COMMITTEE ON FINANCE. - LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC HEALTH (Vote 36—resumed).

Thursday, 21 May 1925

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 11 No. 18

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Mr. BURKE: Information on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  Zoom on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  The main discussion yesterday evening centred round the road policy of my Department. I was glad to see that Deputy Corish took up a fellow-Deputy on a point respecting the cost of maintenance of roads. I am glad to see that Deputy Corish has begun to realise that local authorities are not in a position to carry out anything like an extravagant policy.

Mr. CORISH: Information on Richard Corish  Zoom on Richard Corish  Does the Minister remember where I ever advocated such an extravagant policy?

Mr. BURKE: Information on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  Zoom on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  I have taken note of the fact that he reproved Deputy Davin for seeming to convey the idea [2007] that local authorities have an unlimited exchequer behind them in financing their various schemes. There is still a considerable amount of arrears in connection with rates. In 1922, when the Government came into office, the amount in arrears was over £2,000,000. At the end of March, 1923, it was £1,740,000. In March, 1924, it was £1,580,000, and at the end of March this year it was £940,000. I expect that since then there has been a considerable reduction, but at the same time the position as regards arrears is not such as to justify extravagant or generous expenditure. Deputy Davin also referred to the fact that it is not proper for the Government to assist road development when they are not doing the same in respect of railways. As Deputy Corish pointed out, it is a false analogy, as railways are privately owned, whereas the roads are for the public, and it is the duty of the State to see that the roads are maintained up to a proper standard. It is the policy of our Department to do our utmost to see that the roads are brought up to a sufficiently high standard to maintain modern traffic in reason. It is difficult for me at this stage to outline any policy with regard to roads. Anything I have to say in that respect is limited by the fact that I have a Roads Advisory Committee. That Committee has not yet published a report. It is considering this whole matter with regard to roads, and I may say that there is agreement between the Committee and myself. From conversations, I think I can go so far as to say, that we are united in a policy of picking out certain main roads in the country for special development, and it is our policy to get what subsidies we can, either by way of advancement or otherwise, for the development of these roads. There has been considerable agitation in the Press, by deputation, and otherwise as to what line these roads are to take.

At this stage I am not in a position to lay down either what the mileage of the roads will be, or what direction they will take. The object is to develop these roads at a high standard [2008] along the routes most necessary, both from a commercial and a tourist point of view. There will be a difference of opinion when it comes to a final choice —first of all, as to what direction the roads will take, and, secondly, as to what type of construction will be adopted. It is our policy to do the utmost we are financially capable of to develop certain routes to withstand modern traffic. I believe that ultimately it will mean that we will have to restrict in some way lorries over a certain weight using the roads. Local authorities have at present considerable powers in that respect. I believe that they have power to prevent lorries over a certain weight going on any road at all, but, so far, they have not made use of that power. The question has been raised about the speed of these lorries. They are not allowed to go at a speed greater than twelve miles an hour, and if they exceed that their drivers are liable to prosecution, just the same as motor drivers driving ordinary touring cars, when they exceed fifteen miles an hour inside, and twenty miles an hour outside, a city. From an administrative point of view this statute has not so far been enforced as vigorously as it might be, and we have taken the matter up with the Minister for Justice so that he may take steps with the Gárda Síochána authorities to see that the law is carried out in this respect. That is about all we can do at present.

Deputy Gorey has referred to the fact that we seem to be wasting time in experimenting on the kind of construction there should be for roads. We are in touch with the activities of other countries in this respect. Our representative attends the International Road Congresses and hears the views of technical representatives from other countries, and we have that information available, but Deputies must realise that road construction is a highly-technical matter, and that it is influenced to a great extent by climatic considerations. A road which is efficient in one country may not be efficient in another. I am most desirous to get roads constructed whose maintenance can be guaranteed for a certain [2009] period. That is the only way we can be sure that we will get value for our money. It has been suggested that a policy of concrete roads would be best for this country. I have had experience of these roads in America, and they seem to be a great success, but I have been informed—I do not know whether there is anything in it—that the climate of this country, except in special circumstances, is not suitable to concrete roads, that it takes a considerable period to lay down concrete to make sure that the roads will stand. Firms engaged in constructing concrete roads are very slow to give a maintenance guarantee for any length of time. For that reason it is necessary for us to carry out certain experiments ourselves. We have done so on the Naas Road, where we have laid out certain stretches in different materials such as tar, bitumen and tar macadam. That will give us a practical demonstration of the value of these different systems of road maintenance. We have, in other parts of the country, carried out experiments in different kinds of road maintenance—and not merely experiments but useful work. Deputies cannot be blind to the fact that a considerable improvement has been made in the streets of Dublin, and also in Cork, and throughout the country generally. In Limerick there has been a large scheme of concrete roads undertaken, and I believe a concrete road is a particularly desirable form of highway in Limerick city because of the bad foundations. It is necessary to have a good foundation if you are to have a good road surface. Deputy Gorey has referred to the fact that he has seen barrels of tar lying very close together along the various highways throughout the country, but particularly along the Naas Road. He said that he afterwards saw those tar barrels taken away, and he assumed from that that the tar was of inferior quality.

Mr. GOREY: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  What I meant to say was that on the Naas Road I saw the tar spread, but on the road from Naas to Waterford I saw the tar barrels collected and taken in.

[2010]Mr. BURKE: Information on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  Zoom on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  That is likely to be accounted for by the fact that last year was a particularly bad year for doing anything like road work. Spraying the road with tar is work that can only be done in dry weather. If you have wet weather and spread the tar on the road, it will not give you a good wearing surface. Probably when the surveyors saw that there was no likelihood of fine weather, they took up the barrels again and kept them for a later period.

The whole question of road structure is very technical, and those tar preparations and bitumen preparations have to be very scientifically tested. The firms who are laying down these roads have to employ skilled chemists to test the mixtures of those roads, because if the mixture is not up to a certain specification the road will not stand up to modern traffic. I cannot outline our policy in any detail, because I have first to get an expression of opinion from the Roads Advisory Committee and come to an agreement with them on the matter. But it is our policy to develop a system of main roads throughout the country that will be feeders and enable goods to be distributed to and from all the main centres of the country. There has been criticism, I think, by the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, about the roads in Cork. In that particular place, the work on the roads had not been completed at the time. The road was to have been treated with bitumen, and he happened to be travelling on it before that operation was carried out. Accordingly, the road was probably not satisfactory from his point of view.

Deputy Johnson has recommended the speeding up of our policy with regard to roads, in view of the prevailing unemployment. In carrying out our road programme last year, that was an object that was present to my mind all the time. In carrying out our policy, we were anxious, as far as possible, to give relief and oftentimes our road policy was, to a very great extent, determined by the number of unemployed in various sections. But there is this difficulty about taking that factor into consideration, that the higher the standard of efficiency to which you [2011] bring your roads the less scope there will be for employment from the amount of money expended. A high-class surface on a road will mean a much higher proportion of money spent on material than is spent on labour, whereas if you go in for an ordinary water-bound, macadam road, a much higher proportion of the money is spent on labour. That is one of the difficulties that has to be faced.

I expect, perhaps within the next couple of months, to be able to come before the Dáil and outline a comprehensive road policy. Reference has been made to the fact that the Roads Advisory Committee has made recommendations with regard to the duties on motor cars. That report has not yet come officially before me, and, accordingly, I cannot deal with it. At any rate, it is a matter that will concern the Minister for Finance more intimately, perhaps, than it concerns me. Any policy that is developed in respect of it will have to be developed in conjunction with the Minister for Finance and, as the Minister said in his Budget speech, it may be the subject of a supplementary Bill.

Mr. MORRISSEY: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  Would the Minister tell us when this £1,000,000 for road work, that we heard so much about, will be made available? I am sure the Minister will realise that there is a great deal of unemployment at the present time, and the policy pursued by the Department of Local Government, with regard to road work, did certainly give very much needed relief in the country during the past year. It would be very helpful if the Minister would tell us when his Department hopes to be in a position to make this £1,000,000 available for road work.

Mr. BURKE: Information on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  Zoom on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  The answer to the question put by the Deputy is involved in the general policy. When we have formulated our policy and put it before the Minister for Finance, he will be in a position to state when the advance will be available and how much money will be advanced for the purpose. We have to put our proposals before the Minister for Finance before he can come to a decision on that matter.

[2012]Mr. MORRISSEY: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  The Minister himself made a very definite statement a short time ago, which appeared in the papers, to the effect that there would be £1,000,000 made available for road work this year. I want to know if it is true that £1,000,000 will be made available for the reconstruction of roads, even if the Minister cannot tell us exactly when he hopes to have it available.

Mr. BURKE: Information on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  Zoom on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  That will depend to a great extent on the Minister for Finance.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  Are we to understand that the Minister made a definite statement that there would be £1,000,000 available for road reconstruction this year?

Mr. BURKE: Information on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  Zoom on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  I said I believed there would be—I did not say it definitely.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  Then it was only a statement for a public meeting. I am disappointed that the Minister told us, in almost so many words, that there is no chance of spending any large amount of money on reconstruction of roads this year. He hopes within the next month or two that he will be able to put before the Dáil a comprehensive road policy, but he is waiting for the report of the Roads Advisory Committee; when it reaches him he will consider it; he is more or less in agreement with what he believes to be the wishes and desires of the Roads Advisory Committee, but when he has his scheme ready he must place it before the Department of Finance. Following their usual practice— a necessary practice—they will inquire into the scheme very closely and consider it in relation to the finances of the country. By that time the Dáil will be on vacation, and by the time the Dáil resumes we shall be in the winter. Then we shall be told that the winter is not an appropriate time for big schemes of road construction, so that I deduct from that that it is not expected by the Department, or that it is not intended by the Department, that there shall be any considerable sum of money spent on road reconstruction this year; that we [2013] really must wait until the spring of next year before this £1,000,000 commences to be spent. I am very sorry to hear that exposition of the Minister's road policy.

I think all the parties inside and outside the House, and all classes, are agreed upon the necessity for expenditure on reconstructing roads. The matter has been before the Department of Local Government for two years in a definite form. The Roads Advisory Committee has been sitting, I think, over twelve months. Frequently this question has been the subject of discussion in the House. Frequently we have had intimations of one kind or other from the Minister, and from other Ministers, that there would be large schemes set going and a large amount of money spent. Now we learn that there has not yet been evolved a definite policy and that there is not likely to be any expenditure outside the ordinary this year. That statement will be received with very great regret by road-users and by people who might have reasonable ground for hoping that they would be employed on road making.

In regard to the Minister's reference to the disproportion between the amount of labour expended on the higher class of roads, as compared with the amount of labour expended on the old-fashioned methods of road-making, I quite agree that there may be, here and there through the country, people who think that because a certain method of construction employs a greater amount of labour, and in maintenance will continue to employ a still greater amount of labour, therefore, that method should be adopted. There may be a few people, here and there, having that view, but it by no means represents the view of responsible people in any section of the community. For my part—and I think I can speak on behalf of all my colleagues in this matter—I would desire to see the best possible roads made, even if they never required in the future another halfpenny to be spent on them. We would like to see that policy of building the best roads put into effect at the earliest possible time, [2014] and I do not think that the Minister should hesitate about embarking on a high-class road reconstruction scheme, because of the possibility that the maintenance of the road in the future will employ a fewer number of men. That is a preposterous suggestion. The Minister instanced the new concrete road through Limerick city, and reminded me of a story I used to hear about Limerick. A person returning from America to his ancestral home, seeing the condition of Limerick streets, made a proposal to the Corporation—this may be apocryphal— that if they would pay him for fifteen years the amount of money that they had been paying for the upkeep of the roads for the previous fifteen years, he would repave the roads free—I think it was wood paving at that time. It is alleged that it was because of certain fears that there would be no need to sweep the streets in future that the offer was refused. That may be the case in Limerick. I do not know whether there is anyone here from Limerick city who would dare to contradict it. But certainly there is nobody in these days with any responsibility who would suggest that you must put down a road in the hope that it will employ a large number of men in the maintenance of it. I hope the Minister will not allow that thought to influence his road policy.

I would again press upon the Minister and upon the Minister for Finance, that they should assist each other in speeding up this position so that there may be large schemes put into operation this summer. It will be a very great disappointment if the operation of the decisions of the Department in regard to road construction has to be postponed until the spring. There are people who are looking forward to a large number of tourists coming over with their motor cars, and who think that the tourist traffic will make of this country a new heaven. If there are people, as there seem to be, who imagine that the tourist traffic will make a great nation of this country, I hope they will press upon the Minister the necessity of hurrying on this scheme of road construction.

[2015]Mr. P.J. EGAN: Information on Patrick Joseph Egan  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Egan  I was very pleased to hear the statement of Deputy Johnson that we must have efficient roads at all costs, irrespective of whether that may mean a smaller amount of labour employed in the future or not. It must be apparent to everybody that even if we have to wait a little while for good roads we must prepare a scheme which will give us efficient roads. Deputy Johnson complained about the Minister's delay in announcing his road policy. It is a matter of regret to us who take an interest in this matter that a definite and progressive road policy has not been produced before now. On the other hand, we must realise that necessarily the Minister finds himself in the hands of the Roads Advisory Committee. Personally I have never quite understood why this committee were taking such a long time to produce their report and to advise the Minister, so that he could produce a road policy. I understand, however, from various conversations I have had with people who have had to do with this committee that a great many unforeseen difficulties arose, and that the whole subject, from the point of view of a national policy of road making, is infinitely greater than a great many people thought at the time they undertook to sit on that committee.

The Minister made some references to lorries. As an owner of lorries I would like to reply to some observations which I heard from some of the Farmers' Party yesterday. There appears to be an idea in the heads of certain members of that Party that lorries should be very strictly curtailed in the weights of the loads they carry. I would agree with that up to a certain point, but I think it would be a more progressive policy if roads of sufficient strength were built to support any reasonable commercial traffic which this country may require. That, surely, is a progressive idea. It is not progressive that the weights of the lorries should be cut down, and that wretched roads should be supplied instead.

Mr. GOREY: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  When we get a proper petrol tax we will let you have them.

[2016]Mr. EGAN:  Another matter which I should like to refer to, as Deputy Gorey has interrupted, is that these heavy lorries are running for the purpose of supplying the farming community with goods. That is a thing they very often forget. In my district, which is a very important barley and grain district generally, like part of Deputy Gorey's constituency, I have often been struck by the tremendous amount of time wasted by farmers in the particular way in which they get their barley into the market. I think if roads were sufficiently strongly constructed, and depots were provided at certain cross-roads from which these heavy motor lorries would deliver the barley into the concerns which use it in large quantities, that very considerable time would be saved, time which the farmers could very profitably spend looking after their crops in this very uncertain climate of ours.

Some remarks were also made about the excessive speed at which these lorries travel. As an owner of lorries, I have no hesitation in saying that it would be a very great relief to us if the speed of lorries could be regulated, because it costs us a great deal of money in the upkeep of lorries, especially going over indifferent roads, if the drivers exceed the speed limit. It does not pay us at all. It is a thing which we are utterly opposed to, and which I sincerely hope will be checked in the near future. The Minister made some general reference to the structure of roads. Candidly, I am rather surprised to hear that his experts have advised him that concrete roads would not be suitable for this country.

Mr. BURKE: Information on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  Zoom on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  I did not make that statement. I merely said that that is a view that has been expressed. I did not say my advisers had told me that.

Mr. EGAN:  I am glad to hear that qualification, because I may say I am in complete disagreement with the suggestion that concrete roads would not suit this country. I have a certain amount of experience of concrete work myself, and probably the greatest enemies that concrete has are the extremes of heat and cold. In America [2017] concrete roads have been made a tolerable success, and in that country they have infinitely greater variations of heat and cold—greater heat and greater cold—than we have in this country. I do not pose as an expert, but I am not impressed with the suggestion that concrete roads would not be a success here. I should like to know what the experiences have been, as far as they are known up to the present, in connection with the asphalt roads and whether they are suitable for country towns. Everybody who goes through the country must be impressed at the very untidy and unhealthy conditions of our towns, owing to the fact that the roads are made largely of what is very often completely unsuitable limestone, which dissolves into mud within a very few days of its being placed on the roads. I look forward to the day when we can come to the Government and get grants of money for the purpose of making the roads in our towns of concrete or asphalt, if it were only from the hygienic point of view. In the summer time this limestone is pulverised into dust, which deposits itself on the meat in the butchers' shops, permeates the whole atmosphere, and must necessarily be very bad for the health of the people. I should like if the Minister could give us some indication as to the cost of this Trinidad asphalt which is being laid down in Dublin, Cork and Limerick.

I have a very strong recollection of the city of Limerick as being a very dirty town a number of years ago. I have not had the pleasure of visiting it since these concrete roads were put down, but I am quite certain that the general appearance of the city must be vastly improved, and that the general health of the public will also improve as a result of the laying down of concrete roads. I am glad to know that the Minister has a road policy in view, and that we may expect to hear it in the near future, because I am convinced that it will be welcomed very heartily by the whole country.

Mr. HEWAT: Information on William Hewat  Zoom on William Hewat  Deputy Johnson is afraid that the work of reconstructing the roads will not be proceeded with as rapidly as he would like. He omitted, [2018] however, to express any gratitude to the Government for the very large amount of money which was spent on the roads in the last year.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  We are on this year's estimate.

Mr. HEWAT: Information on William Hewat  Zoom on William Hewat  Yes, but in looking forward to favours to come one would think it was politic to recognise an obligation for what has been given in the past.

Mr. CORISH: Information on Richard Corish  Zoom on Richard Corish  That is not your policy.

Mr. HEWAT: Information on William Hewat  Zoom on William Hewat  The question of the making and maintenance of roads has up to the present, unfortunately of necessity, been bound up very much with the question of unemployment. The Minister, I think, indicated that a lot of that work was undertaken in connection with providing employment. I do not say that the money was wasted, but I do say that it has rather meant spending a lot of money in an uneconomic way.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  That is what we are against.

Mr. HEWAT: Information on William Hewat  Zoom on William Hewat  A great deal of the money spent on the roads, while it certainly has made them passable, has not put them in such a condition that they will retain their surface for any length of time. The real need at the present time is a reconstruction of roads to enable them to bear modern traffic, as it has developed. On this question of roadmaking I do not think one can talk in an airy fashion as to any one particular scheme being suitable for the whole country. As far as I can see, any road policy will have to take into consideration the question of the traffic that the roads concerned will have to bear. It is perfect nonsense to talk of an expenditure on rural roads on the lines of an asphalt surface or a concrete surface. There are certain main roads on which the traffic is very heavy, where it would pay to spend a very considerable amount on really substantial reconstruction, and in some cases it would pay to make your surface and your foundation of asphalt or some other durable material. But the [2019] average country road will not require any such treatment as that. The main thing in connection with the roads will be the supplying of a foundation capable of maintaining the surface you put on it, and that surface need not be made, even on the main roads in many cases, of the expensive materials that have been talked about here.

I would like to say that I rather agree with the Minister and disagree with Deputy Egan when he talks about concrete roads as being suitable for this country.

Mr. EGAN:  The main roads, I said.

Mr. HEWAT: Information on William Hewat  Zoom on William Hewat  Even for the main roads I do not agree that it is a suitable surface. I agree that as a foundation it would be satisfactory, but as a surface I do not think that concrete will be either lasting or suitable. That, of course, is only an expression of opinion. Deputy Egan may have a better opinion than I have, but, Deputy Egan having expressed his opinion, I take the opportunity of expressing mine. As I have said, this question of road making is rather mixed up with unemployment. The Minister to-day is, I take it, considering, in conjunction with other people, the question of a road policy for the future. Deputy Johnson would rather have the work proceeded with during the summer months. Against that, the rural need, in connection with employment, is during the summer months. One would expect that in the summer the farmers would be able to absorb a large number, if not all, of the unemployed that are about the country. Therefore the need is really not a need that occurs so much during the summer as during the autumn, winter and spring, and I do not think that the Minister ought to be influenced to proceed with a very large scheme of road construction before he has the subject fully considered so that he will not make any mistakes as to the lines on which he is to go.

Mr. SEARS: Information on William Sears  Zoom on William Sears  I would like to express approval of the view taken by Deputy Egan with regard to concrete roads. I doubt very much that the Minister was [2020] right in expressing a doubt as to the suitability of concrete for the Irish climate. Concrete might be a new thing in this country, but it is not a new substance for road making. It has been tried in America on a very large scale. There are concrete roads made in America to a length that would cover the entire mileage of the Free State roads, and they have been so successful that engineers in road making would not now recommend any other kind of road. As we all know, and as Deputy Egan pointed out, there are greater changes in climate in America than we have in Ireland. The only thing that can be urged about the Irish climate is the difficulty of laying down the road. It requires a certain amount of dry weather in order to lay down concrete. But dry weather is necessary to lay concrete in connection with any kind of work, and going through the country you see scores of cottages and bridges erected in concrete. If they can build concrete houses and bridges in this climate surely they can make roads.

I agree with what Deputy Johnson said about the necessity for laying down good roads. The roads are in a deplorable condition, though I must say they have been vastly improved in the last two years. The system of road making, however, has been such that you might say, where they were making a few miles of road, when they were completing the last hundred yards it was necessary to go back to where they started and commence all over again. Even in the case of steam-rolled roads I have seen that thing occur. They last only a very short time. Then the injury to health caused by the dust must be very great. Dust in the summer time and mud in the winter make some roads intolerable. In America they have found that not alone is a concrete road the best road but that it is the cheapest road. I have seen comparative figures for the different materials used in roads, and they show that the concrete road will last for thirty years. We know that other materials last only four or five years. For maintaining a concrete road the [2021] average cost per mile is £233. The cost for other roads is double and treble. So that not only is concrete the best surface and the healthiest surface, but it is the cheapest surface in the long run. Of course the initial cost is very heavy, and it is the only thing that deters us from urging that our main roads should be made of concrete. Other methods of road making seem to be entirely out of date and a waste of money. The giving of relief in the way of employment seems to be the only thing that recommends the old system. Staffs of men have to be always employed on them. Otherwise you will go from one pot-hole into another on many of the roads at the present time.

Mr. HEFFERNAN: Information on Michael Richard Heffernan  Zoom on Michael Richard Heffernan  I want to bring a matter before the Minister, and I think now is the time for doing it. The matter I want to call attention to is the cost of legal proceedings against defaulting ratepayers. I understand that in many cases legal proceedings are being taken in the county courts by Civil Bill, when the rate collectors have the option of taking the cases to summary courts by means of an ordinary summons. The only effect of the system of bringing defaulters before the county court is that they are involved in extra legal costs. I would like to know from the Minister if he approves of that policy. I can furnish him with concrete instances of cases which have been brought before the county court. Yesterday, in regard to this sub-head, I asked the Minister for an explanation of the increase of £200 in the salary of his secretary. I want to know if that is the ordinary scale of increase, or if it is a special increase, and if so, why it has been granted. I want to say one or two things with regard to Deputy Egan's remarks concerning motor lorries and the question of the establishment of main roads in general. I would like to suggest to the Minister that before he would definitely evolve a policy he should visualise clearly what his intention is in regard to the use of the roads which are to be established. If I understand him correctly, I believe it is intended that the main roads should be used largely for the carrying [2022] of heavy traffic long distances. If that is to be the policy I would suggest to the Minister that it is only right that those who get the advantages of the road for that purpose should be made to pay.

A DEPUTY:  Not the farmers.

Mr. GOREY: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  It comes back to them.

Mr. HEFFERNAN: Information on Michael Richard Heffernan  Zoom on Michael Richard Heffernan  These main roads at the present time are being used in competition with the railroads. We have heavy lorries travelling over roads running side by side with the railroads, when the natural way for that traffic to go is on the railroads. It means that the owners of these lorries are getting the free use of the highways, and I would like to know is it right or just that that should be continued. The ratepayers of the country are not really getting the advantage of that motor traffic. There is no indication that goods are being sold more cheaply because of this facility that has been granted to the owners of these lorries. The indication is that goods are being sold more dearly and that profiteering is taking place. Doubtless the Minister for Finance will be able to tell us if it is a fact, because the accounts of these traders come before him from time to time in connection with income tax.

Mr. BLYTHE: Information on Ernest Blythe  Zoom on Ernest Blythe  I have no information about income tax returns and I am not able to get any information. The Revenue Commissioners are sworn not to disclose any information about individual cases or persons.

Mr. HEFFERNAN: Information on Michael Richard Heffernan  Zoom on Michael Richard Heffernan  I did not suggest that he should give us the information, but I said doubtless he is in possession of information which would show the actual state of affairs.

Mr. BLYTHE: Information on Ernest Blythe  Zoom on Ernest Blythe  No, I am not in possession of the information at all.

Mr. GOREY: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  The Commissioners. I should say, are in possession of the actual facts.

Mr. HEFFERNAN: Information on Michael Richard Heffernan  Zoom on Michael Richard Heffernan  We can take it that the information does not come to the Minister.

[2023]Mr. BLYTHE: Information on Ernest Blythe  Zoom on Ernest Blythe  It does not. They are forbidden by their oaths.

Mr. HEFFERNAN: Information on Michael Richard Heffernan  Zoom on Michael Richard Heffernan  Anyhow that is the state of affairs, and it is really having a bad effect on the rural roads. One of the difficulties in connection with the rural roads is that practically all the short-haul traffic is going on the public roads and the long-haul traffic is now being diverted to the public roads. That is not reasonable. The roads should not be maintained for that purpose, and if they are to be maintained I say that we should insist that the people who gain the advantages should pay for the roads which they are allowed to use.

Mr. EGAN:  May I ask can the Deputy give any figures to support his contention that long-haul traffic is carried on the main roads by lorries to any extent?

Mr. HEFFERNAN: Information on Michael Richard Heffernan  Zoom on Michael Richard Heffernan  I suggest that it is not necessary to support that statement by figures. It is obvious to anybody that a good deal of the long-haul traffic is being carried by lorries. It is being carried from Dublin to Cork in some cases. But certainly it is being carried distances of 20, 30 and 40 miles. Apart from that short-haul traffic, there is traffic on, perhaps, ten or fifteen miles of road which competes directly with the traffic on the railroads that run side by side with the ordinary roads. The question of the restriction of the traffic on the roads must arise and must be considered by the Minister. If restrictions are not placed on the carrying of heavy loads on the roads, the people who derive advantages thereby ought to be asked to pay for the use they make of those roads.

Mr. HEWAT: Information on William Hewat  Zoom on William Hewat  What does Deputy Heffernan call a heavy load?

Mr. HEFFERNAN: Information on Michael Richard Heffernan  Zoom on Michael Richard Heffernan  That is a matter of opinion, as Deputy Hewat knows. Certainly a lorry carrying six tons on Irish roads should be considered as carrying a heavy load. It is too heavy a load for many of the roads. I would be inclined to think a four-ton load is excessive. These lorries run on bye-roads [2024] as well as main roads, and in many cases they are cutting them to pieces. Deputy Egan says the lorries are being used for the benefit of the farmers and assist in distributing goods to the farmers. That is not my experience. The lorries are used largely to carry goods from town to town.

Mr. EGAN:  Who buys the goods? Who gets the goods?

Mr. HEFFERNAN: Information on Michael Richard Heffernan  Zoom on Michael Richard Heffernan  The farmer, perhaps, gets some of the goods, but I have no reason to think that the farmer is getting the goods any cheaper because they are being carried from town to town by motor lorry. He should get the goods as cheap as if they were carried by the railways. We have no objection to the encouragement of motor traffic, within reason. We have no objection to the farmers using motor lorries of the lighter type for the purpose of carrying goods to the markets, or for collecting their goods. We have objections to motor traffic as the principal persons who pay rates for the maintenance of the roads. We pay towards the maintenance of the roads which are used for the carrying of traders' goods, and we are not getting any benefit in proportion to the payment that we make.

Mr. GOREY: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  rose.

AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Pádraic Ó Maille  Zoom on Pádraic Ó Maille  Deputy Gorey has already spoken three times.

Mr. GOREY: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  No; only twice.

AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Pádraic Ó Maille  Zoom on Pádraic Ó Maille  I made here a note which indicates that Deputy Gorey spoke three times.

Mr. GOREY: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  I spoke once in connection with the main question and then in connection with sub-head (a).

AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Pádraic Ó Maille  Zoom on Pádraic Ó Maille  It is the same thing. We are discussing the main question now. We must end at some time.

Mr. T.J. O'CONNELL: Information on Tomas O'Connell  Zoom on Tomas O'Connell  I would like to deal with one point which has nothing to do with roads. I do not see any sub-head under which I could bring it. It is a matter that should certainly come under the purview of the Minister, [2025] as Minister for Public Health. I refer to the insanitary condition in which many of the school buildings in the country are at the moment. I would like to know if the inspection of school buildings is part of the duty of a local authority and what steps does the Ministry take to see that a local authority carried out its duty in inspecting these buildings. I do not wish to dilate very much on this matter. I am sure anybody who knows the country is aware that many of these buildings are in an absolutely scandalous condition. We have some very fine school buildings in the country; but, as against that, we have some buildings that are absolute death traps for the children who have to spend the greater part of the day in them. In many cases they are buildings 80 to 100 years old.

There is nobody specifically charged with seeing them kept in good condition. In some cases they are an actual danger to the health, not only of teachers and pupils, but to the people of the whole district. I have seen schools where there was overcrowding, broken floors, out-offices built up against the back-wall, rooms badly ventilated and generally unclean. It has not been, and it is not, the practice of local sanitary officers to visit the schools and report on their condition. We have reports repeatedly from the office of the Department of Education calling attention to the insanitary condition of a school. If the Minister for Education were here he would be able to inform us about that. There is no machinery by which the Minister for Education can remedy the state of affairs which his officers call attention to in this regard. I wish to ask the Minister for Public Health whether, in the interests of public health, any steps are to be taken by his Department to see that whatever authority is responsible for looking after the sanitary condition of schools, will properly do its duty. I would ask the Minister to see that in future that work is attended to and, if schools are found insanitary and a danger to public health, to see that such steps will be taken, with his authority, as will remedy the existing condition of things.

[2026]Mr. SEARS: Information on William Sears  Zoom on William Sears  Deputy Heffernan asked a question with regard to some prosecutions that have taken place in the country. I wish to ask another question with regard to another class of prosecution that is about to take place. That is, the prosecution the Minister is urging public bodies in the country to take against vaccination defaulters. In Wexford there is a large section of the people who have lost all faith in vaccine treatment. They are not alone in that matter. We are aware that experts are divided on the subject. It is all very well to leave matters to the expert, but there are times when the plain man has to decide something for himself. When experts are divided it is time for the plain man to make up his mind as to what attitude he is to adopt. The question of vaccination and of prosecutions attending it are matters that constitute a legacy left to us very kindly by the old regime. The English people, progressive in many ways, progressed also in the matter of vaccination. They held that if a man thought this alleged cure of putting impurities into a child's blood was not a good thing for the child, he should be allowed to neglect vaccination. Accordingly, a law was introduced in England under which parents could omit vaccination, and as a result the English people, having regard to the welfare of their children, availed of this exemption to a large degree.

There are to-day more children exempted from vaccination in England than there are children in all Ireland. The law of exemption that the English passed for themselves was not extended to Ireland. They gave us what was bad. At all events, parents in Ireland to-day are bound by the law to vaccinate their children. In Wexford, however, two or three out of every four children are not vaccinated. I am sure it is a great puzzle to the Local Government Department. I think the law ought to come to the aid of the Minister and not oblige him to prosecute unwilling parents. The people of Wexford can point to their county as being as healthy as any other county in Ireland. In that county deaths from dirt diseases have fallen remarkably in the last 40 years. The statistics compiled [2027] apply to deaths from measles, scarlatina, and other dirt diseases, and deaths from these causes have fallen considerably. Vaccination or other such treatment cannot claim the credit of that decline. The same causes that have brought about the decline in measles and scarlatina brought about a decline in small-pox. The doctors gave all that credit to vaccination, but that is not correct. It is due to improved sanitation and improved housing. Those things have brought about a better state of health in the country. Anyone who was in touch with the old fever hospitals can tell you that 40 or 50 years ago the inhabitants of those hospitals numbered 200 to 250. That number has dropped to 45. That decline in disease has been brought about by good sanitation and better housing.

If you believe in vaccination, you ought to vaccinate the people wholesale, and not build any houses or carry out any schemes of drainage at all. It is not a case of layman versus doctor. The doctors are divided on this point. One of the greatest scientists in Europe for the last 100 years, Alfred Russel Wallace, said the treatment of putting vaccine into a healthy child was a grotesque illusion. When the Editor of a famous Encyclopaedia came to the letter V he wanted an article written on vaccination, and he selected as the writer an eminent pathologist, Dr. Robert Creighton. Dr. Creighton went into the history of vaccination, and, after studying it as exhaustively as possible, he went to the Editor and said: “This thing is a humbug, and there is no justification for it.” The Editor told him to write about it, and he did so. I have a copy of the “Encyclopaedia Britannica,” in which the article appeared. However, the influences were so great that the article had to be omitted from the following edition of the “Encyclopaedia,” and it has not appeared there since. There is another version there now. I saw the other day where the Danish Government proposes to abandon vaccination altogether. It is abandoned to a large extent in England. If vaccination were so effective as is thought in many places, when small-pox visited England, [2028] one would think it would have visited the towns where children were not vaccinated. The fact of the matter is that it visited all the towns indiscriminately. I would ask the Minister not to force any prosecution on Irish parents. They should be entitled to exemption in this matter.

Doctor HENNESSY: Information on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  Zoom on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  It is not my object, in rising, to reply to Deputy Sears. I see Deputy Sir James Craig taking notes, and I think it is his intention to reply to him. I want to refer to this Vote, especially that portion of it dealing with the administration of medical matters. I consider that there are very grave defects, both centrally and locally, in the administration of the Ministry of Local Government and Public Health. I do not want to attribute these defects to the Minister who has achieved some big things in the way of legislation of a medical character. In this country we never failed in the way of medical legislation, but we always failed in its administration. I think I might quote two incidents which came to my notice in recent times, and these, I think, will convince Deputies of the very parlous condition of public health in the Saorstát. Recently I, amongst other medical practitioners, received a circular from one of the largest dry milk factories in the world, urging us to prescribe for children this dry milk, and giving as its reasons for doing so that Dublin, and Irish milk generally, was produced under unsanitary conditions which made it dangerous for children. Such statements are very serious, but I think there is a substratum of truth in them. Our milk is produced under appalling conditions. You have heard of Dublin milk being very bad, but it is only fair to say that it is the cleanest milk produced in Ireland. There is a reasonable effort made here to milk the cows in a clean way, and to keep them clean, with the result that the milk is in a fairly clean state. How Dublin milk got the bad reputation it has is due to the fact that milk from the surrounding counties is produced under dirty conditions.

It may be said that the Dairy Produce [2029] Act will improve all that, but the administration of that Act does not come under this Ministry, and if it is to be effectively administered it will depend on another Act under the administration of the Ministry—namely, the Cowsheds and Dairies Act. That is nominally administered in Ireland, but as for any useful purpose it serves or has served it might not have been passed at all. When that Act was passed, the British Local Government Board, which was then in charge of public health administration, appointed local inspectors for each union. It gave a salary of about £25 a year, or a little higher, but if an inspector were to do his work effectively he would spend that amount in one month travelling around the country. The result is that the work was not done, and we see in every farmyard in Ireland and in the paddocks during the winter months, cows covered with manure. English people coming over here notice the condition of our cows, and they naturally imagine the conditions under which they receive their butter from Ireland. The exportation of butter from Ireland to England has greatly decreased. It is about four millions a year, as compared with New Zealand's ten millions. Irish butter has lost its popularity, and a good deal of that loss is due to the fact that English people are getting greater knowledge of how it is produced. Deputy Gorey looks at me, but this does not concern him seriously. There is no use in being ostrich-like, and putting our heads in the sand, and pretending that things are not as they are. Unless that Cowsheds and Dairies Act is put into practice things will not improve.

I suggest that the Minister for Local Government, though it may require special legislation, should avail of the Civic Guard to act as sanitary inspectors or as inspectors under that Act. They are strangers in their districts, and would not owe their appointment to the sanitary authority, and they would, I believe, properly discharge their duties. It will, of course, be said that the Dairy Produce Act provides for pasteurisation. That is very good [2030] in its way, and it kills the growth of microbes, but it does not destroy the toxins they produce. It may be claimed in connection with pasteurisation, as sanitarians do, that sewage, after undergoing a process of purification, could be used as drinking-water. I could never see that it would become an attractive beverage.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  It is put in black bottles.

Dr. HENNESSY: Information on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  Zoom on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  We will have to get a better reputation for our milk, and see that it is cleaner. The Minister, under the Local Government Act of 1925, has made provision for the appointment of whole-time county medical officers of health. That is a big step forward, but I would like to know what salary the Minister is going to pay them. We know that these officers, or, rather, similar officers, were paid such salaries that the money would be spent on travelling expenses if they were to do their work effectively. Unless the Minister leaves a decent margin for travelling, and a sufficient salary, I do not see how these officers will properly discharge their work. They will do it, of course, but the effects will be obvious when he does not supply them with the means of doing their duty properly. The whole administration of health is, I think, neglected, and I do not think that the establishment of our own Government has improved matters. Under the British system there was a medical commissioner, but his office has been abolished, and no one has been appointed in his place. He had considerable power. He was one of three big men. He had power of initiation, and though he was not able to achieve much, he did a good deal of useful work. I see no provision made in these Estimates for a similar post. We have medical inspectors, but I do not know what part they take in advising as regards medical administration. That is so much for the preventative side of medicine. The curative side is just as much neglected. It is surprising how little we hear from time to time of the work done by dispensary doctors. I see [2031] here a return for the Free State for 1923, which states that there were attended on ticket 483,270 cases. These were new cases. We know that people are very loth to bring tickets to doctors, and anyone with experience of a dispensary will find that not one in three patients brings a ticket. If you multiply the figure I have quoted by three you will get nearer the truth. If they got sufficient tickets they could register one and a-half million a year. Each ticket represents about three visits, and that in all would mean one and a-half million. They do a lot of work, and yet in all they only get £150,000 per annum, which also covers travelling expenses. My experience as a dispensary doctor was that if I were paid at the prevailing garage rate for doing poor law work I would get three times my salary.

AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Pádraic Ó Maille  Zoom on Pádraic Ó Maille  I wish to remind the Deputy that he has exceeded his time.

Sir JAMES CRAIG: Information on Prof. James Craig  Zoom on Prof. James Craig  This is not the first time Deputy Sears has tried to do a little propaganda work in connection with anti-vaccination. On a previous occasion he said that the medical profession was a tired profession and needed a little amusement, and that the only way they could get amusement was by going around with their instruments and inserting dirty lymph in the arms of children. Some other medical Deputies in the Dáil at that time came to me and asked whether I was going to reply to that statement, but I told them that I never waste time in replying to nonsense. Deputy Sears did not go so far this evening, but he made statements which it should not be necessary for me to repel, but, from the attitude of the Dáil, I take it that members would like me to do so. If there has been anything proved beyond doubt in medicine, that fact is that vaccination and re-vaccination prevent the spread of small-pox. It is quite true that in England there have of recent years been epidemics of small-pox, but [2032] Deputy Sears is wrong in his conclusions, because statistics show clearly that small-pox attacked unvaccinated populations and, where it did attack the vaccinated populations, it attacked them in a mild way, and these were cases where re-vaccination had not been done within seven or ten years previously.

Deputy Sears made a statement which ought to be repelled, namely, that the calf lymph used in vaccination is impure, and he stated quite definitely that that lymph was put into children's arms. I am rather surprised that I should have to allude to such a statement as that. The Government have under their control an institution in which the calf lymph is prepared in the most hygienic surroundings and under the supervision of a most experienced bacteriologist, so that a guarantee is given that every particle of this lymph distributed throughout the country for vaccination is absolutely pure. I go this distance with Deputy Sears, that in the old days when lymph was inoculated from arm to arm there was, as we know—and I admit it quite readily—the risk of inoculating syphilis from one arm into another arm and there was a danger of inoculating other blood-poisonous diseases. That has entirely passed away with the pure calf lymph which is now being used for vaccination. I admit there are members of the medical profession who do not believe in vaccination. The medical profession is not free, any more than any other profession, from cranks and from quacks. We have both plenty of cranks and plenty of quacks in the medical profession, who are always ready, if they think they will make anything out of it, to set themselves against any established theory. They know that they will have a following of cranks. If I might venture an opinion, the reason why the people of Wexford have not allowed their children to be vaccinated is because they have been led astray by cranks.

I do not admit for a moment that measles and scarlatina are dirt diseases. If they were dirt diseases, they could have been eliminated altogether. But I do admit, with Deputy Sears, that [2033] progress in hygiene will be attended with a very marked reduction in all these diseases, due to infection. We have almost entirely eliminated typhus fever, and we have, to a large extent, eliminated typhoid fever, because of the very marked improvement in hygienic conditions. I should like that Deputy Sears would have the experience—that is, if he has not been vaccinated—of going into a ward in which small-pox exists. I have treated a good deal of small-pox in my time, and I said here on a previous occasion that I would consider myself guilty of an inhuman act if I allowed a nurse to go into, or if I myself went into a small-pox ward and had not previously been re-vaccinated. I lay stress on this fact, because Deputy Sears said nothing about the question of re-vaccination. I admit that, after seven years or eight years, as the case may be, the immunization that has been given by vaccination disappears, and it is necessary to have re-vaccination carried out, if there is any fear of an epidemic of small-pox. It is just as necessary, in these circumstances, to have re-vaccination as it was necessary to have vaccination in the first instance. Deputy Sears' reference to the article in the “Encyclopaedia Britannica” answers itself. It was eliminated when people in authority had read it and had seen that it was wrong. I would like to have said a word or two in connection with some of the matters touched upon by my colleague (Deputy Dr. Hennessy). On one occasion I made an attempt to describe to the Dáil, and particularly to the Farmer Deputies, what was gained by cleanliness in regard to the production of milk. I am not going into that now, because Deputy Gorey did not want to know about it.

Mr. GOREY: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  I never intervened in any way to prevent the Deputy going into anything.

Sir JAMES CRAIG: Information on Prof. James Craig  Zoom on Prof. James Craig  I was actually giving figures to show the difference between what happens when cleanliness has been adopted in the way of soap and water applied to the man's hands and the cow's udder and the cleanliness——

[2034]AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Pádraic Ó Maille  Zoom on Pádraic Ó Maille  I am sorry to interrupt the Deputy, but it will be necessary for him to be brief. His time will be up in a couple of minutes.

Sir JAMES CRAIG: Information on Prof. James Craig  Zoom on Prof. James Craig  Then I will sit down now. It is not often that I trespass on the time of the House.

Mr. PEADAR DOYLE: Information on Peadar Seán Doyle  Zoom on Peadar Seán Doyle  At the risk of being described as a “crank,” I rise to support Deputy Sears in the request that he has made to the Minister to withhold prosecutions against people throughout the country for failing to have their children vaccinated. I admit that it is a very difficult matter for any layman to attempt to discuss, but I do think that there is nothing wrong in suggesting that if, in England, there is facility given to people who have conscientious objections to vaccination to avoid the necessity for it, the same facility should be given to people here. A fine of a shilling is imposed on anyone refusing to comply with this order in England. When the medical profession differ on a matter of this kind, it should be open to others to do likewise. I do not think that is too much to ask, because I have seen the agonies of children as the result of vaccination, and I have seen results from it which I am not now prepared to describe in detail. I do say that if a man thinks anything about his child and is of opinion that, through vaccination or any other operation of that kind, he is going to subject that child to pain and agony, such as children go through who have been vaccinated, he has a perfect right to make some protest against it. That is not too much to ask, particularly as this law is put into operation only where it affects the working classes.

It is all very well for Deputy Sir James Craig to get up here and insist that vaccination should be carried out for medical reasons and in the interests of public health. But if he is justified in making that statement, I suggest that it should be carried out amongst the medical profession themselves. I know of medical officers who do not believe in vaccination, and yet they issue summonses to have the children of the working classes vaccinated. [2035] I do not think it is too much to ask the Minister to withhold these prosecutions and to take some means to give the parents of these children an option in the matter of vaccination.

On the question of public health, Dr. Hennessy has referred to milk and other items of food. There is one thing which requires attention and which has a very detrimental effect on one of the common foods—the manner of retailing and selling bread. Bread, and other articles of food, gather not an inconsiderable amount of dirt by the handling which takes place in the retailing of these articles. It would be well if we would consider the possibility of adopting the system of retailing bread—the same thing might apply to other articles of food— that obtains in other countries. In America, I understand, the loaf is covered by air-tight paper, so that after leaving the bakery it is not directly handled until it reaches the person who is going to use it. Here it is passed from hand to hand and from shop to shop, and it is carried through the streets by children. Undoubtedly, there is danger that the handling it receives may cause the adhesion of germs which may bring about disease.

On the question of public roads, I wish to support the view put forward that, in the construction of roads, an effort should be made to have them of durable material, irrespective of the cost. I had opportunities of seeing many demonstrations of road construction, and I do not think yet any definite view has been put forward as to which system is the most suitable to the country. I think that is a point that will have to be determined before any big effort in the way of expenditure on public roads is decided upon. In England road-making has been taken up since the war on a big scale, and a number of trunk roads in concrete have been constructed. My attention has been drawn to a cutting in a newspaper, which I will read to the Dáil:—

“A New Type of Road.—A new thirty-mile road from London to the Palace Hotel, Southend-on-Sea, was opened in March. It is 100 feet wide [2036] and it has a 20 ft. centre pathway for pedestrians. It has cost £33,000 per mile.”

A scheme of that kind in this country would, I fear, meet with considerable opposition from those who oppose expenditure on roads and everything else.

Major COOPER: Information on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Zoom on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  I think the Dáil ought to be quite clear as to what Deputy Sears and Deputy Peadar Doyle are asking the Minister to do. On the subject of vaccination, I am more or less of an open mind. I am quite prepared to discuss the merits and demerits of the existing law, if that is in order, but the Deputies I have referred to are asking the Minister not to comply with the law—to exercise a dispensing power. At present, the law imposes a certain duty on the Minister —the duty of prosecuting vaccination defaulters. Deputy Sears and Deputy Doyle are suggesting that the Minister should disregard the law, should set it aside by administrative action. I suggest that that is not a sound view.

Mr. P. DOYLE: Information on Peadar Seán Doyle  Zoom on Peadar Seán Doyle  In answer to Deputy Cooper, if the law is to be carried out, it should be applied to everybody. The child of the working man should get the same consideration as the doctor shows towards his own child.

Major COOPER: Information on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Zoom on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  I entirely agree with Deputy Doyle in that. The law should certainly be applied to everybody. Deputy Doyle did not give us any evidence that it was not so applied, but, if it is not, I certainly say it should be applied uniformly and indiscriminately to everybody. It should not be applied to one class in particular. With that point of view I agree, but what the Deputy wants is that the law should not apply in any case. If the law is wrong—and it may be wrong —Deputy Doyle or Deputy Sears can bring in a measure which will assimilate the law to the conditions which obtain at present in England. That is the right constitutional procedure to adopt.

Mr. P. DOYLE: Information on Peadar Seán Doyle  Zoom on Peadar Seán Doyle  Then you will see a few of the medical officers going to jail for a week.

[2037]Major COOPER: Information on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Zoom on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  I will leave that question, only pointing out that we cannot ask Ministers, and must not ask Ministers, to exercise discrimination where it is a case of enforcing the law. That is a very dangerous thing to do. If Ministers once started that, we might find it impossible to stop them.

I leave that question and come to the main point I wanted to make. That is with regard to the health of children. The Minister told us, in his opening statement, that in urban areas in the Saorstát, infantile mortality reaches something over a hundred in every thousand. In other words, one child out of every ten in urban areas in the Saorstát dies in infancy. That is not so bad as the fact—I think it can be described as a fact—that for every child that dies two children, or possibly three children, grow up lacking strength, defective in some way, possibly crippled, possibly mentally infirm. I do not think we can look on that with satisfaction. One of the sins of omission with which we here may be charged is that we have not done enough, or thought enough, of the children. They have no votes. They are not able to make representations to us in the way that others make representations to us continually and, therefore, we ought to be more careful of their welfare.

I do not know if the Minister has attempted to do it, but I should like to see him make a beginning by having appointed for the city of Dublin a special medical officer of health for children, who would make a special study of the problem of the health of the young. If it is a success in Dublin, it might probably be extended to one or two other urban areas. I am not going to put Dublin in the dock. I think more care has been given in Dublin to this matter and that probably some of the country towns, like Sligo and Limerick, are very possibly as bad and worse than Dublin. I do say that in all our urban areas more care needs to be given to this question of infantile mortality, infantile health, and the bringing up of the rising generation under proper conditions. We must begin with Dublin, because any experiment [2038] made here will be made under the eye of the Minister and, to a certain extent, under the eye of the Oireachtas. If we find the measures adopted in Dublin are successful, we might extend them elsewhere. I do ask the Minister to give thought to this and, if necessary, to bring proposals before the Dáil that will help to meet this terrible mortality and this growing up of the generation that must carry on the work of the State in disease and dirt.

Dr. HENNESSY: Information on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  Zoom on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  Before the Minister replies I should like to direct his attention to the prevention of disease, especially in children. Any great achievement to be expected in regard to children will lie within the principles of good housing and proper feeding. That the mortality is so large amongst children and that they grow up defectively is due to the fact that they are badly and improperly fed, and also that their environment as regards hygiene is very bad. If we want to have a healthy population we will have to direct attention to these defects. The future of public health in Ireland depends largely on preventive medical treatment. The medical profession may be suspected of ulterior motives when they advocate preventive medicine, but really in doing that they are taking the bit out of their own mouths. It should not be necessary to say that, but we are always suspect when we advocate reform. It is hopeful to see Deputies taking an interest in this matter, especially those who are not members of the medical profession. I am deeply impressed by what Deputy Cooper has said, and I hope that the Minister and the Dáil will take it to heart.

There are some defects in the curative side of the work of the Department of Public Health. The provision made for treatment, especially of the poor, is certainly defective. It has been claimed that an advance has been made since the amalgamation of workhouses. I see no evidence of any advance. We have now one workhouse hospital in counties where we had six before. It is the same old workhouse hospital, without any proper system of sewerage, or opportunities for treating people in an up-to-date manner. The [2039] operating theatres are very bad, in fact they are only apologies. I know that the Minister means well when he says that we are moving forward, but I cannot see any very marked evidence of it. I have been in many of these hospitals, and they are indistinguishable from the old workhouse hospitals.

The dispensaries, where the poor people have to come three and four times a week to get medical treatment, are very bad. They are badly lighted and heated, and the poor people have very frequently to wait for hours in wet clothes. I do not think that should be. Loans are not now given out of the Local Loans Fund to local authorities for building such dispensaries. The local authorities have also ceased to build residences for the dispensary medical officers, with the result that many medical officers have to live outside the district, and that is very undesirable. These are matters which should command immediate attention from the Minister.

There is no doubt also that there is grave discontent amongst medical officers engaged in public health services, both in the central department and locally. That discontent is, I think, well founded. I see here that medical inspectors are being paid the same salary that was paid fifty years ago, while the cost of medical education has practically doubled. A medical inspector, in order to be qualified for his position, in addition to gaining his ordinary diplomas, must have seven or more years' service as a practitioner, and also a diploma in public health. In fact, it would take about £2,000 to qualify for a medical inspectorship. Yet the salary is the same as it was fifty years ago. There is not much encouragement for men like that to give of the best that is in them. The same thing applies to the medical officers throughout the country. I must, however, pay a tribute to the local authorities. Any relief these medical officers have got has come from the local authorities. They have increased the salaries of the medical officers, and although that increase does not represent very much more than the [2040] increase in the cost of living, nevertheless the local authorities who are the representatives of the ratepayers have accorded them very fair treatment. These authorities think that the central authority should revert to the former basis of paying half the salary of the medical officers. At present they do not pay one-third. I hope the Minister will give consideration to these matters, because without the service of medical officers he cannot hope to achieve very much.

The Minister has done a great deal for public health services by way of legislation, but a large amount of work still remains to be done by way of administration, and I hope that the Department of Finance will not prove an obstacle in his way. Recently there was an inquiry into these medical services and the representative of the Department of Finance was seriously disturbed because the poor law medical officers were some £20 a year better off than they were in 1914, even taking into account the reduced purchasing value of money. To my mind that is a very poor conception of the importance of a body of public officials like these. As I have pointed out, they give some three and a half million attendances on the poor people at a remuneration which, including travelling expenses, does not work out at more than sixpence per attendance.

It has been said that Ireland has grown inhospitable to its saints. It has also become inhospitable to its doctors of all degrees. I fear, notwithstanding the excellent efforts of Deputy Magennis to bring back the saints through providing saintly entertainment by means of the cinema, that if somebody does not do something for the doctors they also will leave the country.

Mr. T.J. O'CONNELL: Information on Tomas O'Connell  Zoom on Tomas O'Connell  I should like to add a word to what Deputy Cooper has said in connection with the necessity for giving more attention to the health of the children. The Minister has been doing what Deputy Sears and Deputy Doyle asked him to do, to which Deputy Cooper rightly objected. He has failed to carry out the law as it exists at present in one particular direction. There is on the statute [2041] book for the past three years an Act providing for the medical inspection and treatment of school children. Each county council is bound by that Act to provide a scheme for the medical inspection of school children. It is the duty of the Minister to see that the county councils do their duty in this respect, but nothing has been done. I have raised the matter on several occasions, and on each occasion was told that the Department was waiting until the system of local government was overhauled. But the law was there all the time. I hope the Minister will give some definite assurance on this matter, and a statement of his intentions as to when this Act will be put into operation. I hope the scheme of medical and dental inspection and treatment of school children will be put into operation in every county, and that it will be obligatory on the county councils to institute schemes at the earliest possible date, because it is only by the proper inspection and treatment of children in this way that the improvement in public health, which is desired by every Deputy, will be brought about. This is the best way, as the medical Deputies will tell us, to have a policy of preventive medicine carried out—by inspecting children regularly in the schools, and treating them when required. If infantile diseases are allowed to go untreated and often undiscovered, it will lead to very much greater expense and trouble afterwards.

Sitting suspended at 6.30 p.m., and resumed at 7.15 p.m.

Mr. WOLFE: Information on George Wolfe  Zoom on George Wolfe  It was not my intention originally to speak on this Vote at all, but the subject of vaccination which has been brought forward—a thing in which I take a good deal of interest, and on which I have a very fixed opinion—has brought me to my feet. I listened with great interest to the speech of Deputy Sir James Craig, to whom we all listen with great pleasure, because of the knowledge which he undoubtedly has, and because of his wide experience. In these matters, the matter of vaccination especially, one views the question from one's own experience. I am a firm believer in it, I [2042] may say, to begin with. I believe in it most thoroughly. In the year 1878 or 1879, when I was a student in Trinity College, there was an awful outbreak of small-pox in Dublin. I came into intimate contact with people who were down with it. I was vaccinated, and I think I may say that I owe my immunity from the disease on that occasion to that. I came into very close contact with it. It was very bad at the time, and if I remember aright there were certain streets which people were advised not to go down.

Then afterwards on three occasions —two in India and another occasion in another country—I came into the closest contact with people down with that loathsome disease. One of them, a brother officer of mine, who was not vaccinated, got it in its very worst form, and from being an extremely active man in mind and body, and of splendid appearance, it had the effect of crippling him and breaking him down. He was never the same man afterwards. He just barely recovered, by the skin of his teeth, as you might say. On another occasion, when I was in the north of India, there was a regular epidemic all round. I was in close contact with it. There was a very large number carried off with it, and I am thankful to say I escaped. I think I am right in my opinion that I owed my escape to the attention I paid to being vaccinated and to being re-vaccinated.

I think Deputy Doyle said that the vaccination laws were worked unfairly as regards rich and poor. I had a good deal to do with local affairs, and I do not think that is the case. I think the richer people are as much compelled to carry out the vaccination laws as the poorer. I know a case in my own neighbourhood of a person of the richer class who declined to have his child vaccinated, and he was compelled to do it by law. I do not think there is any discrimination, and there should not be. If it is decided that it is good for the overwhelming majority of the people at large, I do not think that whatever our opinions are against it, we should stand in the way of it. I hope personally that the Minister will [2043] see that the law is carried out in that respect. We certainly do not wish to have over here the epidemics that swept over Europe and over England in the Middle Ages. No doubt a great deal was due to dirt and insanitary conditions, but I am quite sure in my own mind that if vaccination had been there, this illness would not have taken a hold on nations in the way it did.

Leaving that matter, I want to say that I entirely agree with what Deputies Cooper and O'Connell said in regard to children. I am with Deputy O'Connell entirely in what he said about stricter inspection of school children, that it should be carried out with the most unflinching strictness, and that every matter connected with them, being a matter of public interest and of importance to the whole nation, should be attended to at once from the teeth—on which their whole health probably depends — downwards to other matters. There is a phase of child illness that I notice very much throughout the country, and that is cases of whole families of imbecile children. It has always occurred to me that there should be some system of segregating them. Some of them are hopeless. I have known a family where all but one could be counted as imbeciles. Some of them could be taught a certain amount, but others could never be taught. There should be something done to segregate these children—they are hopeless cases— from others that may be partly cured. It is up to us to see that something should be done in this matter. It is not only terrible for the parents and for the children themselves, but for the people with whom they live in close contact. They have to mix with them every day. I hope something will be done in this matter. It is one of the most pressing matters in regard to child health that I know of.

Leaving the matter of health, I want to refer to the question we have been discussing at such great length, that is the improvement of the roads. I am in agreement to a certain extent with what Deputy Heffernan has said. I do not believe in the ultimate value of concrete roads. I had something to [2044] do with certain concrete buildings, and from what I have seen, of some of them at least, I did not get the idea that concrete was secure for all evils in regard to house-planning or in regard to keeping out water, and that kind of thing. I think before we go to such expense as would be involved in concrete roads we must consider a good many things. I think also that these very heavy lorries ought to be kept off the roads altogether. I think that the Minister said something that was in agreement with that. It is to the interest of the whole country that the railways should be flourishing. They employ an enormous number of men. I wonder how many they do employ. Deputy Davin would probably know. I wonder how many men are employed on the roads, and how they compare in number with those who make their livelihood on the railways. If the railways become— shall I say—insolvent it will be a very serious matter for the country, and if the traffic that should go on the railways is carried by road it seems to me that there will be no other end but that. The roads were not made for these heavy lorries; they were made for ordinary motor traffic and cars, which is what the ratepayers would consent to pay for. But, to my mind, heavy traffic ought to be carried on the railways, and by some means or other those who manage the railways will probably find means to reduce the rates, so that it will be possible for people to send these heavy-weights by rail. A great many people appear to be getting their goods conveyed practically free on the roads when they ought to be using the railways and helping to keep going one of the greatest industries in the country, and one which gives so much employment.

Mr. MORRISSEY: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  There are a few points that I would like the Minister to deal with. I want him to give us some information with regard to the system of inspection by his inspectors of county homes and hospitals. I was very glad to hear Deputy Dr. Hennessy refer to this question of county hospitals. I agree with him that amalgamation has brought no improvement [2045] as far as the treatment in these places is concerned. It may have brought about the saving of money, but it is very questionable whether that is good economy or not. As far as my information goes, particularly with regard to county homes, they are not conducted in a very good way. In some of them there is great overcrowding and they are badly kept. The sanitary requirements are not anything like what they should be where such large numbers of people are congregated together, and I think it is absolutely necessary, both in the interests of the inmates and of the ratepayers, that they should be visited fairly frequently by the inspectors of the Department. I think that these inspections should be made without notice. My colleague here tells me that they never send notices, but I am inclined to think that the information is carried in some fashion or other. It is generally known when the inspector is near the place, and then the officials are on their best behaviour: all the white quilts, and so on, that have been in the linen presses for a month or so, are spread on the beds, and everything is in apple-pie order when the inspector arrives, but when he departs they are put back in the presses again. As Deputy O'Connell says, that is an old trick, but I think it was time it was put an end to. I am convinced that the inmates have not benefited by amalgamation, because the setting up of county hospitals and the doing away with hospitals in districts has not resulted in any better treatment. Up-to-date operating theatres have not been set up, and you will not get a first class doctor, a man competent to carry out major operations to go to a county hospital for £500 or £600 a year.

Mr. GOREY: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  £250.

Mr. MORRISSEY: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  I am speaking of the county surgeon. You will not get men capable of carrying out major operations for that sum, because a man capable of carrying out such operations in the best scientific manner will not go into a county hospital and bury himself, so to speak, for £500 a year. That man is going to go further, if he has the ability, in Dublin, Cork or somewhere else. There is another [2046] point in that too. Even if the county council of a particular county is lucky enough to get a capable man for that figure, people will not have the confidence in him, and all the people who can afford to do it, if they can obtain the money, will still try to go to the hospitals in Dublin under a capable and eminent man. This is a big matter and it should be gone into thoroughly by the Department of Local Government and Public Health, because as far as I can see and learn from people through the country who are interested in this matter there have been no real benefits from this amalgamation.

We have heard a good deal to-day about the question of vaccination as a preventative of disease. I think it goes further than the question of vaccination. I think, as Deputy Hennessy said, there is very little use in vaccinating children who are half hungry, and who are reared up, perhaps five to eight of them, cramped in one small room, and eating and sleeping there. Vaccination is not going to be much good for them and I think the Minister for Local Government should pay a great deal more attention to the proper housing and feeding of the children. Perhaps if they do properly house them and feed them, then they can insist on having them vaccinated. As far as I am concerned, I think vaccination is a good thing, but vaccination in itself is not going to keep disease from children who are under-fed, under-clothed and badly housed.

I want to ask the Minister whether his attention has been called to the difficulty of obtaining explosives for quarrying purposes, by local authorities. I am informed that a good deal of this delay is due to the activities of the Gárda Síochána and the military, but the fact is that there is very great difficulty at the present time in obtaining explosives for quarrying purposes. As a result we have a large number of men unemployed who could be employed if the explosives could be obtained. When the Department will make available the money for road reconstruction which we hope they will be soon in a position to do, the county councils will not have the material [2047] ready to go ahead with the work, and if the explosive could be obtained now in the quantities required it would help to relieve unemployment. The material would be raised now in the fine long days which are suitable for quarrying, and so could be ready when the money was made available.

There is one other matter regarding milk supply, particularly in our urban areas. As far as I am aware, samples are not taken by anyone with a view to having them analysed to see if they are correct, and this is a matter which should be seen to immediately. I think we all realise that it is essential that as far as milk is concerned, above all other things, it should be as pure as possible, having regard to the fact that it is the principal food of children.

Sir JAMES CRAIG: Information on Prof. James Craig  Zoom on Prof. James Craig  A statement was made by Deputy Doyle casting a serious reflection on the medical profession, which I think should not go unchallenged. He made a statement to the effect that the medical profession discriminated between the poor and the better-off people, particularly between the children of the poor and of the doctors themselves. I have no accurate knowledge of what is being done in the matter of vaccination, but I protest against a statement of this sort. I know of no doctors who do not believe in vaccination and who have not been vaccinated, and I know of no doctors whose families have not been vaccinated. I think it is up to the Minister to refute this statement for the sake of men working under the Department of Local Government. We have to admit that infant mortality in Ireland has been extremely high. Even compared with the industrial centres in England, where the death rate would be high, we have a high proportion of infant mortality cases indeed. The children in the rural area have twice the chance of those in the urban areas. The figure is 102 for the urban areas and 55 for the rural areas. This infant mortality will go on so long as the housing conditions of the poor remain as they are, and so long as the mothers understand so little about the feeding of their [2048] children. These two things have been mentioned over and over again, as lying at the base of infant mortality in this country. I impress on the Government that it will never have a clean bill of health as regards children until children are better housed and better fed.

I turn to another point to which I have referred on previous occasions— namely, to the number of medical inspectors. On each of the two years when we had the estimates before us, I found fault with the actual number of medical inspectors. I may say I know nothing about the work the general inspectors have to do, but I know something of the work the medical inspectors have to do. We still have here nine medical inspectors engaged on the work, and I want to ask the Minister whether those nine include two medical inspectors that had been transferred to other duties— namely, to undertake the work that ought to be done by the elected bodies. Is it the case that two of those nine represent the Dublin Corporation, and two others represent the Cork Corporation? Are those included, or have we still nine actual medical inspectors? With regard to medical inspection, I think the Minister could do a great deal if he directed the attention of medical inspectors, when they were going through the country, to endeavour to induce local bodies or to induce charitable people, even in local areas, to adopt child welfare schemes. I believe that would do a tremendous amount of good in reducing the infant mortality. It is extraordinary how ignorant the ordinary mother is about feeding her child, and if those child welfare centres were prevalent throughout the country there is no doubt that the information that could be given by trained nurses employed in the child welfare centres, or even ladies working in the child welfare centres would be very beneficial. I am sorry to have to intervene in the matter of vaccination, but I think it is necessary to call upon the Minister to refute the statement that there was one law for the poor and another for the rich.

[2049]Mr. BURKE: Information on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  Zoom on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  There has been very considerable discussion of this Vote. Deputy Dr. Hennessy has made two speeches which, while in some respects praising the Department, contained on the whole serious criticisms of its work. He seems to take umbrage at the fact that we have no Ministry of Health, or something in the guise of a Ministry of Health, and that the medical authorities are not more prominent in the Ministry. Of course, in all medical matters I am advised by my principal medical officer, who, as Deputy Dr. Hennessy knows, was for a long time a dispensary doctor like himself. He knows the needs and the difficulties under which these doctors carry out their duties throughout the country. I think we are entitled to some little credit for trying to improve the position of these officers. In 1904 the average salary of a dispensary doctor was £109. At present it is £251. That represents a big advance. We are trying throughout the country to arrive at a fair scale of remuneration for these officers. In some particular cases local authorities have refused to accede to our request, and, in the serious economic position of the country, I am slow to resort to the issuing of a sealed order to enforce payment of a higher salary. Wherever we considered a doctor was not getting proper remuneration we have done everything in our power to force local authorities to improve the position. It must be remembered that there is a difference in the amount of remuneration that local authorities are in a position to pay medical officers. The standard of living in various counties is different. In some counties you have poor and small farmers, and in other counties wealthy farmers. The standard of life rises and falls in accordance with the position of the predominant element in the county—generally farmers. For that reason in some western counties doctors' salaries are not as high as they are in wealthier counties. That is a condition of affairs that I am not in a position to remedy. Deputy Morrissey asked me about the inspection of county homes and hospitals. It is a new role for Deputy Morrissey to take up, to insist on a closer supervision of local authorities by my Department.

[2050]Mr. MORRISSEY: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  No.

Mr. BURKE: Information on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  Zoom on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  I think some of my arguments must be getting home with Deputy Morrissey. In a matter of this kind the principal responsibility rests on the local board of health. It is the duty of the members of the board to see that these institutions are kept up to the proper standard. It is very difficult at long range to supervise these institutions. It is quite likely that the leakage to which Deputy Morrissey refers occurs, and that officers of these institutions get wind of the fact that an inspector is going down. It is very hard for me to prevent abuses of that kind. The only way that local authorities can see that the officers of these institutions carry out their duties properly is by the members taking an interest in the matter themselves. Deputy Morrissey does not seem pleased with the establishment of county hospitals. In his constituency there is no county hospital, but the principal reason for that is the agitation of the county council itself. It had grave objections to carrying out the wishes of the Department, and accordingly we cannot take responsibility for the state of affairs down there. In some parts of the country where we have county hospitals working, and where we have suitable surgeons appointed, they are carrying on very successfully, and the number of major operations being performed in these institutions is increasing and has been very successful.

The question of providing explosives for quarries is one that has been engaging the attention of the Department. We have taken the matter up with the Ministry of Justice. In each case it is a matter of looking after the public interest. The Civic Guard authorities are of opinion that it is dangerous to leave large quantities of explosives unguarded for any length of time. It is very difficult to see how that can be got over. It is of greater importance to see that the peace of the country is preserved than to see that road work is expedited. Naturally it is the wish of my Department that every facility should be given for the quarrying of road metal, but if it would prejudice the safety of the State or the peace of the [2051] district the considerations of my Department have to take second place.

Deputy Cooper and other Deputies referred to the fact that child welfare is a question that vitally concerns the State, especially to bring down infant mortality and raise the position of children generally. It will be appreciated that this is a very big question. I am doing everything possible to help in this matter. As can be seen, the Vote for child welfare schemes has been increased. It is our object to bring these child welfare schemes into closer contact with the local authorities throughout the country. By doing that we will be in a better position to see that the object of these schemes is more efficiently carried out. When we get our county medical officers appointed they will be in a position to supervise this work. That will be a considerable advance. As Deputies have remarked, it is not merely a question of the child itself. The condition in which the parents live has a good deal to do with it. It is a question of housing, a question of clothing, a question of cleanliness, hygiene, and feeding. It is really a question of raising the whole economic level of the country. That cannot be done by one Department. It is a national question. While our economic position is such that our strongest and healthiest are compelled to leave the country to make a living elsewhere—that has been the position for a long time, and it may be so for some time to come—it is difficult to see how the condition or the status of the children is to be improved in the near future.

We are making every effort in that direction. It is undoubtedly in the interests of the State to do so, as the future of the State is bound up with an improvement in the condition of the children, but it is an ideal to be aimed at rather than something which it is possible to carry out fully at present. Deputy Hennessy has inquired about the salaries of county medical officers. It will, of course, be our interest to see that these officers receive suitable salaries. They will have important duties, and it will be necessary to give them adequate remuneration. At present [2052] I am not in a position to state what their salaries will be. In a great many cases the salaries will depend on the financial capacity of the particular county, but I should say that they would certainly be up to £700 a year, or perhaps more. Deputy Hennessy also dealt with the question of the supervision of milk. That is undoubtedly a most important matter. We all realise that the conditions under which milk is provided are anything but satisfactory, and I think that is true, as Deputy Hennessy has said, in rural and urban areas to an even greater degree than in Dublin. We were powerless in this matter until we had a county medical officer who could supervise public health work generally. The public health portion of the Local Government Bill will come into operation probably in October, and provision has been made in regard to this. We have also made provision for appointing county veterinary surgeons. There will be at least one county veterinary surgeon to supervise all matters under the Dairies and Cowsheds Orders, and also to carry out the inspection of meat.

Deputy O'Connell spoke of the insanitary conditions of schools. That is a matter for the Minister for Education primarily, but the local authorities can interfere if insanitary conditions exist. There again is a case of having no responsible officer to look after these matters. When we have the county medical officers all these duties will centre under them, and it will be their function to see that the duties are properly carried out. There has been a long discussion on vaccination. I am a thorough believer in vaccination. Far from agreeing with Deputy Sears' point of view, I believe that vaccines of various kinds have thoroughly justified themselves. In the Great War vaccine treatment was resorted to for eliminating tetanus, and was very successful in doing so, and also in eliminating fevers amongst the troops. I think Deputy Wolfe's experiences were very pertinent and convincing on this subject. As regards vaccination for small-pox, it is, of course, ridiculous to expect me to refrain from carrying out the statutory obligation as regards the vaccination [2053] law. The law puts an obligation first on the local authority, and afterwards on the Minister, and unless the law is amended, I have no option but to see that it is enforced. Deputy Sears has referred to some alteration in the law in England. At present there are thousands of children in that country who have not been vaccinated, and the result is that there is a great number of cases of small-pox in England, whereas in Ireland there has been, I think, no case of secondary infection. In a few cases persons living at the ports have been infected by foreigners, but the disease has never spread owing to the measures taken. Coming back to the roads question, the Roads Advisory Committee meet to-morrow, I believe, and they will go into the question of the standard of road maintenance. I expect within a month we will be able to put forward recommendations, to the Minister for Finance, and, contrary to Deputy Johnson's anticipations, I believe we will be able to start the scheme in about the middle of the summer.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  Does the Minister mean that he will be able to start operations in the summer without having legislation or formal sanction from the Dáil?

Mr. BURKE: Information on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  Zoom on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  It will not be necessary to have sanction.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  The Minister said in the course of his earlier speech that he was hopeful of receiving a report, and making a statement to the Dáil within the next few months. He also said when he received the report he would require to present it, and to get the sanction of the Minister for Finance. I am seriously anxious to know whether it is expected that this can all be done before the Dáil adjourns, and that such sanctions as are required will be given, and the work begun during this summer?

Mr. BURKE: Information on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  Zoom on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  I do not anticipate delay. I believe we will have enough funds on hands to start, and the matter of funds would be the only thing to hold it up. We have sufficient powers without legislation to carry [2054] out improvements on the roads on the lines suggested. We certainly would be able to start with the work and go ahead during the Recess, if the Dáil did not assemble until October.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  Will the Minister venture any prophecy that the Minister for Finance will agree to this proposal?

Mr. CORISH: Information on Richard Corish  Zoom on Richard Corish  Does the Minister think he will be able to give any indication before the Dáil adjourns as to what this road policy will be?

Mr. BURKE: Information on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  Zoom on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  I believe so, but it will hardly be before a month.

Mr. DAVIN: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  Can the Minister say the scheme he has in mind will have any connection with the No. 2 Bill referred to by the Minister for Finance when introducing the Budget, or will his scheme be dependent on the passing of that measure?

Mr. BURKE: Information on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  Zoom on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  The Finance Minister's No. 2 Bill will deal principally with the duties on motor vehicles. That is bound up to some, but not to a great, extent with the general road policy, which will be practically independent of that measure.

Mr. DAVIN: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  Is the Minister going to spend the money before the money is found?

Mr. BURKE: Information on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  Zoom on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  There is a certain amount of money on hands. There has been considerable discussion about the different kinds of material used on roads. I dealt with that to some extent in the beginning. Deputy Egan insisted that concrete roads are the only kind of roads worth laying down, and Deputy Sears said that concrete roads would last for 30 years. I have had experience of concrete roads in America, and I know they are very efficient there, but I have my doubts as to their efficiency in Ireland. Concrete is certainly most suitable for foundations. If Deputy Sears can bring forward some authoritative engineer who will guarantee a life of 30 years for concrete roads, we will be very willing to give a very attentive ear to his proposals. Deputy Heffernan has raised some matter dealing [2055] with the prosecution of ratepayers and their being brought before the County Court or the Circuit Court. I have not any particulars of such cases before me, and before I reply to this query, it would be for the Deputy either to put down a question on the matter or to approach me in my office. Such cases have not come before me up to the present.

Mr. HEFFERNAN: Information on Michael Richard Heffernan  Zoom on Michael Richard Heffernan  Will the Minister give an undertaking that if I show him concrete cases he will see that this practice is stopped?

Mr. BURKE: Information on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  Zoom on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  I would want to know the circumstances first. The question of the salary of the secretary was also raised by Deputy Heffernan. That salary was fixed by the Department of Finance, and it is fixed at a scale which is only commensurate with the very heavy duties that this officer has to carry out. I think when one realises that the position of that officer is one of the most onerous in the service of the Government, and when it is taken into consideration that he replaces three or four other officers, one of whom had a salary of £1,800 a year, two of whom had salaries of £1,200 a year, and another, who had a salary of £1,100 a year, I do not think it will be considered that the salary of the Secretary is excessive.

Deputy Egan, I think, asked for some figures with regard to the cost of laying down roads in the City of Dublin. Finglas Road, Phibsboro' Road and Constitution Hill road were constructed with sheet asphalt, two-inch binder and one-inch surface, at a cost of 12s. 3d. per square yard. Dame Street and College Green were constructed on a six-inch concrete foundation and two-inch asphalt surface, at a cost of 24s. per square yard. St. Stephen's Green (East) was constructed on sheet asphalt, two-inch binder, and one-inch surface, at a cost of 15s. 7d. per square yard. Upper Merrion Street, Merrion Square West, and Lower Merrion Street, were constructed on a reinforced concrete foundation and two-inch asphalt, at a cost of 23s. 6d. per square yard. Lincoln Place and Merrion Row were [2056] constructed on sheet asphalt, two and three-fourth-inch binder and one-inch surface, at 15s. 6d. per square yard. Nassau Street, Leinster Street and part of Merrion Square, on a concrete foundation, and two-inch asphalt, were constructed at an average cost of 15s. 10½d. I do not think there is any other question.

Mr. HEFFERNAN: Information on Michael Richard Heffernan  Zoom on Michael Richard Heffernan  Will the Minister explain some of the technical terms? What is a binder?

Major COOPER: Information on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Zoom on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Do I understand the Minister to say that Upper Merrion Street was costing more than any other scheme, and that that was due to the anticipated traffic from Cork?

A DEPUTY:  That is a very old joke now.

Mr. BURKE: Information on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  Zoom on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  I am not quite sure what a binder is.

Mr. T.J. O'CONNELL: Information on Tomas O'Connell  Zoom on Tomas O'Connell  Would the Minister say what exactly is the position with regard to the medical inspection of school children?

Mr. BURKE: Information on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  Zoom on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  The position is that we have got no power administratively to carry out the medical inspection of school children until we have got our county medical officers. At the moment we have got no officers to carry out those duties. That will not be until after October, and probably not until the next financial year.

Mr. T.J. O'CONNELL: Information on Tomas O'Connell  Zoom on Tomas O'Connell  Is it the intention of the Minister and his Department to put this into operation after October or about October?

Mr. BURKE: Information on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  Zoom on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  It is.

Sir JAMES CRAIG: Information on Prof. James Craig  Zoom on Prof. James Craig  Will the Minister answer my question as to the number of medical inspectors, and whether these nine included two other inspectors who have been set apart for other work?

Mr. CORISH: Information on Richard Corish  Zoom on Richard Corish  Are the sanitary subofficers and the sanitary officers in urban areas permitted to enter the national schools for the purpose of inspection?

Mr. BURKE: Information on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  Zoom on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  Yes, they are; but they do not carry out their duties very [2057] effciently, as a rule. There are nine medical inspectors, one of whom is a Commissioner in the Dublin Corporation.

Professor THRIFT: Information on Prof. William E. Thrift  Zoom on Prof. William E. Thrift  Could the Minister say how the figures he gave us, as regards the cost of road-making, compare with other places? His figures would work out at something like £50,000 or £60,000 a mile.

Mr. BURKE: Information on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  Zoom on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  Some of this is of the most expensive kind. The reinforced concrete is of the best possible material. I could not say off-hand what the cost would work out at per mile, as I am not as good at mathematics as Professor Thrift. In the ordinary way it compares favourably, I think, with the work done in similar cities in England.

Mr. DAVIN: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  What attitude does the Minister intend to take with regard to the action of county councils who reduced their estimates for road maintenance by 50 per cent., and could he tell us how the scheme he has in mind will affect such areas where work is considerably in arrear?

Mr. BURKE: Information on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  Zoom on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  I have no power to compel local authorities to expend any more than they have estimated for on the roads. I have not any statutory powers in the matter at all. I should say that we will go ahead with our national scheme irrespective of local considerations.

Mr. DAVIN: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  Does that mean that in those cases where the county council has reduced the estimates for road maintenance by 50 per cent., that that 50 per cent. will be made up out of the funds available in connection with the scheme that the Minister speaks about?

Mr. BURKE: Information on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  Zoom on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  It has nothing to do with their estimates at all. The national road policy will not be concerned with local considerations of that kind at all. It may deal with roads that are not estimated for in the estimates of the local authority.

Mr. DAVIN: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  Will the funds that are about to be spent have any regard [2058] to the condition of roads in a particular county, due to the facts I have stated, and that are known to the Minister's Department?

Mr. BURKE: Information on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  Zoom on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  In all probability where a trunk road passes through a county and where that road is very badly maintained passing through that county, the work may be carried out there before it is carried out in the other counties. The object will be to deal with the worst part of the roads first.

AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Pádraic Ó Maille  Zoom on Pádraic Ó Maille  We will now take sub-head (B).

Mr. GOREY: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  On this sub-head I desire to make a few remarks in reply to a statement made by Deputy Dr. Hennessy. It would be a very serious matter indeed if the statement the Deputy made were allowed to go uncontradicted. Without meaning it, perhaps, the Deputy's statement was one of the most harmful that could be made. It had reference to the manner in which milk in this country is handled in the making of butter. I do not know what experience the Deputy has in the matter, but his statement would be a most damaging one if it were allowed to go uncontradicted.

Major COOPER: Information on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Zoom on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  On a point of order, has this matter any reference to the travelling expenses for inspectors that come under this sub-head?

Mr. GOREY: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  If inspectors have not to do with dairies and cowsheds and matters of that kind, I am prepared to sit down.

AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Pádraic Ó Maille  Zoom on Pádraic Ó Maille  Strictly speaking, the question the Deputy is raising has no reference to the sub-head under discussion, but, as the matter is an important one, I will give him permission to speak on it.

Mr. GOREY: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  I do not know what experience Deputy Dr. Hennessy has on this matter. I do not know where he got his information or the experience that he seemed to be speaking from. I do not know whether he got it from the suppliers of milk to creameries, from the owners of private dairies who do not send milk to creameries [2059] eries or sell milk in their dairies, from amongst the purveyors of milk, or, indeed, what the source was from which he got the information. I can speak for two classes. The first is composed of those who send their milk to the creameries, and the second, those who make their own butter and neither send their milk to the creameries nor sell it. Years ago there might be some truth in what was said with regard to the condition of milk in this country, and the way in which it was handled. To-day there is certainly no truth in the statement the Deputy has made. As regards milk sent to creameries, the statement bears no resemblance to the actual facts.

Every morning at the creameries, the milk supplies which come in are subjected to close inspection. Not only is the milk inspected, but there is also a close examination as to the condition of the churns. If there is foreign matter in the milk when it arrives at the creameries, it will be found at the bottom of the churn when the milk is emptied out. Almost every morning the creamery managers examine the churns, and it would be impossible for foreign matter to be in the milk without their knowledge. I have no knowledge myself as to how things are done in Denmark, but I have experience of dairies in England, and I can say from my own personal knowledge that the milk supplies to our Irish creameries are as carefully examined as they are in any other country. In making that statement, I know that it has behind it the support of every creamery manager in the Saorstát. I agree, of course, that every precaution should be taken to ensure that milk supplies should be delivered under the best conditions possible, and I am quite prepared to accept any regulations calculated to bring about the highest standard we can reach in that respect. I desire to emphasise again that the statement Deputy Dr. Hennessy made is absolutely contrary to the facts.

I do not know anything as regards the condition of the dairies about Dublin. It may be, perhaps, that the fodder and the bedding may not be attended [2060] to as they should be, but what I am concerned with now at the moment, is the condition in which cows are kept in the dairy districts of this country. Where creameries are not in existence, and where proper inspection is not carried out, the conditions to which the Deputy referred, may exist. I know that years ago, before the butter industry became centred in the creameries, the conditions that prevailed were not anything like what they should be, but since then the conditions have improved enormously, and the statement of the Deputy, to my own knowledge, is not true. That is all I want to say at the moment.

Dr. HENNESSY: Information on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  Zoom on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  Deputy Gorey relies on the fact that the milk is inspected at the creameries every morning. I would like to point out to him that that is only a naked-eye inspection. I agree that the country owes a great deal to the creamery managers, who have done their best to neutralise the effects of the dirty milk supplied to them by some people, but I would point out to the Deputy that microscopic examinations are not made at the creameries. Very often the crude examination of taking a sample of milk, of putting it in a test tube and allowing it to rest for a period, is not carried out. If Deputy Gorey would go to the trouble of visiting a number of dairies in any county in Ireland and of taking a sample of milk in a 10-inch test tube, and if he were to look at it an hour afterwards, I should be very much surprised if he did not get in it a half inch of sediment.

What I was anxious to do was to bring to the notice of the House, and to that section of the community which Deputy Gorey represents, the fact that the Glaxo Trade Milk Company circularised the trade here, pointing out the bad analysis which Irish milk made, and the danger of prescribing it for children. I say that is a very appalling statement. If the Irish farmers do not take measures to see that the milk supplied is cleaner, then the position will be very serious. I am not in a position to contradict the statement of the Glaxo people. In fact all the information at my disposal would go to confirm the circular issued by [2061] the Glaxo people. The fact that Deputy Gorey must bear in mind is, that in external appearances, and in the actual milking, the cows in this country should present as good a picture of cleanliness as the Danish cows. Otherwise, Irish butter will not be a very popular article of food in England. I know myself what the views of the [2062] Ministry of Health in England are as regards the manufacture of Irish butter. It is quite true, of course, that several people engaged in the manufacture of butter in this country do it very well, but then there is too big a percentage of other people who neutralise their commendable efforts.

Vote 36 put, and agreed to.


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