Committee on Finance. - Valuation Bill, 1938—Second Stage (Resumed).

Wednesday, 22 February 1939

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 74 No. 7

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Question again proposed: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.”

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  When speaking against [879] this Bill, when it was previously before the House, I was going on to consider the basis of previous valuations. Griffith's valuation was based as valuations always are, on the real prices of a series of crops. The index figures were based on that. There is nothing in this Bill to indicate that this valuation will be carried out on these lines. It will be interesting to hear the Minister explain that point because, from my reading of the Bill, the meaning I take out of it is, that there are just certain things that have to be considered and a decision come to, and that once that decision is made, all the rest follows. Outside the Boroughs of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Waterford and Dun Laoghaire, agricultural land will not be revalued, but agricultural and other buildings will be revalued. The method of approach to valuing these agricultural buildings is their worth in the businesses in which they are used. I wonder what is the worth to a dairyman of a modern dairy shed that cost £1,000. If we reckon 5 per cent. for the money, as I read the Bill, that shed cannot be valued at less than £50 a year. Surely it will be more. No man is going to put up a structure that is worth nothing but the interest on the capital invested. It would not pay to do so. As I read this Bill, that is the minimum value that can be put on them.

In regard to old buildings standing, are they to be valued on the cost of renewal, or are they to be valued on the use of the buildings, or how are they to be valued? No matter how they are valued, their Poor Law Valuation will come up from two to three times what it is at the present time and, without the valuation of the lands being touched, the value of the holding, buildings and land combined, will be twice what it is at the present time. Considering that all interested parties had the right to move for a revaluation every year, I think the whole case is met without putting the country to this cost.

Of course, there is just one thing in it and that is probably the major inducement, particularly to the Government and particularly to the Minister [880] for Finance, that is, to increase the valuation for income-tax purposes. We have just been discussing housing and the building of houses for renting. Everybody knows that that is not a business proposition to-day. Twenty or 30 years ago it was. Nobody is investing money now in house property for letting purposes, for reasons that we need not go into, but the tendency will be still less in future to invest money in houses for renting purposes.

Take a house, of a valuation of £20, within the metropolitan area of Dublin, let at 30/- a week, £78 a year. Disregarding the remission of rates that there may be on that house, and paying full rates on it at the present time of 19/6, say £1, that would be £20. With a few shillings insurance, stipulated in this Bill, the rates are the total outgoings. Take £20 off £78 and you have £58. According to the formula set out in this Bill, the dwelling-house that to-day is valued at £20 must be valued under this Bill in future at £58 or, if a few pounds are allowed, although I do not think it is mentioned in the Bill, for income-tax, it will be valued at £52 or £53. The valuation of private dwelling-houses in Dublin is going to be increased two and a half times, as I read the Bill. Of course, that, at 4/6 in the £, will enable the Minister to tell us once more, in his annual address, that his finances are buoyant. But, who is paying for it?

Now, let us consider people who are renting houses. If they have a house on which they had to pay income-tax at the rate of £20 valuation, and have it let at £X a year, they find they have to pay 4/6 in the £ on an increase of £30 or £32. Are they going to continue renting those houses at 30/- a week and, if they must, will they, or will any other people, invest their money in Irish house property so as to rent those houses to people who are unable to buy houses but who would be able to rent them? It will end entirely the renting of houses. I would like to hear the Minister explain that a little.

I am glad to see one County Dublin Deputy here and I hope he will consider his constituents vis-a-vis other constituents in Éire in connection with this Revaluation Bill. There are exemptions here of agricultural land, [881] but, in the Borough of Dublin and the Borough of Dun Laoghaire there will be no exemption. There is before the Minister for Local Government at the present time the report of a tribunal set up by him to consider the local administration of County Dublin, the City of Dublin, the Borough of Dun Laoghaire and smaller areas within the geographical County of Dublin. This tribunal sat for a year or two, two or three years ago, and it has reported and recommended. The recommendation, broadly, is that the whole of County Dublin be included in the county borough. So that, we have no reason to doubt that that will be implemented, probably without any change, unless the country wakes up and finds that it is time to get rid of this Government because the recommendations of that tribunal have no relation whatever to the evidence that was put before the tribunal. It would suggest a preconceived notion of local administration for the whole of County Dublin. However, that may come before the House in its own form as a principal subject matter some day before it will be imposed and I do not want to discuss it in detail. I only introduce it here and develop it a little, first of all, in order to put before the House in relation to this Bill that is before the House the recommendations embodied in that report and the likelihood of those recommendations being implemented. If they are implemented, then the agricultural land of County Dublin must be valued because it comes within the County Borough or the Borough of Dun Laoghaire. There will be no Borough of Dun Laoghaire then. It will be all the County Borough of Dublin and the agricultural land of County Dublin will be revalued. According to the formula set out here, how would that work out? It appears to me, as I read this Bill, that the basis on which the Minister goes is the basis of the old rack-renting landlord of 80 or 90 years ago; that the last penny that can be squeezed out of the land is the rent and the rent is the value which the worker of that land should have to pay the rack-renting landlord. Our modern rack-renter, the Minister for Finance, gives the same definition of income in [882] this Bill, so that an inflated 11 months' rent for the land of County Dublin will be considered the poor law valuation, less certain outgoings, and that will treble the present poor law valuation. As I explained when I was last speaking on this Bill, motor transport has destroyed the proximity value of County Dublin land, and County Dublin will then be in the unique and unenviable position of being the only county in Ireland the agricultural land of which will be revalued under this Bill. I hope the Deputies in County Dublin who sit on the Government Benches and who fooled the poor old farmers in County Dublin will now get up and defend them.

Mr. T. Kelly: Information on Thomas Kelly  Zoom on Thomas Kelly  They would want to be clever men.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  They did not fool any of the graziers on the South Circular Road. The rents there are inviolable. They will not be taxed.

Mr. T. Kelly: Information on Thomas Kelly  Zoom on Thomas Kelly  It is hard to fool a farmer in County Dublin or any other county.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  In discussing the previous Bill, we were concerned with getting employment by hook or by crook. Wherever it was likely to put one man into employment, the Government was prepared to lend money to help that employment. How on earth has a member of the Government, the Minister for Finance, come to the conclusion that gardens will have their valuations revised and agricultural land will not? The Minister ought to know that there is no form of tillage employs more expert labour and produces more than gardening, but the garden is to be revalued. I do not know on what basis he proposes to revalue it and I do not know what prompts him to revalue it, unless it is that he does not want to have any gardening or any decent garden kept in this country.

There is a means by which people who have gardens can get round the Minister's intriguers, if I may say so, the Commissioners of Valuation. There is no reason why a breach cannot be made in the garden wall and cattle allowed in to shelter in the garden. It [883] is then agricultural land and where perhaps half a dozen men found livelihoods, none will find a livelihood because the cow will graze the sweet grass in that garden which has been nourished perhaps for centuries. An ornamental garden does not pay anybody. It is kept perhaps out of a traditional respect, and possibly generations of gardeners have been employed in such gardens and no generation of owners is going to discontinue keeping these gardens, or to disemploy the people who find a livelihood from them. If, however, the Minister buts in and wants to fleece these people, a new situation is created, and many of these families, who to-day are getting comfortable livelihoods, gardeners, assistant gardeners and helpers, will find themselves on the dole, thanks to the Minister, in the company of many more whom he has put on the dole already. I know a few gardens in County Dublin. I keep one of them myself. I would not let it go down and I keep the three men my predecessor had, but they will go as soon as the Minister's spies come in and my cows can graze on my garden. I will not then have to pay nearly as much as I pay by keeping gardeners to cultivate it. I do not suppose that I am in that garden three times a year, but the cows will find anything of value in it. It will then have an agricultural value and there will be no revision.

Mr. Allen: Information on Denis Allen  Zoom on Denis Allen  It might be a lawn.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  They might have a better master who would keep them on.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  The Minister gave no explanation as to the reason for this Bill. He spoke about levelling up, but he did not say anything about levelling down. Deputy Gorey told the Minister the basic item in Griffith's valuation, wheat. Just before the Minister came in, I said that the Minister did not mention in the Bill any commodity that would be averaged in price and used as the base-line from which to value. He goes merely upon rents that are receivable. On the question of house rents, because of legislation which left houses [884] for renting scarce and pretty well impossible, every house now let at a rent must be let at an inflated rent, and on that inflated rent the Minister proposes to increase the valuation. The very fact that he proposes to increase the valuation will make houses for renting still more scarce, and still further will the rents go up, and consequently the new valuations must follow that upward trend. The Minister will not know where he will be in the end.

I cannot see the need for the revaluation. It has been accepted here that, generally speaking, Griffith's valuation was a fairly good base-line valuation. Let us take the commodities which Griffith took. Have those commodities, in the aggregate, risen in price since? If they have, there might be a case for increasing the value, but why not increase it by the percentage without having all the paraphernalia of a revaluation? If Griffith's valuation is accepted as as fair a valuation as you can get, why not take it, and if the commodities on which it was based have increased in price, you have a case for putting up the valuations by the percentage by which those commodities have increased. It can be done in an office without going out at all. There would be certain adjustments which can be made if the public authorities do their duty and if individuals do their duty. If the Minister thinks that the right of initiation of valuation should be given to the Commissioner of Valuation, let him give it, but let him start on the Griffith line, and if those commodities have gone down in price, there is a good case for a reduction in valuation. I suggest that line to the Minister, instead of the proposal in the Bill, as an equitable way of dealing with the readjustment of valuation.

Certainly, in the case of houses, he has no base-line to go on. You cannot set any value on a house except, and I am sure he knows this, what that house will fetch, either from renting or selling by a free sale, in a free market, to a free purchaser. You have no free market for houses for renting now, because you will have 100 applicants for any sort of a house to rent anywhere. What price will they pay? Is it a just rent? In these circumstances, in that [885] restricted market, and on those inflated prices—I am speaking for the City and County of Dublin, the places I know— the Minister proposes to fix the poor law valuation of houses.

Then, under the social policy, which developed so much in the last ten or 15 years, and which was a good one, tending towards making every householder become a house-owner, people will find themselves faced, in addition to the other financial commitments that they undertook in order to purchase their houses, with the position that their income-tax in respect of the house is 2½ times what it was, and will find that the rates are more than they are at the present time, because the Minister, I am quite sure, is banking on the mental delusion that because the rates in the city, let us say, would come down to about 9/- in the £, these people would think that there would be a corresponding reduction in other ways, and would forget that their valuation was now 2½ times what it was.

I think that the gem of the Minister's speech in introducing this Bill, was when he held that because the valuation of the country and the City of Dublin will be increased artificially by these means we will have greater credit and be worth more because we can write up the valuation of property, which is now £2,000,000, to £5,000,000, and because of that, people who might be reluctant now to give money, even for the laudable purpose of building houses for the workers in the City of Dublin, would be more willing to provide it. When I say that now, I am not interrupted, as I was before Christmas, when I said something similar, because now even the thickest head in the Dublin Corporation must realise the financial straits into which we have been driven, and under this Bill we are going to be driven into worse straits. Of course, the Minister for Finance will rejoice so long as he gets his pound of flesh, but those whom he has deceived will get their lesson and they will have to pay a big price for it.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  No boxing of the compass can possibly deceive anybody who has studied this Bill and the White [886] Paper which accompanied it, with regard to its real object, which is, not to iron out inequalities or to remove blemishes in the existing methods of valuation, but for the purpose, and the sole purpose, of raising more money for the Exchequer. We might ask at this stage: Who exactly is looking for this Bill? Has any representative body in the country asked for a Revaluation Bill of this kind, which purports to continue what is an artificial and thoroughly out-of-date scheme of valuation. No bodies in this country have asked for it, nor has any Party in this House sought a Bill of this kind, and no responsible body in this country has dared to suggest that, in existing circumstances, we ought to have a Bill providing for general revaluation throughout the country.

We have been told in the White Paper and in the Minister's speech that there are injustices and inequalities in existence at present. There may be injustices in respect of valuation, and there may also be inequalities, but there are injustices and inequalities in respect of more things than valuations, and we do nothing whatever to endeavour to find a legislative remedy for these injustices or inequalities. We get after the inequalities and injustices in respect of valuation, however, because, through the medium of this Bill, we see an opportunity of raking in more money that could not be got except by the doubtful methods employed in this Bill. The only body that is asking for this Bill is the Revenue Commission, and the only Department that wants this Bill is the Department of Finance. I do not say that they want it in any spirit of personal or individual malice, but that, being concerned with garnering all the money they can for Exchequer purposes, they have discovered that this is one of the means, and a very effective means, by which the income of the Exchequer can be increased. Hence, as I say, the only Department that is asking for this is the Department of Finance, and the only purpose of it is to try to get more money for the Revenue irrespective of the manner in which the money is got, the inequalities or injustices which may be caused in [887] the getting of the money, or the inappropriateness of the time this Bill is being introduced.

In a Finance Bill of a few years ago we had a scheme which purported to assume that valuations were increased by 25 per cent. for income-tax purposes. During the past few years valuations have been assumed to be five-fourths of their normal value for income-tax purposes. That increase was visited, not merely on people living in houses over a certain valuation but on valuations of all kinds. It was not merely people who were living in mansions or in houses in Merrion Square who were subject to that 25 per cent. increase, but every type of house in the country was subject to it, even though the person concerned might be a struggling craftsman or a progressive-minded middle-class person occupying a house and buying it on the hire-purchase system. I said at that time, and I believe it, that a blanket measure of that kind, which took no notice of inequalities, was unfair and harsh, and I opposed it because I felt that it was going to impose hardships on a section of the community which had made very severe sacrifices in order to be enabled to purchase their homes. For the past two years, at all events, the Department of Finance has been receiving income-tax on the basis of assessments which are 25 per cent. in excess of the normal valuation of houses, and we can be sure that, no matter what the Minister said in his speech on this Bill, or no matter what may be said by way of apology for this Bill, the new revaluation will work out to give the State an increase—a permanent increase—of not less than 25 per cent. for income-tax purposes, and it may well be that the authors of the Bill and the operators of the Bill will be able to arrange things in such a way that there may be even a still greater increase than 25 per cent. for income-tax purposes in respect of valuation. At all events, we may take it that we are not likely to have continued as a permanent arrangement the device of increasing the valuations by a notional 25 per cent. for income-tax purposes. The aim of the State under this Bill will be to make that [888] permanent, and in revising the whole scheme of valuation, I think that, as a minimum, one of the things that will happen here will be that valuation for income-tax purposes will show a minimum increase of not less than 25 per cent.

Deputy Belton stated that it is highly questionable whether the artificial and slipshod method of valuation which is applied to valuation here is suitable for application to the valuation of houses at a time when there is a very real scarcity of houses for letting purposes. One of the methods of valuing provided for in this Bill is, what is the letting value of a house taking one year with another. Suppose we were to apply that method of valuing to a house, let us say, in Dublin, Cork Limerick or Waterford at any time during the past ten years, or at any time during the next ten years, does not everybody realise that you will get an artificial valuation by advertence to a factor of that kind, because there are famine rents being paid for houses by persons who cannot manage to raise the necessary money to purchase a house. An increase in valuation based upon famine rents of that kind is not going to give a true valuation for that house. If this results in an increase in valuation, while not preventing an increase in the rent—and there is no proposal to prevent an increase even in the existing high rents—you may find that rents may be even still higher than they are to-day.

Mr. Moore: Information on Séamus Moore  Zoom on Séamus Moore  When does the Deputy think that situation is likely to come to an end?

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  I do not know. But I know that it will not be at an end by the time this revaluation is carried out in the City of Dublin.

Mr. Moore: Information on Séamus Moore  Zoom on Séamus Moore  Probably 30 or 40 years afterwards.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  Deputies should remember that the last revaluation was 1865, which is a long time ago. We may have had prosperous years since then, or they may be just round the corner waiting for us, but they certainly are not here at the moment. If we did not make the revaluation in some of the prosperous years through which we [889] have passed, we ought to wait until we come into one of the prosperous years just round the corner and then do it.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Wait for another 80 years and the Deputy is anxious to cure the world in a hurry.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  The Minister is not. He is anxious to pauperise it.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  The leader of the progressive Party.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  In existing circumstances, we are asked to accept a scheme of valuation which will take the rents of houses as the test, and we are doing that in the knowledge that the existing rents are artificially high. If the owner of a house in these circumstances finds, let us say, the existing valuation doubled, there is no provision to prevent his increasing the rent. The Minister, of course, will not deny that there is no provision to prevent his increasing the rent of a decontrolled house, or a house over £26 valuation, or a house let to another tenant after being previously controlled. In these circumstances, it is not possible under existing legislation to prevent a tenant suffering an increase in rent. There is no intimation from the Government that they propose to control rents in order to prevent a situation of that kind arising. Make no mistake about it, whether we like it or not, whether tenants like it or not, the effect of this Bill, unaccompanied by rent restriction legislation, is going to be a pretty general increase in rents throughout the country in the case of people who are tenants.

In recent years, particularly since the war, there has been a very definite movement in the direction of encouraging house purchase. Many craftsmen and artisans generally have endeavoured to purchase their houses upon what we might term the hire-purchase system. The purchasing of a house in that way involves the accumulation of a substantial deposit, the raising of a loan over a restricted period of years, payment during that period of substantial annuities to amortise the loan, and the meeting of charges for income-tax, ground rent, repairs, maintenance, and [890] the other ancillary charges which run hand-in-hand with ownership of a house. At a time when the movement has been steadily increasing, and when it is tending to develop, we present house purchasers with a Revaluation Bill, the only purpose of which, in the mind of any intelligent person, is to raise more money from those who happen to own houses. As I said, we must bear in mind all the time that they are not of the millionaire class.

But, of course, the injustice will not even end there. Small towns throughout the country, which have been particularly hard hit by the development of bus traffic and the virtual annihilation of distance, as we formerly knew it, due to improved transport mobility, have been finding it very hard to maintain even the small industrial and commercial life they had in the past. Under this Bill there will be a revaluation of rural areas on the basis of the houses and out-houses there. There will be no revaluation of land, but in the towns, and in the small towns in particular, there will be a revaluation of the property there. What is going to happen is that, when county councils are making demands in future for poor rate, the balance between the small towns and the rural area will be disturbed in such a way that the struggling small towns will pay a bigger proportion of the poor rate in future than they paid in the past. Nobody can see anything in this Bill calculated to give any relief to counter-balance a burden of that kind.

We may be told, of course, that there are injustices in existence to-day which ought not to be allowed to continue. But it was not to-day they occurred. They have been there for ten, 20, 30, 40, 50 years. One questions whether at a time like this it is desirable to have a revaluation of the entire country for the purpose of remedying injustices of that kind. If there are cases where people occupying large houses pay rates on a low valuation and are generally exploiting the houses for commercial purposes, surely it is possible to remedy a situation of that kind by giving the Commissioner of Valuation or new Commissioners of Valuation power to inquire [891] into inequalities of that kind and have them remedied. It is hardly necessary to have an entire revaluation of the whole country merely for the purpose of remedying the injustices which have been adverted to by the Minister in his speech and in the White Paper which accompanied the Bill. I think the present is a very inopportune time for a general revaluation. I think it is most unwise to introduce a Bill of this kind providing for a general revaluation. The complete absence of any enthusiasm for the Bill on the Government Benches is the clearest indication that the Party realises that the Bill is an inappropriate Bill having regard to existing circumstances, It is not the kind of Bill upon the introduction of which we ought to embark this year. As I have already said, one of its primary purposes is to get more revenue. It is not concerned with how it gets it or who pays. The poor will not be exempt from its operations. Another effect of the Bill will be to increase rents because there is no provision to guard against the alterations that will be made arising out of increased valuations.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  How does the Deputy know that?

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  The Deputy read the Minister's speech, the White Paper and the answers given by the Minister to questions here. He also read the speeches which certain Ministers made at banquets about the encouragement to be given to private enterprises and the provision of a free market for rents of houses. Bearing all these considerations in mind, the Deputy is convinced and the White Paper bears out what he says that there is no provision by the Government and no declared intention on the part of the Government to prevent tenants being compelled to pay increased rents when those who own houses are compelled to pay increased rates and income tax because of the increased valuations under this Bill.

I think legislation of another kind is much more necessary and much more urgent at the moment. There is no need for legislation of this kind. The Government ought to concern themselves [892] with much more pressing matters than with a measure of this kind which is demanded not by the people of the country but by those who want to swell and increase the income to the Exchequer.

Mícheál Mac Phaidin: Information on Michael Óg McFadden  Zoom on Michael Óg McFadden  A Chinn Comhairle, seo Bille a chuirfeas ualach eile ar dhaoine bochta na Gaeltachta agus tchídh Dia go bhfuil ualaigh go leor ortha cheana féin.

Cuireann an Bille so i gcuimhne dhúinn an chumhacht a bhí ag na seantighearnaí talaimh i n-am ár n-aithreacha nuair a thiocfadh leo an cíos a airdiú mar badh thoil leo.

Ní mó nach bhfuil an Bille seo chomh holc, 'na 'sé rún agus inntinn an Aire luacháil na tíre airdiú agus tuilleadh rátaí agus tacsaí a fháisceadh as na daoine bochta d'réir an airdiú sin.

Deirim-se nach bhfuil an tír réidh fá choinne athrú mar so san am i láthair. Níor cuireadh roimh na daoine é ag an Toghadh deireannach agus níl ughdaras an phobail leis.

Ach bheireann an tAire romhainn é anois mar tá cumhacht aige agus tá sé a' dréim leis an Dáil é a reachtú. Deirim nach bhfuil sé ceart no cóir no ionnraic; agus níl gíog no míog as an Pháirtidhe atá ar a chúl. Páirtidhe “Seadh agus ní headh iad”, mar chím-se.

Rinne an Rialtas so agus an Rialtas a chuaidh roimhe maitheas mór ag tógáil tighthe san Ghaedhealtacht le deich mbliana anois. Thug an tAcht sin—Acht na dTighthe (Gaedhealtacht) —foirthin do na daoine bochta so i ngnaithe luachála. Anois d'réir ailt 19 den Bhille seo beidh an fhoirthin seo bun os cionn.

Tugadh na céadta muirghíneacha as sean-tighthe lobhtha mí-fhollána agus tógadh tighthe úra dóibh atá glan folláin. Tugadh saoghal nua do na daoine bochta so ach má théidheann an Bille so fríd mar tá sé slán leis an obair so. Cuirfear bac le tógáil tighthe nó leasú ar bith san Ghaedhealtacht.

Caidé'n mhaith dúinn a bheith fial ag tabhairt foirthine agus cabhair le láimh amháin do na daoine bochta so má bheirmid uatha é leis an láimh eile. Níl annsin ach mar dhéanfadh cleasaidhe glic ar aonach. Beidh mise go láidir i n-aghaidh an Bhille seo.

[893]Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Before this debate goes any further, I wish, in view of the speech by which Deputy Norton has sought to mislead the House as to the intentions of the Government in relation to the Rent Restrictions Act——

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Is this in order?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  ——to direct the attention of the Deputy to the last paragraph in that memorandum in which it is specifically stated that this Bill would be followed by another Bill —the Consequential Provisions Bill— which will deal on their merits with such questions as the right of this or that sort of house-occupier to the benefit of the Increase of Rent and the Mortgage Interest (Restrictions) Acts.

Mr. Cosgrave: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  Give us the Bill first.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  Is the Minister trying to deceive the House?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  In that paragraph the intentions of the Government are quite clearly indicated.

Mr. Cosgrave: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  Give us the Bill and we shall see.

Mr. Brasier: Information on Brooke W. Brasier  Zoom on Brooke W. Brasier  The almost unanimous opposition through the country to this Bill has been a clear indication that the people resent the attempt to wrest from them more taxation than that which they have to lie under at the moment, whether that taxation be through the national or the local authorities. No matter how many excuses are made for the Bill, there is no doubt about it that the widening of the field for taxation will enable increased taxes to be imposed and possibly delude the people with a sort of conviction that they are not being taxed at all. “He that is robbed and knows it not, he is not robbed at all.” If there is a smaller rate in the £, as there must be, there is no doubt it will soften the blow which the people will have to bear.

The tenderest part of a man is his pocket, and there is no question about the opposition to this Bill. That opposition to the Bill is unanimous throughout the country. In addition to letters from other areas, I have here a letter from the representatives of the [894] Development Committee in one of the hardest hit areas in my constituency— Passage West. In that letter there is a resolution passed by the people there which reads: “That we join with the people of the rest of the towns and cities in Éire in opposing the proposed Revaluation Bill, as we believe that it is an additional device to load a further burden on the ratepayers and taxpayers.” That is a resolution coming from a place that has been deprived of every form of industry. It is coming from a town where the people are taking the roofs off their houses so as to avoid having to pay rates on them. This Bill is definitely a tax on thrift.

I can recall the consternation with which the Bill was received in the suburban area of Cork which forms part of my constituency. In that area, building had been carried on in the erection of new houses for young workers who by their own thrift or by invoking credit had been able to provide themselves with happy homes. In almost all cases these are very thrifty people. They are young shop-workers, clerks, artisans, and people of that sort. The rates there are 11/10 in the £ under the Cork Corporation and if there is to be a further burden of taxation, these people will be very hard hit by reason of the increased income-tax. There is no question about that. This will bear very heavily on them and all their thrift and enterprise are to go for nothing simply because there is a watchful Minister for Finance who is skilfull in extorting the finances by which he can increase the revenues of the State. That is a very worthy object, if these revenues were devoted to worthy purposes. But all we are getting at the present time is increased taxation. There are to be increased rates and taxation on those people who definitely have had to use up every economy in order to provide themselves with a home. Even where they make use of all the machinery of the State, whether the houses are built by State grants or otherwise, I may definitely tell the House that all these advantages are wiped out completely by the increased cost of building materials. These houses are there. They were built outside the city boundaries and [895] are not subject to the city scale of taxation. The occupiers built them as an investment for themselves—as something that they might leave to their children. I oppose this Bill on the ground that those people cannot afford to have any more burdens placed upon them. Deputies who have spoken on the Bill have stressed the fact that the main purpose behind it is to bring extra money into the Exchequer. It will, unfortunately, also have the effect of enabling local authorities to increase local charges. No matter how much a local authority may be opposed to that course, the operation of this measure will oblige them to increase the local rates. That is why I urge on Deputies in all parts of the House to oppose vigorously the passage of this Bill. The people that I have been speaking of are very easily satisfied so far as local services are concerned, whether it be the emptying of a dustbin or the provision of light or a water supply. They get no relief from the agricultural grant. They have to pay the full rate that is levied in their area, and in my opinion they will not be able to bear the increased charges which this Bill proposes.

The people in the urban area of Cobh, and even in Cork City itself, are strongly opposed to this Bill. The Minister, I think, would be well advised to moderate its provisions. If the Bill had been introduced before the last general election, when the Government had to carry on with a very small majority in the Dáil, I believe that the outcry raised against it would have been sufficient to bring about the defeat of the Government. It is well to remember, in connection with a measure of this kind, that the day of the speculative builder is gone. The result is that the people have to avail of every means in their power if they want to provide themselves with a home. Therefore, I say, that at such a time it is an ill thing and an inequitable thing to bring in this measure. It aims a terrific blow at the thrift and the energy which have enabled great numbers of people—I should say one of the best elements in the State—to provide [896] themselves with homes. The case that I have made for the residents in those suburban areas can, I am sure, be borne out by many other members of the House. The business people and others who are living in those areas and who, as I have said, have provided themselves with homes, have denounced the principles underlying this measure in no uncertain terms. I have discussed the measure with very many people. I have not met one who had a good word to say for it. Everyone is opposed to it. I oppose it as strongly as I possibly can, despite the fact that it has been put before us in very glowing terms in the White Paper circulated with it.

There is to be no remission so far as agricultural land valuations are concerned. I am not prepared to rise to that fly, for this reason, that unless derating is given to the agricultural community there is very grave danger indeed that the full incidence of this Bill will fall on the agricultural community by reason of the power which the Minister has to make variations in the amount of the agricultural grant. These variations are of frequent occurrence, and if the Minister for Finance were to avail of that method he might very well widen the field of taxation so far as the agricultural community is concerned.

I am thankful to say that a higher standard of comfort is now demanded by the agricultural community. Many of them, by their own energy, have built new houses. They have been enabled to do that largely because of the free labour supplied by members of their families. But while that is so, the burden on them has been heavy enough, due to the high costs of building materials. Under this Bill their thrift and energy in that direction are to be utilised as a means of increasing taxation on them. Farm economy at the present day demands well built and well equipped farm buildings. For instance, a farmer cannot get registered as a cow keeper unless his cow houses conform to the regulations laid down by the Department of Local Government. But the strange thing is that if he puts up new and improved cow houses, and if the valuation of the new [897] buildings is higher than that of the old, his taxation is increased. Surely that is not the way to encourage an up-to-date agricultural economy. I hope that Deputies in all parts of the House who are interested in the agricultural community will join with me in opposing this Bill. The whole countryside is crying out against its provisions. The Minister, by reason of previous legislation, has made himself a very unpopular person, but he will be more unpopular than ever if he succeeds in forcing this Bill through.

People in the suburban areas of Cork have to pay a tax of 2/6 in the £ for their water supply. This is the charge imposed by the corporation, while in the city the charge is only 3d. in the £. What will the position of those people be if, as a result of this Bill, the 2/6 becomes 5/- in the £? Income-tax is another charge which falls heavily on many of those people. It is a charge which hits businessmen severely. They have grave fears as to what the results of this measure will be when it comes to be operated.

Some of the previous speakers referred to Griffith's valuation. There is no doubt whatever but that the conditions in this country were at that time far different from what they are to-day. Many of the old mud-wall cabins that we then had in this country have since, I am glad to say, disappeared. The labourers' cottages will be taxed on a higher valuation. Their letting value will also be taken into consideration, and very definitely a high tax will be imposed on them, a tax much higher than at the present time. That is one of the things that I ask the Party on my right to look into. They should oppose by every means in their power a tax on a very deserving class, the agricultural labourers, who cannot bear any further increase because they are already bearing a sufficiently high burden. We trust the Minister will see his way to moderate the provisions of this Bill, and whatever relief he can give the country, we ask him to give it.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  I am not at all surprised if there is an uproar in different towns throughout the country, especially in view of Deputy Brasier's speech here to night. The Minister was quite right [898] when he stated that this Revaluation Bill was long overdue. My only regret is that it does not include agricultural land. I think some definite clause should be inserted whereby individual farmers whose land was valued on proximity value, which no longer exists, or on Griffith's valuation, or whose land was subject to the wheat land valuation which has been described as quite absurd, would be included in some way. The value of land is entirely different now. The unfortunate members of the agricultural community who happened to have their land valued as wheat land are ever since bearing an unfair burden. You have in my constituency a farm that could carry 20 cows valued at 30/- an acre, and the valuation of a similar holding on the other side of the city is about 10/- an acre. That indicates how some farmers have to bear three times the burden they should be asked to bear.

How Deputy Brasier comes along here to protest against this Bill is beyond my imagination. Deputy Brasier represents a rural area on the South Cork Board of Assistance, and he has on several occasions signed protests against being tied up with the city. I will take the valuations of the different urban areas within that South Cork area, and I will indicate what in my opinion is going to happen. Take the Cobh urban area, which has a valuation of £24,909. That valuation in my opinion is going to be enormously reduced. I can say the very same thing about Passage, which will undoubtedly be enormously reduced.

Mr. Brasier: Information on Brooke W. Brasier  Zoom on Brooke W. Brasier  And they are opposing this Bill.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  They are two towns which undoubtedly have fallen on very hard times within the past 15 or 20 years.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Apparently Deputy Brasier does not want the valuations to be reduced.

Mr. Brasier: Information on Brooke W. Brasier  Zoom on Brooke W. Brasier  I merely say they are opposing the Bill.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  These towns will be revalued, and Deputy Brasier completely ignores the position in regard to these towns in order to build up a ridiculous case.

[899]Mr. Brasier: Information on Brooke W. Brasier  Zoom on Brooke W. Brasier  I am doing what the people ask.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  I am not at all surprised at the attitude of people who are advised by Deputy Brasier.

Mr. Brasier: Information on Brooke W. Brasier  Zoom on Brooke W. Brasier  Of course you are not. They do not mind what you tell them.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  The South Cork area is being rated as one area for home assistance purposes; that is, Cork City and the six rural districts of Bandon, Cork Rural, Kinsale, Macroom, Midleton and Youghal. You have then the areas of Cobh, Macroom, Passage and Youghal. You have the anomaly in Cork City where you have rents of over £200 and £250 a year being paid for buildings that would carry a valuation of £50. I would not be at all surprised, and I would not mind the Lord Mayor of Cork, Deputy Hickey, or a representative of Cork City, endeavouring to oppose this Bill; but I cannot understand a rural Deputy whose area is undoubtedly going to get an enormous relief under the Bill, getting up here for the sake of opposing the Government at any cost. He must be one of those old die-hards we used to hear of in the old days, to be starting this rumpus.

Mr. Coburn: Information on James Coburn  Zoom on James Coburn  You are very friendly with the die-hards at present. The Prime Minister of England is not a diehard.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  The Deputy might leave it between the Cork men.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  Deputy Brasier represents this South Cork area and he has joined hands with the rest of the South Cork area, with the exception of the Corporation representatives, in repeatedly protesting against those six rural districts carrying the burden of Cork City on their backs. Still Deputy Brasier gets up here and protests against the Government stepping in to level off the burden on those six rural districts. That is what the valuation of Cork City would mean.

Mr. Brasier: Information on Brooke W. Brasier  Zoom on Brooke W. Brasier  Did the people ask for it?

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  The valuation of Cork City amounts to about £500,000 and it [900] is £547,000 for the six rural districts, I mentioned. I believe the revaluation of Cork City will bring it very near the £500,000 mark.

Mr. Brennan:  That is good news for Cork.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  I am hoping, and hoping earnestly for it.

Mr. Brasier: Information on Brooke W. Brasier  Zoom on Brooke W. Brasier  The people there are not.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  I am hoping for it so that the merchants and the people who have ground rent holdings in Cork City will have to face their share of the burden that has fallen on the shoulders of the rural community for too long, ever since the famous amalgamation scheme. It is about time this matter was levelled up. If there is one area in the whole 26 Counties that cannot complain in regard to this Valuation Bill it is the South Cork area that Deputy Brasier represents. There are very few urban areas in it that will be hit in any way by this Bill. The towns are in the main poor. The principal town is Cobh, with a valuation of £24,000. It will get an enormous reduction in valuation. The revaluation of Cobh is long overdue.

Mr. Brasier: Information on Brooke W. Brasier  Zoom on Brooke W. Brasier  Just wait and see.

Mr. Brennan:  How does Deputy Corry know that they will get a reduction?

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  I have at least as much commonsense as Deputy Brennan. Indeed, I pride myself on having far more.

Mr. Brennan:  You would want a lot more to know that. The Minister would not tell us that.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  If Deputy Brennan was in my constituency he might get elected to an urban council, but devil a bit more. I have indicated my view in so far as the Revaluation Bill affects the constituency I represent and the area surrounding it. In my opinion it is going to bring an enormous relief in rates to the agricultural community. Deputies over there who have been howling about the agricultural community and the unfair way in which [901] they have been treated ever since we came into office should be delighted that now there is going to be a levelling up and that portion of the burden which has been unfairly and unjustly borne by the South Cork area will be borne by the city instead. I could quite understand that case put up by a City Deputy but I cannot understand that case being put up by rural Deputies. The valuation of Cobh will be reduced and the valuation of Passage will undoubtedly be reduced.

Mr. Brasier: Information on Brooke W. Brasier  Zoom on Brooke W. Brasier  Yet they are opposing it.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  No wonder, when the like of you come here to represent them. That is what is ruining half the people of this country. That is just the same as the advice that was freely given round the country, when the Deputy plunged the whole side of the country into turmoil and misfortune in order to help John Bull to get his annuities. Everything that this Government has done must be wrong in Deputy Brasier's eyes. He views everything through red, white and blue glasses. This Valuation Bill is going to effect an enormous relief for the agricultural community in my constituency. I welcome it for that reason alone.

I would suggest to the Minister that he should insert in this Bill a section whereby individual farmers will have the right of appeal against the valuation of agricultural land. I have already pointed out to the Minister that he has given me ample grounds here for this appeal when he said that the valuation made by Richard Griffith in the years 1852-56 may be said to be still in force for rating purposes. He now comes along and brings in this Bill for the cities and towns, and leaves the revaluation of land untouched. That is something to my mind that should be remedied in the Bill. I have already given instances of injustice. That injustice has been pointed out in this House ever since 1927. I remember on the first occasion I spoke from the benches on the other side of the House, I appealed for a revaluation of the agricultural land of this country. I think it is grossly unfair to have one [902] farmer, whose holding is of the same value economically as a neighbouring farmer, paying three times the rates of that neighbouring farmer. I think that that is a matter that could be remedied by one section in the Bill. If the Minister does not want to burden the draftsman too much, he might draft a section to cover it himself. I would certainly suggest to the Minister——

Mr. Brasier: Information on Brooke W. Brasier  Zoom on Brooke W. Brasier  To withdraw the Bill.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  ——now that he is dealing with one portion, that he should also deal with the other portion.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  That is a suggestion.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  I certainly make that suggestion.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I wonder do the gentlemen opposite want a revaluation of land, too?

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  I would not be surprised if Deputy Brasier got up and opposed it.

Mr. Brasier: Information on Brooke W. Brasier  Zoom on Brooke W. Brasier  I would be suspicious when the Deputy suggests it.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  Since he lost the support of the farmers I suppose he has no interest in them.

Mr. Brasier: Information on Brooke W. Brasier  Zoom on Brooke W. Brasier  I still head the poll, anyway.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  To my mind this Bill will bring enormous relief to the farmers in my constituency. I support and welcome it and I think it is long overdue.

Mr. M. Brennan: Information on Michael Brennan  Zoom on Michael Brennan  Deputy Corry is either a very-well informed, or a very innocent, man. He is probably both but I very often regard Deputy Corry as more innocent than well-informed. At the same time, I do not know that he has the authority of the Minister for Finance for saying either one or other of two things he mentioned, that certain towns are bound to go up in valuation and that certain other towns are bound to go down. The Minister would not like that. I think that Deputy Brasier was right from a practical, logical point of view. If Deputy Corry is right in saying that the valuations [903] of Cobh and Passage are going to go down enormously, I am afraid the country districts are going to carry the load. You see, you cannot have it both ways. If you are going to pull down the valuations in Passage, Cobh and other places, some other place has got to carry the load.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Accordingly, if some people are getting away with it, other people are bearing the load.

Mr. M. Brennan: Information on Michael Brennan  Zoom on Michael Brennan  I am afraid that Deputy Corry is more innocent than well-informed in this case. Personally, I think that a Valuation Bill could be, or ought to be, a just and equitable measure, an innocuous kind of measure. That was my first impression. As a matter of fact before I read the Bill I thought it would be a measure of that kind. Still, of course, when we remembered that we had the Minister for Finance for the last few years increasing the valuation of several houses for the purpose of income-tax to five-fourths of the previous valuation, we became suspicious. It was evident, and it is evident to-night, that there was something at the back of the Bill that it does not mean just a removal of anomalies and inequities. There is something else, whatever it may be, at the back of it. After all, we have had a rather rushed time with legislation and this Bill would not be brought in merely for the purpose of removing anomalies. There is another very good reason for it.

There is one point in this Bill to which I should like to direct the particular attention of Deputy Corry, because it is the only thing about which I want to speak. The position in cities has been dealt with by Deputies who understand cities. I do not. I am going to speak for the farmers. I am going to speak for the people who will come under the provisions of Section 19. Does Deputy Corry know the implications of that section? Does he know what he is going to get under that section? He does not; he has not read it at all. If he read Section 19 and its various sub-sections, and tried to find out the implications of these various sub-sections which state clearly and distinctly that the new valuations [904]“shall not be estimated at a lesser sum than”—he would know what the Bill contemplates. I wonder what is the idea behind that phrase? You have it running right down through the section. Deputy Corry will be interested in this because he is a farmer like myself. He has farm buildings and I am sure that Deputy Corry feels, as I feel, that a farm building is nothing more or less than ancillary to the farm itself.

I have always felt that in this country you cannot place a letting value upon a man's farmhouse and farmyard as distinct from his farm. After all, his farm is his industry. You might as reasonably say to a man who is in business: “Even though you have given up your business, you are still going to carry a big valuation on your shop.” Or you might as well say to a farmer: “You have got £100 worth of machinery to do your farm work and we are going to put a valuation on the letting value of that for the purpose of assessing taxes on you.” If I have a shed or two sheds to house my hay, oats or live stock, I maintain that these buildings are ancillary to my farm. The Minister says “No,” that he is going to send a valuer to value the building on the basis of what he considers the letting value of the premises, even taking in the flower-garden in front. He will put a valuation on that according to its rental value, leaving out the farm altogether. That is what we have here. Deputy Corry did not read that and he will be surprised to hear of it now. I do not know what kind of place Deputy Corry has, but if he has a place that would carry, in the ordinary way, a high letting value, well he is going to get it in the neck.

We have it stated in this sub-section that “subject to the provisions of the foregoing paragraphs of this sub-section, the valuation of every hereditament shall be made upon an estimate of the net annual value—that is to say, the rent for which one year with another such hereditament might, in its actual state, reasonably be expected to let from year to year.” What would a farmer's residence and farmyard let at from year to year without regard to his holding? Would it let at all?

[905]Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Does the Deputy say that?

Mr. Brennan:  I do.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Apply that to the Bill.

Mr. Brennan:  I am trying to apply the clause of the Bill to the facts, as they are in the country.

Mr. Allen: Information on Denis Allen  Zoom on Denis Allen  If it has no letting value, it will have no valuation.

Mr. Brennan:  Is the Deputy innocent enough to think that that is what is behind the Bill?

Mr. Allen: Information on Denis Allen  Zoom on Denis Allen  That is what is in the Bill.

Mr. Brennan:  What will happen will be that you will have a valuation put upon your house and place as distinct from your farm altogether.

Mr. Allen: Information on Denis Allen  Zoom on Denis Allen  That was always the case.

Mr. Brennan:  And we are told in the Bill that the amount shall not be estimated at “a lesser value than....”. The Minister will explain that.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Lesser than what?

Mr. Brennan:  What is set out in these sub-sections.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Tell the House that and do not frighten them with bogeys.

Mr. Brennan:  Every member has got a copy of the Bill and White Paper. The White Paper put the soft pedal upon the whole thing. I maintain that, under Section 19, farmers' houses and buildings are going to be valued upon a letting basis from day to day. What will that basis be? The farmer will be in this position—that, according as he makes improvements, his valuation will be pushed up. I know that that was so in the past where a report was received from the rate collectors of the county council. But the Minister is not satisfied with that. He does not think that the rate collectors and the local authorities have done their job. He does not think that the ratings are high enough, and he is going to give power of initiation to the Valuation Office. The Minister thinks that that is the right thing to do.

[906] In the future, a farmer or shopkeeper who puts a bathroom into his house or who does some internal improvement, will receive a visit from one of the new army of inspectors which will be attached to the Valuation Office. The inspector will tell him to unbar his door and let him see what changes he has made. He will then put a new valuation on his house because he has made some little improvements. That was never the case before. If the Minister would only remember the words which he uttered at the bankers' dinner recently in Dublin with regard to greater agricultural productivity and increased export of agricultural produce, he would think twice before he would place an instrument of this kind in anybody's hands. It will, undoubtedly, be responsible for raising the valuation and increasing the outgoings thereby of farm buildings.

If we are going to do anything for agriculture, let us not think that we are moving in that direction by this Bill. We are back, in fact, to the old days of the rack-renting landlord. If you made any improvement in those days, up went your rent. Henceforth, if you make any improvement the man from the Valuation Office will come along and up will go your valuation. That is the implication of this Bill so far as the farming community is concerned. I maintain that the farm and the farmyard are one, and that the farmyard has no letting value as distinct from the farm, but that will not be recognised by the people who are to fix the valuation. We are going to get it hard.

Mr. Benson: Information on Ernest Edmondson Benson  Zoom on Ernest Edmondson Benson  The Minister, in reply to Deputy Norton, drew the attention of the House to the last paragraph of the explanatory memorandum where it is stated that a Consequential Provisions Bill will be introduced. I feel very strongly that we should have that Consequential Provisions Bill before us before we are asked to pass this Bill because many things are dependent upon valuation. We are asked to pass this Valuation Bill without any idea as to whether the necessary adjustments will be made in the various things which are consequent on revaluation. There is, for instance, the contribution [907] of the local authorities to unemployment assistance which, in the case of this city, is 1/8 in the £ on the valuation. In actual fact, it works out at about 1/10 in the £. Acting on the general assumption that the effect of this Bill will be to increase the valuation of this city, if the rate is to remain at 1/10, it obviously means that the ratepayers of Dublin will have to pay very heavily, indeed. There is also the fact that, as this Bill is worded at present, income-tax will be payable in different parts of the country at the same time on the old and new valuations. The Bill provides that the county boroughs will be valued first. When these valuations are completed, the Minister may make an order that they are to come into force on a certain 1st March, which may be three or four years in advance of the coming into force of the new valuations in the rest of the country. The result of that will be that these areas will be paying on the new valuation while the other areas will be paying on the old valuation.

When Deputy Dockrell raised the question of the five-fourths for income-tax purposes, the Minister shook his head, suggesting that it was not intended to carry that on after this Bill becomes law. I think that some more definite indication than a shake of his head is required from the Minister, and I hope he will deal with that in his closing remarks. The Bill also provides that churches and such buildings shall not be valued under the new Act at all. The corporation here, and probably local authorities elsewhere, derive revenue from these buildings, based on rateable valuation, for domestic water supplies. If there is no rateable valuation, perhaps the Minister would indicate on what system that rate should be levied in future. I should also like the Minister to explain his reasons, if he has any, for selecting the figures of 2½d. and two-fifths of a penny for the initial and annual sums which local authorities are to pay for revaluation.

What those sums mean to any local authority it is impossible to say. At the present moment the annual cost to the Dublin Corporation of the annual revision is £200. Two-fifths of [908] a penny on the present valuation is £3,000, a fairly good interest from the Minister's point of view, but actually the increase will presumably be more than that because that two-fifths will be levied not on the existing valuation, which produces £3,000, but on a new valuation the figure of which is not known. I do not know what induced the Minister to hit on those particular sums.

There is also another point which I think requires clearing up. At the present moment the State owns certain property, but is not in occupation of it. If that falls vacant at the moment, the State contends that it is not liable to rates, being State property. I think that is a matter which needs clearing up. It is liable for rates at the moment. Why then if it becomes unoccupied should it cease to be liable for rates? Also I think provision is required for the rating of newly constructed buildings which may be completed and occupied after the beginning of the financial year. I am not clear whether such a provision exists at the moment. Perhaps the Minister would look into it, and see if some such provision can be made for the future.

Mr. Nally: Information on Martin M. Nally  Zoom on Martin M. Nally  At this Stage I do not wish to occupy the time of the House for very long. First of all I should like to know from the Minister who is behind this Bill? Who has been asking the Minister to introduce such a Bill? What will its implications be when it is passed? We were challenged from the Minister's side of the House last week that we had no representations from local bodies against this Bill. I should like to know from the Minister if any local body has sent representations to him in favour of the Bill? I have here some representations from local bodies in connection with it. The first one I will read is from the Castlebar Urban Council. This is dated as far back as 6th February. It reads:

“A Chara,—I am directed by the Castlebar Urban District Council to ask you to take all possible steps to have the Revaluation Bill rejected when again submitted to An Dáil.”

It is signed “F. O Ríain, Clerk to the [909] Council.” I have also here a resolution passed unanimously by the Mayo County Council. The majority of that council, as the Minister is well aware, are Fianna Fáil. In fact, I understand that about three-fourths of the members of the council are members of the Minister's Party. Here is a resolution which has been sent by them to every member for North and South Mayo, both of the Minister's Party and of the Fine Gael Party:

“A Chara,—Enclosed I send you copy of resolution which was adopted by the Mayo County Council at their meeting on the 28th ultimo, relative to the new Valuation Bill.”

That is signed “M. J. Egan,” and the resolution reads as follows:—

“That we, the members of the Mayo County Council, register emphatic protest against the enactment of the proposed Bill for the raising of the valuations of all houses, farm buildings, shops and factories in this country. That, considering the excellent manner in which the ratepayers of Mayo have at all times discharged their responsibilities in the matter of regular payments of their annual rate assessments, notwithstanding the adverse circumstances they have had to contend with in recent years, we consider any proposal calculated to increase their burden as iniquitous. That we call upon our representatives in the Oireachtas, irrespective of Party affiliations, to be united in a vehement opposition to a Bill that, if enacted, will place increased responsibilities on the shoulders of a majority already staggering under the burden they at present have to bear.—M. Kilroy, Chairman.”

That is the position as far as Mayo is concerned. That resolution has been sent to the various members for Mayo, including the Minister for Justice. I wonder how he will vote when he comes into the House to-night? Deputy Munnelly is from the same district, so are Deputy Cleary, Deputy Walsh and Deputy Moran. I wonder how—after the action of that council, the majority of whom belong to their own Party—they are going to vote? I [910] think they should vote with us, and ask the Minister to withdraw the Bill.

What is going to happen as far as labourers' cottages are concerned? We have just had a scheme sent to local bodies by the Minister for Local Government whereby the labourers have been given an opportunity to purchase their cottages. If this Bill goes through, I have it on reliable authority that the increased valuation of those cottages will mean considerably more than the amount which will be saved in rent. The valuation will go up by at least three times on labourers' cottages. Take farm-houses all over the country; the same will apply there. That is what you are going to have if this Bill is passed. What about the houses which have been built in the Gaeltacht? Those houses are already highly valued. The old valuations were probably in or about 5/- or 10/-. That has been increased to about £3. If this Bill is passed it will go up to probably £6. The various towns throughout the country are all up in arms against this Bill. I think the best thing the Minister could do is to withdraw it. If he does not withdraw the Bill the people of Ireland will not know him to-morrow.

Mr. Allen: Information on Denis Allen  Zoom on Denis Allen  There are two or three aspects of this Bill on which I should like some information from the Minister when he is replying. First of all, there is the question of the cost of this revaluation. I want to know why it is that the cost of this revaluation is being put on the general valuation of the county? Why is it applicable to land, seeing that land is not being revalued? I think it is only fair to let the houses which are the subject of revaluation carry the cost of that revaluation. It should not be applied to agricultural land. Secondly, in regard to this figure of two-fifths of a penny per annum, I think it is quite sufficient for the Minister to provide for the actual cost of revaluation within a particular area. That should be sufficient for him each year, but I estimate that this figure of two-fifths of a penny will bring a very substantial revenue to the State at the expense of the ratepayers in the rural districts, and in the towns also.

[911] There is another matter to which I wish to refer—it has already been mentioned by Deputy Nally—and that is the question of labourers' cottages. Under the Labourers Acts, special provision was made for a very low valuation of labourers' cottages. The present valuation is, I think, on an average of about 30/-, and the weekly rate amounts, I think, to about 4d. to 7d. in most areas. If the provisions of this Bill are carried out, the plot will be taken into consideration, and valued on rental value. The average rent of those cottages in the last five or six years was something like 2/- a week. This would mean a valuation of nearly £6, and it would increase the agricultural labourer's weekly amount by 4d. to 6d. We know very well that the agricultural labourer cannot pay any more, and in actual fact the ratepayers will bear that burden in some way or other; either that or the farmer will pay additional wages. That is an important matter, and should be carefully considered. Special provision was made in the Labourers Acts for low valuations on houses occupied by agricultural labourers. If the provisions of Section 19 of the Bill are carried out in connection with cottages built by local authorities, a serious position would certainly be created.

I think it was Deputy Corry referred to the necessity for a revaluation of land. In my constituency there are certain areas where there has been for years a very strong demand for the revaluation of agricultural land. That does not apply to the whole county, as revaluation would be as unpopular with a big proportion of people with land as it is amongst people who do not want to have houses revalued. There are, however, areas where Griffith's valuation does not apply, and where valuations are most unjust at present. The Minister should provide that an electoral area, or an individual farmer, should have the right to apply for the revaluation of agricultural land. We know that artificial manures have changed what was poor land into valuable land, and that some land is carrying a low valuation while highly valued land is paying an unjust [912] amount. I was very surprised to hear Deputy Norton, for the first time in this House, as leader of the Labour Party, defending income-tax payers. That was a new role for Deputy Norton. I did not think the Deputy or his Party were much concerned about income-tax in cities and towns. Everybody knows that the business part of some towns has changed in the last ten or 20 years. There are portions of towns carrying very high valuations, but doing little or no business, while other parts of these towns, and doing the main business, have low valuations.

I also wish to refer to the position in small towns governed by town commissioners, where houses have been erected under recent Housing Acts. These houses carry very high valuations, and as some of the people who occupy them have been transferred from slum dwellings they are unable to pay rates. These houses were valued within the last few years. That matter should be looked into. It is probable that these tenants were transferred from houses on which the valuations were £1 or 10/- a year into new houses on which the valuations run from £8 to £10. We know quite well that there are many business houses in these towns on which the valuations are not high. How could it be expected that people transferred from slum dwellings could pay the county rates plus the town rates where the local authorities are town commissioners. The county rates might be from 1/- to 15d. weekly and the tenants would be unable to pay. Before the Bill passes that matter should be looked into. I wish to impress upon the Minister the urgent necessity of having a revaluation of a certain portion of the agricultural land in the different counties. I am sure if some of the county councils had the power to have portion of the agricultural land revalued they would have had it done long ago. I understand there was no such power under the old Act for an individual land holder to have portion of an area revalued. A whole county should be revalued or none of it at all. Provision should also be made to have an electoral area and to allow a resident to make application for revaluation.

[913]Mr. Corish: Information on Richard Corish  Zoom on Richard Corish  I did not intend to intervene but for the fact that Deputy Allen seemed to be surprised that the Leader of the Labour Party should trouble himself about the question of income tax. As I do not want the position of the Labour Party to be misrepresented, I should explain that what Deputy Norton was concerned about was not income tax as such, but with what is known as property tax.

Mr. McEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  That is income tax.

Mr. Corish: Information on Richard Corish  Zoom on Richard Corish  It is not income tax in the accepted sense. Everybody knows that. There are numbers of wage earners who, in recent years, borrowed money under the Small Dwellings Acquisition Act and built their own houses. At present they are being charged five-fourths property tax, and it is for these people Deputy Norton spoke. What concerns me about this Bill is how urban authorities will be affected by the poor rate demand of the county councils. The valuation of urban districts will certainly be increased. The amount paid by urban districts for county council demands is based on the proportion of the urban valuation and the county valuation, and it will be considerably and, in my opinion, inequitably increased.

That is going to be a very serious matter for the towns, and will hit very hard the working-class people who pay rates through the medium of rents. Deputy Allen referred to the position of people transferred from slum dwellings to new houses built by urban authorities. As the Deputy pointed out, some of these people left dwellings on which the valuations were as low as 30/-, while the valuations of the new houses are £6 and, certainly, in no case less than £4 10s. It is very difficult for that class of people to meet present demands. If they are going to be increased, I am very much afraid of financial chaos in the case of many local authorities. Deputy Allen also referred to the position of agricultural labourers. That position is very serious, because agricultural labourers are at present paid a very low wage, and will be unable to meet extra [914] demands in the way of rates. If anything could be done, by way of inserting a provision in the Bill to prevent increased valuations in these cases, it would be very welcome. There is at present a move on foot to try to put the Cottage Purchase Act into operation. It was never contemplated when that Act was passed that there was going to be a revaluation of houses. In my opinion this Bill will deter a great many people from availing of that Act, if they think that they will have to pay increased rates on new valuations.

Under this Bill there is to be no revaluation of agricultural land. Like Deputy Allen, I know certain land in the County Wexford which is valued altogether too high, for reasons that he has indicated, but there is another type of land which, to my mind, should be under review by the Land Commission and the Department of Finance. I refer to large tracts of land which, for perhaps six months of the year, are under water. That refers to a good portion of South-East Wexford. Down around Tacumshane area, there are large tracts of land under water for almost six months each year. Those people have to pay full rates on that land, and I suggest to the Minister that he should take advantage of this Bill to provide some machinery to have an investigation into cases of that kind. It is certainly a great hardship on these people to have to pay rates on land which they are not able to use for any longer than three or four months of the year. I hope that the Minister will pay attention to these matters when the Committee Stage of the Bill comes around.

Mr. Browne: Information on Patrick Browne  Zoom on Patrick Browne  I move the Adjournment of the debate.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  Debate adjourned until tomorrow.


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