Shannon Free Airport Development Company, Limited (Amendment) Bill, 1968 (Certified Money Bill): Second and Subsequent Stages.

Wednesday, 5 June 1968

Seanad Eireann Debate
Vol. 65 No. 2

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[167] Question proposed: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.”

Minister for Transport and Power (Mr. Childers): Information on Erskine Hamilton Childers  Zoom on Erskine Hamilton Childers  The purpose of the Bill is to provide for the further financing of the Shannon Free Airport Development Company Limited by extending the limits on investment contained in the current legislation. The Bill provides for:—

(1) An increase from £6,000,000 to £8,000,000 in the aggregate of the amounts which the Minister for Finance may subscribe in taking up shares of the company:

(2) An increase from £3,000,000 to £6,000,000 in the aggregate amount of grants, voted annually, which may be made to the company, and

(3) An increase from £3,000,000 to £7,000,000 in the existing statutory limit on repayable advances by the Minister for Finance for the provision of houses and community services.

I must ask to be excused as there is a division in the Dáil.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Liam O Buachalla  Zoom on Liam O Buachalla  Certainly.

Dr. Sheehy Skeffington: Information on Owen Lancelot Sheehy Skeffington  Zoom on Owen Lancelot Sheehy Skeffington  It seems to me that we have forgotten a valuable practice which we had in this House and which is set out in page 40 of Rulings and Proceedings which says that when Ministers expect to be engaged in the Seanad, it is suggested that they should arrange to pair. Further down on the same page, it is said that a view is taken that there should be a pairing arrangement for the whole period of a Minister's presence in the Seanad. It seems to me that this practice has been forgotten.

Mr. G. Boland: Information on Gerald Boland  Zoom on Gerald Boland  It is my recollection that that is what used to be done. This is hardly good enough; it is treating the House with disrespect.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Liam O Buachalla  Zoom on Liam O Buachalla  This present practice has grown up that when a division occurs the House will allow the Minister to go vote.

[168]Dr. Sheehy Skeffington: Information on Owen Lancelot Sheehy Skeffington  Zoom on Owen Lancelot Sheehy Skeffington  It is a pity that the original practice was departed from.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Liam O Buachalla  Zoom on Liam O Buachalla  It was difficult at times and this practice was agreed to by the House.

Professor Quinlan: Information on Patrick Michael Quinlan  Zoom on Patrick Michael Quinlan  I think the matter should be referred to the Committee on Procedure and Privileges.

Mr. Garret FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  I agree.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Liam O Buachalla  Zoom on Liam O Buachalla  There is nothing to prevent the Senators from presenting the matter to the Committee on Procedure and Privileges. It has been a practice to allow the Ministers to go vote.

Mr. Flanagan: Information on Thomas P Flanagan  Zoom on Thomas P Flanagan  In my view it would be impossible for every Minister attending in this House to arrange to pair.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Liam O Buachalla  Zoom on Liam O Buachalla  It has been suggested that the matter be referred to the Committee on Procedure and Privileges. The Minister, to continue.

Mr. Childers: Information on Erskine Hamilton Childers  Zoom on Erskine Hamilton Childers  The development company was set up to promote the increased use of Shannon Airport for passenger and freight traffic and for tourist, commercial and industrial purposes. It has been recognised that the greatest scope for the company's energies lies in developing the industrial estate and in using the existing advantages at the airport to promote industry. In addition the company has promoted the establishment at Shannon of warehousing and commercial and service activities. It has also engaged very successfully in the promotion of passenger traffic at the airport, mainly through the encouragement of tourism in the surrounding area. All these activities contribute markedly to the maintenance and development of Shannon Airport which is a very important national investment and asset and a focal point for economic growth.

Share capital subscribed to the company is used for the provision of factory buildings. These are normally rented to the occupiers but factory bays may also be purchased outright [169] or may be built on sites leased from the company. Repayable advances are used for the provision of dwellings and community services for the purposes of the industrial estate. The houses are provided by the company to rent or to purchase and developed sites are also made available for persons wishing to build their own houses and for speculative building. The grant-in-aid moneys are applied towards meeting the company's running expenses and providing financial assistance to industries, including grants towards factory buildings, new machinery and the training of workers.

The Finances provided to the company under existing legislation (SFADCO Ltd. Acts 1959 to 1965) up to 31st March, 1968 were as follows:

Share capital—£5,051,000.

Repayable advances—£3,050,000.

Grant-in-aid—£2,856,000.

The balances remaining under existing statutory provisions are therefore:

Share capital—£949,000.

Repayable advances — £50,000 (deficit).

Grant-in-aid—£144,500.

The balance available in the case of grant-in-aid is not sufficient to meet requirements for the current financial year while the balance of share capital is barely sufficient for the year. The existing limit of £3,000,000 on repayable advances has already been reached and it is necessary to finance repayable advances temporarily from share capital pending enactment of the present legislation. Interest on the amounts temporarily issued as share capital will be payable from the date of issue. The introduction of new legislation at this stage is in accordance with the intention when the 1965 Act was under consideration. It was decided then that the limits settled should cover the company's operations up to about the present time.

The company has been making steady progress in attracting new industries to Shannon. At 31st March, 1968 there were 27 manufacturing concerns in operation at the airport compared with 14 at 31st March, 1965. Of the 27 [170] concerns, one had built their own factory, two had purchased their factories and the rest occupied factories on a rental basis. Proposals for the establishment of four further manufacturing concerns are under consideration.

The manufacturing activities cover a wide range of products including electronic equipment, yarn, fabric, finished garments, pianos, industrial diamonds, precision tools, floor maintenance equipment and many other items. Practically all the output is exported.

The company promotes the establishment of warehousing activities with a view to stimulating air freight traffic through the airport. At 31st March, 1968 seven warehousing concerns were in operation and proposals from another concern were being considered. In addition, 13 commercial and service concerns were operating at 31st March, 1968 with a proposal for a further concern under consideration. The commercial activities included data processing and consultancy and trading business.

A total of 60 factories and ten warehouses were occupied at 31st March, 1968 compared with 40 factories and three warehouses occupied at 31st March, 1965. Twelve more factories and two warehouses were under construction and a further 31 sites had been reserved by existing firms with a view to expansion of their activities.

In the calendar year 1967 exports from the industrial estate amounted to £32.6m. and imports were valued at £22.5m. leaving a net balance of £10.1m. This balance gives an idea of the volume of work being carried out at the industrial estate and its contribution to the country's balance of payments. The percentage of total national exports of manufactured goods represented by exports from Shannon increased from 21 per cent in 1964 to 29 per cent in 1967. In relation to total national trade in 1967, Shannon exported 10 per cent of total exports and imported 4 per cent of total imports. Air freight generated by the industrial estate in 1967 was 3,301 tonnes compared with 876 tonnes in 1964.

The company promotes tourism [171] through Shannon in conjunction with other promoting bodies including Bord Fáilte, the air companies and CIE. This promotion is reflected in the growth of terminal passenger traffic at Shannon. Terminal traffic in the year ended March, 1968 exceeded 320,000, the highest figure in the airport's history. The tours, banquets and other tourist activities promoted by the company catered for over 100,000 people in 1967.

At 31st March, 1968, 3,942 people, 2,238 males and 1,704 females, were employed in the industrial estate as compared with 2,927, 1,538 males and 1,389 females, at 31st March, 1965. The total employment in the whole Shannon complex at 31st March, 1968 was over 6,000 people and their total annual income has been conservatively estimated as being in the region of £4m. The number of people resident in the Shannon community was over 2,100. 443 houses and 137 flats had been constructed by the company for rent or sale and almost all of these were occupied or allocated. A further 130 houses were under construction. In addition to the company-built houses, 25 houses had been constructed by private builders on developed sites provided by the company and 18 such houses were in course of construction. Consideration was being given to arrangements with a speculative builder who proposes to build further houses for sale. Clare County Council also plans to construct houses in the new town. However, the bulk of the housing requirements at Shannon will have to be provided by the company for a number of years to come. In addition to housing development, certain community services have been provided by the community, the company or by other authorities. These now include two churches, a comprehensive school, a community hall, two primary schools, shops and recreational and library facilities.

The majority of the workers at Shannon live outside the community and commute to the factories at Shannon. The development of the new community is becoming the biggest single element of the company's work, [172] in terms of the finances involved, of its complexity and of its vital importance to the attraction of industry and to stabilising future industrial growth in the region. It is clear to the company that industrial development and community development are interdependent whether in planning or in building, in working or in social living. Having regard to these factors and to the relevant observations in the report of Dr. Lichfield, the planning consultant for the region, the company are fully satisfied that the minimum viable community which must be aimed at in Shannon's particular geographic environment is one of not less than 6,000 people. Based on the rate of progress necessary to attain this end, it is proposed that provision should be made in the new legislation for the necessary funds for the three years to 31st March, 1971, by raising the limits in existing legislation to the figures which I have quoted.

In regard to grants-in-aid these grants provide for the running expenses of the company and also enable the company to pay grants to industrialists for buildings, machinery and the training of workers. Grants paid to the company to 31st March, 1968 amounted to £2,855,500. In addition the company received £1,246,462 by way of rents and other income. £2,499,479 was used by the company for promotion and administrative expenses and grants totalling £1,598,075 were made to industrialists.

It will be seen that the confidence which I expressed in the continued progress of the company when recommending the 1965 legislation for the approval of the House has been fully justified and I consider that it is necessary that the company should be provided with the financial resources up to the limits now proposed to enable them to consolidate the progress already made and to provide for further orderly progress in the future. The outline which I have given of the progress made by the company to date affords ample proof of the continuing value to the national economy of the Shannon enterprise and I am convinced that the additional finances now sought will prove to be a prudent [173] investment in the national interest. For my own part, I wish to congratulate the board, management and staff of the company and all those who are contributing to the success of the Shannon project.

As has already been announced it is the Government's view that it would be clearly beneficial to make use of the successful experience of the Shannon Free Airport Development Company Limited within the Limerick/Clare/ North Tipperary region. Accordingly it has been decided that the company will function as an organ of industrial development within this region and will be responsible to the Minister for Industry and Commerce for industrial estate development and possibly the building of advance factories within the region.

The company will report to the Minister for Industry and Commerce on all industrial and related matters, including those at the Shannon industrial estate, but will continue to report to me on its tourism and aviation activities. This Bill is without prejudice in any way to what may be done under the new arrangements and is related to requirements under the existing arrangements. Any additional financial arrangements for developments in the company's extended area of operations will be announced separately as will the details of any legislative action necessary.

I recommend the Bill for the approval of the House.

Mr. McHugh: Information on Vincent McHugh  Zoom on Vincent McHugh  The Minister has recommended this Bill for the approval of the House and Fine Gael agree with him. I do not think there is any need to delay the progress of this Bill. It is necessary and desirable that it should pass. It has already secured the full approval of the other House.

In his speech the Minister congratulated the board, the management and the staff of the Shannon Free Airport Development Company and he pointed out the advantages of the industrial estate—the number of jobs, the economic advances made in the area because of the work in the Shannon Free Airport Development Company. All this is true and no praise could be high [174] enough for the people immediately concerned with all this work. No praise either could be high enough for the men who were, in fact, responsible for the whole concept. The Minister omitted to mention these. I am sure he did this inadvertently. He omitted to mention the men who blazed the trail, who did the spade work, whose brainchild Shannon actually is.

It is perhaps necessary to remind the House that the first inter-Party Government set up in 1949 the Industrial Development Authority and it is under that Authority that all these factories now operate. The Shannon complex and, indeed, all foreign industrial development in this country is made possible by this Industrial Development Act of 1949. When the Minister praised everybody connected with Shannon, I am sure it was inadvertent that he left out the people who put this Act through both Houses of the Oireachtas.

It may be necessary to remind the House also that this Act was very bitterly opposed by the Minister's Party who were then in Opposition, by the former Taoiseach in particular and, indeed, by the present Taoiseach. It might be interesting to remind the House of some of the things said at that time. In the Dáil debates of 9th March, 1950, Volume 119, No. 11, column 1596 Deputy Lemass said:

Needless to remark we are opposed to this proposal.

That proposal was the establishment of the Industrial Development Authority. At column 1599 Deputy Lemass said:

The drive for industrial development has not lost its impetus. It will go on in spite of the Minister and the Industrial Development Authority, but it will go on at a steadily diminishing pace, unless the impediments to it are removed.

This impediment to our national economy was the Industrial Development Act of 1949. At column 1607 Deputy Lemass said:

I sincerely believe that this commission will be an impediment to industrial development.

[175] At column 1618 he said:

I am opposed to the Bill in principle and, whatever views I may have about the individuals I do not propose to express them. But, in fairness to them and to anyone else who may be now or who may in the future become associated with this Industrial Development Authority I want them to understand that my opposition and the opposition of Deputies on this side of the House to the whole idea in this Bill is fundamental and that at the earliest possible occasion we will terminate it.... Our hostility is to this Bill and to the principle of it... if ever that situation ceases and the Party on this side of the House becomes the Government, the functions of the Minister for Industry and Commerce will be resumed by whoever is nominated to that post and these subsidiary bodies will cease.

This body is still in existence. The Industrial Development Authority was set up in 1949. As I said, the present Taoiseach said in the same volume, column 1633, and this is the real gem:

It is a dangerous precedent to allow men appointed by the Minister to this authority to have control over the expenditure of moneys in the establishment of industries that are being contemplated by private individuals.

Those are the grounds on which the present Taoiseach opposed the Bill. I am sure the Minister will remember this occasion.

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  He has conveniently forgotten it.

Mr. Childers: Information on Erskine Hamilton Childers  Zoom on Erskine Hamilton Childers  Seán Lemass was the absolute creator of the Shannon Free Airport Development Company.

Seán Ó Donnabháin: Information on Sean ODonovan  Zoom on Sean ODonovan  He did not believe any rabbits would live there.

Mr. McHugh: Information on Vincent McHugh  Zoom on Vincent McHugh  The rabbits have gone because of myxomatosis. All those things were forgotten in 1956.

Tomás Ó Maoláin: Information on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  Zoom on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  They were all said in the Dáil last week.

Mr. McHugh: Information on Vincent McHugh  Zoom on Vincent McHugh  Are you worried I [176] might repeat them? The Minister's statement was——

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  Read what Deputy Lemass had to say on the Industrial Grants Act, 1956.

Mr. McHugh: Information on Vincent McHugh  Zoom on Vincent McHugh  Obviously it worries them.

Tomás Ó Maoláin: Information on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  Zoom on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  It does not.

Mr. McHugh: Information on Vincent McHugh  Zoom on Vincent McHugh  The authority is still there. Fianna Fáil and Deputy Lemass in particular took credit for what is happening at Shannon. Their claim seems to be spurious, having regard to what was said at that time. They are naturally due credit for whatever work they have done and there is no use denying them that. It is enough to give them credit for what they have done but they cannot claim credit for everything. The words of Deputy Lemass, and the words of the present Taoiseach, indicate what they felt then. If they were sincere at that time and knew what they were talking about they can hardly claim credit for what has been achieved. Another Act which affects the Industrial Estate at Shannon and indeed all industrial estates in this country is the Industrial Grants Act, 1956. This was an inter-Party effort. This Act empowered the Industrial Development Authority to make grants towards the cost of factory buildings and any other work required in the establishment of an industrial undertaking. Again, it might be interesting to remind the House what the Minister's Party had to say.

Tomás Ó Maoláin: Information on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  Zoom on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  Might I suggest that the Senator could make that speech on the Industrial Grants Act when it comes up? It would avoid the necessity of having to listen to it again.

Dr. Sheehy Skeffington: Information on Owen Lancelot Sheehy Skeffington  Zoom on Owen Lancelot Sheehy Skeffington  Do you not want to hear it?

Tomás Ó Maoláin: Information on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  Zoom on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  We do not mind but we should not have repetition.

Mr. Childers: Information on Erskine Hamilton Childers  Zoom on Erskine Hamilton Childers  We are not operating the industrial Development Authority. We are operating the Shannon Free Airport legislation.

Mr. McHugh: Information on Vincent McHugh  Zoom on Vincent McHugh  You were against [177] the Industrial Grants Act, 1956. In Volume 160 of the Dáil Debates of the 5th December, 1956, Deputy Lemass had this to say:

The first question that arises on this Bill is why it was considered necessary at all.

At column 1947 of the same volume he says:

We have this proposal to give grants to private industry. No statement has been made to the House to lead us to believe that anything will come of it. No argument has been advanced to show that it is necessary and no attempt has been made to analyse the possible consequences of the provision.

At column 1950 he says:

I want to make it clear that in my view it has no importance whatever in relation to our industrial development and represents a completely wrong approach to Irish industry.

That is the approach which is still operating and that is the approach for which the Fianna Fáil Party takes so much credit and in which they have so much pride. Those are things which were said by Fianna Fáil. Now they become very anxious when they are reminded about those statements. The major success of the Shannon experiment is due, of course, to the industrial grants and the tax concessions given by the 1956 Act. That is quite clear and it is not necessary to remind the House of it.

The Bill before us provides that the Minister may subscribe some £8 million instead of £6 million in- share capital, £6 million instead of £3 million in grants-in-aid and some £7 million instead of £3 million in community services. The Fine Gael Party welcome this and we hope there will be a corresponding increase in such provisions in the coming year. It is no harm at this stage to remind the House of what the Shannon Free Airport Development Company Limited had to say last year. I quote from the concluding paragraph of the introduction to their annual report of 1966-67:

[178] Restricted financial allocations led to a severe curtailment of promotional activity, which reduced results below possibilities and which will seriously affect next year's targets.

The company had to refer to their expenses which will now affect next year's target. They go on to say:

To achieve even a minimum level of promotional activity the company had to defer other expenditures which must now be met next year, notably on the painting and general maintenance of property. Promotion is the essence of development and the company earnestly hopes that a marked improvement will be possible in the future. Granted this, the company confidently expects that its employment and other targets for the Second Programme will be achieved.

We all hope so. The Minister has stated that the company is able to receive more responsibilities and that its responsibilities will now include industrial development in Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary. If the company are to carry out their new responsibilities it is absolutely essential that they are not expected to operate in the same fashion as they had to operate in 1966-67 with restricted financial allocation. We can only hope the Minister will be able to persuade his colleagues in Government, particularly the Minister for Finance, to provide the necessary money to enable them to carry out their functions. An early start is essential on this work. I am sure the Minister and his Party are as well aware of that as we are and will undoubtedly provide the money. Quite recently the Chairman of the Development Company, as reported in the Press, claimed that the position in regard to finance was not abundantly clear and the extra responsibility will add to that. All this industrial activity and all the increases in population in the Shannon area mean that there must be facilities for higher education provided in this area.

This brings me to the position of the problem of a university in Limerick. We can only hope here that the Minister for Education, who has [179] already explained that the claim to a university is well-founded, will enable people in that area to make provision as soon as possible for the education of their children. Many of them are three, four, five and six years living there and they are now at the stage of considering their children's education and if they were assured that there will be a university in the vicinity they would have an assurance that their living in Shannon was worthwhile.

There is one other point I should like to mention and that is the trade dispute with EI. This is a thorny and difficult position and I do not want to say anything here which would make the position worse. Certainly every sensible man and person in this country must condemn the burning of buses and all criminal acts associated with this campaign. There can be no excuse or reason for such acts. While we say that the EI company are giving a lot, every body or responsible person in the Shannon area believes that the union should be recognised and that EI are grievously to blame. It is inevitable, in view of our history of industrial relations, that the union will eventually be recognised. The Minister should attempt, if at all possible, and I know how difficult this may be, to persuade his Government to take some action to persuade EI to accept the inevitable and recognise the union before irreparable damage is done at Shannon.

Finally, my Party welcome this Bill and in welcoming it we should like to agree with the words of the Minister for Industry and Commerce in the inter-Party Government when introducing the Industrial Grants Act, 1956. He said:

I would be very glad if the estimate proved too low as I can think of no better way of spending money than on industries which will provide permanent employment for our people, reduce our expenditure abroad and increase our export potential.

Mr. Dolan: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  For sheer downright hypocrisy and brazen effrontery it would be hard to beat the attitude of the Fine Gael Party at present. I have [180] listened to the last speaker enunciating the achievements of the inter-Party Government and now belatedly trying to take to themselves credit for this enterprise founded by Fianna Fáil and supported and encouraged, despite the efforts both of the then Leader of the Opposition and many of his colleagues to try to cast reflection on the good intentions of the Fianna Fáil Government towards the establishment of industry in this country and towards an effort to provide jobs for our people.

Mr. Garret FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  Who was the then Leader of the Opposition?

Mr. Dolan: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  It is on the records of the other House that they boasted that the rabbits would run round Shannon Airport and, indeed, it is quite true to say that when they came into office they sold out the Constellation aircraft Fianna Fáil had purchased and the trained workers employed there had to emigrate from the country.

Mr. McHugh: Information on Vincent McHugh  Zoom on Vincent McHugh  How many?

Mr. Dolan: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  We also know what happened at Inchicore and various other places. It is an undeniable fact that when that outfit of Coalition Government were in office few industrialists of any kind, either at home or abroad, had any confidence whatever in them. There was practically no stability whatever in the country and, to prove it still further, when those people applied to the ordinary Irish people for a national loan of a mere £5 million it was not even one-half subscribed. These are some of the bald, salient, undeniable facts that it is no harm to recall now and then, especially when we hear people of the Fine Gael mentality away in the back of this chamber being sent in here with prepared documents to try as best they can to retrieve lost prestige for the Fine Gael Party. Last year they did their very best to sell out to a Coalition and they also were not accepted.

We have explicit faith in the Shannon Free Airport and we have had from the very beginning. It was the Fianna Fáil Government who established and nursed it through its infancy, despite all the other adverse [181] criticism that pursued that policy of building up for our people an industrial arm to absorb extra members of our population who were then leaving the land. That has been our policy down the years. It is nothing new to us. It has been proved and it has borne success all down the years and this Bill, in conjunction with others, displays the investment this Government is making so as to ensure that there will be further success in the Shannon Free Airport. It is a matter of extending it even further to embrace areas around Limerick city and, indeed, eventually probably other parts of the country as well. We are very proud of the part our Government have played in the establishment of Shannon Airport and all the other ancillary benefits that flow from it, in particular tourism.

It is not so long ago since so-called members of the Fine Gael Party, or whatever Party they belonged to then, were on platforms hounding down tourism and making a laugh about An Tóstal and the various methods by which the Fianna Fáil Government were trying to educate people that this was the potential place for tourists to come, a place where they would be well treated, that we were a kindly, friendly people. This Government were providing grants to build guest-houses and hotels and we all know of the catchcries from the Opposition platforms about money being squandered to build luxury hotels, et cetera. Now when tourism is a paying proposition and the majority of the people came to our way of thinking they are bending over backwards trying to take credit even for tourism as well.

We on this side of the House are wholeheartedly, 100 per cent, on the side of this Bill which the Minister has put in front of us and we intend to continue and pursue still further our efforts to ensure that as the years go on we will still go from height to height to ensure that we will provide industries so as to provide more jobs for our people. I certainly welcome the Bill and I did not go out of my way to provide any statistics coming in here which I could read out as the other speaker did, but were I [182] put to it I could do it. It is a well known fact that what I have said is true—those references I have made with regard to Shannon Airport were made by those people in the past and they can swallow them or not. We have produced the goods; we are proud to stand over our success and we take all credit for it. Go raibh míle maith agaibh.

Professor Quinlan: Information on Patrick Michael Quinlan  Zoom on Patrick Michael Quinlan  We can all welcome this Bill and the success of Shannon Airport no matter who, or what Party, was responsible for developing it. Both Parties have contributed to the development that has taken place. Consequently, we can welcome the Bill, as we welcome every indication of increased employment for our people. In the past our difficulty has always been to find worthwhile industry and the capital has been of consequential consideration. We have shown in Shannon Airport development that industry has been got going. The capital has been rather high but still if we can succeed in providing employment it is, I think, the people as a whole who will face whatever tasks as are necessary to raise the capital involved. I wish to thank the Minister for the great welter of statistics and the informative speech he has made. His approach is always statistical and factual.

Looking through the figures given by him it struck me that at a cost of £10 million, of which £3 million is repayable sometime in the future, we have placed about 4,000 people in employment, the cost working out at £2,500 per worker. About half of the money is share capital, a quarter is by way of grant to the companies involved and the other quarter is in the form of repayable advances. The money per worker involved is, by modern standards, perhaps, not excessive and the return is estimated at about £750 per worker which is the minimum type of return we can expect from such industry. It provides a yardstick to the task involved in creating new employment. It shows that jobs cannot be produced out of thin air, that the money must be provided.

At any rate, what is being done in [183] this case is our yardstick. I should like in this context to suggest to the Minister that he should apply the same yardstick to the problem of creating new jobs anywhere else in our economy. If the Minister looks at the agricultural picture he will find that we have a reduction of 14,000 per annum in the labour force on the land. If we could cut that by half, if we could save 7,000 of those 14,000 jobs, we should find that those jobs are just as good and as valuable nationally as is the project of increasing jobs, of creating new jobs, in an industrial estate or in any other industrial situation in the country.

The cost of doing that, as estimated on the Shannon scale, would involve about £14 million annually of which £3 million would be repayable, still taking the Shannon figures. I urge the Minister and the Government seriously to consider earmarking some of our national product, our resources, for the very urgent task of saving some jobs in agriculture, creating thereby the help to boost our efforts to achieve what we all hope for, the target of full employment for our people sometime in the future. I hope that at a later date we shall have an opportunity, by way of a motion on the Order Paper, of belatedly discussing the Report on Full Employment.

Mr. Garret FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  Very belatedly.

Professor Quinlan: Information on Patrick Michael Quinlan  Zoom on Patrick Michael Quinlan  It is a national disgrace that the report has received such scant attention.

Tomás Ó Maoláin: Information on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  Zoom on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  What has this got to do with the Bill?

Professor Quinlan: Information on Patrick Michael Quinlan  Zoom on Patrick Michael Quinlan  We should know—and bring it to public attention —the real sacrifices that must be made by each section of the community if we are to achieve the very laudable aim set out in that paper on full employment. I am glad to see the Minister and the Government enlarging the functions of the Shannon industrial authority to provide for industrial development in the adjoining areas of the three neighbouring counties. In the past I have been critical of trying to have [184] development in an area like Shannon involving the building of a complete infrastructure as well as factories when in the neighbourhood there are towns like Ennis, Limerick, Rathkeale and Newcastlewest where you have got already an infrastructure of schools, churches and the other facilities and where all that is needed is industrial development. Now at last I hope the Government will extend the Shannon approach and give the same type of generous injections to those outside areas to help to establish factories and create employment, thereby removing the transport costs and the other costs involved in building elsewhere the infrastructure which must take a considerable portion of the amount already spent at Shannon. What has been done there is valuable. It has shown what can be done. But let us do the same thing in areas already developed and let us hope that sometime in the future we may be pressed again to go out into virgin territories and there build new towns.

That is a long time in the future. Our task at the moment is to develop the industrial and other amenities of existing centres. In doing that, I suggest to the Minister that in approaching this new development he must first look at our industrial relations about which we are not happy at present. Our industrial relations are not what they should be in a small community where we are all close together. We have all come from the same background and, therefore, the spirit of acrimony that gets into our industrial relations should not be there. There should be a more Irish type of industrial relations, a type that is more suited to our national temperament, more inspired by our traditions and better geared to have workers and management uniting in preparation for the future.

Looking at the figures and the grants mentioned in his statement— £10 million put into Shannon, £2,500 per worker invested there—I suggest to the Minister that it should be possible to take those figures and abstract at the start the amount repayable— £750 per worker, leaving £1,750 per worker—and to devise a scheme by [185] which the workers would gradually attain part ownership of the industries in which they work: that the State, having put in £1,750 per worker as at present, would arrange that the share capital which the State should take up, based on those figures, would be gradually transferred to the workers on the understanding that the workers would contribute part of their output to acquiring those shares. I have in mind especially that this extra output by the workers would be put in by way of extra hours for the purpose of acquiring the share capital. By working an extra four hours on a Saturday they would each contribute in a year at least £100 and, therefore, during seven or eight years they would provide, if converted into share capital, sufficient to enable the workers to take up half of the shares of the company.

If we had a situation where the workers in their factories held at least half the share capital and were more deeply interested in that aspect of their companies' activities you would have a much closer and better worker-manager relationship and a greater feeling by the workers that the factory was theirs. If the factory began to run into difficult times, because of competition or otherwise, there would be the answer to that problem of longer hours and harder work to ride out the difficulties. That is what the farmers of this country have had to do all through the years and other self-employed classes have also had to do it. The pattern of industrial relations which I would like to see radiating from Shannon would be the pattern I have just mentioned. On that pattern you could provide a system of worker-manager relationships, the kind of relationships which should operate in every happy family.

The people who will staff the factories in the extended areas will be drawn from the areas themselves. They are from the area at present and they will be from the extended area, they will give a local base to the factories and it is only natural that they should wish to acquire share capital in them. Any incentive that the Government can give to enable them to do this is all for the better. We will have a better [186] chance of discussing this side of the matter when the Bill for the extension of the Shannon development works comes before the House but I put the idea before the Minister who is always willing and receptive to new ideas.

The time has come to step out on a new road and to build a new structure. The old structure of having management on the one side and labour on the other has failed and we will have to replace it by something which will enable these people to work together as one happy family for the benefit of themselves, their industry and for the country as a whole.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  Like all the previous speakers, I am happy to welcome this further stage in the development of the Shannon Free Airport Development area. I would like to say that I have had an opportunity, because of my association with that area in my schooldays, of seeing the result of this development, not just in the economic well-being of Clare, Limerick and Kerry but in the uplift of morale which this industrial adventure has given to the people of that area.

I think Senator McHugh could have given the House more useful information had he concentrated on the benefits that have accrued to the people in that area and to all those involved in the project at Shannon. It was unfair to suggest, as Senator McHugh did, that the Minister had not given credit to certain people when, in fact, he had not even claimed the credit which is entirely due to the Party which initiated this whole concept of regional development and put it into practice in the Shannon Airport area. It is unfair to suggest that names have been left out when the men who initiated the concept do not claim credit for it themselves.

The best thing that has arisen from the formation of this scheme in connection with this regional development is that we have seen go forth from it not merely a flow of manufactured goods and exports but a number of experts in management and planning. The Minister was right when he paid a compliment to the staff and to the board who have implemented the plan [187] which the Government put before them and for which the Government gave them the facilities to carry out. One of the lessons which Shannon can give to any other development is the delegation of responsibility and how that can be achieved with the maximum success. One does not need to mention the names of the people concerned; their names are well-known and their success speaks for itself, but anyone concerned with the development programme in that area will be aware that this success depended entirely on the way in which responsibility has been delegated by the directors to the various heads of Departments.

Weekly meetings are held and these report back to the chairman in each case and the chairman uses the fountain and source of information and suggestions that come in from these meetings to their fullest extent. This is a very effective lesson which can be followed by all other industries, even the smaller ones. The success of this project is attributable to a number of factors but this is one which has had a more than sizeable bearing on the end result.

Another factor is the enthusiasm with which every worker in the complex became affected. Even those who have been trained in that area have brought from it a new concept of work and enthusiasm, the effect of which is being felt throughout the whole extent of the nation because it applies particularly in the field of hotel development. The hotel school in Shannon sends its graduates to the various parts of the country to implement their training and the graduates of that school are very much involved in the immensely successful hotel development which we have had in this country in recent years.

The Minister gave some very salient and significant figures in relation to industrial output in Shannon and to the significant increase in output which I believe will continue. He expressed the percentage of national exports from Shannon having increased from 21 per cent of the national exports in 1964 to 29 per [188] cent in 1967. It is, of course, very significant that in one single area one can have almost one-third of the national exports of the country. It possibly may be a matter of credit to Shannon and it may be, to a certain extent, a reflection on other areas. It may also, I think, serve to encourage the Government, as Senator Quinlan suggested, to implement or to give the facility for the same type of development in other areas because if one small restricted area can contribute such a fantastic proportion of our national exports it leads us to believe that, in fact, we are not at all realising our potential in various other parts.

I should like to note that again in the field of tourism, while the Minister has not actually given the percentage figures for the tourism activity in Shannon, it is my recollection from the Bord Fáilte report that it is a very significant part of the total tourist earnings. Here, again, one can point to enlightened planning, to progressive thinking and, indeed, to the kind of thinking that is as far away from Senator McHugh's historical research into contributions to debates of 20, 30 or 40 years ago as is real progress from retrogression and inhibited development.

The tourism programme in Shannon has captured the imagination not just of our own country but very obviously of the customers who are the people with whom we must be particularly concerned and notably the customers in the United States. This, again, is a programme which is expanding and developing at every level and at all times from the initial medieval banquets which one saw in Bunratty to the various cultural and historical events which are now being offered in Knappogue and Drumguaire, the historical pageants that have been developed there. Not only is the programme justifying itself in terms of money but, in fact, it is giving a clear historical impression to so many of our visitors of the type of people that we really are. It is disillusioning to many of them who thought that we were somehow a rather savage nation with no fine feelings and whereas 20 years ago one would feel that an American [189] who stopped at Shannon hardly got a representative picture of Irish life one is very happy to think nowadays in view of this development, in view of this continued expansion, that the American who stops at Shannon is certainly getting a very optimistic impression of Irish life. I am no more modest and no more proud than the rest of us but I think the Government can clearly claim credit for having promoted this opportunity. I would not at all have referred to this credit that is due to the Government were it not for what I call the defensive attack of Senator McHugh in opening this debate.

On a recent visit to the US I was particularly concerned with, and had an opportunity of discussing, the proposed travel tax both with members of the Shannon Free Airport Development Company board and also with various members of Congress. Obviously, if implemented it would have been a very significant blow to the continued growth of Shannon. I must say that I think due to possibly the general public opinion of the American people themselves and, secondly, due to the effective lobbying done both by the Government and the members of the Company, the tax as proposed will not be implemented. I should like to suggest here at the same time that while we are now aware of that I became aware of the fact that even with the announcement of the proposal by the President of the United States many of the medieval tours which had been booked for this year were, in fact, cancelled so that the picture, instead of being one of continuing expansion, looked for a while as if there might be a setback due to this announcement.

There were immediate cancellations but I understand now that many of these cancellations have, in fact, themselves been cancelled. I think that it is important that this change of policy on the part of the Congress in America should be communicated as much as we possibly can through Bord Fáilte and the various other travel organisations throughout America because, strangely enough, though it was almost evident on the occasion of my visit to the States about two months ago that this tax would not be implemented as [190] announced, nonetheless it was amazing that the ordinary American whom one met was not fully aware of this change of policy and one can assume that until such time as they do become fully aware of it they might not make travel plans which otherwise they would make. Therefore, I would suggest that every effort should be made to communicate to them that this tax as announced is no longer being implemented and one can hope that the bookings will continue for the tourist development in that area to expand and expand enormously as it has, indeed, in recent years.

A matter which is hardly relevant, certainly not at the length at which Senator Quinlan referred to it, though I agreed with a lot of his sentiments, is the field of industrial relations. I would say that obviously in a developing area of the magnitude of Shannon, industrial personnel relations must be of immense importance. Up to recently I think it is fair to say that relations in that area, because of the community attitude and spirit, have been very satisfactory and highly commendable. It does appear now that there is a certain cleavage in a particular case and while it is, of course, very desirable that both sides, management and labour, would realise their mutual responsibility and their mutual rights, I think I should say that all too seldom does one hear from either side the acceptance of the notion—because it only appears to be a notion to them— that all on the other side are not, as we say in the country, lightened devils and that goes for both trade unions leaders and the leaders of the employers section. I was greatly relieved and impressed recently to see what the chairman of the Nenagh Branch of the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union said so effectively. What that young man had to say about the principles of community responsibility, of co-operation in industrial relations, would certainly be in the mutual interest not only of Shannon but everywhere if implemented. One could comment on the issues in this dispute but I think in the interests of allowing everybody to solve their own problem I would prefer not to, beyond saying that whatever is involved in recognition [191] or otherwise of union's rights both sides should be got to understand that Shannon was founded on the basis of mutual assistance and responsibility, that Shannon has developed on that same basis and that only on acceptance of those principles can Shannon continue to expand. If either side loses sight of that, the whole programme such as it is and such as it will be can be thrown into jeopardy in their own interests.

I should like to refer to the extension of the authority of the Shannon Free Airport Development again. I know this aspect of it is not the Minister's responsibility because in his opening speech he said that the company will be responsible to the Minister for Industry and Commerce in connection with subsequent expansion of their responsibility. I should like to say that we in Tipperary welcome this announcement because we see, first of all, the effects which Shannon has had in the Clare area and, to a lesser extent, in my own area, in that many of the personnel travel from Tipperary and Limerick to the Airport Development Company.

Secondly, we realise that this community enthusiasm, their experts and their planning, have a very significant effect in any development. We, like others, are anxious to play our part in this to the fullest possible extent. I am speaking particularly of Tipperary, but the same applies to Limerick, when I say that we lost a number of developments by virtue of the fact that grants and facilities were available to neighbouring counties on a scale much higher than were available in our county. Factories which might have been established in Tipperary and Limerick went across the Shannon, in fact, to the Shannon Airport Development area. It is to be hoped with this extension of the Shannon Airport Development Authority we can see that this imbalance will be rectified. I can assure the Minister and the House when that extension comes they will find the same ready enthusiasm, the same ready responsibility and the same [192] determination to work in the extended areas of North Tipperary and Limerick as they found in Shannon and which has proved the very bedrock of the Shannon success.

Mr. Garret FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  It was entertaining to see how predictably Senator Dolan rose to the fly so elegantly cast over him by Senator McHugh and produced——

Tomás Ó Maoláin: Information on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  Zoom on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  Predictably.

Mr. Garret FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  ——some predictable clichés on the subject of the responsibilities of different Governments for different things. Senator O'Kennedy returned to this subject somewhat. Although I do not agree with everything he said, the manner in which he said it was somewhat more constructive.

I should like, first of all, to ask the Minister some questions about promotion work. It was very disturbing indeed to see in the accounts of the Shannon Free Airport Development Company in their Annual Report for the year ended 31st March, 1967, appalling cuts in the promotion work, the sums available and spent on promotion both in tourism and in industry. I found the expenditure for tourism is cut from £67,000 to £16,000, by more than three-fourths. The estimated export creditor for industrial promotion is cut from £38,000 to £5,500, a cut of 6/7ths approximately. It seems to me that in times of financial stringency and difficulty which a country occasionally experiences, and which we experienced in the years 1965-66, we ought to have a better sense of priorities.

I have been astonished, and at times appalled, by the way in which savings of paltry sums in the context of a Budget of £250 million are effected at the cost of a vital national concern, the development in this case of the Shannon Free Airport Development Company, its factories there, its housing and the expansion of employment there when many millions of pounds are spent in other areas where a small cut, though possibly unpopular, would not have any like effect. The [193] gearing of promotional expenditure in a case like Shannon to the return we get from it is so much greater than the kind of return we can get on many other forms of expenditure that it should be the very last thing to be cut, no matter how great our economic difficulties, instead of being the first thing to be cut as it was on this occasion and cut most drastically to such an extent that the board were provoked in their introduction to their report, which Senator McHugh quoted, to refer to the grave difficulties which this created for them and to state further on in the report on page 12, that unless this were remedied the expansion of the estate could not continue. They put it slightly more positively. The expansion of the estate could continue if adequate sums were available for promotion.

Mind you, it was not only the promotional side which was cut down during this period. If we look at some of the other figures we find a similar pattern. We find, for example, in housing there were actually fewer dwellings built on the 31st March, 1967 than in the year earlier although there is a reference to fewer dwellings sold, so apparently there may be some slight adjustment here. Certainly, however, there was no increase in the number of dwellings. It is a bit startling to find on the 31st March, 1966 that 455 dwellings were completed and 125 under construction and a year later 453 dwellings were completed and 125 under construction. It is a very long period for under construction, so long, indeed, that one wonders what “under construction” means. To me “under construction” means a building has started to materialise out of the ground. If that were the case with 125 dwellings in March, 1966 there must have been a bit of moss grown on them by March, 1967 if they were still not completed.

I am glad to see from the figures the Minister has given here that this dead stop of the accommodation for workers at Shannon, the new town there, has come to an end, and in the past year, in the year ended March, 1968, there was once again a further expansion of dwellings [194] to the tune of about 127. In other words, what has happened in this year, if I read the figures correctly, is that the 125 dwellings which were under construction in March, 1966 and under construction in March, 1967 were completed in the year ended March, 1968 but that is all. Nothing else was completed.

It is nice to know they were completed and at least we have got to the point where the number of dwellings has risen from 453 to 580. I note, however, that there are now a further 130 under construction from which I gather the stop in activities at Shannon for several years, which held up development of the new town, has come to an end. One must hope that those 130 dwellings will not be as long getting their roofs on them as were the previous 125.

The slow-down in the growth at Shannon caused by the severe cuts imposed in its budget, wrongly by the Government, the effects of this also can be seen in the pattern of employment where there was an increase of only 181 jobs in the year ending March, 1967 as against 366 in the previous year. I am glad to see this also has come to an end, that employment has started again and that the unfortunate effects of the Government measures are no longer applicable because in the year ended March, 1968, according to the Minister, employment rose by, I think, 698.

This is a very cheerful picture. In fact, it is in excess of the 500 jobs a year target but it needed to be to catch up on the lag in the two previous years when in the two years together there were not 500 jobs created, never mind 500 each year. This slow-down in the growth of the activities there was to be seen also in the figures for the value added by industry at Shannon, the difference between exports and imports, which rose hardly at all from only £6¾ million to £7.14 million in the year ended March, 1967. This, again, has leaped forward to about £10 million. We can see here progress has again resumed after the effects of the cuts imposed in 1965-66. I should like to ask the Minister, [195] however, because he has given us no information, what has happened on the question of promotion and development. Can we be assured that the cuts of 75 to 80 per cent imposed on promotional expenditure in the year ending March, 1967, have been removed and that the company is now promoting its services, as regards industry and tourism, on the scale it was previously? It is not much use building more houses or building more factories if, in fact, efforts are not being made to attract people to establish industries there. The promotional effort is vital to making useful investment to put into these factories on this site.

I should also like the Minister to tell us what, in fact, was the square footage in factory space in March, 1968. It is a figure usually given to indicate the growth of the factory area there. We had it for previous years in the annual reports, showing once again a complete stop in the growth in the year ending March, 1967, and I would like to know what the figure is for March, 1968, if the growth in factories has been resumed.

On the question of the extension of the regional responsibilities of the company, I, like others, would like to welcome this, more particularly because this is a matter I have pressed before without success until now. I was most disturbed, and I so expressed myself in the House, when works started on development centres in Galway and Waterford that the centralised authority responsible for these new development centres failed to make any use of the experience, knowledge, skill and enthusiasm of the people who had built up the Shannon Free Airport Development Company and the industrial estate there. There was consultation. Somebody was asked to see them but their skills were not unleashed on these problems because work on development of these industrial estates at Waterford and Galway has been held close to the chest of An Foras Tionscal with no consideration for local interests and no attempt made to unleash the skills and abilities of those who made a success of Shannon. [196] It is nice to know that although they have not been allowed to help, as they would willingly have done in those industrial estates, that at least they will be allowed to make a contribution to a wider area than this estate. Knowing the abilities of the people concerned, I am satisfied they will make a great contribution and that their abilities are such that the growth of Shannon will not be slowed down or their efforts to develop the industrial estate will not be diluted by the responsibilities of these people being extended to a wider area.

I am, however, a little concerned about the dividing of the responsibilities of the company between two different Ministers to two aspects of its work. Here is something which may require further thought. There is a difficult problem because the company is undertaking two different kinds of activity, tourist promotion and promotion of transport services on the one hand, and on the other hand, promotion of industrial development, and housing associated with industrial development. Yet, it is logical that it should do this. The idea of having a local promotional body concerned with the whole range of local activities operating at local level with local people involved is something that one must welcome and endorse, but the problem of co-ordinating this local development with the very split-up responsibilities of Government Departments is a difficult one. Here difficulties and problems may arise and the answer that has been found so far may not prove satisfactory. I gather from what the Minister said that the widening of the responsibilities of the company will be accompanied by the provision of extra funds and one presumes that there will be no question of slowing down the growth of resources available to Shannon itself when these responsibilities are spent.

There is something Senator Quinlan said implying that there could be a saving in infrastructures by developing in locations rather than building a new town. There is some truth in this, but it can be exaggerated. The fact is, and we have to face this and we are not facing it squarely, that the infrastructure [197]— housing, water supply, sewerage, roads, transport services—in most Irish towns is not at all adequate for the extended needs of industrialisation. There is a delusion in Ireland that our towns and villages are in a position to absorb, with their present facilities—and I should have mentioned educational facilities—new industries, making a fuller use of existing services without the need of expansion of services. This is the kind of idea people have in offices in Dublin but people who live in those towns tend to see the effect of a new industry starting, with some hundreds of new jobs being created, young people coming in and having children, and affecting schools. People at local level have not this delusion. It is something we have to watch because there is this idea of delusion that it will do. A good blurb is to plonk down an industry in an Irish town and leave it at that. A lot of our difficulties arise from this approach. The fact is that most Irish towns are not adapted to the establishment of new industries of any size and require considerable infrastructural investment to make them so established. There is no Irish town, even, perhaps, Dublin, that could absorb a really substantial new industry, though Northern Ireland picks up usually at the rate of about one per year—a new industry employing say, 2,000 people. People have said to me that if they have to face the problem of such an industry, where to put it, how to provide housing for the workers, water, sewerage, transport and educational facilities and do this in the time that the industry could get established it would be a nightmare and quite impossible. There is nowhere in Ireland that could accept a large industry, nowhere in the Republic. No attempt is being made to develop our infrastructure, to absorb that and we are codding ourselves in thinking that we are competing for large-scale industrialisation. Such industries go up automatically in Northern Ireland which is geared for them, and we get the small ones.

Seán Ó Donnabháin: Information on Sean ODonovan  Zoom on Sean ODonovan  Is this within the scope of the Bill?

Mr. Garret FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  It is relevant [198] to this question of the extension of the activities of this body. I do not believe that when this body applies itself to industrialisation and establishing industrial estates in other places that it will achieve the kind of savings Senator Quinlan thought. It will find itself involved in the same problems of housing and other infrastructure without a chance—not as acute, not as immediate, nevertheless, the same problem.

The Minister in making provision for the extension of the activities of the Department in this way should not fail to make financial provision to enable it to undertake this kind of work. We should not feel that because it will be working in old-established, and not new, areas that there is no need to provide for housing, no need to give it authority to build houses and that this problem will look after itself. It will not. Experience throughout Ireland has shown that this problem does not look after itself.

The company should do the kind of job that is done, the integrated job of looking after the industry—I was going to say from the cradle to the grave, but let us hope there will not be a grave—of finding workers, training them, housing them, providing telephones, cutting all the red tape, if this job is to be done elsewhere as successfully and effectively as at Shannon. That is why it has been a success; the company is there to do things, where there are new industries to nurse them along. It will need the same kind of authority and resources and must not be put into a different position in other areas because of some confusion of thought leaving people to believe that in other areas this difficulty about infrastructure will not arise.

Reference has been made to the problems of the EI factory. We have not faced this issue properly to date. We are all to blame in varying degrees for the situation that has arisen. Any of us officially or unofficially who have had occasion to assist in any way in getting new industries to this country, or helping them to come here, or persuading industrialists that this is a good country to come to, must feel a little [199] guilty of over-simplifying this problem. I feel guilty myself. I know I have been tempted to say to visiting industrialists who wanted to know whether workers have to be in a union that there are foreign factories established here and the workers are not in unions. While normally it must be the case that workers are members of trade unions, and I personally recommend they should be, it has not been absolutely essential, apparently, and I think that at official level the thinking has been the same and things have been enthusiastically said in efforts to get new industries here. We should have, I suggest, a stronger line to the effect that we would recommend against any firm coming here which is not prepared to act as any Irish firm would do in the matter of labour unionisation, in the light of events at Shannon.

Finally, I should like to congratulate the company for the imaginative efforts they have been making in tourist promotion. They have done things which have not been done by anyone else in the country where we have not shown the imagination needed in matters such as folk villages and medieval banquets. It is a pity that other bodies interested in tourism cannot show the same imagination and undertake the same remarkable work the Shannon Company have done.

Dr. Sheehy Skeffington: Information on Owen Lancelot Sheehy Skeffington  Zoom on Owen Lancelot Sheehy Skeffington  I shall start by complimenting the Minister and thanking him for the very detailed review he gave of the development and success of this company which, I think, is striking from the figures he quoted which are quite startling in respect of the size of the exports it has been possible to achieve and the continued growth process which the figures reveal. We all agree that the Minister is one who in a matter like this takes a good deal of trouble to gather together the facts and place them before the Seanad for a debate of this kind. This opening speech of his is something we will keep for the purpose of future reference for observing, I hope, continued growth.

My main object in getting up is to say something on the question of the [200] EI strike and the whole set up there. It has been mentioned by two or three Senators already. The first question is can we reasonably expect the Government to interfere? I think it is probably legitimate to ask and to expect the Government to do a bit of quiet talking to the company, a bit of persuasion, but I do not feel this is a matter in which the Government can, at this juncture at any rate, intervene directly. Senator FitzGerald has implied that we might warn in a friendly way incoming industrialists that our way of life as far as industry is concerned usually includes organised labour. I do not think it would be right, however, for the Government to try by legislation to say: “No foreign company shall come in unless they are prepared to employ trade union labour”, for the reason, of course, that we do not do that to Irish companies. Personally, I do not think it would be a good thing to do it.

I am in favour of the free organisation of labour. I am all in favour of all industries and businesses being organised on a union basis but I favour very strongly the voluntary principle and it weakens trade unionism in the end if you have either coercion from Government level or coercion by firms. It is true that in this company—so I gather —the wages and conditions in all probability are as good as trade union conditions outside or possibly better, but we must recognise, and I wish the company would recognise, that their employees would recognise, that working class standards are indivisible and that it ought to be the case that Irish workers, whether employed by a non-Irish company or not should be all for one and one for all and workers who may be paid trade union rates or more without having to pay trade union dues, without being organised in trade unions, ought not to be encouraged to say to the rest of the workers outside: “I am all right Jackeen.”

I should like to put the question in relation to this particular strike as to whether there may not be a tendency— I am not thinking of any particular union—on the part of some Irish trade unions to be just a little bit lazy and to expect their work of organisation to [201] be done for them by companies, compulsorily rather than by persuasion of the workers involved. If the company were to compel all their workers to join any given trade union, eventually that union would not be as strong basically as if the union had been given a full right to go in to persuade the workers to join on the voluntary principle. I feel that a trade union which asks that the company shall do its job for it and exert coercion, is in a sense abdicating its own role which is to persuade— and I understand they have powerful methods of persuasion—rather than to coerce. It should be possible for an active and inspired trade union to win the workers in any industry by an appeal to solidarity rather than by an appeal to the company to force all their workers into a particular union.

We cannot ask the Government in relation to companies of this kind to insist that they employ only trade union labour for the reason, among others, that we do not do this with Irish companies. However, we could ask the Government in such a case and in future cases to indicate to such prospective employers from outside that they will find a great deal of smoothness in the relationship between workers and managers if they are prepared to observe the ordinary practices of commercial and industrial and working class life in this country which as a rule includes organised labour, labour which is prepared to speak for itself, to state its requests and demands about conditions and wages, in an orderly and organised manner which cannot but redound to the credit and benefit of the companies concerned in the final analysis.

Moreover, it is always possible for a large foreign company such as EI to treat Ireland as something of a lost leader in relation to employment of labour, and such companies may be prepared to lose money on certain factories in Europe, if they happen to be American companies, in order to show what can be done by refusing the right to workers to organise themselves in trade unions. It should be patiently but persistently pointed out to such employers that we are not prepared to allow our workers to be used [202] in this manner.

I repeat that the role of the Government in this matter in relation to the whole industrial estate at Shannon is one of moral suasion and persuasion rather than coercion and I state with confidence that the present Minister is well aware of that fact and is extremely well equipped for that kind of action. My hope is that he is engaging in such persuasive tactics behind the scenes as will bring this miserable strike soon to an end for the greater benefit of the whole Shannon area.

Mr. Childers: Information on Erskine Hamilton Childers  Zoom on Erskine Hamilton Childers  I want to thank the House for the general reception of the Bill but I want to make it quite clear, without referring to anything which has been said about Fine Gael and industry, that the Shannon Free Airport Development Act was passed in 1959 and that there is nothing about the Industrial Grants Act whatever in it. I have been very proud to have been associated with the whole scheme since its whole concept was thought of, designed and developed by the former Taoiseach, Mr. Seán Lemass. I must say that I have met the executives of the Board very frequently, practically every fortnight and I know that the Fine Gael Party has not been exclusively connected with the development of this company. Ministers should not boast about their own achievements but it is only right that I should make this position clear to the House.

Senator Quinlan referred to the total cost per worker of setting up an industry. I will not go into details but we did go into an examination of the total cost per worker and, based on what the companies themselves told us as to the number they would eventually employ, it works out at a very moderate figure indeed, something between £400 and £600 per worker.

Senator FitzGerald referred to the restrictions placed on the Government's activities during the credit restriction period. I make no apologies for these. We went through a difficult period and we handled it in an exemplary fashion as is depicted by the recovery in 1967 and by the recovery in output in exports. That is reflected [203] in the continual growth of the Shannon Industrial Estate. Reference has been made to the EI dispute but I do not propose to go into detail on that matter because the Minister for Labour has made it quite clear that it is his purpose to bring about an amicable settlement of the dispute. I note the constructive observations made on the matter by Senator Sheehy Skeffington and I must say that I agree with a great deal of what he has said. However, the Minister for Labour is doing his very best to bring about a settlement and I hope his efforts will meet with success.

Industrial relations at Shannon taken as a whole are very good. That is partly due to the magnificent aftercare services offered there. The preindustrial care services and the aftercare industrial services there are the two special factors of the company which are of much more importance than the factors that it is a customs free airport and that grants are given to it in a particular way. Senator Quinlan also referred to the various schemes that could be devised in connection with the operation of the industrial estate and to its extent in relation to the participation of workers. While this particular matter does not relate to the Bill before the House I have noted these developments and watched their progress in the world of Europe. The progress is slow but progress is being made. Some companies give bonuses and some have made arrangements for their workers to purchase ordinary shares. There has also been progress towards a wider community of effort and some industries in this country do have workers' councils and consultative industrial councils such as they have in CIE where workers and employers discuss the activities of the company. It would take me too long to go into detail on this matter but the more workers feel that they have a part in the actual operations of their industry and the more they know about it the better. I must agree that communication between employers and workers are very defective in this country and I can assure the House that the Shannon [204] Free Airport Development Company always stresses the concept of good communication between employer and worker in one form or another.

Senator Kennedy spoke about the tourist potential. The total tourist income expended in Clare is about £1½ million, of which a considerable proportion comes through the Castle Schemes. Bord Fáilte has been taking into account the new restrictions on travel from the United States which take the form of a five per cent duty on air tickets and a limitation on the amount of goods that can be brought into the country by travellers. Senator FitzGerald dealt in detail with the amount of our contributions to the company. In 1966-67 the grant was £365,000. In 1967-68 it was £500,000 and in 1968-69 the amount is £700,000. These are the amounts we have budgeted for and it will be seen that we have doubled the grant-in-aid in two years. These provide for running expenses, promotion and grants to industry.

Senator FitzGerald also referred to the necessity of providing servicing facilities for industry but I would not agree that practically not a town in Ireland is in a condition to service industry. The whole concept underlying the extension of SFADCO to Limerick, Clare and the North Riding of Tipperary is that there is a regional plan. There is already a regional organisation of interested parties and a regional tourist company and the idea behind this regional scheme is to establish growth centres. Certain towns are better situated for the establishment of larger industries and in these areas large industries will be provided but it has been found possible also to secure industries more suitable to the small towns. The purpose is to follow a specific plan of development from which we hope most of the towns will derive benefit.

Senator FitzGerald asked for the square footage of factory space. On 31st March, 1967, it was 1,000,000 square feet. A year later it was 1,100,000 square feet and this is the accommodation for five extra factories. Square footage is perhaps not the best [205] criterion because employment increases in older factories take place at a faster rate than in the new ones.

I think I have dealt with all the matters of importance that were raised in the course of the debate but perhaps I should mention in passing that the Minister for Industry and Commerce and the Industrial Development Authority and the officers of the Department of Industry and Commerce have all been in very close touch with the Board of SFADCO and the Board of SFADCO have given their advice on the subject of regional planning based on their successes in Shannon and there has been no lack of consultation at any time.

In relation to my own sphere of influence in future, that of tourism, the Shannon Free Airport Development Company does collaborate with the local regional tourism authority, with Bord Fáilte and with CIE in order to ensure that the whole tourist effort is co-ordinated in the proper way.

Question put and agreed to.

Agreed to take remaining Stages today.

Bill put through Committee, reported without recommendation, received for final consideration and ordered to be returned to the Dáil.


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