Wednesday, 7 April 1937
Dáil Éireann Debate
Go ndeontar suim ná raghaidh thar £843,768 chun slánuithe na suime is gá chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1938, chun Tuarastail agus Costaisí Oifig an Aire Rialtais Aitiúla agus Sláinte Puiblí, maraon le Deontaisí agus Costaisí eile a bhaineann le Tógáil Tithe, Deontaisí d'Udaráis Aitiúla, Ildeontaisí Ilghnéitheacha agus Ildeontaisí i gCabhair, agus costaisí áirithe bhaineann le hOspidéil.
That a sum not exceeding £843,768 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1938, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Minister for Local Government and Public Health, including Grants and other Expenses in connection with Housing, Grants to Local Authorities, Sundry Miscellaneous Grants, and Grants-in-Aid, and certain charges connected with Hospitals.
Mr. O Ceallaigh: Well, I propose to deal only with portion of the Estimate in Irish. Details connected with the major portion of it will be dealt with in English for the benefit of those who do not understand Irish.
Tá cúrsaí sláinte i ngach conntae anois fá réim Oifigigh um Shláinte an Phobail agus is iad Condae an Chláir agus Condae Longphuirt an dá chonntae ba dhéidheannaighe a ghlac leis an scéim. Tá sé buailte isteach in aigne na ndaoine i gcoitcheanta fá láthair gur ar leas an phobail an obair seo, go háirithe an méid di a bhaineas le scrúdughadh na leanbhaí scoile ag dochtúiribh.
Tá le cruthú do réir staitistíocht bheathadh na tíre sa bhliadhain 1935 gur chuaidh ráta na mbreith in aoirde arís. Ar an dtaobh eile ní mór dhom a rádh gur cailleadh breis daoine sa bhliadhain sin ná sa bhliadhain roimhe. Mar sin féin ba lugha go mór ráta an bháis ná an meadhon-ráta ins na deich mbliadhna roimhe. Thárla gur chuaidh ráta na mbás i méid ins na bailtibh agus fé'n dtuaith acht ba mhó é ins na bailtibh.
Tá obair an-tábhachtach 'ghá dhéanamh ar son sábhála naoidheanán fé scéimeannaibh oifigiúla máithreachais agus leas na leanbh ins na ceithre cathrachaibh—Baile Atha Cliath, Corcaigh, Luimneach, agus Port Láirge, i mbailtibh móra Dhún Laoghaire, Loch Garman agus Cluain Meala agus i gcúig cinn déag de bhailtibh eile agus i gceithre cinn de cheanntrachaibh sláinte conntae. 'Na theannta sin tá os cionn cead cumann neamhspleadhach ag gabháilt do'n obair sin ar fud na tíre go léir acht amháin i gCondae Liathdroma.
Is mór an tairbhe maidir le leas na leanbh an scéim i gcóir bainne agus tá suim £90,000 ins an meastachán so chuige sin. Bhí scéimeanna chum  bainne do thabhairt in aisce do leanbhaíbh fá réim 'sa bhliadhain seo caithte i ngach ceanntar acht amháin dhá bhaile-cheanntar 'nar dhiúltuigh na comhairlí an deóntas do bhí ag dul dóibh do ghlacadh chúcha.
Bíonn béilí le fagháil ag leanbhaíbh scoile anois ina na ceithre cathrachaibh agus i seacht mbailtibh ceathracad chomh maith. Soláthruigheadh béilí i ndá chéad agus a dó ficead de scoileannaibh náisiúnta i rith na bliadhna agus do b'é meadhon-uimhir na leanbhaí a fuair na béilí ná ceithre míle fichead gach lá.
Ins an nGaeltacht tá an obair chéadna 'ghá dhéanamh ag bórdaibh an tSláinte in Iarthar Chorcaighe, i gCondae na Gaillimhe, i dTír Chonaill, i gCondae Chiarraidhe agus i gCondae Mhuigheó. Ins na ceanntrachaibh sin soláthruigheadh beagnach trí milliún béile i rith na bliadhna.
Atá scéimeanna i gcóir leighis na heitinne fá réim anois i ngach conntae agus i ngach cathair. Ina lán áiteanna cuireadh osbidéil nua ar bun i gcóir an ghalair sin le congnamh deóntaisí ó Chiste an Chrannchuir agus cuireadh feabhas ar a lán eile díobh. Tá osbidéil speisialta anois i dtrí cathrachaibh agus i gcúig conntae déag. Is ins na háiteannaibh seo leanas is mó d'éag daoine de bhárr an ghalair seo:— i gCathrachaibh Chorcaighe, Luimnighe, agus Baile Átha Cliath agus i gConntaethibh Locha Garman agus Sligigh. Agus is iad na Conntaethe ba lugha bás dá bhárr, Condae Liathdroma, Condae Roscomáin, Condae an Chabháin agus Condae Mhuineacháin. Is é tuairim an dochtúra atá i gceannas na hoibre i gCondae Liathdroma gurb' é an chúis nach gcailltear a thuille annsin ná a luighead daoine ins an gconntae atá 'na gcomhnuidhe i mbailtibh móra.
Is minic a thuiteann sé amach go mbíonn an galar so suidhte go ródhaingean ins an duine tinn nuair a gheibhtear amach é. Tá súil agam go gcuirfear feabhas ar an scéal so de bhárr scrúdúcháin na leanbhaí scoile.
 I rith na bliadhna seo caithte leagadh breis airgid amach ar oibreacha sláinte; scéimeanna uisce agus scéimeanna camraighe furmhór díobh. Tugadh ceathramhadh milliúin púnt as an gcisde i gcóir fóirthne ar dhíomhaointeas ar son a leithéid d'oibreachaibh. Caitheadh £600,000 ar fad orra agus is iad na hughdaráis áitiúla a sholáthruigh an chuid eile de'n airgead.
Rinneadh céim mhór ar aghaidh le feabhasú na n-osbidéal. Tá trí osbidéil chonntae críochnuighthe, naoi n-osbidéil ceanntair agus dhá osbidéil fiabhrais. Chomh maith leis sin táthar ag obair fá láthair ar thógáil naoi n-osbidéal conntae, sé osbidéail ceanntair agus ceithre osbidéal fiabhrais agus atá glacaithe leis na pleanannaibh i gcóir osbidéil amháin chonntae, dhá osbidéal ceanntair, agus trí osbidéal fiabhrais. Gheobhfar furmhór de'n airgead ar a son ó Chisde an Chrannchuir.
Mar a dubhairt mé anuiridh atá dlúth-bhaint idir cúrsaí comhnuighthe an phobail agus cúrsaí sláinte agus ní raghaidh scéimeanna um leas sláinte na ndaoine i dtairbhe muna gcuirtear feabhas san am chéadna ar chúrsaibh comhnuighthe. Le cúig bliadhna anuas tugadh suim £2,800,000 i ndeóntaisibh i gcóir tighthe nua do dhaoinibh príobháideacha agus do Chumannaibh Maitheasa Puiblidhe. Atá deóntaisí díolta cheana ar son 16,184 de thighthibh nua agus ar son ath-thógála 8,760 de thighthibh fá'n dtuaith. Des na tighthibh nua tógadh ós cionn sé míle déag díobh ins na bailtibh agus suas le naoi míle díbh fá'n dtuaith. Tógadh suas le 60 per cent. des na tighthibh ins na bailtibh i gcathair Baile Átha Clíath.
Tá suas le naoi míle tighthe idir  lámhaibh fá láthair ag daoinibh príobháideacha agus ag Cumannaibh Maitheasa Puiblidhe agus tá obair ath-thógala tosnuighthe ar beagnach dhá mhíle dhéag de thighthibh. Is mór an díoghbháil a tháinig ar chúrsaíbh tógála tighthe i rith an gheimhridh seo do bhárr na droch-aimsire a bhí againn. Nilam glan-tsasta, ámhthach, gur ar an aimsir amháin is cóir an milleán do bheith agus táim ag scrúdú an scéil go beacht fá láthair. Measadh go gcríochnóchthaí 1,462 de thighthibh i mBaile Átha Clíath sa bhliadhain darb'críoch an 31adh lá de mhí Márta. Ba lugha sin de sheasca tighthe ná an méid a tógadh anuiridh agus ní mór dom a rádh nach ndearnadh an oiread dul chun cinn i mBaile Átha Clíath agus a bhí súil agam. Caithfear 2,500 tighthe do thógáil i mBaile Átha Clíath gach bliadhain má táthar chun na sráideanna neamh-shláinteamhla do ghlanadh amach le n-ár linn-ne. Tá níos mó ná naoi míle líon-tighe fá láthair 'na gcomhnuidhe i dtighthibh nach bhfuil oireamhnach do'n chine daonna. Ceist mhór chruaidh iseadh é seo agus ní mór tabhairt fé ar gach saghas slighe má támuid chun an cheist do réidhteach.
Tugadh deóntaisí de leath-mhilliún púnt do lucht ughdarás áitiúla anuiridh as an gciste fóirithne chun obair do dhéanamh ar bhóithribh agus ar chasánaibh i dtreó is go dtabharfaí obair don lucht díomhaoin. Tugadh obair do 24,000 daoine do bhárr na scéime seo.
Tá feabhas mór tagaithe ar bhailiúchán na rátaí i mbliadhna. Do b'aoirde anuiridh ná le trí bliadhna anuas méid na rátaí do bhí istigh i mi Meadhon Foghmhair. Bhi an scéal céadna ann Mí na Nodlag. Ní'l na cúnntaisí go léir istigh fós i gcóir Mí Márta acht is léir ó'n méid díobh atá ar fagháil go leanfaidh an scéal amhlaidh.
This Estimate makes provision for a net expenditure of £1,259,068. Grants for housing amount to £769,432 and grants for public health services to £327,005, making a total sum of £1,069,437 for social services under this Vote. The administration of public health in every county is now supervised  by a county medical officer of health, the last two counties to adopt this system being Longford and Clare. The advantages of the system, especially in regard to the medical inspection of school children are now generally recognised and in several counties assistant county medical officers of health and whole-time public health nurses have been appointed by boards of health to assist the county medical officers. The co-operation of trained nurses is very necessary to the efficient working of the arrangements for school medical inspection. Throughout the country the organisation of public health measures is being gradually perfected and as the preventive aspect of health administration receives closer attention there is every reason to hope for a further improvement in the public health.
The vital statistics of the year 1935, which are the latest available, disclose a further rise in the birth rate. The total number of births was 58,266 being 19.61 per thousand of the population as compared with 19.49 for 1934. The number of deaths recorded in the year 1935 was 41,543, an increase of 2,460 on the number registered for the preceding year. The death rate was 13.98 per 1,000 of the population as compared with a rate of 13.15 for the year 1934, and an average rate of 14.26 for the ten years 1925-1934. The increased mortality in 1935 occurred in both urban and rural areas but was proportionately greater in the former districts.
The principal infectious diseases were responsible for 1,865 deaths during the year 1935, an increase of 506 over the previous year's total of 1,359. The increase was mainly due to an increase in the number of deaths from measles, and to the high mortality from influenza, which increased from 689 in 1934 to 963 in 1935. The mortality from measles was the highest since 1931, when 372 deaths were recorded. The number of deaths from influenza was, however, well below the average for the years 1930-'34, which was 1,244.
There were three cases of typus fever notified in 1935. This is the lowest  number ever recorded for the country. Two of the cases proved fatal. A satisfactory feature of the vital statistics for 1935 is the decrease in the death rate from typhoid fever. The number of deaths was 64 for that year as compared with 89 for the previous year. There was a fall in the incidence of typhoid fever due to a large extent to the general improvement in sanitary conditions, resulting from the new sewerage and water supply schemes which have been installed in towns and villages.
A striking example of the value of improved sanitary conditions in reducing the incidence of typhoid fever was given in the annual report of the Superintendent Medical Officer of Health for Cork City for 1935. For the decennial period 1915-'24 the number of cases notified was 460 and the number of deaths 45. For the succeeding decennial period 1925-'34 the number of cases notified was 76 and the number of deaths 14. The drop in incidence in the latter period coincides with the installation in 1928 of a special filtration plant in connection with the water supply and the institution of a systematic bacteriological examination of the water. From 1928 up to 1935, 14 cases have been notified and 3 deaths from the disease.
There was a reduction in the incidence of diphtheria in 1935 as compared with 1934. The total number of cases notified during 1935 was 3,091. The number of deaths was 378. A drop in the incidence is reflected mainly in the returns of the county boroughs where the most intensive immunising campaigns have been undertaken. The total number of deaths from diphtheria registered for the four county boroughs for 1935 was 107, giving a death rate of 18.7 per 100,000 of the population. During the year 1933 there were 110 deaths from diphtheria registered in Dublin County Borough alone. An immunisation scheme against diphtheria has been extensively developed in Dublin and during the past five years approximately 47,000 children have been immunised under that scheme. Considerable propaganda work has been necessary for the purpose  of emphasising the importance of having children under 12 years of age protected against that disease, and it is expected that with the increased number of children rendered immune a considerable fall in the incidence of diphtheria will quickly take place. In the urban districts other than county boroughs there was a marked rise in the number of notified cases from 462 in 1934 to 585 in 1935, whilst in rural districts the figure remains almost the same as in 1934, namely 1,403. Immunisation schemes are not yet operating in all the urban districts and only in a comparatively small number of rural centres. An extension of immunisation schemes to these areas is being undertaken.
The number of scarlet fever cases notified in 1935 was 3,282, approximately the same as for the year 1934. The number of deaths was 92 as compared with 82 in 1934. There was a rise in the incidence of this disease in the four county boroughs and also in urban districts. In the rural areas there was a decline in the incidence as compared with the year 1934. In the county boroughs 1,004 cases were notified, and of these 906 were in Dublin. In the urban areas the incidence has been rising consistently since 1931. This disease presents a baffling problem to epidemiologists.
The number of deaths from measles increased from 50 in 1934 to 316 in 1935. The average number of deaths registered for the five years 1930-'34 was 191. Measles is not compulsorily notifiable generally throughout the country and the incidence of disease is not accurately known. From such figures as are available and from the number of deaths registered as due to measles, it is evident that the disease was very prevalent in 1935. Measles as a cause of death is one of our most formidable enemies and is deserving of more attention than is too often given to it by parents. The danger of this disease lies chiefly in the various complications, mainly of a respiratory nature, which so frequently accompany it, and which present the most serious difficulty in the treatment of the disease. Broncho-pneumonia is the most frequent and the most fatal complication  met with in this country, and when it supervenes upon an attack of measles is generally fatal, particularly in very young children. The housing conditions in a locality play a determining part in the incidence and mortality statistics of measles in a community. In the crowded dwellings and tenement houses of the poor, children are exposed to measles at a very early age and if nursed at home in the family circle not alone are their chances of recovery lessened, but they act as potential disseminators of the disease to the other children of the family.
Infantile mortality in 1935 reflected the general increase in death rates as compared with 1934, being 68 per 1,000 births as compared with 63 in 1934, but the bulk of this increase is accounted for by the urban districts where the rate rose to 87 in 1935, as compared with 78 in the preceding year, while the corresponding figures for rural districts were 57 and 55. The greater mortality among infants was chiefly due to congenital defects and to outbreaks of diarrhoea and enteritis. The latter disease is often associated with impurity in milk, and it is hoped that the carrying into effect of the regulations made in pursuance of the Milk and Dairies Act, 1935, will go a long way towards reducing the incidence of that disease. Infantile mortality rates were greatest in Waterford County Borough, 126 per 1,000 births, Kilkenny Borough 110, Limerick County Borough 106 and Wexford Borough 103. The position in Dublin County Borough showed an increase in the infantile mortality rate from 80 per 1,000 births for the year 1934 to 94 per 1,000 births for the year 1935. The increase was due to the incidence of diarrhoea and enteritis which is difficult to control in hot, dry weather, especially in the tenement areas.
Very valuable work for the safeguarding of infant life is being carried out under approved maternity and child welfare schemes in the four county boroughs of Cork, Dublin, Limerick and Waterford, in the boroughs of Clonmel, Dun Laoghaire and Wexford, in 15 urban districts and  in four county health districts. There are in addition 114 voluntary associations engaged in this work widely distributed and operating in every county in the Free State with the exception of Leitrim. The Dublin County Borough scheme is administered in a comprehensive scale and is still developing. It is under the charge of a whole-time medical officer, two part-time medical officers, and 23 nurses under a nurse superintendent and an assistant nurse superintendent. In addition to 12 baby clubs in various localities and the Model Child Welfare Centre at Lord Edward Street the regular nursing staff is supplemented by voluntary assistants who visit necessitous mothers and children in their own homes and arrange for the supply of milk and food.
There were 20,696 mothers and 35,761 children on the Dublin visitation registers at the commencement of 1936 and 4,146 additional mothers and 15,475 children were added in the course of the year. The total numbers dealt with under the scheme were 24,842 mothers and 51,236 children. The attendance at the baby clubs comprised 42,669 in respect of mothers and 46,992 in respect of children. The aggregate number of visits paid by health visitors to mothers and children in their homes during the year was 217,831. Arrangements are in existence for holding in connection with the scheme ante-natal clinics at the Coombe Lying-in Hospital, the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street, and the Rotunda Hospital. In the year 1936, 5,077 cases attended the clinics at these hospitals and at the special clinic at Lord Edward Street.
During the year 1936 there were 4,091, 3,021 and 1,168 mothers dealt with under the Cork, Limerick and Waterford County Borough schemes respectively whilst the numbers of children dealt with were 5,506, 4,953 and 2,700 respectively. The visits of health visitors in these districts were 13,477, 12,367 and 4,810 respectively in that year. The number of voluntary agencies dealing with rural areas is increasing. As a basis for the subsequent organisation of maternity and  child welfare schemes the county medical officers of health have recommended the adoption of the Notification of Births Act, 1907, and the Act is now in operation in all districts.
Child welfare also benefited by the supply of free milk for which a sum of £90,000 is provided in this Estimate. Approved schemes for the supply of free milk were in operation during last financial year in all areas with the exception of two urban districts where the councils declined to avail of the amounts allocated. Allowances of free milk are confined to children under five years of age whose parents or guardians are in receipt of home assistance or are unable from their own resources to provide an adequate supply of milk for their children. The supply of free milk has been of great value in promoting a higher standard of nutrition amongst the children of the poorer classes. The beneficial results to the children have been repeatedly attested by county medical officers of health.
School medical inspection schemes have now been adopted in every county. In the counties of Longford, Tipperary N.R. and Clare the schemes are only being initiated. In the schemes at present in force provision is made for the correction or treatment of diseased tonsils and adenoids, defects of nose or throat, dental defects, defective vision and other ailments of the eye. Diseased tonsils and adenoids are treated at the local or voluntary hospitals as are approved by the Department. Dental defects are treated by the surgeon dentists employed under the schemes at the dental clinics, or where more serious dental operations are necessary, at the county hospitals. In the county boroughs agreements are usually made with a dental or general hospital for treatment in certain cases. Errors of refraction are generally dealt with by the ophthalmic surgeon and glasses are provided. Other eye defects are dealt with at eye hospitals.
School medical inspection has ceased to be a novelty in these districts in which the schemes have been functioning for some time, and is regarded as part of the ordinary school life and  eagerly awaited; refusals to have children medically examined, or absences of children on the days of the inspection, are reported to be very few. Of the children examined in 1935, the following defects were ascertained:—dental, 32,468; tonsils and adenoids, 19,864; defective vision and other eye defects, 14,179, whilst the figures of treatment provided for these defects during the year were 29,035; 6,525 and 10,600, respectively. In some districts delay has taken place in the provision of staffs and of the corrective treatment necessary for defective conditions ascertained. These delays are being gradually overcome and it is anticipated that during the coming year the schemes will have reached a full stage in their development except in the counties in which county medical officers of health have only recently been appointed.
In one county the boys of school-leaving age, inspected in 1935, were, on the average, 2 inches taller and more than 8 lbs. heavier than those of the same ages inspected in 1932. Girls of school-leaving age inspected in 1935 were, on the average, 2½ inches taller and 3½ lbs. heavier than those inspected in 1932. These improvements were reported to be largely due to better dietary and to the correction of defects under the scheme. In some counties a further reduction is reported in the percentage of children suffering from malnutrition. The county medical officers of health attribute the improvement in part to the operation of the free milk supply scheme and to advice tendered to parents at school medical inspections regarding the proper dietary for children. School meals schemes in urban centres are now in operation in the administrative areas of 51 local authorities, comprising the four county boroughs, 40 urban districts and seven towns under town commissioners. Two of these schemes only came into operation in the latter part of the year ended 31st March, 1937, viz., Mallow and Lismore. Meals were provided under the schemes in 222 national schools during the year ended 31st March, 1936, for a daily average number of nearly 24,000 children. The total number of meals provided was approximately 4,231,872.
 The meals vary in different districts according to the funds available. Stews, soups and meat, with bread and potatoes, are provided in a few districts, but, in the majority of districts, meals of milk or cocoa, with buns or bread and butter or jam, are provided. Local authorities are urged by the Department to make pure milk (tuberculin-tested, if available at a reasonable price) the basis of the meal. In the Gaeltacht, school meals are provided by the boards of health for West Cork, and the counties of Galway, Donegal, Kerry and Mayo. The total number of meals provided in the financial year 1935-36 was 2,933,600. The mid-day meal usually provided under the schemes consists of milk, or cocoa with milk, and bread with butter or jam. Milk does not, in some instances, form part of the meal owing to the difficulty of obtaining supplies in certain areas, especially in winter. The reports from the managers and teachers of the schools in which the meals are provided show that the meals have a very beneficial effect on the physique of the children and on their application to their work. Many of the children come long distances to school, so that the provision of the meal, doubtless, encourages school attendance, and is likely to raise the school average, especially in winter.
Approved schemes for the welfare of the blind are in operation in all districts. Blind persons to the number of 2,166 were afforded assistance in their own homes, whilst 413 were maintained in approved institutions. Recently, statements have appeared in the public Press as to the prevalence of trachoma in this country. The medical section of my Department has given this matter attention for some years past, and the result of their investigations do not support the statements as to the wide spread of the disease. The county medical officers have been requested to make investigations as to the extent of the disease in their respective areas.
Schemes for the treatment of tuberculosis are now in operation in each county and county borough. Additional institutions for the treatment of the disease have been provided in several centres out of sweepstake funds. Improvements to existing  sanatoria and tuberculosis institutions have also been carried out. The total amount expended to date is £212,125. Further works are in progress in the counties of Clare, Cork, Galway, Kerry, Laoighis and Wexford. Local sanatoria or tuberculosis hospitals are available in three county boroughs and 15 counties. In two other counties beds in special wards of district hospitals are available for tuberculosis patients. In addition, open-air treatment and facilities for the education of children suffering from tuberculosis are provided in five institutions under private management.
In 1935 there were 2,976 deaths from pulmonary tuberculosis, or an increase of 250 deaths on the figure for 1934. There were 794 deaths from the non-pulmonary form, being an increase of six on the figure for 1934. The deaths in urban areas in 1935 from all forms of tuberculosis numbered 1,554, being an increase of 155 deaths on the number of deaths for 1934. In rural areas the deaths numbered 2,216 or an increase of 101 on the 1934 figure of 2,115. In the urban centres the death-rate from tuberculosis was 1.62 per 1,000 of the population of these areas as compared with 1.10 per 1,000 for all rural districts. The highest mortality rates from all forms of tuberculosis for 1935 were returned in the following areas:—Cork and Limerick County Boroughs, 1.72 per 1,000 of the population; Dublin County Borough, 1.64; Wexford County, 1.48 and Sligo County, 1.47. In the following areas the lowest mortality rates were observed:—Leitrim, 0.81; Roscommon County, 0.88; Cavan County, 0.93 and Monaghan County, 0.98. The tuberculosis officer for Leitrim County attributes the low death-rate largely to the small urban population in the county. At present a large majority of the cases coming under notice are in advanced stages of the disease. The County medical officers are endeavouring to secure notification of all cases in the early stages so that effective measures may be taken to guard against infective conditions in their homes. The school medical inspection schemes should have a very beneficial  effect in securing earlier treatment of cases of tuberculosis.
In the financial year just ended there was increased expenditure on sanitation works as compared with previous years, due mainly to the increased provision made by the Government for contributions to such works out of the funds specially provided for the relief of unemployment. The amount allocated to public health works undertaken by local authorities was approximately £250,000. The total expenditure was approximately £600,000, and the balance of the cost will be met by the local authorities out of loans. Further progress was also made in the improvement of hospital services. Three county hospitals, nine district hospitals and two fever hospitals have already been completed, and nine county hospitals, six district hospitals and four fever hospitals are in course of erection. Further plans have been approved for one county hospital, two district hospitals and three fever hospitals. Expenditure on these works is largely met out of Hospital Trust funds. The total expenditure will be in the neighbourhood of £1,500,000 of which approximately £1,000,000 will be met out of grants. Improvement works are also being undertaken in connection with most of the mental hospitals. The total expenditure on works in progress at mental hospitals is estimated at £1,300,000 approximately, of which about £800,000 will be met out of Hospital Trust funds.
It has been decided to make a grant of £10,000 from the Hospitals Trust Fund to the Hospital Library Council, which has been set up for the purpose of establishing a central book depot, from which suitable books will be supplied on loan to hospital authorities for the use of their patients. A beginning will be made with the voluntary hospitals and the tuberculosis hospitals, and subsequently it is intended, when experience has been gained, to consider the question of extending the service to the county and district hospitals. The initial grant is for an experimental period of three years, and at the end of that time the position will be reviewed.  The service will be in working order during the present year.
A council on which the universities and medical schools are represented has recently been established for the purpose of organising medical research. The necessity for special work of this kind has long been recognised. The amount of scientific investigation hitherto carried out in this country has been relatively small. The Public Hospitals Act, 1933, contemplated the allocation of grants from the Hospitals Trust Fund to organisations carrying on medical research, and it has been decided to make a grant of £10,000 out of that fund to finance the work of the council.
The provision for housing under the 1932 Act amounts to £767,820. This amount will be available as to the sum of £302,820 towards meeting a proportion of the annual loan charges of local authorities on moneys borrowed for the erection of houses under the Act, and as to a sum of £465,000 for the making of grants to private persons and public utility societies for the building of new houses and the reconstruction of existing houses in rural areas.
Since 1932, there has been provided under various Acts a total sum of £2,800,000 for the making of grants to private persons and public utility societies. The amount actually paid in grants up to the 31st December, 1936, was £970,934 in respect of 16,184 completed new houses, and £336,810 in respect of 8,760 houses reconstructed in rural areas and £179,362 in respect of houses partially erected or reconstructed. Of the 16,184 new houses provided, 7,269 were erected in urban areas and 8,915 in rural areas. The allocation of the houses built in urban areas was as follows:—Dublin County Borough, 4,350; Cork County Borough, 450; Limerick County Borough, 239; Waterford County Borough, 40; all other urban areas, 2,190. Of the total number of houses erected in urban areas, approximately 60 per cent. have been erected in Dublin County Borough.
Of the 8,915 new houses erected in rural areas since 1932, 1,355 were for  agricultural labourers; 3,627 for small farmers up to £15 valuation; 633 for farmers from £15 to £25 valuation; and 3,300 for other persons. In the rural areas, the largest number of houses were built in the counties of Mayo, Dublin, Kerry, Cork, Galway, Monaghan, Roscommon, Clare, Limerick and Sligo. The number of new houses in course of construction or about to be begun by private persons and public utility societies in urban and rural areas is 8,977.
The number of houses reconstructed in rural areas up to 31st December, 1936, was 8,760, of which 7,953 were for small farmers and 807 for agricultural labourers. The largest numbers of houses reconstructed were in the counties of Cork, Louth, Mayo, Longford, Monaghan, Galway, Kerry and Roscommon. There are at present in course of reconstruction 11,930 houses.
As regards the operations of local authorities, complete returns are not available for the year ended the 31st March, but it is estimated that 3,440 houses were completed in urban areas, including towns under town commissioners, and 2,825 in rural areas. The total number provided since 1932 would, therefore, be 14,895 in urban areas, and 8,662 in rural areas. The number of labourers' cottages provided in the financial year just ended is estimated at 2,825, and compares very favourably with the number built in the previous year. In the urban areas, the building programme has not been so well maintained. The number of houses built will be approximately 3,440. Unfavourable weather conditions during the winter season delayed the progress of building. I am not, however, satisfied that the decrease is entirely due to this cause, and further investigation into the position is being made. In Dublin, the number of dwellings estimated to be completed in the financial year just ended is 1,462, as compared with 1,522 in the year ended the 31st March, 1936. The rate of progress in Dublin has fallen greatly below expectations. The actual number of dwellings provided in 1934 was only 1,085, and in the succeeding year, 1,522. The production of houses would require to be increased to at least 2,500 in  every year. Unless this rate is reached very quickly, the clearance of insanitary areas will extend over many years. At present there are 9,450 families living in insanitary tenements, some of them in cellar dwellings. The problem is one of great magnitude, and must be attacked from every possible direction if a solution is to be found within reasonable time. The housing committee of the corporation and their staff have been giving the matter very close attention, and I believe they are fully alive to the necessity of making more rapid progress in the future.
The clearance of insanitary areas is a slow process. It involves the rehousing of the people who are to be dispossessed, partly in new dwellings built in areas already cleared, and partly in new houses erected on other sites. It is important, therefore, to plan well ahead the preparatory work of clearance and the preliminary development of new sites, so that a building programme can be maintained at the maximum without any falling off in production between the completion of one scheme and the starting of another. The housing committee have now dealt with this aspect of the problem in a manner that will likely lead to a substantial increase in the number of dwellings to be built in the present year. They have practically completed arrangements for the acquisition of land for the building of 2,145 dwellings, and are arranging for the acquisition of further sites for 1,695 dwellings. There are in course of construction at present about 1,200 dwellings, and contracts were recently entered into for 575 further dwellings. It is expected that in the near future further contracts can be placed that would bring the number under construction to at least 2,500 dwellings. The total number of dwellings completed in Dublin since 1932 is 5,230, of which 1,878 are for the rehousing of persons removed from insanitary areas.
During the year 1936, local authorities provided 4,077 allotments for unemployed persons. The plots are usually let at 1/- per season. For the present year schemes embracing 3,500 plots have been confirmed and it is  expected that arrangements will be made for the provision of 2,000 further allotments. Any loss incurred by a local authority in the provision of allotments for unemployed persons at reduced or nominal rents is recouped to the local authority out of the provision made in this Estimate. The provision to be made by local authorities for road maintenance in the present financial year shows an increase of £17,138 on the net amount provided in the past year, after allowing for the maintenance grant from the Road Fund. The amounts allowed for surface dressing of main roads is the same as last year, but an additional provision of £16,685 under this head has been made for county roads. Grants amounting to approximately £500,000 were made out of relief funds to local authorities in the past financial year for the carrying out of works on roads and footpaths with a view to providing additional employment for unemployed persons. About 24,000 persons were afforded employment on a rotational basis on these schemes.
Very little progress was made by planning authorities during the year. Model clauses for insertion in planning schemes have been prepared in my Department for the guidance of planing authorities. Copies of the clauses were recently circulated to the local bodies that have adopted the provisions of the Town and Regional Planning Act, 1934, and also to the various associations interested in planning. The planning authorities for the 15 districts where the provisions of the Act have been adopted are being requested to press forward the preparation of their draft schemes.
There has been an improvement in the rate collection in counties in the past year. In September, the proportion of the warrants collected was higher than that in the corresponding months of the three preceding years. At the end of December, this improved position was maintained, the proportion of the warrants for the year outstanding being then less than in any of the four preceding years. The returns up to the 31st March have not all been received, but the improvement shown up to the 31st December is likely to be maintained.
Mr. Brennan: The Local Government Department and local government administration, generally, constitute the most intimate administrative vehicle of the people. No Department comes so closely in touch with the everyday life of the people as does the Department of Local Government. It has a kind of dual responsibility which contributes to its importance in this connection. It must provide certain social services—efficiently, if possible—and it must see that the load which is placed upon the backs of the ratepayers is not greater than they are able to bear. Last year, I drew attention to the fact that “salaries, wages and allowances” covering the subdepartments from A to H had been increasing yearly. The Minister then expressed the opinion, I think, that this item had reached its peak point. We had an increase last year of £9,406, an increase the previous year of £7,810 and, this year, there is an increase of £7,340 in respect of salaries and travelling expenses. The Minister will say that we have added social services. We have, but I maintain that these added social services are not sufficient to justify that increase. I am afraid the Minister is simply keeping step with the other public Departments. If we look through that book of Estimates, we find that in every Department the same thing is happening—the number of officials is going up. I suppose it would be scarcely fair to remind the Minister of the promises he made before he became a Minister—how he was going to reduce the number of officials and how Fianna Fáil were going to attack all these big salaries. All the big salaries were to be reduced and we were to have a new country. The expenditure in respect of these matters was to be reduced by at least £2,000,000. Instead of that we find that in the Local Government Department, as in all the other Departments, official expenses are still mounting.
Last year, I drew the attention of the Minister to the expenditure on the housing board. I was not satisfied with his explanation last year and, this year, the Minister has not given any explanation to justify their existence. We have a chairman of  the housing board at a salary of £1,000 and two members at salaries of £500 each. I asked the Minister last year what the functions of the members of this housing board were and I was interested in his reply. He said:—
“There is a type of work which I might call a sort of propaganda work—going around and talking to local authorities and encouraging them—that the officials could not be expected to do and that kind of work which I could not do with individual local authorities has been successfully done by members of the Housing Board.”
I wonder if any members of the House have met this travelling circus. I know I have never seen them. I know they have never come before a meeting of the Roscommon County Council, or before a meeting of the Roscommon Board of Health, nor has any of our officials informed us that any of them has been in the county. I do not know what services they are giving the Minister, but if we are to continue the National Housing Board, we ought to be given some indication of what services they are rendering. They are not civil servants. What they really are I do not know. From one time to another we have had complaints from our contractors that they cannot go ahead with their contracts because possibly they cannot get some roofing material or for some reason like that. When this National Housing Board was set up I thought its members would get in touch with suppliers and inform the local authorities generally what the situation was in respect of these supplies. As far as we are concerned down the country we know nothing at all about this board, and in his statement to-day the Minister has not added to our information
In these Estimates we have another gentleman who is head of the Local Authorities Combined Purchasing Department and he is paid a salary of £1,000 a year. I do not know who the gentleman is, and I do not care. But I see under Vote 3, the Vote for the President of the Executive Council, that this gentleman holds another position. He is paid under both heads.  He is paid a small salary under Vote 3 because he is only regarded as an adviser to the President. Possibly in his moments of relaxation the President and he have some talks. We pay him £250 a year for that, and we pay him £1,000 a year as chairman of the Combined Purchasing Department.
There is another matter here under the heading of “Expenses in connection with national and other congresses.” I see that under that head expenses have been reduced. I drew attention in this House eight or nine years ago to the fact that local government in this country has become very cumbrous. Local government has become a very cumbersome machine, and it is quite possible that we may be able to find some better system elsewhere, or at least some modified system that would suit us better than the system we have. If we did attend international and other congresses of this nature it might turn out to be the very best money we could spend. Our system here is framed largely on that of the British machine. I am sure the Minister is quite well aware that on various occasions we have inspectors travelling up and down the country, possibly in the same train, crossing each other at different crossings, and very often going to the same places but not doing the same work, although in some cases they were medical inspectors qualified to do it. We have too much centralisation. At least, I think, that the Minister and the Government, no matter who is in power in this country, would be well advised to examine that question very closely and see if we are not having, at the moment, too much centralisation. I know it is a fact that very footy matters are held up very often for want of sanction or approval. After all the people down the country say they want some particular service. Perhaps it is only some provision for a water supply. It may be a very small matter costing £200 or £300. They want to go ahead with it and they cannot. They are often  held up for two or three years for want of sanction. I could give the Minister many instances of this sort of thing. On the whole I think it would be well worth the Minister's while to send some of his best men as his representatives to international congresses of this kind, so that whatever people in other countries may have gained by experience might be incorporated into our system. In other countries, possibly, there are systems of local government that compare more than favourably with what we have here. For that reason, I say that whatever cutting down of expenditure there may be, the Minister ought not to neglect having representatives at these congresses, for it may be the most useful expenditure he might undertake.
The Minister gave us some satisfactory figures with regard to the county medical officers of health. I am very glad indeed to learn that the efforts of the county medical officers of health in this particular Department are bearing fruit. That service was initiated before the present Government came into office. There were some bodies who had very grave and serious objection to putting this work into operation at the beginning but I am glad the Minister has overcome practically all that now, and the service is bearing fruit. The figures he gave with regard to deaths from infectious diseases are very satisfactory and encouraging. But I am afraid that the figures in connection with deaths from tuberculosis are not so satisfactory. To me at least they were disappointing. It is rather discouraging to find at this stage, even with all our county services and everything else in operation, that the deaths from tuberculosis are not decreasing. I am sorry to say it is the other way. In that regard I would urge upon the Minister the desirability of aiding and assisting counties in their efforts to erect proper sanitoria for the treatment of this dread disease.
The Minister told us that the rate position in the counties is satisfactory—at least he said it was more satisfactory than it was this time last year. I am glad to hear that but I  am afraid that even so it is very disappointing. We will be a long time before we catch up with the North. The situation all over the country, so far as the rate collection is concerned, is very far from what it used to be. To-day I have had an opportunity of reading a County Kerry paper where a member of a public body stated that they had over 2,000 prosecutions for the non-payment of rates. It is my opinion, and I have stated it already in this House, that this is not because the people are endeavouring to avoid paying the rates. I know the people want to pay the rates. The prosperity which the Minister and his Party thought they were going to bring to this country is not in evidence. That prosperity is not there. In addition to that, we have increased rates for the coming year and that applies in practically every county in the State. The increases are from over 1/- down to 4d. in the £. Coupled with that there is the increased indebtedness of the local authorities. But in that respect the payments or instalments for this increased indebtedness have not really commenced yet. The borrowings of the local authorities are for building labourers' cottages, hospitals and other institutions. The instalments on these borrowings have not matured yet. If the Minister is going to keep any balance between the ability of the local authorities to pay and the rates that are now being demanded of them, some relief must be given. Remember that in the last four or five years the indebtedness of the local authorities has increased by over £7,000,000. That is an enormous increase in the way of burden on the people. Looking through this Estimate I see that we have finished with the free beef scheme. That has gone into the Limbo of forgotten things along with the fixed prices for beef and a lot of other things that the Government were offering the people.
One of the most disturbing factors that we have in the case of county councils is the unemployment grant, which is made to various local authorities. I do not know who is responsible for the scheme, whether it is the  Minister for Local Government or the Minister for Finance, but it puts upon local authorities the responsibility of providing a certain amount of money towards unemployment assistance. That is really what it means. It is a kind of subterfuge to which the Government has had recourse in order to take those people off their own pay-lists and put them, at least to some extent, on somebody else. Every person in the country would, I am sure, be anxious to see some type of work done instead of the handing out of what is commonly known as the dole. I would like to take the Minister down the country into some county council office, and let him attend a meeting of the county council, so that he could observe whether the scheme which he or somebody else has adopted, and which the Minister is putting into operation through the county council, is fair to the ratepayers. Those grants are made. I do not know on what basis they are made, or on what basis the contributions are fixed, but I find that in some counties the council contribution is fixed at one-fourth of the whole, and in other cases the contribution is fixed at one-sixth or one-ninth.
Let us take County Roscommon as an example. Let us suppose there is one particular pocket in the county where certain numbers of people are receiving unemployment assistance. We get a grant of this nature, to be supplemented by the county council. We supplement it by a certain proportion and the rotational scheme is put into operation. I am not criticising the rotational scheme at the moment. It is certainly a scheme that lends itself to very severe criticism in the interests of the labourers, in the interests of work and from the aspect of the morale of the workers. Suppose we put into operation any of those schemes, it must be operated where the Government indicate, that is, where there is a high percentage of people receiving unemployment assistance. Later on we get a notification of a further grant with the same conditions and it goes to the same place. Later still we get another grant.
In a county like Roscommon we have any amount of people who are in  desperate need of employment and they are just as deserving as those people who are receiving unemployment assistance. We have men with very big families living on very small holdings. We have a lot of young men leaving the country. I am sorry to say that there are any amount of them leaving the country. Is it fair to ask the people to contribute to a scheme for the upkeep of a special little pocket where the people are receiving unemployment assistance? There are many people who are desperately in need of work and who are not receiving this assistance. I maintain it is outside the function of the county council to make such a contribution towards unemployment. We were asked to get the ratepayers to contribute towards unemployment assistance and distribute that assistance in a particular district. We did that on one occasion and on the second occasion when we were asked to do it the council unanimously refused, although the majority of the members were of the Minister's political faith. They thought it was not fair, and I believe it was not, to ask the County Roscommon ratepayers, numbers of whom were just as badly off for employment as those people, to contribute to a scheme for the benefit of people in the same area as that to which the first scheme was applied.
I would like to take the Minister to task in regard to one matter. If there are any people destitute or in need of assistance from a local authority, it is not the statutory function of a county council to provide that. It is the business of the board of health. The county council is, so to speak, the business organisation of the people; it is there to administer their business and the board of health is set up for other purposes, one of which is to relieve distress and unemployment and anything of that nature. Anything touching upon the charitable end or the distress end has to be done by the board of health. It is entirely a new matter for the county council to be called upon to do that type of work directly.
I wonder very much if it is quite in order, or if it is legal, for a county  council to agree to strike a rate or provide a sum of money for an indefinite purpose—and that is what they are being asked to do. Of course, after they have agreed to provide the money then the definite purpose is put up. In the first instance, however, county councils are asked, if the Government make a grant of a certain amount, will they put up another amount. The purpose of that expenditure is indefinite. It is clearly laid down what a county council may strike a rate for, and I think it is also clearly laid down that as far as road works or special works of any kind are concerned, they are to appear either in the road schedule of the county council or, if they are a special work outside that, they must come up by way of notice of motion to provide the money. If a board of health wants to provide money for the sinking of a well, £200 or £300 or perhaps £1,000, there must be at least one month's notification of that proposal given to the county council and it must appear on the agenda. It is a special work outside the schedule.
Here we have an entirely illegal demand being made upon county councils, but the worst feature of it to my mind is that people here who desire work and who do not want to be a charge upon any charity or upon the State, the decent, self-respecting small farmers' sons and other people of the same type who do not want to appeal for charity to anybody, will not get work unless they first go upon the dole. That is really sapping the morale of the people. I should like the Minister to direct his attention to the provision of some scheme whereby, if work is to be provided for the unemployed people, those deserving people will get their share of it. Even so far as unemployment assistance is concerned, I understand that there are very many faults to be found with its administration. Personally, I do not know very much about it; in fact, I do not know anything about it, but I hear a lot of complaints in this House and in other places about the way in which people are looked after in that respect. So  that, there may be many people denied work, even in those districts, who ordinarily ought to be on unemployment assistance. However, I am speaking for the people outside that altogether, the people who have not applied for unemployment assistance and who feel, as their fathers felt and those who went before them, that they want to live without being a charge upon any charity.
The Minister gave us some interesting figures with regard to housing. It is rather hard to follow the figures when they are given in that way in the House. I know that, reading last year's report and the Minister's reply, I should like to have an opportunity, after hearing the Minister, of comparing the figures in last year's introduction and the figures in this year's introduction, because I have a kind of feeling that very often figures creep in that are not correct. For instance, I find that in the Minister's speech of last year he referred to certain hospitals, the plans of which had been approved. One of these, he said, was the Boyle District Hospital in County Roscommon. As a matter of fact, the plans are not yet approved there. That was one of the hospitals due for erection last year, and the plans are not yet approved, and I must say that the Roscommon Board of Health and the people in the Boyle district are very dissatisfied indeed with the delays that have occurred over that matter.
I should like also to hear from the Minister what are the causes of the delays in the approval of schemes for the erection of labourers' cottages almost all over the country. I am a member of the board of health in Roscommon and I have, at one time or another, been taken to task by people who were expecting houses to be provided for them for the last two or three years. I went around as a member of a site selection committee. We selected sites and, as far as our end of it was concerned, we got everything done, but apparently the Local Government Department is holding the matter up and we have not got sanctions for the scheme yet.
Mr. Brennan: Yes, compulsory purchase. I have here before me a copy of a paper—the Offaly Independent— in which I see that the board of health there threatened to resign, or rather to adjourn and do no more work until the Department of Local Government would sanction their scheme for labourers' cottages which had been held up for three years. What is the cause of it? Is it that the machine has become too cumbersome and that it cannot really operate at the moment? A resolution was proposed at the Offaly County Board of Health that, “as a consequence of the necessary sanction for the scheme not having come, the board should adjourn as a protest against the delay, for which,” Mr. O'Connell, the proposer of the motion, said, “there was no excuse.” I am quoting from the Midland Tribune. The report continues:—
I am rather wondering whether or not some of those houses, possibly, have crept into the Minister's figures as houses that were in course of construction. In every one of those papers, which are all recent issues—about a week or a fortnight old—one finds complaints of that nature against the Local Government Department for delays in having their schemes for the building of houses sanctioned. The Minister comes in and tells us about his anxiety to provide houses for the people, and all this time the people are still living in houses that are condemned, and some of them at the moment are fleeing the country.
I ask the Minister seriously to undertake to look into those delays. They are very serious and they not alone apply to cottages, but also to hospitals. I know that down in Roscommon a very serious situation arose quite recently, where there was no accommodation for patients who were ill on the roadside and could not get accommodation. They were itinerant  travellers of one kind or another. They were suffering from pneumonia, but there was not a bed for them in County Roscommon. Part of that is due to the fact that the accomodation in the county home is limited on account of some of what might be called the harmless insane who are still housed there waiting for the completion of an institution over in Castlerea, but the building of the hospitals all over the country, as far as I can see, has been held up for some reason or another. Some people say that the Government do not want to pay out the money; that they want to pocket the money for another while. I do not think that is true, but I do think that some effort ought to be made to see that the matter is speeded up.
Now, I should like to refer to the actual erection of the cottages. A case was mentioned in the House recently. It was a very glaring case. I think it had to do with Bray and it had reference to defective workmanship in cottages. I am afraid that we have a lot of that. Last year, I drew the Minister's attention to the same thing. I do not know who is to blame in this matter, whether it is the inspection of the local authorities or whether it is the Minister's housing board. Perhaps, if they were to busy themselves in this direction, they might be worth the money paid to them. What I do object to, however —and I drew the attention of the House to it on every occasion on which I spoke on this Vote for the last three or four years—is the permission to use, in the erection of these houses, materials that may be very faulty materials and that have not been tested in any way. Now, the covering of houses with tiles is probably quite all right, provided the tiles are good and provided they can be relied upon; but any person who is acquainted with the working of concrete, the working of cement and sand, will tell you that once you make a light, compressed, concrete slab, you must ensure that there is no particle of clay in it. If there is any particle whatever of clay in it, time  and the weather will eventually find a hole there. Now, all over the country we have little factories making tiles. I do not know what the inspection of these factories is. I know, personally, that there is no insistence whatever that the sand is washed sand. No person comes to see it or to see what is put into it. It may be all clay. Yet these tiles are being permitted to go up on those labourers' houses, and on any other houses, at the public expense. I do not know whether the Minister really realises the importance of that. I drew his attention to it last year, and I do not think there was any effort whatever made to standardise tiles as far as the materials are concerned. After all if local authorities are going to increase their indebtedness, and if the people who are going into these houses have got to pay pretty stiff rents, the least they should get is a house when they are paying for it. The Government is offering to pay a very large percentage of the repayment of the loans, but I wonder if, by the time the repayment of the loan is completed, whether any part of some of these houses will be in existence at all, seeing that it was related here some time ago—and I believe it was quite true—that the beds in a number of these houses had to be shifted so as to avoid the rainfall. If the Minister is serious and in earnest about providing houses for the people, and if we are going to incur debt to build houses, let us at least see that they are houses when they are built.
I am glad that the Minister has instituted, though only in a very small way at the moment, a grant for hospitalisation. I hope that it will be extended and that the Minister and local authorities generally will realise the advantage that expenditure of that type would bring to patients in the various hospitals all over the country.
I should like if the Minister had told us in connection with the rating position—I have not got any figures this year—what are the amounts of irrecoverable and written-off arrears  returned last year as compared with previous years. I remember some years ago that it was a matter of surprise to have to write off practically anything. Now, notwithstanding all the prosperity that the Minister and his Party see in this country, we have to write off a considerable amount. One thing the Minister glossed over, and about which I thought he would have told us more were the delays which existed previously in the Local Government Department. I thought he would have told us that the work would now be speeded up, since he has got rid of his chief executive officer. To most people in this country, irrespective of politics altogether—I think this is a purely administrative matter—that appeared to be a deliberate injustice perpetrated by the Minister or advocated by the Minister.
An Ceann Comhairle: In that connection I would remind the Deputy that the subject matter of a motion recently debated in this House may not be raised on an Estimate. The matter to which the Deputy refers was decided recently in this House. Furthermore, under a standing order the subject matter of a motion decided in this House may not be reopened in the same session. Hence, the circumstances under which the official referred to retired may not be debated.
Mr. Brennan: Is the matter not relevant to the Estimate? I certainly do not want to raise any matter outside the Estimate, nor do I want to raise anything irrelevant, but I do submit that this matter comes within the Estimate. I am not raising it on some foreign matter as it were. I am raising it on the Estimate for the Department, and I submit I am entitled to do that.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy would find it difficult to envisage a motion in this House which did not come within the ambit of some Estimate or other. A standing order states that a motion on which a decision was reached cannot again be  raised in the same session of the Dáil. There have been previous rulings that the subject matter decided on any motion may not be raised on an Estimate. The Chair definitely decides now that the matter to which the Deputy has just referred may not be debated. A passing reference might have been permitted.
Mr. Brennan: I have very little more to say except that I do want to make this passing reference to this particular matter, that it was the nastiest jar this country ever got. Local government owed a good deal to Mr. McCarron——
Mr. Brennan: I am precluded apparently from saying anything further on the matter, so I shall pass on. In conclusion, Sir, let me say that I am not at all convinced by the Minister that the rates in this country are being any more easily collected to-day than they were three years ago. I am greatly afraid that while this increase, which appears to be a yearly increase, in the number of officials in the Local Government Department, this yearly increase in the expenditure of local authorities and this yearly increase in the amount written off in irrecoverable rates, obtain in this country, they disclose a very unhealthy state of affairs. The Minister would be well advised to consult with his colleagues on the position in which the country finds itself. Rates must be paid and public services must be maintained. That is absolutely essential but, if public services must be maintained in that particular way, the burden must not be too great for the people. As I said in the beginning, I feel, and I have always felt, that a very heavy responsibility rests on the Local Government Department itself to provide services and to see that the back that has to carry the load is able to bear the burden.
Mr. Norton: I was rather amazed at the reference by Deputy Brennan to the Unemployment Assistance Act. If the references by the Deputy to  that valuable piece of social legislation are to be taken as an indication of his Party's attitude to the Unemployment Assistance Act, then I think the unemployed people in the country ought to be very wary about the protestations of the Deputy's Party that they are in favour of continuing the present social legislation.
Mr. Brennan: On a point of explanation, I do not want to have any misunderstanding. I did not condemn the Unemployment Assistance Act at all. I spoke, as the Deputy himself and his Party have complained in this House on a number of occasions, of the way the Act was administered.
Mr. Norton: Let the Deputy make another speech and correct his previous speech, but I suggest he should  allow me to deal with the mentality disclosed in that statement. He told us about decent people who did not draw unemployment assistance benefit, the clear inference being that the people who draw unemployment assistance benefit do not come within the category of decent people in the opinion of Deputy Brennan.
Mr. Norton: Quite? Now we have got it very definitely. Unemployment assistance benefit from the State is charity in the opinion of Deputy Brennan. Widows' and orphans' pensions paid to non-contributors under the Widows' and Orphans' Pensions Act could likewise be described as charity. Old age pensions could also be described as charity by the same process of reasoning. We have it now from a Front Bench member of Fine Gael that anybody who receives an old age pension, widows' and orphans' pension or unemployment assistance benefit is in receipt of State charity.
Mr. Norton: That is the official viewpoint of a Front Bench member of the Fine Gael Party. That viewpoint, in my opinion, conflicts very strongly with the protestations of Deputy Cosgrave in Cork last week that Fine Gael wanted the existing social services retained, because right through Deputy Brennan's reference to the Unemployment Assistance Act there was, in my opinion, a veiled reference to the fact that he had little use for that kind of social legislation.
Mr. Norton: Ask Deputy Morrissey, of your own Party, whether it was needed. He told this House, as your own official statistics told this House that there were 80,000 unemployed people at the time of the census in 1926. Apparently the Deputy's Party does not see any need to provide work when there is anything less than 80,000 unemployed people!
Mr. Norton: Does the Deputy remember what he said? He said there was no necessity to provide work, although there were 80,000 unemployed people in 1926. When the Deputy speaks, I hope he will explain that statement. I want to raise a few matters which are much more germane to this Estimate, and I want to pack them into the shortest possible space of time. I have no intention of following Deputy Brennan much further on this question of unemployment assistance benefit.
Mr. Norton: I am quite satisfied to have it on record that Deputy Brennan says unemployment assistance benefit is charity, and repeats that statement when it is brought to his attention. The Minister may be aware of the fact that there has been considerable agitation in County Carlow in regard to a hospitalisation scheme which has been under consideration in connection with the hospital services of that county. The Department made a  very substantial offer to the local authority to enable it to improve its hospital services. The scheme was first considered and then rejected by the local authority—the local board of health. Subsequently, as a result of the public outcry, the board of health decided to reconsider its attitude and to proceed with the hospitalisation scheme, but it is perfectly clear to anybody who has been reading the discussions on the matter at the meetings of the local board of health that there is considerable bickering, strife, friction and jealousy impeding the improvement of the hospital services of County Carlow.
There has been an outcry in the local Press demanding that the board of health should avail of the substantial grant in order to improve the hospital services of the county. There is a considerable amount of unemployment there, which would be greatly mitigated if this hospitalisation scheme were put on foot. There is no evidence at present, having regard to the friction and bitterness which exist, that this scheme will be got under way in a measurable space of time. What I would urge the Minister to do is to convene a conference of the interested local authorities, with perhaps the Deputies representative of the constituency—those do not include myself —with a view to getting some measure of agreement such as will enable the hospitalisation scheme to proceed, thus enabling County Carlow, and particularly the poor people in the county, to avail of an improved hospital scheme.
I should like, Sir, to congratulate the Minister on the beneficial activities of, in particular, the housing section of his Department. The amount of house-building activity which is in progress is considerable, and, of course, marks a very substantial improvement on the housing activities of the Department up to 1932. I agree, of course, that if you do nothing you never make mistakes. If you do things in a small huckstering fashion you will have plenty of time to concentrate on such matters as you are dealing with, and to make sure that such as you do will be done with relative perfection. It is inevitable, however, that in large scale  housing schemes there will be blemishes, and I should like to direct the Minister's special attention to blemishes which I think have been revealed in the new housing activity which has taken place under the auspices of his Department. I have had quite a large number of complaints from constituents in the County Kildare to the effect that the new houses were showing considerable defects. In order that I might be in a position to judge at first hand the reliability of the complaints, I undertook a pretty extensive tour of inspection of a number of typical new labourers' cottages. As a result of the inspection which I made, I put up documented complaints to the Minister's own Department, so that they might be investigated by the Minister's own officials.
A number of the complaints which came to my notice were of the type mentioned by Deputy Brennan, namely in regard to defective and porous tiles which have been used on roofs. The substance used in the tile or the method of making the tile is not such as to give a satisfactory roofing material. There is considerable complaint over a fairly wide area in the County Kildare that the type of tile used, whether because of its finish or its ingredients, is not satisfactory as an effective roofing material for labourers' cottages. In other places I came across complaints of pretty bad settlement in house foundations. In some cases I actually saw pretty serious cracks in walls. In the letters which I have addressed to the Department I directed special attention to the areas where those defects could be seen. The outstanding complaint in respect of practically all the cottages spread over an area of 25 miles was that the tenants suffered considerably by reason of the defective fireplaces and the defective chimneys which were installed in the cottages. It was demonstrated to me beyond any possible doubt that the smoke from the fires would go anywhere but up the chimneys. On one of my inspections I happened to be accompanied by an architect friend. I told him  what my mission was, and asked him to come with me and inspect those cottages, so that he could give me the benefit of his technical advice on the matter. He came and inspected the cottages with me. He subjected the flues of the chimneys to all the well-known tests for draughts, but the flues of the chimneys did not respond to any of the tests for draughts.
In some houses which I inspected it was necessary for the tenants to leave the kitchen door open and also the window open in order to try to get the smoke up the chimney. When the window and door were closed for my edification, immediately we were involved in smoke. My architect friend, a man of considerable eminence in his profession, told me that in his opinion the defect was due to the fact that the flues were improperly “gathered,” and that in his opinion these chimneys would never draw satisfactorily with the type of flue which was being used in these particular cottages. I have put that complaint in writing to the Department, setting out substantially what I am saying here now, with the request that the matter should be examined, and so that a type of chimney breast may be evolved which, at least, will ensure that the smoke will pass through instead of having it passing through the door and the window as at present.
I inspected other cottages which have only been built about 15 or 18 months. I found that the back walls, made in case concrete, had then been dashed with a sharp mixture, not even a loamy mixture, on top of that case concrete. The interior wall of the back of the cottages reeked with damp. In one particular case the tenant had actually papered the wall, but by putting one's finger on the wall it was possible to scrape the paper right off the wall. My architect friend and some members of the board of health were with me when I performed that simple operation. In another case the walls were not papered, but they were, nevertheless, damp, and one could quite easily get the interior plaster-work off by merely scratching it with one's nail. In both cases the beds had to be pulled away  from the walls so as to avoid the damp which came from the walls. I asked my architect friend what remedy was there for that situation. He said that in his opinion the outside of the wall should have been plastered before it was dashed, and that the cottages, as at present erected, would never keep out the rain on the back walls unless they were satisfactorily plastered and dashed. I believe that these cottages can still be inspected. In any case, I have five witnesses of the fact that they were in that condition when I inspected them about six weeks ago. I understand that the Department's inspector has visited some of these cottages since, and I imagine that his report will confirm the accuracy of the statements which I have made.
These defects, a good many of them understandable when you are undertaking a big housing drive, demonstrate the necessity for very close attention to the question of erecting cottages. Mind you, I would sooner have mistakes made in a comprehensive push than no mistakes made and the rate of building progress slowed down. It is inevitable that there will be mistakes, but what I want to do in a friendly, and not in any carpingly critical, way is to direct the attention of the Minister and of his advisers in his Department to the fact that there is need for very careful inspection of the housing schemes that are at present being completed. One special reason which makes that necessary is the fact that quite a number of people who have only a fragmentary knowledge of house-building have become contractors in recent years, not because they have any particular skill in building houses but because they see here a fruitful opportunity of amassing big profits. A number of such people have gone into house-building with practically no technical skill at all. They have managed to get together some gear. They employ handy-men where they can get them at a low rate of wages, and, perhaps, a few qualified tradesmen. These are the kind of people who, in a considerable number of cases, are undertaking the erection of labourers' cottages  in lots of two, four, six and a dozen. Certainly, that is the experience in the County Kildare— that you have a number of contractors of that kind. I believe you have the same position in quite a number of other counties.
I also wish to direct the attention of the Minister to the slothfulness on the part of some contractors in carrying out house-building schemes. I reported to his Department about a month ago the case of a particular contractor. This was a man who signed a contract to erect a number of labourers' cottages within a period of 30 weeks. He did that 16 months ago, but so far a foundation stone has not been laid for the erection of one of these cottages, although he signed a contract to complete the scheme within 30 weeks. I again direct the attention of the Minister's Department to that particular matter. I am sure they agree with me that it is a most intolerable position and that they will endeavour to get the board of health to bring such pressure as they can on the contractor. That brings me to the point of analysing for a few moments the question of what pressure exactly can be brought to bear on those contractors. Many of them, of course, are only contractors in name. It is just because they require a term to describe themselves that they say they are contractors. In fact, they are not contractors of any substance or standing at all. Those persons who contract to erect labourers' cottages are required, in the County Kildare at all events, to give sureties so as to reinforce their obligations under the contract. I came across a case recently where one of the persons signing the bond on behalf of the contractor, and promising to see that the contractor would build the cottages, was an employee, in fact, of the contractor in receipt of 30/- a week. Did anyone ever hear of a greater abuse, or a greater misuse, of the title “surety” than that—a 30/- a week employee of a contractor being actually offered by the contractor and accepted by the board of health as a guarantor that this contractor would build the houses set out in the contract in the period stipulated?
 It is impossible for any board of health to take effective steps against a contractor of that kind. In fact, such a contractor has nothing to lose. He has very little money, very little gear, and it is not at all improbable that the man he offers as surety is only separated from the workhouse by one week's wages. What is a board of health to do if a man such as that fails to fulfil his contract—a man who offers as surety that he will execute the contract in a competent way, one of his own workmen? That man has played ducks and drakes with the board of health in the matter of the erection of cottages. He got a contract over two and a half years ago that he has not yet completed, and the board of health know that they are absolutely powerless and helpless in the matter. I suggest to the Minister's Department that, when considering this question of sureties, they should try to get away from the personal surety which, in many cases, is very unreliable and often very unfair to the person who agrees to act as guarantor. He has no control either as regards the competence of the contractor or of the possible impediments that may develop during the course of the erection of the cottages. I suggest to the Department that they should consider the question of requiring contractors to provide an insurance bond for the due execution of their contracts. An insurance company will only give a bond when they are satisfied that the person seeking it is a reliable person. In that way the board of health will have some effective remedy open to it in the event of default on the part of a contractor. I make these comments with the utmost goodwill and with a desire to assist in accelerating the house-building programme: in the hope that by giving special attention to these details the Minister may thereby be enabled to remove from a very excellent house-building programme some blemishes which need not be an inevitable part of that programme.
There is one other matter that I would like to refer to, and that is the hospitalisation schemes. It is true that as a result of the magnificent work which has been undertaken by  the Hospital Sweepstakes Trust the country now finds itself enriched beyond measure in the matter of its ability to augment hospital services. Millions of money are now available for the erection of hospitals. It is a matter for congratulation that a substantial number of new hospitals have been built and that others have been renovated and improved. Notwithstanding the improved hospital services in some cases and the availability of large sums of money to assist hospitalisation schemes we nevertheless find, particularly in this city, that it is becoming harder and harder every day for a poor person to get into hospital. I have had cases brought to my attention where poor persons found it almost impossible to get treatment in hospitals at short notice.
In one particular case which came to my attention recently I had the experience of finding a young man, with a couple of pounds a week in wages, having two children stricken with fever, one with scarlatina and the other with diphtheria. He came to me in a last effort to try to get hospital accommodation for his two children. After very considerable difficulty I managed to get one hospital to take one of the children. The house surgeon in that hospital made a choice as to which child he would take and he took the child suffering from scarlatina. It was impossible, however, to accommodate the other child, but the father was told that a bed might be available in a couple of days for it. Before the couple of days expired, however, the child had expired, a death which might possibly have been avoided—I do not say would have been avoided, but which might possibly have been avoided if hospital treatment were available for the child when it was seeking treatment.
That experience is not an isolated one. I have had numerous cases of that kind brought to my attention and references have appeared in the Press as to the difficulty of securing admission of poor persons to hospitals. The fact remains that, notwithstanding the availability of large sums of money for hospital work, there is still considerable difficulty in getting poor persons into hospital in this city. I should  like to know from the Minister who, I am sure, has heard complaints of this kind from other sources and is probably aware of what the real position is, what it is proposed to do to relieve the position, particularly of poor people who are unable to pay for hospital treatment.
Dr. Rowlette: I think I am quite justified considering the Estimate that the Minister for Local Government and Public Health has brought in, in congratulating him on the advance that has taken place in all forms of public health activity during the year under review. He has recounted branch after branch of activity in which there is an increase of work and from which eventually, if not at once, the country must benefit largely in improved health. If he is going to continue to sprout schooboys two inches and schoolgirls two and a half inches every couple of years we might find ourselves embarrassed by want of room in the schools for the rapidly growing children. If we may take the example he gave us as typical of what he hopes to produce in regard to health, we can congratulate him very warmly.
There are, of course, points in the report which he has given us which cause a certain amount of anxiety and some depression in that the increased activity which he rightly records has not produced the good effects all round we might hope for. There has been a general falling back in the health of the country in the year he has reviewed—the year 1935 —as regards the incidence and the treatment of the chief infectious diseases, and a great falling back as regards mortality from the chief infectious diseases, and mortality generally. I do not think he mentioned in his report to-day —I am not sure—the mortality from puerperal sepsis—I did not catch his reference to it if he did. But in some previous reports he has had to draw attention to the fact that the mortality from this unfortunate condition, a condition which should be preventible, tended to increase. The gross mortality, taking the general mortality figures, was not very great,  but it is deplorable to see the increase in such a cause of mortality as this and deaths which might be prevented altogether. I am not sure if he made reference to it to-day, but in the years from 1930 to 1934 the deaths from this cause increased by more than 25 per cent., from 81 to 104.
The Minister pointed out that the incidence of diphtheria had lessened, but I notice that the deaths appear to have increased, so that we appear to have been dealing in the year he spoke of with a more virulent type of disease. The incidence lessened, but the deaths, so far as I understand, increased from 341 to 378. The Minister spoke of the hopes based on the immunisation scheme against diphtheria. I am sure that if this scheme is made thoroughly effective and carried out cordially throughout the country, it will diminish the incidence of mortality from this disease in future. He told us of the difficulties or delays that were hard to avoid in establishing this scheme; but he did not mention what was the chief obstacle in the way of making this scheme more widespread and practically universal through the country. It is that his Department is unwilling to sanction payments which would be regarded as adequate by the medical profession of the country. That his Department is unwilling to sanction payments which local authorities are quite willing to give; and so far has not expressed any willingness to sanction any remuneration for this work which is within 50 per cent. of what is paid in England.
It is not natural to expect that the medical practitioners in the country will devote themselves to this highly responsible work if they are treated with the contempt with which his Department has treated them in this respect—that whereas a certain fee is payable in Great Britain, something less than half that should be enough for them. It is unfortunate that this very useful work should be delayed by the unreasonable attitude, as I think it is, of the Minister's Department. I think the medical practitioners of the country are very willing to carry out the public duty in this respect, but they are not willing to be treated with  contempt, and they are not willing that they should be held up to public obloquy, where such provision has not been made, if they refuse to perform professional duties for inadequate fees. I hope the Minister will take the matter in hands in the near future. I am quite sure that he will find it possible to make an entirely reasonable bargain with medical practitioners who are willing to assist the county medical officers of health to carry out their duties.
The next point in the Minister's report dealing with statistics which causes most uneasiness is that in regard to infantile mortality. There has been a very considerable increase in the figures of infant mortality in the year mentioned, as compared with the previous year, the figures having risen from 63 to 68 per 1,000 births. The rate in the urban areas is alarming. In the county borough of Waterford the figures are 126 per 1,000, nearly twice what they are in the country generally. All over the urban areas we have a rather deplorable increase. The Minister stated that the main cause of the increase of infantile mortality was epidemics of epidemic enteritis in 1935. I would be glad if he could tell us when we may hope to see any results from the Milk Act that was passed by the Oireachtas in 1935 or when the regulations will be enforced and made public. As far as I know, the Act has been on the Statute Book without the public, so far, having reason to know of its provisions. I do not think the Act is yet in force and would be glad to know when it will be enforced. If the increased infantile mortality is due to an epidemic of diarrhoea, and if the Minister is correctly advised as to the cause I hope that these epidemics will be brought under control by the provisions of the Milk Act, and I hope it will be enforced before the season for these diseases comes on in the present year. A reduction in infant mortality in that respect would be a magnificent result of the Milk Act, for which the Minister was responsible a few years ago.
There is another point in connection with infant mortality to which I think it right to draw the attention of the  House and that is the alarming mortality amongst illegitimate children. The matter does not come under the Minister's report to-day, but I am basing my remarks on the last report of the Department. In the year 1934-5 there were 2,030 illegitimate children born, and 538 died under the age of one year. That is to say, the mortality amongst illegitimate children was something like 26 per cent., while the general mortality all over the country was 7 per cent. That is a shocking position in a Christian country and I draw the attention of the House to the demand that was made in the report of the Department on this topic for 1934-35:
“This mortality rate is out of all proportion to the corresponding rate in respect of legitimate infants and calls for investigation as to its causes and as to what measures should be taken to effect a reduction in this abnormal mortality.”
That is a sentiment with which I think we are all in thorough sympathy and I press upon the Minister to consider inaugurating such an investigation, whether by a committee or by officers of his Department if he can spare them, because it is a shocking comment on the civilisation of the country, that a child, unfortunate enough in other respects to be born illegitimately, has four times a greater prospect of dying in the first year than the ordinary child. We were all glad to learn from the Minister that the medical inspection of school children is being carried out widely and is no longer a novelty. I would like to know, not the number of school children who come within the ambit of inspection, but the number actually inspected each year, and the number of times during the school life that a child comes under medical inspection. Does a child chance to be inspected twice in his school life, once at the beginning and again at the close, or does he happen to come under inspection during some odd period of the school life? If we had real knowledge of the effects of school inspection generally throughout the country we should know if there were two or three medical inspections of a child during the years spent at school. As the Minister pointed out, inspection  tion would, no doubt, prevent the development of disease which would interfere gravely with the child at a later period.
In the last report of the Department attention is drawn to the condition of the school premises and the great desirability of improving them. That is a matter of the greatest importance as children spend long periods in these premises which are to an amazing extent unsuitable for the purpose. The report mentioned that the county medical officers of health pointed out the danger of such premises, and instructions were issued by the Department requesting the medical officers to report on unsuitable premises under the following heads:—
“These points are elaborated by many school medical officers in their reports, and in almost every case (d) is singled out as the matter most urgently needing attention. This is no doubt due in part to the fact that the serious evils which unfortunately exist in this respect might be remedied more easily and at less cost than other defects which would necessitate at least structural alterations or the acquisition of ground.”
The point of that remark is concerned with the section dealing with sanitation. It is a matter that can be remedied quickly. Many of the medical officers point out how grave is the lack of accommodation. In Meath rural schools it is stated that the sanitary arrangements are primitive and unsatisfactory. The cleaning of closets is left to a casual tramp; some are  cleaned only once a year. That is the sanitation provided in the rural schools of County Meath two years ago. Many other counties are mentioned, none of them quite as bad as those in County Meath. It is clear, however, from the report of the Department on information furnished by the medical officers and the school medical officers that not merely as regards sanitary accommodation, but in respect of the school premises themselves, there is very great need for reform. I do not think the House would grudge the Minister the funds to bring about this necessary reform. Such an expenditure is in no sense a loss. It is an investment in the health of the country. I question whether we are right in insisting on making children attend school until first we make sure that we are not endangering their health by driving them into some of the shacks and sheds that take the place of proper school buildings.
It is disappointing to find that notwithstanding the great activity for over 20 years past in regard to the prevention and treatment of tuberculosis, the disease has, in the last year or so, shown, a tendency to increase both in incidence and mortality. One can only hope that it is due to some passing influence and that the downward tendency which had been marked for 20 years will continue.
I think this is the first occasion on which the Minister, in his statement to the House on the Estimate, gave the House any information as to what was being done with the funds that have accrued from the Hospitals Sweepstakes in the hands of the hospital trustees. He gave us some very interesting information to-day. I understood from him that county hospitals and other such institutions had benefited or that it was arranged that they should benefit to the extent of £1,000,000 sterling and that the mental hospitals were benefiting to the amount of £800,000, in addition to contributions from the local authorities. With Deputy Brennan, I welcome the establishment of a hospital library service. The Minister has told us that, in the first instance, this scheme is to be tentative or experimental and that that  experiment will first be tried in regard to the voluntary hospitals. It occurs to me that in all probability the rate-supported hospitals were really more in need of a library scheme than the voluntary hospitals. Many of the voluntary hospitals have friends who supply them with a certain amount of literature and I think the rate-supported hospitals are more likely to be neglected in this respect. However, the scheme has been launched and no doubt the experience gained in the two years' experiment will be of help in deciding in what way the scheme should develop, but it was my own view that the need was greater, though the administration might be more difficult, in the case of the rate-supported hospitals.
The Minister has also announced, and I welcome this very heartily, that a grant of £10,000 has been given for the carrying on of research on medical subjects. He did not say whether this was an annual grant or not, but I hope it does not mean that there is simply a sum of £10,000 to be dealt with and that then the scheme will have to be abandoned. On the other hand, I do not want to suggest that he should earmark £10,000, £20,000 or £50,000 a year for this purpose, but it would be deplorable if those who have the planning of research were to feel that once the £10,000 was gone, no matter what work they might be at, it was coming to a stop. I hope this is only the first of a series of suitable grants. It is not an extravagant grant and I think that the Minister is probably right in not starting his research with an extravagant grant. It is proper that expenditure of money in this respect should be very carefully thought out and that those who have the spending of it should not have the idea that they have money to burn. I do not think the members of the Research Council administering this sum would be likely to get such foolish ideas, but it is just as well that the money should not be thrown about, but properly expended year by year.
The Minister has told us these things as regards the funds accruing from the Hospitals Sweepstakes— £1,000,000 to the rate-supported institutions and £800,000 to the mental hospitals; he has told us of the £10,000 for libraries; and he has told us of the £10,000 for research; but he has told us nothing of what is being done with the money for the benefit of those who collect the money and for whom the money was collected, namely, the voluntary hospitals. He passed that over in silence, not because, I am sure, it is not occupying his attention. I am quite sure that he is not permitted to remain without its occupying his attention, but the fact is that he has not given us any information on the topic. I do not suppose that the Minister in his reply will give us much information either, nor do I want to press him in the matter, but I do want to put some points before him as to the position of the voluntary hospitals at present. Deputy Norton, without going into details, spoke and spoke quite truly, of the great difficulty of getting a patient into a hospital at present. He spoke particularly of Dublin, and he emphasised the “poor” person when he was speaking, as I think, unjustifiably. There is no greater difficulty, so far as I know, in obtaining admission to a voluntary hospital in Dublin for a “poor” person than for one who is in such a position that he can pay for his maintenance, but there is an immense difficulty in getting anyone into a hospital at present. The pressure on the Dublin hospitals has increased out of all proportion during the past few years. We might expect that in view of the enormous increase in the population of Dublin, and the fact that most people now who have a serious illness wish, and naturally wish, to be treated in hospital rather than at home. The success of hospital as compared with home treatment, except in the most luxurious surroundings, is generally recognised, and the demand for hospital accommodation has grown enormously and will continue to grow, not merely in proportion to the increase in population seeking treatment, but as people recognise more and more the advantage of having hospital treatment rather than home treatment.
A large number of people think that with these large sums of money which  have come into the country for the development of hospitals, the hospitals are rolling in money, and that it is through some innate wickedness or ill-nature that they refuse to take patients in. The fact is that very little of the money has, so far, reached the voluntary hospitals, and I think that, in Dublin for instance, apart from the increase in the number of maternity and gynæcological cases associated with the development of Holles Street Hospital, there have been no increases in the number of beds in the voluntary hospitals in Dublin. So far as I know, there has been no increase in the number of general hospital beds, and if there has been an increase, it is very small and is a very small proportion of the total number of beds. The position of the voluntary hospitals in Dublin at the moment in regard to accommodation and to serving the public who look to them for service is that they have not got beds to accommodate the number of suitable patients who seek admission; that there are certain schemes for the development of the hospitals of Dublin before the Minister for some time past; that the manner in which a particular hospital should attempt to meet the demand on it, and should attempt to develop, will depend on the decision of the Minister on those schemes which have been put before him by his advisers on the Hospitals Commission.
Take a particular case of a small hospital with 120 beds. If it takes part in the general scheme of development devised by the Hospitals Commission, that hospital— the present institution—will, as a building, have a comparatively short life—about seven or ten years. It is incumbent on that hospital to come to its decision rapidly. Is it to ask the Hospitals Commission for its approval of the building of a permanent addition to the hospital or is it to provide temporary accommodation to deal with the demand during the next half-dozen or ten years? That is the problem facing many of the voluntary hospitals in Dublin. Similar problems confront other hospitals in connection with out-patients' departments or departments of some other kind. Are they to make application for approval  of the building of a temporary department or are they to make a permanent addition to the hospital? They cannot settle these questions until the Minister makes up his mind as to what the general policy for Dublin and the country is to be. I do not wish to hurry the Minister, but I do wish him to understand that, from that point of view, the matter is an urgent one. It would be deplorable if, owing to any pressure, the Minister were to make up his mind on this matter without due consideration, but these different schemes have been before him for about 18 months. It is about 18 months since he got the first report of the Hospitals Commission, and it is about 14 months since that report was made public. I ask him to give his attention to this matter as speedily as he can. I ask him to turn from other topics which may not be so pressing so that he may give his decision as to whether he will accept the recommendation of the Hospitals Commission in favour of the development of the Dublin voluntary hospitals or adopt some other method of development.
I do not propose to go into the merits of the schemes, but I do want to make this point: the Hospitals Commission recommended the development of the voluntary hospitals as the main hospital service for Dublin. In the event of that recommendation being rejected, they suggested the addition of 500 or 600 beds to St. Kevin's Hospital. It is two years since the Commission considered that matter, and it is 18 months since they made their recommendation. Things have changed since then. It is becoming increasingly clear that the demand is going to be greater than the Hospitals Commission expected it would be when they considered this matter two years ago. Whereas there appeared to be a certain rivalry between the scheme of development of the voluntary hospitals and the extension of St. Kevin's Hospital, there is good reason to consider the likelihood that both such steps will be necessary in the near future and that neither of these steps, by itself, would be adequate to the demand for hospital accommodation in Dublin. I ask the Minister to consider this question  not merely from the point of view of the rivalry of the two schemes but from the point of view that development in both directions will probably be necessary. I do not want to discuss the merits of these two schemes. That can be done in other places. It is not necessary to do it here. I ask the Minister to bear in mind that the Sweepstakes were started by the voluntary hospitals for the voluntary hospitals. The State has stepped in and grabbed a good deal of the money intended for the voluntary hospitals— firstly, in the form of a 25 per cent. tax, and, secondly, in the form of subsidies to rate-supported institutions in the country. I do suggest to the Minister that the voluntary hospitals have first claim on this fund and that not until the voluntary hospital problem has been financially settled should large sums be given to rate-supported institutions, for the support and maintenance of which the ratepayers of the country should properly be responsible.
There is one other matter to which I wish to draw the attention of the House. Towards the end of his statement the Minister referred to the grants which are given to local authorities for the upkeep of the roads. It is an astonishing thing, but it is a fact that, in the maintenance of the roads, even in rural areas, very little attention is given to the needs of the inhabitants of those areas. The roads are made motor highways and are rendered almost impossible for other traffic. Nobody who has the misfortune to have to use a horse or to drive cattle along the main roads does it with anything but trepidation. On a wet day, on these highly tarred roads, a horse cannot keep its feet. Many farmers have to employ horses for their farm carts. Farmers in a small way cannot afford lorries. They can only use the public roads, for the maintenance of which they pay and the State pays, with risk of injury to their horses. The same thing happens in the case of other stock. These slippery main roads near Dublin and in other parts of the country cannot be used with safety by cattle. If the roads are tarred and a bit worn, when there is a shower of rain they are a danger to  live stock—both horses and cattle. I suggest that the Minister should consider, in giving these grants for the maintenance of roads, the imposition of a condition that a track should be kept on the side of every main road wide enough to drive a farm cart with some security, and so that a beast can walk to fair or market or from field to field with safety. I have received several letters in recent times from dwellers in the country explaining the terror with which owners of horses and cattle use these public roads for their stock. There seems to be no reason why we should vote public money for the maintenance of roads, to the detriment of a large number of those who use the roads. I suggest to the Minister that he should consider the advisability of insisting that there be a safe track provided along the side of every main road on which money under his control is spent.
Mr. Nally: I wish to congratulate the Minister on the excellent work of his Department during the past year in relation to housing and roads. There are a few matters to which I should like to call the Minister's attention. The first of these matters refers to Castlebar urban housing. About a couple of years ago about 80 houses were built by Castlebar Urban Council on a site which, I understand, was selected by the Department's engineers. It was subsequently found that this site was entirely unsuitable. It was practically a swamp, and on that swamp 80 houses were built. Some of them were built really on rafts. The result was that 24 of the houses collapsed, or partly collapsed. The houses became consequently unfit for human habitation and they were condemned as such. I now understand that an order has been made by the Department of Local Government and Public Health that these 24 houses are to be taken down and new houses erected in their place. I would like to know from the Minister whether it was his Department or the Castlebar Urban Council that was responsible for this thing?
Mr. Nally: At the time the site was selected I understand that the Minister's chief engineer went to him and offered to place an aeroplane at his disposal to bring him down and show him how unsuitable the site was for artisans' houses. In face of that the Minister sanctioned that site.
Mr. Nally: There is another matter in regard to labourers' cottages in Ballyhaunis. No cottages were built in Ballyhaunis under the old régime. A scheme of cottages was proposed some years ago, and I think about three years ago the Mayo Board of Health took steps to acquire, compulsorily, sites for cottages. They got these powers, but nothing has since been done in the matter. The housing conditions in Ballyhaunis are absolutely appalling. The board of health claim that the Department will not make money available on loan for the building of these houses. The result is that the cottages are not built in Ballyhaunis, and the same applies to Ballindine. I hope the Minister will look into the matter and see where the responsibility for the delay lies, and that he will do it now, or in the near future.
There is great urgency in the matter of the provision of a hospital in Claremorris. Five years ago it was agreed that a hospital should be  built in Claremorris. That is an important junction with a large population. There is no hospital accommodation there at present. Within the last year two people were killed in Claremorris and the bodies had to be taken to private houses. There was an ambulance summoned from Castlebar, but it usually takes four hours to get the ambulance from Castlebar to Claremorris. The ambulance is not always available when sent for. Recently there were a few accidents in Claremorris, and the people had to remain overnight unattended for there was no possibility of having them conveyed to Castlebar. I would like that the Minister would give authority to some local person when an accident took place to employ a motor car to take the injured persons to hospital. The Gárda have no authority at present to employ a motor car, and neither has the medical officer of health. All they can do is to telephone to Castlebar and wait until the ambulance comes.
I thoroughly agree with the views expressed by Deputy Rowlette with regard to the roads of the country. In winter time it is almost impossible for people to drive their live stock along those tarred roads. I suggest that something should be done to widen the roads or leave a larger margin of the road untarred. Farmers, merchants and others using the roads have great difficulty with regard to that. There are quite a number of complaints throughout the country with regard to the supply of slates for housing. Quite a number of public contractors as well as a number of private persons who are building houses complained recently to me and to other Deputies that Irish slates are not available. They cannot get Irish slates anywhere, and sometimes after the timber part of the roof has been put on, the builders have to wait for as long as six months for the slates. By that time the woodwork on the roof is half rotten. This is because the Minister will not give them permission to use Bangor or other foreign slates. I suggest the Minister, in cases where it has been found genuinely impossible to get Irish slates, should give permission to import the  foreign variety. In cases where the builders cannot get Irish slates it is very unfair that the completion of the building should be held up.
Quite a number of complaints are being made by the people about the state of the national school buildings in Mayo. I wish the Minister would read the report of the medical officer of health on this matter. A short time ago many of these schools were condemned as unsuitable buildings. Another matter that arises is the reoccupation of houses that were condemned for human habitation. When new houses have been provided for the occupants of these condemned houses, the houses as soon as vacated are occupied again by a fresh batch of persons. Who is in authority to see that the law in this matter is carried out? This scandal has been occurring in quite a number of towns in the West of Ireland and particularly in South Mayo. When a house has been condemned as unfit for human habitation and the tenant of that house has been provided with a new house there should be some authority that would see that the condemned house is not again occupied by human beings. There are a number of other questions I would wish to put to the Minister, but I know now that he could not reply this evening without getting longer notice of the questions. I hope he will give us information on the points I have raised.
Mr. Goulding: There is one matter to which I would like to draw the attention of the House. All over the country at the moment there is a considerable number of empty public buildings—workhouses that were closed down many years ago. These buildings have been left unattended to since. They have become so neglected that they are now a danger to the public and, in addition, they are an eyesore in many towns. At the moment I have before my mind a case in my own town in Waterford. There is there an old abandoned hospital which has become a ruin, and it is a danger to the public. It occurred to me that if the Department of Local Government and Public Health would co-operate with the Board of Works these dangerous  buildings could, under the minor relief schemes, be taken down. That could be done if the Department were willing to contribute a portion of the cost of doing the work. These buildings are not only dangerous, but they are unsightly, and it would be a good thing, in the public interest, if they were demolished. It would certainly improve the appearance of many of our towns. There is another aspect of the position, and it is in the provision of employment. These minor relief schemes come to about £200 generally. That sum would not cover the cost of taking down many of these buildings. If the Department of Local Government and Public Health were willing to contribute a portion of the cost, the work could be done. The Minister perhaps knows that the greater number of the unemployed people are found in the smaller towns. In the immediate neighbourhood of these towns there are no roads on which money under the minor relief schemes could be spent. But if something like what I have suggested were put through with the cooperation of the Department and the Board of Works it would be a great benefit in the way of providing employment and in improving the appearance of the towns.
I agree with Dr. Rowlette in what he has said about the roads. As a dweller in a rural area, I admit that the farmers who contribute largely to the rates are very heavily handicapped in the matter of roads. I see the difficulty of leaving the sides of the roads untarred. In my county that has been done and on the side of the roads that have been tarred ordinary macadam has been laid down. It has been found that, in a very short time, the road becomes dangerous, because the macadam wears out much more rapidly than the tar portion of the road and there is a dangerous strip between the tarred sides and the rest of the road. It would surely be possible to devise a non-shrinking surface for the sides of the roads so that horses and live stock could travel there in safety.
In County Waterford the county surveyor, using a particular type of stone, has almost overcome this difficulty.  He has succeeded in producing what is practically a non-slip road. Even under the most adverse conditions the cattle can travel these roads fairly safely. It should be possible for the heads of the roads department to come together and adopt some scheme that will make the tarred road practically a non-slip road. At the present time, using ordinary soft limestone, it is almost impossible to keep the roads in a proper condition. In misty, muddy weather, when the weather is misty or soft, such a road becomes a regular death-trap, not alone for the cattle and horses, but actually for motorists.
Many of the labourers' cottages built under the new schemes in the county are not exactly up to standard. There is just the danger that the supervision in many cases is not very perfect, and the result is that many of the tenants of the cottages are complaining very much. There is the danger that we may be creating another series of rural slums. Many of these houses, as time goes on, will become more and more unsatisfactory. The tenants will be dissatisfied with them and will not keep them in proper order, and there is the possibility that in the future we may have another set of unsightly houses all over the country.
References have been made in the course of the debate to hospitals, and I want to urge the claim of County Waterford in this connection. In our county we have waited for a number of years, but nothing has yet been done in the way of satisfying our claims. We have been pressing strenuously for a suitable hospital scheme for County Waterford and I trust the Minister will take definite notice of our claim now so that things will be hastened somewhat. We have been put off from time to time by various excuses, and I may say we are getting rather anxious just now. I desire to urge the Minister to have the matter definitely considered at the earliest possible moment.
Mr. Daly: There are a few matters to which I would like to refer. The first is with regard to the sites for  town housing in the North Cork area. The North Cork Board of Health have prepared a town housing scheme and contemplate the erection of houses in unurbanised towns and villages all over the area. We have gone out and selected our sites and we have tried to get those sites without taking compulsory powers. We purchased the sites at sums ranging up to £70 an acre. When we sent the scheme up for sanction to the Minister, sanction was refused. We have applied more than once to have sanction given, but it has been refused, while at the same time we are aware that in other parts of the country the Minister has sanctioned the payment of much larger sums per acre. I think the Minister should grant our request. He knows the need for town housing in the North Cork area. He was there a few years ago and he saw the deplorable conditions existing in some of the towns that he visited.
The board of health for the northern area have decided that they are not going to take compulsory powers; they are not going to acquire those lands compulsorily from the people living close to the towns and villages. We have acquired from some of those people plots of ground at something like £70 an acre, and we know that those people paid up to £100 an acre for some of the land. It is not six months ago since, on the borders of one of those towns, something like £400 was paid for three acres of land. The Minister should not compel the board to take land compulsorily from people. He should be reasonable, and I can assure him the members of the board also are very reasonable and they are not going to be extravagant in this matter.
With regard to labourers' cottages, in the North Cork area we have in course of erection—some of them are nearing completion—something like 500 cottages under a scheme advocated by the North Cork Board of Health. When sanction is being requested by the board with regard to letting these new cottages, I trust that the Minister will not delay giving it. I can assure him the tenants will be taken from the lists prepared at the inquiries which were held over three years ago.
 Previous speakers have complained of the condition of the new houses that are being built, labourers' cottages more especially; they say that they are not up to standard. I wonder is it the building organisation of those board of health areas that is wrong? I hope that we in the northern area of Cork will not find ourselves in the same position when our houses are completed. When big sums of public money are being expended on the erection of houses, I think it is due to the public that value should be got for the outlay. I would like to defend both the Department and the local authorities. I am a member of the North Cork Board, and I feel quite sure that both the Department and the board's officials are carrying out their duties in a proper manner with regard to the building of those houses. I am aware of the scheme of supervision on the work that is being carried out, and you could not ask for anything better. The builder is supervised by an inspector from the Department; there are two engineers from the board, and then there is the clerk of works. Surely with all those officials it is scarcely possible in those areas that the houses will not be fit for habitation. Of course, if a house has walls that are weeping, it is not fit for habitation. It is really a terrible state of affairs if, after all that supervision and all the public money that has been expended, the houses will not be fit for people to live in. I was really surprised to hear the statements made by Deputies who spoke here to-day, and it astonished me that, with all the supervision in those areas, the houses were not fit for habitation. In my own area I feel sure, as a result of the supervision of the Department and the board of health officials, that we will have perfectly good houses.
With regard to water and sewerage schemes, we are very thankful to the Minister for the help he has given us in the way of grants in the northern area. As a matter of fact, we are very anxious to get a little more. There is one town in particular that I would like the Minister to assist with a grant of 50 per cent. or 60 per cent. of the  contemplated outlay. I refer to the town of Newmarket. We have heard a lot about fever and disease, and thank God that they are on the wane. This is a town that needs a sewerage scheme very badly. In fact, it is overdue for a number of years, and the board of health for the area have had it under consideration, and I think they have plans with the Department at present, but the amount required for this sewerage scheme is huge and it would mean a very big increase on the rate for the dispensary district and the people of Newmarket which they would not, in the present circumstances, be able to bear. If the Minister would be good enough to give us a good grant towards the scheme, the board would be prepared to carry it out, and I would ask the Minister to consider it very sympathetically.
There is another matter to which I should like to refer. We have heard a lot of praise to-day about the hospital scheme for the Irish Free State and about the good work that the Minister has done. I agree with it to a certain extent, but not with regard to my own area. In my own area, I fear there is too much centralisation. We have in that area a good number of cottage hospitals, and we have the principal hospital, the county hospital, at Fermoy, which is a hospital second to none in the Free State and which has a surgeon second to none in the Free State. We have a new county hospital almost completed at Mallow, which is the centre of the area, and it is causing grave concern to the people of Fermoy and Mitchelstown rural districts that the Fermoy Hospital will be lowered in its status from a county hospital to a small cottage hospital. I would appeal to the Minister and the Department, if it is at all possible, to leave the Fermoy Hospital at its present status, that of a county hospital, because if you take away the surgeon and the major operations from Fermoy and transfer them to Mallow, you will be causing great hardship to the people of the districts of Fermoy and Mitchelstown, especially the poor people. I may say also that the Fermoy Hospital is being used by other people—people who are able to pay for their maintenance  and medical service—but you would be causing great hardship to the poor people by such a course. When you think of people having to go from Araglen to Mallow, a distance of over 30 miles, you can realise what it would mean. Poor people could not afford to go from Araglen to Mallow to see their friends, and it would be a great hardship on them. I would ask the Minister to consider the case sympathetically. After all, in the Fermoy and Mitchelstown area you have a population of 26,800 people—roughly, one-third of the total population of the North Cork Board of Health area. I, therefore, would ask the Minister and the Department to do their best to retain the Fermoy Hospital as it is at present, as it would be doing a great service to the people of that area.
I should also like to refer to the matter of the fever hospital at Fermoy. The North Cork Board of Health rejected the scheme sent down by the Department, for a central fever hospital for the northern area, on two occasions, but unfortunately, on the third occasion, they passed the scheme and we are to have a fever hospital somewhere in the area to cope with fever in all the area. Now, we have in Fermoy a fever hospital serving the Fermoy and Mitchelstown rural districts, and if that is removed from Fermoy it will cause a great hardship on the poor people of those districts. Accordingly, before it is too late, I would ask the Minister, if representations are made to him, to consider the case, and I would appeal to him not to remove the fever hospital from Fermoy.
I do not think I have anything more to say, Sir, except to mention that this is a most important Vote and a most important Department, and also to say that I have great praise for a lot of the work that is being done by the Department. I must say that, any time I have had occasion to get any information from the Department or to get any help from them, they were most courteous and most obliging.
Mr. Kissane: I agree with the last Deputy who spoke, Deputy Daly, that the Department of Local Government is one of the most important, if not  the most important, of the Departments of State. I also agree with him when he says that we always find nothing but courtesy and a willingness to help every time we want any direction from that Department. Now, the Deputy also mentioned the question of sewerage schemes, and I agree with him when he says that the carrying out of a great number of sewerage schemes in a district would involve the people of that district in greatly increased taxation. The arrangement at the present time, I believe, is that the local body puts up something like 60 per cent.—in some cases 70 per cent. —of the cost, and that the Department's contribution is 30 per cent. or 40 per cent. I may be wrong in that figure, but I am subject to correction. Well, I think the suggestion has been put forward before that the Department's contribution should be raised, and I am putting it forward now, but I suppose the Minister will tell me that that is a matter for Finance.
I do not know whether the heart of the Minister for Finance could be softened sufficiently to agree to that, but, at any rate, I think it is a suggestion worth considering; or, if that suggestion were found to be unworkable, perhaps another suggestion of mine could be acted upon, and that is that, in places—especially in the poorer areas in this country—where sewerage schemes are more wanted than minor relief schemes, there would be collaboration between the Local Government Department and the Office of Public Works with a view to getting money that would otherwise go in the form of minor relief scheme grants and devoting it to the purpose of carrying out sewerage schemes instead. As Deputies here know, there are many parts of the country yet that have no sewerage schemes. I know that my own county—the County of Kerry—is no exception. I remember, one time recently, leading a deputation before the Kerry Board of Health with a view to getting them to consider a certain sewerage scheme, and I was told by a certain member of the board of health that our scheme was placed about twentieth on the list. If that be the case, I can look forward to the scheme being carried out somewhere about  the year 1950, unless we change the system. I think that the suggestion I have put forward, as regards getting money under the minor relief scheme heading for the carrying out of sewerage schemes, would not be a bad idea at all.
Deputy Daly also mentioned the question of cottages. According to what I could gather from his remarks, they are evidently well away in North Cork if they have 500 cottages built. The situation is not so rosy in County Kerry. I must admit, of course, at the outset, that a good deal of the fault lies with ourselves. There is a question of the clearing up of arrears of rent on cottages by the Kerry Board of Health and the Minister's attitude is that unless the Kerry Board of Health make a reasonable attempt to clear up arrears, no scheme of cottages will be sanctioned by him. I can see his point of view, of course. Any reasonable man can see his point of view, but still I would say that it is hardly right to sacrifice innocent and deserving people because of the dereliction and default of others. I think that is a question that the Minister would be well advised to reconsider, because there is a dire need for the building of cottages in many parts of County Kerry. There are habitations there that have been condemned long ago but if the people leave those houses where have they to go, when there are no cottages being built? I think that, after all, the health of the people is a very important matter and that even the question of arrears should not come in the way of the Minister's giving sanction to the building of cottages in County Kerry. I know well, of course, that that has been brought to his notice a few times before. I, and other Deputies for the county, have brought this matter before him and we have invariably got the same answer, that this question of arrears is coming in the way of any scheme. I hope the Minister will reconsider his decision in that regard and that, having regard to the needs of the people down there for houses, he will not be so insistent on the question of arrears.
 On the matter of roads, it seems to be hard for the Minister to please everybody. Some people are complaining of the slippery roads of the country. They complain that cattle and horses cannot travel on those roads. Well, we have no such complaint down in Kerry. A good many roads have been steam-rolled recently, thanks to the Minister and his Department. Much has been done, especially for the past two or three years, but a great deal still remains to be done in that direction, and I promise the Minister that if more roads are steam-rolled and more grants are given for the steam-rolling of these roads, we shall have no complaint about glossy surfaces. Again, as Deputy Goulding has pointed out, there is a way out of it. On all the roads that I happen to have seen in County Kerry, there is no danger at all in the way of cattle and horses slipping on the glossy surface because those in charge of the work have had recourse to a system of mixing the tar and the stones together, thereby avoiding slippery surfaces. A certain type of stone may be necessary, as Deputy Goulding points out, for that. At any rate, I put forward the plea for Kerry, it being a tourist centre, that we should get more grants for steam-rolling and the improvement of the roads down there. After all, it should be the ambition and the desire of all of us to have tourist traffic developed to the very utmost. If you meet a band of tourists in this country you will find that their destination is not one of the counties in the midlands or the east of Ireland, where there are good roads. Their destination will generally be some place in the south or along the western seaboard. I think, therefore, that the system of allocation of grants for steam-rolling roads should be changed and that such factors as valuation and taxation should no longer enter into it.
The Minister has been congratulated already on his housing policy, and there is no need for me to make any allusion to that further than to say, by way of conclusion, that his housing policy has been, and is still, working very well in County Kerry.
Mr. Anthony: I wish to direct the Minister's attention to what I can only describe as some of the unforeseen effects of the slum clearance policy. My remarks will have general application, but I am more particularly concerned with what has occurred in Cork City. It is not the Minister's fault, of course, but I am directing his attention to it in order that he may come to the rescue of some people who have been adversely affected as a result of these schemes. One of the effects, of course, which is felt in Dublin as well as in Cork and other centres, is that when you make a slum clearance order, and when the houses in the slum clearance area are evacuated, you are immediately presented with the difficulty of housing the people who have to be put out. We all agree that it is necessary to house persons who are living in places which are unfit for human habitation. We are all agreed that the slums should be cleared, but in that process some mistakes have occurred. I want to deal particularly with Cork. The Minister must be aware, of course, of the procedure. When the clearance order is made, the persons affected in the slum area to which the clearance order applies can appear at an inquiry and have their case for compensation inquired into. On the recommendation of the local medical officer of health, certain houses are declared as being unfit for human habitation.
In the cases to which I refer, good and habitable houses have been destroyed because they were within the clearance area. We had several cases brought to the notice of the Cork Corporation recently, cases of real and genuine hardship. One or two of the cases I shall quote, and they will serve to illustrate my point. There is one case in which a family has spent a long number of years in building up a small business, and their sole livelihood is taken away at one stroke of the pen. In another case a woman built a house and shop in 1928, in which she carried on a very good general business. Her turn-over in one particular item was said by the solicitor who appeared for her at the inquiry to amount to £850 during the period the house was  allowed to stand. In another case, a business premises which is still standing was described by the assessor as being a good house, and he said it would be a shame to destroy it. I am not blaming the Minister and I am not blaming the Acts, but I want to know would the Minister show us a way out of those hardships which have been inflicted. The position is that when a clearance order has been given, and when the corporation has passed a resolution putting the order into effect, those hardships have occurred.
What I am mainly concerned about is that the Cork Corporation wants to be quite just to those people and to compensate them as adequately as they can, but there is no money available for that purpose. There is a feeling pretty generally shared that some compensation is due to those people; mind you that is not in any camp which would be hostile to the Minister or his Party, because I think that in a matter like this Parties should not count for anything. I think the Minister appreciates that, because when he was in Opposition one of the outstanding features, shall I say, of his speeches, was that he never allowed his Party affiliations to influence him in that way. As I said, we feel that some compensation is due to those people. We feel that the Department should step in, and if it will not give 50-50 we will accept 60-40. We certainly feel that something should be done to compensate these people, and that the full onus of that compensation should not be placed on the local authorities.
As I said a moment ago—I do not want to repeat myself—we are quite anxious to house the people. We have made great efforts in Cork as the Minister is aware, and have even been complimented by the Minister himself on the good work done in different parts of the city, notably in the northwest area, in which area, by the way, most of those cases of hardship have occurred. We are dealing there with a very peculiar problem—a problem by the way which is also peculiar to some of the larger cities across the Channel, and is intensified here in Dublin, where you have slum houses in which you would not house any kind of a decent  dog. That condition of affairs had to be cleaned up at some time or other. Another aspect of the situation created as a result of this housing scheme is this-we have had to move people possibly 40 or 50 yards outside the city area. Those people—it is not quite proper to the Minister's Vote but I only want to refer to it, and do not propose to transgress the rules of order—when they went 40 or 50 yards outside the city area immediately suffered a reduction in their unemployment assistance. Of course that is a matter for another Estimate, but I wanted to point out that you have this position, which I have tried to illustrate, intensified in Cork and Dublin as it is in some of the larger centres abroad. You remove people out of the slums where they have been paying 3/-, 4/-, 5/- or 6/- per week for one room, and even in the healthier and more hygienic surroundings they find it very difficult to pay the increased rent demanded from them.
You have that problem in Dublin as well as in Cork. The people are carried some distance from their work, and the result is that they are unable to pay the bus fares or tram fares to their work daily. Consequently, in many cases they fall behind in payment of their rents. I think the Minister, or any succeeding Minister will have tremendous difficulty in the near future in facing up to that problem created by the removal of those people a distance from their work—which I agree is necessary if you want to house them at all—the high cost of the compulsory acquisition of the land, and above all the question of the rental which must, I think, be charged for those houses. We do not want to make them a line ball proposition economically, but I feel that some adjustments will have to be made in the rents charged. We have experimented in Cork, and I have described it as a very courageous experiment, and would commend it to a Minister for his consideration with a view to his putting it into effect elsewhere. It is, if you like, the application of the means test.
The Local Government Department, if they do not direct, might at least suggest to the local authorities that  they might follow the example of Cork in this respect. We have, in one scheme, been able to house people in decent houses at a rental of 3/- or 4/- a week as long as they were unemployed and in receipt of unemployment assistance; in other words, while their peculiar economic circumstances would not allow them to pay more. Their next door neighbours were paying 7/6 or 8/-. I agree that that may give rise to a good deal of extra trouble in the collection of rents owing to variations in rent from week to week. It was a courageous experiment and so far it has borne good fruit. The Minister will have the satisfaction of knowing that the suggestion came from Cork, and, of course, he knows that everything which is any good comes from Cork.
I am particularly interested in what the Minister's attitude will be in relation to the position of the persons whom I have mentioned who have had to leave a slum clearance area, whose houses were demolished, and whose houses, by the way, were good habitable houses. In some cases upwards of £100 had been paid for repairs to those houses during the past couple of years. In the case of McCoy v. the Cork Corporation, a number of houses were about to be demolished, and the owner of those houses or of some of them at any rate—McCoy—took action at the inquiry, and subsequently before Mr. Justice Johnston. Mr. Justice Johnston gave a most important judgment on that occasion. It was a judgment which set a lot of people thinking, because the Cork Corporation, when passing the motion declaring the slum clearance area, had no idea— having acted on the recommendation of the medical officer of health—that they would be subjected to appearing before a court of law, and being told things which they did not expect to be told. Mr. Justice Johnston, in giving his decision in this case of McCoy v. the Cork Corporation, said:—
“Section 5 provided that when a clearance area map was being prepared the local authority must exclude therefrom any building which is not unfit for human habitation or dangerous or injurious to health. If the Corporation desired to include  such buildings in such an area—a serious step to take in view of the consequence to the owners of the property—they could only do so by being satisfied on proper evidence that the property answered the statutory description.”
“It was no part of the policy of the Legislature to penalise the owners of such property by taking it away without compensation. Accordingly, power was given to the local authority to acquire all other land within or adjoining the area which is reasonably necessary for the purpose of securing a cleared area of convenient shape and dimensions.”
Of course, the Minister must know that the acquisition of land in the area to which I refer is not quite so easy as it may appear in print. The Minister must know that the moment it is bruited around that you are going to have a clearance area north, south, east or west of the City of Dublin, the persons who have valuable land and are prepared to sell it will demand the highest price for it. The law of supply and demand begins to operate immediately.
The Minister can, therefore, see the rather embarrassing circumstances in which the Cork Corporation finds itself. It wants to carry out, as far as it possibly can, a number of housing schemes and to demolish buildings which are unfit for human habitation. At the same time, if cases, such as the case I have cited, occur, the Corporation feels that the compensation to be paid should not have to be fully borne by the rates of Cork. What I am anxious to know from the Minister is, if it is within his power to help the Corporation out of its difficulties, and to compensate those persons whose houses have been demolished, whose livelihood has been taken from them and who have been subjected to untold hardships during the past couple of years.
Mr. Kennedy: I want to support the plea that has been made by  Deputy Kissane for a re-examination of the basis of the allocation of grants from the Road Fund to particular counties. It is delightful to hear Deputies from the eastern seaboard talking about the slippery condition of the roads in their areas and the precautions that ought to be taken for cattle and horse traffic on them. I would like the Minister to lend his ear to the plea of Deputies from counties where all the roads are not slippery, but where there is a likelihood of cattle and horses breaking their legs due to the pot-holes in them rather than to their slippery condition. Before I refer to my own constituency, I would like to endorse the remarks made by Deputy Kissane on behalf of a tourist county like Kerry. Those who are acquainted with the condition of the roads in Kerry and in other tourist counties in the West, are well aware that many of the roads leading to places of scenic beauty—to lakes and mountains—are practically impassable, while in the eastern counties the roads are maintained in perfect condition. I would, therefore, submit to the Minister that he should have a re-examination of the whole position with regard to the allocations made from the Road Fund, taking into account rateable valuations and everything else.
My own County of Westmeath is not by any means the worst off as regards roads. There are scores of miles of county roads that are certainly very bad—that would need to be steam-rolled to make them passable even for bicycle traffic. We are living in a motoring age and the possession of a motor car is not any longer a luxury. It is a fact that at least 50 per cent. of our live stock are now conveyed by motor lorry to fairs and markets, and when they are sold, if the fair or market town is not near a railway station, they are again taken by motor lorry to the nearest railway station. Whether it is true or not I do not know, but I have heard of tar-macadam roads in the eastern counties being pick-axed in order to put down cement roads, while there are counties in the midlands that do not know what a cement road is. Even the tar-macadam road  that the people in the midlands know is not the perfect road that one finds in such counties as Waterford and Wexford. I think it would be well if we could have a tabular statement from the Minister giving particulars of the miles of roads in particular counties that have been steam-rolled or made with tar-macadam, and showing the miles of road which remain to be done. I very much fear that, by the time further capital expenditure has to be undertaken on the main arteries, the roads that still remain to be done will be passed over, and allowed to remain in their present condition.
Deputy Rowlette seems to have a kind of grudge as regards the amount of money that the county hospitals have got—25 per cent. He asked for certain information about the voluntary hospitals. May I supplement his request by asking what they have done with the 75 per cent. of the money that they have got from the Hospitals Sweeps. He says that there are very few additional beds and that certain schemes have been submitted. If such progress has been made as we can see with our own eyes is the case in the counties that have got a 25 per cent. contribution, it is only fair to ask what is being done, or what is going to be done, with the remaining 75 per cent. Surely the grants that have been made should not be grudged. Very good work has been done in a number of county institutions. These institutions have to be maintained out of the rates. The cost of maintenance in them is much greater now than it was in the old, small, inadequate hospitals that were there before the new hospitals were erected.
As regards housing, I would draw the Minister's attention to the lack of inspection in the County of Westmeath. Applications that were lodged for grants for reconstruction, that were lodged before Christmas, have not yet been dealt with. I believe that in one area they had a visit for a couple of days from an inspector from Louth. I would also direct the Minister's attention to the necessity for tightening up the operation of the law as regards  condemned houses. Although a family may not have in rooms the independence that it would have in a house of its own, still I hold that, from a health point of view, it is much better that it should remain in rooms than go into a condemned house. I have before me a statement from the county medical officer of health in Westmeath which sets out that of the 58 houses that were condemned by him, by the local medical officer and by the engineer as unfit for habitation, 11 of them were reoccupied the moment the original occupants went into cottages. He says that the people who reoccupy those condemned houses would, from the health point of view, be much better off if they had remained in rooms.
Some Deputies referred to the slowness of the Department in dealing with public health schemes. Over two and a half years ago I, with the other Deputies from my constituency, accompanied a deputation from the town of Moate to interview the Minister. He received us and promised generous help from his Department towards the execution of a waterworks scheme for the town. Two waterworks schemes have since been undertaken. One is practically complete and the other is well under way, but Moate remains without its waterworks scheme. I attribute the whole blame for that to the Department for Local Government. I have been in correspondence with them and the thing has been drifting from month to month and year to year, but no progress is being made. We are promised an inquiry, but when it will be held we do not know. Meantime, the necessity for the waterworks obtains there.
Reference has been made here to the county medical officer of health service. That service has been a great boon in our county. The only thing that remains to be done in that respect is to speed up the building of a sanatorium for people suffering from tuberculosis. I do not believe that the old district hospital is the most desirable, or a desirable place at all, for the treatment of tuberculosis. Deputy Daly referred to the centralisation of hospital treatment in Cork and I endorse  the sentiments he expressed. There is a tendency when a new hospital is built to close up other institutions. That has been done in my own county and it has not been for the benefit of the poor. The accommodation to be provided in the new hospital was very much exaggerated, and most of the people removed as the result of the closing of the infirmary last winter had to be accommodated in the body of the old workhouse, which is now the county home. In my time on the board of health and for years past there was an agitation to close the Athlone District Hospital. In fact, although there was a competent surgeon there, there was always somebody in the Local Government Department insisting that children needing treatment for adenoids or tonsils should be removed 30 miles to Mullingar, and that the operating theatre there and the services of the surgeon should not be availed of. If centralisation has its faults as regards the capital, it also has its fault locally, and before insisting too much on the centralisation of hospital treatment the Department should wait a while and see how it works out.
Mr. Seán Brodrick: There are a few points which I wish to bring to the Minister's notice. I should like to get some information from him as to the position in reference to loans advanced by the Galway Urban Council for the building of houses during the past four years. The reason I ask that is that about 12 months ago I happened to meet a deputation coming up to see the Minister and the information they gave me was that they were in such a condition in Galway as regards the loans advanced that they were very much afraid of the position in which they would find themselves inside some years. The Minister need not take me as being against the erection of houses. But when I asked this deputation what amount had been advanced in loans they told me it was in or about £140,000. I also asked them when they expected that sum would be repaid and they said they expected that the repayment would be very slow. They thought that the way loans were given by the  Galway Urban Council was irregular. Some time after that, at the request of the Minister, an inquiry was held. The result of the inquiry, I was told, was that they were to hold up all further loans by the Galway Urban Council until some attempt had been made to repay the loans already advanced. I should like to know if that is a fact. I heard reports down in Galway as to the position. I know the position in which the ratepayers in Galway expect to find themselves in future. I believe that people in Galway City had loans advanced to them for the erection of houses who, although well able to repay the loans, are refusing to repay them.
Mr. Brodrick: I learned that it was. The Minister may be able to give further information on the matter. I know that the inquiry was held. I learned that a further £70,000 had been advanced in loans for the same purpose. All I ask the Minister is to see, when loans are advanced by any council—I do not care in what county it is—that the loans will be advanced to people who will make some attempt to pay them and that applications from every Tom, Dick and Harry will not be considered. Some of these people get a loan equal to five-sixths of the building costs of a house and then pass on the house to another person, who is quite capable of building a house of his own, for a few hundred pounds. There is another matter which I am glad Deputy Anthony mentioned, and that is the necessity for the adjustment of rents of some houses. I have one such housing scheme in mind, the Tuam housing scheme, in reference to which I saw the report of a meeting of a town protection society no later than yesterday. Certainly the houses there are very good ones, but the rent is 6/- per week, plus 1/- for electric light,  whether used or not, and 1/5 for rates. That means that a house for an ordinary labourer in Tuam costs 8/5 per week. It may be said that on account of the beet factory there the people should be able to pay that amount. But the fact is that when the beet campaign is on for three or four months the people crowd into Tuam and a fair amount of employment is given, but for the remaining eight months there is very little employment. There are a large number of people unemployed in Tuam at present. I should like to know if there could be some adjustment of the rents, especially when in a town, with a similar population, from 14 to 16 miles away, practically similar houses with an acre of land, are let at 2/6 per week. The houses in Tuam certainly have a water supply, but there are from ten to 12 on every acre and the weekly payment is 8/5 per week, while within 14 miles or so, in a town with a population of 1,000, you have similar houses with an acre of land let at 2/6 per week.
Reference has also been made to the supervision of houses. I have reason to believe that the supervision is perfect. The only thing I find fault with is that too much work is thrown on the inspectors of the Local Government Department. Their work is very scattered. They have to supervise houses built by local authorities and by private individuals. It is usual for an inspector to have to cover a whole county like Galway with houses scattered here and there all over the county. I think too much work is thrown on them and that building is held up as a consequence, because people are not able to get the certificates in time for payment. Then there is the matter of sewerage and water supplies. You will find a local authority laying down a sewerage scheme without any water supply. In one town in Galway, where there has been a sewerage scheme for the past four years, there is no water available except from the local pump, and there is no sign of a water scheme being provided there.
Mr. Brodrick: It is not the engineer's fault; it is the local authority's. The engineer is not responsible, as he has got his job to do and did it. In other towns you will find a water supply provided but no sewerage. In years to come you will find local authorities, where they have a sewerage scheme, going on with a water supply scheme; or where they have a water scheme putting down sewerage. I think a local authority, when taking up any such scheme, should complete it by putting down a water and sewerage scheme at the same time. I should like the Minister to draw the attention of his Department to that state of affairs. I know at least one town, and I think there is a second, where a sewerage scheme has been carried out without any water supply being provided. We hear a good deal about mental hospitals, district hospitals and county hospitals being built, and about burning turf in these institutions. While there is so much propaganda about the burning of turf, as far as I can see no provision is being made for burning it in these buildings. I hope I am wrong about that. If we are spending £10,000 or £50,000 on institutions about which there is so much talk, and if, as is stated, one cwt. of turf is equal to six stone of coal, the provisions about the burning of turf should be put into effect. Otherwise, let no more be said about it.
I called the Minister's attention 12 months ago to the position of surveyors to boards of health and county councils. I see no reason why assistant surveyors engaged on board of health work should not be confined to road work in their own district. There are assistant surveyors distributed over every county, some of them doing board of health work and some county council work on the roads. In some districts in the same county they are doing road work and board of health work, as well as work 30 or 40 miles away. You have some engineers in mental hospitals doing road work up to 30 miles away from these hospitals. The work cannot be done efficiently in that way.
Mr. Brodrick: It would be a good thing if these men were confined to their own districts when doing board of health work and road work. There are plenty of people available for mental hospital work. Young engineers are coming along to look after the new institutions now being erected. Every day we see where they are looking for positions, and we know their qualifications. Why should they not be given a chance? In each county a few men are reaping all that can be captured from the ratepayers. I saw quite recently where objection was taken by Galway County Council to the appointment of a borough surveyor because he was not proficient in Irish. From his qualifications I would say that he was a perfect man for the position. He happens to be a Corkman. Why he had not every language that was needed I do not know. Apparently he had not sufficient Irish. The Gaeltacht Order was, however, put into force at another meeting, as I saw where, on the instructions of the Department, a man in a position worth 10/- a week had to be dismissed because he was not a fluent Irish speaker. One man was allowed to take the job——
Mr. Brodrick: I know that it was the Local Appointments Commission. The urban council said the man had not sufficient Irish and that the Gaeltacht Order should apply. In the case of a man with 10/- a week he was deprived of a job because he was not fluent in Irish. The other man had the qualifications.
Mr. Brodrick: I should like to know what are the duties of the Housing Board. That board has been in existence for something like four years and, up to the present, I have not seen or heard what its duties are. I have heard nothing of the board, except when I see the Estimate for the salaries. I have not seen where the board recommended any particular class of house, fittings or grates for any district. I am not aware that the members of the board went to the country and recommended particular houses to suit local conditions in the different counties. I thought that would be part of their duties. About two years ago I had a contract to build houses and I made every endeavour to get Irish slates. I tried four firms, and the answer was that they could not supply Irish slates for, at least, six months. When the man that I was building the houses for went to get the £40 grant, he found that £6 per house was deducted because Irish slates were not used. As Irish slates could not be got, I think it should be the duty of the Housing Board to make some recommendation in a case like that.
Mr. Brodrick: I suppose he was lucky that the whole amount was not kept. I want to draw the Minister's attention to another matter. It has been brought to my notice that contractors for bacon to institutions like county homes and mental hospitals took contracts at a time—if my memory serves me right—when bacon was something like 70/- a cwt. dead weight. Since then the price of pigs, live weight, advanced about 3/- per cwt. and dead weight something like 23/- a cwt. The contractors appealed to the different institutions for consideration of their claims for increased payments, but the only answer was that a contract was a contract. There would be some reason in that answer if the price of pigs live weight had gone up in the same proportion as the price of bacon. There are many contractors to different institutions concerned, not alone in my constituency but, I suppose, in other counties, and I would like to know if the Minister would again consider the matter, having regard to the fact that there has been such a difference in the price of bacon, while the price the farmer gets for pigs has not increased in the same proportion.
There is one other matter to which I have called attention for a number of years—as to whether the Government is about to give any consideration to the question of erecting mental hospitals for harmless people. You have a number of harmless people, both male and female, in county homes and mental hospitals.
Mr. Brodrick: This matter might be worth consideration by the Government because it might be a help to these poor people. The county homes are crowded out and they are not people who can be sent to the county hospitals.
Mr. Brodrick: Some provision should be made for them and I think the Government should give consideration to having homes for two or three counties. It would relieve congestion in many of these institutions and these people might be helped when they are taken away from their present surroundings.
Mr. Hogan: Some weeks ago I was reproved rather sharply by the Minister for making certain suggestions from these benches. He told me that these suggestions should not come from the Labour Party Benches—I suppose because he thought they were of a rather undemocratic nature. I am afraid I am a rather bold, unbiddable child. I am going to return to the assault. I want to refer to the lack of labourers' cottages in the administrative County of Clare. At the outset of the scheme some four years ago, applications were made for a large number of cottages to the County Clare Board of Health, and some 1,000 houses were granted, that is, were declared by the Clare Board of Health to be necessary, and a scheme was initiated. Now, after four years, we find that there are between 150 and 200 houses erected by the Clare Board of Health to fill the need for the 1,000 houses which the Board of Health declared four years ago were necessary. There are less than 200 houses, and even if there were 200 houses, and supposing that the demand would remain stationary, it would take 20 years at this rate of progress to satisfy the housing needs of those who are entitled to labourers' cottages in the administrative County of Clare. It was for referring to that the Minister reproved me. I want to assure him that any criticism I make of the Minister's Department is as benevolent as I can make it.
Mr. Hogan: The Minister need not be sharp. I am referring to the Minister's officers and to the heads of the various sections. I have found them efficient and courteous, and if the Minister chooses to be discourteous to me I am just as well pleased.
Mr. Hogan: So now we are on equal terms. I am going to revert to the statement the Minister made that statements should not be made from these benches, or by me, that the Minister should make representations to the County Clare Board of Health that they should speed up——
Mr. Hogan: The Deputy has made representations repeatedly in all the ways open to him to the County Clare Board of Health, that they should build the necessary number of cottages, and the Deputy thinks that the best way to make effective representations to the County Clare Board of Health is to ask the Minister to exercise the power vested in him by legislation in regard to the labourers' cottages that are needed for the county. That, I hope, is clear. There are not sufficient houses being built for the labourers of the county. I hope the Minister realises that and I hope he realises also that the present rate of progress is not sufficient to fill the housing demands of the county for the next 20 years.
Regarding the actual erection of the houses themselves, complaint has been made with regard to the type of material being used and the type of contractor building the houses. It is quite true to say that people regard themselves as contractors who have no technical knowledge and no experience of any kind in the erection of houses before taking on contracts under the various boards of health, and that has been exemplified in County Clare where some cottages had to be knocked down after erection, and where various  extensive alterations had to be made in the walls and other portions of the cottages. Complaints have been made, and these complaints have been conveyed to the Minister's Department, regarding the rate of wages paid by the contractors. These complaints are that the provisions of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act are not being put into force and that wages are being paid which are not at all near the standard rate of wages paid in the district where the cottages are being erected. Thirty-five shillings a week is the standard rate of wages paid by the Clare County Council and that operates throughout the length and breadth of the county. In a great many cases, 24/-, 25/-, 26/- and, in some advanced cases, 30/- a week is being paid in respect of houses erected in the county. In scarcely any case is 35/- being paid in the rural areas and in no case, to my knowledge, has the Minister interfered, although representations have been made to him to see that the provisions of that Act are put into operation.
There are other cottages in which I am interested. Cottages were erected in Gort and I was asked to go through them and examine them. I went through some of them and I found that the conditions described here by Deputy Norton in respect of certain cottages in County Kildare operated there as well. In some of these houses, the door frames had ceased to be rectangular, and, in one very bad case, the family had to take their dinner into the next house to have it cooked. The house would be filled with smoke if they were to put on sufficient fire to cook a dinner for the family. These cottages were erected upon what is almost a quaking bog. The portion between the front of the house and the roadway had never been levelled off and was a danger to the children and to the people themselves at night. The back door was three feet and, in some cases, four feet from the field at the back, and in practically all the cases the people had to erect a kind of platform or causeway from their door sloping down to the field. The field was acquired by the Galway Board of Health because it was got cheaply. It was absolutely sodden at the back and  was almost quaking with water. During all this winter it was sodden and these people had to live in these houses and, although representations were made to the Minister, I do not know what steps he took to bring the matter to the notice of the Galway Board of Health, but as late as a week ago, I was informed that no alteration had been made in the circumstances surrounding these houses.
There are some other cottages in that village which were erected some four or five years ago, and no walls have yet been erected around the plots of these cottages. I have seen the plots which some of the cottiers are endeavouring to till and where they are growing cabbage, potatoes and vegetables, and the only fencing they have around their plots is composed of branches of trees nailed together in a kind of rustic railing. These would not withstand a charge by cattle going along the road and their crops are likely to be destroyed. I earned the reproof of the Minister by asking that he should bring the pressure, vested in him by legislation, to bear upon the two boards of health concerned so that justice should be done in these cases. I shall repeat these representations in this House as often as I get the opportunity until justice is done to these people.
I agree with Deputy Kissane and Deputy Kennedy that there should be some alteration in the allocation of the road grants. The complaint was made in the time of the previous Government that counties with a large road area and counties which depend to a great extent upon the structure and quality of their roads do not get a fair share of the road grants. That complaint still holds. The allocation of the road grants should be re-examined with a view to seeing what change could be made which would give those counties which depend a great deal for their prosperity on the roads an increased proportion of the grants, according to their deserts.
I should like to reinforce what has been said by Deputy Rowlette with reference to immunisation schemes in connection with diphtheria. There is  a growing fear amongst a great many people regarding outbreaks of that fell disease. In some cases, where county medical officers of health have recently been appointed, these schemes have been put into operation almost immediately. If only to indicate to the people, who have been rather slack in appointing county medical officers of health, that there is a value in these appointments, I suggest that the Minister should take whatever steps he is empowered to take to see that these immunisation schemes are introduced as early as possible.
Mr. Holohan: There are a few matters to which I should like to refer on this estimate. The first matter is in connection with the tarring of roads. A good deal has been said on this Estimate from year to year regarding the tarring of roads. Still, we find that, in most counties, there is an inclination to tar the roads from side to side. My opinion is that that is due to a recommendation by county surveyors or by people who are users of motor cars and motor lorries. I should like to put the case for the farmers. The farmers of the constituency I represent are very much opposed to the tarring of any road in the county—even if it be within a mile or two of a town—from side to side. We have our own experience from time to time of the accidents that occur on tarred roads. These occur even where there is a margin. Where there is no margin, the position is very much worse. We are suffering a great deal of inconvenience by the tarring of roads, even though only the centre of the road is tarred. A great deal of loss has been suffered and a great deal of damage done owing to tarred roads. We are prepared to suffer that inconvenience and loss provided a margin of three or four feet is left on each side of the road. County surveyors and others interested in this matter know, as a rule, more about motor cars than they do about the driving of horses or cattle, and so the whole road is very often tarred from side to side. I have been asked by a number of farmers in Kilkenny to go on a deputation to the Commissioner in connection with  this matter. It is my intention to do so, but, before going to the Commissioner, I should like to put the position to the Minister, who is the head of the Department. Where an allocation is made, it would be only fair to the farmers that these margins should be left, and the recommendations of the county surveyors should not be allowed to override the views of the farmers.
The second matter to which I wish to direct attention is that of the cottage fences which are being built in the rural areas. I think I mentioned this matter before, but I am not sure. For the last couple of years we have had a number of these clay fences built. All around me in my constituency I can see gaps in these fences, which are falling already. No matter how they are packed or built to please the eye, I do not think that these fences will last. In addition, a quantity of the good sod required by the man who has to grow his crop is taken from the plot and put into the fence. I think that about three yards of sod is taken off the land for the purpose of the fence. That is the best part of the land. I would recommend —I think it would be cheaper—that a small concrete wall be put around these plots, because these clay fences will fall and trouble will be caused between the man in the cottage and the owner of the adjoining land. I notice that where there are two or three plots together, a concrete post with wire has been put up. That is a fairly lasting fence, but what protection will there be against trespass by fowl where you have one cottage 10 or 15 yards from another, and only a wire fence? I do not see how any division can be made by that fence. As time goes on, there may not be any trouble. The fowl of the cottagers may mix but I am afraid that there will be a little trouble from time in time. If anything could be done to erect a better fence which would prevent the trespass of fowl, it would be a good thing. A couple of little pigs might easily find their way into another man's plot and cause trouble. I think that a concrete wall, six inches or eight inches wide, would be the best form of fence. It would last  much longer than the other fences and, perhaps, it would not cost much more. I do not know what the clay fences are costing, but I think the cost of the concrete wall would not be very much more.
Another matter to which I should like to refer is the rent of the cottages. I am glad to see cottages going up for the labourers and workers of the country. I know these houses are needed. But we have a lot of farm labourers whose wages are only 10/- a week and their board and the rents of these cottages that are now being erected go up to 2/4 a week. I do not know how farm labourers can, out of their small wages, afford to pay that rent. At the present rate of wages I think it would be almost impossible for farm labourers to do so. Of course, the labourer will take the house and do his utmost to pay for it, but I do not think he can succeed in doing so. I would recommend to the Minister that perhaps some arrangements might be made whereby the agricultural labourer could get his house at 50 per cent. of this rent of 2/4. That would be of great assistance to the agricultural worker, and it would give him some sort of encouragement. The wages we farmers are able to pay are bad wages. That is all we can afford to pay. If the Department could do anything to help to reduce these rents, say, to ½ a week, it would be of material advantage and a great boon to the labourers who are going to occupy these cottages. There is not much more I have to say in connection with this matter. On the whole, I think the question of the fencing of these plots is of extreme importance. If the fences are not made right the first day, a great deal of annoyance would be caused through the cattle grazing on the neighbouring lands getting in and destroying the labourer's crop. I suggest if possible that a concrete wall be built around the plots. It would be much the cheapest fence in the end.
Mr. Kehoe: As this discussion has ranged over the whole gamut of local government services, I am not inclined to speak at any great length on it or to go in detail over the points put forward by speakers on the Government  side or by speakers on the Opposition side. I would like to draw the Minister's attention to one matter especially. I do not wish to criticise the work of the Minister in any way. It would be very unreasonable on my part to criticise the work of him whom I might call the Minister for Housing, for that is his accurate appellation. But I would like to draw his attention specifically to a scheme for the town of Enniscorthy.
In that area there have been several building schemes of late years, all under the ægis of the Minister's Department. Other housing schemes have been carried out there, and a good deal of buildings have been erected. Enniscorthy, however, is in the peculiar position of being built on two sides of a river—as perhaps a great many other towns. The people on one side of the river appear to think they have a grievance in the matter of housing, as the bulk of houses under these housing schemes appear to have been built on the other side. These things generate local acrimony, and it would be very unpleasant if anything were done that would help to foster that spirit. I know the Minister is not primarily responsible for this thing. As I said, on one side of the river the people appear to have a grievance. You have on one side, the Barrow side, a site that is unrivalled in Ireland from the point of view of health, and possibly of sanitation, and there is in addition a very good water supply. The houses that are proposed to be built on this site would stand on the grounds on which the Battle of Vinegar Hill was fought, a place of great repute in Irish history. Houses built there would have an historic interest. From the point of sanitary possibilities the site is unique. It is high and dry and possibly it is the cheapest site in Ireland. But for some reason or other the Department of Local Government and Public Health appear to look askance on that site. I am not saying the Department are wrong, but I have a shrewd suspicion that they are viewing the scheme from the wrong angle. I would ask the Minister who is already conversant with the details to see that this scheme  will not be shelved because of some nebulous reason on the part of officials. One side of the town has been exceedingly well catered for in every way in the matter of housing, so that this other side to which I am now referring has a grievance. The fact that I am advocating this site of Vinegar Hill does not mean that other schemes need or should be dropped, but there is no reason why the Vinegar Hill site should not be gone on with. Sites are desperately needed for the relief of congestion. In this particular part of the town of Enniscorthy there are no less than 27 houses each of which house three large families. Knocking down old houses and replacing them by new ones will not in the slightest degree relieve the congestion that is prevalent and endemic there. Indeed, that congestion is too apparent to need any comment on my part. I trust the Minister will look into the matter, and if the officials of his Department may happen to think the scheme not feasible, I am sure he would be able to get around them somehow.
I would like to congratulate the Minister on the work he has done for housing and for the health of the people in general. I think the rather acidulous criticism with which the Minister has been met here this evening has not been deserved. The very great success of the Minister's housing programme has, to a certain extent, militated against it. Our Government came into existence and found the working people very badly housed and in a state of appalling poverty. The work of housing those who needed houses has been rushed, and very naturally the houses may have been hastily put together and handy man labour may have, in some cases, been used. It is no doubt regrettable that anything like this should happen, but desperate diseases require desperate remedies. I would like if all housing had been done by trade union labour and not by handy man labour, but there were occasions when houses had to be built at any cost, even though everything had not been perfect.
As I have already said, the very success of the Minister's programme  militated against the thorough working out of his housing policy. I do not think that Deputy Hogan need take offence, as I presume he did, at the Minister's remark. I think the Minister simply meant, when he disavowed his intention of being moved by Deputy Hogan's criticism, that he would not be hurt by criticism. The Minister has shown his anxiety to meet the needs of the housing people in every possible way. We must all be convinced that on the question of housing the Government is guiltless of any neglect. Such little complaints as houses being flung together hastily is, perhaps, inseparable from the great schemes which were found necessary when the Minister took up office. Perhaps I should not say that the Minister's schemes were hastily conceived, but I know that there had to be some bit of a rush in carrying them through. In conclusion, I would ask the Minister to look carefully into this particular item of the housing scheme in Enniscorthy to which I have referred. It is a matter of much concern to the town of Enniscorthy. It is a matter of importance that the question be ignored or shelved in no way because therein lie possibilities of disturbance between two local sections of the town who have hitherto lived on terms of amity.
Mr. Curran: So much has been said on this Vote in connection with house-building that I will confine myself primarily to the question of labourers' cottages. So far as that part of the programme has come under my notice, I must say I have very little criticism to offer in connection with either the work or the sites. The only criticism I could offer in connection with it —and I do not blame either the Minister or the Party—is that sometimes there is a discrepancy, so to speak, with regard to the tenants who were put into possession of these houses. At the initiation of this scheme in rural Ireland I was appointed a member of a sites committee, whose business it was to go around selecting suitable sites on which to build cottages. I was interested in the scheme of labourers'  cottages and many cases came under my notice. I came across one case where a man with five children, who was living in a single room, was not allocated a cottage, while I saw a cottage occupied by a single man. I do not think it was the Department that selected the tenant for this particular cottage; indeed, I am sure it was not. But there was a certain amount of partiality in connection with the selection of applicants for these cottages in the first instance.
References have been made to the fences around cottage plots, and in that connection I would like to endorse the remarks of Deputy Holohan. I too, have seen fences falling. One thing upon which I can congratulate myself is that I made it one of the conditions in granting a cottage site that I would not be satisfied with a clay fence. I was not satisfied and I am getting another class of fence; I believe it is to be concrete or stone —I do not care which. It was the one stipulation I made in the granting of a site. I believe it much better to have a concrete wall put there. It would be everlasting and the difference in cost would not be a lot. I have seen some fences as well built as they can be; I have seen others badly built. I suppose that sort of thing will happen. It was not a very good idea, in the first instance, to allow clay fences to be put up. They take a lot off the plot; they take up land which ought to be of use to an agricultural labourer. The sods are taken to a depth of six feet in order to build the fence and there is a big trench dug there. I do not know the difference between the cost of a little concrete wall and a sod fence, but I know that the concrete wall would be preferable and I do not think it would cost so much more.
There is one matter in connection with road grants that I would like to deal with. I am in the position that if I go about half a mile from my place I enter into the area of administration of four different authorities in the matter of road-making and maintenance. I can see evidence where the work is well done, where it is moderately  done and where it is done in a disgraceful manner. I think that condition of things should not be. There should be some central authority to supervise the expenditure of money on the roads. So far as I know the situation, it appears to me that the same care is not taken because of the distribution of responsibility. The Minister knows very well that for years I have been seeking a grant for a certain road. I may tell the Minister that the road will soon be just as it was before ever it was done; unless it is tarred in the very near future, it will be as bad as it was originally.
My idea in calling attention to this matter is to make it evident that some other steps should be taken in the matter of dealing with road-making and road maintenance. Indeed, the whole road administration should be brought under one central authority. I am not now discussing the question of wages or hours. I think it is very regrettable, when money is still available, that there is not a decent job done. I am sure the Minister will agree with that. I know very well that conditions vary on particular jobs and it is not so very easy for those in charge to have the job done in the same manner as it would be done under other conditions. As things exist, those engaged on the work of road supervision and construction get one set of men for one or two days and another set of men for another one or two days and the result is that the job is not done in the satisfactory way in which it would be done under normal conditions.
Reference has been made to the tarring of roads. So far as I can see, if some of the roads were not tarred they would not be there in two months. I believe engineers are rising to the occasion and they realise that the day of the high camber on the road is gone. That is where the real danger exists. I am aware that some roads are very dangerous. I am not an expert and I do not want to dictate to engineers and others, but I am well aware that the roads that are being constructed now are much safer, even for horse traffic, than the roads that were constructed some years ago;  they are safer because of the absence of camber. I have travelled over roads that were a positive danger. They deteriorated very quickly and once you got off the centre of the road you were quickly in the dyke. Deputy Holohan lives on a very important road, the road from Waterford to Kilkenny. It has a very fine surface. Except roads are tarred they would not hold any length of time. When a job is done it ought to be done reasonably well.
As regards the fences, nothing can be done about them now, I presume. Most of them are built. I was an advocate of a different class of fence before and, as other Deputies have referred to the matter, I thought it well to give my view. There is no doubt, as Deputy Hogan said, that the only fly in the ointment in regard to labourers' cottages is the smoke problem. That is probably an engineer's job, and the Department or the Minister cannot be blamed for it. I hope, however, that some steps will be taken to remedy it. As regards the cottages built in my vicinity, I have nothing but praise for the way they are built. I am sorry to say that some of the plots are nothing better than a small ranch; not a sod has been tilled. It is to be hoped that they will be made a little more productive.
So far as the roads are concerned, I should like to see them put under one central authority. It is too bad to have one local authority making a good job and another local authority doing bad work. If I take a mile radius from my place, I come under the jurisdiction of four different authorities, and while I have nothing but praise for some work, there is other work done very badly indeed. I hope the Minister and the Department will see in future that where public money is being expended a reasonably good job will be done.
Mr. Belton: The debate was instructive to me, inasmuch as I learned how indifferent is local administration throughout the country. I was wondering was it the same Local Government Department in the Custom House that was supervising administration in  the country and that was supervising the local administration in Dublin City and County. It is a revelation to us in Dublin to hear that one engineer works part of the time for a mental hospital, another part of the time for a board of health, and yet another part of the time for a county council. Another matter that was not brought out before, of which we had knowledge, was the travesty of health administration in the country. I have been told here that, in criticising a certain Act, or rather the reluctance of the Minister in putting a certain Act into operation —an Act that is now nearly two years old and that was passed on the plea of urgency here for the sake of the public health of the people, and the vital clauses of which have not yet been put into operation—I have been told that, in criticising that policy of the Government on a former occasion— the policy of the Department of Local Government and Public Health—that the Dairies and Cowsheds Order and the Bovine Tuberculosis Order were being administered in other counties. Surely the Minister and his officials know that they are not being administered in other counties. They know that they are only played with, and that there is not a single whole-time officer, under any county council outside the Dublin County Council, engaged in administering those orders. We have the position that because, naturally and of necessity, when legislation is passed into law in this House, it is generally passed with a majority of votes from other counties and a minority of votes from County Dublin, County Dublin is the only county council carrying this out, though a majority of its representatives in this House voted against it.
Why is that so? Why is the Milk and Dairies Act of 1935 not in operation, and why is an Act passed here a few months ago in operation for some time? We have to pay the price in County Dublin. We have to pay it in the rates, because to carry out an Act efficiently is far more expensive than to carry it out in a slipshod fashion. We have increases on rates over our four districts this year varying from 9¾d. to ?½ in the £. We have large  arrears, and we have an order of the Minister that, if those arrears are not reduced forthwith, that council should consider the suspension and dismissal of certain rate collectors. While the Act that he got passed in this House is being administered by the Dublin County Council to produce a good article for human consumption as a food, namely, milk, that Act is not enforced in any other county, and the provisions of this particular Act that would make the Act enforceable in other counties have been suspended and are not yet in operation.
Of course, we are gradually approaching the climax, or the anticlimax, when it will be realised that the burden on local authorities has become unbearable; that is, when the social legislation passed by this House is carried out, in the county in which it is carried out, and a county for which I can speak, that county—speaking now from a council point of view— is on the verge of bankruptcy. It has to face the collection of £300,000 in rates in the present financial year. It has to face an arrears bill of £100,000, and it has to face an overdraft of £100,000, and the Minister, while knowing that that council does its job well in administering the legislation passed in this House, will not make other counties do their job. I have heard representatives of other counties standing up here and claiming an increase in the road grants—an increase in road grants for counties on the Atlantic coast—while the roads we are maintaining in County Dublin are the highways and the pass-ways for the rest of the country.
A year ago the welkin was made to ring here, particularly by the Minister for Finance, in connection with the £2,500,000 that the Government was giving for unemployment in the last financial year. An analysis of that revealed that £1,675,000 was being given by the Government and £825,000 was to be put up by the local authorities. When it came to the allocation of these grants, I am afraid there was great discrimination in the amounts allocated to the various counties, and, while we in Dublin had to put up with £15,000 or £16,000, and had to put up nearly pound for pound, places like  Donegal and Galway could get about £70,000. I wonder how did that come about? This is not a leap year, although it may be a political year. That was agreed to by our council, but it was agreed to on the understanding that the conditions attaching to our putting up the money were similar to those that we have been accustomed to. Two things, however, revealed themselves, and I think I am right in stating that, notwithstanding the fact that our council consists of 11 of each Party and two Independents—a total of 24—the council was unanimous in opposing those two conditions when the conditions became clearly known. One condition was that, though we could borrow the money we would put up for those unemployment works, we should repay it over a period of three years. The repayment of a loan over three years is moonshine. It is much better finance to put up the money out of revenue. It comes practically to the same thing, and it probably would be easier in the long run on the ratepayers to put it up out of revenue. It is obvious that by this manæuvre the Government intends to start by throwing about 40 per cent. of the burden of unemployment, created by Government policy, on to the shoulders of local authorities and of local ratepayers. Gradually, I presume, the portion put up by the Government will be reduced and the portion put up by the local authority will have to be increased, so that the Government will get rid of the baby.
Another fantastic scheme was one for which, I think, the Board of Works was responsible, but it came before local authorities, and I think the Minister for Local Government was involved in some way. It was a scheme by which a man got two days' or three days' work a week according to the number of dependents he had.
Mr. Belton: I shall pass away from it, then, after making the comment that it found no favour anywhere amongst local bodies. I hope the  Department of Local Government will use its influence to try to amend that scheme so that a man may be given at least a week's work.
Mr. Belton: The only comment I have to make on it is to appeal to the Government generally to ensure that the least that should be offered a man, by way of employment, is one complete week's work. It would be much better if he could be given at least two weeks' work.
There is another matter in which, I think, the Department should interest itself. The local authorities with which I am connected have certain by-laws governing new roads. These local authorities will take over and maintain new roads, provided these roads are constructed to a certain specification standard and to satisfy the roads engineer or the county surveyor, as the case may be. In County Dublin the Land Commission has divided a few farms, some of them many years ago, even, I think, before the present Administration came into office. The one I have really in mind was divided before the advent of the present Administration, some years ago anyway. The people whose houses are built on the interior of the farm which was divided up, were left with what only can be described as car-tracks through a field, to serve as roads since. They asked the Land Commission to make the roads. I do not know if the Land Commission definitely refused, but I know the roads were not made. They have appealed to the county council to make the roads for them, but our by-laws stand in the way of that arrangement, and rightly stand in the way, because if a private individual has to construct a road to a certain specification standard before the county council takes it over, why should the Land Commission not have to do the same? It is a matter which I intend to raise on the Vote for the Land Commission, because it is not really the responsibility of the Local  Government Department, but remembering that the Local Government Department is the local authorities' voice in the councils of the Cabinet, I appeal to the Minister to interest himself in the matter and to ask the Land Commission why, when they took on the job, they did not complete it as a private individual would have to complete it under similar circumstances.
There is another matter which is not directly the responsibility of the Local Government Department but is nevertheless a matter in which the Department must be interested. That is the question of public lighting.
Mr. Belton: I prefaced what I was going to say with the remark that it was a matter in which he would, and should, interest himself, though he has not direct responsibility for it. I just want to make this passing comment on it. When the local authority, the board of health, decides on a public lighting scheme, it is put forward to the Minister to get his approval. The particular scheme in which we are interested in County Dublin was so dealt with. I am now referring to the public lighting of Skerries. We, in County Dublin, struck, I think, 1d., or almost 1d., in the £ to subsidise the tourist organisation here. One of the best seaside resorts in the county is Skerries. The Shannon current is in Skerries, and when the Dublin Board of Health asked for it, the E.S.B. refused to give it. Why? I should like the Minister for Local Government to inquire into it. I am not blaming him for it. He had nothing to do with the refusal. As far as our scheme went, and as far as he had anything to do with it by approving of it, he did it. I see the difficulty of getting at the E.S.B. here. I wish there was some Vote, even a token Vote, brought forward in this House so that we could have a straight talk about the E.S.B.  Here is an extraordinary thing. We have to pay in Skerries for 3,520 kilowatts a rent of £260 to a private supplier, whereas in Malahide we get 13,000 kilowatts for £195 a year.
Mr. Belton: Shedding the light is an appropriate remark. I believe, from what I could gather from a subsequent speaker, that some Deputy appealed to the Minister to do something in the matter of reducing the rents of labourers' cottages. We have in County Dublin about 90 cottages that were built at a time when money was difficult to get and when it was very dear. Loans repayable over a longer period than 15 years could not be got. I think the rate of interest went up to 5 or 6 per cent. I was a bit amused when I heard Deputies here contending that 2/4 a week for labourers' cottages was a rent that could not be paid in their counties. I wonder how would labourers in those counties like to face a bill of 5/9 a week for labourers' cottages.
Mr. Belton: I think it does. Well, even with or without rates it is something, I think, that will make most Deputies in this House think how happy they are with cottages at a rent of 2/4, which I presume includes rates also.
Mr. Belton: A suggestion has been made to the Department of Local  Government, and I do not think it has been received as well as it should be. Those cottages which I have in mind were built by a district council just before 1930, or perhaps a little bit previous to that. It was only then that the board of health was set up in County Dublin, and consequently it is only from that time that I have any knowledge of this kind of work. This proposal was made to the Department of Local Government, to lend to the board of health from the Local Loans Fund sufficient money to redeem the outstanding loans on those cottages, and then either to lend for a 35-year period from that date or a 35-year period from the original renting of those cottages. One or other would considerably reduce the rents. There would be no loss of money to anybody —no loss of rates and no loss to the Government—and it would enable the occupiers of those cottages, who rented them when wages and conditions were better, to pull down some of the burden corresponding to the drop in their incomes. At any rate, having regard to the class of people occupying those cottages, a rent of 5/9 is too much, and I would appeal to the Minister for Local Government to reconsider that matter. I do not see why it could not be done.
I was rather interested to hear from Deputy Broderick that in the Urban Council of Galway an inquiry was held into the administration of the Small Dwellings Act. I would be equally interested to know why, in regard to a far worse case of maladministration or of peculiar administration—I will not put it stronger than that—in County Dublin, when there was an unanimous application from the Dublin County Council to have a public sworn inquiry held by the Department of Local Government, that inquiry was not held. The case was very clearly and exhaustively stated. It was shown by documentary evidence that through misrepresentation and other things the full selling price of the house was lent by the Dublin County Council. When this was discovered it gave rise to many things, and we sent a new valuer to value the houses. The money that had been lent  was £400 a house, which was supposed to be 80 per cent. of the market value. When we found that the actual selling price was £400 we thought there was something wrong and we sent a new valuer. His highest valuation was £350. There are a lot of other filling-up facts which need not be gone into here—it would be waste of time— but they were all put in a lengthy document before the Minister, and the Minister refused an inquiry. That was very peculiar. If it was not necessary to hold an inquiry in this particular instance, I should be very interested to hear what terrible thing happened in Galway that made an inquiry necessary.
There is another matter which I should like the Department of Local Government to consider. It is very difficult for them to depart from the policy which they adopt, but I submit for their consideration that it is hardly the best policy. I refer to contracts, particularly for the building of labourers' cottages. The Ministry insists on the lowest tenderer getting the contract. It is difficult to oppose that principle, because, by departing from it, avenues for a lot of abuses would be opened up, but I think that the Department of Local Government should at least insist on a list of tenderers who are fit to do various classes of work. Do not bother about anybody except a man who is on that list. If a new man wants the work let him make application. If he makes any sort of a fair case that he is fit to do the work he should be put on the list. A lot would be saved in advertising if there was such a list, and invitations to submit a tender were sent out to all on that list. We have had sad experience because we had to accept the lowest tender. A case arose only a couple of weeks ago where we refused to accept the lowest tender and decided to accept the second lowest. The Department of Local Government said, “No; you must accept the lowest.” Correspondence passed to and fro, and, when the Department came down with the sledge-hammer last word that we were to accept the lowest tender, the lowest tenderer could not be found; he was bankrupt. While I agree that the Department of Local  Government should not depart from the principle of accepting the lowest tender, they should be always reasonably ready to consider a case put up by the local authorities. I am afraid they have not been as reasonable in that respect as they should have been. A lot of loss has occurred, which far exceeded the little margin that might be saved even if things were done satisfactorily by the lowest tenderer. There is a good deal of over-holding. What I mean is that contracts are not being executed up to date. Penalties are provided against that, but it is very difficult to enforce them. I have known houses to be over-held for a year and more, although part of the money in respect of them had been paid out. In such cases, I believe, a penalty of £10 a day is provided. That is an exorbitant sum, and is rarely enforced. In some cases money will have been paid out by the board of health for more than two years before houses are handed up by a contractor, and before there is any return in the way of rent from them. While that is so, the board of health will have been making repayments to the Local Loans Fund at 4¾ per cent. during all that time. In my opinion it is not always good business to insist rigidly on the lowest tender being accepted. What should be done is to have a closer examination made of the character of those applying to do work of that kind. I would appeal to the Local Government Department to reconsider their attitude on the matter.
There is a suggestion I have to make which, if accepted, would have particular application to Dublin and its neighbourhood, and probably to Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford and other towns. I am sure that while the Department recognises we have direct housing schemes and the poorest people being housed by the aid of loans under the Small Dwellings Act, there is in between these two a class of people who would be able to put down a reasonable deposit to buy a house, but at the same time might find the instalment they had to pay afterwards a bit too heavy for their income. In the case of people who are housed under direct schemes promoted by the Dublin Corporation there is an initial loan by the corporation.  There is also a subvention given by the Exchequer to meet part of the service of the loan. In many cases the people who are being housed under direct schemes of housing are as well able and, in some cases, better able to buy their houses than the people who are actually doing so by the aid of loans under the Small Dwellings Act. Perhaps the Department would consider a combination of the help given under the two Acts—to help the applicant for a loan under the Small Dwellings Act to repay it to the same extent as the tenant of a corporation house is helped. If that were done, I think it would go a long way to solve the housing problem. It would encourage thrift amongst tradesmen to save sufficient to enable them to make the necessary deposit to purchase their houses.
I understood Deputy Curran to suggest that there was partiality in the selection of tenants for labourers' cottages. If that is so, I wonder if we in Dublin are having our eyes wiped in being made to provide machinery here that is more near to perfection than that to be found in any other county. As regards the new cottages that are being allocated, in practice pretty well the last word resides with the medical officer of health. I understand that in some counties they have not a medical officer of health yet.
Mr. Belton: I think in some counties they only got a county medical officer of health within the last couple of months. A county medical officer of health in a county counts for nothing if the machinery of his department has not been built up. I hope the Minister will see that in the various counties the department of the county medical officer of health will be brought up to the standard required from us here in the County Dublin. The Minister has now returned to the House after regaling himself. I feel sure that he is in good humour, and I hope that my suggestion will sink in and be sympathetically considered by him.
Mr. J. Flynn: In view of the importance of the Vote for the Department of  the Minister for Local Government and Public Health, there are one or two matters of vital interest to my county that I want to deal with. The first question that I propose to deal with is the number of housing schemes that are held up, due to the fact that large sums of money in the shape of arrears of cottage rents have accrued in parts of the county. In view of that the Department has withheld its consent to certain proposals put forward with regard to housing schemes by the Kerry Board of Health. I would like to point out to the Minister that those arrears of rent have accumulated over a period of ten or 15 years, and that the position at present facing the board of health and the people whose houses have been condemned is not, so to speak, of their making at all. Another important factor to be borne in mind is this: that the portion of the county in which it is proposed to carry out housing schemes to replace the unsanitary houses that exist there, is not the portion of the county where the arrears of cottage rents have accrued over a long period of years.
In order to make my point clear and to show that Kerry is trying to meet its liabilities in regard to rates and current cottage rents, and also in answer to the comment made by Deputy Brennan to try to show that the question of rates in Kerry was a serious one, I should like to quote from the Irish Press of April 5th, in which it is stated that at a sub-committee of the Kerry County Council the County Secretary stated that out of a rate warrant of £163,863 to the 31st March, 1937, £126,361, or 77 per cent., had been collected, and the corresponding percentage for last year was 68 per cent. That will show conclusively that so far as Kerry is concerned the people are doing their utmost to meet their liabilities and that the arrears are being met by the people concerned in as good a way as they can meet them. The real difficulty is because of the fact that these arrears have been allowed to accumulate over a period of about 15 years.
Further, in order to show that in these congested areas the people have  availed of these schemes, I should like to remind the Minister that in Killorglin, where we have had a very successful housing scheme, the tenants of the houses have paid their rents promptly, and there is no question of arrears in that area. The matter is a vital one because of the fact that the people reside in congested areas, and their present houses have been condemned for the past two and a-half years. I again appeal to the Minister at least to allow the schemes in Cahirciveen, Sneem and Castleisland, which are in the congested parts of the county, to be got under way by the board of health.
Another important matter concerning us in Kerry is in connection with the remission of rates given when agricultural labourers are employed by the farmers. The matter has been brought before the Kerry County Council on several occasions and we have been asked to make representations in regard to it to the Minister. The question of continuity of service is the principle involved. In our county men are generally employed for a ten months' period. Therefore great hardship has been caused to the farmers who cannot qualify for this remission of rates because the system does not lend itself to continuity of service. Under the system operating there farmers cannot get men to stay longer than nine or ten months. We realise, of course, that amending legislation may be required to remedy that. I simply mention it because it affects the rating authority and the farmers concerned.
I fully endorse the points raised by Deputy Kissane with regard to the road grants. I think the whole system should be revised. I think it is mainly on the basis of valuation that the allocations are made and, needless to say, that reacts very much against our county. I understand that the proportion works out in the ratio of £1,000 to Kerry and £2,500 to Kildare or counties like it. We have repeatedly referred to this matter and, in view of the fact that our county is a tourist county, I think that a special concession should be given to it; that rather than having a ratio operating against us, it should work the other way, and that instead of  being on a valuation basis it should be on the basis of traffic. In Kerry, where thousands of tourists visit the various centres every year, the traffic is considerable. I hold that the amount allocated to Kerry is totally inadequate to assist the local authority in maintaining these roads to enable them to stand up to modern requirements. In conclusion, I should like to say that as far as our county is concerned, we realise the great work which is being done. I have referred to the housing schemes which are in operation and to the scheme which has been completed in Killorglin. There is also the hospitalisation of our county. As I say, the people realise the great work which has been done there.
Mr. Corish: I first want to congratulate the Minister on the very elaborate and informative statement which he gave to the House in connection with every phase of local government. It certainly reflects great credit on his Department and on himself. A great deal of attention has been given to the question of housing and a great many complaints have been made as to the type of houses being built in the country. A great many complaints have been made as to the unsuitability of certain materials and as to houses being badly built. A certain amount of blame is attributed to the Local Government Department for permitting that particular type of building. As far as I am concerned, I have no complaint to make in that direction and I am as much in touch with housing as anybody in the country. There are certainly some houses in various parts of the county which have not been built as they should be built. Certain defects have appeared and certain bad materials have been allowed to go into the houses. As a member of two local authorities in touch with building, my experience has been that the Department gives a good deal of attention, considering the magnitude of the problem, to the various housing schemes scattered all over the country. In my opinion, the supervision exercised by the housing department has been marvellous, and the defects have  been in a very small proportion of the total number of houses built, having regard to the way in which the housing problem was tackled on such a large scale by this Government. There are bound to be defects here and there, but, on the whole, I say emphatically that the housing schemes embarked upon by local authorities under the supervision of the Department have been successful. A great many of the complaints that are made concern leaking walls and chimneys. The responsibility for these complaints is that, in many rural areas, when a house is being built the contract is handed over to a carpenter and a mason. The mason is given the plastering and the slating work. No matter how good a mason is, I submit that he cannot properly do all the plastering work on the house, and it is because that work has not been properly attended to that so many walls leak and so many cracks appear in the plaster. Plastering is highly skilled work. I know that there is a shortage of plasterers at present, but I suggest to the Minister that, where possible, plasterers should be secured to finish houses in rural districts.
On two or three occasions I put questions to the Minister in connection with the subsidies paid on houses built in urban and rural areas by the local authorities. The Minister will remember that a few months ago a deputation from the Council of Municipal Councils waited on him, and requested him to ask the Minister for Finance to increase the subsidy on houses costing more than £300 to build. I thought that the Minister was impressed by the case that was made, and I was under the impression that he undertook to see the Minister for Finance with a view to having the subsidy increased. It will be admitted by the Department and by the officials that the cost of building has gone up, if not considerably, it has gone up to some extent during the past twelve months. It is correct to say that the cost has increased by between 15 and 20 per cent. On a £300 house an increase of 15 per cent. in the cost of building would mean a good deal. If subsidy was paid on £350, the house with the advantage  of that subsidy could be let at 5/8½, whereas if subsidy was paid only on £300 the rent of the same house would be 6/5½ per week. The Minister and the officials know that even that rent is too high to charge in many urban districts. In provincial towns the rents average 4/- or 4/6 weekly. If a house of that kind could still be let at 4/6 weekly, keeping in mind the cost of building increasing, it is going to cost the local authorities a considerable amount of money to do so. The Minister will admit, even though the cost of building has gone up, that it would be very undesirable that rents of houses similar to those built recently and let at a certain figure should be now increased. He knows that the tenants put into these new houses have been taken from rooms and from slums and that they are very hard set to pay 4/- or 4/6 weekly. If they are to be charged an increased rent owing to the increase in the cost of building, a state of chaos will be reached as far as rent collection is concerned.
It is well known that people who have been taken from the slums and put into the new houses were in the habit of paying an average of from ? to 2/6 weekly. It would be unreasonable to expect that the new houses could be let at that rent at the present time but I suggest to the Minister that when houses cost over 4/- weekly, it is very difficult for local authorities to collect the rents. A problem is being created for these local authorities by reason of the fact that numbers of people transferred from the slums have fallen into arrears in their payments, and the local authorities are at their wits' end to know what to do in that connection. The Department may say: “Serve notice to quit; you have the law at your back,” but it has to be remembered that numbers of these people did not go into these new houses of their own volition; that the local authorities, in the interests of public health generally, sought demolition orders and had the people removed in many cases against their will. I ask the Minister to do his best to help the local authorities in this matter, because I know there is a growing hesitancy on their part to proceed with further  housing schemes owing to the fact that building prices are increasing.
At this stage I should like to say something about the Housing Board which has been referred to by different Deputies. A great many people wonder what the Housing Board is doing. As far as I am concerned, I may say that I have been in touch with the board on various occasions and I got a good deal of information so far as the provision of materials and things of that kind is concerned. Representing the Corporation of Wexford, I found difficulty on various occasions in getting certain materials, and I must say that I got every help from the Housing Board in Dublin. I know that certain local authorities were rather lax in the promotion of housing schemes in some parts of this State, and I know that it is because of the advice and help extended to them by the Housing Board that they proceeded with housing schemes.
The Small Dwellings (Acquisition) Act has been referred to. I think I am right in saying that when that legislation was initiated some years ago, the object was to try to encourage tenants to buy the houses in which they lived. The policy of the Department at the present time is that it will not recommend a loan from the Local Loans Fund unless it is for the purpose of buying or erecting a new house. I suggest that that is a mistaken policy. Of course, they agreed on some occasions with a recommendation made by a local authority that people could buy a house in which they had been living for years, but suggested that the money should be secured from the banks. The Minister and the Department know that the bank will not give a loan for a longer period than 15 years. It will be admitted, I think, that the cost of borrowing for 15 years is prohibitive so far as the ordinary working man is concerned. I suggest to the Minister that he ought to recommend to the Local Loans Fund the claims of any person in favour of buying a house in which he has lived for a few years, provided always that the house is in a decent state of repair and so certified by an architect.
Some Deputies referred to the roads  grant, or grants from the Road Fund. I agree that it is a defect that some of that grant cannot be applied to the reconstruction of second-class roads and by-roads, because a great deal, if not most, of the traffic of the county proper is sent over these roads. In this matter of traffic it is absolutely necessary that these roads should get attention.
In the course of his criticism, Deputy Belton complained that the Dublin County Council were making roads that are being used by people all over the country, and that they were not getting sufficient money for doing that. So far as I am concerned, and so far as a good number of the country Deputies are concerned, they would prefer that the people in the country would not use the roads in the vicinity of Dublin as much as they do, and that they would leave their money at home in their own towns and around their own country districts. If these people use the roads in County Dublin, they leave their money there. There are special attractions in Dublin for those people, and if we had those attractions, we would be very glad to build roads to bring the people into the towns. Another matter that was put before the Minister by the Council of Municipal Councils was the matter of municipal councils being permitted to offer prizes for well-kept gardens. So far as I remember, I do not thnk the Minister held out any hope in this respect. Might I again ask the Minister to reconsider his action? In the various towns to-day, we have people living in houses with gardens, front and back, who have hitherto not had a garden at all. Urban councils are endeavouring to get these people to keep their gardens in a proper manner and to encourage them by giving them prizes. I daresay that anything from £10 to £20 would cover the amount each year. Schemes of this kind have been carried out in a few areas and with good results. I would, therefore, ask the Minister to reconsider his attitude in that connection.
Although I know that the employment schemes will be discussed on  Vote 69, there is one particular aspect I want to refer to. Quite recently the Minister has sent a notice to urban councils that they are to receive a certain amount of money this year towards the relief of unemployment, but that it is necessary for them to include in the current rate a certain amount of money in order to qualify for the grant. While I agree that it is better finance that the amount of money should be raised in revenue during the current year, I submit that in a comparatively small urban area it is going to be very heavy on the ratepayers, and I am wondering what the position is going to be in some areas, in view of the fact that that notification has been received only within the past fortnight and the rates have already been struck. I do not know of any authority an urban area has to strike a supplementary rate after the ordinary rate has been struck, unless by a plebiscite of the ratepayers, or a meeting of the ratepayers, and that is a rather tall order. I think we would hear a good deal about rates at that particular meeting and I should like the Minister to give us some guidance as to what the position is in view of the fact that the rate has been struck.
There is one other small matter I want to refer to. During the period when boards of guardians and district councils were operating in the different counties, it was the custom to have tailors and shoemakers placed on the staff in the same position as officers. I do not know whether it is since the amalgamation of unions was carried out, but certainly within recent years, the Minister's Department has refused absolutely to place shoemakers, tailors or any other tradesmen on the permanent staff. I should like to know why, in view of the fact that unanimous requests have been sent from county health boards that this should be done, the Minister still persists in refusing. Surely tailors and shoemakers are entitled to as much consideration as any official, especially when the representatives of the local ratepayers are satisfied that they should be placed in such a position?
 I have no other criticism to offer, but I want again to congratulate the Minister on the splendid statement he laid before the House and on the wonderful work that has been done by his Department so far as housing is concerned. Progress made certainly reflects all that we heard from the Minister before he became Minister for Local Government. We have always known him to be a great advocate of the housing of the working classes and he has taken this the first opportunity presented to him to push that work ahead.
Mr. Bartley: I should like to add my voice to the remarks made by other Deputies with regard to the better distribution of the Road Fund through the remote districts. I have in mind some places where we have failed to get 'bus services because the roads were certified by the county surveyor as not being fit to bear 'buses, and particularly in a district where the railway has been closed down and where there has been a redistribution of road services, it is important that the roads in districts where the population is heaviest should be put into such a condition that the people there might benefit by the road services which can now be placed at their disposal.
I do not know whether the Minister has any jurisdiction in the matter, but I want to draw his attention to the building of the hospital in Galway. I have heard a good deal of criticism lately, and the most recent criticism I have heard was at a meeting of the Galway Industrial Development Association on Monday night, with regard to this project. It is proposed, I understand, that this hospital should be built of concrete and iron. In view of the fact that there is plenty of very fine stones quite convenient to the proposed site, the opinion generally in the district is that local materials ought to be used in preference to spending money on materials which must be imported. The matter may be one for the authority administering the hospital funds, but I would earnestly call the attention of the Minister to it. The difference would  be very important to a variety of people in Galway area.
There is another matter, and it is one of great importance in urban areas, and I refer particularly to the Galway area, to which I wish to draw the Minister's attention. It is the very high valuation on agricultural land within the urban boundary. There has been considerable complaint in Galway area in this respect, and it is a very real grievance. In the case of farmers living on either side of the urban boundary the difference in rating is very marked, and the farmer who happens to be just inside the urban boundary is paying possibly twice what his neighbour on the other side of the urban boundary is paying. It is not, I believe, in order to suggest legislation on a Vote, and I do not know whether legislation would be necessary in this connection or not, but I ask the Minister to give the matter his attention.
Mr. Dillon: Sub-head U provides for the payment of gratuities to certain former officers of local authorities and persons in the Civil Service of Saorstát Eireann. In that connection I want to raise the question of the moneys which are to be made payable to the ex-Secretary of the Department of Local Government and Public Health, because I consider that, in the present strained financial circumstances of this country, to charge the public purse with the maximum pension for a distinguished public officer, who is peculiarly competent to carry on the work which he did carry on so successfully, so disinterestedly and with such conspicuous devotion to duty over a long official life, is something that cannot be justified. We are now required to find money to pay the salary of a new Secretary of the Department of Local Government and Public Health. We are required to do that because Mr. McCarron has been driven out of his position for no assigned reason. You will remember that we did afford the Minister for Local Government and Public Health an opportunity of stating what were the reasons he advanced to justify this double charge on the public purse.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The  Deputy is aware that this matter was the subject of a motion in the Dáil. That motion was fully discussed, and there is a ruling, carried down for many years, that matters raised within a short time before the discussion of an Estimate to which they refer cannot be reopened on that Estimate. The reasons for the removal of Mr. McCarron from office cannot, therefore, be discussed on this Estimate. The amount of money being paid him by way of superannuation is the amount fixed by law and cannot be questioned. The appointment of a secretary of the Department is also a legal act, and his salary is paid under the authority of a statute. Therefore, that matter cannot be raised on this Estimate either.
Mr. Dillon: I desire to make a submission on that ruling. A sum appears under sub-head U of this Estimate which is stated to be compensation for persons who were in the service of a local authority or in the Civil Service of Saorstát Eireann. It does not appear from the explanatory note on page 149 of the Book of Estimates whether any part of that money will be paid to Mr. McCarron.
Mr. Dillon: It may be gratuities, but it does refer to moneys paid to the officers. My second submission is that the precedent which you have quoted, and which I do not for a moment challenge, does provide that the same Minister shall not be questioned twice within a short period on the same issue.
Mr. Dillon: So that the Minister may, on the motion, run away out of the House and, on the first occasion on which he is bound to attend and answer, he can closure the debate and refuse to discuss the matter. That is what happens.
Mr. Dillon: The Chair has an absolute discretion in deciding whether precedents will be enforced, because the Chair has to determine whether the circumstances are identical with those which existed when the precedent was made. In my respectful submission, the circumstances are not identical.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Chair does not see any reason for departing from the precedent established. The matter which the Deputy is endeavouring to raise was fully discussed and was decided by the House. It cannot be reopened on this Estimate.
Mr. Dillon: The discretion is in your hands. I want to refer to another sub-head in connection with the distribution of free beef. I understand that the appropriation for that purpose has been very substantially reduced under sub-head V—from £40,000 to £5,000. Is that reduction being made in the cause of economy or is it, as I suspect it is, being made because there is no beef in the country? If it be true, as I suspect it is, that there is not enough fat stock in the country to fill the British quota and provide free beef for the poor, perhaps the Minister would be good enough to ask his colleague, the Minister for Agriculture, to expound to us the benefits of an agricultural policy which, in five years, results in this country being without beef and without butter. I do not believe the Bashi Bazouks could have achieved that if they had taken over the government of this country. That is a most amazing commentary on the Government's ineptitude and inefficiency. The Minister must be proud of his colleague in the Executive Council——
Mr. Dillon: I can quite understand the difficulty of Deputy Allen in associating the name of the Minister for Agriculture with public health or health of any other kind—even physical health. Astonishing as it may be, his name may be associated with the public health of this country in one connection only—that he is the first man in the history of Ireland to succeed in precipitating a famine of beef.
Mr. Dillon: To depart from the distasteful subject of the Minister for Agriculture, I should like to inquire about another strange body which has been created by this Government—the Housing Board. What has become of the Housing Board? We were told by the Minister on a previous occasion, as reported in volume 61, column 1611 of the Official Reports, that “there is a type of work which I might call a sort of propaganda work—going around and talking to local authorities and encouraging them—that the officials could not be expected to do, and that kind of work which I could not do with individual local authorities has been most successfully done by the members of the Housing Board.”
I have seen very little trace of the activities of the Housing Board. I am a member of a local authority in County Roscommon and, since I became a member four years ago, I never heard the name of the Housing Board mentioned there. I have never seen any trace of the board in our work, and I see no evidence in the housing schemes of any beneficent influence by that body. The only member who ever showed any activity sought to expose what looked very like a scandal in connection with a series of houses somewhere near Castlebar which fell as soon as  erected. He was promptly “sacked.” From that hour forward the Housing Board sunk into silence and there has not been a word out of it ever since. I would have expected the Housing Board to be constantly visiting housing schemes, to be satisfying themselves that the houses were of the kind that ought to be erected and that these schemes provided comfortable homesteads for those people for whom they were intended. I would have expected the board to be making suggestions for newer and better types of houses.
I am glad that Deputy Tom Kelly is here. In that connection, I want to ask who fixed the standard for the accommodation available in the flat buildings that have been erected by the Dublin Corporation in Dublin? I went down recently to the Anchor Brewery site and I saw there a number of flat buildings the exteriors of which were admittedly prepossessing; the lay-out seems admirable and the whole has the appearance of an ambitious scheme. By the courtesy of some of the tenants of those flats I went in to inspect some of the flats as they are at present occupied. I was appalled to find that the tenants of these flats—who had been taken out of admittedly bad tenement houses, but out of tenement houses that at least had large, spacious rooms—had been put into flats in these pretentious buildings which consisted of three or four miserable little cubby-holes. They were dark, they were very small, and I am sorry to say that, in my judgment, they bore all the evidences of getting into a rapid decline to a far worse slum than the slum out of which these tenants had been taken. Those of us, and there are some of us in this House who were born in the slums— I was brought up in the slums in North Great George's Street—at least know that those large houses, unsuitable as they unquestionably are for the families living in them in the individual rooms, have large rooms with plenty of window space and air. On the other hand, these little flats are made up of deplorably small rooms; they are very dark, and the  general finish of the interior of the rooms seems to me to leave a great deal to be desired.
Now that you are going to move people who, through no fault of their own, have lived in very squalid surroundings into better houses, you ought to design these in such a way as to make it easy for the tenants to keep their rooms clean.
You ought not to build these flats that allow the rooms to be dark, you ought at least to have one spacious room and you ought to see that the walls of the rooms have a reasonable kind of surface that can be kept clean by the housewife of the family. Go into one of the kitchens of these flats and you will find that the range occupies half the room. Imagine an unfortunate woman with three or four little children moving about a kitchen trying to cook in the atmosphere that will arise in a very small space with a range occupying so much of that room. It is true that there is a fine asphalt space in front of these buildings where the children can play in fine weather. That is much better than having them playing in the street. I think, however, that the Housing Board is wrong or remiss in permitting the class of accommodation provided in the Anchor Brewery site. They should insist that families going into these flats would have at least one large room where the family can live, where there will be plenty of air and proper ventilation. I have no hesitation in saying that the interior of these flats in the Anchor Brewery site does not provide this accommodation. I do not know whether the Minister has been through these houses or whether he thinks the accommodation is adequate. I saw one flat on the ground floor and I saw one flat on the first floor. I was favourably impressed with neither. The flat on the ground floor struck me particularly with its darkness and its gloomy appearance. The flat on the second floor struck me particularly with the ridiculous inadequacy of the size of the rooms.
We have got to face this problem. There are two schools of thought. One school is that you ought to have a multiplicity of rooms. The other school of thought is that you ought to  have one decent room in which the family can live and the two or three bedrooms in which the different sexes may be segregated at night. I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that with whatever sacrifice of luxury, the first essential to reasonable comfort for a married man with his wife and family is a decent living-room. I would like housing accommodation provided for the working people of this country broadly to be designed on the well-established design of the Irish country house where the kitchen is a large, airy, comfortable room, where the people cook, eat and live. It is kept warm by the kitchen fire. It is large enough not to become too warm in the summer nor oppressively cold at any time. It is a room into which visitors can be welcomed. It is a room which can be used for one occasion or another; it is the whole centre of these people's lives. It is a room of such a character that the woman of the house can take a pride in it and spend her time beautifying it with the resources at her disposal. I say that no one can beautify the rooms of the flats in the Anchor Brewery site. I say it is a bad mistake to treat the poor of this city as if they were some kind of pathological specimens and not human beings. The poor of this city are just as able as we are to adapt themselves to the circumstances in which they find themselves, and they will look to the morals and proprieties of family life in their own way where they have got anything like reasonable accommodation. I do not think it would be excessive to provide one decent room and three bedrooms. If that is impossible then let there be one decent room and two bedrooms, and let each family make its own arrangements for the propriety and the segregations that are to be made in any properly conducted Christian family.
While the Minister for Local Government and Public Health prides himself that he has achieved prodigies in the field of housing, I charge him again that he has allowed a situation to develop in which he has admittedly attacked the easy half of the housing problem, but he is not doing half enough to attack the difficult end.  There is no difficulty whatsoever in providing for rural housing at present. It is merely a question of shovelling out the money. The land is there, the materials are there, and there is no problem except that of finance. There is little trouble beyond making the county surveyors work a little harder than before in order to build all the houses you want in rural Ireland. But when you come to the question of the relief of slum congestions in the cities, then you are up against a real problem. That is the housing problem. Only a fool will rush in where wise men fear to tread. I know enough about the housing problem in the City of Dublin to realise the complexities of that problem. Deputy Tom Kelly, who knows a great deal about housing in the city, has said that the great obstacle confronting him is the want of money. He said that if he could get the money, the problem of re-housing the poor of this city could be dealt with very quickly. I think I am correctly quoting him. Why is not the Minister giving the co-operation that he ought to give in that regard? Does the Minister think that the progress being made in re-housing the poor of this city is satisfactory? If he does not, what does he think is lacking to make that progress satisfactory? Does he think he is doing his job if he sits calmly by and contents himself with clapping his hands and saying the progress is not satisfactory? Is it not his business to see that it is satisfactory?
I remember being sharply upbraided for saying on one occasion that I did not believe the tenement population of this city had been substantially reduced in the last five years. I now repeat that. I believe there are just as many people living in accommodation in this city that ought to be condemned, living in accommodation which is not fit, in my opinion, to accommodate animals, much less human beings, as there were five years ago. I say that that state of affairs gravely reflects on the Minister. I fully recognise that revolutionary steps might be necessary in order to abate this evil. It is his job to take  them. It has been clearly indicated to him ever since he took office that any steps that he could satisfy this House were necessary to make an end of the slums would be approved by all Parties. Why have not those steps been taken?
I understand he has all the relevant facts. He has Deputy Tom Kelly as chairman of the Housing Board of this city, and he cannot pretend he is not getting all the co-operation he wants. Why is he failing in that particular part of his job? It is the most important element in the housing problem of this country at the present time. So far, his record in regard to it reflects little credit upon him, and it is time now, as he lays down the reins of office and goes into the wilderness of a general election, to let us know how it is that during his five years he has been quite unable to find any effective instrument for making an end of the slums of this city.
I should like to ask the Minister a categorical question about local loans. I was recently told by a man who knows conditions in Northern Ireland that local loans are available there for 3½ per cent. Can that be true and, if it is, how comes it that local loans here cost nearly 2 per cent more? Perhaps the Minister would look into that question and let me have an answer. Now we come to the National Health Insurance. I think that comes under this Vote.
Mr. Dillon: Under sub-head Q the Minister provides a grant for the training of Gaeltacht girls as nurses. I would like to know what success attends that scheme. Year after year on the Committee of Public Accounts we found that the money which was taken under this Vote for that purpose was never spent, and it seemed to me, from my experience of that committee, that the matter was not being enthusiastically  pursued. Some suggestion was made that suitable girls could not be got. I cannot believe that. It may astonish Deputy Mrs. Concannon to know that in practically no financial year was the money spent. It was surrendered at the end of the year, and we were told it was impossible to get anything done.
I think it is very desirable that all public officials, whether they be district nurses or maternity nurses, or civic guards or rate collectors, or anybody else of the kind operating in the Fíor-Ghaeltacht, should be able to use the Irish language, exclusively if needs be. Certainly there are not at present sufficient district and maternity nurses available to provide attention in the Gaeltacht and be able to speak nothing but Irish if the situation should arise. At the same time there are immense numbers of girls fleeing from these areas to England as emigrants, as untrained domestic servants, and it occurs to me they might be much better employed if they were trained as nurses and sent to their own districts to look after their own people. In those circumstances I ask the Minister to extend that system.
I think the Minister at present has power to help in the financing of district nursing. I would ask him to take counsel with the local authorities and, if needs be, with the Department of Finance, with a view to devising a scheme whereby whatever assistance he at present gives for district nurses might be greatly extended. In my experience in rural Ireland the dispensary doctor finds his work immensely hampered by his inability to get proper nursing care for patients whom he is attending in country houses. I know amongst my own neighbours that the sufferings of illness are immensely aggravated by the inability of invalids' relatives to look after them properly. It is not for the want of the will; it is for the want of knowledge and means that their relatives cannot look after them as they ought to be looked after.
I would like to see attached to every dispensary doctor in this country a district nurse, so that in any case where you had a patient unable to move in bed, or who required special dressings  or in the very many circumstances which we all know where it is obvious simple country people are quite unable to give the proper attention necessary if the patient is to be spared great suffering, the doctor would be able to pass the name of that patient to a district nurse and require her to call on the patient once or, if needs be, twice a day. I think in that way we could kill two birds with the one stone. First of all, we could provide very useful employment for an immense number of Irish country girls and, in the second place, we could remove from the everyday life of the people living in rural Ireland a very constant anxiety and distress.
Nobody understands the misery that can be carried into an Irish home by sickness of the kind to which I refer unless and until he has come in touch with it. If you have a sick person lying, perhaps, in the kitchen with none of the modern conveniences that are available in a house in Dublin or in a house in any town, and you have nobody skilled in moving them in the bed or doing the various little offices that the patient requires, the amount of added anxiety and misery that can be caused to the relatives is immense. However one might attempt to describe intimate personal details of these people's domestic circles, I do not think any useful purpose would be served by so doing, because any Deputy coming from the country understands the matter just as clearly as I do.
I desire to emphasise that this is a reform that is long overdue. It would confer immense benefits on the people at large and would provide very desirable employment for numbers of girls at present fleeing the country to a very undesirable type of employment in Great Britain. It would also—and mind you this is important—provide very suitable occupation for nurses who feel themselves unequal to continuing as hospital nurses in the ordinary sense of the word, nurses who are no longer equal to night duty and the rigours of a full hospital day. Many such women find it very difficult to secure employment that they are able for and, if this system of district  nursing was very much extended, abundant opportunities might be provided for them. Out of that eventually I would like to see a system grow whereunder the State and the hospitals would combine to make the nursing profession a pensionable profession. At present, the fate of a nurse, who has grown old in spinsterhood at her profession, may be very distressing indeed.
Mr. Dillon: Well, I have no doubt that it would come under one of those various headings. I am not now rebuking the Minister or suggesting that he has been remiss in not putting up a pension scheme for nurses. I quite see that such schemes would take time to work them out and that it would not be easy to envisage them in a permanent form, but I am throwing the suggestion out that eventually a wider scheme could be worked out between the hospitals and the Minister whereunder the nursing profession might be made a pensionable one. I do not want to exhaust language or to paint depressing pictures, but we do know that there are circumstances in which nurses find themselves at the end of their days poorly provided for.
The very essence of successful nursing is that it should be looked upon as a vocation rather than as a moneymaking occupation. It is a very great mistake for the public to trade on  people who are prepared to deal with them in that spirit and, if the nursing profession is what it is in Ireland at the present time, we should be solicitous to keep it so rather than to put such difficulties in its way under its present form as would make it likely that it might be converted into something else. Deputies in this House, particularly those who have been abroad, know that Irish nursing stands higher, probably, than any nursing in the world. You will find that, in the most expensive and luxurious nursing homes in London, there is a very marked preference for Irish-trained nurses. Anyone who has lived in America will be struck by the comparison between the standard of nursing in that country and the standard of nursing here. I attribute that largely to the fact that nurses in this country look upon their occupation as a vocation as much as a profession, and I think we ought to do all that is reasonable to make it possible for them to continue in that spirit.
Now, nursing reminds me of a problem which has come under my attention in connection with the county homes. Some of our county homes provide very inadequate accommodation, and it is not easy to enforce the segregation that one would wish for. There is one urgent problem, however, that I think requires immediate attention. We often find in the county home children of tender years. A little boy of, perhaps, ten years of age is brought in there suffering, perhaps, from a broken arm or, more frequently, from chronic heart trouble, or something of that kind which would not ordinarily bring him to the surgical hospital. He is probably going to be there for quite a while, and that little boy, not infrequently, is put into the men's ward. We all know what the county home is. So far as the Roscommon County Home is concerned, it is an advertisement for public administration and for the nuns who superintend it. It is, in my judgment, one of the best kept county homes in Ireland. Everything that the resources will permit is being done for the patients there. It has always struck me, however,  as improper that small children should be put in the same ward with adults, particularly when you are not in a position to distinguish at all between the class of adults who go in there. When I speak of the class of adults, I do not desire to differentiate between rich and poor; but we all know that the county homes receive, and are bound to receive, numbers of poor old persons who are of defective intellect and who are breaking up from one reason or another. To put small children, night and day, into close association with these unhappy wrecks of humanity is, I think, very wrong. Therefore, I make a concrete suggestion to the Minister. I would ask him to make a recommendation to the local authorities that, where they have not accommodation for children's wards, children going either into the surgical hospital or the county home must be removed at the earliest possible moment to a children's hospital.
Now, that is not an unduly extravagant or unreasonable proposal. Either there should be a children's ward established, or else the children should be removed to a children's hospital at the earliest possible moment. Unless that is done, in my opinion, very undesirable results may accrue. Now, when we come to consider removing children to children's hospitals, I want to ask the Minister if, in his judgment, there is sufficient accommodation in this country at present for the orthopædic treatment of children. I do not suppose there is any more ghastly tragedy than the appearance of a youth or of a young man or young woman who has grown up deformed or crippled for want of proper orthopædic treatment in youth. Now, no kind of surgery has made more progress in the last 20 years than orthopædic surgery. I doubt if I would overstate my case if I say that seven cripples out of ten could be restored to the full use of their limbs if adequate orthopædic treatment were available for them in infancy or early youth. At present I do not think adequate treatment of that kind is available, because the accommodation is not there, and we have got to remember in connection with this problem that adequate  orthopædic treatment of young children takes from six months to two and three years in each case. That is going to be expensive, but if any of us had a child who had the alternative of being strong and well and able to earn its living, or going through life a cripple, I venture to say that we would spend all we had to get it proper health and fitness to get through life. I do not believe a single Deputy in this House would desire to economise at the expense of the children of our neighbours who are unable to afford the protracted treatment which their children may stand in need of. I say, advisedly, that I do not believe a single Deputy in the House would make any difficulties about any expenditure they were satisfied was necessary. In that connection, you have got to remember that there are millions of money in the hands of the Hospitals Trust. I would be quite prepared to support voting money from this House if it were necessary, but I think the Minister should first satisfy himself that the funds of the Hospitals Trust will be used to supply this need adequately, and that he will not dissipate that money building hospitals where they are not wanted, while so glaring and urgent a necessity continues in the State.
Mind you, I am getting very much alarmed at the way in which the Hospitals Trust money is being spent. I understand that there are a number of hospitals in this city who want to get a straight answer from that body as to what their intentions are with regard to amalgamation. I understand that Sir Patrick Dun's, the City of Dublin, and Mercer's Hospitals—these three, I believe—want to amalgamate if the Hospitals Trust approve. Pending the determination of that question, they are afraid to spend money on improving their present premises or in getting the equipment they should have. They are quite prepared, if the Hospitals Trust definitely turn down their proposals, to try to equip their several hospitals as best they can. What they are not prepared to do is to spend money that should be spent now if they were not going to amalgamate, if the improvements are going to be scrapped in six  months' time and one central hospital established instead of the three. I think it reflects very gravely on the Hospitals Trust that they have not been able to make up their minds on this question.
There is another matter that alarms me. Every local authority is hospital-building, and nobody seems to have any general conception of what the policy ultimately is going to be. We are going to spend £90,000 on the building of a hospital in Roscommon. We are going to spend another five-figure sum—I forget the exact amount —on the building of a hospital in Boyle. We are going, therefore, to have two large hospitals in County Roscommon. People seem to forget that when you have built these hospitals, it is only then the expense begins. You have got to equip them before they are going to be in a position to do the work which, in my opinion, should be done by central hospitals. If they are going to do all that work you will have to pay very large salaries indeed to surgeons who are competent to do the work, if you are to induce them to live in rural parts. In addition, you will have to purchase very expensive equipment if they are to be put in a position to afford people the treatment that is at present given in Dublin hospitals. Thirdly, you will have to have immense staffs because the day is long gone when you could get a country surgeon who was prepared to act as pathologist, bacteriologist and radiologist—to discharge the functions, in fact, of the seven or eight specialists to whom a patient might have recourse in Dublin or Cork.
What we shall do with this immense hospital in Roscommon and another in Boyle, I cannot imagine. I seriously believe that these hospitals will be the death of a great many people because people who want highly skilled attention will be detained down the country in order to justify the maintenance of these immense hospitals and they will not be able to get the kind of treatment they should have or the rapid diagnosis they should have. I have not heard this question adequately discussed or properly  looked into by anybody. I should be glad if the Minister would give us the benefit of his cogitations on these questions. I confess myself that I am extremely uneasy for two reasons: firstly, that if the cost of maintaining these hospitals is to be prohibitive, I am terrified that the local authority, faced with these heavy charges, will start economising at the expense of the sick poor. Secondly, I cannot see how you can get the personnel adequate to man the hospitals and with the requisite skill to deal with serious cases. I am afraid that patients will die for want of the treatment they would have got in Dublin if these local hospitals were not erected. Do not imagine that I am not in favour of improving the existing facilities, but the scheme which I should have imagined as the proper one was that you would have cottage hospitals in various parts of rural Ireland where emergency cases could be dealt with, where a case of acute appendicitis or an acute condition would be dealt with, when there was no time to get the patient to Dublin, or where some condition that did not require Dublin attention, like a fractured arm, might be attended to. For the grave cases I had hoped that the cottage hospital would merely act as a clearing house where the county surgeon would say to a patient: “You must go to Dublin when I have got you into trim to face the journey.” I should like to know what is the purpose for which these immense hospitals are being built and what is the intention in regard to them. A facetious friend suggests that one of their principal functions will be to be opened by the Minister. I do not suggest for a moment that he has favoured this extensive expenditure for the purpose of adding to his collection of keys.
I see a sub-head here for expenses in connection with school meals. I wish to see that scheme very widely extended. Instead of jacking up the price of milk by a halfpenny a pint or a quart in the City of Dublin, because there was a surplus of milk, so-called, coming in here, I should have liked the Minister to use his powers to absorb that surplus of milk  by providing it for little children in this country who have not got enough milk at present. There is a scheme of this kind, a free meals scheme, functioning at present in Achill and the papers are filled every week with long descriptions of strikes, demonstrations and counter-demonstrations. I want to ask the Minister what is at the back of that business in Achill. Is that a bona fide dispute between the people and the teachers, arising out of a misunderstanding, or is it a carefully fomented agitation by certain individuals in Achill who want to give this country a demonstration of the benefits that could be conferred on the people by establishing Soviets in certain parts of the country? If there is an ulterior motive being served by some gentlemen in Achill, who want to kick up a row there for the purpose of causing general discontent and upheaval, it is the Minister's duty to expose it now. If the teachers are at fault, let the Minister apportion the blame but the House and the public are entitled to know the truth about that business.
If my information is correct, the teachers have been prepared to do all that is reasonable; but one or two warriors in Achill have been deliberately stirring up the people, to create a riot so that if their demands are in any sense met they can say to these people: “You would get nothing if you had not kicked up a row. If you had not frightened the Government you would have got nothing.” If the people are right, let their rights be acknowledged before there is an outbreak. If the people are wrong, let the rights of the teachers be vindicated. Let substantial justice be done between both parties and then let the Government stand firm. If they do not, this business will develop until you have a proper riot, and it will then take a great deal more trouble than is at present necessary to make an end of the whole business.
I think I have covered all the points to which I desire to refer under this Vote, in view of the fact that we must take another occasion to refer to national health insurance. I want to emphasise before sitting  down that, in my judgment, the most vital question is that of the tenement houses in the city and their abolition. Other Deputies and I have said on previous occasions that any co-operation the Minister stands in need of would be forthcoming if he would only tell us what he wanted. I think he should take this occasion to tell us perfectly frankly what is necessary, no matter how great it may be, to make an end once and for all of the slums of this city. I am not suggesting that any reasonable body of men could expect him to expound a scheme for the abolition of slums overnight. They could not; but if he would say: “By embarking on this course, by spending this amount of money in five years, we could abolish the slums in the following areas and the following cities,” I am perfectly certain he would carry conviction to this House of his ability to achieve that. I am perfectly certain that any money, any power, any discretion that he chose to ask of us would be gladly forthcoming. He is peculiarly free to speak now. If he speaks now, it is his last speech as Minister for Local Government before the general election. Deputy Tom Kelly seems to see coming events casting their shadows before. It would, at this stage, be indelicate for me to suggest that the Minister had come to the end of his tether. I shall postpone that line of country for the hustings, where I intend to use it extensively. Here the Minister goes on for ever—in himself or in his successors. He is now free to outline a comprehensive scheme for dealing with this matter. If he fails, he has, in my opinion, failed in the most important work which the duties of his office impose upon him.
Mr. Corry: I am afraid Deputy Dillon, like others, has got a rather severe attack of what we in Cork call “Dublinitis.” Deputy Dillon has told us about the dark and gloomy houses that are being built in Dublin. I suggest that it is Deputy Dillon's mind which is dark and gloomy. The Deputy cannot spend four or five years moaning and groaning from morning till  night, day in and day out, without its having some effect on his nature and his mind, and having a dark and gloomy effect from his point of view on anything that was built or carried out under the schemes of the present Government. He also told us that we should not bother with rural houses; there was no need for us, he said. I remember he also told us that there was no trouble at all about rural houses. If not, why were they not built? Down the country, ever since 1913, we had lands taken over for housing schemes; we had lands taken over for the building of labourers' cottages, and from 1913 until 1933 those acres of land were lying there without any houses being built on them.
Mr. Corry: I submit that the Minister, in extending his plans a little beyond the purlieus of Dublin City, has done the country a great service; in seeing that the agricultural labourers of this country got at least a decent house to live in, he has done an untold service to the people of this country, whatever Deputy Dillon's viewpoint on that may be. I did not expect any praise from Deputy Dillon for the work of the Minister for Local Government. I do not think there is any other Deputy there on those benches opposite who would get up and find fault with the work which the Minister for Local Government has done, but of course if it was St. Peter who was sitting here Deputy Dillon  should find fault with him. Deputy Dillon was wondering about the Housing Board. I wonder how many meetings of the famous Board of Health of County Roscommon did Deputy Dillon attend?
Mr. Corry: I wonder how many meetings of the Roscommon Board of Health did Deputy Dillon attend and how many of those meetings did he miss? If Deputy Dillon had been here when Deputy Corish was speaking he would have got some small idea of the work that the Housing Department has done. I wish to pay a personal tribute to them for the manner in which they have helped us out in Cork County by their advice and assistance. I also wish to congratulate the Minister on another phase in the housing question which has supplied a long-felt want, namely, the grant to the small farmers for the reconstruction of their houses.
These farmhouses throughout the country were in many cases in a very dilapidated condition. Now that the first need has been met, I wonder whether we could induce the Minister to extend his work in that direction by giving the reconstruction grant on an increased valuation. Up to the present the grant has been on a valuation of £25. Unfortunately, in my constituency, a valuation of £25 in many cases covers only from 11 to 15 statute acres of land.
Mr. Corry: I hope the Minister will keep the matter in mind. I also wish to call his attention to the holding up of the building of 57 houses at Dublin Hill and Ballyvolane, Cork, by the Cork Corporation, failing the supply of water and sewerage facilities. The Minister, as far as I am aware, has got several requests from the people living in those houses, and the condition of  affairs there is such that the county medical officer of health stated definitely that he would not let his dog live in them. I consider that that state of affairs has lasted too long. It was enough for those unfortunate people to have to live under those conditions when the other gentlemen, who did not give a hand about them, were in office, but now that we have a Government which is providing for the needs of the ordinary people of this country, I think that the condition of the families living in those 57 houses should not be allowed to continue any longer. Whatever steps are necessary on the part of the Minister to see that this scheme is got under way immediately should be carried out. I should also like to call his attention to the position in regard to the Blarney sewerage scheme. I understand that the Local Government inspector reported on that scheme some time ago. There are sinister rumours around the district that this scheme is being held up owing to the influence of a local landlord.
Mr. Corry: I go to see my constituents sometimes. Deputy Dillon is only going back to his constituency in a few months time to get kicked out of it. The Deputy has made his last speech in the Dáil on this Estimate, and much as we shall miss him after the election, we will have to try and do without him. I urge on the Minister to give special attention to the Blarney sewerage scheme, and to see that steps are immediately taken to carry out whatever instructions the inspectors of his Department have given in connection with it.
I also want to call his attention to the delay that has arisen in going ahead with a cottage purchase scheme. Proposals have been brought in over a long period, and we would like now to see some results. After all, those people are just as much entitled as the farmers to become the owners of their houses and of their acre plots. We have now between 500 and 700 cottagers living happily in their own homes and paying their few  shillings a week as rent. What a contrast that is to the position when they had to pay 4/- and 6/- a week to rack-renting landlords for tumbled-down stables and wrecks! I wonder whether Deputy Dillon in his travels through the country ever worried himself to look into those hovels and see the conditions under which those unfortunate people were compelled to live previously, and whether the improvement in housing conditions that has taken place under this Government for that class of people will not coax some joy or some measure of praise out of his dark and gloomy nature. Apparently not. The work done by the Minister for the housing of the poor is worthy of all praise, as well as the work which he has done in that respect for the small working farmers of the country. When we sat on the opposite side of the House, I made many an appeal, as the official records of the House will show, to the then Minister for Local Government to give some small grant towards the reconstruction of farmers' dwellings. But the then Minister for Local Government, although I renewed my appeal year after year, could not see his way to look beyond the borough boundaries of the City of Dublin. He did nothing to relieve the condition of those unfortunate men in the country who have to work in the open, many a day getting drenched with the rain and then having to return to a cheerless fireside.
The ordinary working people of this country owe a debt of gratitude to the present Minister for Local Government that will never be forgotten. All I say is, “God speed the good work!” I hope the Minister's activities in that direction will continue until we have all our people, throughout the length and breadth of the land, enabled to get decent houses to live in. I would appeal to the Minister, no matter what pressure may be brought to bear on him to do so, not to slacken his activities in that respect. At present a sum of over £250,000 is being spent in the County Cork on a labourers' cottage scheme alone. Another £500,000 has been voted by the Blueshirt County Council of Cork towards those housing  schemes. We have also gone into the condition of affairs in the local villages in the county, as a result of which over 200 village schemes relating to housing have been passed through. So far as the housing needs of the rural population are concerned, I think that so far as our county is concerned these will be completed within the next two years. As I stated before, there were plots of land acquired and paid for by the then local authorities in the year 1913. The cottages that were to be built on those plots at that time were not built. Many of the applicants were, I am sure, young married men, but we have now got a Minister who has provided cottages for the children of the original applicants for the cottages on those plots. The young men of 21 and 22 years of age who would have been reared in those houses, if we had a proper Government here at the time, have those cottages to go into to-day. We have reason to thank God for that change, and for having a Minister for Local Government who has put an end to that scandal.
On behalf of the people of my constituency, I wish to thank the Minister sincerely for his work in that respect. I do not think there is any Department of State that merits the thanks of the ordinary people of this country as much as the Department of Local Government. I do not wish to make any allusion to Deputy Dillon's opening remarks beyond saying this: that if there is any individual who stands in the way of the proper working of any Department of this State, he must go.
The O'Mahony: I desire, at the outset, to congratulate the Minister very heartily on his references to nurses in this country. I endorse everything that he has said, and if he can see his way to introduce a measure to provide pensions for nurses in this country, I feel certain that it  will receive the approval and sympathy of every member of the Dáil. A good deal has been said on this Estimate about housing conditions in the country. Not long since I had to speak here on the housing conditions in my constituency, which I regret are not what they should be. I am glad the Minister himself is here to-night to hear what I have to say on this, because I know that he must be just as much concerned about those housing conditions as I am myself. To remind the Minister of what is taking place, I now propose to read a letter that I wrote to him on the 4th February of this year.
“Dear Mr. O'Kelly—Last night, on the motion No. 13 on the Order Paper, I referred to the condition of the Wolfe Tone houses in Bray which I had myself seen last Tuesday evening. I was horrified at the condition of some of the houses, and to my mind it is imperative that all houses that require repair should be attended to immediately. The matter is most urgent, and I would respectfully suggest that an inspector from your Department be sent down at once to investigate the conditions that people are living in, due to the cause that many of these houses are not weatherproof. I feel sure if you had seen what I saw on Tuesday evening, you would be equally horrified and perturbed. The inclement weather prevailing at the present time makes the whole matter still more serious.”
“The Minister for Local Government and Public Health desires me to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 4th instant and to state that over a year ago he drew the attention of the Bray Urban District Council to certain defects in the houses at Wolfe Tone Square and pointed out the steps which the technical advisers of the Department considered necessary to remedy these defects.
“Nothing further was heard of the matter until the 27th January, 1937, when the Town Clerk of Bray sent a telephone request that an inspector should visit Bray for the purpose of inspecting the houses in question in respect of which the tenants were complaining. In reply to that request a letter was sent, copy of which I attach for your information and the Minister feels that there is no further action open to him. It is clearly a matter for the council to take steps to have the defects remedied.”
“With reference to your request over the telephone on the 27th instant for the attendance of an inspector of this Department for the purpose of inspecting certain houses at Oldcourt, recently provided by the Bray Urban District Council, in respect of which complaints have been made and of attending a meeting of a committee of the council in regard thereto, I am directed by the Minister for Local Government and Public Health to state that owing to pressure of other duties and prior engagements it is not possible to send the inspector. In this connection, however, I am to state that this matter was fully considered about twelve months ago in conjunction with the Department's and council's technical advisers, and on the 29th February last a detailed report (copy of which is enclosed) was sent to the council setting out the steps which were considered necessary to deal with the defects found to exist. The senior inspector who examined the position at that time has advised that even if he inspected the houses now he could add nothing to the recommendations made in the report already furnished to the council. The council would do well to act on the advice of their surveyor, upon whom ultimately  rests the responsibility of indicating the appropriate steps to be taken.”
I regret to have to take up the time of the House in reading these letters, but I want to be quite fair to the Department of Local Government and to be quite clear in showing to the public what the action so far has been of the Department of Local Government. On receipt of that correspondence I felt the only thing I could do was to bring the whole matter before the Bray Urban Council. I therefore wrote on the 18th February to the Chairman of the Bray Urban District Council and I also sent him a copy of that letter. My letter was as follows:—
“For your information I enclose you copy of correspondence which I have had with the Minister for Local Government and Public Health regarding the Wolfe Tone houses in Bray. You will note from his letter to me, dated the 7th instant, that he holds that it is clearly a matter for the Bray Urban Council to take steps to have the defects in these houses remedied as recommended by the technical advisers of the Department of Local Government in their report of the 29th February, 1936.
“I note in the letter to your council from the Minister, dated 28th January, 1937, he stated that it was not possible to send an inspector owing to the pressure of other duties and prior engagements, and that the inspector who examined the position over a year ago would be able to add nothing to the recommendations made in the report already furnished to your council.
“My main concern in the whole matter, and which I feel also is the chief concern of the Bray Urban Council, is to find out who is responsible for the present state of affairs. Everyone must be in agreement that the present position cannot be allowed to remain as it is and that the Wolfe Tone Square houses should be made weatherproof and all damage done repaired. These houses were built to improve the housing conditions of people in the Bray area  at considerable expense to the ratepayers of Bray, and it appears to me lamentable that the conditions as at present prevailing should ever have been allowed to occur, as it is imposing cruel hardships on the people who are living in some of these houses, and a heavy liability on the ratepayers at Bray who already were carrying a heavy burden.
“I feel sure that you will agree with all I have written, and my one interest in the whole matter is to see justice done to the people occupying these houses and to the ratepayers who subscribed through their increased rates towards the building of these houses.
“It is evident that the responsibility must lie somewhere. Evidently the Minister for Local Government and Public Health considers his Department is not responsible, as in his letter to me of the 7th instant he states that ‘the Minister feels there is no further action open to him.’ But unless I am mistaken I feel that his Department must have  given sanction to the original plans and specifications before any work was allowed to start, and also that these houses must have been finally passed by his Department. However, this is a matter that you will know all about.
“Finally I would like to add that anything that I can do in the matter I am only too willing to do. All I want to see is justice done to the people living in the Wolfe Tone Square houses and justice done to the ratepayers of Bray.”
Regarding this whole question I tried to make as many inquiries as I possibly could, and discovered that on 5th September, 1936, a letter was sent to the Town Clerk of Bray by the Bray Ratepayers' Association. In this letter certain questions were asked, and in the margin replies were made by the Town Clerk.
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