Wednesday, 5 June 1946
Seanad Éireann Debate
Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. Lemass): This Bill as Senators will have noticed has for its purpose the authorising of advances to the Irish Tourist Board to a total sum in excess of that provided in the Act of 1939. That is the sole purpose of the Bill and presumably, therefore, effective discussion of the proposal will take place on this stage. The Bill is not one that lends itself to Committee Stage debate, having, as I say, that one purpose. The Irish Tourist Board was set up under the Act of 1939 but owing to the outbreak of the war its activities since its establishment up to date have been very considerably curtailed. In fact, when the war began it was considered necessary to suspend activities by the board almost entirely. For a period, the board maintained only a nominal  existence with a skeleton staff which was engaged upon certain preparatory work. After a period, however, it was decided that some wider activities could be authorised, particularly with a view to having prepared by the board plans for the development of holiday resorts and similar schemes which would be useful in providing employment in the immediate post-war period. The board prepared a number of such plans and submitted them for approval in accordance with the provisions of the Act and approval was, in fact, given in a number of cases.
The necessity for this Bill arises, not because the actual expenditure which the board has undertaken has exceeded the amount authorised under the 1939 Act, but because the total expenditure involved under the approved plans is slightly in excess of that sum and it is considered desirable that the authority of the Oireachtas should be obtained through the enactment of this measure before further plans which the board have in contemplation are considered.
During the years up to 1944 the board was exclusively engaged in the preparatory work to which I have referred, in planning the various resort development schemes and to a limited extent in the acquisition of property for the purpose of such schemes. The only actual work undertaken by the board was at Tramore where the work which the board had in contemplation was begun earlier than might otherwise have been the case because of the request from the Army authorities to the board to assist in providing suitable employment schemes for the men of the Construction Corps. The work at Tramore was in fact carried out by the Construction Corps.
In 1944 the part of the Act dealing with the registration of hotels was brought into operation. Senators will remember that the Act gave the Irish Tourist Board control of the word “Hotel” and of the term “Guest-house” and only premises which were registered by the board as hotels or guesthouses could be so described. To secure registration certain standards in accommodation and  comfort must be maintained. That part of the Act was brought into operation in 1944 and was actively applied in 1945 though on account of circumstances obtaining last year the standards sought by the board were necessarily less exacting than those which the board will usually apply. It will, I think, be recognised that last year it would not be reasonable to require hotels to install equipment and carry out improvements because of their inability to secure suitable supplies.
In addition to preparing resort development schemes and bringing into operation the hotel registration provisions of the Act the board also acquired certain properties suitable for development as hotels. They acquired them with Government approval because these properties were available at the time and it did not appear probable that private enterprise was ready to develop them. I have explained elsewhere that it is the intention of the board and the policy of the Government so far as the development of hotels is concerned to rely entirely, or almost entirely, upon private business enterprise. The properties which have been acquired by the board and which are now being developed as hotels have been transferred by the board to a company which it caused to be formed and which is only a temporary arrangement, the intention being that shares in the company will be ultimately offered to the public. The various properties, whether they continue to be managed by this new company when transformed into a publicly owned company, or disposed of to other private firms will not be the direct concern of the board. I have always considered it a necessary part of the whole scheme upon which the 1939 Act was based that the Irish Tourist Board, as such, having direct responsibilities for the supervision of hotels, should not be actively engaged in the hotel business. The main work of the board, the work for which the money provided by this Bill is required, is the development of holiday resorts. The board receives advances under the Act for the purpose of expenditure  on holiday resorts only when it certifies, and when its certificate is accepted by the Government, that a particular scheme is of a profit-making character. The board is required to confine its activities to schemes which are of a profit-making character, which will enable it to recover the whole of the expenditure, and to repay the amount of the advances to the Exchequer. The normal procedure of the board in meeting that obligation is to acquire properties at holiday resorts, and having acquired a property to proceed to develop it by the construction of public amenities of one kind or another, thereby endeavouring to increase the value of the property which it has acquired and to put itself into a position to dispose of it by sale or lease to private firms willing to take over the property to develop it for any commercial purpose.
The progress made along these lines to date has not been considerable, first of all, because the board was not permitted actually to embark upon schemes of that kind in the abnormal circumstances of the war years, and secondly, because the preliminary steps necessary to ensure the proper development of the lands required by the board often involved delay. If it is necessary to acquire property the board has been given certain powers of compulsory acquisition but they decided to avoid, if possible, the use of those powers. Even if they decide to use their compulsory powers—and in some cases it will be necessary to do so—the procedure laid down by the Act does not permit of the rapid transfer of the ownership of the desired property to the board. Secondly, it will be obvious from the very brief picture I have given of the board's method of working that, in every case, the co-operation of the local authority is essential. The development of any holiday resort area is not practicable unless water supply, sewage services and similar public services are provided by the local authority. In a number of cases, the resort development schemes which have been planned by the board are awaiting the consent of the local authority to provide these services.
 The board has submitted and secured approval for proposals for resort development at a large number of centres and perhaps the Seanad will be interested to obtain particulars of these projects for the purpose of illustrating the nature of the plans which the board is elaborating. At Ardmore, the board has purchased the lands, buildings and effects of the Irish college and is arranging for the internal reconstruction of the college. The total cost of that project will be about £10,000. In that connection, I might mention that one of the obligations placed upon the board by the Government was to give special regard to the development of facilities for holiday-makers who might wish to combine their holidays with the study of the Irish language, by ensuring that facilities of a suitable kind existed in the Irish-speaking areas. In some cases, these facilities may be provided by private companies or other authorities assisted by the board, and in other cases directly by the board itself.
At Arklow, in County Wicklow, the board has acquired certain properties and proposes to undertake their reclamation and development. There may be some difficulty in completing the plan of the board at Arklow, owing to problems associated with the character of the property, but the board has a development scheme for Arklow which involves a total expenditure as at present planned of about £27,000. At Bundoran, the board has acquired a town park, recreation centres and buildings and is proposing to undertake expenditure which, including acquisition, will amount to about £25,000 on the development of the property as a recreation centre.
At Garryvoe, the board has made a loan to an operating company for improvements. At Glengariff, it has acquired some 300 acres and proposes to develop the area for the provision of recreation facilities to a cost of about £10,000. There is a similar scheme for Kilkee, involving expenditure of about £20,000 and a scheme for Killarney involving acquisition of property and construction of a sports club, pavilion and restaurant, to a total cost of about £25,000. The board has made an advance to the Lisdoonvarna  and Rooska Spa Wells Trust for certain development works in connection with the spa and has acquired the Queen's Hotel at Lisdoonvarna which it is developing in connection with the general scheme for the improvement of the facilities at Lisdoonvarna and the attraction of holiday traffic to it in connection with the spa. At Portmarnock, County Dublin, the board has acquired St. Marnock's house and lands. The scheme involves the transformation of the house into a hotel, provision of roads, levelling of sand-hills and the construction of recreational facilities.
At Rosses Point, it has acquired certain property and it is proposing also to develop recreational facilities. There is a scheme also for Skerries, involving the acquisition of ground for an amusement park and the provision of general recreation facilities. That scheme may not be proceeded with, as it seems possible that private enterprise will undertake the development work which the board had in contemplation.
At Tramore, to which I referred already, the total cost contemplated by the board amounts to £114,000. It includes the acquisition and conversion of properties and the development of sites, so as to provide recreational facilities appropriate to a popular seaside resort. There is also a scheme for Youghal, involving the acquisition of a site and its development so as to provide hot sea-water baths and recreational facilities, as well as suitable areas to be leased for the operation by private enterprise of cafés and restaurants.
In addition to those I have mentioned, the board has acquired Ballinahinch Castle and lands and also the fisheries at Recess. That property is being transferred to the hotel company which the board has established and will be developed by that company as a hotel. Similarly, the board has acquired property at Courtown, County Wexford, of a similar character, which is being developed as a holiday hostel and as a hotel. I mentioned also that St. Marnock's is being developed as a hotel, having been transferred to the hotel company to which I have referred.
The total value of all the schemes which have been approved as at present planned, amounts slightly to over £1,000,000. It is contemplated also, that the board will now proceed on the lines generally intended when the 1939 Act was being framed, in affording financial accommodation to hotel proprieters who desire that accommodation for the purpose of improving and enlarging their hotels. It is not clear that any number of hotel proprietors will, in fact, desire to obtain or need the board's assistance for that purpose, or, at least, need it to the extent which it was originally considered they might in 1939.
If, however, hotel proprietors require the aid of the board, the board will be in a position to grant them that aid. I have stated already that the provision of better and increased hotel accommodation must be undertaken mainly by private business concerns, and in so far as it is obviously desirable that the available hotel accommodation should be enlarged and improved, it is necessary to provide some assistance through the board for hotel proprietors, that need is covered by the Act.
At present, hotel accommodation at holiday resorts is completely inadequate to serve the needs of our own people, and assuming that these resorts will be more largely patronised in the future as a result of the work done by the board in improving them, it is necessary that private enterprise should not be dilatory in following up the board's work, by extending and improving holiday accommodation. I expressed the view in the Dáil that it may have been a mistake to have called the Irish Tourist Board by that name in the Act of 1939, the Tourist Act, because it appears that to some people the word tourist is always associated with  tourists from abroad. It is, of course, to be expected that in present circumstances throughout the world a number of holiday-makers from other countries will desire to come here and that position may continue for a time. I have, however, tried to make it clear that in present circumstances, we cannot possibly hope to cater for any substantial number. The hotel accommodation does not exist, and the Tourist Board has in fact been confining its activities in that regard to advising persons in other countries not to come here, unless they are sure of having hotel accommodation arranged in advance. In future years, when conditions are more normal, we must, I think, make an effort to attract holiday-makers from other countries. That is a form of export business developed in a number of countries, and which before the war was increasing in volume very rapidly indeed. We have got facilities here which would be attractive to holiday-makers of a particular kind. We cannot provide all forms of holiday-facilities, but, taking advantage of our circumstances, it is clear that we can secure a substantial share—a significant share—of that business and by doing so add considerably to the national income and secure a revenue which, relative to our own resources, will bear comparison with that obtained by other European countries from that trade in the pre-war years.
The improvement of traffic facilities throughout the world has been going on since the emergency ended, and it is to be expected that holiday traffic will continue to increase for a long time to come. I hope, however, that the future possibilities of the tourist business as ordinarily understood, will include a continued development of the holiday habit which has been growing among our own people. It is not merely that those who in the past ordinarily ceased work for two weeks or more in the year have been inclined to spend their holidays here, and can be induced to spend their holidays here in greater numbers if the facilities are attractive, but the enactment of legislation concerning holidays for workers and the growing movement to provide longer  holidays, will also create a situation which calls for action on the part of the Government as well as private enterprise, to ensure that workers will be able to get adequate and reasonable holiday facilities within their resources. One of the obligations of the Tourist Board is to procure the development of or to develop itself, holiday hostels, and holiday camps, where attractive holidays at seaside resorts or inland areas can be provided at low cost and in circumstances which will permit of enjoyable and healthy holidays by those patronising them.
It will be understood that the board cannot take immediate steps to that end at the moment owing to the scarcity of materials, and particularly of the type of equipment required to make these holiday camps and hostels suitable and adequate for the needs of those using them, but plans to that end are being prepared, and with the enactment of this Bill, the Government will be in a position to give approval to any suitable plans which the board may prepare and submit to it.
I think what I have said covered the greater part of the board's activities and future intentions. Many of these individual resort plans could be described in detail, but I do not think that is necessary. I should imagine that the Seanad would require just a general indication of the type of work it has in mind and the general methods by which it proposes to proceed.
In addition to the advances repayable to the board under the Act of 1939 which represented the amount the board will invest in these profit making resort development schemes, the board also receives by way of grant by annual vote of the Dáil, an amount to cover its administrative expenses. In the present year, the total amount granted will be £38,000, of which £18,000 will be expended on general publicity and advertising and which represents part of the board's general work which cannot be made directly remunerative by any scheme. The balance of the advance, £20,000, is expended by the board on staff salaries, rent, rates and establishment charges in connection with its premises, and on furniture,  bedding, travelling expenses, and similar normal items of expenditure.
On the assumption that the Oireachtas which approved of the Bill of 1939, will be anxious that the Tourist Development Board should now get into activity along the lines contemplated in 1939, and that the wider the field of its work and the larger the number of resorts in which it can be enabled to carry out schemes, the better, this Bill will offer no difficulty to the Seanad. The actual expenditure by the board for this year, and probably even for next year, may not reach the total of the advances fixed by the 1939 Act. We might, therefore, have postponed the introduction of this measure for a period, although it would have been, perhaps, doubtful practice for the Government to approve in principle of projects which would ultimately involve raising the total of the advances to the board above the limit fixed by the Act without prior consultation with the Oireachtas. It was decided, however, that even though the expenditure had not reached the limit fixed in 1939, the Bill should have been brought forward. I would have preferred if it were possible to postpone bringing the measure forward here until it would be practicable to judge in a more concrete form the results of the board's work. At present it has nothing more than plans. The board has acquired properties in certain areas, but it has not yet under taken the development of these properties adequately.
It is, perhaps, unsatisfactory from the point of view of members of the Seanad that they should be asked to increase the limit fixed in the 1939 Act without having the opportunity of seeing, in a precise detailed way, the nature of the work which the board proposes to do. In a year or two there should be more visible evidence of that work. The Seanad will, of course, understand that even the resort development schemes which will be begun this year will, in most cases, not be begun until after the present holiday season. It would be undesirable, and from the point of view of private persons engaged in the provision  of holiday facilities objectionable, to have large-scale construction works proceeding during the holiday season itself. Therefore, the commencement time for most of the board's schemes which have reached the point where construction work could begin is fixed for October or November next when the holiday traffic will have ceased. The aim of the board will be to carry through these schemes, as far as possible, and to round off the construction work in connection with them before the holiday season for 1947 begins.
I think I have now given the Seanad the information which it desires to enable it to consider the Bill. I will be glad to supplement that information when concluding the Second Reading discussion if it is desired.
Mr. Sweetman: In the first place, I want to make it crystal clear that any view I may express to the House on this Bill is being expressed by me as a Senator and not by virtue of any position that I may hold in any other organisation. It is my own personal view, and is, therefore, not to be construed as being in any way the view of the association. As one who has always been interested in the development of the tourist industry, I was particularly glad to hear certain portions of the Minister's statement to-day, those portions which were a tacit admission that the views expressed by him in 1931 on the Committee Stage of the Tourist Traffic Development Act of that year were not, in fact, the correct view. Those views can be found in Volume 38, column 19, where the Minister was inclined to sneer at the efforts that were then being made in regard to tourist development.
In discussing this whole question of tourist development, I think it is quite correct, as the Minister has stated, that we should have clearly and exactly in our minds what we mean by these words. I agree with the Minister that the name Tourist Board is, perhaps, unhappy, and that such a name as a “visitors' board” or a “tourist holiday-makers' board”—though perhaps more cumbersome—would have been a far better name to signify the aim at which we should strive. A  tourist was defined in 1937 by the League of Nations as a person who spent more than 24 hours in some country other than the country in which he usually resides. When speaking of tourists and of tourist travel, I do so in the strict sense of having that definition in mind, but when dealing with the holidays of our own people, I think it is better to describe them in some way other than by using the term tourist so that we may see clearly what we mean.
So far as the tourist industry itself is concerned, I think we are all agreed that there are certain intangible advantages as well as tangible advantages in it. I think it is agreed that the movement of people amongst each other is a thing that is going to promote peace. It is a thing that is going to mean that people will get to know and understand their problems better, problems that affect different nations, and will, therefore, perhaps assist towards that end. It is also admitted, I think, that travel is a thing which always broadens one's mind. It enables one to see another person's point of view. In so far as we here are concerned, that is a matter in regard to which I think it can be of special importance. It is a matter to which I made reference not very long ago. I did so in the place where I thought that primary reference should be made to it. I think it is no harm to refer to it again here. I believe that, in the promotion of tourist traffic between this country and the United Kingdom, and of holiday traffic between North and South, we are going to make one step that will assist in solving a problem that was thrust upon us by the British before the Treaty. If we get the opportunity of explaining the position in regard to Partition to British tourists, if we get the opportunity of explaining the position and of getting to know and understand the point of view of our fellow-countrymen in the North through tourism—we all know the importance of getting everybody to understand the other person's point of view—it is only then that we will get the first prerequisite to a solution of the Border problem, namely, goodwill and understanding on both sides.  It is because I feel so strongly on that, that I urge that is one of the intangible results that we may hope to get out of the industry as a whole. Quite apart from these intangible results, there are also some very important substantial and economic advantages to be got. So far as the present machine age is concerned, holidays are more than ever necessary. The machine-like operations by virtue of which workers have to repeat ad nauseam a particular movement— in which they have to repeat that movement to the tempo not of their own natural ability but to the tempo of the machine—produces a nervous tension which calls for relaxation. Holiday facilities are now fairly universal throughout Europe. People have become entitled to holidays with pay. These facilities have in the last 15 years extended beyond all question, and have, in fact, quadrupled themselves. The Minister was perfectly correct when he said that, so far as the tourist industry is concerned, it is just as much an export industry as the making of clothes or shoes here to send abroad. That fact was first recognised in the Banking Commission's Report. They stated that the development of the tourist industry was a thing that had a very special value in regard to the balance of payments, and went on to say that they regarded our advantages here as being very special because of the position we occupy and so forth. Let us consider the export trade of a particular country—Canada. We have always thought of Canada in terms of wheat exportation. We always considered that that was Canada's main export but the fact remains that, in the last year before the war, the value of the tourist industry to Canada was 291,000,000 dollars, while the value of the wheat exported from that country was only 260,000,000 dollars. In France, before the war, the tourist industry was regarded as worth about £80,000,000 per annum. The Italian tourist industry was worth about £26,000,000. It is common knowledge that, in Switzerland, the value of the tourist industry was inestimable. Those countries will be making energetic efforts in the future to recover that trade.
 Let us consider for a moment what the value of the trade was to us in previous years. It was estimated at one time—the Minister referred to this estimate in introducing the Bill in 1939—that the gross value to us of the tourist industry was £2½ millions. I do not know whether the figures were then available or not but subsequently I was able to ascertain that there were figures available to show that, in 1938, that was an under-estimate. Figures were published in that year which showed the number of travellers to this country from the United Kingdom, the U.S.A. and elsewhere. Making the modest estimate—everybody will agree that it is modest—that £10 per head would have been spent by each traveller, the value resulting, excluding American travellers, would be about £3,300,000. A further estimate was officially made by the American Government that the amount spent by American residents in Eire in 1938 was £700,000. Seven hundred thousand pounds converted into dollars would be a valuable asset now. I want to make perfectly clear that, if we are to obtain any benefits from the moneys introduced in this way, we must be certain that our own people do not detract from the value of the asset by going out of the country to take their holidays. We must give attention to the question of saving before we get these additional moneys into the country. Therefore, our object should be to make certain, in the first place, that there are proper and adequate facilities for our own people.
I regret very much that the Irish Tourist Board appear to have forgotten the first essential to the success of the industry—goodwill amongst those who are the operating factors in the industry. Unless there is complete and absolute goodwill between the Tourist Board and the hotel-keepers, there will not be any real success for the tourist and holiday industry. The Minister, in winding up his speech, said that it would have been “doubtful practice” for the Government to approve any particular plans for the development of resorts before the Oireachtas had given legislative sanction to the full amount to be expended. I entirely agree with  him. I go further and say that it is doubtful practice, indeed, that the powers given under the Act of 1939 for a particular purpose, powers granted by the Oireachtas on particular explanations by the Minister, should have been utilised in another fashion. When the Bill of 1939 was being put through, it was made very clear by the Minister that the whole purpose of advances to the board was to assist those already in the trade and that there was but the minutest chance that the moneys made available would be utilised by the board for the purchase of hotels which would be in competition with those existing. That was made clear not only in this House but in the Dáil. It was made clear that, in the view of the Government, the advances to be made available under that Act would be used to assist the existing trade in carrying out works to provide necessary facilities.
There has been universal condemnation by hotel-owners that up to the present no system has been available by which they could get the loans and facilities promised them in 1939. It has been universally condemned that, before those facilities were made available to hotel-owners, the board were themselves taking over and operating, either themselves or through a dummy company, hotels which were bound to take some traffic from the existing institutions before they had an opportunity of getting on their feet. The Minister is as well aware as I am that one of the main features of the tourist industry in France prior to the war was the national credit company which made available a sum of 80,000,000 francs by way of long-term loans to hotels to enable them to be modernised. A credit corporation was set up by the Government in the same way in Switzerland, which, I think, advanced about 50,000,000 Swiss francs to hotels. An assistance board was set up in Italy which lent to hotels and such establishments which required improvement or modernisation about 100,000,000 lire. That was the way in which the Tourist Board should have operated here. If they had, they would have got the co-operation which the hotel-keepers were anxious to give.  The Minister, in his speech, said he was doubtful that the people who owned hotels at present wanted the facilities which were thought desirable in 1939. It is peculiar, if the Minister's statement is correct, that the last available report of the Irish Tourist Board—the report for the year ending 31st March, 1945—contains this sentence: “Numerous applications have been received for such loans.”
If there is any doubt in anybody's mind as to whether these facilities are required, why did the Tourist Board themselves express the exact reverse in that report that is laid on the Tables of the Oireachtas in accordance with the Act? I suggest to the House that the first thing that should have been done—and there was plenty of time to do it during the war years—was to make available a scheme of finance so that those hotel proprietors who were anxious to expand their business, who were anxious to modernise their establishments, should have been enabled, so far as State assistance was concerned, to go ahead if and when, as was undoubtedly felt and as is still apparently felt, ordinary credit facilities were available merely for short-term loans and not for the long-term loans of the type required for the modernised improvement that is necessary. Instead of that, we have the Irish Tourist Board launching out into the ownership of hotels, launching out into State ownership either through themselves or through a dummy company—it does not matter—launching into State ownership, State control, State operation of something that is very much better done by individuals and that has been very much better done by individuals in every country under the sun.
I suspect that is all being done because of the fact that the Tourist Board has been completely influenced by the visit of its chairman to America. I think it is within the memory of almost everyone in this House that when the chairman of the Tourist Board came back from America having had a tour in that country, he gave an interview on the 7th November to the newspapers in which he described the luxury hotels,  with every type of modern and extravagant convenience, that were going to be erected here. I shall be fair to him; I will say that he came out the following day with an additional statement in which he said that the first interview was not as quoted. Of course the plain fact of the matter is that he knew the reception that his interview got and decided that he had better change his tune as quickly as ever he could. What is going to happen in regard to these luxury hotels because there are going to be luxury hotels apparently? We are going to find ourselves in the same position in which the American hotel industry found itself about ten or 15 years ago when it was estimated that 85 per cent. of the hotels in America were in the hands of banks, insurance or mortgage companies because they were not able to operate at effective costs. They had been constructed with such elaboration and on such a luxurious basis, that it was found that the overhead costs that had to be met took away the profits unless the charges were fixed at a very high figure. The charges having been fixed so high to meet these overhead expenses, sufficient guests could not be found to stay in the hotels.
I am not a cinema goer but I understand that at the moment there is a “flick” showing in the city. It gives a good indication of a week-end in a luxury hotel in New York and it shows how hard it is to get accommodation at present in hotels in America. That was not always so. There was a time not so very long ago—I would say about ten or 15 years ago—when no hotel in America was ever more than half full. This film typifies the attitude of the Irish Tourist Board in its approach to this problem. What we want in this country is not luxury hotels of that type. We want hotels that are good and clean, in which the cooking, if I may say so, presents an Irish appearance—not bad foreign cooking but good clean Irish cooking. We would get far more respect and utilisation for hotels equipped in that way and far more appreciation from visitors. People on holidays do not expect wonderful luxuries.
They expect cleanliness, civility and  recreation; they expect a rest from the machine-like operation of their daily lives to which I have referred. If we make up our minds to give them that, then the money that we are asked to vote by this Bill will be money that will be utilised for a good and effective purpose. It is not too late for the Minister to mend the hand of the Irish Tourist Board and I would sincerely appeal to him to do so. The principles upon which the board will operate are the principles which he lays down. In one direction there is a future; in the other there is no future except squandermania and megalomania in regard to public moneys. There are many other ways in which this money could be more effectively utilised so as to make certain that there would be a real benefit to the country as a whole as a result of this expenditure.
We all know that one of the great difficulties in connection with the tourist industry is the fact that holidays are concentrated so much into August and perhaps the last week in July. If a real attempt were made to tackle the problem of staggering holidays, we would be getting somewhere and we would be able to utilise to the fullest the accommodation that is available. A questionnaire was sent out in another country to discover why people liked to take all their holidays at one particular time of the year. Of the replies received, 45 per cent. showed that the reason was that the head of the family wanted to make his holiday coincide with the school holidays of his children. Has any attempt been made here to face up to that position, to see whether it would be possible to operate school holidays in a way in which they would not clash with what is the busiest month, as far as holidays are concerned? Has the Minister also discovered that it is quite a waste of time to discuss anything with the Minister for Education?
A reference was made by the Minister to the company that has been formed for the purpose of carrying out certain agency work for the Irish Tourist Board. I do not know the legal basis upon which the  Minister and the Tourist Board rely for the setting up of Failte Teo. Section 14 of the 1939 Act is the Section which deals with the powers of the board. I suggest that it is, at least, straining the terms of that section to suggest that the Tourist Board are to be entitled to set up a company which is going to carry on, or which is even empowered to carry on, the business of victualler, wine merchant, spirit merchant, brewer, maltster, distiller, the manufacture of pleasure steamers or other sea-going or river-going craft, importers and brokers of food, of live and dead stock, farmers, theatre owners, cinema proprietors, dairymen, merchants and purveyors, messengers, chemists, tobacco merchants, hair-dressers—is there anything else the Irish Tourist Board would like to operate through this dummy company of theirs? Or do they want to go into a new industry, an industry which one Senator has reminded me of? Do the Tourist Board want to do that by a trick and by evading the 1939 Act which permits them to carry on?
I know it will be said that these are only enabling powers and that they are not going to be used, but let us remember that in 1939 the same Minister said that the powers to acquire and operate hotels were only enabling powers and would not be used except in a particular and minute case. It has been shown that once the power is given through a Government Department that that power may be used and that sooner or later that is going to be done unless there is a public outcry and unless the Minister realises what the people are feeling about it. Unless these things happen, we are going to have the Irish Tourist Board set up as a butcher, set up as a dairyman and set up in every single aspect of our business life with a view to preventing the ordinary people from being able to get the profits from this industry which they should get if it is handled in the right way.
The main responsibility lies with the Minister and again I would appeal to the Minister to make certain that the necessary goodwill is provided by withdrawing these powers and having  them excised from the memorandum and articles of association of the company. I understood from this Bill that the articles of association and the memorandum would be placed in the library but they have not been placed there yet. There are also a few other businesses which may be included in the board's operations and I had not the time when I was up in the board's offices and paying my shilling for this information to go through everything which the board proposed to do, and I may have to apologise to the House for some omissions in this matter.
I believe, sincerely and absolutely, in the future of the tourist and holiday industry in this country. I believe it can be one of the greatest national assets to our people and it can be one of the principal ways in which we can dispose of our surplus agricultural produce without the need and cost of transporting that produce to the various markets. There was an estimate made in 1938 by the then Great Southern Railways in respect of their hotels, restaurants and dining cars. All these things were considered and it was then found that about 50 per cent. of their money was paid for food, about 22 per cent. was for overheads, and about 20 per cent. or so was expended in respect of salaries and wages. There was a census made in America in respect of the tourist industry there and it was clearly shown in that census that of the money spent in hotels 50 per cent. went directly to the farmers—48 per cent., I think, was the exact percentage—in respect of the food used irrespective of what was spent in respect of transportation. We, here, no matter what anyone will think or may have thought in the past—because we are all agreed on it now—are primarily an agricultural country, and it appears to me that this tourist industry so far as outsiders are concerned and the holiday industry, so far as our own people are concerned can be used more and more effectively to deal with the problem of our surplus agricultural produce but that cannot be done unless the Irish Tourist Board make up their mind that they are going to develop the industry to the greatest extent possible.
Mr. Summerfield: My reaction to the Bill is that it is a good one, so good that it is a pity to have it condemned by the provision to which Senator Sweetman has referred. If the case is going to be made that the powers to which Senator Sweetman has referred are taken in legislation but are never to be used, then they should not be in the Bill if they are not going to be used at all. The fact remains that the powers are taken and they are in the Bill. In organisations such as that provided for in this measure where powers of this kind are invoked the circumstances in which they will be used may be dictated by the concern established in the Bill and competition may be entered into with the people who are providing the rates and taxes in this country.
I could not refrain from smiling when Senator Sweetman was giving the list he has detailed because significantly I think no reference was made to the motor trade. Unless Dame Rumour lies, the board has acquired an existing business of this nature in the country. I only want to mention that in passing because it was reported to my organisation and I want to say that if it is so it is somewhat alarming that even for their own purpose an existing trader should be bought out by the Tourist Board. That presupposes that competition in that particular trade will be bought out.
I must emphasise, of course, that the Bill is a welcome one because it makes it clear that this important industry is going to be officially organised. There has been a haphazard and slap-dash method of approach to the creation of holiday attractions in this country, and let us be wise to that now. The people who got out of this country before the war for their holidays, in the main went out for good reasons, and I would like to suggest that they did not do so because all was well with the hotel and holiday resorts here in those years. Therefore, we should make every effort now to make a success of this whole industry from the top to the bottom. Irrespective of the income of the holiday-goer, proper facilities must be provided. I believe the back-bone of the holiday industry here will have to  be the family, but at present how much consideration and encouragement is given to them to spend their holidays here whether the amount of their income is £5 or £10 a week? If we are to provide holiday facilities for our own people then these facilities will have to be properly organised. We will have to provide them with those facilities before we ask them to come along and take advantage of them. I want to emphasise this point that I do hope the Minister will get the whole-hearted support that he should get for this, or any Bill, calculated to improve our holiday attractions, but I do urge this, too, that he should delete the dangerous power in the Bill which enables the board which is State supported and for which moneys have to be provided by the Oireachtas to do these things which have been referred to. This is a board over which the Oireachtas will have little control from now on, and that being the case, we should make sure what its activities will be before we give it those powers.
The giving of such powers to the board is a dangerous thing. The Minister has stated and I completely accept it that he is in favour of private enterprise but it has also been said that we may not always have the present Minister in his present position. He may even be raised to a more exalted office in the lifetime of the oldest of us here.
The power is a dangerous thing, as Senator Sweetman has told us at length. I say again, as a matter of common sense, that if the power is not to be used why put it in and if it is to be used we should do all we can to keep it out.
I welcome the Bill and suggest that the board will have to remember that there is precious little use in providing an attractive hotel and facilities if the means of getting to and from the hotel are not developed also, if the roads are bad and there are dangerous corners— of which we have had examples recently, unfortunately. These things should have prior consideration by the board. I heartily welcome the Bill and hope the plans which the Minister has will be carried out. I hope also that he will listen to the suggestions made with  regard to the board competing with the people who have to pay the piper.
Mr. Foran: I have just a few general remarks to make on the operations of the board as I know them. My knowledge of this is not very extensive, but from the outline Senator Sweetman gave of all the activities the board could indulge in, I was surprised they had not yet taken over their own law courts. My experience practically amounts to that. Everyone welcomes a check on the hotel keepers to prevent over-charging and so long as that check is exercised fairly and justly it is very desirable. However, I know of a case recently, where a hotel proprietor was prosecuted for a nominal overcharge and duly turned up at the courts with counsel and solicitors to defend him. The board's representative walked in rather indifferently and told the judge they were not prepared to go on that day. I do not know whether that is a common experience or not, but it is an outrage that a board of this kind can put an ordinary hotel proprietor to the expense of attending court with counsel and then, because it does not suit the board, the case is not proceeded with on that day. They are not even informed of that, but the judge is told it is not convenient for the board. I have heard rumours of other hotel keepers able to get the ear of certain important politicians and they never even had to go to court at all. That is a very serious aspect of tourist development and I sincerely hope it will get first consideration. Otherwise, we may have a partial administration of the law, which would be very serious for those in the tourist trade.
It has been said that tourist development has the idea of bringing people here to consume our food, instead of sending it over to them and involving costly transport and that to that extent, this country will benefit substantially. Would anybody tell me that the conversion of the magnificent place at Portmarnock will improve the consumption of our agricultural produce to any great extent? It will be a luxury hotel, for profiteers and people who made a lot of money in recent times. A very limited number can stay there and, consequently,  the consumption of food will be limited in proportion. But what about the number of people in proportion to the amount of money spent on the development? If we want to attract people here to increase the consumption, we would have to establish Blackpools and Isles of Man, instead of the elaborate hotels, such as in Portmarnock and, possibly, elsewhere, if this board is allowed to have its head.
Our people are getting annual holidays now. What special arrangement is being made to facilitate them to spend their holidays to the best possible advantage of themselves and the country? I know that the Tourist Board was organising funds, but they did not put much energy into it. At any rate, that plan has not been a great success so far. The Tourist Board must consider the great number of our own people who would take advantage of the opportunity to go to some seaside place with their families, so that they might get the full advantage of their holidays.
Generally, I am not satisfied that this board up to now is composed of the best people to handle tourist development. I have outlined a few of the reasons which strike me as very important if we are to get anything like value for the money we are putting into this development. I welcome tourist development, but I think there should be consideration and sympathy for the people who are putting up the money. If that is given, I believe the development will be a success.
Mr. Honan: My apology for speaking is that I come from an area where there is a great shortage of hotel accommodation—and all sorts of accommodation, for that matter—due to the incidence of visitors. In our town, we have a newly-formed progressive committee, working in close association with the local hotels. I can say at once that, in our provincial town, we have probably the three best provincial hotels in Ireland. Still, they are entirely unable to deal with the amount of tourist traffic they could get if they  had more accommodation. Notwithstanding this progressive committee, working in close co-operation with the local hotels, they are calling a special meeting this week to ask the Government to erect a hotel for the further accommodation of those tourists who have to remain over in our town, in Limerick and in neighbouring towns, for maybe two or three nights, the period being always uncertain.
We are not calling for luxury hotels. I do not think the Tourist Board or the Government or the Minister ever described the hotels they might undertake to erect as luxury hotels. The term is only a paper, journalistic expression. I have met most of the tourists that have come into our part of the world and I am satisfied that they do not want luxury. They want a clean room to sleep in and a clean tablecloth on which to take their meals. All of them are simple people who wish to be accommodated in a simple way with simple food such as this country produces. My point is that most of the existing hotels had not made any attempt so far as I could see to increase their accommodation.
A lot of them have made an attempt to increase their accommodation in the way of saloon bars but I have not seen any of them adding a sleeping-room to their hotels in the last eight or nine years since this business came to our particular area. If they do not do it somebody else will have to do it. These visitors have often to travel 40 miles to get a place to sleep for the night. In the middle of the night possibly they are roused from their beds and dragged back to the airport only to find that the plane is not starting after all and then they have to travel back another 40 miles. That state of affairs cannot continue indefinitely. The provision will have to be made for them and as private hotel owners are making no attempt to do it, I hope the Tourist Association will take the matter in hands and make the provision as soon as possible.
It is most important that these people who are visitors and not tourists should be given a favourable impression of the part of the country they are in in the course of their journey. While  they are here, I would give them a reasonable time, reasonable food and reasonable accommodation. You could eliminate the word “luxury” from the hotel business altogether. There is nobody looking for luxury and I hope somebody will erect plain hotels and give our visitors the good, plain food we produce at home. So far as I know them, they are quite prepared and delighted to take what is put on the ordinary countryman's table.
Some of them have said to me that there is no change here; that hotels are too much like New York with tubular chairs and fancy cooking, although I would say that all the material put on the tables is Irish food. They want something Irish, something the Irish countryman uses. They want to get away from luxury, they want a plain, simple, clean room and a clean tablecloth and that sort of thing and if we get away from those high notions of luxury business we will do much better with plain food for plain people.
Mr. Hayes: There have been a number of speeches made on this Bill already, apart from the Minister's, and I find myself, in the main, in agreement with them. Senator Summerfield said he was in favour of the Bill. Now the Bill, as it stands, is one of these interesting pieces of legislation which conveys nothing. I hope that Senator Summerfield will realise when he said he was in favour of the Bill, that it does not mean anything at all.
This is a Bill to give the Tourist Board more money and to permit the board to spend that money, and you can only be in favour of the Bill by hearing what that board has done and what it proposes to do. When he says he is in favour of the Bill, he also tells us that he is against holding companies and the erection of hotels by the board, and I am afraid that shows that he is not in favour of the Bill at all. That is not the Bill.
I would like the House to consider it carefully, because it is a good example of a widespread tendency with which we have grown rather familiar since 1932. It is agreed now by Fianna Fáil that tourist development, both for our own people to enable them to spend their holidays with pleasure and  profit at home, and for visitors to this country from abroad, is a good thing. It used not to be considered a good thing. When Fianna Fáil were in opposition they opposed everything, even the climate. I think the present Minister for Industry and Commerce said that we had no climate for tourist development. Now with a different Government I presume it has improved, but there is not much sign of it this month.
The Bill of 1939 was to give assistance to the people who were in the tourist business already. There were certain public reasons for that. That was a good scheme, and we must remember that there are things which, obviously, private enterprise cannot do. For instance, we had to set up a board to provide turf. I do not think that you could argue that when you want turf cut on a very large scale you could do it with private enterprise—you must set up some kind of semi-State body or board to do the job. But when you come to tourist development it is doubtful if the board should go into the hotel business. We set up a board in 1939 to assist citizens in this business from public funds for the purpose of developing holiday resorts, because we rightly considered that the money would come back in increased employment and from foreigners visiting the country.
It would be interesting to hear what assistance that board has given to those in the tourist business. Everything is hypothetical and everything is in plan, and the plans have not been revealed. As usual, the Act of 1939 had enabling provisions, the provisions which a Minister always wants to put into a Bill but which when he is getting the Bill, he says he never intends to use. But he tells you he is going to use them now. Here are other and wider enabling provisions to spend larger sums of money. We are asked to provide more money and to extend the enabling provisions.
In other words, the board is going into business, is purchasing several mansions and intends to start several hotels financed by the State. It is interesting to consider this board. It is a hand-picked board, hand-picked  by the Government, with the managing director picked by the Government for the spending of public money and the making of appointments. With regard to these boards—we had so many since 1932—we are asked to believe that you can get no managing director anywhere who is not a Fianna Fáil supporter. We are asked to believe that in no other sphere except in the political sphere can a suitable managing director be got.
We are asked to believe the same of other members of the board. We are asked to believe that people who are supporters of Fianna Fáil can by some spiritual process, which I do not understand, be competent to direct various public activities. It is fair to ask what use the board has made of its power to help the people in this business, to help hotel proprietors and to make appointments? Apparently they have done nothing and now proceed to say that hotel-keepers themselves are not competent to do this job and the board must enter the hotel business. Now of that I will say something later on. But take the question of appointments. I do not know how this board makes its appointments. I see, for example, that £38,000 was required by the board during the last financial year, and that the bulk of it, I think about £20,000, went in salaries, rents and so on. How are the people who get salaries selected? I only know of one example, and I propose, with the permission of the Chair, to give it. We had a very intelligent member of the Seanad here, Mr. Hawkins from Galway. He, unfortunately, was defeated by Senator O'Dea. We are honoured perhaps by the presence of Senator O'Dea, but it was very unfortunate for Mr. Hawkins that Mr. Hawkins was defeated.
Speaking for myself, I say quite sincerely that I sympathised with him, but it was also a difficulty for the Fianna Fáil Party as to what they were going to do about Mr Hawkins because he was a first-class organiser. He had been working very hard for them, and what did they do? They had a secretary to the organisation. They took  him out of that and put him into the Tourist Board. I am sure he was a very estimable and intelligent men. I am quite neutral about him. I know that he belongs to a very intelligent class—at one time he was a secondary teacher—and I have the greatest respect for him. He was secretary to Fianna Fáil. They took him out of that, and they put him into the Tourist Board. They then put Mr. Hawkins into the Fianna Fáil organisation which was a very intelligent step for them to take, I understand.
It seems to me that that particular incident indicates that the Minister is able to use, and that the Fianna Fáil organisation is able to use, the Tourist Board for getting the Fianna, Fáil organisation out of its difficulties. I say that without any reference to the individuals concerned. As I have said, Mr. Hawkins was a very able and intelligent Senator, and I am sure would be a very able political organiser. But did anybody else get a chance of competing for the job which the secretary of the Fianna Fáil organisation has at the moment, an organisation which had a very important problem of personnel to solve? If that is the kind of action that we are to get from the board when selecting its staff it seems to me that it is unworthy to have money, and that we ought not to vote it money.
On the other question of its plans, the board has plans and plans. There is nobody who has used the “plans” more frequently during the last 25 years than the present Minister for Industry and Commerce. He has always got plans. This board has plans, but the plans have not been revealed. They are going to create a paradise for tourists—hotels, piers, tourist centres, all kinds of things, but it is all going to be done in the future. So far, nothing has been done. What we are really being asked to do is to give this board another blank cheque. We do not know how they are going to spend the money.
May I say in conclusion that I am in agreement with Senator Honan on the question of what a hotel is? I think it is quite wrong to think that when you buy a big mansion, furnish it and put in a staff that you have a  hotel. You most emphatically have not. The word “hotel” is rather like the word “home”. It is difficult to define. The definition is certainly not a physical one. When you put a whole lot of physical things together you certainly have not got a hotel. You must, first of all, have the atmosphere. I think that is the great flaw in this whole scheme. There is no synthetic process for producing a good hotel. You cannot take a certain number of things, put them together, and say: “Hey Presto, there you have a hotel.” What you generally have in those cases is a bad hotel. I think it was also Senator Honan who indicated that it is wrong to think that the biggest and the best equipped house is necessarily the best hotel. It certainly is not. It is open to doubt also whether we are going to get the type of visitor who wants the luxury hotel. If we are going to get him, are we sure that we are going to continue to keep him?
There is another point. I wonder if there is anyone on the board who knows any other language than the English language, or who has travelled in any other country other than an English-speaking country? I wonder, for example, whether we could not get a great deal of information and a great lot of light and leading from a country like Sweden which was very much in the news a few weeks ago.
Mr. Hayes: I think that Sweden suits my argument better than Switzerland. The Swedes have a very strong national spirit and very strong national institutions. I do not mean a great army or a great police force, but their national institutions are very great. Sweden impresses one immediately as a country with a very special character. I suggest that we could get much more information with regard to hotel development from a country like Sweden than we could from the United States of America.
I was very much struck by what Senator Sweetman said, that we need to get away from the machine. You will get a number of people who want rest. Like everybody here, I sometimes feel  that I would like to hurry up the waitress. About Easter time, I was in a Southern hotel and met an American Army chaplain. He was a Jesuit, and he was absolutely enchanted with the way in which the waitress moved about the dining room. He thought it was simply delightful. He found that, after having served in America for a number of years and in the American Army, it was delightful to find what he described as “this calm and quiet atmosphere.” He found that it was very soothing to him. I submit that service of that kind can be combined with efficiency. The efficiency does not necessarily mean glaring lights or, as Senator Honan said, tubular chairs. Efficiency is something which does not depend on absolute modernisation. For example, we have the title of this new body—“Fáilte, Teoranta.” I wonder where, in the name of Heavens, they got it? The Minister for Industry and Commerce is a very practical person. He is rather cynical, I think, but I wonder why are people allowed to select English titles like that “Welcome Limited.” They take the words in English, translate them into Irish and produce “Fáilte, Teoranta.” Words fail me in Irish or in English to say more on that.
I do say that I think one of the greatest differences there is between Irish hotels and French hotels, for example, or English hotels, is the reception—the fáilte, the welcome. May I say that what I think made France and to a large extent, Switzerland— although Switzerland is a country where you have big hotels and a number of small hotels too—that what made those countries attractive to visitors was not the big hotels but the smallish hotels, kept by the proprietor himself and his wife who lived on the premises and worked in an entirely native way? I agree entirely with what was said here to-day that we should follow that line and make our hotels as Irish as possible. They should be scrupulously clean, though they need not necessarily be elaborate.
Take the reception that one gets in a small French hotel. When you arrive in the afternoon you get the impression  that if Mr. and Mrs. Hayes had not arrived at this hotel the proprietor would not have gone to bed at all he would have been so sorry about it, whereas in the case of the average hotel here, when you arrive the attitude would appear to be this, “Well, if you want to stay, you may, but we do not know what brought you here.” I think that is very objectionable, particularly in the case of good hotels. In the case of a bad hotel, I do not mind the reception being bad. It has been my experience, in more than one place over a period of years, that a hotel, which turned out to be quite a good place, when you got into it, had the appearance of being quite reluctant to receive you. However, this new company with its dreadful name, if it can inspire some spirit of fáilte in some of our hotels, it will have done a very good job. I think we certainly should do what would be in accordance with Senator Foran's idea, that is to say provide for our own people in the smaller types of hotel rather than in the very big ones. I did not understand—perhaps the Minister would explain in Committee because, I take it, we can have only one more stage on this Bill—what the proposal is with regard to those holding companies. In effect, what we are doing is putting money into the hotel business. The Minister agrees that we are doing that but he says that we are doing it only temporarily, that, after a time, the holding company will transfer its hotels to private enterprises. I take it that I understand the Minister correctly in that. What is the process of transferring to private enterprise? Take places such as Termonfeckin and Portmarnock, where hotels are to be established. Incidentally, both hotels will be near magnificent golf courses. If these hotels fail, we shall have lost our money. Suppose they succeed. At what point shall we arrive at a position in which we can decide that they have succeeded? That will take from two to four seasons and that will mean that more and more money will be invested in the hotels. At the end of that time, if the hotels are showing a profit, our old friend the Minister for Finance, or the eternal Ministry of Finance will  come in. What price will they take from private individuals for profit-making hotels? I should not mind guaranteeing that there will be a very big file in the Department of Finance before it is decided to whom those hotels will be sold and at what price—assuming that they are making a profit. I doubt that there will be any such thing as a transfer.
While I am on my feet, it occurs to me that, a great many years ago, while sitting in the chair of the Dáil, I heard a proposal for a Dairy Disposals Board. If I do not make a mistake, the argument made—by a magnificent arguer the Lord have mercy on him—was that all these creameries would be transferred to co-operative societies. The Dairy Disposals Board, in this year of grace 1946 is, I understand, either the biggest or second biggest concern in the State. Is not that so? It is going strong. It is under semi-Government control and it, certainly, has not succeeded in carrying out the duties which its name would indicate—a Dairy Disposals Board.
Mr. Hayes: Senator Baxter knows a great deal about it in its workings. I know nothing about its workings. All I know is that, 16 or 17 years ago, a proposal was made similar to the Minister's proposal to-day. We were to set up this body which was to be a holding company and a transfer of its properties was to be effected. It is still holding and it has not transferred.
It seems to me that we cannot create by investment of public money—no matter how much we invest—a hotel industry. It must be a growth and it cannot be a synthesis. It cannot be suddenly made up. You must train managers and manageresses and you must train workers. I entirely agree with Senator Summerfield that you must make provision for the man with the family. You must also make a little better provision than is made at present for the man with the total abstinence pledge. He is a very unwelcome visitor—not that I myself am exactly in that position. A suggestion has been made about staggering holidays. It is  an excellent idea. The month of June —though we have a very bad example in the present month—is an excellent time for holidays for your children. Except for those youngsters who are going for the primary certificate, any school-going children can get holidays then at any time that may be arranged. There will be difficulties here and there but our experience is that practically every kind of difficulty can be overcome if people want to overcome it.
This Bill cannot be set aside in a few short sentences as more money for tourist development, because it is really a blank cheque to a board which can do what it pleases. All we know about the money we are giving now is what the Minister tells us his intentions and the intentions of the board are. These intentions are to start in the hotel business, with the declared idea of getting out of it again. As everybody knows, it is much easier to get into a business than to get out of it. With regard to the board itself, it is run, apparently, on the basis that, if a political organisation wants to be obliged and happens to be the Government's organisation, the board and the board's managing director will oblige it. When you have public money invested in this way, the ordinary citizen should get fair treatment when looking for a position and, if a citizen has risked his own money in the business, he should not find himself in competition with Government-owned hotels. Another small point concerns us, and concerns, perhaps, more acutely the lower paid portions of our community. If we are to have luxury hotels run by the Tourist Board even for a few years, with an influx of the kind of visitor attracted by those hotels, one of the results will be to raise prices on our people here who stay in ordinary hotels. That is a very bad system. What we should have in mind is the smaller hotel. We should aim at giving it as native a character as we possibly can. What people expect to get when touring foreign countries is something different from what they get in their own. We can provide that here and we should be able to provide the training which would help us to show that kind of  front to foreigners. It seems to me that the whole purpose of the 1939 Act has been changed, that the Tourist Board has taken a sharp turn—I do not know whether it is to the right or left; perhaps, it is left, in the direction of Socialism. In any event, it is a form of enterprise which is very doubtful, indeed. It gives more power to managing directors. It gives more power to the Minister for the time being, whoever he may be, and, if we are to travel, we ought to be sure we know exactly where we are going.
Mr. Madden: I do not know of any piece of legislation passed by this Government which has created so profound disappointment as the legislation we are considering to-day by which the taxpayers are asked to contribute £1,250,000 for the development of the tourist industry. I have had 18 years uninterrupted connection with the Irish Tourist Association. I saw it practically through the pioneer years until the introduction of legislation in 1925. We were told many a time and oft by our bank manager—his attitude was definitely endorsed by the Tourist Association—that it was never the intention of the I.T.A. to enter the field in a commercial way with individual hoteliers. Those hoteliers contributed much economically and by their attendance, time and again, to the work of the I.T.A. They assisted in putting the I.T.A. on the map of the world so that the world might come and see Ireland first. The development of the Tourist Board seems to be completely at variance with the spirit of the I.T.A. and there seems to be a complete change in the vision and the outlook of the Minister with regard to it.
I have here a very fine speech delivered by the Minister at the I.T.A. annual luncheon on the 25th October, 1938. It seems to be a complete contradiction, in a general way, of the operations of the Tourist Board to-day. Listen to the spirit, the promise and the inspiration he gave us at that time: “By the term ‘tourist industry’ I mean, however, not merely catering for visitors from abroad but to a far greater extent the provision of facilities  and attractions to our own people to spend their holidays at home.”
I believe that the tourist industry, if properly managed and directed, constitutes a definite asset to the country. We have here all the elements, both scenic and sporting, to attract visitors. In fact we have a combination that other countries cannot boast of but, by intelligent handling and direction of their industry, those countries can attract to their shores a much greater number of visitors and they can give to their visitors a holiday much more beneficial and at a cost much cheaper than we can here. I cannot see how the establishment of luxury hotels is going to contribute to the establishment of an economic holiday for our own people at home. We are asked to give this board £1,250,000 for what? Mainly to experiment with luxury hotels, to absorb money which should be directed to productive industries or to the improvement of amenities here. Many of our seaside resorts are a positive danger to tourists or visitors. This money might be utilised, for instance, in the erection of shelters at our seaside resorts so that tourists walking along the shore would not be drenched by summer showers. These shelters would provide them with some protection when they were a half mile or a quarter mile away from their hotels.
We are asked to spend this colossal sum in order to bring more English currency to Irish circulation and so depress the value of our money. Goodness knows we have enough sterling assets at present. It is said that something in the region of £200,000,000 is locked up in these sterling assets. I think that steps should be taken to ensure that the money which is asked for under this measure, will not be for the erection of luxury hotels. It is even proposed that the Tourist Board should be enabled to engage in certain luxury trades and even to build cinemas. I had a long experience of the tourist industry in its widest aspects and I know that the most vital factor in securing improvement is the individual hotelier. You cannot force people to be efficient. You may bring a horse to the well but you cannot  force him to drink. I tell the House that unless people feel that this project is based upon national grounds and upon a well-formulated plan, it will be very serious for the Government and for the Department.
The Minister is charged with a big responsibility and I hope he will not adopt the pose of omniscience and omnipotence that he has done occasionally. This is a vast sum of public money. There are sinister rumours abroad that a coterie of friends of certain Ministers get public appointments and are getting stipends not alone from one, but many, Departments. There is no surer way of destroying democracy than by such practices and by losing the confidence of the public. We had an example of it before. Look at the Transport Board which was set up under the Government of the Six Counties. I think that the failure there was a signal and a disastrous one and I think I know the reason. These things should be an example to the Minister before he extracts from the taxpayer this colossal figure of £1,250,000. It is a vast sum and I trust that he shall judiciously face up to his responsibility to see that his expenditure will not be attended by unfortunate results.
Mr. Campbell: I have very little to say on this Bill. As the Minister said in his opening remarks, it is not a measure that lends itself to a Committee Stage discussion. There are, however, a few observations which I should like to make more by way of emphasising the points made by Senators who have preceded me than by expressing any new views. The principal point which I wish to make is that I should like to see this Bill making more provision for holiday accommodation for the middle-class and working-class people of this country than it does and that we should not emphasise so much the tourist aspect of it. I do not wish to decry the efforts that are being made to develop the tourist traffic but, from my observations, I think this traffic is going to be a very transient business. I imagine that the reason our hotels are full at the moment is because of  the lack of food in Great Britain, a country from which, I think, most of the tourist traffic comes at present. I fear that when the Continent opens up again, people will not be so quick to come here. I think that if more consideration were given to the development of small hotels or even large hotels to accommodate people within our own country who desire to take a holiday, our money and our time would be much better spent. Our own people we shall have always with us. This year workers in general, for the first time, are getting a fortnight's holidays. These workers have nowhere to go, and I do not see any great development throughout the country or any effort being made to provide facilities for these people. I think it a terrible pity that we do not concentrate more on the provision of facilities for such people because, as I have said, our own people we shall always have with us. The tourists who are filling our hotels at present may be birds of passage and may not come here again when conditions improve in Britain and abroad.
It has been my duty during the past three years, since the Advisory Wage Tribunals were set up, to travel extensively throughout the country. During the last three weeks I spent about 12 days touring through the counties of Wexford, Waterford, Cork, Clare and Limerick and we found it tremendously difficult to get accommodation, even for a few nights. That brings me to the point that I think very few people of the middle or working-class are going to get any holidays this year because the accommodation is not there. The hotels are booked up to mid-October. I think it a great pity that the Tourist Board have not made greater efforts in this respect. I understand their difficulties of course. The shortage of building materials and other reasons have precluded the board from embarking on the erection of hotels or even blocks of boardinghouses to accommodate our own people. Our own people have not had a holiday since the Isle of Man closed down. What the Isle of Man can do for our people it should be possible and it should be our duty to do for  them ourselves. There is one other question to which I want to refer. I have seen our food disguised under foreign names of one kind or another. I do not think it is necessary to resort to that. It is good Irish food and it should not be translated into French. In a hotel in the South of Ireland last year I read a menu. It was in French. I met a visitor there and he took the menu and read: “Entrecôte á la maison et pommes frite.” I am sorry that Senator Hayes is not here because he would be able to check me up. He taught me French on one occasion in exchange for Irish. The visitor said to me: “Is that as good as it looks,” and I said to him: “It is really steak and chips.” He replied: “That is good in Irish or French.” I think it is a pity that we should adopt these devices to deceive the people as to the food they are using whether that food is French cooked or not.
I remember an occasion, eight or nine years ago, when our worthy Minister was elected to preside at an International Labour Conference at Geneva. There was a precedent there that the President always gave a reception and our Minister had the wise idea of providing some Irish food and liquid on that occasion. That function was the best of its kind ever held at Geneva and whatever the fare might be called at home it was Limerick ham in Geneva. It was called by its proper name there and there was no deception.
I think we should not be slow to call our food by its Irish name if necessary but surely there is no need to call it by a foreign name. I think the Tourist Board should concentrate more in providing accommodation for our people at home. There are people in this city, people among the class I come from, who have never seen Ireland. The number of people who have never seen Killarney is amazing. Their peregrinations out of this city have never extended beyond Dublin or Bray at the farthest. I think it is our duty to develop facilities for them and that we should make it possible for them to go farther afield for holidays in their own country. I feel that they should not have to wait for the Isle of Man  boats to come into the North Wall again and bring them out of the country in order that they may get a holiday. We cannot bank on having the tourist traffic from abroad continue here to the same extent as at present and we should concentrate on providing facilities for our own people. The fact remains that there is not a snowball's chance of anyone in this country having a holiday this year except the profiteer, the black marketeer or some of the nouveau riche who have emerged from the emergency. Most of the people who had a week's holiday last year will have a fortnight's holiday this year and a lot of them will spend it up and down O'Connell Street. I think it is a great pity more attention is not paid by the Tourist Board to planning big blocks of boarding houses in Killarney and places like that where the ordinary man would spend a week's holidays. I think we ought not to depend too much on the the present impetus of tourist traffic continuing over the next few years. I believe that when Europe settles itself a lot of the people now coming here will by-pass this country. I hope they will not but at the same time some consideration should be given to providing for our own people adequate holiday facilities so that they may not have to go to such places as Blackpool and the Isle of Man.
Mr. Crosbie: The £1,250,000 which is provided for in this Bill would in my opinion be a very sound investment indeed for the taxpayers of this country to put into the tourist industry were it going to be used for the purpose of giving loans to Irish hotel keepers and advancing loans to Irish resorts to improve the hotel amenities that exist there. I cannot, however, in view of the Minister's statement to-day as to the proposed future activities of the Tourist Board, regard this venture with any great confidence. First of all I see no reason for placing any great confidence in the personnel of this board. It is a board which, as Senator Hayes has pointed out, has been appointed by the Government, and I am unaware that any member of it has any  particular qualification or experience in this kind of work. I trust when the Minister is replying to the debate he will take the opportunity of giving the House some information as to what he considers should be the proper qualifications for members of the Tourist Board. I also trust that he will give the House some information as to what are the standards of qualification the board insists on, as regards its own personnel. Particularly am I interested in the qualifications they require in a young man or woman for the position of hotel inspector. I do not say that all of the board's inspectors are like the example I am going to give now but I do know of more than one case where a hotel proprietor having been visited by one of the board's inspectors for the purpose of registering as a hotel has been so unimpressed by the inspector that called upon him for the purpose of looking into all the essentials of the hotel business that he decided to register his premises as a guest house rather than as a hotel under the board.
I recall one hotel proprietor telling me that a young man called at a late hour in the evening and announced the fact that he was an inspector of the Tourist Board and that he had come to inspect the hotel. He was invited to carry on the inspection. He was asked would he like to see over the hotel, would he like to see the kitchen, the bedrooms and the dining-rooms. He said: “No, all I want to know is, if you have got a bath.” The hotel proprietor replied that not alone had they a bath but they had three baths, and the inspector said: “Then you have two more than are necessary for the number of rooms.”
 I would like to endorse what has been said here about the excellent points of the Irish hotels. Senator Sweetman gave us some very interesting facts and figures about the value of the tourist industry in European countries. I presume the Minister, if not the board, is quite aware that the great success of these European countries—particularly France, Switzerland, Sweden and Italy—lies in the fact, not that they possess some of the most expensive luxury hotels in the world but that they possess excellent hotels of the smaller type to suit all pockets, hotels where people are welcome, even if they bring their families of young children with them, hotels which make no attempt at luxury surroundings but depend entirely on the native product of the country for their food and drink.
In Ireland we have many excellent hoteliers who run their hotels on exactly those lines. They are people who are highly skilled in the trade and they realise that we possess food second to none in the world, that it requires no disguise and they serve it as the plain product of the country. These are the hotels that have always been the most successful, the hotels that have been the mainstay of our tourist trade in the past and are bound to be its mainstay in the future. I look with grave suspicion on the board's proposal to start luxury hotels on the American system. Those hotels may enjoy a certain measure of temporary success at the present moment owing to the fact that a particularly wealthy class of person in Great Britain is unable to go abroad to the Continent; but, make no mistake about it, as soon as it becomes possible, those people with vast sums of money are going to follow the sun and we will find these luxury hotels left on our hands.
Apropos my friend Senator Campbell's remarks, a well-known wit in my native city once said: “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing—and, if you do not believe that, look at the French cooking in the hotel X”. I think the Tourist Board is suffering from a little knowledge. Their chairman did a tour in America and was very impressed with the standard of luxury in  American hotels, but it does not follow that the Americans visiting this country would look for the same standard of luxury here. I agree with Senator Honan that they are much more likely to ask for something entirely Irish. I hope the Minister will give us as much information as he can and that he will reconsider his proposals regarding the activities of this board.
This money would be much better spent in facilitating those people in this country who are legitimate hotel traders, who know their job and who, if given assistance by the Tourist Board, will make a success of their business.
Mr. Seán O'Donovan: The attitude of most of the speakers in this debate has amazed me, as all the remarks have clearly indicated the shortcomings of the present hoteliers. Senators have been mentioning various complaints regarding the circumstances which have existed up to the present, yet the main criticism is pointed towards the Tourist Board, which has had no opportunity to put into operation the powers granted to it in 1939. Judging by the speeches, one wonders why we were foolish enough in 1939 to establish this Tourist Board or why, in our wisdom or ignorance, we thought it was necessary. It certainly seems to be very necessary to-day and I presume—as I was a member of the House in 1939 and took part in that debate—we were satisfied that it was necessary then. Since then, there has been a war, yet we hear criticism that the Tourist Board up to the present has done practically nothing but plan. If it has done planning, as indicated by the Minister in regard to various places where the plans are to operate, it must have done good work.
There have been many references to the Tourist Board establishing luxury hotels, but I have not seen in any official document that these are to be luxury hotels. We have hotels which are comparable to the hotels in other countries, but this indication of luxury hotels seems to convey the idea that we are to have something nobody else has anywhere else. I think it is wrong  to adopt the attitude that we are going to produce something that cannot be produced anywhere else. The whole criticism seems to be directed at the board for this work. The criticisms made indicate to me, at any rate, that an authorised board is necessary to provide what has not been provided already. All the criticism has shown that hotels and guest houses generally have not been provided for the foreign visitors or native holiday-makers. Surely, if the board is now trying to do what has not been done by private enterprise up to the present, it does not deserve criticism? I do not know one member of the Tourist Board, but it seems to me that many speeches have been directed against the board as if it were some extraordinary product of the Minister's imagination.
It appeared to me to be very commendable that it is proposed to establish Irish-speaking resorts. I have not had many holidays in my lifetime and have not been out of Dublin City since the emergency began. Even though I am a Corkman, I have not been able to get to Cork. Holidays to me always have meant a family holiday and an opportunity of going with my family to a resort beside the sea. If we can have an Irish-speaking resort by the sea, with facilities for families, it would be my ambition at some future time to spend a holiday at some such resort. It is very commendable that the board has been thinking on those lines. I would like to see several of those resorts established, where people with an interest in the Irish language, who desire to become efficient in it and speak it whenever the opportunity arises, might go, with or without families, to spend a good holiday in the sunshine near the sea, and at the same time avail of the opportunity to learn the Irish language as well.
That would be my ideal of a satisfactory holiday. When the original Bill was introduced in 1939, I had a different conception from the one I have to-day. I did think that the board would be able to spend money on projects not meant to be remunerative. I understand that any money they are allowed to spend must be  on a probable money-making basis. Another criticism is that they have not spent money on other things. Apparently they are debarred from doing that. Senator Summerfield complained that they were not able to take dangerous corners off the roads. In 1939 I spoke in the House regarding the provision of facilities for people who have never practically driven out of Dublin except by tram or bus, and I mentioned the development of facilities at Dollymount and Merrion strands, two of the finest in the country.
No matter how we develop hotels for a great many of our people, Dollymount and Merrion will remain the resorts for a large number of Dublin citizens. Something has been said recently of development in Dollymount, and I would like to get some information as to how far that has gone. I was disappointed to find that development could not take place unless it was on a remunerative basis. That would prevent the lending of money to a local authority or other authority, even for projects in the City of Dublin offering such magnificent possibilities as Dollymount and Merrion. I think it is unfortunate that the board is debarred from lending money on any project which will not give indications of being profitable. Senator Sweetman gave a definition of a tourist as a person who spends 24 hours out of the country.
Mr. S. O'Donovan: Well and good, if it was a quotation from the League of Nations. My definition of a tourist would be a person who has travelled within the country, even within his own county, and I would not regard the League of Nations definition as an exact one. I would like to see our people provided for in a satisfactory manner. We cannot depend on people who come from outside our own country to spend their holidays here, although there seems to be a magnificent field for development on those lines. But, apart from those who come here, I think there is a great opportunity  to extend facilities for our own people, and in extending these facilities we are also providing them for those who may come from foreign countries.
But surely no member of the House can lay the blame on the Tourist Board if they have not provided those facilities up to the present. In 1939, we were satisfied that we would have to provide facilities because private citizens had not provided them. We brought in a Bill, and, immediately, a world war broke out, and therefore the criticism of the fact that that body has not done what it should have done is unjustified. These criticisms are more applicable to the people carrying on business up to the present than to the Tourist Board.
Senator Sweetman referred in a derogatory manner to the Minister for Education. I think the Ministry of Education, if he will not give credit to the Minister himself, took one of the greatest steps forward which has yet been taken in the development of our hotel industry. That was the building of Coláiste Tigheas in Cathal Brugha Street, Dublin, for the education of chefs and managers for the future. I feel that that has been one of the biggest steps taken in the support of tourist development.
Mr. S. O'Donovan: If he is, I do not think he succeeded in establishing these colleges for the girls and men of the country to fit themselves through proper education to manage and run the hotels of the country. There is one other point from which the board is apparently debarred by the terms of the legislation—the development of the scheme of hostels established by  An Óige. That organisation has done magnificent work in the provision of hostels for its own members. I am sorry that nothing can be done through the Tourist Board to help the organisation of An Óige.
It is a pity that organisations like that could not be assisted by loan or grant in the development or establishment of further hostels. I think the work they have done has been of great national importance. They have established these hotels and provided the cheapest possible way of living in the open air and far from the madding crowd, which is one of the first requirements for a proper holiday. I have nothing more to say but to deprecate the attack made on the board, which did not get a chance of doing the work during the world war. The attack on members of the staff of that board is also unjustified. I leave it to the Minister himself to deal with the personal attack made on the board in employing only members of the Fianna Fáil organisation. That, certainly, is not true, but surely it is never meant to be suggested that nobody who is a member of the Fianna Fáil organisation should be appointed to anything in this country? Senator Sweetman seemed to indicate that membership of Fianna Fáil should debar anyone from appointment in any capacity like that. I hope that the work that has not been done by the private owners of hotels will be done now under the auspices of this Tourist Board as facilities become available to them to do it. The Minister has indicated the activities which they propose to carry out in the future, and my only further remark is to express the hope that moneys could be made available by this Tourist Board for projects which would not be classified as of a remunerative nature.
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Before we adjourn for tea might I remind the House of the arrangement agreed to at the beginning of the sitting, that when the House resumes at 7 o'clock, Item No. 4 on the agenda will be taken.
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