Tuesday, 5 December 1939
Dáil Éireann Debate
An Ceann Comhairle: I suppose the House is aware of the procedure. The Minister moves and makes a Second Reading speech; the amendment on the Order Paper will then be moved by Deputy Norton and may be formally seconded by a member of the Deputy's Party. There will be one debate covering both the Second Reading and the amendment. At the conclusion of the debate two questions will be put.
Minister for Local Government and Public Health (Mr. Ruttledge): The object of this Bill—as the long title sets out—is to make further and better provision for local government in the counties. It is proposed to achieve this by bringing certain services, at present administered by subsidiary bodies under the immediate direction of the county councils and by introducing the county manager plan of local government which is already in operation in the  county boroughs. There are many reasons for this. The increasing extent to which the condition of the people is affected by the expansion of social services has increased in recent years the administration in local government. Apart from the greater time and attention that the administration demands of elected representatives, there is a good deal of opinion that the expenditure involved has given rise to problems of management and of the administration generally of these public bodies. That view received expression so far back as 1926, when the Poor Law Commission held its sittings and reported. The Poor Law Commission sat in 1926, got together a considerable amount of evidence and, in its report, recommended that boards of health should be abolished, that the county councils should take over control of poor relief, and that they should work through paid officials who would have control over its administration in a somewhat similar way as the county manager is proposed to operate under this Bill. In the light of the experience gained since, the view is taken that the findings of that commission have been strengthened. Forms of local government organisation which at one time were quite adequate may become unsuitable when a considerable enlargement of functions takes place. The tendency towards combining in single bodies powers and duties which may have been dispersed among several authorities and the increasing extent to which State funds are applied to financing local services are features which may indicate the development along those lines.
The picture of local government, as we look back, shows us that up to the end of the last century there were the old grand juries. About the end of the century, in 1898, the grand juries and the presentment sessions were replaced by these popularly elected councils, district councils and county councils. Deputies who are conversant with the development since then are aware that the duties and functions of these councils were very much narrower and more limited than they are to-day. They were, too, fiscal units, if I might so describe them. They collected rates, maintained roads and, I think, dealt with mental hospitals, and that was  about the extent of their operations. In 1920 and 1921, when the Dáil assumed control of local government, very important changes took place which aimed at unification and the present Bill is a step in the same direction—to try to bring under a single county authority the functions of many of these important subsidiary bodies, such as boards of health and so on.
The council-manager plan of administration has been criticised as being undemocratic. Many of us may have been critical about it at one time or another, but, in the light of its operation and of the experience gained, that view certainly cannot hold. It should be remembered that the county manager is an official of the council, and that he can be removed by the council in the same manner as any other officer. The council-manager plan set out in the Bill will release county councils from much of the detail of administration, and also from the sometimes very onerous task of managing officials and staffs, but it does not do this by the creation of any independent authority. The powers of the councils and elective bodies under them are still extensive. The rating bodies alone can determine to what extent money can be provided. In addition to reserved functions, under Section 21 of the Bill, county councils and elective bodies will have important powers. That is the section under which a council can initiate certain proposals, and, within certain limits, will have the power to get them carried out. The county council will be charged with the administration of roads, county district and fever hospitals, county homes, home assistance, mental hospitals, health services and other county services with two exceptions. These exceptions are vocational education and agricultural services which will continue to be administered as provided for in the Vocational Education Act, 1930, and the Agriculture Act, 1931.
The council-manager system was first tried in Cork Borough. It was followed by Dublin City and Dun Laoghaire, and, later, by Limerick, and, as recently as last August, it was adopted for the City of Waterford. It is proposed to appoint a county manager for  each county, but 12 counties are to be grouped for the purposes of the Bill, and the same manager will act for each of two counties. This does not mean that there is to be an amalgamation of these two counties; it merely means that there will be a common manager for these counties. The grouping of these counties is based on population, the number of towns, the subsidiary elective bodies in the county, on institutions and on geographical position. The county managers will be appointed by the Local Appointments Commission, but special provision is included in the Bill to give a preference to existing county secretaries and existing secretaries of boards of health. As well as being manager for the county council and subsidiary bodies, a manager will also be associated with every elective body as set out in the first section. Elective bodies include the corporation of a borough, an urban district council, the commissioners of a town, the Rathdown and Balrothery Boards of Assistance, and any joint body. The principal joint bodies are the Dublin Board of Assistance, Waterford and South Cork Boards of Public Assistance, the eleven joint committees of management of district mental hospitals, four port sanitary authorities, and seven joint burial boards. A county manager will, therefore, act in conjunction with these several bodies.
He will be available to assist and advise these bodies and will have the same control of staff as he has in relation to county council subsidiary bodies. It might be pointed out that that may be an advantage to the urban councils and other bodies who, by reason of their size and rateable valuations, could not bear the expense of a manager for their own particular body. They will have the assistance of the manager on the basis of a contribution to the county council in respect of his salary or expenses.
In the case of large counties, or perhaps where two counties are grouped, if it is found that the county manager is not able effectively and efficiently to deal with the work, provision is made to appoint assistant managers. Provision  is also made in certain eventualities for the appointment of a deputy manager. I may state that the Bill does not contain any provisions as to the number of members that will constitute county councils and boards in future, but a Bill will be introduced early in the next Session which will revise electoral areas and the number of members of county councils and other similar bodies. In the distribution of functions between the manager and the council, the precedents that have been established by the City Management Acts already passed have been closely followed. The reserved functions, that is, the functions reserved to councils, will include the making of the rate, the borrowing of money, the demanding of expenses, from other local authorities, the adoption and bringing into force of enactments, promoting or opposing legislation, the making of regulations in respect to the admission to or discharge of patients from mental hospitals, the adoption of resolutions and the making of applications under the Town and Regional Planning Act, 1934, the application for public inquiries in connection with boundary alterations, parliamentary and local elections, the appointment of persons to be members of public bodies, and the disposition of property under the Municipal Corporations Acts. All powers other than those reserved will be exercised by the manager. The county council will, however, retain the appointment of rate collectors.
Mr. Ruttledge: They do not. The Minister may add other functions to these reserved functions, that is, functions which may not be specifically reserved to the managers. As I pointed out already, the councils have certain powers under Section 21 of the Bill. As a matter of fact, this section has been included in all these other Acts which have been passed here, but apparently the necessity has not arisen at any time for the councils to exercise the powers they had under that section.
 As regards mental hospitals, where the whole of a mental hospital district is in one county, the committee in charge of it will disappear and a committee, called a visiting committee, will be appointed by the county council. Their functions will be to visit the hospital, to hear complaints and to report on conditions in the mental hospital to the county council. Where there is a joint committee of management, that is, where there is more than one county in a mental hospital area, the joint committee will continue to function with the aid of the county manager as executive officer. In addition, they will also have the powers of a visiting committee, that is, to refer complaints to the county council. The functions of boards of health will be transferred to the county councils, and the provisions consequential will be found in the Third Schedule.
The main portion of the provisions of the Bill have been already approved by this House on more than one occasion. They follow the precedents laid down in the City Management Acts passed by the House, and at this stage I do not think it is necessary, as the principle has been discussed so often here, to say more than that we hope, from the experience that has been gained by the Department from the operation of the City Management Acts, that this Bill will be a contribution to the local government administration of counties in the State.
“Dáil Éireann declines to give a second reading to the County Management Bill, 1939, pending an inquiry into the whole subject of local government administration by a committee appointed for that purpose by the Government.”
The Minister, in the course of his speech this evening, did not appear, by his delivery at all events, to be terribly enthusiastic about this measure. I could not blame the Minister for his lack of enthusiasm for a  measure of this kind, because it is rather ironic that the Minister, who voted against the Cork City Management Bill, should have heaped upon him the ridicule of coming into the House and asking us at this stage to apply the principle underlying the Cork City Management Bill to every county council and every local authority in Ireland. Of course, on that occasion the Minister was not alone. Every one of his colleagues sitting on the Front Bench went into the Lobby against the Cork City Management Bill. The Minister has only got to look at the Official Reports of the discussion on that Bill, and also the Official Reports of the discussion on the Dublin City Management Bill, to see how his Party fulminated and ranted against the dictatorship which, they said, was provided for in the Cork City Management Bill and the Dublin City Management Bill. When the Cork City Management Bill was going through the House, the present Minister for Finance, the former Minister for Local Government, said, as reported in Column 1155, Volume 27 of the Official Debates—and the same can be said of this Bill:—
“On the whole, we think that this Bill is not in accordance with our ideas of the management of public affairs. It does not give the amount of control to the people who pay that they ought to have. It is not in accordance with our ideas of the freedom of choice that ought to be given to the people who are running their own municipal or local affairs. We think that the policy of distrust, evidence of which is in almost every section of this Bill, is not one that ought to commend itself to this House. We are out for giving the fullest possible freedom to the people, thereby inculcating the teachings of citizenship to the people. We want them to realise that they have serious responsibilities placed upon them. We want citizens who vote for the election of members to a municipal council to be taught to realise that they have serious duties imposed upon them, and that it is up to them to see to it that their elected representatives, being given  full authority, must do their work properly. We think anything that cribs or confines the authority of these local people unnecessarily will eventually do more harm than good to the local people, to the local authority concerned and to the management of its affairs, and that the national effects on the citizens, as a whole, will not be for the good of this State. On these grounds we oppose the passing of the Bill.”
On the basis of that, every member of the present Government went into the Division Lobby and voted against the Cork City Management Bill. Is there a word that was said at that time by the present Minister for Finance that could not be said with equal force against this Bill, which is just a second edition of the Cork City Management Act? The people who denounced that measure and advised the people to vote against it: who said that it was not in conformity with their conceptions of freedom and liberty, now have the hardihood to come to this House, the wheel having gone its full circle, and say: “Here, lads, pass this Bill, notwithstanding our denunciations of it some years ago.” The Minister this evening did not try to make a case for the Bill. He has not told us who wants it, apart perhaps from a few Departments and the Executive, who want to take all kinds of power out of the hands of the popularly elected bodies.
The Minister quoted for us the report of a poor law commission which was appointed in March, 1925—14 years ago. The function of that commission was not to inquire into local government as conceived in this Bill. The commission was described, in the official document relating to it, as a commission on the relief of the sick and destitute poor. Its main function was to look into the condition of the sick and destitute poor. If one looks at its terms of reference under five heads, one will find that one of its functions was to inquire as to whether adequate and suitable schemes had been formulated under certain Temporary Provisions Acts; another was to avoid wasteful expenditure as regards “healthy people who are incorrigibly idle”; another was to examine the law and administration in respect of widows and children without parents, of unmarried mothers and deserted children; another was to inquire into the position of mentally defective children, and, lastly, the chargeability on the rates for certain purposes. Quite obviously, on its face the task of the commission was merely to deal with minor matters in respect of local government, all of which could be classed under the heading of the sick and destitute poor. Nowhere in its report can be found the slightest justification for the Minister's statement this evening, that the commission recommended an entire alteration of local government on lines to conform to a Bill of this kind.
In so far as the report of that commission deals with local authorities, its recommendations would fit on a postcard, and they are not in the slightest degree either illuminative or informative. The commission does not deal at all with the functions of local authorities in the sense in which we are dealing with them in this Bill. It only dealt with the functions of boards of health in relation to the administration of relief for the sick and destitute poor. Its recommendations, in so far as they suggest an amendment to the existing control or the creation of lines of demarcation in the functions of managers and local authorities, confined themselves entirely to the boards of health, and on this matter the commission's approach to the problem of an alteration in the method of the control of a board of health was one by which it suggested that the board of health might be embodied again for relief purposes in the county council: that the secretary of the board of health would then be relieved of his existing duties, and might become a sort of superintending assistance officer. In paragraph 4 the commission suggested that the most radical and revolutionary thing that could occur in that event was, that it would be possible to dispense with the post of superintending assistance officer. That was the one radical thing the commission recommended: the amalgamation of the board of health with the county council,  the sacking of the superintending assistance officer, and the making of the secretary of the board of health a sort of glorified superintending assistance officer.
It is that trivial report that is now being used by the Minister as one of the reasons why the House should be asked to pass a Bill of this kind. Again, this Bill cannot be said to be the result of any adequate inquiry into the system of local government, or into the principles and practices of local government. When considered in relation to municipal government, the report of that commission only dealt with very minor matters, such as unmarried mothers and maternity homes, affiliation orders, children, home assistance, dispensary services, institutional relief and so on. That was the whole ambit of the commission's work. Its recommendations and report show quite clearly that the commission never dealt with the bigger and wider problems: the control of local authorities, and the fixation of lines of demarcation between the manager's functions on the one hand and the functions of the popularly elected representatives on the other. So that not only do we not get a case made by the Minister for this Bill, but there is no evidence whatever to show that such commendation of the Bill as he gave us is based on any examination of the higher principles underlying that problem. Neither the Bill itself, nor the Minister's speech this evening, is fortified in the slightest by the recommendations of any authoritative body in this country on the question of local government.
If we did not get a case made for the Bill by the Minister here this evening, and clearly we did not, and if we cannot get a case from the Report of the Commission of Inquiry which dealt with the matter, what then have we to assume? What has brought about this Bill? We cannot imagine that it represents the Government's views on this subject, because no less a person than the Taoiseach spoke on the Cork City Management Bill of 1928. His views on the matter are very illuminating now, in the light of the provisions of this Bill. He said then:
“The first thing that strikes me is the grudging way in which local government is going to be given back. If we are going to have the deliberative and the executive functions separated, as I have indicated already, I favour that to the greatest extent that it is possible to have it provided that the ultimate control does really lie in the hands of the people's representatives. When I examined the details that have occurred to me from a casual reading of the Bill, the first thing that strikes me is the grudging way it is proposed to give back to the people of Cork the right of governing themselves locally in their local affairs. I think it is a wrong spirit and that it indicates the same idea that is obvious from all the acts of the Executive from the day they got power. Their whole idea is to concentrate as far as possible in themselves and now they want to concentrate in a very small body of people over whom ultimately the Minister here is going to have a great deal of control.”
The Taoiseach was then speaking on the Second Reading of the Cork City Management Bill, and the quotation is: Dáil Debates, Vol. 24, column 1860. That was his view then as to what was happening under a Bill identical in its provisions, outlook and purpose, with this particular Bill. Speaking later in the same debate the Taoiseach said—column 1864:—
“I, for one, believe in giving the Executive the greatest possible latitude for carrying out schemes, and in giving it all the latitude required in carrying out its executive work properly, but I hold that in every single case the ultimate authority must lie with the people's representatives, if they care to exercise it, and must lie continuously with them— that is, that it must not be a question of suspending it for a certain period: there must be continuous power in the hands of the people's representatives over the Executive.”
“The question of leaving to the manager the right to fix salaries, superannuation and allowances is, I think, too great a power. After all, the power of the purse ought to be ultimately in the deliberative assembly, and the power of the purse ought to be definitely retained by the people's representatives. To give that away would be a mistake and I will be in favour of having that power retained by the people's representatives. I hope that no representatives of the people here will stand for any principle which would be contrary to that.”
We have the position now that the Taoiseach spoke about in 1928 when he gave expression to the viewpoint that no representative in this House should stand for a principle of that kind. Ironically enough he now sends into the House a Minister for Local Government and Public Health to incorporate in a Bill the very provisions for which in 1928 he said he hoped no member of this House would stand. That is the position in which the members of the Government responsible for this Bill find themselves to-day. I think this is a very drastic Bill. It is going down to the roots of the question as to whether we are to have local authorities through-cut the country with executive and administrative functions, or whether we are going to have merely a county manager with a local authority with power to do little more than advise the city or county manager as the case may be. Under the Bill a manager would be appointed for each county, but in some cases he might manage two counties. But his authority will not end there; he may be not merely manager of one or two counties, but he will also manage every elected assembly within the county or counties. What is contemplated under this Bill is that one person will manage the entire County of Kildare and the entire County of Carlow; in addition he will also manage the Naas Urban District Council, the Athy Urban District Council, the Carlow Urban  District Council, the Newbridge Town Commissioners and the Muinebeg Town Commissioners. These are the functions of the manager under this Bill introduced by a Government, one member of which said in 1928 that a similar Bill of this kind did not accord with his conception of freedom. Anyone having read this Bill will ask is there any wonder he said that. But under this Bill we are doing precisely what he condemned in 1928.
Every power, function or duty of a council of a county or of an elected body which is not a reserved function shall, for the purposes of this Act, be an executive function of such council or body, and the expression “executive function” shall in this Act (including this section) be construed and have effect accordingly.
Then if you turn to the second Schedule of the Bill you find you are reserving functions and a whole lot of activities that any old maid of either sex could indulge in. Outside these relatively harmless wintry evening activities the manager exercises all the functions which are not catalogued in the Second Schedule. But he does more than that. Anything that you do not put into the Second Schedule becomes the manager's functions. But the manager's functions do not end there. In Section 14 (2) we have it:—
Every county manager shall exercise and perform for the council of his county all the executive functions of such council and, in particular, all powers (other than a power which is vested by law (including this Act) in such council and is by this Act expressly made exercisable by resolution of such council), functions, and duties of such council in relation to the officers and servants of such council and the control supervision, service, remuneration, privileges, superannuation, and compensation, of such officers and servants.
So that notwithstanding the Taoiseach's denunciation on the Cork City  Managers Act of provisions of the same kind as we have here, and his expression of hope that no representative of the people would stand for a principle contrary to that to which he gave expression, we have in Section 14 (2) set out provisions which one would think were specially written there for the purpose of making the Taoiseach swallow his own words of 1928. One could not help thinking that the vinegar like provisions in this Bill were written for that very purpose.
The persons appointed to exercise the functions under this Bill are the managers who will be appointed under Section 4. When a manager is appointed he cannot be removed except with the permission of the Minister. But a Minister responsible for a Bill of this kind would be very slow to remove a manager no matter what his action might be, lest he should be giving back to the local authorities the powers taken from them. In this Bill there is no retiring age for the manager. The manager may function until he is 100 years old though the Department of Local Government and Public Health sends out circulars from day to day to the local authorities asking that medical officers should retire at the age of 65. This Bill follows closely on the provisions of the Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford City Acts. We have no experience as yet of the operations of the Acts in Limerick and Waterford. But in Dublin and Cork we have had experience of their workings.
The Minister and his Department must know that members of his own Party and other Parties have constantly called attention to the fact that under these Acts in operation to-day the local authorities are merely rubber stamps for the managers. I am sorry that Deputy Tom Kelly is not here. Perhaps the Minister is glad he is not. I hope he will be present before the debate is over. If Deputy Kelly tells of his experience of the working of the Act in Dublin and if other Deputies throughout the country tell of their experiences, the Minister will realise that the whole history of the City Managers Acts has been one concentrating wide powers in the hands of  the managers and depriving the popularly elected representatives of all power to decide what the municipal policy of a city is to be. It is nonsense to imagine that any city or county can have a municipal policy in any place where these Acts are in operation. Not long ago the Fianna Fáil Party issued a declaration that the City Managers Act was in their way and that they could not implement their policy in the way in which they wanted to implement it because of their very limited authority. Their chief function is to write a cheque for the city manager, to collect all rates and when the rates are collected the city manager is empowered to spend them any way he likes in the fulfilment of the wide powers provided for them in Bills of this kind. I think the Government Party were right in what they said in 1928. I think they showed an appreciation of the deadening effect on the electors of legislation which took a large part of the municipal control out of the hands of the local representatives and put all the power into the hands of the managers. If we pass this Bill we are weakening still further the genuine interest of electors in local authorities. This Bill is creating the impression that the whole aim in respect of local government is to move more and more towards rigid centralisation. I can see nothing following from a Bill of this kind except lesser interest in local authority, a disinclination on the part of public-spirited people to serve on local elected bodies and to leave in the hands of the city managers still more powers of the kind conferred by this Bill.
It is rather paradoxical, at a time when we are taking power out of the hands of popularly elected authorities, fortified by the votes of the people, that some members of the Government should be talking about the creation of parish councils. We are going to have parish councils on the one hand, a fusing of authority on the one hand, and on the other hand we are going to have rigid centralisation in a Bill of this kind. The people are now going to have their interests dealt with by parish councils, who can debate whether a pump is wet or dry, whether it wants a coat of paint now or can wait until  next year, whether laneways or pathways want to be cleaned or repaired, but they are going to be deprived of all the powers that they have under the present system of local government, which I think is one calculated to create interest in local problems. Many of the things the local authorities have done in this country are a credit to the unrewarded civic pride of the local people in trying to improve the amenities of life in the areas in which their jurisdiction was cast. The Minister in the course of his speech this evening did not tell us that there had been any impartial examination of the Dublin and Cork position which induced him to introduce a Bill of this kind. There has been no examination of the Dublin and Cork position by any democratically minded people, and as a result we have the production of a Bill of this kind. Everybody knows that in Dublin and Cork the entire power is in the hands of the City Manager, and the Minister could not get an independent democratic body of people, hearing evidence of the real position and anxious to retain democratic local control, to recommend a Bill of the kind to which we are being asked to give a second reading to-day.
I am willing to be convinced that our present municipal government is not absolutely perfect. I am willing to be convinced that any change, based on sound reason and good judgment, is a change which ought to be made, but there is no evidence here of the necessity for a change. No evidence has been produced by the Minister, nor by this commission, the report of which he quoted for us, to show that it is desirable to make a change on the lines suggested in this Bill. As my motion suggests, therefore, we ought not to proceed further with this Bill until there has been an examination of the principles and practices of local government. That ought to be divorced from the similar matters which occupied the attention of the previous commission. Instead of having that examination, instead of setting up a committee or commission of people of normal judgment—not fanatics one way or the other—to examine the whole problem, and to report on the higher  principles of local government, we are embarking on a Bill of this kind. This motion which I submit to the House asks for a proper examination of the whole question of local government administration by a committee appointed for that purpose by the Government. It cannot be said, therefore, that my motion ties the hands of the Government in respect of the personnel of the commission. I am willing that the Government should appoint the commission, bearing in mind, of course, that they ought to appoint persons of normal level judgment, fanatics neither one way nor the other. When we got a comprehensive report from that commission, which had examined the matter in relation to the position in Dublin and Cork, we could then, with some knowledge of the experience gained by that commission, with some careful survey of all the issues involved, and after expert and impartial examination of the whole position, undertake the enactment of legislation making whatever changes were then considered necessary, bearing in mind all the time that the Department of Local Government ought to be charged with the responsibility of preserving local government, and not of destroying it, as this Bill seeks to do.
There is no purpose whatever in introducing a highly contentious Bill of this kind in the circumstances that exist to-day. The commission whose report the Minister quoted reported in 1927, that is 12 years ago. If the commission's report could lie aside, no effort being made to implement it in 12 years, what is the difficulty in allowing the matter to remain over for another year or two, so that we may have an examination of the higher principles of local government, an examination of where the demarcation line should be fixed between the manager's functions and the council's functions? Armed with knowledge of that kind, we might then proceed to examine the whole question of local government with a view to bringing it into conformity with the circumstances which exist to-day. I think the Minister should not proceed further with this Bill, but should set up a committee of that kind, so that we can approach the problem with  much greater information than we got from the Minister this evening, and with more information than we got from the commission appointed in 1925, whose functions were not to survey the ground that I suggest this committee should be asked to survey.
Mr. Murphy: I desire to second this motion. I should like to say at the outset that the Minister's advocacy of this measure has not carried it very far. I have rarely listened to a shorter statement explanatory of a very important measure. Like Deputy Norton, I am wondering whether the Minister is very enthusiastic about this Bill, or whether the statements which appeared in the Press to the effect that there was quite a good deal of dissent and contention in regard to this Bill, even in the Government Party, are quite correct. In any case, there can be very little doubt about the fact that the provisions of this Bill mean the end of local government in this country. You can disguise that fact in any trimmings you like, or in any language you like; you can make fine points about one matter or the other connected with it, but that is the sum total of the position. Surely there is something very strange about that happening in an Irish Parliament. Local Government was achieved for this country in the Local Government Act of 1889. Many years before that Act was passed, an English statesman of a former generation, the late Joseph Chamberlain, was engaged in working out a scheme of local government for this country, and in discussing that matter with Irish leaders at the time, as an alternative to the demand for Home Rule. The proposals were not accepted, but in the biographies of very prominent Irish leaders of that time there are several striking references to the value of the measures proposed. Michael Davitt leaves it on record that the passage of the Local Government Act sounded the overthrow of irresponsible bureaucracy, but an Irish Parliament is re-entrenching that bureaucracy under the provisions of this Bill. No matter how one may talk about this matter in polite and respectable language, that is the exact position. No one reading anything  of the lives of Irish leaders of a former time can fail to be struck with the importance that they attached to the winning of local government for this country. The late Mr. T.M. Healy, the late Mr. William O'Brien, the late Mr. John Redmond and other Irish leaders, can all be quoted as very strongly in support of that contention. If they could visit this House, where their successors, Irish representatives, meet to-day, one wonders what they would think of this particular measure, and what they would think of its introduction in an Irish Parliament, the Parliament of a country where there is unceasing talk about liberty, but where liberty is growing less every day of the week. It is surely a very ironic commentary on the whole position.
The Minister made what seemed to me to be a very extraordinary case for this Bill when he said—I hope I did not misunderstand him and that I do not misquote him—that its object was to relieve overworked local representatives of their responsibilities. That is not exactly the case that is made for it in other quarters. Some of the Minister's friends down the country make the case that this measure is to bring to an end corruption in local affairs. Local representatives may have their faults, quite a number of them have; all of us in this Parliament have, and everybody in this world, for that matter, has his own faults; but local representatives, with all the faults they had and have, made a decent effort to do the right, the fair and the honest thing always. I doubt if charges of that kind could be made against them more effectively than they could be made against a political party, and even against a Government, sometimes—so far as patronage and matters of that kind are concerned, and so far as spoils are regarded as the prizes of the victors. That is very different from corruption.
I think, on the whole—and I speak with some knowledge of local affairs, of local bodies, and of the various parties connected with local government—that, so far as any charges of corruption are concerned, local government is as clean and as honourable in  this country as one could expect it to be, and the various generations of local representatives that have handled the local government system in this country have contributed a very fair share to that type of citizenship, to that type of local progress and to the general advancement and management of local affairs that was foreseen when Irish leaders welcomed local government legislation and helped to improve it. I know that in the County of Cork, when the Local Government Act was passed, the county council that was appointed was well worthy of the largest county in this country. One of the first actions of that council was to put into operation a scheme of competitive examination in relation to every appointment in the gift of the council, and it was not until recent years, under circumstances into which I do not wish to go just now, that any weakening or displacement of that scheme took place.
The fact of the matter is that we have certain obsessions in this country. One obsession that has been manifested within the last ten or 15 years is the craze for centralisation. I think that is probably one of the worst afflictions that we could have, and I believe the time will come when it will be fully realised that that is so. I must complain also of the fact that there seems to be no settled policy on the matter of local government at headquarters. I am not talking now about the various officials in the Department of Local Government, officials who do their job thoroughly, efficiently, and well, and I must say I have always found them doing it with every sympathy. I am really talking about the Government policy—indeed, about the policies of two successive Governments in regard to this matter of local government. We have had this policy of sewing and ripping, and ripping and sewing from time to time, tampering with the whole fabric of local government, and, in the end, damaging it very considerably. Now we are going to put the coping stone, as it were, to all that work.
This is a measure in which we are asked to do the impossible because, as  a result of this legislation, we will be trying to find supermen in this country. Such men are not here or in any other country. The so-called supermen in local or national affairs are the people who very often delegate their functions to their subordinates and then take the credit for the work of the subordinates. I do not think there are any supermen to be found for local government any more than for any other sphere of activity. These people are just a collection of ordinary mortals, with their failings, prejudices, likes and dislikes. I think it is a very dangerous policy to hand over such extremely wide powers into the hands of any one individual.
It is an extraordinary thing that such a measure as this should be introduced here by the members of a Party who so strongly opposed the idea when they were in opposition. It shows that there is something in the claim of the man in the street who regards many of the activities of this House with derision and scorn because he thinks there is nothing but a good deal of hypocrisy behind many of the activities of public representatives here. This is a reactionary measure. It is a bad Bill on the face of it. It is a Bill that is going to bring hardship and suffering on the poor. In any county, even in a small county, no one individual, no matter how many minor officials he may have to assist him, can do justice to the poor in the matter of home assistance, hospital accommodation and the needs ever present at the doors of the poor.
There is definitely a case to be made for a full inquiry into local government, as asked for in the amendment. The Poor Law Commission that has been referred to asked many years ago for reforms that even at that period were overdue. I will give as examples the segregation of epileptics, the care and treatment of unmarried mothers and the segregation of the various classes that are now herded into county homes. In many cases the conditions are such as to make those institutions more forbidding and more miserable than the old workhouses to which we were accustomed. These are the things that the Department of Local Government ought to be concerned with. They should endeavour to remove the blots  that exist so far as the care of the poor is concerned. Matters of that kind are much more important and more urgent than this particular measure.
There can be no case made for this Bill except that it indicates a feeling of irritation because of local criticism. It may be that the Minister and his friends dislike criticism. Of course, this measure would be a very effective instrument to stifle local criticism or local feeling on any public matter. I do not think the Minister will accept the suggestion of Deputy Norton that the consideration of the Bill should be postponed pending a full inquiry. The Bill may pass, but I believe that some time in the future, and perhaps not so very far away, Irishmen will regret the introduction of this Bill and, public feeling spurring them on, their activities will be directed towards arranging a system of local government in this country that will be capable of being worked with sympathy and with fairness and with that spirit of humanity and understanding for the poor that ought to be the foundation of sound local government.
Mr. Brennan: If there are any Deputies here who came in with an open mind on this Bill, they have got very little in the way of information from either the Minister or Deputy Norton. I do not think that I have ever heard two worse speeches either for or against a Bill. Neither one nor the other gave us any details as to the reasons why the Bill should be passed or the reasons why the Bill should not be passed. We are left just as we were.
I did expect that when the Minister was putting his case to the House he would endeavour to inform the House of some disabilities that exist at the present time amongst local authorities. But he did not. Not one solitary word did he tell us. In fact, the little he did tell us has cooled my ardour in support of the Bill. For instance, he told us that there is another Bill following which will, apparently, reduce the membership of the county councils. That is an extraordinary thing. The difficulty about this Government is that you never know where you are when they bring in Bills. We had the Public  Assistance Bill some time ago which proposed to set up local committees to look after public assistance and so on, but it could not operate until this Bill came in. Now this Bill is introduced and it cannot operate until we get another, and we are all in the dark as to what the new Bill is going to be. If we are going to have restricted membership of the county councils I certainly am going to oppose it. When I read that Bill, knowing what I do about local authorities and knowing the absolute necessity for some machinery to assist local authorities at the present time in effectively and efficiently carrying out their duties, I was prepared to support the Bill, but I think the Minister ought now to take the House into his confidence and tell us why he thinks it is necessary to reduce representation on county councils. It does seem an extraordinary thing that when he is going to hand over all the work, particularly of the board of health, to a manager, at the same time he is going to reduce the membership of the county councils.
I thought it was a very poor and weak argument of Deputy Norton when he quoted the speeches delivered by Fianna Fáil on the Cork City Management Bill. Of course, Fianna Fáil have a very happy knack of going back on everything they ever said, but, even so, if a man opposed a Bill at a particular time and after some experience of its operation is now quite convinced that it is right, that is, possibly, a very good argument for the Bill. Deputy Norton mentioned the Poor Law Commission of 1925, that that Commission was set up for the specific purpose of inquiring into the condition of the poor and the needy, the widows and the unmarried mothers and so on, that it was not their job to report on a Bill of this type. But, at the same time, notwithstanding that, they did so report or, at least, apparently, did report, that under the existing circumstances, the poor and needy could not be looked after. In that case it is much more striking evidence that they did give such an opinion than if they were set up for the purpose.
I do not at all agree with Deputy Murphy that there is any person in the  country at the present time who can say that he thinks this Bill is brought in to do away with bribery and corruption. There is no bribery or corruption in the country now. There could not possibly be since the settingup of the Local Appointments Commission. We ought to hear less of that sort of thing. It is not to the credit of this House or to the credit of the country for anybody to talk about it.
Mr. Brennan: No, oh no. What I have always felt about the position is that at the present time local authorities are hopelessly over-loaded with work—hopelessly over-loaded. I do not think that the Bill that is before the House is going to be ideal. I do not think that it is going to be perfect, but I do think it is going to give us a better and more efficient machine for dealing with local government. I do not at all agree that the Bill is taking away local government. As far as I am concerned, I have not any desire to appoint officials. I would be very glad to see somebody attending to the work, determining what shall be paid to the officials and where they shall be put in their particular offices. I do not want to do it and I think I have as much and as close experience of local authority work as any member in this House.
In regard to the board of health: I am a member of the Board of Health in Roscommon. Deputy Murphy has  mentioned certain matters that ought to be attended to by the Department of Local Government, such as more attention to the poor, the segregation of different parties and so on. I entirely agree with Deputy Murphy in that. That ought to be done, and that is one of the reasons why I am backing the Bill. We cannot do it. Ten laymen, meeting once a fortnight to consider 40, 50 or 60 items in four or five hours on a Saturday afternoon, are not able to do that. We try as best we can to do it. In order to finish the work, when it comes to seven or eight o'clock in the evening, after sitting, possibly, for six or seven hours, I have often seen the work being parcelled out to members. That is not efficient administration. You cannot have efficiency in that way. If Deputy Norton or the Labour Party believe that this Bill is taking away all the democratic principles we had in local authorities, they have not shown it. Nobody has shown it.
Mr. Brennan: Deputy Norton quoted something the Taoiseach said. I am sure I am not going to stand up for the Taoiseach. He can do that for himself, or his Ministers can do it. But Deputy Norton spoke of certain references of the Taoiseach with regard to the power of the purse.
Mr. Brennan: If we were as intelligent as Deputy Corry we would, but, of course, we cannot all be as intelligent as he is. If I believed for one moment that this Bill was all that Deputy Norton or Deputy Murphy painted it, I would not support it. There is no reason why I should. I think it has its faults, and I am certainly going to move amendments to it, but I think it is going to provide this country with a better vehicle, a more efficient machine, for carrying out the  duties which are imposed upon local authorities than the present system affords.
I do not agree with this Bill where it provides for the appointment of assistant managers. I think it is contradictory. It seems an extraordinary thing to me that while the Minister thinks that two counties can be grouped together under one manager, at the same time, he thinks there ought to be assistant managers. That appears to me to be very inconsistent.
(2) Where the functional area of a joint body extends into two or more counties, the county manager for that one of those counties which the Minister shall by order appoint shall be also the manager for such joint body.
We come to the reserved functions. We come first to Section 21. I hold that Section 21 reserves to the local authority the democratic rights that it always had. Do you think that democracy is being interfered with by putting in some person to see that the poor and the needy are more adequately dealt with and that the laws passed by this House are better carried out? Every act of the manager must be inside the law, and we make the law. If these are to be the functions of the manager, then, in the words of a member of a local authority in my county, I do not see that a county manager is any more than what you might call a working foreman. That is about all he is.
Mr. Brennan: At present there is no permanent official of any local authority whose office can be terminated without the consent of the Minister. Here you have a new officer being appointed in the same way. His office cannot be terminated without the consent of the Minister. I do not see anything wrong in it.
Mr. Brennan: He may be more independent. Then there is the other side to it: that 20, 30 or 40 men, as the case may be, unpaid elected representatives of the people come in to try to do the business of the people. They are free to do it in whatever way they like inside the law, and except they do something which means a surcharge on themselves they suffer no loss. It is not so with the county manager; he may lose his job. The council can fire him, with the consent of the Minister, the same as they can fire the secretary. He has to do his job.
Mr. Brennan: I will be as vocal as I am to-night. I do not mind whether I have the support of anybody in my view or not. As a matter of fact, Deputies on this side of the House are very acutely divided on the matter. Possibly I am standing alone in this matter. I am convinced that something ought to be done to put some efficient machine into the hands of the people—and I am saying the people— to do their work. It is all very well for people in public positions like ourselves to shout from the housetops that this is not democracy. There are very few people down the country saying it.
Deputy Norton told us about the Dublin Corporation and the Cork Municipal Council. I would be very interested to see a referendum taken of the citizens of both cities in the matter; but I suppose I will not have the privilege of seeing that. I would be very interested to see how it would work out. I would be equally interested to see what the ratepayers of the country think at the present time of this Bill or the continuation of the local authorities, because everybody knows that the work has become so heavy that the details of the work are not carried out.
I cannot compliment the Minister on his manner of introducing the Bill. He has not said a single word which will convince anybody that the Bill ought to be passed. He has, as Deputy Norton said, introduced it in a very half-hearted way. Perhaps he intends to abandon it. Perhaps he will put it on the shelf like the Valuation Bill. It may be all a bit of show. I think it is up to some member of the Government to make a better case for the Bill before it is put up to a vote. There has been no case made for it from the Government side. It deserves to have a case made for it. In my opinion a good case can be made for it; but it has not been made. Such as it is, I believe it is an improvement on what we have, and I am supporting the Bill. There are certain sections in it with which I do not agree. Certain amendments ought to be introduced and I hope to introduce some amendments. But, on the whole, I am accepting the Bill as something better than we have.
Mr. D. Bourke: I have been a member of the Limerick Corporation for the past 20 years—15 years under the old local government system and five under the city manager system. I must confess that for the past five years we have got on very well. We could not have a better or a more democratic local government system than we  have in Limerick. We have every power that we had under the old system. I served as a member of the Limerick Corporation under two managers and two acting managers and I found that the four of them were democrats who were anxious to help every member of the corporation, and who did everything possible to carry out the administrative work of the corporation properly. They were helped by the members of the corporation. I agree with everything that Deputy Brennan said. The old corporation, who were willing to do their work, were not able to do it. We had 40 members in the old Limerick Corporation. In the new corporation we have 15, and we get on splendidly and do the work promptly and efficiently.
Dr. O'Higgins: I think it is true to say that, irrespective of the views of any one of us with regard to this Bill, whether we are for it or against it, we are here this evening participating in, perhaps witnessing the passing of local government in this country in the popularly accepted sense. We have had that form of local government in the country for the best part of 40 years. Most of us here were children when local government was first conceded to this country. I remember myself, as a child, together with children of neighbours, demonstrating at the election of the first nationalist county councillor in the village to which I belong. Every nationalist, young and old, at that time, even though some suspected it as being a bribe, regarded it as being a definite advance with regard to the rights of the people. An old régime was beginning to pass away and a really nationalist and democratic régime was beginning to appear.
That is nearly 40 years ago, and local government in that popular sense has had ups and downs ever since. There have been good councils, middling councils, and bad councils, but all the  time, taking one thing with another, the people of this country have a lot to be thankful for, and some little tribute should be paid to those men and women who constituted the various public boards. It is comparatively simple nowadays, with the coming of the bus and the motor car, but local government throughout the country was carried on in the same brave spirit when the best conveyance anybody had was a horse and an open trap. In those days not even expenses were given to the members.
When we end a régime like that, of voluntary unpaid public service, at least a very good case should be made for doing so. I do not think the Minister threw his back into the job to-day. Whether the present Minister spoke as Minister or as an Opposition Deputy from these benches, he is one of those who always made an impressive case mildly and convincingly. He never went in for overstressing a point or exaggerating a case, but he always made an impression on his audience. It is rarely I pay compliments across the floor, but that compliments is sincerely intended The only occasion that I was not impressed by the Minister was this evening. I was rather anxious to be impressed, for this reason, that when I read the Bill first I read it with the mind of an official and, as an official, I did regard it—and still regard it—as a very sound Bill. If our only outlook is greater efficiency and more economy, then I believe this is a good instrument by which to bring that about. I believe that under this Bill, in nine counties out of ten, we will, at least, have greater efficiency and greater economy. If those are the only things that count, and the only things to be considered, then this is the way to do it.
In that frame of mind, I visited my constituency, consisting of two counties, and got groups of people together to listen to me and my arguments. I also listened to them and their arguments, and I considered their point of view, and little by little, while adhering to my views with regard to efficiency and economy, I began to think that there were other things which had to be considered. I put it  somewhat like this, provided you can find one good wholetime man, with his expert officials he will run any county better than any existing council or board of health. If that is to be the only argument by all means put this Bill through. It is equally true to say, that if we could find the right man the work of the State would be run better by one highly efficient and expert person than by the 140 Deputies and Ministers. But, would that be sufficient argument for adopting such a course?
How many would come and vote for the dissolution of Dáil Eireann, and for the appointment of a single individual, even though we knew the country would be run more economically and more efficiently? Would we not be told we were taking an awful plunge, that while one man might be a good man his successor might be a very bad man, and at all events, whether we got a good or a bad man, the people would say “we are giving up the power of control.” We may be for or against this Bill. I have discussed it time and again with my friend and colleague Deputy Brennan, and taking one thing with the other he is for the Bill, and taking one thing with the other, I am opposed to the Bill.
I am opposed to the Bill, in spite of the fact that I am making anyone a present of my belief, that there will be a certain amount of economy and a higher degree of efficiency in the administration of most counties but, as against that, there will be a considerable loss in the way of public interest, public support and public sympathy. I think the case made at present, for a man paying his rates as carefully as any of us pay anything, will be to a great extent lacking, when you put it into that man's mouth to say: “I am deprived even of the right to control the expenditure of the money that I subscribe.” I think further on in this Bill, and it is a detail, the proposal to group certain counties is a mistake. That is portion of the Bill that can be better dealt with in Committee. If we are to launch on this particular type of machinery, it is better to leave every county to stand alone. The Bill is unpopular  with the ordinary people in most counties. It is particularly unpopular in counties that are linked, one with another. When people view a map they may think, from the administrative point of view, that it is highly suitable to link up this county with that county, as they are lying alongside each other, and their economy is very much alike but, in nine cases out of ten, the mere fact of one county lying alongside another means that there is historical animosity between people on one side of the frontier and the other. It may have originated in sport or in that kind of country service where the headquarters is on one side of the line or the other. I know that I do not envy the person who has the job of trying to run in double harness certain counties linked together under this Bill.
I consider, further, that if a Bill of this kind has to be passed, the shorter the interval between its passing and implementing the better. In its present form the date of its operation is not stated. From the time the Bill is passed until the present councils are replaced by managers, you are going to have a state of administrative paralysis through the whole Twenty-Six Counties. If this Bill is going to be passed—and I accept the fact that it is going to be passed—then the coming into force of the managerial system should be at the very earliest moment.
I have heard arguments in the country for and against this Bill. Most of the arguments advanced against the councils are rather unjust. I have heard people advocate a Bill such as this on the ground that councils and local public representatives were corrupt. We have individuals corrupt in every walk of life, from the hamlet to the palace, but I charge that if that is true against a very odd individual, it is unfair to level it against the masses. Local boards, county councils, district councils, boards of guardians, corporations, urban councils and town commissioners have been there for 40 years, and the cases which any of us can call to mind of graft or corruption are  very, very few. Because of these few, to brand the whole lot of them is, to say the least of it, unjust.
Officials now and then have been found to be corrupt. Parliamentarians now and then have been found to be corrupt. It is not even unknown for Government Ministers to be found corrupt. It would be a damaging national suggestion to hint that, because a few officials have been found corrupt, because a few Parliamentarians have been found corrupt, or because a few Government Ministers have been found corrupt, all are corrupt and the whole system should be abolished. We took power long ago to abolish councils found to be negligent in carrying out their business. If there is a really sound case for this Bill, then there was a sound case long ago for more extensive abolition of county councils. The fact that we have abolished, inside 15 years, only four or five councils is in itself evidence that, in the opinion of Executive Councils, two differently constituted from the political point of view, all the other public boards in the country have been carrying out their duties efficiently. If they have been carrying out their duties efficiently, then it certainly weakens the case for this Bill.
One of the counties in which it was my business, as a Deputy, to take opinions was a county which has, I might say, groaned under the managerial system for the past five years. I had come from the other county, Offaly, and in Offaly, to my surprise, I found that nobody would agree to support this Bill. I said to a friend who accompanied me: “It will be different to-morrow when we go to Laoighis.” I spent the whole day meeting people in small groups, by appointment, and, to my surprise, opinion in Laoighis was more decidedly against the managerial system than it was in Offaly, based on the fact that they had experience of the managerial system for five years. I invited one after the other to make his case. There was no suggestion that the commissioner was unfair or unjust. There was a certain amount of gratitude expressed that the rate in that particular county had not gone up to the extent it had gone up in other counties. But the general case made  was that the humble individual in that county did not count one bit when there was a central machine operating. My own correspondence as a Deputy with the Minister's Department would indicate that, in these counties, there is more necessity for appealing to a Deputy to intervene on behalf of wretchedly-housed people than in counties where you have the popularly elected representatives managing affairs. I have to write five letters of that type on business from Leix for every one I have to write on behalf of people in Offaly.
It may be argued—it was very fully argued by Deputy Brennan—that you still have your council. I wonder how long we are going to have the council under this Bill. It may be argued that in the Cities of Dublin, Cork and Limerick you have managed to retain the councils, although you have managers. There is not the same necessity for continuous contact between the individual and the machine in a city as there is in a county where people live miles away from the hub of things. The city manager or any of his officials has only to take a penny tram to get to the extremes of his bailiwick, to visit any slum area or to inspect any case that has been reported on as being wretchedly housed. In five minutes they can visit such a case, and come back and make up their minds.
But take an extensive county with a county manager sitting in the centre, with his officers — well-intentioned, hard-working officials—around him and with the whole county to cover. There is not the same intimate touch or the same close contact between the individual and the hub of the machine. Whether we are for or against this Bill, for or against this type of machinery, every one of us has found that in areas where the commissioner was acting instead of a council the ordinary person with a grievance had not the same machinery for getting that grievance looked into as he would have in a county where a council was operating. Personally, I think that it was possible to keep councils in the cities because councillors had very short distances to travel. It did not cost them a lot of  time to get to a meeting of the council, where their powers were certainly very limited.
I am extremely doubtful that you will get suitable candidates to stand for election to county councils at the second election after this Bill is operating in the country. Men stand for election and sit on our county councils at present because they have a highly-developed sense of civic responsibility, because there is very important work to be done, because they represent one point of view or another, and because they feel that, if they “let down” on the job, all the class they represent will be let down, and badly let down. Taking one thing with another, all the time down during the 40 years the very best elements and the most representative individuals amongst our people have come forward to give that type of service. What is the stimulus for them to keep coming forward? Roughly speaking, you may divide our county councillors into those who represent the workers and the unemployed, those who represent the ratepayers, and those who represent middle interests. Irrespective of politics, you may divide every county council into those three classes, and the best representatives of those three classes come forward to represent the interests behind them and to play a really important rôle in representing such interests. In order to do that, they travel 20 and 30 miles twice monthly in all weathers in order to attend council meetings. If you vest all those powers in a county manager, or practically all of them, if you give powers to strike a rate, to borrow money, or to confer the freedom of the county on a distinguished individual when he comes along, do not you know very well—does not the Minister know very well—the type of county council he is going to get after the second next election? It will not be worth the while of any determined and representative person to come into a kind of harmless, social assembly where they will pass the time——
Dr. O'Higgins: ——in anything you like. I suppose they have got to keep  talking, if only in order to keep the local reporter in his job, but they will be without any effect, without any punch, and without any authority or power. Let us say that the Bill is going to bring about greater efficiency and economy. That is the main case for the Bill, and in hard times that is a case that cannot be passed over lightly. That is the main importance of this Bill, and the success of this Bill, from that point of view, is in exact propertion to the amount of central authority you give to the manager. If that is the view of the Minister and of his advisers, I do not see any point in trying either to delude the Dáil or to delude the people behind us by keeping the remnants of a council that you have kept. We are going to run the counties and the urban areas in the future by a manager and so many officials. From a strictly financial point of view, I believe that will be good, but do not try to delude anybody that you are keeping a county council. You are keeping a county council with enough work, really, to keep them going hard for one hour per annum. I do not believe that you will get suitable people to work, or that suitable people will be forthcoming, as I say, after the second next election, but let us remember that there is no argument that has been used or that can be used in favour of this Bill to appoint a manager and abolish councils that cannot be used in favour of the abolition of this Assembly and its replacement by one individual appointed by the Appointments Commission. Any one of us knows the answer that such a suggestion would get if it were seriously brought in here, but the answer it would get from us here would be an honest answer, given by honest, outraged, nationalist democrats, and that is the answer we are getting at the present moment when we approach our constituents and ask them to support a Bill of this kind.
I believe that, at least for the time being, we should go slow with this type of legislation. The world, generally, is sufficiently upset and turbulent at the present moment without creating any further internal trouble or turmoil,  even of a minor kind. There are too many democracies either disappearing or in danger of disappearing, without our stepping in to destroy what appears to country people to be their mouth-piece and their democratic institution. Now, let us remember this. This State is about 17 years old. There was never a democratic state that came into being, to my knowledge, at least, after as long and as painful an effort to secure it. Countless generations before us struggled and sighed for the day when an Irish self-governed, democratic State would come into being. It came into being in our lifetime, and I think it is true to say that, nearly from the very day it came into being, irrespective of political complexions, one Government after the other has been slowly but progressively taking back the powers from the people and getting them into central control.
It may be that each one of these Acts, by which power was taken from the people and vested in the central officers, made for greater efficiency and more economy, but both ourselves, in our day, and the people who went before us, appreciated the fact that there were other things in the life of a nation that mattered, sometimes even more than efficiency and economy; that there were some things, in every State, that carried a higher value than pounds, shillings and pence; and one of the firmest grounds on which either home or industry or State can be founded is on the joint shoulders and through the joint efforts of all the members of the family, of the business, or of the State.
The more we tend to become a bureaucracy, no matter how highly efficient, and the more we are digging a deep trench between the central Government and the masses of ratepayers and taxpayers—the more we centralise, in other words—the more we breed suspicion and distrust; and the more we take control away from the ordinary plain people, who are financing the whole lot of us, the more we undermine, in the long run, the institutions of this State. Now, in case anyone might think that I am talking merely as a politician, merely in opposition to the Bill because it is introduced  from the other side of the House, I say that—without counting heads and having argued the pros and cons of this Bill in our own committee rooms—I think, if a count of heads were taken, the majority of the members of this Party and the majority of the members of this Front Bench would be in favour of the Bill. Perhaps there are points to be made for it. As an official myself, seeing the local government machine working, not from the outside in but from the inside out, I am more convinced than any of them that this Bill is a Bill designed, and likely to secure, greater efficiency and financial saving. At the same time, as an ordinary individual, a representative of all classes of people, like any other Deputy here, I firmly believe that in the long run we will lose more than we may gain by this type of legislation.
Dr. Hannigan: I wish to express myself in favour of the amendment tabled by the members of the Labour Party. Deputy Norton, in the course of his remarks, read extracts from speeches of members of the Government when they were in Opposition—extracts from speeches made on the Cork and Dublin Managerial Bill. Deputy Norton made no attempt to embellish or colour or apply any décor to those things. He relied on the arguments contained in the statements themselves to drive home his point of view. I propose to follow his very wise example in that regard, being perfectly satisfied, from the statements which he read for us to-night, that they contained a clear, logical and precise condemnation of the managerial system, inasmuch as it is clearly and definitely a departure from the principles of government and control.
I listened with some interest to Deputy Bourke, who, I think, is Mayor of Limerick; and I was rather surprised that he should press for the managerial system. I know Deputy Bourke; I know him to be an upright, and fine sort of man, the type of man who ought to be mayor of an old city like Limerick; but I am afraid that, in dealing with this question, he is slightly confusing the issue and is mixing up the managerial system itself  with the question of a good manager. They happen to have a good manager in Limerick. I think Deputy Bourke is in error in ascribing the successful working of the system in Limerick to the system itself. We have, in fact, the same type of management here, and any member of the Dublin Corporation will admit that the system is working excellently in Dublin. That is due to two facts: first of all, to the fact that we had three successful and very efficient managers, and a very good corporation. As I say, I do not for one moment believe that the efficient administration of local authorities, where the managerial system is working, is due to any inherent or intrinsic virtues of the system itself. It is due rather to the efficient manager. I would be very surprised if certain members of the Fianna Fáil Party walked into the division lobbies in support of this Bill, as I know that there is not a single member of that Party who is a member of the corporation and who has not, within the last five years, on more than one occasion, condemned outright the managerial system. I see my good old friend, Deputy Alderman Breathnac——
Dr. Hannigan: ——and would very much like to know what his views are. Deputy O'Higgins struck a note which will appeal to most of us. He indicated the line of thought which I think a great many members of this House are following, and that is, that the introduction of the managerial system on such a widespread basis is simply an attempt to make absolute dictatorship in local administration.
That is not altogether the worst feature. Whilst dictatorship in matters of local administration may be sufficiently bad in itself, it carries the more serious possibility that, at some time in the not very distant future, we may be examining a Bill setting up a dictatorship in central government. This is a most inopportune time to introduce a Bill of this kind. The Government has already fortified itself with all sorts of powers—they are called emergency powers, I think, but I am  not sufficiently well versed in parliamentary language or words or acts to rightly describe what their powers are. Still, I do happen to know—as all of us know—that they have these extreme powers. Why on earth they should select a time like this to filch the last little piece of democratic control from local authorities I do not know. The only interpretation I can put on it is that which Deputy O'Higgins put on it. He went to that trouble, and I believe that, when he was indicating his point of view, he was not speaking as a politician, but was giving a fair and reasonable indication of what was in his mind in relation to this Bill.
I would like some of the members of the Dublin Corporation who are members of the Government Party to stand up and not be afraid to express their views about this measure. Let them not be afraid to say what is in their minds. Let gentlemen like Deputy Dr. Ward—reputed to have all the mental equipment and attributes of a dictator —not be intimidated by me. Let them get up and say what they have to say.
Mr. Everett: I wish to support this amendment of Deputy Norton's. It is justified by the Minister's own statement of the changes in local government administration for the past ten years. In introducing this Bill, the Minister gave no indication of the changes which were likely to be effected in connection with the improvement of social services. He made no case showing any improvement that this Bill is going to have on the poor, on the administration of home assistance or on the management of county hospitals. The only suggestion was that, with the increasing expenditure and with administration having increased in public boards, he may appoint county managers. In the Bill he has provided that the secretaries of county councils will be the only persons eligible for appointment as county managers. We see in the Bill that there are provisions that the salary of county managers is likely to be £1,000 a year, with travelling expenses. Some of the secretaries of county councils have much more than that at the  present time, and it is not likely that they are going to apply, for the sake of the honour of resigning a position of £1,500 a year in order to take up a position at £1,000 a year with travelling expenses. In his argument, it is urged that the boards of health will be abolished, and that the county councils will appoint them. Is it not the councils appoint them at the present time? Under the old Bill the county councils elected a board of health, which was responsible for its administration to the county council. The board of health remains in power as representatives of the council until the estimates are passed and until various reasons are given why certain expenses were incurred.
Mr. Everett: There is no argument put forward by the Government Party that it is going to reduce the rates. There is going to be greater efficiency, Deputy Brennan says, but it is greater efficiency with a greater expenditure. I know one council at least which gets letters from the Department complaining of the inadequate rate they strike, and suggesting that they should strike a higher rate as recommended by the secretary of the county council. Simply because they refuse to strike a high rate submitted by the secretary, they are reprimanded by the Department. The position in this Bill will be that the county manager will be the “yes-man” of the Department. He will have to carry out the orders of the Department and, therefore, the rate will be the rate passed by the county manager. It can be held up for a fortnight under the Bill, but that is as much as will happen.
Deputy Hannigan referred to this as an Emergency Bill. I can see ways by which, if this Bill is passed, it will be possible for men to bring about chaos in local administration, and, at the same time, keep themselves clear of being brought in under the Emergency Powers Act. I can assure the Minister that if he takes away all the rights, there are men who will bring local administration into ridicule. It is very  easy for a number of men in each area to show up the Government in regard to administration and leave the responsibility to the county manager. The one great concession which the Minister says a public board will have will be the right to appoint the rate collector, who will collect the high rates ordered by the county manager. That is the one privilege which a public board will have under the county manager scheme. I, for one, give the Minister a promise that should this Bill pass, and all power be taken away from public bodies, he will want a good many county managers to carry out the administration of some of the counties, and I will keep clear of the Government's emergency powers. We will be able to bring chaos into the whole administration of the county manager system because I can see nothing in it but transferring the job of the secretary to the county manager. He will be 30 or 40 miles away from the headquarters of the board of health, and he will go once a month, and accept the instructions of the officials of the board of health. Under these circumstances, he may order a big reduction in home assistance.
Then he comes to the urban areas. He has been for 20 or 30 years dealing with rural administration, and you ask him to take charge of urban areas. For that privilege a proportion of his salary will be spread over urban areas which, in some cases, are unable to pay more than £400 a year to their secretaries or clerks. To my knowledge the clerks of these councils are all capable men, and you are now going to have them “bossed” by a county manager whose outlook will be a rural outlook and quite the opposite of what may be required in a town. For that privilege, the ratepayers in urban areas are going to pay an extra rate. That is the only privilege they are going to get because public representatives, no matter from what Party they are drawn, are most conservative in the expenditure of rates. They are not men who will pass any wildcat scheme involving an increase in rates. In my own district, the larger number of the poor people are owners of their houses, and people  in urban areas are their own landlords, and, naturally, every increase in rates affects them very much. They are, therefore, the first to complain if the rates are increased, so that the rates are always kept comparatively low.
Now, we have the position that officials in the Department have taken out of the pigeon-holes an Act initiated and passed by Cumann na nGaedheal, opposed by the Minister and the Fianna Fáil Party, and criticised throughout the Twenty-Six Counties as undemocratic. It is to be put into operation now by Fianna Fáil, when Fianna Fáil has given the franchise to the younger generation. In giving them that franchise, great play was made with the democratic programme of giving the younger men the right to elect representatives to urban councils and county councils. Now, we are to have no county councils and no urban councils, so that there will be no chance for these men to vote. We talk of Hitlerism, but if ever there were complaints about Hitlerism, the people of this country now can well complain of the Hitlerism that is about to start in the Twenty-Six Counties. We condemn certain happenings in the Six Counties, but in the Six Counties, though they have done a lot, they have not gone so far as to deprive the poor people of representation on public boards. I agree with Deputy O'Higgins that you will not get representatives for public boards. You may try to select a few of your own partisans here and there, but they are getting fewer, and will be still fewer by the time this election comes. Even those men will have self-respect because large numbers of Fianna Fáil public representatives throughout the country have protested against the proposal and have stated that so far as their cumainn are concerned, they will prevent anybody from going forward. In that, they will have the co-operation of other sections of the community.
We come then to the mental hospitals. One joint hospital I know is in County Dublin and the representatives are from County Dublin, Dublin City and Wicklow. Assuming that the  county manager is from Wicklow, will he have the right to come up, once in a while, and give instructions to the three permanent officials in the Dublin hospital? With 3,700 patients there, a whole-time man is required for the position, and I understand that there are officials there who are second to none in any part of the country. A county manager who has been chiefly concerned with rural areas is to come up to advise the resident medical officer, clerks and secretaries of mental hospitals with 20 and 30 years' experience. How is he going to reduce expenditure in that way? I submit that it is unworkable. If the only purpose is to deprive the people of representation on public bodies, it is a wonderful Bill. Under it, poor people will have nobody whom they can approach to redress a grievance. What chance will a poor person looking for hospital treatment, or for assistance of any kind, have of getting an interview with the county manager? We know the difficulty at times of meeting even certain officials of local bodies, and what poor person will have any right of audience? There will be no representation for them because no man will take up the position of “yes-man” for the county manager, so that he can be blamed in public for the high rates, the appointment of the rate collector and the giving of authority to the sheriff to collect uncollected rates.
If this Bill passes in its present form, I can visualise what will be done. Instead of improving the position of administration in a particular county, certain men, not acting unconstitutionally at all, can bring about chaos and prevent the working of this system. I make no secret of it—I will do my part, if electors are not to have the right to appoint men. I have done it before and we will do it again, please God, and thus force the Government to see the weakness of the Bill. We will force them to realise that although they are the Government to-day, they should listen to the representatives of all Parties and especially to men in their own Party who have experience in public administration, who understand  the position and who have no axe to grind other than that of saving the people and saving the Government from itself. If this scheme is brought into operation, what will happen in this instance to-day may happen in other instances to-morrow. As I have pointed out, you will have one man in charge who will have the right to appoint an assistant to himself. He will be county manager and county secretary. We all know the way in which the commissioners worked. As already stated here, they were not super-men. They got the town clerks to do their work in many cases and, after a while, the commissioner system was allowed to lapse. The same thing may happen in this instance. The county manager, of course, will have a motor car and he will have to be allowed travelling expenses for that. He must have assistants and a special staff and that will undoubtedly lead to increased expenditure. There has been some criticism of increased expenditure by public boards in the past but that increased expenditure was not due to any mismanagement on the part of these public boards. It was simply due to the fact that they were made responsible for extra services such as main roads, trunk roads, county medical services, and hospital administration of various kinds. If there was any justification needed for Deputy Norton's amendment, it was the case made by the Minister himself and the fact that in areas where this system has been brought into operation it has led to increased expense. The Minister has been unable to quote any case of the failure of administration due to neglect by local bodies in the last 20 years since district councils and boards of guardians were abolished. We all know that district councils and boards of guardians were abolished more from political motives than anything else. Has there been complete failure or has there been any improvement in public administration since?
I never knew of a case such as Deputy Brennan suggested happened under the Board of Health in County Roscommon. I say from experience that public officials generally are men who have the confidence of the officials  of the Department, and there would be very few mistakes made by the officials of local bodies before they would be drawn over the coals by the officials of the Department.
I have seen no such widespread maladministration, as has been suggested by some other Deputies, arising from the fact that certain work is thrown over on officials. They are doing that work without the extra salaries that will have to be paid to a county manager and his assistants. Why did the Minister not say in the Bill what these salaries were going to be? Was he afraid that some secretaries of county councils would refuse to take up these positions? Is he not aware of the salaries paid to county council secretaries at present? Why are you going to increase their salaries in some cases and leave them there?
Again, the county councils cannot suspend the manager or secretary. Would Deputy Brennan state any instance in his experience in which, no matter how hostile a council or a board was to an official, they voted for the removal from office of that official? Certain influences are always brought to bear in cases of that kind. I do not suggest that a county manager might do away with funds or be guilty of any serious misdemeanour of that kind, but he might be up against certain members present at a meeting. It will scarcely be suggested that these members would be justified in seeking to suspend him, because he was carrying out the powers given to him under the Act. I do not think any public man would seek to remove a manager from office simply for carrying out the duties imposed on him under the Act.
I submit that there will be less work done in the interests of the people under this scheme than heretofore, for the reason that the county manager will seek to cut down home assistance and to cut down expenditure in connection with the treatment of people in hospitals. That will not be at all to the advantage of poor people. He may carry out economies in certain directions, but they will be false economies. I suggest to the Minister, who made a great speech against the Cork Management Bill some years ago,  that even now, when he has the responsibility of office, his views cannot have changed very considerably, and that he should not be responsible for bringing forward this reactionary measure under which the last rights of the people are to be taken away. The Minister may try to whitewash the Bill any way he likes. He may try to make excuses around the country, and while there may be a clamour by certain individuals, who could not get elected for the most insignificant ward in an urban area, for this Bill, they will be the only people who will support the Minister on this Bill. I submit that if the Minister and his Party were looking for the votes of people who are now clamouring for the abolition of councils, at the time of an election, he would very likely be disappointed. Having heard the views of all Parties in the House, I suggest that the Minister would be taking the best course in the interests of the people by accepting the amendment of Deputy Norton, and leaving the matter over for inquiry. If the Government go forward with this Bill they will do so with their eyes open. It is not going to achieve the purpose that they suggest, because in certain counties I guarantee that chaos will be brought about as a result of this Bill.
Mr. P.J. Fogarty: I suggest to the Minister that before this Bill becomes law he should give very careful consideration to the views expressed by every Deputy in this House. I have listened very carefully to Deputy Dr. O'Higgins, Deputy Everett, and Deputy Dr. Hannigan. I happen to be associated on various public boards with some of these Deputies. I happen to be a member of some boards of which Deputy Dr. Hannigan and Deputy Everett are also members, and I say that I welcome at least 90 per cent. of this Bill. I have a very long experience of local administration in County Dublin—a longer experience than that of Deputy Dr. Hannigan and at least equally as long as that of Deputy Everett. I happened to be elected under the old poor law system as a member of a board of guardians. I was not the statutory age at the time, but my name happened to be on  the register. I was elected as a poor law guardian and a district councillor, and I can say that I have experience of years and years of corruption and bribery in public life. That state of affairs exists up to the present day. It is only about a week since my friend, Deputy Belton, and myself were at a meeting of a public board, and after listening to some of the things he heard there, Deputy Belton said: “Well, I was going to vote against the County Management Bill, but after this I think I will vote for it.” The Deputy cannot deny that. I can understand Deputy Hannigan's objection to the Bill, because he has a fairly close connection with the activities of bodies like the Dublin Board of Assistance. We had Deputy Everett of the Labour Party talking about Hitlerism, about running away with democracy, and saying that the poor would not be given any consideration under a county managership, and all that kind of tripe. I have been a democrat all my life. I am a supporter of democracy. I have been a supporter of Labour on all the public bodies I have been associated with, without being a member of the Labour Party. But there is nothing as bad in the country at the present day as trade unionism.
Mr. Fogarty: Trade unionism has gone to this extent that the Farmers' Federation have now applied for membership. Deputy Everett cannot deny the fact that the Farmers' Federation have applied for membership to the Trade Union Congress.
Mr. Fogarty: It is not. I suggest to the Minister that he is giving too much authority in this Bill to the county managers. I take objection to the section which deals with the appointment of the first county  manager. It is plain from the section that the position is not to be left open. In fact, it is made very plain that the county secretaries will be appointed the first county managers.
Mr. Fogarty: Is there any county council in Ireland, or any other local authority, in which the secretary has not his brothers, his uncle and every relation down to his third cousins in? I put it to the Minister that he should examine that section very carefully, and that the appointments as first county managers should not be left to the secretaries?
Mr. Fogarty: I will tell you. A great deal has been said here about the wonderful work done by the city manager in Cork, the city Manager in Limerick, the borough manager in Dun Laoghaire, and the city manager in Dublin, but let me remind Deputies that none of these men was an official of the body of which he is now manager. The present city manager in Cork was brought down there from Drogheda; the manager in Limerick was brought from somewhere else; the manager in Dun Laoghaire was brought up from Limerick, and if you want to give a fair cut of the whip to every individual, then you should not appoint the existing county secretaries as the first county managers. It may be all right for Deputies to make a little bit of a joke about that.
Mr. Fogarty: As I have said, I have been a member of public bodies in the County Dublin for a period of 16 years, and I know exactly what has happened. In connection with this managership system, a great deal of credit has been given to the men in Cork, Limerick, Dun Laoghaire and elsewhere, but I say that is due to the fact that these men had not previously occupied positions as officials under the bodies with  which they are now connected. Deputy Hannigan said a lot in opposition to the Bill and made a call to democracy to oppose it. I say that if there is to be any chance for an individual to get a job, for the son of the working man that Deputy Everett represents, or for any other person to get a job, it will be through the operation of a Bill of this kind.
Mr. Fogarty: I again suggest to the Minister that he should give careful consideration to the section dealing with the appointment of the first county managers. I know it will be a very hard matter to deal with, in view of the fact that those officials are already in office as county secretaries or as secretaries to boards of health. We heard Deputies protest about the way authority is being filched from the public representatives. While Deputies get up and talk in that manner, I can say, speaking from my experience as a member of public bodies for 16 years, that public representatives are being gulled every other day because, although jobs are advertised, they are filled before the advertisements are issued.
Mr. Fogarty: Take the County and City of Dublin. Will any Deputy get up and tell me how many councillors' sons, daughters and relations have got jobs in the city, shutting out the sons and daughters of ratepayers and workers, who have just as much intelligence as those who got the positions? If no Deputy will get up and tell me that, I can reel off the names if Deputies wish to hear them. I know the sons and daughters of councillors who have got those jobs. Up to the introduction of this Bill, the system of local government that we had in the country was, to put it in a nutshell: “You scratch me and I'll scratch you.”
Mr. Fogarty: It is. Things that have happened during the last week or so have forced me to give stronger support than I formerly felt to this Bill. With regard to the Opposition, I know that the majority of the members of that Party are in favour of this Bill, but simply because it is sponsored by the Government they are anti-Government. I suppose when I was on that side I was anti-Government, too, and opposed them. I am satisfied that the majority of the members of that Party honestly and conscientiously believe that this Bill is long overdue. The only point that I want to bring home to the Minister is this point dealing with the staff. The staff in the various county councils, when these county managers are set up, should be considered. All authority as regards the staff should not be handed over to the county managers.
General MacEoin: This Bill is a Bill that apparently has raised a fair amount of controversy all over the country, and I presume that that controversy is due in no small degree to the tactics of the Government in the recent past. When I say the recent past I mean within the last ten or 15 years. I have a distinct recollection of the last local elections in the country. In the course of these elections Fianna Fáil invited the electorate to give them county councils and local authorities that would give effect to the Government's plans, proposals and schemes for the betterment of the country. I have also quite as clear a recollection that when these elections were over the Government hailed the result as a very great victory. The people were lauded for giving them a majority in every county council in Ireland except one. Sligo, I think, was the one exception.
General MacEoin: Yes, every county council except three or four. The claim of the Government was that Fine Gael was defeated in these elections in nearly all counties. What I want to know is: what has happened since? Did those councils in which Fianna Fáil got a majority let the Government down? Did those councils refuse to carry out the plans, schemes and operations which the Government wanted carried out? I will be quite candid and say this: I would not like to say too much against this Bill for fear the Government may withdraw it. There is so much opposition to it from most of the supporters of the Government that I believe there is the danger that the Government will run away from it. We know that the Government has got into that habit. They have the habit of proposing something; they are going to do something to-day, but when they see any opposition they do the direct opposite on the following day. There is no doubt about it that some alteration is required in local government. There is some truth in the statement  ment made a moment ago and there is this fear: that Fianna Fáil will not give this a chance. It is true to say that if we were searching all over the country for an example as to why the managerial system should be introduced, we could not get a better one than we got in the exhibition by a member of a county council a few few minutes ago. Not only is he a man who has had 16 years' experience of local administration, but he gives us this exhibition this evening of his knowledge of local administration or administration of any description. Personally, I believe that the managerial system is a good system. But I believe also that if the county councils have failed to function properly, it is entirely due to the conduct of the Government and its supporters throughout the country. When I say the supporters of the Government, I mean the leaders of Fianna Fáil, the rank and file of the Fianna Fáil Deputies. I know that they do not mind what the ability of a candidate is. If he has not the particular Fianna Fáil label on him, they do not want him in any local authority.
General MacEoin: If it applies all round so much the worse for the country. I would be very sorry to see that a man could not be appointed to a position because he had a certain label round his neck even though he was a man of ability. I say that a man with ability who is prepared to give his time and experience to local administration should be elected no matter what the colour of his label is. There is no doubt about it that not only the Back Benchers of Fianna Fáil but the Front Benchers of Fianna Fáil appealed to the electors at the last election to give them the authority that would enable them to carry their plans into operation.
General MacEoin: Yes, and no. I assure the Deputy that I backed candidates, not only in my own county but in other counties as well, who were  not supporters of my Party. I supported them because of their ability and they got defeated. I do not think this Bill will improve the situation very much. We are not in a position fully to judge. The Minister has told us here, this evening, that he proposes to bring in a new Bill to show how the county councils are to be elected. I submit, Sir, that the two should run side by side, or that the election of the councils should be incorporated in this Bill, because otherwise we are only getting piece-meal legislation. We do not know what the position will be afterwards. If, when you introduced this Bill, you had also introduced the Local Election Bill, or whatever it is called, we could then see what your intentions were, but in his speech to-night all that the Minister said was that he proposed to introduce a Bill for the election of the councils at a later stage. Am I quoting the Minister correctly? Is not that correct?
General MacEoin: I submit, Sir, that in order to give us an opportunity of deciding on this measure the other Bill should have been introduced at the same time, letting the two run concurrently. I think, therefore, that this Bill is a “try-on,” and that when it has been debated here for a while and enough snowball amendments have been passed, the Government will run away from it. We have had samples of what has happened in Roscommon; at least we have been told in the Press that very prominent members of Fianna Fáil are declared to be opposed to this particular measure. I say, anyhow, that in order to give the House an opportunity of seeing what are the intentions of the Government, this other measure should have been introduced.
With regard to the Bill itself, I am in favour of it, because I think the position is bound to be better than it is at present. I regret to say that, because I think it is a pity that such a situation should have arisen, but in view of the circumstances I think there is nothing we can do but accept it. At least as far as I am concerned I accept the measure. I would do so much  more willingly if I knew when the council was to be elected, what the approximate number of its members was likely to be, what was the area for the panels, whether it was going to be a large area with two or three members elected from each district, and so on. Finally I should like to know if it is the Minister's intention to have the electorate the same as it is at present under the recent Act for the extension of the franchise.
The grouping of counties, I think, is rather a mistake. Where it is proposed to have an assistant to the manager, does that mean that in places like Longford-Westmeath the manager will reside in one place and can appoint an assistant for the other county? I should like to know exactly what the intentions are in that respect where those counties are grouped in the Schedule. I also think that that grouping is not a good one. The conditions in the farming communities of Longford and Westmeath are completely different. The manager who would be suitable for Westmeath in my opinion would not be a suitable person for Longford, because the circumstances and conditions of the community generally differ a good deal in the two counties. I am not going to go so far as to say that this Bill means the abolition of democracy. The councils where the managers have already been appointed are doing all right, and I think there is no reason in the world why they should not do well all over the country. There are several matters which will arise on the Committee Stage, and can be dealt with when that time comes. I am voting for the measure. I do not at all agree that it means the abolition of democracy, nor do I agree with the statement that the manager can be dismissed by the council or suspended by the council. He may be suspended by the council for an hour until he gets an opportunity of ringing up the Minister on the telephone, and then the suspension will cease. He cannot be suspended or dismissed except by the sanction of the Minister. If the Minister has recently appointed a manager and he is doing fairly well, grave  reason will have to be shown as to why he should be dismissed.
Mr. Hurley: I have listened very carefully to the Minister, and also to those who have supported this Bill, but they gave no definite reason for doing so. The Minister in his opening statement simply pointed out the various clauses of the Bill and explained to us what those clauses mean. I think the House wanted more than that. The House wanted to know exactly what is the reason for this very drastic step in local government administration, because it is a drastic step. We have read and heard of the struggle for local government in this country. We have read and heard of the system which that local government administration replaced, the old Grand Jury system, under which the ordinary people of this country had no voice whatever in local affairs. At the same time, as far as I know of the old Grand Jury system, it was administered by a number of individuals. It had certainly very grave faults, but there was a number of individuals running that system. Now we are going back to a system worse even than the Grand Jury system, because we are going to place the power of local government in the hands of one individual.
As somebody has already said, that individual must be a superman if he is to run effectively the affairs of a county, even of a small county, with all the other bodies which have been tacked on to the administration of that county. I submit, Sir, that there is no man in this country or in any other country who would come under that category. You may get an individual who would in some way come near that standard, but now you are setting about picking out 28 or 30 supermen to run local government in this country, because, no matter how you may camouflage it with regard to the local councils and with regard to the representation on those councils, the fact still remains that all the effective local government in the county will be done by the manager. I speak as one who has had experience of that system for the last nine years in Cork City, and I think I am in a rather more favourable  position in speaking on this Bill than many other Deputies in this House. There is a danger that, in speaking of the system, one may confuse it with the individual who runs the system. I want to speak strictly to the system. Deputy Dan Bourke told us that the system works admirably in Limerick, and pointed out to us that they had a very fine type of manager there.
That may be true of Dun Laoghaire, Dublin, Waterford, or even of Cork. In Cork we have had the good fortune, if you like to call it so, of having a manager who ran the system simply and solely as a system and did not take into consideration other points that might in some way make that system easier to run as regards the public representatives.
The Cork City Management Act introduced this system into the country. It was brought in by the Cumann na nGaedheal Government in 1928, and the first election took place in 1929. I happened to become a member of the Cork Corporation in 1930, very early in the operation of that system. At first a section of the people of Cork City, probably an influential section, welcomed that change in administration. It was generally believed that everything was to be done well by the superman who was appointed. The rates were to be cut down and improvements were to be made in various public works, in public lighting, and so on, and nobody counted the cost. After ten years of the working of that system it would be worth while for us, before we go further with this Bill, to inquire impartially into the progress of affairs there. I suggest it would be well worth while to have an impartial inquiry carried out, by any body the Minister cares to set up, into the working of that system in Cork. I will stake my reputation on this, that the Corporation of Cork unanimously will not be in favour of that system.
At first there were sections of the people and certain individuals elected to the corporation who were in favour of the system, but the Labour Party consistently opposed the Cork City Management Act. The Parliamentary representatives of the Party pointed  out that it was a negation of democracy, that it was taking out of the people's hands the right to govern themselves. Strange to say, that idea has since been taken up by other parties in the corporation, including members of the Fine Gael Party, who were so enthusiastic in welcoming the Act. Many members of the Fianna Fáil Party, supporters of the Government proposing the Bill, are now vehement in their denunciation of the ramifications of this system of local government.
Someone told us that efficiency and economy would be the hallmarks of this new system. As far as the Cork City Management Act is concerned, neither efficiency nor economy can be shown in its working over the last ten years. The rates are now 25/9 in Cork, and that is not a very high tribute to efficiency or economy. With regard to efficiency, certain things happened in Cork.
There was one incident which the Cork Corporation tried to bring before the Minister as a matter for a sworn inquiry. The manager purchased land and paid £3,600 for a site for the fever hospital. That site was afterwards condemned by some officials of the Department and the result is that the 26 acres of land are still in the hands of the Corporation. Surely you cannot say that that is an index of economy in administration. It is neither efficient nor economical.
This Bill definitely shows a want of trust in the people in the matter of local government. That is written all over the Bill. It shows a lack of trust in the local people, in their ability to control their own affairs. It is centralising the administration that should be carried out locally by the people, placing full control in the hands of a department in Dublin. Nobody can tell me that that is going to make for better administration or greater civic spirit. When the Cork City Management Act was being considered here, the Fianna Fáil Party opposed it and pointed out that one of the strongest reasons for their opposition was that the temptation was there to extend it to local government in the country.  They also said, as I have said to-night, that the Bill, on the face of it, was a negation of democracy. They were then quite right, but now it has come to their turn to extend that very system of local government to the whole country. Before the Minister does that, I suggest it would be only wise and right for him to examine very closely the operations of this system in Cork City. After ten years, how is that system operating in Cork?
I am quite prepared, and I think I can speak for my Party in this matter, to accept the verdict of any impartial inquiry. There is no individual in the Cork Corporation to-day who will stand up for the working of the managerial system as far as Cork is concerned. They all see how it has turned the whole system of local government in Cork into ridicule. At the last local government elections in Cork an individual was put up by some of the students in the University, more or less as a joke. He was a man who was drawing a military pension. Very responsible people in Cork City voted for him. He was nearly elected. When these people were asked why they voted for so-and-so, they said “It is as well to vote for him as for anybody else; he would have as much power in the Corporation as others—the very same thing.”
The whole system of local government has been brought into ridicule in Cork City through the operation of this system. Responsible people in Cork City will not go forward for election. I think it was Deputy O'Higgins who said that after the second next election under this system there will not be candidates. That is quite true and that prophecy is going to come true. In Cork City at the present time responsible people will not go forward for election because, with the exception of the one day in the year when the rates are struck, or on the day that the Lord Mayor is elected, the Corporation might as well not be there at all.
I want to point out that the corporation has no function whatsoever as far as local affairs are concerned. I will give an example of the working of the Act in Cork. A rather curious  anomaly which I have not been able to understand is that the old corporation committees which functioned under the corporation in the days before this system was brought into operation still operates in Cork City. We have the law and finance committee, public works committee, public health committee, and so on, and the city manager, of course, is the committee in each case. A very interesting incident happened some years ago with regard to one of these committees. The city manager applied to the law and finance committee for an amount of £75 to run his car. The law and finance committee considered the matter very carefully and decided that the city manager was entitled to this £75 to run his car. That matter came before the corporation, but all the corporation could say in the matter was: “Has this been done?”“Yes, it has been done and, as well as that, it has been sanctioned by the Local Government Department.” I quote that to give an idea of the powers and functions of the corporation, or a county council under this system. The committees are there, but everything is signed, sealed and delivered when a report comes back to the corporation of what has been done at these meetings. You might say: “Please, Mr. Manager, would you reconsider such a point arising under law and finance?” and the manager, working the system in all its rigidity, will say: “Oh, I cannot. That is my function.” That ends the powers of the corporation. I am going to the trouble of explaining the working of this system in Cork City. I am not altogether blaming the city manager as such, but I say that it is a system that is worked in all its rigidity and all its rigour. You will probably have under this system county managers who will do the same, and I would like to let the people see what the system is when it is worked with all its rigour.
Of course, there is one point that must be kept in mind. If this Bill goes through, it is being passed for not alone this generation but for future generations, until the people in their anger will rise up and abolish the whole thing. But, in that time, you  may have numbers of city managers, and they all may not be of the particular type that people have in mind at the moment. Mr. So-and-So, secretary of the county council, might make an admirable county manager, but that may not apply to all future managers. I want to point out that the system, operated as it should be operated, as this Bill intends it to be operated, will deprive the local authority of all power and of any effective voice in the control of their own affairs.
Another point was made with regard to the control of staff and dismissals of staff. I think it is in this Bill, as well as in the Cork City Management Act, that an official who had a grievance with regard to a dismissal had a right of appeal to the Minister, but that right of appeal had to go through the city manager, so the official concerned had very little chance of getting his case as he wanted it before the Minister. We, in the Cork Corporation, wanted to have an appeal board of, say, the aldermen or any number nominated in the corporation, to which the aggrieved official could go. We put up certain amendments and the amendment was not granted. In the old days if the committees that were run by the corporation met and came to certain decisions those decisions had to be confirmed by the corporation before they were effective. If there were some provision like that under the present system then the people would have some voice in their own affairs, but under this Bill as it stands the whole work of the corporation, just as the whole work of the boards of health, boards of assistance, mental hospitals, urban councils and town commissioners, will all be done by the manager and, as is done in the Cork Corporation system, he will probably tell the council what is being done, but the council will have no power to change anything, no matter how radically it affects the life of the people whom they are supposed to represent.
This Bill definitely tends more and more towards the creation of a bureaucracy in this country. I say that very deliberately because you will have running local government a number of  officials who will be responsible to the Local Government Department and who, from their very position, will recognise the authority and the voice of the Local Government Department, and will pay no attention to the local representatives. Therefore, that is very definitely creating a bureaucracy which is going to have a very bad effect on local affairs and on local government in this country.
Some people were very disturbed about small points such as the size of the council or the personnel of the council and so on. As an outsider, I think I can say that I have seen the working of the Cork County Council where there are 68 members. I think nobody could say, even going into it with the strictest inquiry, that that council has not done its work effectively and well. I would like to pay that tribute to the Cork County Council. I have seen the working of the board of health, especially the South Cork Board of Health, and again, I must say that and pay a tribute to the efficient way they do their work. I cannot speak for Roscommon. If Roscommon is as bad as it is alleged to be by Deputies from that place there must be some very local reason for it. Speaking generally, I think it will be admitted that local government in this country has been run most effectively and most efficiently by the men, and in some cases, women, who have given their time, their energies, and abilities to the work of local affairs.
When the Waterford City Management Bill was passing through this House, this Party opposed the Bill, and the then Minister for Local Government, Deputy Seán T. O Ceallaigh, said that his idea of the management system was that the manager would be in the position of a managing director of a company. If that analogy is applied to this Bill, or to the Cork City Management Act, a great deal can be said for working on those lines, but, under the system as I know it, and as it has been operated for the last ten years in Cork City, the manager is simply a dictator. No managing director of a company would tell his directors that it is his business, and  not theirs, and, politely, that they can do what they like about it. If a managing director of a company made such a statement to his directors, I am very sure they would show him very short shrift. That happened, and it can happen under the Act and will happen under the Act.
Those are some of the reasons why I am opposing this Bill, and they are some of the reasons why I would appeal to the Minister, even if this amendment is not acceptable to him, to hold an inquiry into the working of this system as operated in Cork City for the last ten years. Cork was the first place in which it was tried, and we should see how it has worked there for the past ten years. Before the Corporation of Cork was abolished in 1924, there was a very searching inquiry held by the Government of the day, which went on for weeks, and the Cork Corporation, consisting of 56 members, was shown to be free from that corruption, dishonesty and jobbery which has been alleged by different people in this House to-night. If you had an inquiry into the whole system of local government, as suggested by the amendment, I venture to say that the same would be found to be true of the great majority of the councils in this country.
What is the reason the suggestion made in the amendment would not be accepted? After all, it is a very serious and drastic step to change the whole system of local government which has operated in this country for the last 40 years by a Bill like this. I think it is only right and reasonable to ask that, before that step is taken, such an inquiry should be instituted into the local government system from every angle. Then you will discover its defects—and I admit it has defects— but you will also discover that if this Bill is passed with the intention which it bears on its face, to wipe out the whole local government system in this country, then you are going to have very serious reactions all through this country, and probably on people who are now enthusiastic for this change.
Of course you have people on local  authorities who would like to have some other fellow do the thinking for them. It is very easy to have a county manager or somebody else to do the thinking and planning and all the rest for them. This Bill caters for that kind of lazy individual. But it goes further than that. It is going to regiment all local government effort in this country. It is suggested that that is unification. I call it regimentation. It is regimenting the whole system of local government, and that again, I hold, is a bad idea which underlies this Bill. You cannot regiment local government affairs in this country. Different places have different problems and different ways of attacking them, and that can best be done by the people of the district rather than by any manager, no matter how clever or efficient he may be thought to be. Therefore, I would very sincerely ask the Minister, before taking a step that may have very serious reactions, to consider and inquire into the whole system of local government, with particular reference to the Cork City Management Act for the last ten years.
Mr. Allen: I am in favour of this Bill and of the principle of county managers. Unlike Deputy Hurley, I am not afraid of democracy for the future if this Bill is put into operation. As a member of a local authority who has some experience, I realise the absolute necessity for a manager to carry out the executive and administrative affairs of the council. I think the time is opportune for a change. There is no doubt that the Bill changes the whole system of local government in a farreaching manner. I would be inclined to say if the Minister had brought in a Bill that went portion of the way at this stage, giving the manager full executive and administrative authority, and had left with the councils certain of the powers which he proposed to take from them, the Bill would be more generally welcomed in the House than it has been.
I think some opponents of the Bill would agree with me that most of the executive functions are performed by the officials at present. County councils or other local authorities raise a certain  amount of money in the year, and they hand over that money, in the main, to the officials to administer. They have very little power of control over how that money is spent after having raised it by means of the rates. We know very well that on every council, especially on town councils, there are a few members who take a keen interest in the work. They are on the spot all the time, and very often between the meetings they work with the secretary of the council in administering the affairs. But members of county councils may be drawn from an area extending over 30 or 40 miles. They can afford to give very little attention to the detailed matter of spending the money once it is raised. As things are at present, owing to the very large increase over the last few years in the different services administered by local authorities, especially by boards of health, the members of county councils cannot give the attention that should be given to the administration of the money once they hand it over to the officials. To a great extent the work of the boards of health has gone beyond the control of these boards.
It has been said by Labour Deputies and other Deputies that if this Bill is passed it will put all the functions of the boards of health into the hands of the county managers. As I understand the Bill, boards of health are being abolished, and in future we will have more members in charge of board of health matters than at present. In County Cork or County Galway, for instance, there are not more than ten members on the board of health. Imagine having ten members drawn from all over County Cork, which is a very large area.
Mr. Allen: There is only one board in County Donegal. It is almost as large as Cork. Take Galway, where there is only one board of health consisting of ten members. They could not possibly be in touch with the people in the different localities and towns in that county. In Louth,  Carlow or in smaller counties such a body would be fairly well in touch with the people, but that is not the position in larger counties. It is nonsense to say that if this Bill becomes law we are going to do away with democracy. There is very little democracy left at the present time.
Mr. Allen: You will not get one in the country who will not agree that the old boards of guardians and district councils were a good riddance. Everyone agrees about that. We thoroughly agree with it, and we were never sorry for anything we advocated in that respect. There are many ways in which I would like to see this Bill amended. In Section 4 there is a proposal to appoint a temporary manager before a permanent appointment is made. I think that is wrong in principle. I am convinced that the first manager should be a permanent appointment, and I see no reason whatever why the Bill should come into operation before the county manager is appointed by the commissioners. That would be a sound provision. Unless he is certain that he will be the future manager, no temporary manager will be in a position to carry on the functions of that position. Some other sections will, I believe need amendment on the Committee Stage.
Mr. Allen: I think the State should provide at least half the salary of the manager, as is done in the case of medical officers of health. The manager will be administering funds for the State just as much as he will be administering the funds of local authorities. Roughly half of these funds are provided by the county council and half by the State, so that it would be as much in the interests of the State as in the interest of local authorities to do that. The State should provide half the cost of county managers and assistant managers. As there is a provision to appoint assistant managers the Minister should schedule counties in which he believes they are required. We know quite well that once it is decided to appoint extra officials under any Act, that provision will be availed of one way or another. While at the moment there might not be strong enough opposition amongst the people to the provision of half the salary, certainly, if there are to be a number of assistant managers, there will be a big objection. I see sound reasons for having assistant managers in some four or five counties, but no reason for having them in normal sized counties. On the Committee Stage the Minister should schedule the counties in which county managers are required.
Deputy O'Higgins stated that there will be more efficiency and more economy under county managers. I am not quite sure that there will be such great efficiency. There may be room in certain directions for efficiency, but I hope the efficiency these officials will bring about will not be at the expense of the poorer classes of the community. I know the efficiency we could have in that direction. However, I am sure the county managers will be fair to every section of the community. I should not like to see efficiency in the direction I mentioned. Under this Bill county councils are given power to appoint rate-collectors. That is the only power of appointment they have. I do not exactly agree with that. I say they should have power to recommend other part-time permanent officials, for instance, officials of boards of health, cottage rent collectors, home assistance officers and other officers that  these bodies elect at the present time. Seeing that they are given power to appoint rate collectors, they should be given power to recommend the appointment of other part-time officials. I do not see why all the patronage should be left to the manager, and why the making of small appointments should not be given to the councils. I suggest that the Minister should amend the Bill in that direction.
With regard to the appointment of temporary managers during the illness of managers, power is given to chairmen of county councils to nominate managers. It would be much better if there was a panel of managers to act as managers or assistant managers in other counties in the absence of the permanent officials. I think it would be wrong to have any subordinate official in a particular area manager even for a short time. It would be sounder if a panel of temporary managers was drawn up under the Act. With regard to Section 11 and the delegation of duties of assistant managers, I do not know if that is sound. The managers should carry the responsibility all the time. They should be responsible to the councils, and not the assistant managers.
Mr. Allen: He is certainly responsible for omissions and commissions in every way. I say that if a Bill of this kind was brought before the House, leaving power with the manager, and giving him full responsibility, and not giving him any of the other powers that it is proposed to give him, it would meet with more general agreement in the country. I welcome the Bill. I think it will bring about efficiency, and that more attention will be given to detailed work of administration than it is possible to give at the present time in the different matters that local authorities and boards of health are called upon to deal with. I ask the Minister to give consideration to the points I mentioned, and I trust he will amend the Bill accordingly on the Committee Stage.
Mr. Belton: I was very interested in the last Deputy's efforts to support the Bill. Really his remarks amounted to criticism of the Bill. He suggested certain amendments, and went back a long way to deal with the present state of things. Obviously that shows that the Deputy is not in favour of the Bill. I am not in favour of it.
Mr. Belton: I am deducing my conclusions from what the Deputy said. It is quite obvious that he wants certain powers retained, but to what extent he did not state. He indicated that he wanted considerable powers retained, and that obviously means that he does not want this Bill.
Mr. Belton: Deputy Allen, like his colleagues, has changed greatly since 1935, when they threw up their arms and stated that all voters in this country should be electors under the local government franchise.
Mr. Belton: But they never got the opportunity of electing anybody except in Dublin City and County. They are not going to get the opportunity to elect councils to administer local government. Deputy Allen says he is in favour of this change, although he voted for the previous change. I am satisfied that some reform of local government is necessary. I am equally satisfied that the way to reform local government is not by abolishing it. That is the essence of the whole thing. If we are satisfied that there is some illness in the local government body, let us diagnose it and try to find a remedy. I was particularly struck at the half-hearted way in which the Minister introduced the Bill. I am quite satisfied his heart is not in it. I am not surprised at that. What is wrong with local government? The Minister did not tell us. He may call this a reform of local government, if he likes. He tried to make the case that we shall still retain democratic control. If it  was necessary to bring in a Bill of any kind, it was due to this House that the Minister should indicate where the flaws in the local government system existed. He has not done so. Therefore, I do not think that he has made a case. I am a member of three councils at present. Two of them have managers, and one has no manager. I can pay a tribute to the managers equal to that paid by Deputy Bourke to the managers in Limerick. I can pay tribute not alone to the Dublin City Manager but to the manager in the Borough of Dun Laoghaire, who happens to be one of the men to whom Deputy Bourke paid tribute. The present manager of Dun Laoghaire is an ex-manager of Limerick. The managers do their work well, but what about the people who put up the money? Are they to have no power or authority in the expenditure of that money? Are they not as efficient for local government purposes as we are for legislative purposes? It is worth while considering the case put up by Deputy O'Higgins. If you carry out this managerial system to its logical conclusion, why not a manager for the Dáil, and save this £480 a year?
Mr. Belton: You have one that controls the Government, and this Bill will establish Hitlerism down to the toe-nails. What can any manager or salaried man be but, more or less, subservient to his boss? I do not believe that a single member on the Government Benches is 100 per cent. behind this Bill or even 50 per cent. Why not find the malady and apply the remedy? The Government can, by the exercise of the Whip and a machined majority, pass this Bill into law if they so desire. Four years ago, they extended the franchise and gave votes to people who were not contributing to the local rates. They gave these people control for which they did not subscribe. That was contrary to all our opinions of societies. Trade unions will not allow a member who has not his card stamped a voice in their affairs. They will use drastic measures against that member. The present Government—or practically the  present Government—four years ago extended the franchise to all men and women of 21 years of age and upwards. They gave them the right to vote in the local elections. That was not going in the direction of reforming local government. If it is because too many irresponsibles have votes in the election of local bodies this Bill is required, why not face up to that position and curtail the franchise? I am not advocating that. Members of the present Government criticised what they referred to as the “reactionary clauses” of the Greater Dublin Act, of 1930, which provided for a commercial register on which five of the 35 members of Dublin Corporation would be elected. They said that that was undemocratic, so we wiped that out. What is wrong with local government in the country generally? Is the trouble caused by the fact that an irresponsible element, which contributes nothing to the local rates, can vote irresponsible members on to local bodies and create chaos in these local bodies?
Mr. Belton: If that is the fault with the present system, face up to it. If that is not the fault, what is the fault? A number of us are old enough to remember the scenes in every county  town when the Local Government Act came into operation 40 years ago. The green flag was hoisted, and there were baton charges all over the country. We looked upon it as the dawn of a measure of freedom. That is now being taken away by the present Government. They have not shown where the flaw has occurred in that system. They have said that members of local authorities have too much work, that they are not able to find the time to devote to the work. Who piled on the work to the local authorities? Why is the administration of unemployment grants thrown on to the staffs of the county councils? Why should not the creators of unemployment—those who control the public boards—face up to the problems caused by their financial and economic policy, instead of interfering with machinery which has proved efficient in administering local government to the extent for which it was designed? Why is the present Government piling on work to these bodies which should be done by themselves, and then saying that the local authorities have too much to do, that they must be abolished, and that the work must be done by civil servants? I move the adjournment of the debate.
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