must be confessed, a regrettable lack of public interest in matters affecting harbour authorities on the part of the community. The fact that the public are not directly rated or taxed for the upkeep of harbours may account, to some extent, for the lack of interest. The fact that the public do not pay directly through rates and taxes for harbour maintenance is not, however, a measure of their interest in the efficiency with which harbours are conducted, and the adequacy of the facilities provided, because as producers and consumers, they are very much affected by the cost of moving goods through these harbours and ports. They may not pay directly through rates and taxes, but they certainly do pay indirectly, in the price of commodities, for the upkeep of the harbours, although it is not apparent that they realise the full extent to which they contribute to them.
The general scheme now proposed recognises that the management of ports and harbours is largely a matter for local bodies. I do not mean local government bodies. I mean bodies constituted on a local basis. It is intended that the new harbour authorities should be representative of the classes of persons and the interests which are directly concerned in the use of the undertaking.
It is desirable that each authority should comprise a reasonably compact membership to facilitate the expeditious discharge of business, and, at the same time, be not too unwieldy. It is proposed, therefore, in the Bill, that the harbour authorities, when reconstituted, will have as membership:  in the case of Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford a total of 23, divided as to five to be appointed by the corporation (in the case of Cork, one of those to be appointed as a local representative will be so appointed by the Cobh Urban District Council); four of the 23 members will be appointed by the chambers of commerce, two each will be appointed by the Federation of Irish Manufacturers, organisations of live-stock traders, and an organisation representative of labour interests. Four members are to be elected by persons who pay tonnage rates of £20 or more, and four are to be nominated by the Minister for Industry and Commerce. The tribunal recommended that, in addition to securing representation on harbour boards for various local interests, the Minister for Industry and Commerce should have the power to make direct nominations. The reason why that power was given to the Minister was to ensure that any local interest that should be represented on a harbour authority and did not secure that representation through any of the other nominating bodies, could nevertheless be appointed thereon by the Minister for Industry and Commerce.
In the case of Galway Harbour, and some other smaller harbours, where the Minister has that power of nomination now, the importance of it has become self-evident. In some cases, the persons most concerned with the trade of the harbour and the use of the harbour do not secure representation on the harbour board through the local body or other nominating authority, and obtain it only by Ministerial nomination. It is, I think, a desirable procedure. Certainly, my experience in the exercise of the power which I now have in relation to some harbour authorities, would appear to suggest that the power of direct Ministerial nomination is highly desirable. In the case of the smaller harbours it is proposed that the total membership of the harbour authorities should be substantially smaller, consisting of nine or 11 members; 11 members where a chamber of commerce exists, and nine, where there is no chamber of commerce.
In the case of these harbours, it is  proposed that four of the members will be appointed by the local authorities (there may be two local authorities concerned); two by the members of the chamber of commerce where such exists, two to be elected by persons paying tonnage rates, and three to be nominated by the Minister for Industry and Commerce. The Bill provides in respect of these smaller harbours that the Minister in exercising his power of nomination must include, among the three persons placed on the harbour authority by him, one at least who will be representative of Labour interests. One or two additional local authority members may also be appointed in certain circumstances when a local authority renders financial assistance to a harbour authority, and that local authority is not already an appointing body. The continuity of an existing harbour authority is not affected by the change of membership, nor is the position regarding property, liabilities, mortgages, stock, contracts or agreements altered. The general aim is to constitute harbour authorities in such a way that there will be a balanced representation of the various interests concerned in the development and management of each port.
I have mentioned that the tribunal proposed that the Minister for Industry and Commerce should be given a general oversight of harbour administration. One recommendation was that the officers of the Department should have the right of attendance at harbour meetings, but on consideration I decided that it was neither necessary nor desirable that that course should be followed, and consequently the Bill does not provide for such powers. The Bill provides that the Minister can remove from office members of a harbour authority on stated grounds: if they refuse or neglect to comply with statutory requirements or are found, after the holding of an inquiry, to have failed in the discharge of their statutory duties. Provision is made in the Bill for the holding of a local inquiry into the performance by harbour authorities of their powers, functions and duties and into a variety of matters such as harbour finance, borrowing, the conditions of the harbour,  the rates charged and the accommodation and facilities provided. It will be understood that the power given for the holding of a local inquiry is an important one for commercial interests. It is frequently alleged that the management of a harbour is operated to give an advantage to some commercial interest to the detriment of others. Many provisions in the Bill are framed in order to ensure that such special advantage cannot be improperly granted, that everybody shall have the same rights to use the harbour facilities, and that in every respect the administration of the harbours cannot be subordinated to private commercial interests.
Provision is made for the continuity in office of existing officers and servants. As certain positions fall vacant they will be filled through the Local Appointments Commission. I have mentioned that the four principal harbours will each be required to have a general manager. There are, as some Senators know, already general managers at Cork and Waterford. The Dublin Port and Docks Board has decided to appoint a general manager. The position has been advertised, and is at present being filled through the machinery of the Local Appointments Commission. The four principal harbours will be required to submit a superannuation scheme for their officers and established staff within two years of the date of the enactment of this measure. In the case of the smaller harbours it is not considered practicable to impose upon them the obligation to have superannuation schemes, because the institution of a superannuation scheme assumes continuity of revenue which may not be in fact realised in the case of some of those smaller harbours. What the Bill proposes, in relation to the smaller harbours, is that they may establish superannuation schemes for their staff with the consent of the Minister, where the Minister is satisfied that the prospects of the future harbour revenues are such as would justify such a course.
Under the existing system of legislation a special Act or provisional Order under the General Pier and Harbour  Acts is necessary to create a new harbour authority to revise the constitution of existing harbour authorities, to authorise the construction of new works, or to provide additional borrowing powers. The number of Acts has multiplied and the statutory provision has grown more complex. I am sure that many Senators will remember a number of these Acts coming along from time to time confirming provisional Orders made under the General Pier and Harbour Acts. A number of them dealt with quite unimportant matters. At present a number of harbours have exhausted their borrowing powers and require extensions to enable them to proceed with urgent works of reconstruction. Without statutory sanction, they are unable to borrow or to proceed with the new works. Cork is an example of that position. If separate enactments had to be obtained by each of the harbours requiring special powers within the next few years there would be a multitude of private Bills, and a quite considerable expenditure for the individual harbour authorities concerned. This Bill obviates a great deal of that unnecessary legislation. It provides that the Minister for Industry and Commerce may authorise a harbour authority to construct works or acquire land compulsorily. He may fix or vary the limits of a harbour, transfer a harbour to a local authority, or transfer to the management of a harbour authority any specified port or pier. If compulsory acquisition of land arises on a large scale, and in the case of the transfer of a harbour to a local authority, or the transfer of a port or pier to a harbour authority, or an alteration in the harbour limits, the matter must be brought specifically before the Oireachtas, and provision is made to that effect in the Bill. A survey may be made of the intended site of any works which a harbour authority proposes to construct. Completed works and works in course of construction may also be included within the provision designed to ensure that proposed works of an extensive nature are sound from an engineering point of view.
Hitherto, when moneys were required  for capital works they have usually been borrowed on mortgage on the security of the harbour revenues. When the borrowing did not exceed £100,000 and was for the purpose of financing new works, sanction could be obtained by means of a provisional Order. The maximum limit was set in the relevant section of the special Act or provisional Order, and in many cases the borrowings were earmarked for specific purposes. The Bill provides a general power to borrow with the consent of the Minister for Industry and Commerce. The consent of the Minister for Finance is also required where the borrowings are large, that is to say over £200,000 in the case of Dublin, and over £50,000 in the case of other harbours.
The tribunal made certain recommendations in regard to the method of granting financial assistance to harbour authorities. They recommended that State assistance should be made available for schemes which the harbours were unable to finance out of their own resources, and that when such approved schemes are not of national importance that the State contribution should be conditional on a contribution from the local authority. They considered that when State aid was given it should be by way of loan or by guaranteeing loans raised by the harbour authorities concerned. In the past local authorities have only been empowered to assist harbour undertakings when a loan from the Local Loans Fund was concerned. The assistance given by local authorities for essential harbour maintenance during the past few years was authorised only by an Emergency Powers Order made under the Emergency Powers Acts. This Bill proposes that a local authority, with the consent of the Minister for Local Government, may assist a harbour undertaking by a contribution or guarantee, or may themselves raise a loan where the harbour authority is unable to do so. The supervisory power given to the Minister for Local Government and Public Health is considered desirable for the purpose of ensuring that local authorities will not unduly burden themselves with heavy financial commitments.
In the past, the only methods open  to harbour authorities to obtain financial help from the State were in the form of loans from the Local Loans Fund, administered by the Office of Public Works, which loans normally required a guarantee from the local authority; or by grants from the Special Employment Schemes Office, or from the Employment and Emergency Schemes Vote, the grant in such cases being conditional upon the prevailing unemployment conditions in the harbour area; or by occasional grants made on the recommendation of the Minister for Agriculture for the dredging of fishery harbours, or by loans for work of a capital nature guaranteed under the Trade Loans (Guarantee) Acts or, during these last few years of the emergency, by grants administered by the Department of Industry and Commerce towards the cost of essential maintenance.
The position is that, heretofore, the State has not accepted the position of having any obligation to assist financially in harbour development. It has now been decided as a matter of policy, however, that State aid should be made available for the purpose of harbour development in cases where harbour revenues would be unable to support the necessary borrowing. It is intended, however, that the assistance will be given subject to the conditions recommended by the Ports and Harbours Tribunal. These conditions were, first, that in the case of harbours primarily of local interest, assistance should be forthcoming from local authorities in the areas concerned, and, secondly, that the expenditure would be likely to result in a perceptible reduction of freights and costs of handling goods or would be likely to confer other benefits on the community such as providing supplies at lower prices and enabling exports to be forwarded more cheaply and expeditiously. In all cases it is intended that the supervision of the engineering aspect of schemes for which State aid is provided will be entrusted to the Office of Public Works.
During the emergency, as Senators will know, a number of the smaller harbours have suffered considerable losses and have accumulated arrears of  maintenance. It has been decided to make special provision in such cases during the next five or six years. The harbour authorities will, however, be expected to show that their incapacity to meet the situation which has arisen was not due to lack of economic management and that the expenditure would be likely to result in the revival of trade at the port and confer benefits on the community of the nature referred to in the tribunal's report. Assistance by local authorities will be required in all such cases. There are a large number of miscellaneous provisions in the Bill which it is hardly necessary to refer to at this stage. There are, however, a few which I think I should mention. The Bill unifies a lot of the existing mass of legislation in regard to management, control and operation of harbours, and that legislation is made of general application. A harbour authority may be required to submit proposals for the dredging of their harbour and may be required to have the dredging carried out in a specified manner. Harbour authorities are empowered to provide facilities for aircraft and to make charges for such facilities. With regard to charging powers, the existing maximum rates are preserved until varied by a harbour rates authority. Uniform powers are provided in relation to the charging of tonnage, goods and service rates. The Bill provides that rates are to be charged equally on all persons, and harbour facilities are to be available equally on payment of appropriate rates. The lists of rates must be open for inspection. These provisions are in the main a codification of existing legislation.
There is a provision in the Bill which is new in harbour legislation in this country, and which empowers a harbour authority to take steps to improve the conditions of casual employment of dock workers by introducing a system of registration of workers and by confining employment to registered workers. I had some doubts, and still have some doubts, about giving that power to harbour authorities, because I think that in so far as it is desirable to confine employment to registered workers, the obligation should rest more directly on the employers of  dock labour and on the trade unions concerned, rather than on the harbour authorities, to take the necessary steps. In fact, I have caused an inquiry to be made into the general question of the de-casualisation of dock labour along the lines of what has been proposed in recent British legislation. I cannot say what that will result in, but at any rate I decided to leave this section in the Bill, even though a port authority might not take any action under it. I do not think the section will do any particular good so far as the larger harbours are concerned, but in the case of smaller harbours the harbour authority may be the only organisation in the position to take action.
Under the Bill nine general Harbour Acts will cease to apply to the specified harbour authorities, and over 100 private Acts and provisional Orders will cease to have effect in so far as they are inconsistent with the new legislation. The Bill is not one which lends itself easily to discussion of principles at this stage. The main discussion in the Dáil was on the Committee Stage and, in fact, it was necessary to have a recommittal on Report Stage. Many of the members of the Dáil were members of harbour authorities and, naturally, were very interested in the Bill. For that reason, I think that Senators also will find that discussion of this Bill will be more useful on the Committee Stage rather than on Second Reading.
Mr. Douglas: I agree with the last remarks of the Minister, that this is not a Bill on which time can be usefully spent on its Second Stage. In so far as it aims at or endeavours to improve the administration of harbours and harbour board authorities, I think that the Bill would be non-controversial, and in the case of a Bill of that kind I think it would be agreed that it is not desirable to have much discussion on the Second Stage. However, I have one strong objection to make to the Bill, and I should like to state it now. The Minister may hold my views to be somewhat Victorian, but I think that it is a bad principle for the Minister to be able to nominate  his own representatives on a board which he has power to abolish. The Minister can nominate a certain number of members to the board, and if they fail to make their appointments or elections, the Minister has power to nominate other representatives. I see no particular objection there, but in this case the Minister is seeking power to nominate representatives not for himself but for other people. As regards the four members he selects himself, he may or may not, so far as the Bill is concerned, appoint persons who are his representatives, or persons who, he may think, represent additional interests. If it is intended that these four representatives, in the case of the larger harbours, are to be representatives of interests which failed to get representation, I think that the Minister should say so and, when he nominates those four, state what interest he considers they represent. That would make it clear that they were not his representatives and, when attending meetings of the harbour authority, that they were not speaking on his behalf.
As regards the power to abolish the board after inquiry is concerned, I gather from the memorandum that that power has been taken on the theory that the Minister should have the same powers as the Minister for Local Government. We may, therefore, assume that such powers will be exercised in much the same way as they are exercised by the Minister for Local Government. I am glad to say that this Bill places some limitation on that exercise but not quite so much as should be placed on it. My view is that a local authority, whether a harbour authority or other, which is elected or partially elected, should be abolished only after a public inquiry and after the person holding that inquiry has made a public report. My reason for saying that is that the persons who elected the body which, it is alleged, failed to carry out its duty and which is abolished by the Minister concerned, should be able to see the report made by the responsible person who held the inquiry so that, when they are called upon at some future date to elect the authority again, they will be able to use their  judgment as to whether they should elect the persons concerned or not. The local body may be abolished by the Minister after a secret inquiry or after an inquiry which is partly public and partly secret or which is entirely public. The report made as a result of the inquiry may or may not be published so far as this Bill is concerned. In view of the reference to the Department of Local Government in the memorandum, I assume that, in pursuance of present policy, it would not be published. That may mean that when the new body comes to be elected, some people will be inclined to re-elect a whole body to spite the Minister, if they do not like him, or to reject the whole body, if they want to support him. An electorate which consists of chambers of commerce, the Federation of Irish Manufacturers, representatives of labour and others of that type should be told why the person who held the inquiry recommended the abolition of the authority. I think that you could count on the electors, when called upon to elect a new body, refusing to elect the former members if the facts were known to them.
Under this Bill, the Minister must, in varying periods up to three years, arrange for the election of another body. That is good so far as it goes. But, in my opinion, a year would be quite sufficient. If it is intended to have local authorities controlling the harbours and if such an authority is abolished, the electors should have an opportunity within a year of appointing another body. The object of the abolition is not to introduce government by commissioner but for the purpose of getting an efficient local body. The provision in connection with local government by which a body may be almost indefinitely abolished is bad. I am glad that, in this case, a definite limit has been introduced and that a new harbour authority will be elected within a certain period. But for those principles, which I think are bad but which are more or less consistent with the general tendency at present, the Bill, particularly as amended, is, I think, a good Bill and one which the House should pass.
Mr. Counihan: On behalf of the live-stock trade, which I represent, I support the principle of this Bill. We are rather surprised at the attitude of the Minister towards our particular organisation—the national executive of the live-stock trades. We cannot understand why he goes out of his way to try to discredit this organisation, which has done so much good for the members of the live-stock trade.
Mr. Counihan: I shall explain that as I go on. In the first instance, the Minister refused to have the national executive of the cattle trade represented on harbour boards at all. The Minister refused to give the national executive the power to nominate, the same as the chambers of commerce and manufacturers. We considered that that was a very discourteous act, which discredited us. We thought that we were as worthy of the right to nomination as the other bodies. I believe that the attitude of the Minister to the national executive is due to his not understanding the work which we are doing and the composition of our body. I hope I shall be able to convince the Minister and the House of the importance of the national executive and that, on the Committee Stage, he will have no objection to accepting amendments which I shall propose. The national executive of the live-stock trades is the only body in the State responsible for the transport and protection of the live stock exported from the Twenty-Six Counties to Great Britain. They are responsible for their safe transport and their protection against slaughter owing to foot-and-mouth disease and against hold-ups in Great Britain through the prevalence of foot-and-mouth disease in the area. The live-stock trade, in all these cases, compensates the exporters of live stock if they are killed or injured in transport or slaughtered by order of the British Government at the port of landing.  The Minister said in the Dáil that the Minister for Agriculture thought it was undesirable to give statutory powers to one organisation. I am glad to be able to inform the House that a deputation from the cattle trade waited on the Minister for Agriculture yesterday, and he agreed with the suggestions for amendments which we are to introduce on Committee Stage. He promised to use his influence with the Minister to have them accepted.
With regard to that statement, I want to say that if it was only one organisation, we would be in thorough agreement with the Minister, but the national executive is not one organisation—it is an organisation of organisations. They represent the whole cattle trade in the Twenty-Six Counties. It is made up of six cattle trade organisations and one pig buyers' and pig producers' organisation. That totals seven, and the chairman and vice-chairman of each of those bodies represent the national executive. There are two of those organisations, one in Cork, one in Belfast, one in Derry, and one in Sligo, and there is the Irish Pig Buyers' Organisation, making 14 in all, comprising representatives of dealers in cattle, sheep, pigs and horses, who might also be included, in the whole Twenty-Six Counties. With regard to the statement about giving the organisation statutory powers, I would like to explain to the House that the national executive already have statutory powers. They are a nominating body for the Seanad.
Mr. Counihan: There have been two Bills passed through the Oireachtas giving us statutory powers, one by the late Minister for Agriculture, Mr. Hogan, and the other on a more recent date by the present Minister for Agriculture. I think we are the only traders' organisation of this country, or any other country, with statutory powers to tax ourselves for the protection of the trade as a whole.
Mr. Counihan: Under one of those Bills, no shipping company in the Twenty-Six Counties can accept any cattle, sheep or pigs for export to Great Britain without having the appropriate levy paid in the shape of a tax affixed to the consignment note. The Slaughtered Animals Act was introduced by the late Minister for Agriculture to allow the trade to compensate for the cattle slaughtered at British ports of landing. After the Treaty was passed, no British Government would accept responsibility for cattle while they were in British ports. They denied responsibility, and the Irish Government would not accept responsibility either, so that when our live stock was in a British port they were practically in “no man's land” and nobody would take responsibility. They were nobody's children, and I advocated strongly that the Irish Government should compensate those people who lost considerable sums of money through the slaughter of their animals. Some of them were nearly broke at the time. All they had was lost and confiscated, and, at that time I remember my friend Senator Tom Foran telling me that he was so tired of listening to me advocating compensation that he suggested we should organise a flag day to pay the poor cattlemen.
However, the Minister for Agriculture gave us a Bill to tax ourselves, which we did, to pay for any cattle slaughtered by order of the British Government in any of their ports. That Act has since been extended to provide compensation for cattle held up through the prevalence of foot-and-mouth disease in any area where Irish cattle may be before they are sold to the British customers. The fund of that Act has reached the sum of about £40,000. At least, it was that some time ago, and something may have been paid out recently because of outbreaks in England during the last couple of months.
The other Act, which the present Minister for Agriculture introduced on the request of the cattle trade, was the  Exported Livestock (Insurance) Act. That Act provides in respect of beasts purchased in this country and exported through an Irish port to any market in Britain that the animals will be insured for a considerable time, 72 hours, after getting into the market. The funds of that Act are in the neighbourhood of £180,000.
Mr. Counihan: I want to show that we are the only body entitled to individual representation on the Ports and Harbours Tribunal. If the Minister did not think we were of so much use to the country he would surely deny us the right to have representation on those boards. Those insurance boards were elected by the national executive. They run their business very economically. We pay no directors' fees and no dividends, and everything that is done is done for the benefit of the trade. I think we are doing very important work.
Mr. Counihan: I am sorry I annoyed Senator Tom Foran by talking so much about the cattle trade. I have a good deal more to say on it, but the only remark I have to make now is that we are rather pleased with the Bill and with the Minister's statement that he intends to carry out the recommendations of the Ports and Harbours Tribunal. Two members of the national executive gave evidence before that tribunal, and our principal recommendation was that the Dublin Cattle Market should be removed to the North Wall and that  municipal lairages for the export of stock should be provided. Those two proposals of the cattle trade were unanimously recommended in the Report of the Ports and Harbours Tribunal and I would like to hear from the Minister what he intends to do about that particular recommendation.
I am pleased to see that the Minister has extended shipping representation, although we have no great love for the shipping companies. Still, they are an important body, and I think I might suggest the Minister's nomination should also include representatives of the railway companies. The railway companies have a very important function to perform at the meetings of the harbour boards and I think it would be well to have them represented. I hope when I put in these recommendations later the Minister will have no objection to accepting them.
Mr. Baxter: I am going to be rather close to Senator Counihan, while not just exactly following his line. I have to express some surprise that the Minister in drafting this Bill has seen fit only to include one small group of producers among those entitled to have representation on the harbour boards of the country. Perhaps I might express my surprise that Senator Counihan had no word to say about farmer producers.
To me, the harbours of the country are like the gates going into a man's farm—you must be concerned about them. You must have some rules about opening and closing them. The harbours are the gateways out of the farmers' markets and they are also the gateways through which many of the necessities for our productive efforts must come. The Minister has made provision for the trader. Trading, as I see it, has come to be such an exalted occupation that it is much more profitable, and, apparently, much more honourable to be a trader than to be a producer. I think we ought to try to reverse that attitude of mind, and I will put it to the Minister that if the farmers were not producing the cattle, there would not be much room for cattle traders.
 While it is of vital importance that the people who are trading through a port will have a voice in the management of a port, and it is of vital importance that people like the cattle traders will have a say, and will be able to place the benefit of their knowledge and experience at the disposal of a particular harbour authority, I think it is of much greater importance that the producers of the country should have a voice with regard to how the business of these harbour authorities should be conducted. It is true that we are in the main, to-day, only exporting cattle but we are producing something else in addition.
There were other days when we were exporting butter, bacon, eggs and poultry and I hope we will get to that point again. The more quickly we reach that stage the more profitable life will be here for everybody. I should like to suggest to the Minister that he turned a blind eye to that side of the nation's life and that he is not making the proper approach to opening up that wider field of activity into which we want to see our farmers enter. We have in this country many great co-operative organisations. They were exporting a very considerable quantity of the country's produce in the past and they were importers as well. They are the direct representatives, they are the mouthpiece of the producers of the country. They ought to be the primary concern of every Minister, and essentially of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, because his industry and his commerce can only flourish on the basis of a flourishing agricultural industry.
So, Sir, I suggest to the Minister that the people who must be more directly concerned about the use that is to he made of our harbours, the way they will be managed, the distribution of the rates, properties, and accommodation that the people are to enjoy must be as intimately concerned as anybody else. I know, of course, that the cattle traders must have lairage accommodation and must be granted facilities of a kind suitable to their trade. Apparently, the Federation of Irish Manufacturers are a not unimportant  section of our community. Senator Hayes, I heard him, whispered “simple souls”. Not so simple, I would suggest, at all, and perhaps that is why the Minister has given two representatives to the Federation of Irish Manufacturers. I do not know what proportion of their manufactures. they are exporting, and I do not know to what extent they are using the harbours of the country or are going to use them in the future. It is perfectly right that they, too, should have a voice, but I cannot understand the point of view of the Minister. Perhaps it is because he may be convinced by some people that the cattle trade represents the producers of the country and that the producers are adequately represented on the harbour boards by the cattle traders.
Mr. Counihan: On a point of order, may I explain that the cattle trade represents the producers as much as any farmers. In the organisation of which I have the honour to be chairman, we have five members of the Seanad, Mr. Quirke, Mr. Sweetman, Mr. James McGee, Mr. Parkinson and myself. I think we represent the producers, as well as the farmers, whom Mr. Baxter was talking about.
Mr. Baxter: I am not saying a word against them, but Senator Counihan has made a disclosure that is very interesting. I am not going to pursue that now, but it seems to me that the Minister must be under the impression that the cattle traders were really representative of, and could talk for, the producers of the country. Obviously, they cannot. They can speak for a particular branch, and for a particular interest in a particular branch. It is one thing to produce cattle, and it is another thing to be interested in trading in cattle.
A man, I grant you, may be both a trader and a producer. A man may be using his farm, putting cattle on it, keeping them for a month and then bringing them off to export them. I know that to many people that is a very profitable manner of using one's land, but that requires specialised knowledge, special circumstances, and special conveniences that are not open  to the man in Connemara or Bunbeg in Donegal. Definitely, it is not a fact that the producers of this country will be adequately represented by two members of the Cattle Traders' Association.
I do not mind who they are or how competent they are to represent that particular branch of the country's industry. It is important they should be there but what I want to urge is that the Minister should take into account the other branches of the country's economy, the pig producers, people who are killing their pigs, the co-operative societies, the people in our creameries producing butter, the big dairy societies that have, in addition, their egg and poultry branches, whose exports in the past were a considerable proportion of our total exports.
In turn, these people are importing artificial manures, machinery and all the requirements of our farmers in their ordinary everyday work. Those people have a direct interest in the management of our harbours. I think it is of vital importance that consideration should be given to that particular interest on these boards particularly on the more important harbours. I regret very much that the Minister has not seen fit to put in as one of the categories direct representation of the producers and I confess quite frankly, that if there is a necessity to include the Federation of Irish Manufacturers, the farmers as manufacturers are far more important. They are far more important as exporters and importers.
Who can pretend that they have not, therefore, a direct interest in the management of our harbours, and in the way the space along our harbours may be allocated, either for exporting or importing purposes? I hope the Minister will give consideration to that. I must try and see whether I would have as much ingenuity as Senator Counihan, and introduce some proposal to meet this on the Committee Stage if the Minister does not feel disposed to do so.
Mr. Duffy: In the early part of his speech the Minister conveyed to us the impression that the Harbours Tribunal on whose report this Bill is founded made a recommendation that the relationship between the Minister and the harbour authorities should correspond more or less to the relationship that exists between local authorities and the Department of Local Government. I think he asked us to infer that that recommendation was implemented in the Bill. I think that it is not, and I think that the Minister is to be very heartily congratulated on the fact that it is not. The relationship which is proposed in this Bill is of a kind that one might like to see existing between a local authority and the Department of Local Government. You have in the Bill an effort to secure a representative body of people, representing various interests—I am not going to discuss these interests—all having the right to use the port. In the case of the larger ports at any rate they will be appointed to the harbour authority.
As regards the manager, his position, as far as I can form a judgment on the Bill, does not differ very widely from the position of the existing general manager in the case of Cork, a position which was created voluntarily, and of their own volition, by the Cork Harbour Board 15 or 16 years ago. Under the Bill the supreme authority in the port is the harbour authority. The manager is the executive officer. Certainly, he can exercise certain functions, particularly in relation to staff; but in the long run he is subject to the harbour authority provided for in the Bill. I think that is one of the things that we have a right to mention now, and one of the things on which we might congratulate the Minister in his preparation of the Bill.
I want to say now that, in my opinion, this is one of the best-drawn, one of the best thought-out and one of the most competent Bills that has come before this House in my time. It is excellently presented, and I do not think there will be many people to find fault with it. There are certain aspects of it that one might like to see altered. For instance, the  Minister is taking power in relation to harbour works, in such cases as he thinks proper, to make a provisional Order after the holding of a local inquiry. That, I think, is a very proper thing. In that way the local people will know what is being done. The inquiry will be a public one, and those supporting the proposal of the harbour authority, as well as those opposing it, will be entitled to give evidence at it. The Minister will then have the opportunity, before seeking power to implement his provisional Order, of judging how local opinion and local feeling have reacted to the proposition.
One of the things that I think might be done would be to continue that idea further in relation to a proposal, let us say, to abolish a harbour authority. I do not visualise that the authorities to be provided under this Bill in the principal harbours are going to be abolished in the near future, but there may be difficulties in the case of certain of the smaller harbours. There were grave difficulties in the past. In fact, I have the idea that some of the authorities in the case of small harbours were not constituted in accordance with any proper procedure at all. I had some experience, as a member of the Rates Advisory Committee for six or seven years, in dealing with some of those bodies, and what occurred to me was that the local people, including the harbour officials, did not know what Acts they were operating and did not very much care. There was one case in the County Kerry in which it was impossible to get a harbour authority elected under the Order under which the authority was constituted. I think that the people who were entitled to be electors did not exist.
The principal thing that, in my opinion, this Bill does is to codify all the statutes, orders and regulations which govern these 25 harbours. It also proposes to modernise them. That in itself is, of course, a great achievement, something for which we have the right to be grateful. The Minister has achieved a very big task in doing this. He has reduced what was chaos to an ordered system of  government in relation to harbours. He is seeking to get representative people to become members of the controlling authority in the case of harbours. I do not think that, at this stage, we need quarrel as to whether there are two many farmers or too few, or too many cattle traders or too few. The main thing, in my judgment, is to get a number of people, whether it is nine, 11 or 23, who understand what is the function of a harbour authority and who are willing to devote their time to the functions of their office, and deal honestly with the affairs committed to their charge. One difficulty, in the past was that, in some of these cases, the members of the harbour authority regarded the port authority as part of a private concern owned by themselves. I had the experience on one occasion of dealing with a complaint which was made to the Rates Advisory Committee, that in one particular harbour two shipping companies using the harbour were paying totally different tonnage rates and tonnage dues. On inquiry, I discovered that what was happening was this: that the harbour authority levied a flat rate which was payable by the users of the harbour, but then it had a regulation by which it could make a refund to the company which made 24 or 12 round trips each year. There was only one company that could satisfy that requirement, and that company received, at the end of the year, a rebate of 50 per cent. of the total sum paid by it in harbour dues during the year. It happened that a very prominent member of the harbour board was a director of that company, and when he was giving evidence before the Rates Advisory Committee I asked him about this discrimination against another user of the harbour whom I named. He became livid with rage at the thought that the company in which he was interested should be compared with what he would call a tin-pot company.
These things merely illustrate the manner in which some people approached their responsibilities in the past. I think that whatever we may say about the objection to groupings, or to the representation of one section and the non-representation of another,  the important thing is that we must aim at getting competent people to run these harbour authorities in the interests of the State and in the interests of the nation, and not in the interests of private firms.
Now some amendments which were made to this Bill, when it was going through the Dáil, are of tremendous importance. The Minister has told us that after he got certain recommendations from various harbour authorities and other interests concerned he decided to introduce a number of amendments to this Bill, and I know that other people took a keen interest in the framework of the Bill and brought certain suggestions under the notice of the Minister, and I think he accepted them. In my opinion, one of the most important of these proposals is the authority conferred on the new harbour authority to provide transhipment sheds, but I think that the importance of that provision has not been fully grasped. It seems to me that the provision for the transhipment of goods is the modern equivalent or alternative to a free port. Certain proposals have been put forward in this country as to the establishment of a free port. I do not want to go into that matter now, but I would say that some of the greatest countries in the world have built up their foreign trade and their mercantile marine business on a transhipment basis. That is the kind of an organisation which would enable an Irish shipping company to take a cargo in a foreign port and distribute that cargo at a number of other ports before the voyage is completed. I think that in inserting that provision in the Bill the Minister has done one of the best jobs that has been done for a long time in the interest of establishing an Irish Mercantile Marine.
There is another aspect of this measure, however, to which I should like to draw attention. In various sections of the Bill it is provided that the harbour authority “may” do certain things, with the consent of the Minister. Now, I do not like to see too many “musts” or “shalls” coming into a Bill, but I do think that in this case of transhipment sheds the  Minister should put in “shall” or “must”, because I think it is essential that there should be a double shift in the case of a ship taking a cargo en route for Glasgow or somewhere-else. Another thing which I think is of great importance is the provision for the decasualisation of dock labour. I can quite realise that it is difficult for harbour authorities to be charged with the duty of making the provisions that are contemplated here in Section 61, but at any rate it represents a notice of the intention of the Government to proceed along those lines, and I think its incorporation in the Bill is. valuable. If it does nothing else except to indicate to the interested parties that there is a national policy supporting the decasualisation of dock labour, it is valuable for that alone. I do not, however, accept the view that the section could not go further. I think that it can go very much further, and I can visualise occasions which may very well arise in which it could go very much further.
Before I conclude, there are one or two points to which I want to refer and which, I think, may have escaped the attention of the Minister, and seem to have escaped the attention of the Dáil, as far as I can see. I refer particularly in this connection to Section 83 of the Bill. I cannot imagine that section being of interest to anybody except the Revenue Commissioners. It seems to me to be something that is totally at variance with the principle of the Bill as a whole. Sub-section (1) of Section 83 says that a harbour authority may make customs entry in certain cases. Surely, if there are any traders' interests represented in this House, they will realise that this is a complete violation of any control over goods being brought into this country.
Mr Duffy: Yes, certainly. In the first place I object to this thing of looking into the cargo, and, secondly, I think that goods being imported, whether by an Irish importer or anybody else, are as much a secret as the contents of a private letter.
Mr. Duffy: Well, I do not follow the Senator, but what is being done in Section 83 is to confer on a harbour authority the right to open a case of goods, shipped and brought into Ireland on behalf of an Irish importer, and to make a customs entry. Mind you, it is not merely a question of enabling a cargo to be discharged— many of these technical terms are used in these Bills and in the Customs Consolidation Acts—but there are other things which might equally be clearly done by the revenue authorities, and I think that the Minister for Industry and Commerce, as the defender of the commercial interests of this country, should be encouraged to take a stand against the implications contained in Section 83 and some other sections of the Bill. However, I do not want to go into these matters now. I could refer, for instance, to the provisions of Section 79, in which penalties are provided for a harbour authority in respect of something for which penalties are already provided in the Customs Consolidation Act of 1876, and I think there are also provisions in relation to the same matter in the Merchant Shipping Act.
I cannot understand where the harbour authority comes into these matters at all. Their duty is to provide proper facilities for the use of the harbour so that shipping may be carried on for the good of the importer and the exporter, and it is not the business of the harbour authority to interfere with the goods which are being transported. Certain obligations are imposed on the shipping company or on the master of the vessel, and all these things are provided for in other enactments. The existing provisions may not be satisfactory in our conditions to-day, but they ought to be amended in relation to the appropriate statutes, and I suggest that the last persons on whom these obligations should be placed would be the harbour authorities. I do not propose to go into these matters now, but I hope to go into them at a later stage in connection with this section and other sections. Having made that observation regarding these provisions, I want to say again that I think the Minister  has achieved a very great task in a most satisfactory manner in presenting this Bill to us in the form in which it has reached this House.
Mr. Lemass: It is desirable that we should get the Bill out by the end of March. Otherwise, it cannot be brought into operation until a much later period. It is a matter of indifference to me whether the House sits late tonight or sits to-morrow but we should try to get the Second Reading this week.
Mr. Foran: I welcome this Bill on general principles. Like Senator Duffy, I do not think we need take up much time on Second Reading. It is essentially a Committee Bill. I shall not take up much time, but I do feel that I know something about at least one port. That port is the City of Dublin. It would appear from this Bill and the interest being taken in our harbours now that some good came out of the war. The fact that people wanted to use our harbours made us realise their importance. That is borne in on us now and that is all to the good. Too long have we allowed our harbours to be exploited by the foreigner. The harbour board in the City of Dublin was largely made up of representatives of cross-Channel shipping. Those people had no interest whatever in the country other than its exploitation in the interests of the country of their origin. This Bill alters all that.
The crimes committed against the citizens of this city and the country at large through the machinations of this port and docks board which governs the Port of Dublin are very far-reaching and have reacted on our trade and commerce. I shall give two instances. Dublin Port and Docks  Board has, at what is known as the Custom House dock, one of the finest warehouses in the country and comparable with any warehouse outside the country. It is an extraordinary thing that that great warehouse was repeatedly empty, while private warehouses were chock full. That is how they managed the port in the interests of the country. The accommodation owned by the Port and Docks Board which should have been used in the interests of the community was allowed to lie dormant and unused, while the profits of the private companies were enhanced by their great storage accommodation. It did not end there. Dublin Port and Docks Board were responsible for the proper working of the ships coming in here. Their entire attention was given to providing facilities for the cross-Channel companies, ignoring the deep sea trade and handicapping it in every way.
I was amused to hear Senator Duffy speaking about transhipment. The transhipment went on in England to English bottoms coming over here on their own freight terms, which we had to pay. This Bill alters much of that. The fact that these people had so long a run in exploiting the country means that the effect will continue for a long time, no matter how the new harbour authority carries on. At the North Wall, they have what is considered one of the most up-to-date grain handling machines in the world. That is owned by a private company. It is extraordinary that a private company should get hold of this great machine as against the interests of the people in general. Dublin Port and Docks Board went on handling grain in the same old fashion, while a private company was allowed to get hold of this machine and handle practically all the grain coming into the port on its own terms. These are things that were done in the old days of the Port and Docks Board. To the extent that that is going to be wiped out, I welcome the new Bill.
I have some misgivings about the Bill. The Minister has told us that he will regulate the harbour boards on somewhat similar lines to those of the Minister for Local Government. God  help the ports if he does that. We shall have chaos in the harbours in a short time—particularly, in the four principal ones. It is just possible that the manager will be a factotum of the Minister as is the county manager to the Minister for Local Government. As a victim of the activity of the Minister for Local Government, I hope that the Minister present will not require that his representatives on the public boards will give an undertaking that they will be good boys and carry out his wishes in the future.
I have more confidence in the present Minister for Industry and Commerce than I would have in any other, but he is not going to administer Industry and Commerce all the time. Another switch over may bring the Minister for Local Government to the Department of Industry and Commerce.
Mr. Foran: I will give the present Minister for Industry and Commerce all the credit and honour that is due to him up to now, but he has introduced a serious feature in democratic rule regarding the boards and to that extent I have my misgivings. But, I welcome the Bill. I know it is long overdue, and it is capable of doing great things for the people of the country, the traders and the community at large by removing some of the abuses caused by certain people when they had the opportunity. The ordinary people will get the benefit, I hope, in the future and that will be reflected in improved conditions generally.
There will be no discrimination between cross-Channel and deep-sea fishing. The deep-sea men will have an opportunity of carrying on their business and they will be encouraged to call direct to our ports. Another thing is that tramp ships will be able to come here for foreign or cross-Channel cargoes.
I must try to impress on the Minister—I know he is agreeable and  willing if the thing is possible—to facilitate the decasualisation of dock labour. That is an important matter, and if the Minister can get rid of the problem he will crown many of the very great things he has done for labour in this country. I hope he will bend his talents and his energy to bringing about the decasualisation of dock labour. The need for it is obvious. Across the Channel, it has been accomplished to some extent, and the obligation is on the Minister to do it here as soon as ever he can, so that conditions at the docks may be made a little more humane for the workers.
In the course of his speech the Minister mentioned the election of a port authority in which only eight out of 500 members voted. The same thing applies in the City of Dublin, where a man could walk in with 500 or 600 proxies and get himself re-elected. The people with votes realised there was no use in going there when the dice was loaded against them. Thank God, that has been changed and we can look forward to a period of prosperity for our harbours in the first instance, and for the traders and community in general in the second. I am sure that the Minister will be responsive to amendments in the Committee Stage. All I have to say is that I welcome the Bill on general principles.
Mr. O'Callaghan: To facilitate the passage of the Bill I propose to be very brief. I would like to, suggest to the Minister very respectfully that he might reconsider the constitution of the boards proposed. Agriculture is the big wealth-producing industry in the country. It produces more of the export wealth than all the other industries put together, but the Minister has made arrangements for only one branch of the industry to be represented, that is the live-stock industry. There are several others. The live-stock branch of the industry does not cater fully for all the live-stock trade. In Waterford, you have an export trade in dead meat which is a very technical business, and it would be desirable, in my opinion, that someone with knowledge of the export trade in  dead meat should be put on the harbour board with a view to securing proper facilities for the export of dead meat. At the moment I know there is not a very extensive export, but one day it may be very extensive and if we had support it would become a very big industry. I respectfully suggest to the Minister that agriculture should be more broadly represented on the harbour boards. A few days ago the Cork County Council adopted a resolution asking for representation. That resolution was passed unanimously and I hope the Minister will consider it. If he does, he will get one or two men with an intimate knowledge of farming problems. The Cork County Council is 75 per cent. agricultural and there will be no difficulty in securing a representative. I ask the Minister to reconsider the suggestion I have made and I wish to say that I am generally in support of the Bill.
Mr. S.T. Ruane: I regret to say that this Bill has aroused very little interest in the county I come from or-in the adjoining counties. In fact, very little interest has been manifested in the ports on the western seaboard in the last five years and as a result these are derelict, useless and unable to confer the benefits which the end of the war might be expected to revive. Many people derived considerable benefits from the cheap transit of goods diverted to these ports. The war has been accepted as the reason for their neglect and I am afraid that many people have accepted that excuse rather too readily.
In some quarters, however, there is a suspicion that the present tendency is to centralise trade and divert it to Dublin and ports in other large populous areas with a view towards supplementing the revenue of the recently reorganised transport system. I trust that these suspicions are unfounded. My interest in this Bill is mainly concerned with the possibilities it affords for the revival of the trade formerly carried on at these ports which, as I said, conferred inestimable benefits not alone on the people employed in the shipping of cargo but on the many people who benefited by the cheap  transport of goods in these particular areas.
I know that the conditions now obtaining, compared with those under which they successfully functioned in the past, have been very considerably altered, owing to the policy of the present Government, which was necessary because of the emergency in promoting the production of our own needs in grain. Through their policy the small ports have suffered. In Mayo to the ports of Ballina and Westport and another excellent port, which is not mentioned in the Bill, Newport, grain boats no longer ply, and if it is intended to revive them something must be done to reorganise the traffic by supplying a substitute to enable them to carry on.
I have been told that in the destruction of shipping which occurred during the recent war quite a big number of the class of boats, 500 to 800 tons, which serviced such ports, have been sunk, as well as larger vessels, but that the smaller boats are not being replaced. I do not know what is in that, but I do know that there are many people interested in the revival of the ports on the western seaboard, and any help the Minister can give in that direction will be appreciated. He can rely on the co-operation of the people concerned, not alone that of the residents of the port areas, but of those throughout the counties served.
At the ports that I am concerned with there are no such people, and I would suggest that the Minister might find some means of giving representation on the harbour boards to people engaged in trading, manufacturers, millers and other people that import raw materials for the purpose of carrying on their business. Naturally, if these people were on the harbour board they would take an interest in the development of the port that they administer and they would be anxious to reorganise traffic in such a way  as to bring back some degree of the prosperity that hitherto marked these particular ports. I know that in normal times, not very many years ago, goods consigned from Britain and Glasgow to Ballina and Westport were conveyed at less than 20 per cent. of the cost that obtained when similar goods were sent to Dublin and transhipped overland to the West. We will judge this Bill in the West in so far as it helps towards the development of our harbours. Though the war may be an excuse for their neglect, it is noticeable that since the cessation of hostilities, that whereas traffic has been diverted to other ports, ours are still neglected. We will judge the efficacy of this Bill in so far as it helps to provide that these ports will be utilised for the flow of goods to the towns and counties on the western seaboard.
Mr. Seán O'Donovan: I will be very brief, because I understand the Minister has an appointment pretty soon. In his introduction, I think, he stated that the harbour committee would be in the same relationship to the Minister for Industry and Commerce as the local authority is to the Minister for Local Government. I think Senator Foran was a bit harsh in his interpretation of these remarks of the Minister. The point I wish to raise specially is a liaison between the local authority of the City of Dublin, for instance, and the new harbour committee of the Dublin Port, which is now called the Dublin Port and Docks Board. In Section 58 of the Bill, there is provision made for the accommodation of customs officers and officials, and for office accommodation for them. The matter I am going to mention to the Minister was brought forcibly before the public health officers of the Dublin Corporation within the last couple of weeks, when a large consignment of oranges was brought into Dublin Port. There are no facilities provided at the port for the examination of consignments of bad food or fruit or any such edible commodity. I think that should not hold in the future.
It has always puzzled me to know where the alignment of authority between the corporation and the Port  and Docks existed. The Port and Docks, I understand, are responsible for the maintenance of bridges right up as far as Guinness'. And the local authority, the Corporation of Dublin, has the maintenance of the streets converging towards these bridges. These things, I should say, have always confused me, to know where one authority began and the other authority ended. But, on the question of the supervision of a large quantity of foodstuffs coming into this city, under the new enactment, I think I should, at this stage, draw the attention of the Minister to the inadequacy of the arrangements at present existing. The situation is that there is no facility and there is no legal provision practically, as far as I can judge, for the examination of food products at the port. It was specifically stated, whether rightly or wrongly, that the local authority and the public health officials had no right within the Port and Docks district. Where that begins or ends I am not sure, but at the shed at which goods are landed the local authority officials were informed that they had no authority there. I should like that rectified, if possible, in this Bill, and the rectification that I suggest would be in the section here which gives authority to the customs officials to have their offices and equipment attached to the new harbour board's institutions. If this be rectified, you can have far better supervision of the foodstuffs that will be imported into this city or into other large cities which are mentioned in the Bill. I do not suppose there will be large quantities of foodstuffs coming into the smaller harbour committee areas which are delineated in the Bill.
As far as the bigger authorities are concerned I think that the matter of supervision between the local authority, which is the Dublin Corporation here, and the harbour authority, is not satisfactory at present. During the emergency very large quantities of foodstuffs in an unsatisfactory and unsound condition came into Dublin and it was by the co-operation or through the initiative of the customs officials, because  they intervened at the start, that these goods were not allowed out for human consumption to the citizens of Dublin. I should say that it amounted practically to hundreds of tons of foodstuffs. One consignment consisted of beans and another was spaghetti and they were prohibited in the interests of public health from being allowed to the community. By arrangement, they were converted into animal food but the facilities there were provided through the fact that the customs officials intervened with the shipping people. Now, when you come to a specific case recently, of a large consignment of oranges, there was no arrangement, as far as I can see, through which the local authority could deal with that consignment of foodstuffs at the port. The result was that they came up into the city and created considerable difficulties in the city and considerable publicity in the Press relative to the importation of them and the distribution of them in the city. I suggest to the Minister that before the Committee Stage he should look into this matter to see that facilities are afforded in each case to the local authority to be able to supervise the importation of foodstuffs within these new harbour committee districts. There are other points, but I do not want to detain the House now. It may be easier to refer to them in Committee but I thought it wise to refer to this matter as important for consideration on the Second Reading.
Mr. Meighan: On the opening statement the Minister has made I am convinced that it was very necessary to have this Bill put through. With regard to representation for agriculture, I should like to support Senator Baxter but, perhaps, not to such a degree as he would go. My idea is that the harbour boards should be composed mainly of hard-headed business men. Of course, there should be due representation given to the various interests concerned.
I do not agree with Senator Counihan that his body represents agriculture to the hilt. Whilst I would be very anxious to see the live-stock trade  represented, I am afraid that Senator Counihan has the idea of getting representation for it, based on the representation that he has admitted here that he has got. Certainly, that association is a very important one, and is entitled to representation. With regard to representation for agriculture, for the ordinary farmer and producer, the Minister could get over that if the representation for those interests was on a provincial basis. For example, in the province of Connacht there are very capable men on the county committees of agriculture, and if these committees had one or two representatives on the harbour authorities in that province I think agriculture would not have very much to complain of. I would prefer to see hard-headed business men on these boards, but at the same time I would like to see agriculture represented so that there would be no cause for grievance amongst the agricultural community. Those representatives should have a place on these harbour authorities and be in a position to voice any grievance brought to their notice. As Senator Ruane has said, I also would like to see a bit of life added to the western harbours. Some short time ago the members of the Western Livestock Association were very concerned about this matter, and I understand sent a deputation to the Minister to try to get something done in regard to the export of cattle from Sligo port. If that were done it would be not only a great convenience, but would give a great fillip to the fairs held in the West of Ireland. I hope that the Minister will give consideration to the points I have mentioned, especially with regard to giving representation to agriculture somewhat on the lines I have outlined. I want to make it perfectly clear that, in this matter of representation, I would not like to see the live-stock association left out. I stand for fair representation for all interests.
Mr. Patrick O'Reilly: I cannot understand why Senator Meighan should have drawn such a clear distinction between the hard-headed business men and the agricultural producers. The only reason I can see for it is that Roscommon has no outlet to the sea.  I think that one will find amongst the producers of this country as hard-headed and as competent business men as amongst any other class in the community. I thoroughly agree with Senator Baxter that there should be representation for agriculture, if that is possible. Senator Baxter disagreed with Senator Counihan when the latter claimed that the Cattle Traders' Association would be on the board to represent agriculture as well as the cattle trade. The point that I am mainly concerned to make is that if you are to have an effective, efficient harbour authority it should not be too large. Otherwise, in my opinion, it will be an unwieldy body. Those who have had experience of local authorities will, I think, agree that it very often happens that when you have a body that is too large it leads to inefficiency. I would suggest to Senator Counihan that the members of the Cattle Trade Association should be in the chamber of commerce group, and in that way get representation. I wonder would it be possible for the agricultural producers to get representation through a chamber of commerce? Perhaps they might.
Senator Douglas seemed to be a bit annoyed lest the report of the officer holding an inquiry into the activities of a harbour authority should not be published, and suggested that, in all cases, the officer's report should be published. In my opinion, if the evidence given before the inquiry is not published, then the report should not be published. I would agree, to some extent, with him that it might not be expedient to do so. At any rate, I cannot see this matter from the Minister's angle. Senator Duffy suggested that there should be no censorship, as it were, on goods passing through a port; that a port authority should not be able to exercise such a censorship. In my opinion it is only right that a harbour authority should be able to check up on the goods and traffic passing through its hands. It may be argued that the customs authorities are able to carry out sufficient checks in that regard, but it may be that the Minister is of opinion that the present checks are not sufficient.
I want to say a word about the  position created under the Bill whereby the ports of Dublin, Cork, Waterford and Limerick are being placed in a premier position as against the ports of Galway, Sligo and Drogheda. I cannot understand that, since the ports of Galway, Sligo and Drogheda would normally serve the economic areas that surround them. Transport in those areas should be so organised that it would radiate from the ports rather than have goods landed in Dublin and then transported to Ballina, Sligo and Drogheda. I am very interested in the port of Sligo, which at present is in a rather bad way. Prior to the war a great number of people were employed at Sligo Port and quite an extensive business was done there, but at the moment it is really a derelict. Surely that port should be developed so that it would serve the economic interests of the areas that surround it. If that is not done, then the people in those areas will be obliged to continue to pay higher costs for their goods, due to the fact that they will have to be transported from Dublin or Cork or some of the other ports that are being placed in the premier position that I have referred to. It will mean more revenue for the railways. I do not think it would be quite fair that business people in the West should suffer hardship as a result of that position. My argument is that the ports I have mentioned—Sligo, Galway and Drogheda—since they are major ports, just as Cork, Limerick and Waterford are major ports, should be placed in a position to serve the economic interests they were intended by nature to serve.
Mr. Lemass: The Senator who has just spoken entirely misunderstands the provisions of the Bill relating to the grading of the ports. The classification of Sligo, Galway and other secondary ports as major ports would, probably, put those ports out of business. If, at any time, the trade of those ports grows to the point at which it would be sufficient to support the obligations imposed by this Bill on the four major ports, the transformation can be made by Ministerial Order. No doubt, if, at any time, the harbour authorities  of those ports consider that the change would be beneficial to their trade, they will make representations to that effect. The grading of those ports as secondary ports at the present time, and their exemption from the obligations which this Bill places on the major ports will facilitate, rather than impede, their development.
The tribunal recommended that the Minister for Industry and Commerce should have the same general powers of supervision of the activities of harbour authorities as the Minister for Local Government and Public Health has in respect of local government bodies. That is not quite the same thing as saying that harbour bodies should stand in precisely the same relation to the Minister for Industry and Commerce as local government bodies stand in relation to the Minister for Local Government. Senator Douglas and other Senators who addressed themselves to this matter have, I think, been misled into assuming that there is a fundamental similarity between a local government authority and a harbour authority. A local government authority can, by its extravagance, impose fairly heavy charges on the ratepayers of its area or it can become niggardly and, in the interests of the ratepayers, refuse to provide essential services. In either event, the Minister for Local Government can step in and rectify the mistake. A local government authority cannot go out of business. Unless the Minister for Local Government steps in, in the event to which I have referred, either the ratepayers will pay because of the extravagance of the local authority or they will suffer inconvenience owing to the lack of services and facilities. A harbour can go out of business. The essential difference between a local government body and a harbour authority is that the latter is a business enterprise, operating in competition with similar enterprises throughout the country.
If the harbour authority becomes extravagant so far as the salaries of its officials are concerned, or if it engages in the expenditure of money upon nonessential services, or in a useless way, then the harbour rates will be increased  or the harbour facilities will be curtailed. In that event, traders and shippers will go elsewhere, and will be at full liberty to go elsewhere. Many a harbour in this country has lost trade to a neighbouring harbour because its charges were too high or the facilities it offered were inadequate. It is necessary to get that clear distinction between a harbour authority and a local government body. A harbour can go out of business, and if not properly managed will go out of business. No method is practicable by which traders and shippers can be compelled to use a harbour which is not properly managed. I want that aspect of this problem kept clearly in mind by those who urge that harbour authorities should be constituted like a national convention, with representation of all possible interests. A harbour is a business undertaking, and the Bill is concerned with the method of electing the people who will be responsible for directing that business undertaking. We do not decide who will be on the harbour authority; we decide who will have the right to put people on it. In determining the electorate, we must have special regard for trading interests, because it is trading interests that are primarily concerned with the efficiency of the harbour services, and the rates and charges payable for their use.
May I make it quite clear to Senator Counihan that the national executive of the live-stock trade will get representation on the major harbour authorities not as representatives of the producers of cattle but as representatives of traders in cattle. It is as traders they are getting the representation and the same consideration will apply in respect of other persons who may go on the harbour authority. A harbour is a place where goods come in and go out. Those goods are shipped by traders and, while producers have, undoubtedly, some interest in the efficiency of the harbour facilities, it is no greater interest than they have in the efficiency of the internal transport services or other matters that indirectly affect the profitability of production. The provision in the Bill for representation for live-stock interests does not — and certainly was not intended—to  constitute any discourtesy to the national executive of the live-stock trade. It is precisely similar in form to the provision for the representation of labour interests and no representative of labour interests has suggested that the provision was discourteous to the trade union movement. I do not accept as accurate the account which Senator Counihan has given of the interview which took place with the Minister for Agriculture. All the Bill provides is that representation will be given on the four major harbour authorities to the organisation which is certified by the Minister for Agriculture to be most representative of those who cater for live-stock interests. I take it that the purpose of the delegation which went to the Minister for Agriculture was to convince him that the national executive of the live-stock trade was the most representative of such organisations and to make sure that he would certify that organisation for the purpose of exercising this power of nomination. That was quite right but the Bill is being so framed as to ensure that no new harbour legislation will be necessary for a long time. Therefore, I think that the section should stand as it is. So long as the national executive of the live-stock trade is the most representative of such organisations or is the only organisation representative of the trade, it will receive the certificate of the Minister for Agriculture. But the national executive of the live-stock trade went out of existence before and may go out of existence again, in which event we should like to be able to give representation to live-stock interests without further legislation.
Senator Douglas regarded the power of nomination given to the Minister in respect of harbour authorities as undesirable. I do not agree with him. The old régime has come to an end, so far as the ports of this country are concerned, and it will be the aim of the Minister for Industry and Commerce as, I hope, it will be the aim of every nominating authority to ensure that the people placed on these harbour authorities will be concerned with general, national, economic development and not solely with the interest of any particular type of trade. The  Minister for Industry and Commerce has that power of nomination in the case of the Galway Harbour Board, under an Act passed some years ago, and he has similar power in the case of some other harbour authorities. It has proved very useful. I think it is true to say that, in the case of Galway, on more than one occasion, neither the local authority nor the chamber of commerce nor any other nominating authority put on the board one or two persons who were obviously the right persons to be put on it. It may be that there was a sort of open conspiracy in Galway not to nominate the best people on the supposition that, if they did not do so, the Minister must do so. That technique could be used, even under this Bill, to force the hand of the Minister and to decide, in advance, whom he must nominate. In the case of Galway, if the power of Ministerial nomination had not existed and if other bodies had nominated the same persons that they did, the situation would have arisen that the most important traders in Galway and the most important representatives of shipping interests there might not have been represented on the harbour board at all. While that will rarely be the case under this Bill, because the system of election here is likely to secure adequate representation for trading interests, the Minister's power will be available, ultimately, to secure that the harbour authority is so constituted as to enable it to protect all local interests.
So far as Section 83 is concerned, if Senator Duffy will read the whole of the section, he will get a clearer idea as to what it is intended to do. It is primarily intended to give a harbour authority power to prevent the  obstruction of the harbour by the failure of private individuals——
Mr. Lemass: Only where there has been a failure to make such entry which would result in the dispatch of the business of the harbour authority being obstructed. That is the case. So far as Senator O'Donovan's point is concerned, we cannot enact public health legislation under this Bill. It is quite true that there is inadequate warehousing accommodation at Dublin, and I think that the Dublin Port and Docks Board are fully aware of that. The delay in the distribution of oranges some time ago was attributable to the inadequacy of facilities available. But matters relating to the protection of foodstuffs should be dealt with in connection with a Public Health Bill, and I do not think that the position could be improved by provisions in this measure. I think that most of the other points that were raised deal with matters that could be more usefully discussed in Committee, because they are matters of detail rather than of the general principle of the Bill.
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