Thursday, 7 December 1939
Dáil Éireann Debate
To delete all words after the word “That” and substitute the words:—“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.”
Mr. Bennett: Last night I was referring to some of the criticisms of county councils which had been made by various speakers. There were charges of inefficiency, and some, I think of corruption and extravagance. I referred to the charges of inefficiency. I said that to my mind the inefficiency was due mainly to the fact that the Government made the election of county councillors a political question, and that councils all over the country had become mainly political bodies. That, to my mind, tends towards inefficiency. I think the charge of corruption is greatly exaggerated. There have been, of course, instances of corruption and other irregularities. As the number of councillors totals, I suppose, over 1,000 for the whole country, it would only be natural that here and there would be a black sheep, but on the whole I think that in that respect our local bodies compare favourably with similar bodies in other countries. Even if there were corruption—corruption even on a larger scale than can ever be proved—is there not at present the corrective and the penal machinery to deal with it? We have, first of all, direct control by the central body, the Local Government Department. It practically controls all the local bodies. There is examination of their accounts by qualified local government auditors in the matter of purchases of stores and other commodities. The last Government brought in a Bill under which the county councils purchase centrally under a combined purchasing scheme. Very little power is left to them in that direction. There is even power, if the worst comes to the worst, to dissolve them, and they have been dissolved on occasions for some of the reasons stated. If that is one of the arguments in favour of the Bill, I think it fails lamentably.
Then we had a charge of extravagance. Councils have been extravagant; at least the ratepayers thought they were extravagant. In any case, the rates have risen in most counties. But is it always the councillors themselves who have been extravagant? Have they not been almost forced into extravagance by the Central Government? Most people consider that in the last seven or eight years the Government has been very extravagant; under all Governments the tendency  was to lead the local councils into spending more money. There were various Acts passed during the period since the establishment of this Parliament which necessitated the expenditure of large sums of money by local bodies. There was almost compulsory participation in certain central schemes. There were certain schemes of relief, for instance, passed by this House, for which the Exchequer provides, but the councils were told that they would not participate in the schemes unless they themselves contributed a certain proportion to the cost of those schemes—thereby inciting the councils, almost compelling them, to expend money.
In my own county, and I am sure in other counties, we had some schemes put up for which the only real justification was that they provided work, but as far as the immediate necessity for some of the schemes themselves was concerned they could very well have waited until better times. I do not blame the councillors; they were practically compelled to spend that money. We had even an incitement towards expenditure by the late head of the local government system. Speaking in my county, and referring to the expenditure, he said the only regret he had in the matter was that the rates were not high enough. Yet we have members of this House charging the councils themselves with extravagant expenditure. If there is to be retrenchment, to my mind it is more likely to be effected by the councillors themselves than by a manager. I think the councillors would be much more likely to resist the temptation to follow the directions of a central body in the line of expenditure than would the manager.
References have been made by a couple of speakers to canvassing by councillors. I think possibly the argument ought not have been made. Councillors have canvassed various people to get work—or jobs, if you like the word better—for individuals. I would ask the House is there anything wrong in seeking work for a person who has asked for it, provided you consider that the person is efficient? Personally  I cannot see anything whatever wrong in it. Will this Bill cure it? Will not the manager himself be open to similar criticism? Is it not natural that the manager will be influenced in the same way by the opinion of the people who advised him, particularly the councillors with whom he will come into intimate contact? Is it not natural that he will be somewhat influenced by the opinions of those men if they say that certain people are efficient and ask him to appoint them? I think it is only natural that he will, just as the councillors were subject to influence in various ways.
We heard arguments that the present board of health system was not a good one. I am in agreement with that. I believe that a better system of dealing with poor law could be devised, but personally I do not believe that the cure is going to be found in centralisation, or unification if you like, of the scheme. I believe the remedy would be rather in the other direction—by decentralisation, by institutions something similar to the rural district councils. That would afford a greater opportunity of keeping in touch with the people for whom it provides. Somebody even suggested parish councils. I think parish councils might cover somewhat too small an area, but I do believe that something like the system of the old district councils would be a better one for the administration of the poor law than the present system of boards of health.
If there was one strong argument in favour of this Bill it was that the institution of the managerial system in some few cases had been a success; that the few counties where there are managers have been successfully administered. I will admit it. So far as I know, the counties where there are managers have had fairly successful administration. There have been criticisms. I suppose there never yet was a county in which there was not some criticism. On the whole, they have managed pretty well and they have administered county affairs fairly and efficiently.
There are two things to remember if we accept that as an argument for a  general managerial system. The first is that the administration in the counties where they were set up was so bad that in some cases the councils had to be dissolved for one reason or another. When the councils were in such a bad state, from the administrative point of view, that they had to be dissolved and a manager put in, it was not remarkable that anyone who took charge after the councils were dissolved was able to make an improvement. Most Deputies will agree that after the councils were dissolved any individual who was put in to replace them would be able to make some improvement in administration. That cannot be taken as an argument for this Bill. Possibly the managers would have made some improvement even if there was pretty fair administration, but they stepped in where there was maladministration and, naturally, they brought about some improvement. That is not an argument.
There is a second qualification. Admitting that the existing managers are very capable—and I do admit they are very good men at their jobs—if we make it a universal system have we a supply of such excellent managers—are there sufficient to be found to function equally with the existing managers? I doubt if there are, and the Minister is doubtful. The Bill makes provision in certain circumstances for the work of administration under the supervision of county secretaries. I have not a word to say against the county secretaries. Most of them are honest, efficient officials, doing their duty pretty well. I do not know that they will discharge their duties more effectively if you make them managers instead of secretaries.
Why should there be, just now, such urgency for this Bill as there appears to be? I wonder if the Government are doubtful of the wisdom of the Franchise Act passed a few years ago—the extension of the Franchise Act? Are they running away from it before it has had a chance to operate, or is this the precursor of a derating Bill? If the Minister says it is, I will vote for it with a very easy conscience. I freely recognise that if the central executive are  to be responsible for financing local bodies, they have some right to call the tune and demand that the central authority will have something more to say in the matter of local government. If there is no such intention, I doubt whether it is wise, at the moment, to depart from the existing system of administration. Councils have functioned well under existing local government laws and they will function well in the future under the same laws if they are permitted to do so. The only drawback we had in the functioning of councils was within the last few years when, unfortunately, our local bodies all over the country were turned into political bodies and became Party hacks and ineffective administrators.
I think if all Parties in the country united in appealing to the electorate to elect the best material that could be found as councillors, you have under the existing laws everything necessary for good local government. Amendments may be necessary to our local government laws. If they are necessary, why not bring them in? There are certain things that could be amended usefully, I dare say, but I believe it would be a dangerous and very illogical departure to go as far as this Bill suggests we should go. What does the Bill provide? It sets out to substitute for a duly elected council, elected on the general franchise, a manager subject to a central department, subject to the Minister, who is himself subject to a Party elected on the same franchise as the councils. Let us at least be logical. Either scrap the whole democratic system or let it function for local as well as for central government. I have not been impressed by any arguments advanced for this Bill. If I have been influenced at all, it was by the arguments submitted against the measure, and I propose to vote against it.
Mr. Hickey: As one who has some knowledge of the managerial system, and as a member of a corporation that has already submitted amendments to the Cork City Management Act, amendments which are in the files of the Department, I approve of the putting  down of this Labour amendment, believing that there is need for reform in local government administration; but before there are any changes made such as are indicated in the Bill, I feel there should be an inquiry into the administration under the managerial system wherever it is functioning. I think the people in the country would like to be eased off a bit from legislation of this kind. I am at a loss to know why there is pressure for such legislation as this. Where does it come from?
Listening to Deputy Childers, I was thinking to myself how little he knew of the implications of the Bill. He tried to picture a chain store, having somebody there like the county councils or the urban councils that are being managed, and he quoted the case where a ratepayer was complaining because he had to pay rates for a son of his idling around the roads. Apparently, under this measure all that is to be rectified. I am quite satisfied that such a thing is not going to be rectified by the appointment of a county manager. I have in mind the County Manager of Cork. He is going to be the manager of the county council, of the North Cork Board of Health, which covers an area including Charleville and Mitchelstown, and of the West Cork Board of Health, covering the area in which Castletownbere, Clonakilty and Dunmanway are situated, and on top of all that he will be manager of the South Cork Board of Health and Public Assistance area. I do not mind who the genius is, but I say there would be no real administration compared to the administration carried out by those boards at the moment. I am quite satisfied about that.
I want to tell Deputy Childers that we would just like if we had something in our Cork City Management Act whereby the manager would be responsible in the same way as the manager of a chain store would be responsible to the directors of the combine. At the moment the City Manager in Cork is the manager of the council rather than anything else, and it is because of that, that we are complaining of the managerial system. Deputy Bennett  has referred to some places where the managers have administered very well. I am not concerned about the individuals, but I am concerned about the system. I cannot understand how a county manager can come to an area such as the West Cork or the South Cork Board of Health area and do the work that is done at the moment by the efficient secretaries of those boards. It could not be done any better. These persons will simply become mere clerks to the county manager. There should be some executive authority given to the secretaries of those boards, and they should be under direct control of the boards.
The managerial system and the commissioner system was introduced when the country was not normal. We had commissioners appointed as far back as 1921, in Cork, and they were to do wonders when they were appointed. They went into two or three institutions, and in a short while they were substituted by public representatives. We have had them right through, and I have good reason to know that if there is any inefficiency to be complained of, it is not the elected representatives of the people who are to blame. I am inclined to believe that the complaints we heard from Deputy Childers were not due to the local representatives. I have good reason to say that there is a lack of co-operation very manifest about this Department itself. I would not call it inefficiency, but there is certainly a lack of co-operation.
I am not prepared to support the charge that the public boards are lacking in discrimination in the spending of moneys. These boards were appointed at a period when, as we all know, the country was not normal. I am sure everybody will agree that for the past 20 years we have not been living a normal life in this country. We have not had elections for the past five or six years. I am satisfied that if we had elections every two years we would have improved the personnel of these boards very considerably. Now, instead of starting in the direction of holding frequent elections, the Government  have brought in this Bill. I tell them they would be better advised if they had held a definite inquiry into the administration of the councils throughout the country. I am not going to suggest anything about the affairs of Dublin, but I have very good knowledge of what the managerial system in Cork means to the people of Cork. We have a manager in the Cork Corporation.
Notwithstanding what has been said by Deputy Dillon about corporations and other bodies, I am not convinced by their assertions. I knew a good many of the men who manned the Cork County Council and on the Cork Corporation. I was very glad to hear Deputy Cleary paying a compliment to the manner in which councillors administered their councils or boards. Personally I knew men who were in the Cork County Council and in the Cork Corporation, and I challenge any man to state that they were ever found guilty of corruption or slackness or anything like that. I think it is unfair to impute unworthy motives to men of that class who have given such straightforward service voluntarily to the country. I appeal to the Minister to drop this Bill and have a full inquiry into local government administration.
Deputy Childers told us there was much delay in the acquiring of sites and in the carrying on of schemes by the local authorities. I would like if the Deputy would take me into his confidence for a couple of hours if he ever comes to Cork, when I would give some insight into the method of examining, purchasing and rejecting sites in Cork City and County. I have not heard a single unfavourable comment about how that work is being done, neither the local Press nor anybody in this House has ever had anything unfavourable to say of how the work has been done. I want to say very clearly and definitely that I am not discussing this Bill in a Party spirit or from any Party point of view. I am not concerned about the individuals who are to be appointed managers. But I think Deputies should bear in mind, as I bear in mind, that the manager who may be appointed for a county or city will be definitely inclined to the point of view  of the Minister or of the Department of Local Government and Public Health. In his local administration he will incline to the view of these powers rather than to the considered judgment of what the local people desire.
My experience is that we have some very responsible citizens in the Cork Corporation, but I regret that because of the managerial system now in operation there, and because they really have no serious functions to perform, there is not that civic spirit that we would like to see and the kind of citizen that we would like to see standing for elections to the corporation is not forthcoming. I believe that is a very bad tendency. I believe that able men along the countryside who are anxious to go forward and take an active part in the affairs of the city and county should be encouraged to go on. A spirit of civic pride should be encouraged and developed. But while you have the managerial system in operation you are killing that spirit. I ask the Government to withdraw this Bill. I see no real necessity for it. I am satisfied that if we had lived in more normal times than we have lived in the last twenty years, we would have in public life numbers of people who were prepared to give their services for the benefit of the country. The personnel of candidates standing for election to the public boards would be vastly improved.
Deputy Belton said he was prepared to have a manager for the City of Dublin but not for the county. We had Deputy Childers telling us that it was necessary to have men of trained minds dealing with public administration. I am quite satisfied that there is great need for reform in many public matters and in the routine in which work is carried on by the local boards. I happen to be a member of four boards myself and I know there is a need for reform. There is one great danger in this Bill. And that is that the manager who will be appointed for a city or county will be influenced by other things rather than by the interest of the people of the city or county in which he is appointed. We have good reason to know that the managers who  are responsible to the Minister are always inclined to take the advice of experts and to take their directions from people who are capable of determining this and determining that rather than looking to the needs of the people themselves. At the moment we have in the country a big hospitalisation scheme and I am satisfied that it should be responsible citizens and not the local manager should have a say in determining what should be done about those hospitals. The people should have a voice in the putting up of expensive buildings. But in the mind of the manager there is always the disposition to accept the advice of architects and experts. If the Department look at their files they will find that in the managerial system not alone in Cork City but in the South Cork Board of Assistance, there is a very healthy tendency on the part of elected representatives towards curtailing expenditure on those hospitalisation schemes. For this and other reasons I appeal to the Government to accept the amendment we have put down. We on this side of the House will support to 100 per cent. any reforms that the Government find necessary.
Professor O'Sullivan: I want to make it quite clear at the start that though I am going to vote for this Bill I am really in favour of the Bill and I speak in its favour. We have had some extraordinary experiences in this House. I listened to two speeches devoted to a thorough onslaught on the Bill. Then I was told in these same speeches that the Bill could be made a good Bill. It was indicated how it could, by being turned into its complete opposite.
But I suppose the Minister is not unduly perturbed by the criticism that he received last night, because he knows perfectly well, no matter how strong the expression of opinion or how vehement it was—and I think he will admit it was very vehement in the two cases, but especially in one; and there were other speeches of the same kind—that he can rely on the solid support of his Party for this Bill, and on these relentless critics walking into the Division Lobby behind him, or at worst on their “pairing”.
 As I say, I am in the unique position of supporting the Minister, because I think the Bill, on the whole, is a good Bill and that it ought to be supported. There are problems in local government that, unless they are dealt with, and dealt with rather radically, may have the ultimate effect of destroying local government altogether. I put it to those who are opposed to the Bill that, in the interests even of local government, it might be well to forestall the complete destruction of local government by making the necessary amendments now, even if some of these amendments are of the radical character put before us by the Minister. This undoubtedly is a Bill on which a considerable amount of difference of opinion amongst Deputies is to be expected. I suppose few in this House would be as much alive to the dangers of an increase of bureaucracy as some people sitting on these benches. I am aware of that. I give general acceptance to the principle that, perhaps, in the long run freedom in the sense of absence of too much interference by men in permanent positions might even be more efficient than it looks at first blush, more effective than going in with a strong hand than the system of control. But I do not think that that general principle would deprive me of the responsibility of supporting the Bill.
There are problems which have arisen in local government over a number of years which I do not think that 35 or 40 men, meeting once a month or once a fortnight, can deal with adequately. As a result of the gradual development of social legislation of all kinds in modern times in every country; as a result of the legislation passed by this House itself, the duties heaped on local bodies have increased tremendously. I do not see how a man, whose main business is something else, and who merely attends local bodies once a month or once a fortnight, can master the details—not the general principles, but the details—of administration. We do not even do it in this House.
There has been a great deal of talk about democracy, as if an elected body  corresponding to a parliament—the parliament of the county—must have control over the administration. There is a number of men elected to this House, and I suppose as much care is given to their selection as is given to the selection of county councillors. Is the pretence ever made that they should control the details of administration? What do they do? They hand it over to a number of whole-time men called a government, and it is they who conduct the administration of the country.
Professor O'Sullivan: The manager will hold his office during good conduct and he cannot go beyond the law. I listened last night with great interest to Deputy Broderick when he spoke about what local government is, namely, the wishes of the local people being made effective in local matters within the law, and subject to what? The control of the Minister for Local Government. I put it to those who are in favour of local government that it is much better to have a permanent man in daily touch with the county and with the problems of that particular county than officials up here in Dublin. That is what this Bill provides. I believe that you will have less interference and less need for interference on the part of the Minister and officials in Dublin if you have a manager of that kind on the spot.
There was a great deal of talk about efficiency of administration and about corruption. I leave the question of corruption aside. There are obviously members of this House come so lately from the Garden of Eden that they never heard of corruption in local bodies. I leave them in their innocence. They may be younger than I am, but I have heard of it for many a long day, and I cannot believe that all the evidence and all the stories one hears are all unfounded. I admit that there may  be exaggeration, and a considerable amount of exaggeration in some cases. However, I am not discussing the question of corruption. We will leave that aside, because it can be easily retorted on me: “Is the manager more immune than the members of the council?” But I want to put this, speaking now from the experience of my own county: is value given for the money in the present local administration? I do not know a single one of the people who sent me to this Dáil that would give an affirmative answer to that question. I am not now deciding whether there is too much or too little levied in taxes. Very strong views are held in my particular county on that. But, so far as the people that I know are concerned, those who supported me and many who did not support me, it would be a hard thing to convince them that anything like adequate value in return for the vast expenditure was given to any class of the community by the present local county administration.
I think that we must face this problem much as we dislike it. We object to the growth of bureaucracy; we speak against it; but it is unavoidable. There is only one way of getting rid of bureaucracy and that is getting rid of a number of the tasks that the modern Governments undertake. If the Governments undertake a large number of heavy tasks, then it is inevitable that bureaucracy will grow. There was an old idea that a number of people could give portion of their time to local affairs or central affairs, and much of the administration was done by unpaid private citizens. There was a time when public services were supposed to be unremunerated. With the growth of government or public business—local and central—it was seen that that was impossible. You can only conduct modern government in a country efficiently if you have as Minister men who can devote their whole time to the job. I hold that if you want to conduct the affairs of a county efficiently, you must have a person capable of giving his whole time to that particular job. You talk of autocratic powers. What is the power of the boards of public health at present? What power has the county  council over its expenditure. Is that dictatorship? Dictatorship by a body of the county council. We calmly accept that. Yet we have refused to swallow this question of managership.
So far as my own county is concerned, I know that a very large number of people would wish, not for this particular Bill, but for the commissioner system. This Bill does not go nearly as far as that. A very large number of my constituents look back with a kind of nostalgia or homesickness to that time when they had commissioners. Most of them were efficient; some highly efficient. The county was remarkably well run while they were there. The Bill does not propose to do that. But it does propose to put the control of the administration of the county into the hands of a man who is held responsible, and who will devote all his time and energies to it.
I gather from the speeches against the Bill that it was assumed that the manager was in some way representative of the Department of Local Government. That idea, undoubtedly, ran through a number of speeches I heard. I fail to see in what sense this man is a representative of the Department, except in so far as he is a whole-time man accustomed to administration. Otherwise, it could not be said that he in any sense represents the Department. He is not responsible to the Department, and is not appointed by the Department. He is dismissible by the county council, and the Department must, so far as I remember the Bill, consent to his dismissal. But he is not responsible to the Department. He is bound to carry out the law, as the officials of the county council, and the county council itself, are bound to carry out the law. But he represents the county council. He does not represent Dublin or the Department. This particular official was discussed as if he were a commissioner sent down by the Department to take over the whole affairs of the county. He is rather in the position of a Government in central administration. The Dáil does not govern. It is not its job to govern. That is parliamentary democracy. Why is it a breach of parliamentary  democracy when you apply an analogous system to local administration? Why should the local administration have duties thrust upon them the like of which are not thrust upon the Parliament?
The same applies in regard to officials. The Dáil does not control the appointment of the officials of the Central Government. In no sense does it do so. The Government itself and its predecessors shuffled out of responsibility for the appointment of civil servants. They devised another means of doing that. Of course the Government have control of promotion, but promotion also is not in the command of the Dáil. Why should it be in the hands of a local Dáil? Money control is the greatest control that Parliament can exercise over a Government. What ultimately gave power to Parliament over Government was the power of the purse. So far as I know, that is still there, according to this Bill so far as the county councils are concerned.
I give my own views for what they are worth, but I am strengthened in these views by the fact that I know that I am representing the views of the people who sent me here—views which they hold from sad experience. I am not anxious to generalise too much, but these opinions of theirs are solidly based on their experience of the present system as they see it at work.
Unless you improve your machinery to enable it successfully to cope with the increased duties that are, day by day, being put on the local bodies, you are going to bring about a complete breakdown of every type of local government.
Professor O'Sullivan: It does not follow that he is wrong. You can make any system ridiculous by taking examples of that kind. To-night Deputy Hickey referred to all the work Cork County Council has to do and that was stressed by Deputy Corry last night with remarkable eloquence. Surely a large body of 40 members meeting occasionally is not the body to do that type of work effectively. It cannot do it effectively. The work can be done in a slip-shod way and such bodies can accept automatically what is put up to them by officials. The more duties they have to perform, the greater the necessity for some unified mind directing the whole thing. That is what the Bill, so far as it goes, provides.
A remedy was put forward by Deputy Cogan which was quite simple. It shows where things are leading. He would appoint one man to look after roads in a county, all the men in the 26 counties to be subject to a man at the centre to look after them and control them. He would do the same in connection with health and other main services. In that way you would have a number of central officials running all the important things of local government. That was the view put forward by a man who opposes this Bill on the ground that it will violate democratic principles. That was his democratic remedy.
I had not the pleasure of listening to the Minister when introducing the Bill. I gathered from what I heard outside, and from the other speeches, that he did not put forward this Bill as the best of all possible Bills in the most perfectly run of all possible countries. Who says the Bill is perfect? If I found a perfect system of government—central or local —I should begin by distrusting it, that is, if it were perfect on paper. There is one point upon which I am not quite clear. This county manager will be manager of various urban councils and town commissioners. Seeing the number of matters that are already taken from the hands of town commissioners and urban councils and transferred to the county authorities, would the Minister mind indicating roughly what will be left of the town councils and town commissioners?
Mr. Kennedy: One can be critical of certain aspects of a Bill while accepting the principle. I quite agree with the last speaker that the amount of work imposed on boards of health because of social legislation has increased immensely of late years. Very often, a matter of trivial importance as regards a county, but of great importance as regards an individual, is held up for a month. Something is passed, subject to the Department's sanction, and, until the sanction comes back at the meeting the following month, that person has to wait for whatever perquisite or benefit would accrue from the action of the board.
Inasmuch as you give power to the manager to get over these matters, you are expediting the official working of local affairs. Let us take one example. A nurse, for instance, in a hospital, applies for holidays in the month of July, and her application is granted: but it is not until the meeting in August that that individual can take her holidays. I remember that, when I was a member of a board of health, a very serious row occurred with the Department in a case where the individual concerned took the holidays that  the board had granted. That is an instance where your executive officer, once you have vested executive authority in him, could act on his own responsibility.
Mr. Kennedy: Well, at any rate, he will get back the sanction in, let us say, a week, and can then notify the official concerned, and a person has not to wait for sanction for so long a time. I think it was someone in the first Dáil who said that you get more practical experience, and more knowledge of human nature, on a public board than if you were 20 years in the Dáil, and there is a lot of truth in that. That struck me very forcibly the other night, when I heard certain speakers brushing aside the whole personnel of local government as corrupt, ignorant and inefficient. That is a slander on the administration of local government over the last 30 years. I am not going back to the time of the grand juries and all the things that happened at that time, but I say that it is unfair to the memory of a great number of men who gave public service to this country, and who are now dead, that they should all be condemned by such sweeping statements. We all remember that, at a particular time, in 1920 and 1921, when the local boards broke away from the control of British local government, and when the public representatives had in their custody hundreds of thousands of pounds of the ratepayers' money, not in one instance did a penny of that money go wrong. Some of these men, in my own county, are now dead, but they were a credit to the County Westmeath, and it would be a great slander on such people, and I would be lacking in my duty, if I were to allow a statement to go forth, without contradiction, implying that these men were corrupt, ignorant and inefficient.
The plea has been put forward that reform of local administration was necessary because of such things. That is not so. This suggested reform is necessary, as Deputy O'Sullivan has said, because of the load of work that  has come upon local administration. Let us take the story of the father who told Deputy Childers that his son was wasting his time on road work and doing nothing. I think Deputy Childers should examine the relations between father and son there, and perhaps he might find some other motive than the alleged idleness of the son as the cause of the complaint. We have a staff of county engineers in our county. None of them is a personal friend of mine, or otherwise related. I think they are all men who come from outside my county. They were put there by the Appointments Commission, and the same applies to County Meath. All I can say is that the work on the roads there has been splendid and that it has been a credit to them. They are on the job all the time, and I have never seen idleness or anything of that sort. Certainly, if it does exist, the appointment of a county manager will not change it, because it is the county surveyor's job and the responsibility is his.
There is another aspect of local government which I should like to bring to the Minister's notice. We have all read about King Charles's head. I think that that is what is wrong with the Department of Local Government and Public Health. I can imagine an official in a particular room in that Department saying that certain public works must be held up because of a Statute of Queen Anne or Richard II. That official, probably, says to himself: “Well, the Minister is too busy for me to point out to him the fact that that statute still exists and is still the law of the land.” As a result of that kind of thing, these delays exist, and they go on and on. I have in mind a case where a waterworks scheme was initiated in the town of Moate in my own county. It took six years to get over the technicalities and legalities that were involved there. There were no political obstacles in connection with the case. Every section in the neighbourhood of Moate, including the leaders of religious opinion, came along with us on a deputation to the Minister of the time. The necessary grants were sanctioned, and yet, for six years, that scheme was held up on technicalities and legalities. I could give other  instances. Certain schemes have been in contemplation for the last two or three years in my county. Last June the authorities of the Orthopaedic Hospital in Coole, County Westmeath, initiated a scheme, got in touch with their engineers, put out their advertisements, and now, since the beginning of November, that work is under way, while schemes that would cost far less, and would take less engineering skill, are lying there and going to and fro in the Department for the last two or three years; and I am afraid that will be the case for the next 30 years unless there is some change.
I doubt if this Bill will remedy that kind of thing, but there is an opportunity here of mentioning these facts, and I should like to see whether or not it would be possible for provision to be made, within the framework of the Bill, to expedite work in these places. It is not the public authorities who hold up housing schemes or clearance schemes. The delay is caused in the Department almost always, and if you are going to have a manager, I say you should give him better assistance than you have been giving the public boards in these matters. All this talk about political hacks and politics in local councils is so much nonsense. As long as you have the present system of election you will have political parties there. The practical men belonging to a political party do not interfere with the proper administration of the council. I have known men on public boards who have been very bitter political opponents, but when it came down to looking after the interests and the welfare of their county they were able to sink those political differences. If the Party opposite chose not to contest an election on political grounds, and if this Party here and every Party in the House chose not to contest an election on political grounds, there would probably be another Party outside which would do so. As long as you have a democratic system, you will have political parties in local affairs, and it is not a bad thing. It does not condemn those men as inefficient administrators if they have a political opinion of one kind or another. I do not want to go too deeply into the matter now, beyond  stating that very often the man who says he has no politics in this country is a dyed-in-the-wool imperialist. He has no country; he would let down this country on every possible occasion.
There is another matter to which I should like to refer, and that is the question of tenders for contracts. It should be the prerogative and the right of the council to examine tenders received. I do not think it right that one public official should deal with a problem involving perhaps £100,000 or £200,000. Those officials, those managers, may be perfectly all right, but in the interests of fair play, in the interests of those contracting, and in the interests of public administration, the examination of tenders should remain with the councillors as it did heretofore. I do not know whether that is referred to in the Bill, but it should be safeguarded. If the manager has the power, it should be taken from him. Those tenders should be opened, as heretofore, out of a sealed box before the whole council, placed on the table of the council, and the council allowed to deal with them.
Mr. Kennedy: I think I made my reason clear when I said that in the interests of public administration, and so that the public themselves whose money is being spent will be satisfied that everything is above board, that should be done. I remember when I went on the Westmeath Board of Health I made a rule, as chairman of that board that no tenders were to be put into the box until the morning of the meeting and until a quorum of councillors was present. The box was duly sealed before that occurred. I support this Bill, and finally I want to say this much about it. It has been suggested, in criticism of the Bill, that some others besides the secretaries of county councils should be candidates for the panel of managers. Now, the Appointments Commissioners have given us secretaries who have proved efficient. I was critical of the Appointments Commissioners myself, but the officers they have given have proved efficient. They are not natives of the  county, in the midlands in any case. They have given good service, and have proved, as far as their limited powers have gone, to be good administrators. I do not see why we should debar them from being candidates and getting the opportunity of being managers. I should like to see a municipal service here. I should like to see the rate of pay for the surveyor in County Leitrim the same as in County Meath; that applies also to the assistant surveyor and to the accountant. I should not like to see a state of things whereby those men would be prevented from being promoted on account of the fact that a civil servant, because of the slowness of promotion in the Civil Service, became a candidate for a particular position. As I said, I should like to see a municipal service here; apart from the Civil Service. I support this Bill.
Mr. Esmonde: I am very glad that the Party to which I belong left it to the individual members of that Party to decide what they should do with regard to this Bill. When I first read the Bill a couple of days ago I had a completely open mind on this question. I determined to listen to the debate, to read the Bill very carefully, and to examine as far as I could the local government system and the various Acts of Parliament connected with it. I had no doubt whatever in coming to the conclusion that it is my duty to oppose this Bill and support the Labour amendment. In doing so I have given careful consideration to the very sensible and very sincere remarks which have been made by various speakers, but, as far as this debate has proceeded, I have been strengthened in the view that it is the duty of a public representative elected here to the Dáil to oppose the Bill in its present form. I frankly admit that reforms are necessary in our system of local government. I also think that the codification of local government law is not only long overdue but it is a very urgent necessity at the present time.
We have had here the views of members of this House who have had long  experience on local bodies. We have also had the views of those who are not members of local bodies, and never have been members of local bodies. I belong to the latter class. I must say that I think those of us who have never served on local bodies in the country owe a debt of gratitude to those public minded citizens who come forward and give their time to matters of this kind. So far as that is concerned then, I can come to the question, so to speak, with a virgin mind. I have also taken into consideration the fact that in my own county I am what might be called a substantial ratepayer, paying rates possibly on very non-productive property. That is a factor I think which one might take into consideration. The first reason why I oppose this Bill is that it is a revolution in local government law in this country. The first time the people of this country were really placed in touch with local government law was as a result of the Local Government Act, 1898. That was hailed as a triumph in those days. It was hailed as a triumph for democracy. The system which was set up under that Act continued in being and bore the onslaught of time, so to speak, down to the year 1925, when it was changed by the system which was then brought into operation with the coming into being of the county boards of health system, instead of the bodies which it superseded. That, of course, was an excellent change.
The present Bill proposes to revolutionise the entire system. I submit that it is a Bill with a misnomer. It is called the County Management Bill. I think it should be more properly called the Local Government Bill and read with other local government legislation. I will give it a simple test. Supposing a Bill called a County Management Bill came before the House, and an amendment were introduced by some member which would have the effect, the same as the section in this Bill, of abolishing a county board of health, I feel that it would be regarded as a remarkable amendment to a Bill that is described as a County Management Bill. I think the changes sought under this measure come before the House in a very elaborate  disguise. This Bill is being read in the absence of complementary and supplementary legislation which the Minister foreshadowed when he stated that later on a Local Government Bill would be introduced which would define the areas, the number of county councillors, etc. The House should not be asked to consider a Bill of such enormous importance as this without Deputies having before them the terms of the other Bill which the Minister envisaged. The two things must be read together. For that reason I object to this Bill in its present form, apart altogether from the issues raised in the Bill itself.
There were two sets of reasons advanced here in favour of the Bill by the speakers on each side of the House. Only one of these reasons was sponsored by the Minister in his opening statement, the question of the convenience of business and the complexity of business. There have been other reasons advanced, reasons to which I, as an Irishman, take the greatest objection. It has become quite popular lately—I noticed it around the country amongst our citizens—to go in for sneering at ourselves. I listened yesterday to two speeches here with which I am in entire disagreement. Both speeches were delivered in favour of the Bill, and both speeches advanced the theory, or rather they suggested, that persons elected to local boards are not fit mentally or morally to conduct the business of those boards. I listened to the speech of one Deputy with amazement. He does not belong to my Party, but he is a man for whom I have the greatest regard. I know he spoke sincerely, but I almost felt I was eavesdropping outside the door at the last indignation meeting of the Grand Jury before they were abolished.
He was followed by another speaker, who said that the remarks of the first speaker might be misinterpreted in the House. All I have to say with regard to that is that when this speaker came to develop his point of view, he also introduced into the tone of his speech certain sneers against individuals in this country, and I said to myself: “I am afraid he is not his father's son.” However, I will leave it at that, but before I do so, I would like to say that I resent, as a member of this House, that some of us should put ourselves on high and mighty pinacles here and use this forum to belittle the activities and the mentality of the people who carried out their duties on local bodies in this country from 1898 down to the present time. Of course, in every state of society and in every organisation there are people who are responsible for various matters with which the general public do not agree, such as corruption and other things of that kind. These things occur in every type of organisation, and people should not condemn the 99 other decent, honest public citizens who, for two or three generations, have come forward to administer public affairs in this country.
I am glad the Minister did not rely on that ground. He relied on the ground of convenience and complexity of business. There is no doubt that is a matter that should weigh with us when we are considering the question of local authorities. I believe this is a matter for very grave consideration, and it should be carefully considered, and I have carefully considered it. The trend of modern legislation, since I came into this House a couple of years ago, has been, so far as I have seen— and I do not use the language in an offensive sense—in the direction of a dictatorship by the Executive of the country. Bill after Bill is turned into an Act and placed on the Statute Book here, and that legislation in some way or another affects the liberties of the individual citizens of this State. I do not say that is done deliberately, but there seems to be a mentality growing up here which is sponsored—and again I do not say it offensively—by civil servants. They tell us there is a necessity for this type of legislation and for that type of legislation.
I do not object to the abolition of the county boards of health. My real objection to the Bill is the introduction of the manager and the abolition of the right of the members of the county council to decide the various matters that arise. I am not quite sure how many managers this Bill will bring into  existence. There may be 20, or perhaps more. These managers, it was stated by Deputy O'Sullivan, and I do not like to contradict him, are subject to dismissal by the county councils. They may be, on paper, but they are not in reality. This is how the Bill deals with the matter. First of all, the Minister appoints a manager subject to certain necessary preliminaries. That is under Section 4. Under Section 5 the manager is to hold office until death. Under Section 6 he is not to be removed without the sanction of the Minister, and under Section 17 he is to make payments after countersigning in the presence of a nominating officer, who is himself also appointed by the Minister. I do not think it requires very keen investigation to decide that, take it or leave it, the manager is the creature of the Minister. He belongs to the Minister and to the Department. Even if the Minister were a superman he could not himself control in person the activities of all these areas, the different county council areas. Even if he had 20 heads, and 20 hands, he could not himself take any vital decision which would arise from day to day in connection with the administration of local authorities. Therefore, the decision would be left in the hands of some official in an office here in Dublin. And it will be found that each of these local areas will be run from a desk in some office, by some official of the Local Government Department.
That is why I think this Bill introduces a spirit of dictatorship into the administration of local authorities. I do not say that in any offensive sense. I think the officials of the Local Government Department are excellent officials and that they carry out their work well. I am quite sure they are the last people who would desire to play the rôle of dictators. But the fact remains that the administration of the local areas will be done from somewhere in the Local Government buildings. I referred already to the old tag—no taxation without representation. Local taxation is different from national taxation. It is a direct taxation of the property of the individual. There is no  such thing as indirect taxation there as we have in the case of national taxation on commodities and other things. The individual ratepayer has to pay his rates; he is, if this Bill passes, going to have his money disbursed by a county manager who must, and will, be under the Minister and Department of Local Government. To say the least of it that is undemocratic.
In 1898 there was taken away from a small body of people in this country, people who were very influential, the right to dragoon the rest of the people and the right to spend their money any way they liked. They could spend that money in any way they thought fit and without consultation with the local inhabitants. In 1898 the old grand jury system that was worked on this basis was done away with. For the past 40 years we have lived under the present system. As a result of this Bill the system under which we have lived for 40 years is to be used as a conduit pipe to take away the privileges which the grand jury once possessed and to pass on those privileges to the executive of this country as against the local people. I do not think that is right. This Bill creates terrific changes in our law. This Bill was not in the Party programme of any of the political parties at the last election so far as I know. If a change of this kind is to take place the people should have some right to adjudicate on it. It is one of those cases where enormous changes are being made, and there should be a reference to the people by way of a referendum. As to the actual form of the Bill, it has been suggested here that it is not really taking away much except relieving the local bodies of a certain amount of duties which they have been performing up to the present and passing over that work to the county manager. I looked very carefully through this Bill and I find that the Minister's name is mentioned in 22 sections. There are only nine out of the 31 sections of the Bill in which his name is not mentioned in some way or another. He has not only one but several active duties to perform, and he performs these through his local agent the county manager.
There is one other matter to which I would like to refer in connection with  the activities of the county manager. It is possible if this Bill becomes law that through it certain onerous duties will be passed on to the local authorities. That would not in any way, I think, interfere with the Constitution, but it is tending towards dictatorship of the local bodies. A lot of business could be got rid of from headquarters in Dublin, and also a lot of expenditure could be forced by way of dictatorship upon the local people by the Executive. It is due to the people of this country to say that no Party in this House had any mandate from the people to alter the present system of local government by legislation of this kind. I submit that this Bill should not be read a Second Time until more mature consideration has been given to it. I think the proper way in which that consideration can be given is by way of the amendment which has been proposed by the Labour Party, and I intend to support that amendment.
Mr. Keyes: At this stage it is difficult to contribute anything new to the discussion. Nearly everything that can be said on the Bill has already been said. In supporting the amendment tabled in the name of the Labour Party, I am satisfied that up to the present no justification has been shown for this proposed drastic change in the local affairs of our life. This Bill should not be passed without very due consideration and investigation into the working of local government. No case has been made before the House that would justify the complete sweeping away of the public boards of the country, because that is what it means. Allegations have been made that the managerial system is an ideal one. I am not going to take issue on that point, but the terms of our amendment ask that a full and complete inquiry into both the managerial system and local government by elected bodies should first be made, and then have a comparison of the advantages of each. This investigation can be made by a commission appointed by the Government themselves. Having due regard to the system under which local government has been carried on and financed, the commission would be able to  arrive at a satisfactory conclusion. It has been already said that the times through which we are passing are not normal times, and because of that it could not be expected that everything would be done as satisfactorily as in normal times. Still, notwithstanding the difficult times through which we have passed, I am prepared to say that the public boards of this country have given very valuable and heroic services to the people. There may have been cases of negligence, neglect or something worse. I join with Deputy Esmonde in saying that 99 per cent. of our public bodies should not be judged because of the malfeasance of one. I have been a member of a public board for the past 14 years. For that reason I regret that Deputy Bourke saw fit to say in his remarks last night that it was only since the city manager came to Limerick that we have known what local government should be. That is not a fitting tribute from the present holder of the mayoral office in Limerick to the administration of his own city, a city with the oldest charter in Ireland, dating back to 1197. In all those years the work of that city was carried on without managerial control.
We managed to get along all right in all those years. I am not making any adverse remarks about the managers we have been fortunate enough to get since the city managership was set up, but it is unfair and unwise to suggest that it is only since the arrival of the managerial system that we have been able to function properly. Previous to that we had in the City of Limerick what may be held to have been a very cumbersome corporation totalling 40 members. Over these the mayor exercised complete control with the assistance of the town clerk. I am prepared to have this investigation commission examine the work done previous to the coming of the managerial system. I am aware that the Lord Mayor of Cork has asked for the same investigation that we are asking for in Limerick, and to have the managerial system examined and compare it with what was done before that came into operation. When both schemes have been examined let us not forget that we did  not get from the Local Government the same facilities and co-operation as have been given to the managers that have since been appointed. Had we got that co-operation I believe there would be no case whatever for the managerial system. Everybody that has been engaged in public life knows that facilities have been provided for the managers which were not available for the elected representatives of the people.
We put forward a housing scheme for Limerick some years ago. I was then Mayor of Limerick myself. We have had several schemes of housing since, but none bigger than that one. We wanted to procure a site for housing and it took about two and a half years to get that site transferred through the various Departments concerned in Dublin. That site was handed over under Article 10 of the Treaty by the War Department of Great Britain, as it was a training ground for the British Army. We had to acquire it through the medium of the Department of Defence, the Board of Works, the Department of Local Government, and three or four other Departments. As I say, it took more than two years to have that site, which is in the heart of the City of Limerick, transferred to us in order to build houses and to rescue people from the slums. We had to pay a fairly considerable figure to the Department of Defence for that property before we could house our slum dwellers. I suggest that if we had not locally elected representatives then, and if we had a manager, that period would have been halved, and more than halved, because there would have been acceleration at the top to show the efficiency of the managerial system.
As I say, we have in recent years recruited men on boards on rather different standards from those which obtained in more normal times. The disturbance and dislocation which have taken place in this country cannot be readjusted in a short period. Notwithstanding the allegations bandied about this House about political partisanship, I think that at the present time there is a good deal of common sense and  civic pride being displayed by the county councils in this country. On most occasions I have seen political labels completely scrapped and councillors voting on the issues before them from the point of view of the interests of their districts. There may, of course, have been occasions when they were divided on political lines. What right have we to criticise county councillors for showing political bias? This is the last place from which that stone should be hurled. On the contrary, I think we can look to the county councils for a lead, because we have often seen in the Dáil the conscience of the individual submerged by the political Party Whip. I hold that that Whip does not function to anything like the same extent in local administration; that there is much more freedom of thought exercised by county councillors, and that they are much more concerned with the local interests with which they are dealing. They are able to throw aside political bias when dealing with issues which affect the lives of their constituents. They are not so hidebound as we are here.
When we come to sweeping away this local system, which is the basis of our social life, we should ask ourselves what mandate we have and what authority we have to do it. Only recently we have seen legislation passed in this House turned down on legal grounds. On ethical grounds, I am prepared to challenge the right of the House to do what this Bill proposes to do. We are elected on a democratic franchise. Deputy Dillon spoke about the system of manhood suffrage. He did not use the word “flapper”, but he meant it. Why should we, without any decision being given at a general election, or without any special mandate, turn to the people who elected us and say that we are going to deprive them of the right to elect representatives to the local parliaments which really made it possible for us to have a native Parliament here? We are proceeding to rob the citizens of the opportunity of exercising the rights of citizenship, except perhaps occasionally to vote for this democratically elected institution which is daily developing into one big autocracy. The trend of  legislation in this House, both industrially and socially, is heading straight towards one end, and that is central dictatorship. That cannot be denied by anyone who studies the Acts which we have passed here.
If we pass this Bill without further consideration or investigation, I suggest that, whether we mean to do it or not, we are making the case, which will not be lost, upon the electors of the country, that there is no room for the Dáil if there is no room for county councils. If we here at the head of affairs tell the country that we are wiping out county councils, boards of health, mental hospital committees, and the members who have given time and attention to the work of these boards, I definitely hold that the people who are now going to be robbed of the right of voting for the members of these boards will ask themselves: “Why not get a State manager as well as a county manager?” Whether or not that is the intention behind the Bill I do not know, but I suggest seriously that the effect will be the same.
At the present time everybody in this country, I am sure, is worried and upset by the activities of those gentlemen on the Continent who have got into the position of dictators. I cannot visualise with any pleasure the prospect of this country being run by any single individual. Neither can I visualise with any pleasure or equanimity the running of the affairs of our counties by any single individual. We will, I presume, retain the county secretaries, who are highly efficient men, well-trained and experienced in their work. It may be that they have not sufficient executive authority. I believe myself that they have sufficient authority. If any alteration is to be made in the present system, in my opinion it should be in connection with boards of health and public assistance. I certainly think that an alteration made in that direction would be all for the better. But that is quite a minor detail as compared with the drastic measure now put forward, completely sweeping away what we have cherished since 1898 as a charter of liberty for  the humble classes of the country as for the fairly well-to-do.
Deputy O'Sullivan is anxious to know how a man can do the business of a county council and do his own business as well. He must have been at the Abbey Theatre play, “Professor Tim”. There is a very good moral to be drawn from “Professor Tim's” doctrine. When Deputy O'Sullivan asks how a county councillor can do the business of a county council and look after his own business as well, I would ask him to apply that question to Deputies here. How many Deputies here are giving their whole attention to the business of the State? How many Deputies have their own business to attend to as well? When we apply these standards to county councillors we should try to keep ourselves in the picture also, because we will be kept in the picture by the man in the street when he examines the reactions of this Bill.
Deputy O'Sullivan also stated that in his constituency those who supported him and those who did not support him were complaining that they were not getting value for their money from the county council. I wonder if he thinks they are all satisfied with what we are doing in the Dáil here. I do not think any Deputy will say that his constituents are delighted with the product of our work here where we are paid decent salaries for doing the work of the State. If we are to judge by what the man in the street thinks in that respect, I think we will get more brick-bats than bouquets. People will not say that they are getting good value for their money. The general tendency in this Parliament has been towards centralisation and the wiping out of democratic institutions. We have that even in connection with industrial matters. Some of our industrial concerns are semi-State institutions. We have sugar, lighting, and, recently, bacon all being pushed into the hands of smaller and smaller commissions and trusts. We have not gone the whole hog in nationalising anything.
On the social side, we have scrapped the national health insurance societies through the country, 60 of them in  number. Under the old system people had contact with the local secretary. Here again there was plenty of evidence of the capacity of the Irish people to adapt themselves without any previous training to that work, and to interpret a very difficult Act brought in by Mr. Lloyd George. It was run with very considerable success, and its failure financially, to my mind, was attributable to circumstances over which these people had no control. That has been centralised, and I suggest not with any satisfaction or improvement to the lot of the individual insurer. Neither will this tightening up or centralising of the government of our counties in the hands of one individual give more satisfaction to the people. It will be regarded as an insult, and will cause resentment against the intrusion of this Dáil in a matter with which it should not deal without a definite mandate from the people. In England at present the very reverse of what we are trying to do is being done. They are constantly broadening and extending the powers of local people, giving them a bigger “say” and a bigger interest in the affairs of citizenship. If we are going to preserve democracy and not allow ourselves to be led blindly—whether wilfully or unconsciously—to that slippery slope leading to dictatorship, we should be slow to take a step such as is contemplated in this Bill, which is going to sweep away the corner-stone of our democratic institutions and make the people who go into these councils mere rubber stamps. The people who go into these councils in an advisory capacity will be asked to submerge their intelligence by the manager, and be told: “I have taken a decision.” There will be recorded decisions and they will be the rubber stamps for the work done. That is not going to attract people of intelligence, and it is not going to develop the spirit of citizenship which is so essential to the best interests of the country.
The Labour Party amendment does not interfere with the terms of the Bill, but it says that cause has not been shown for the introduction of the Bill  at this juncture. It asks for postponement of the Bill until full and ample inquiry is made by a competent commission appointed by the Minister himself. I suggest that no change of importance which this Bill contemplates should be introduced by a reasonable Minister without giving effect to that request to have a full inquiry instituted. That should be done before we sweep away the county councils which served us so well.
Mr. Beegan: I am supporting this Bill unhesitatingly and wholeheartedly, because I believe it is sound in prin ciple and long overdue. I am not influenced in my support of this Bill by any criticisms I have heard of members of local authorities. As a matter of fact, I wish to reiterate what was stated here by a number of Deputies— that members of local authorities, as I have known them, have done their work thoroughly, efficiently and honestly. Very often the chief critics of these people, who tried to spread the rumour that there was corruption and all the rest, were the very people who tried either by inducement or intimidation to have a particular thing done that would be corrupt.
I believe a manager is necessary. I happened to have been chairman of a board of health for the past five or six years. Everybody is agreed that there should be some reform as regards boards of health. If that be so, I should like to point out that the amount of work dealt with by a board of health is very much greater than the amount of work dealt with by a county council— the primary body. After all, the major portion of the work of a county council is carried out by the subsidiary bodies. But, going into a meeting of the board of health, a huge agenda is presented to you. You have one day of six or seven hours in the month to go through that work. No matter how well intentioned anybody may be or how they try to deal with the work in an efficient way, it is impossible to get through that mass of work and give a proper study to many of the matters on the agenda. The board of health is largely directed by the secretary in all matters. The secretary will now be subject to the  manager and the manager will have to take responsibility. The same is true in regard to the county councils.
I do not believe that the county councils are losing any authority that they have at present. Saturday after Saturday, the finance committee meets in our county, payments of thousands of pounds are passed and paying orders are signed by the chairman and two other members of the committee. All the payments are made on the advice of the secretary. That will be done in future by the manager—with this difference, that the manager will have to take full responsibility. At present, while the secretary directs the council, he can shelter behind the council. That, to my mind, makes a very big difference. Everybody knows that local expenditure has considerably increased and that social services have likewise increased, so that it is impossible for any body of men, no matter now well-intentioned, to go into all the details. This will be largely the business of the manager.
The poorer section of the community will be catered for as they have been catered for under the Public Assistance Act passed by the Oireachtas. That Act conferred greater authority and power on the county councils than they had for a great number of years. I do not understand what other sections of the community we should be so very, very careful about or why we should be afraid that they will be treated unfairly by the manager. The county council has full control of the making of the rate and the manager will have to work within that rate. That is the principal control, so far as I see, of public finance.
It has been suggested here that the authority of the councils is being interfered with in such a way that all patronage will be taken from them. Suggestions of that kind were made—that the manager will have the making of all the minor appointments. No other appointments can, of course, be made since the initiation of the Local Appointments Commission. I do not think that the making of temporary appointments by a local authority brings very much patronage to any member of that authority. For any  minor post, there are a number of applicants. They come along and make a canvass. You have got to make a decision and vote for one of them. He is your friend for the time being. The others, whether they are political supporters or opponents of yours, are your enemies. The man you elect to that temporary position comes along in six or 12 months and asks for an increase in salary. When you tell him that he was very glad to get the position, and that you cannot see your way to support an application for an increase of salary, he is a greater enemy of yours than the applicants who were defeated when the vacancy was filled. So far as I am concerned, I do not think that any patronage by any member of a local authority, irrespective of the political Party which he supports, is to be got in such a way.
The manager, to a certain extent, will act as the Deputy of the Minister. That is my interpretation of the Bill. Therefore, being the deputy of the Minister, if he does anything that is contrary to popular feeling in the local district, I am sure that there will be an opportunity in this House of having the matter tested. Deputy Norton, who has a motion down opposing this Bill, spoke of the inconsistency of the Fianna Fáil Party in opposing the managerial system, when it was first introduced, and now introducing a Bill of this kind; but I believe that, if I live long enough, whether inside this House or outside it, and if any question comes up as to the action of any such manager or public official, and if any such question is raised by a member of any Party in this House, Deputy Norton will be the first man in this House—and, perhaps, rightly so—to stand up and defend that official. I have never heard of a case of any official, or any executive officer, or any member of the Civil Service, being criticised, where Deputy Norton was not the first to stand up and defend these officials. That being so, why does he fear a manager being put in charge in the cases we have now before us? If we are to credit the officials on public boards and in the Civil Service with the highest motives and the best intentions, why do Deputy Norton and other Deputies fear that a county  manager will abuse his powers? Why not credit him with the same high motives and good intentions that they ascribe to themselves? I do not think there is any great danger at all in that case, particularly when the council concerned has the authority in the first instance to strike the rate, and when the manager has to work within that.
As I said, the Public Assistance Act provides for the poorer sections, and that is another reason why I am strongly in support of this Bill. If the people who are entitled to home help and home assistance had not been provided for, and if it had been left to a manager to deal with the administration of that Act, perhaps I might not have been so euthusiastic about this Bill. We were told, of course, by some people that this Bill is a negation of democracy, and all the rest of it. I do not believe that it is. The councils will still be elected, and I firmly believe that, with the managerial system in operation, you will get a much better type of candidate to go forward for election on the local bodies than you ever had before, because such candidates will go forward with the full knowledge that they have got to look after the ratepayers' interests, in the first instance—and that, probably, will be their principal function—and they will also go forward with the full knowledge that they are not going to be tripped up on every occasion on which there is a minor position or minor job vacant and to be filled.
It has been suggested to us here that the men who have been elected to corporations under managers in the various cities feel that they are only rubber stamps. Well, if they feel that, I should say that they are not even rubber, that they are not being more than putty, and that they should not be there at all. I say that, if these people feel that way about it, they should not be there at all and the best way in which they could object to that system is to resign from any corporation to which they have been elected. There are a few other points in connection with the Bill, to which I should  like to refer. One is the question of the appointment of rate collectors. That is reserved to the county councils. I doubt if that is a wise thing. After all, if the manager is going to have the responsibility for the rate collection and for the rate collector, I believe that it would be better if such an appointment were made on the recommendation of the manager, with the approval of the county council. I think that that would be a good enough principle, and that it would be rather better than vesting such an appointment solely in the county council itself. There is another point to which I should like to refer. As I said at the outset, I have no objection whatsoever to the manager having full authority and control of the right to make all minor appointments, but one of the powers that I do not think he should have—if he has got power under the Bill—is the right to increase the personnel of his staff, or the staff of the county council, without that also being approved by the county council—acting, of course, on his recommendation. There is also the question of remuneration, superannuation and compensation. These matters, in my opinion, should also be referred to the county council for approval.
There is a section in the Bill which makes it possible for the Minister to have assistant managers appointed. Now, I believe that it would be very advisable to do that, if it is thought necessary, at the very outset, and that the counties where it is thought necessary or likely that assistant managers would be required should be specifically mentioned and assistant managers appointed for these counties at the outset. Further, I believe that all county managers should have a uniform salary, because I think that that would make for better administration. It would mean that managers who were paid less than other managers would not be putting up a case from time to time that their duties had so increased that their salaries should be brought up to the same level as those of other managers. I think that some such provision should be brought in on the Committee Stage of the Bill, and in any case I think it would be better to do  at the outset what, at the moment, is left open in the Bill to be done at a later stage.
My chief reason for standing up here at all in support of the Bill, as I said, is because I believe that the Bill is sound in principle and is not taking away from local bodies any powers other than the powers that they have not got already, save by name. Since the Local Government Act of 1925 became law, everything that a council does, generally, is subject to sanction, and many of the things that are done by way of administration are nearly all carried out on the advice of the secretary—particularly, where the spending of money is concerned. I should like also to support the point put forward by Deputy Kennedy, with regard to tendering for contracts. It may be mentioned in the Bill. I am not saying, nor do I suggest, that tenders for contracts would not be safe in the hands of a county manager, but I think it would be better, so as to ensure confidence and to avoid the possibility of subsequent whispering, if all tenders for contracts were submitted to the chairman of the county council, opened, and given away at a meeting of the county council, rather than to give full powers to the manager to place contracts.
Now, with regard to the question of county managers and what they are likely to do or not to do, I believe that the men most fitted to fill these positions, in many instances, are the secretaries of county councils and of the boards of health. I have a very high opinion of some of them, as I am sure has everybody else who has come in contact with them. I feel sure that, after this Bill has become law, any deserving people in regard to work on roads or anything of that kind will be dealt with as sympathetically by the county surveyors as they are at the present time. I have yet to find an instance where any genuine applicant for work on an improvement scheme under a county council was turned away by the county surveyor. I wish to conclude by saying that I am supporting this Bill. I consider that it is very necessary, and that instead of being a barrier it will be an incentive to the  better type of men to go forward for local election in future.
Mr. Cosgrave: With the general principle of the managerial system I would be in agreement. Some eight or nine years ago we indicated, I think on the occasion of a Budget debate, our agreement to a proposal to that effect. The matter had not been considered at any great length. In fact, as far as my memory goes, it had not come before the Executive Council, but a statement was made by the Minister for Finance on the occasion of the Budget debate in 1931 that it was a matter which was under consideration with a view to improving the system of local government in the country.
There is not a very excellent choice presented to the House when considering the question of this Bill or the amendment. The Bill has very many objectionable features in it, and the amendment is neither elegant nor lucid. It says “pending an inquiry into the whole subject of local government administration”; what that means I presume the framers of the resolution know. But notwithstanding the infirmity of the resolution, I prefer it to the Bill. The Bill may possibly make the managerial system a failure. It is proposed to provide a managerial system within a short period after the passing of the measure. The success of the managerial system depends, and always will depend, upon the capability of the person appointed. You may get an excellent series of local bodies in any particular county, and they might do the business just as well as a manager, but an efficient, capable, competent, and up-to-date manager would, I venture to say, generally be a more efficient method of administration in the country generally. We are providing here for some 21 managers. Now, there are capable secretaries of county councils throughout the country. Most of them have been in their particular office for a number of years. Some of them, I feel quite sure, would be competent and efficient managers, but it is not quite clear that the introduction of the measure at this time, the general reception which it received and, in  fact, the history of this country for the past few years, lead off in any favourable way towards the institution of this system.
There has been a marked increase in the rates in nearly all counties. In this present year the figure is going to be close on £1,000,000 over what it was in 1931-32. The contribution from the State is less by some £78,000 than it was in 1931-32. With the expenses rising and the Government contribution towards the relief of the rates falling, that is the period selected by the Government to get still more control over those county councils. It may be that a competent and efficient manager would be quite independent of the Local Government Department. It may be, but we are not given any assurance in regard to the matter.
In fact, when one looks into the methods adopted in connection with the appointment of a manager in the case of one of the most important bodies—if not the most important body —in the country, and looks up the series of questions that were put to the candidates by the Selection Board which was appointed, one feels that it was a miracle that they got a good man. As everybody knows, no examination will ensure that you will get the very best possible person. All you can hope for is that, at any rate, the person who passes the examination has certain qualifications. In a case of this sort, by putting up a selection board, you seek to get a qualified person. Having looked at the questions which were put in that particular case, I have no confidence whatever in the Local Appointments Commission being the best body to select managers for the different counties.
The last speaker, and I think some others who addressed the House in connection with this matter, said that the county councils would still have the same powers as they formerly had. I cannot find in this measure any provision whereby the county councils will consider the estimates, and have the right to alter, amend, increase or reduce the estimates. They have to strike the rate. There is a wonderful  solemnity about the striking of a rate in any local authority throughout the country, but, as a matter of fact, it is merely a function. The real work is in the consideration of the estimates, in making up the estimates, in putting into the estimates what the local authority considers ought to be included there for the public services, in eliminating any extravagance or waste and endeavouring to economise as far as possible while keeping the public services at a high state of efficiency. That work being done, it falls to the officials in the accountancy department, or the rates department or whatever particular section of the county council deals with it, to applot the rate, and the councillors solemnly come in under the chairman and solemnly pass that as the rate. If that is the function that is left to the county council under this measure, it seems unreasonable that the people who are responsible for assessing and collecting a sum of over £3,000,000 per annum should merely take part in that very solemn but almost useless function—because they might as well order the rate to be struck on the date on which they finished the estimates as to come in there in solemn form and do it—while the sum to be contributed by the State is only something like £1,870,000.
Another portion of the Bill which did not strike me as very favourable is that dealing with the duties that are to be undertaken by the visiting committees to mental hospitals. They are to look after complaints. If there is one country in the world which has specialised in complaints almost since the democratic system, as it has been described, came into being here, it is this country. Complaints are to be listened to from patients. I think anybody who has at any time had any contact with persons of weak mind knows quite well the number of complaints they will put forward, and it is to be expected that the visiting committee will be kept busy in connection with the hearing of complaints. I wonder did it strike the Minister's Department that a body charged with that particular duty is likely to be a nuisance to the management of an institution of that sort and that, while it may be very advisable  indeed to hear complaints, to put it as one of the principal statutory conditions of the responsibilities of a body of that sort does appear to be unusual.
Another point that arises in connection with this, and on which I am not quite clear, is in relation to surcharges. If we are to have county councils, and members of county councils are to have the responsibility of appearing in solemn form to strike the rate, to borrow money and do some of the other functions reserved to them by this measure, are they to be liable to surcharge? It appears to me that if a manager is to be charged with responsibility for looking after the staff, considering tenders, drawing up payments or recommending the council to draw cheques, the responsibility for the surcharge ought to be on him, more especially when I find, in a particular section of the Bill, that the Minister has the right to nominate a certain official who is to help him with regard to that. If there is the danger of a county council not having any right to make up estimates, having no responsibility in connection with administration generally, having only the power to strike the rate or pass a resolution in connection with certain matters it does seem a little severe on them to make them liable to surcharges, although at the moment I am not quite clear whether they do incur that particular responsibility in connection with the new system.
The managerial system, to be effective, has to get over the prejudices largely fostered by that Party over there, helped by the Labour Party, almost since the introduction of the system. It is a system which may work well, but it must not be hampered in its work. It must, above all things, be rid of that atmosphere of officialdom which distinguishes the Local Government Department perhaps more than any other Department of State. It ought to have the fairest possible prospects of success.
It is not clear to me whether if this motion were to be passed as it is drawn, it would get for us recommendations in connection with the best means of working the managerial system. It would be probably one of the best  things that the new Minister for Local Government could undertake if he found it possible to introduce a system with less of that red tape which seems to run from one end of the Bill to the other. He might consider, in view of the experience of the Department over the last 13 or 14 years, whether it would not be possible to relax to some extent all these sanctions that the Department must give in connection with practically everything that a local authority does. There may have been a very good reason for introducing those at a particular time, and there may be equally good reasons now for an occasional relaxation of those conditions.
Considering local government generally over the period for which the people of this country have been responsible for it, there has been remarkably good work done. I suppose there was scarcely any country in the world so backward just before the introduction of the Public Health Act of 1878, and here even in the City of Dublin scarcely anybody would believe you now if you said there was no main drainage system in the city in the year 1896, some 42 years ago. Public health generally has improved to a remarkable extent, but there has not been such a marked improvement in it within the last seven or eight years to warrant the very heavy expense, or the expanded expense, of the Department of Local Government. We are asked now, in connection with this Bill, and with the record of that Ministry for extravagance in its own particular department, to take up a new measure which will restrict, to a very considerable extent, the administration of local bodies.
In recent years here we passed an Act extending the franchise for local authorities. I do not think there has been an election for the county councils since that extension. Quite a number of people, and particularly people like the members of the Labour Party, who are really the political successors of a good deal of the bosh we heard for many years before Ministers changed from one side of the House to the other, are in the position of putting forward the same sort of nonsense that we heard from over there.
Mr. Cosgrave: I doubt that. It has been found out by now—that is the unfortunate thing about it. The Deputy missed the tide. I think the Labour Party's reaction, in so far as I heard it in relation to this measure, is tinged with a little exaggeration. At any rate, they have seen the light before you. The pity of it is that, having had such a great opportunity of improving local government, this Bill is not a better measure. It is quite possible it was not drawn up as it is by the Minister—that he also inherited it. I take it he has had more experience of men and things than his predecessor, and I think he would be well advised, if his Party has not got a free choice in connection with this matter, which is the privilege of this Party here and not of any other Party in the House in connection with this measure, to make a really good measure out of this Bill. He has the opportunity. We would be glad to see it improved.
A good deal of criticism has been passed on local authorities in connection with what is called patronage. I had as much experience of local authorities, I suppose, as anybody else, and, while they were not perfect, they did their work fairly well. In fact, one of the outstanding characteristics of this country during the last 40 years was the marked success of local government from its initiation. I go further and I say that the administration of local government was better before the Sinn Féin movement than it was afterwards. There was a patronage, and there have been allegations of every sort and kind in connection with its use. It is inevitable, when the question of patronage arises, that there will be complaints of that sort.
The new managers will have patronage. How is that to be exercised? Have they to get sanction from the Local Government Department in connection with their exercise of it? Is he to be influenced at all in connection with representations from local persons. or is he to be a law unto himself? I see a very considerable difficulty in  connection with that matter. I can scarcely think that the Minister would put it into the measure that that was to be reserved for the Local Government Department. Whatever way it is going to be worked, it ought not to be the prerogative of the person who is appointed. I hope, in any case, whatever ultimate form this measure will take, that at least the House will be assured on that point.
The trouble about this measure is that it comes in at this time when the Government itself, looking back over its work for the last seven or eight years, must realise that it is probably the most extravagant institution in the State. As one Deputy said—I think it was Deputy Keyes—it would be a good matter if we could get a manager in charge of our Government. This thing, at any rate, has to be said in connection with the finance of local authorities, that, until the legislation interfered with them, they made their estimates and struck the rates.
Having made their estimates and struck the rates, they were not entitled to spend any more money than that. Each year, according to the canons of Ministerial finance, had to meet its own liabilities in its own administration. I wish we had the same system here, and if the Government insist on passing this measure, I hope they will also find a manager to do their own work.
Mr. Rogers: I wish to oppose this Bill. I have heard in the last few days quite a lot said for and against it, and having weighed up all the facts. I think one of the greatest injustices that was ever done to this country is the proposed abolition of the representatives of local government in the different counties. We got that authority from England 40 years ago, and now it is being taken away. I am sorry to say that in our own native Parliament here to-night we see a native Government taking away that right from the people of the country. On the Government side of the House last night, a Deputy said that the representatives of the people on the local bodies were corrupt. I am sorry  to say that the Deputy does not know much about decent elected representatives of the people, like those of Sligo and other counties. These are men who were elected by the ratepayers, by the people of the different counties, by men some of whom lived in labourers' cottages. The people voted for the best brains they could get to represent them. They sent men to the local parliament who are a credit to the country and to the county that they represent. In years gone by, these representatives selected officials, and these officials, I am glad to say, are a credit to the men who elected them. They did their work well, and they did justice to the people. In my own time, before the establishment of the Local Appointments Commission, I have seen that we in Sligo selected the best possible officials, who are discharging their duties most efficiently. I heard a Deputy here say he was chairman of the board of health in Galway, and he said that everything was fixed by the secretary, and the secretary had the right to make the laws. I am surprised to hear a Deputy who is chairman of a board of health saying that authority was given by the county council to their secretary. The secretary, he said, had a right there to make laws. No official in any county, secretary or otherwise, has the right to make any laws. It was the representatives of the people who had that right. The abolition of the board of health is the first step towards the abolition of the county council, and when the county council is abolished, you have done away with your local parliament. The people of the county will have no voice in the administration of the local parliament. All power will be left to the county manager, a gentleman who may be sent down from the City of Dublin, a man who has no experience probably, and who does not know the first thing about the poor of that county, nor about the rate collection, nor its possibilities. All power is to be handed over to him.
I do not see for the life of me how a manager coming to Sligo or Leitrim can do justice to the ratepayers and to the poor of that county. In Sligo to-day we have a board of health the  members of which are conscientiously doing their duty and carrying out local administration to the last letter of the law. These people have catered for the poor and sick and looked after their interests. I am sorry to hear a Deputy say that these representatives were corrupt. They are no such thing and they never were. The position at present is this: from the extreme end of Sligo to Roscommon or Mayo border is 20 miles. If a member of a poor man's family is sent a long distance to the hospital under the present administration the local representatives will be in a position when they go to the meetings to look after him. When the county manager is officiating there will be no one to look after him. This Bill is very unfair, and I am much surprised that a West of Ireland man like the present Minister for Local Government and Public Health should sponsor a Bill to take away the administrative powers given to the people's representatives over 40 years ago. The people as a result of this Bill will go back to the days when their representatives had no power with regard to these hospitals. I remember in the dark days of the Black and Tan terror the representatives of Sligo and Leitrim carried on public administration in these counties and when they finished their term of office they left the finances in a sound way. I do not see why the present Government should deprive the people of all the powers of local administration that we got from England in 1898. I think it is unfair and unjust both to the poor and to the ratepayers. It is said and we have heard it here that the county councils will still be elected. For what? For the purpose of striking a rate to raise whatever money the county manager may want. The county council has to finance the board of health. There is no doubt about that. The board of health can spend as much money as it likes. I must say that I see no reason why the county boards of health should be abolished. Deputy Kennedy on the Government Benches, I am delighted to say, put everything in a nutshell when he said it was a slur on the people of the country that a proposal should be made to abolish or take away the power from the people's representatives. I am  going to vote against this Bill before the House this evening and I ask the Government to withdraw it.
Mr. Hughes: On reading through this Bill I must confess that I had very mixed feelings about it. I was swayed by the consideration of preserving the very definite rights and privileges of the people on the one hand and the necessity on the other hand of improving local administration to a state of efficiency and economy. The Long Title of the Bill tells us that it is for the purpose of making better provision for local government. The Minister told us that the Bill was to relieve the overworked local representatives of their responsibilities. From my experience of local administration I admit that reform was necessary.
Since the inception of local government 40 years ago, the administrative responsibility and work of the local authorities has increased enormously, and with the expansion in the social services and the introduction of Public Health Acts, the boards of health have become overloaded with business. On the other hand, when one remembers what is happening in Europe at the present time; what has happened to democracy in Europe and practically in the world to-day, and when one remembers the mighty struggle that is going on for the preservation of democracy, one has to consider whether it is safe to begin to set limits to the rights and privileges of the people. If you introduce bureaucratic government and limit the control of the people step by step, you eventually arrive at the time when a man by a coup d'etat can declare a dictatorship. I think we cannot lose sight of that fact. I am not such a stickler for democratic principles that I am prepared to sacrifice efficiency rather than set some limit to the people's rights. I know that bureaucracy can be harsh, cruel, unkind, unsympathetic, and dictatorial, and that a bureaucratic manager would be governed by red-tape methods so that there would be nothing very elastic about him. On the other hand, I realise that an irresponsible democracy can bring about a situation that might lead to revolution in this country by  their failure to realise their limitations and the capacity of the unfortunate ratepayers to foot the bill.
I do not want to throw bouquets at local authorities. I know their limitations. I know that there are men in this country who have given very good and honest service over a long period of years to local administration. On the other hand, I am quite well aware of the fact that there are a number of individuals on local authorities who have no business capacity whatever and that they are the products of a political machine. The Government at the last elections appealed to the people to give them local authorities to carry out their policy, and, in the vast majority of cases, the people did give them a majority on local authorities. I personally regretted the fact that politics were introduced into local affairs. I realised that that was going to make local administration difficult and nearly impossible. The result of that appeal was that the people gave them as representatives on local authorities, in a great many cases, the most irresponsible individuals that could be found in the country, men that could shout the loudest “Up Fianna Fáil”, men that were never prepared to be critical at any time of Government policy or of what the Government asked local authorities to do.
Posing as the champions of democracy, the Government extended the franchise and made it an adult franchise. I am afraid that the situation now is that the Government are not prepared to trust the machinery they have created. The people have never got any opportunity yet of electing local authorities on an adult suffrage. According to this Bill, they are never going to get a chance, because the Government are alarmed at the whole situation and beginning to realise that the country cannot continue to foot the bill for extravagant local administration in the majority of cases. In that respect, the Government themselves have not set the local authorities a very good example. I am satisfied, however, that some of the responsible individuals in the Fianna Fáil Party and some of the Ministers are waking up and becoming  seriously alarmed at the present financial position, not only of the central Government, but of local administration as well. Hence we have introduced a Bill that is going to deprive local authorities of their responsibility and their privilege to administer their own affairs and to spend their own money. I say that the Government have paved the way to that situation themselves. The Government are responsible through that policy for having to introduce a Bill of this sort at this stage. It is unfortunate that such a Bill is necessary, but I am honest enough to admit that I, personally, with the extended franchise, would be seriously alarmed at the type of person you would get to serve on local authorities.
Mr. Hughes: I am afraid you will not get—and Deputy Allen knows that well—the type of man who will face up to his responsibility. You will get the type of man—and you have a number of them all over the country—who is prepared to spend all the time, without any consideration for the man who has to foot the bill and his capacity to foot the bill. I admit that there is a necessity for reform in local administration, as I have said, but I am certainly not attracted by this Bill. I am not prepared to concentrate in the hands of one individual the extraordinary powers which the Bill proposes to put in his hands. I agree with many of the Deputies who have spoken, that a very poor case has been made by the Minister for this Bill. Obviously the Minister himself is not enamoured of the Bill. I do not know what his personal feelings are about it. Evidently the Bill was drafted before he went to the Local Government Department and it is not his own production. Whether, if he had the reshaping of the Bill again, he would preserve the powers which local authorities have at present, we have not heard from him.
As far as local administration goes, my experience, at all events, is that the board of health is undoubtedly overloaded, and that the particular  system in operation at present has slowed down the work of the board of health. You have a number of men going into meetings of the board of health. First they have a finance meeting, and you have these people going through a long list of relatively small payments, none of them certified payments, and, in the end, they pass an aggregate sum for the whole amount.
It has often struck me that it is time utterly wasted. Even if there were certain items wrong on that list of payments it is not possible for a number of men going in once a month to check up and see whether the payments are right or wrong. They must trust the executive officer and he, to some extent, has to trust other officials. That type of work obviously should be done by one individual who would check over the payments to see that they were right. The local authority ought not to be asked to wade through a long list of relatively small payments.
Again you have matters that occur in between meetings of boards of health that could be more effectively done by an individual charged with executive responsibility. That would help to speed up and expedite matters. You have a huge volume of routine business that ought not to be discussed at all coming before such meetings. We have heard complaints about the long agenda. I do not think that a lot of these routine matters ought to be put on the agenda at all. Take the case of councils that send patients to Dublin for extern treatment. Urgent cases are sent immediately. The medical authorities have power to do that, but normal cases, which are not urgent, must be held over from meeting to meeting. They are, obviously, cases that will require medical or surgical attention in a hospital, and there is no reason why these cases should be held over from one meeting to another. A man with executive authority should have power to send these patients to Dublin without waiting for a meeting at all.
Then, you have matters which have been discussed by every board of health throughout the country—hospitalisation schemes and matters of that  kind which involve a great deal of correspondence between the local authority and the Minister, or the Minister's Department. A lot of time, which is at present wasted, could be saved by a man who could come up here and discuss the matter with the officials concerned or with the Minister himself. I have no doubt at all that it is possible by some system of executive responsibility placed on the shoulders of an individual to speed up and expedite local administration. Patients have sometimes to wait a considerable period before being sent for extern treatment, and that is not as it should be. The patient in these cases would be of a type that would have to be sent in any case. A matter like that ought not to come before any local authority. It should be dealt with by an executive officer.
Deputy Childers told the House the other evening that he had no experience of local bodies, that he was never a member of a local body, but that he had read minutes of these bodies and was amazed at the amount of time wasted. My experience of the minutes of local authorities is that they are merely a record of the business done. Everything else is excluded. There is no record of superfluous talk or discussion. The minutes are simply a record of the work done, and whether or not you have a county manager, there will have to be a record of the work done.
I appeal to the Minister to withdraw this Bill. I am going to vote against it. I shall vote for Deputy Norton's motion—to have an examination of local administration and to try to get some better method of dealing with the matter. There are many objectionable sections in the Bill. In the Schedule, you are grouping two counties in a number of cases. In group A you have Carlow and Kildare, and provision is made for appointing assistant managers. Is it contemplated that in any case where you group two counties an assistant manager will be appointed? If that is so, I do not think you ought to group counties. You ought to appoint a manager to each county rather than appoint one manager for two counties and then be compelled to  give him an assistant manager if he is unable to do the work. Under Section 22, a county manager, so far as it is not inconsistent with his duty, must attend any meeting of the council of his county which he is requested by the council to attend, and also any meeting of an urban council or town commissioners. He has to attend all these meetings to which he is invited where it is not inconsistent with the due performance of his duties. Is it possible for one individual to attend all the meetings likely to be held in two counties, such as Carlow and Kildare, or in the other group counties? I do not think it is possible for one man to do that efficiently and effectively.
According to Section 16, the manager has full power to consider and decide such questions as may, from time to time, arise concerning service, remuneration, privileges or superannuation of the servants and officers of the council. He has full power and authority to consider the service of an official. Is that fair to the official? It is quite possible that there might be a personal grudge between the manager and some official. Yet he is to be the final authority as to whether that man is doing his duty properly or not. The official has no right of appeal to the county council. I suggest that the local officials should be safeguarded and should have some right of appeal.
The Leader of the Opposition has already referred to the functions of the visiting committee in connection with the district and mental hospitals. Not only has the visiting committee a right to visit the hospitals collectively but each member of such committee is entitled to free access to the hospital and is entitled to hear complaints from the patients. That would be an intolerable nuisance to the staff of such hospital. Any member of the visiting committee could enter a hospital at any time he liked and say: “I have full authority to go through the hospital and hear what the patients have to say.” That would not make for efficiency in that institution, and individuals should not be given a statutory right to visit such an institution.
If the Minister intends to give us a  measure of derating, I shall certainly support this Bill. We should have no cause, then, to complain of power being taken out of the hands of local authorities. But while the ratepayers are asked to foot the bill for local administration, they should have, at least, the right to control the expenditure of their money.
According to the Bill, we are told that local authorities have the power to strike a rate. Whether they have complete control over that power or not is another matter. I am very doubtful if that is so. The way I read the Bill is that it is tantamount to this: that the manager presents his budget and that the local authority simply strikes the rate. I may be interpreting the Bill wrongly, but as far as I can see I do not think that the local authority, whether it be a county council, a town commission, an urban council, or whatever kind of local body it may be, has any power to reduce the demand made by the manager in this case. If that is so, then the local authority concerned would be turned into a farce, and you would not get any high-spirited business men to serve on such local bodies under such conditions.
Again, I would appeal to the Minister to reconsider this whole matter, to withdraw the Bill, and have an examination made, as has been suggested in this motion. I would suggest that a comparison should be made, if necessary, between county councils and local authorities that are doing their work well, as against local authorities where you have a managerial system in operation. I believe that where you have the right type of men, you will get good service—the man with responsibility who faces up to the realisation that the person who has to pay deserves the greatest consideration. The success of the managerial system, in my opinion, will depend altogether on the type of manager you will get. If you get a very excellent type of man who will work in harness with the local authority, and who does not want to be dictatorial, and who wants to cooperate with, and consult, the local authority on these matters, well and  good. In that case, you may have harmonious relations between the manager and the local authority and you will get good results, but if you get the type of man who is dictatorial and who is going to insist on the full rights that are given to him under this Bill, then I do not think the machine will work at all. It is for these reasons that I appeal to the Minister to preserve, to a greater extent at all events, the rights of local authorities in the administration of their own affairs.
Mr. Brodrick: I think it is very regrettable that we should have such a Bill as this brought before the House after 40 years of local government administration. That is not to say whether or not I am in favour of the Bill, but what I do find fault with is that, since local administration came into this country during the last 40 years, you had rural councils, local councils, urban councils and county councils, all functioning for that long period, and functioning well, until Fianna Fáil themselves made the question of election to these authorities a political issue. There was not a word to be said against any member of any local authority. It is all very well for Fianna Fáil Deputies to stand up here now and say that the members of these councils were all honourable men.
I say that they were, and I also say that the members of the Fianna Fáil Party in these councils at the present time, just as well as members of other Parties are honourable men, but the one mistake made, and the one reason that exists for the introduction of this Bill, is the endeavour to cover up the mishandling of affairs in the different councils since Fianna Fáil made a political issue of election to these local bodies. We all remember, some years ago, there was a general election called for local authorities. I think that we, on this side of the House, were the Government at that period, but we declined to make it a political issue, and from the moment that Fianna Fáil came along and made these elections a political issue, and said that they were going to make it a fight, and a good fight, there has been maladministration ever since.
 Everyone knows—and the Fianna Fáil Deputies who are members of local authorities know it particularly— that before there is a meeting of a county council, there are caucus meetings of Fianna Fáil members beforehand, and these meetings are held to decide who will get this position or that position. We all know that that is what occurs. We know the strength of Fianna Fáil in this country, and we know that they even go further and find out what is the strength of the relations who are attached to the particular applicant for a job. They cannot deny that. They will even go so far as arranging for the position of wardsmaid in a county home. They will go as far as that. That is the real reason for the introduction of this Bill. We heard a lot, a fortnight ago, about establishing parish councils. In my opinion, that only means the re-establishment of broken-down Fianna Fáil clubs.
Mr. Brodrick: Well, Sir, I say that some change has got to be made. I do believe that there is a necessity for a change, but I should not like to see such a permanent change as this Bill seeks, because I think that if politics are ruled out of local administration, you will certainly have as good men for the administration of local government as you have had during the last 30 or 40 years. In this connection I should like to give credit to the Sinn Féin councils that came into office in or about 1919, and that operated local government administration for five or six years. They were young men without experience, but they were a credit to the country in the work that they did. Deputies of both sides of this House, and of both Parties, were members of these councils, and the work that they did was a credit to them. They were young men, and they had no experience, but what they did was to carry out the experience and training in local government administration of the men who went before them.
 When we say that £6,000,000 is collected in rates each year, that roughly means about £250,000, I suppose, in the case of each manager who will be appointed under this Bill. For a number of years past, the rates in the counties have gone up from 8/6 to 15/- in the £. I say that a change is required, but how are you going to get it? Will you get that change through this Bill? Under this Bill, will you have managers appointed throughout the country who will be able to reduce those rates, bring down the cost of administration, and at the same time give good services to the country? That is what we want to find out. I believe the managers can be a success if the head is a success; but, if they are definitely controlled by a Fianna Fáil Minister, if that policy or the policy of any other political Party that comes into this House is to be the policy down the country also, well then the County Management Bill will be a failure. That is what I fear about it.
Section 5 of this Bill says: “Every person appointed by the council of a county to be the county manager for such county shall hold office until he dies, resigns, or is removed from office.” In the case of the occupant of any office throughout the country there is some retiring age. I should like to know if the Minister is to fix a retiring age in the case of the county managers, or are they to be left there until they are a nuisance to the public? Will the Minister bring in an amendment giving him power to transfer them from one county to another? In the appointment of managers, where people competent for the positions of secretaries to county councils, or secretaries to boards of health, went before the Appointments Commission, will it be possible to get their markings, so that where they ran close to the county secretary who was appointed they will get a chance when a vacancy arises? You have a number of officials throughout the country who have not gone before the Appointments Commission; they have merely gone before the ordinary boards of health. As far as I know, they are to become assistant managers according to the Bill. Will an official of another Department, say, of a board of assistance,  who has contested the position of secretary to a county council get a chance of competing when the position of manager of a particular county becomes vacant?
I do not think there is much more left to say on this Bill, but certainly it is very difficult to make up one's mind, for this reason, that as a public representative here I do not like, in voting for this Bill, to debar public representatives from local administration for all time. That is the one objection I see to it, because I firmly believe that if you had not the political issue even at the present time you would have good representatives. You had them until the last eight or ten years, and I believe that you would also have them to-day were it not for that political issue being brought in.
In regard to the treatment which the poor will get, I believe, as Deputy Beegan stated, that the poor will be well treated under the County Management Bill. To take another instance of what might be called Government mishandling, we have an institution in the West of Ireland, the Ballinasloe Mental Hospital, and for the last few years there has been holy murder in regard to it. They are calling sworn inquiries one day and calling them off at the next meeting. The Minister is looking on all the time, and says nothing; apparently he only smiles. The resident medical superintendent stated long ago that the place was in a mess when he got there. Why is it that the Minister is not so anxious to manage those institutions? In the case of an institution like that, why does he not step in and do something? There is an old saying: “Of two evils, choose the lesser”; it is difficult to say which is the lesser in this case.
Mr. J. Flynn: I wish to support this measure. I believe that it will tend to an improvement in local administration, and to assisting the local authorities in doing good work for the people and acting in close co-operation with the Government. There are a few points, however, of which I should like the Minister to take note. First of all, there is the question of the manager's  powers. I realise the difficulty; you had to appoint a manager with certain administrative power, or his work as manager would have been useless. At the same time the Minister had to preserve the rights of democratic institutions, and the people's right to make their case. I realise the difficulty in trying to weld those two principles into one whole system, and to make it workable on behalf of the people generally. Therefore, I make the point that in my opinion at any rate, so far as this Bill is concerned, the manager has extraordinary power. He has too much power. For instance, as far as I can make out, the officials under his control have no right to appeal. There is no right to appeal, let us say, against the decision of a manager who may be prejudiced. He may take a dislike to a surveyor or anybody else, and, on very short notice, dismiss that official. I think there should be provision made for an inquiry, with the right of appeal to the Minister.
Mr. J. Flynn: The county councils, as far as I can see, have not the right to inspect correspondence on the question of contracts, etc. Neither have they the right to question the manager prior to his making the yearly or half-yearly report concerning the administration of the county or the administration of the subsidiary bodies in that particular county. The other point to which I wish to refer is that applications for the position of manager are confined to two classes, the secretaries of county councils and the secretaries of boards of health, and the case has been made that others should have the right to apply for those positions.
Surveyors, accountants, and other officials outside of local authorities should have the option of making their  applications, if they so desire, before the Appointments Commissioners or other such bodies. I understand, of course, in regard to this question of county secretaries and secretaries of boards of health, that it is assumed that they will be the first selection, but, after that, I make the suggestion that other officials should get the option of being considered. Why these two classes? Why this privilege was given to these two sets of officials I do not know, but it would appear to me that it has been commented upon and I think it should be considered.
Mr. Flynn: The other point is the question of the transfer of the managers. I think that is very important. As several Deputies have pointed out, the success of this whole administration will depend upon the type of men who will be appointed as managers, in the first instance, but it is equally important to make the case that these men should not be natives of the counties for which they are selected. That ought to be insisted upon for their own sakes. These men should have the option of selecting different counties. I believe that that would tend to greater efficiency, and that the manager would have a better chance of doing the work in a proper manner. Deputy Brodrick has referred to the question of politics in local affairs, and I would like to refer to what the previous Government did in this connection. Deputy Mulcahy, when he was a Minister, issued an order that no men should be employed on certain employment schemes unless they were ex-members of the National Army.
Mr. Flynn: You issued instructions to local authorities that, irrespective of whether a man had ten or 12 children, he should not get employment until ex-National Army men were employed. The ex-Army men got the preference.
Mr. Flynn: I remember that very well, because we had a fight against it at the time. It was Deputy Brodrick, who mentioned this question of politics in local authorities, and I am simply referring to the time when Deputy Mulcahy was Minister.
Mr. Flynn: That is one of the reasons why I am making the point that managers should not be allowed to operate in their native counties. This question of politics will certainly play a prominent part in their administration.
Mr. Flynn: You cannot get away from it, if you examine the position. The secretary of the county council has his own connections in his county, his own political affiliations. For his own sake, and for the sake of the administration generally, it would be well that the future managers would not operate in their native counties. I suggest that some such system as operates in the Gárda Síochána should apply in this case, and that the Minister should have power to transfer these managers where necessary.
The question of giving the manager power to deal with the staffing of county councils was not made clear. I  am not quite clear, in any case, as to whether a manager can interfere with the surveyors on the staff. If the manager has the right to suspend officials working directly under the county surveyor, who is to be the arbitrator? Where is the machinery set up under this measure to arbitrate on such a dispute? I submit that there should be some check in that particular instance. The manager is given extraordinary powers and there should be some medium as between the local representatives and the aggrieved party. There should be some opportunity for inquiries and an appeal against an unjust decision of the manager. The manager will be only human after all, and he may have his prejudices. We should make some provision in this measure to safeguard ourselves against that. We know what happened at one time in Kerry when Deputy Mulcahy was Minister. We had commissioners appointed and these men were sent down to administer affairs there.
Mr. Flynn: These men were resident only a few months in our county when they were controlled by a few influential people. If the manager is to be a real manager, and if he is to do his work properly, there must be some check provided, both in the staffs and the local representatives.
Mr. Flynn: There is no provision made for the striking of the rate. If the rate is struck by the local authority and if the manager decides that the rate is not sufficient, there is no provision made for an appeal and I should like to know who will make the decision. There should be some amendment of this measure indicating who is to decide as between the manager and the local authority. If the local authority decide that a certain rate is  sufficient to meet social services, and the manager thinks differently, who is to arbitrate between them? I am whole-heartedly for the Bill.
Mr. Flynn: I realise, at the same time, the difficulties. I am trying to improve the measure, if possible, by suggestions, so that it will be a credit to the Government and will operate for the benefit of the country. The whole kernel of local administration will depend on the managers, on the type of men who will be selected in the first instance. I believe the Minister is going the right way about improving local administration when he puts forward this Bill. So far as all the propaganda we hear is concerned, I will only mention that Deputy Mulcahy drafted a similar measure ten years ago.
Mr. D. Morrissey: One must sympathise, I suppose, with the majority of the members of the Fianna Fáil Party. So far as one can see the majority of them are against the Bill, more so than anybody on this side, but, of course, they are going to vote for it. I am against the Bill for many reasons. There is no demand for the Bill from any section so far as I know, but I believe the Government are bringing it in for the purpose of putting in managers to carry out a policy of ruthless economy. There has been an increase of over £1,000,000 in the rates in the last eight years largely due to Government policy and to some extent to Government mismanagement and to bad effects of Government policy. There has been a lot of talk about corruption, bribery and jobbery and so on, but nobody has dared to suggest in this House that if it did exist it has expanded or grown in any way during the last five, six, or seven years. I do not  think anybody, no matter how strongly he may be against the Bill, will deny that there was at least some foundation for many of the stories that were about of corruption and jobbery and, perhaps, even bribery, but the position in regard to that is, as I have stated.
I think that when the House is discussing a Bill like this a tribute ought to be paid to the men who carried out the work of local administration in the last 20 years, and particularly in the last ten years, because a tremendous burden was placed on them. They sacrificed their time, and in a great number of cases very valuable time, to do that work, because they looked upon it as a public duty. Those who are in favour of the Bill have said, or at least implied that the Bill is not taking any powers away from the local authorities. If so, why is the Bill brought forward. We are told, on the other hand, that what we want is efficiency and economy.
When I read the Bill, and listened to the speeches made on it here, my mind went back to the scheme which brought about the amalgamation of unions. I am glad to be able to say that I opposed that scheme at the time. I am convinced, after 20 years' experience, that I was perfectly justified in doing so. The cry made for that scheme was efficiency and economy. We have had perhaps a little more efficiency but we had no economy. That scheme of amalgamation, whether you call it centralisation or unification, inflicted terrific hardships on the poor and destitute people of the country. We had the spectacle of old people, in one case to my own knowledge, being carted a distance of 20 miles across the country, in an open lorry, to the county home. Many of those people who had grown old in the service of farmers, shopkeepers or professional men, when they were no longer able to work, had only the one refuge—the local workhouse. But even while that was so, they had one consolation. They were near to those among whom they had spent their lives, and thus were able to have visits from their friends  and relatives. They looked forward to the weekly visits on Sundays, and perhaps to the little creature comforts that their friends brought to them. Deputy Childers, and those like him, who think of nothing but efficiency may say that I am speaking sloppy sentimentality. My answer to that is that, if there is any Department of State in which the human touch should be retained, it is in this particular Department which deals with the social, medical and poor law services. You want there people with local knowledge and human consideration. You are not going to get that from this central piece of machinery whose only function is to run the State—as Deputy Childers would say, to run it as a chain store would be run. You cannot apply the business methods of the chain store to public health and medical services, and to people who are reduced to such a condition that they have to depend for their existence on outdoor relief or home assistance. You can purchase that sort of efficiency and that sort of economy at too great a price.
I am not going to suggest for a moment that there are not weaknesses and perhaps great weaknesses in the local authorities as at present constituted. I know there are, and I could point them out as quickly as any member of the House. But there will also be weaknesses in any system which this House may devise, perhaps far greater under the system which this Bill envisages than there are at present.
Deputy O'Sullivan, when speaking in favour of the Bill, tried to draw an analogy between this House and a county council. That cannot be done because the analogy is not there. He said that this House does not control acts of administration but delegates them to a certain number of full-time men. If this House was asked to delegate all those functions to one man, I wonder what would he say.
Deputy Beegan, a supporter of the Bill, quite bluntly and frankly stated what the position is going to be. He said that the manager will be the deputy of the Minister. That will be the position when the manager is  appointed, because his tenure of office is practically controlled by the Minister. His salary is fixed by the Minister, and any increase in that salary can be fixed from time to time by the Minister. There is an old saying that the man who pays the piper should call the tune. The Minister does not pay the piper here, but he fixes the amount he should receive. We are told that local authorities are going to have power to do this and that. Many statements were made by the supporters of the Bill in this House for which there is no foundation. We were told that the county councils are to be in control of the purse. That is not in the Bill. I should like the Minister to deal with that matter when he is replying.
The manager prepares the estimate which is submitted to the county council. When the Bill becomes law will a county council have any right to reduce or increase the estimate? In my opinion, they will not. The power they have is this, that the manager presents the bill and says: “Now, gentlemen, you collect the money by authorising the striking of the rate.” Anyone who has been a member of a local body knows what the striking of a rate means. It is done automatically. I suggest that the Government are alarmed—and I think there is good reason for the alarm—at the big calls that are being made on ratepayers. Their way of dealing with that situation is to appoint a person who, in fact, will be responsible to them for the making of savings. When savings have to be made, and particularly by local authorities, they are usually made at the expense of the workers and the poor. No one will deny that there are defects in the present system, but even those who are in favour of the Bill can see that nothing in it is going to remedy these defects. Once we have been elevated to this House we may look with a certain amount of contempt—apparently some Deputies do—upon local authorities and their personnel, but some of the most useful members of this House got their training from their connection with local authorities. Men  who contribute most usefully to the debates, and to the framing of legislation, were enabled to do so because of the practical experience they got while members of local authorities. Members of this House in all Parties are in far closer touch with realities than perhaps the framers of the Bill, because of their contact, through local authorities, with the people generally.
I am against this Bill, because I have not yet seen, where such schemes have been put into operation, that centralisation of services or centralisation of authority has led to real economy. I do not believe this Bill will do that. On the other hand, I believe that we will remove from local authorities and from the operations of social, medical and other services that human personal knowledge that is necessary for the proper working of these services. As far as I am concerned, I can speak fairly freely of the county council that remains in one part of my county, and of the board of health and subsidiary bodies there, because I am not a member of any of them. The majority on these bodies are attached to the Minister's Party. Leaving aside the usual little talk we hear about favouritism here and there for certain small positions, I can say that, so far as carrying out ordinary duties goes, they do it very well, and in a very creditable way. I am perfectly satisfied that municipal work and county council work in my constituency would be, at least, as well carried out under the present system as it could be under the system proposed in the Bill.
My final point is this, if there was any chance at all of this particular scheme being successful, it could only be successful by getting 21 exceptionally good men. I doubt very much if the Minister will succeed in getting them. I should like to pay a tribute to some of the men who have been appointed as managers, and to some of those who are acting as commissioners, with whom I came into personal contact. I must certainly say that they did their work in a very excellent manner. Assuming that he was able to get 21 such men, even then I do not believe this scheme could be a  success. I am sure the Minister will pay attention to statements that were made from all sides since the Bill was introduced, and to the representations made from other bodies outside. If so he will find on reflection that it is not wanted by the majority of the people, so far as those who are in a position to speak for them reflect their true feelings. I believe those who are opposing the Bill are reflecting the views of the majority of the people. I do not want someone to get up later and say that I said local authorities were perfect, and that they had no blemishes. They are not perfect. I know that there will be defects and blemishes no matter what scheme is devised, but whatever defects and drawbacks local authorities may have, I prefer them to this particular Bill.
Mr. Doyle: I have no hesitation in joining in this debate to express my approval of the managerial system in municipal administration, but I feel that the Bill before us now has many features that will not tend to make it the success that many of the supporters of the managerial system would expect. Deputies on both sides of the House have, in various ways, criticised the Bill in that respect. On the introduction of the Public Assistance Bill some time ago, many Deputies—myself included—expressed the opinion that the method adopted by the Government, of introducing a number of Bills dealing with local administration, showed that they had made up their mind to bring them in in a piecemeal fashion. I think I am right in saying that the opinion then expressed has been justified. The Bill that is now before us for Second Reading, and the criticism that it has received, show that those who were interested in seeing local government administration a success are somewhat confused.
I want to put some questions to the Minister in the hope that he will give some explanation of them when summing up. To what extent are the recommendations of the Greater Dublin Tribunal Report implemented by the Bill, and if not implemented is  it the intention of the Government to implement them? In what way would the provisions of the present Bill be affected in that event? What are the reserved functions of the Dublin Board of Assistance under the Bill? Do they include the granting of home assistance, or will the manager of the board of assistance be solely responsible for the granting of such allowances? What would be the position of Dublin Corporation and its constituent bodies, Dublin County Council, boards of health, Grangegorman, and the Dublin Board of Assistance when the Bill is passed? If the Minister would kindly give some explanation regarding these points it might give the people an opportunity of knowing what is intended regarding these bodies.
Colonel Ryan: I support this Bill wholeheartedly but I believe it is loosely and badly drafted. My experience of local government in this country has not been very happy, nor I must say very honest if you like. I live in a county where there are two county councils, North Tipperary and South Tipperary county councils. I remember we often had bets to know on which council was the greatest number of rogues—the fellows who would sell their votes. That is an awful thing to say but I am admitting what are the facts. I was nine years a member of one of those councils. Things did not work out very well I am sorry to say. During the past five or six years one of the Tipperary councils was wiped out. I, being one of the criminals that time, I suppose I was responsible for the wiping out of the council. However, a commissioner was brought in. The first year he came in he raised the rates 1/- in the £ the next year they were reduced by a 1/- and the following year they were raised by a 1/-.
At all events the people who are paying the rates are blessing the commissioner no matter what he does. We have heard a great deal in the last few days about democracy. We have heard the word used again and again in connection with this Bill, more often than I have ever heard in my life. But what are the facts? We have three  times the amount of disturbance where a council exists as we have where the business is carried on by a commissioner. However, what I am saying does not probably come within the scope of this Bill, but there is some relationship.
In my opinion it is time that some independent person should run the council in just the same way as a business house would be run. Would it not be an awful thing to find a board of directors running a big house or a big ship worth £100,000 and they had no man to control the staff? These directors, we will say, came there once a week or once a fortnight. The newspaper reporter was there and heard what the directors said. The directors did not bother about the business so long as the newspaper reported what they said. Those directors who were the most pushing got their speeches into the papers. There was no manager there to run the business. There was no executive authority whatever. Now I hold that has been paralleled by what is going on in county councils and boards of health everywhere. The secretary of the board of health or the secretary of the county council was in a kind of way the executive authority, but he made sure that he was not. He just advised the meeting as to certain things, but he allowed the council to carry on here and there and everywhere they liked. He waited until the members said all they had to say. The meeting went on all day. One man was chairman. It did not matter who was chairman but the meeting went on all day, and the members spouted away all they possibly could. At 5 o'clock or 6 o'clock in the evening when the meeting ended, half the business remained undone. Then I as one member of the council went to see the county surveyor, another member went to see the assistant county surveyor and another went to see the secretary. I wanted a job done for So-and-so, and so on with the others. I am describing the councils as they are and as they have been in my time. Our functions were that we entered the council and whoever shouted the loudest got the ear of the Press. Each  and every one of us did a job for our relatives, or our best friends, or our protégées and that is all we did. When it came to a question of administration I remember what happened in one case in the mental hospital in Clonmel one day. At that time General Mulcahy was Minister for Local Government and Public Health. The clerk brought down his book, opened it and whatever happened it was found there was no redress. In the ordinary county council there could never be any redress.
What I object about this Bill is that it lacks one very valuable provision. It is loosely drafted. Take this thing about the appointment of existing secretaries as managers. I agree with what Deputy Morrissey said that you will find that you will not get that big, human, independent man for running the council. There should be something in that Bill for removing the managers we have in this country. We have in this country the Civic Guards and they are well managed and a credit to the country. Under this Bill I think we should have the officers governed or managed in some way like that. I believe you will find it difficult to get the right sort of managers. You will find men with great ability but you will find it hard to get men with common sense. Because of that it will be found that as between themselves and the elected bodies there will be trouble. There is no power in the Bill to remove the managers. I would like to see the Bill amended in that way. I am unreservedly a supporter of the Bill. There is one thing during this discussion that I did not like. On the Government side of the House I saw men condemning the Bill and then they paired to go home, after having their speech on the Press in Cork or somewhere else. There is the case of Deputy Corry. To-night I heard Deputy John Flynn trying to approve of the Bill and damning it. I think that is a rotten sort of thing. At this stage we should be back to fundamentals. We have gone past the revolutionary stage. We should come down to ordinary common sense. People and especially public representatives should be sensible.  There is very little use on the part of anybody in this or that side of the House acting the cod. Why should not men behave with ordinary common sense.
I am supporting the Bill. I believe that the fundamentals of the Bill are good. I believe that a county manager can manage a dozen bodies without any trouble. I believe that any man, if he gives a few hours each day to these local bodies, will certainly do it better than any county council. He is going to earn his money and he is going to make sure that he will not lose his job. He can be removed from office by the Minister and therefore he is going to do his job. Anywhere this has been tried up to the present these men have done their job.
There is no use playing at politics. I ask Deputies to put this Bill through regardless of what votes they are going to lose, or what votes they are going to get on account of it; and I think they will be doing a good thing for the country. The cottiers are better off under a manager. I am sure that Deputies opposite from my county cannot deny that the cottiers, people receiving home assistance, and people in difficult circumstances have been better off under a commissioner than under the county council. I defy contradiction of that and I am basing my whole argument on that. There is no use in Deputies saying that it will mean the end of democracy. Surely appointing a manager in a county will not mean the end of democracy in this little country. If it does, then we should all clear out. We should make up our minds to be honest with ourselves and with the people that we represent and we should do the right thing. I appeal to Deputies to vote for this Bill, although it is a bad Bill on its face. For that reason I hope the Minister will amend the Bill and tighten up its provisions.
Mr. McGovern: Deputy Ryan criticised some Deputies on the opposite side because they had criticised the Bill, but he criticised it himself as severely as anybody. I was sorry to  hear that he was so neglectful of his duties when acting on the county council. I am glad to say so far as County Cavan, which I have the honour of representing, is concerned, that the local administration there can compare favourably with that in any other county. Lest I might be challenged as to what my attitude is on the Bill, I say straight off that I am against it and will vote for the amendment. Most people admit that there is need for some change in local administration. For instance, boards of health have too much work to do and there is need for a change there. If this Bill is left over for three or six months, it could be amended or another Bill could be introduced that would be more in conformity with the general wishes of the people, provide for more efficient local administration than this Bill is likely to provide for, and, at the same time, be free from the objections that everybody has to this Bill. There was not a speaker on any side of the House who did not criticise the Bill, and the only conclusion that anyone can come to is that it is a bad Bill. There is some reform necessary and it would be no harm to take a little more time to consider it.
Deputy Kennedy, speaking some time ago, referred to sewerage schemes and matters of that kind being held up for five and ten months. But the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister knows how schemes have been held up in County Cavan, and he knows who is responsible for that. He himself is responsible for holding them up. Therefore, this Bill is not a step towards speeding up useful work. By transferring the responsibilities from the local bodies to the central body it is likely to delay works rather than to speed them up. Whatever else this Bill may be, it is a step towards centralisation and, for that reason, I am not supporting it. We have seen the trend towards centralisation for the last nine or ten years. Every step that has been taken has been for the worse. Everything has been changed and upset and I have seen no improvement, on the contrary it is the other way about. Therefore, I am  opposed to this Bill and I will vote for the amendment. That does not mean that we are not to get a Bill that will meet the objections raised against the present system. They can be met better than this Bill is likely to meet them.
After all, who is responsible for the faults of the local bodies? The Government and their policy. Local bodies were the pride of this country some time ago. If they have suddenly gone out of bounds and become extravagant, who taught them the trick? The very Government that proposes now to abolish them. They extended the franchise for election to these bodies and the next step is to abolish the bodies altogether. It is a dangerous course to follow in these times. Ministers should be careful and Deputies should be careful about what they are doing. It is only one step from county manager to national manager. There is a great war being fought on the Continent at present because of national managers. That is the genteel term for these dictators. The word “dictator” is not popular, I suppose, in this House; county or national manager would be more to the people's taste. But the principle is there.
The last speaker said that this is not the end of democracy. No, but it may be the beginning of the end of democracy. That is what we must guard against. Democracy is not an ideal form of government in every way. But, with all its faults, I would prefer democracy to the opposite system. I would approve, however, of making some changes in the method electing local bodies, and encouraging the best type of administrator to come forward. The qualification should not be their activity in Party politics. That is not a proper qualification at all. I notice when people are elected in the County Cavan, no matter to what Party they belong, they are generally good administrators. Whatever faults they have are encouraged by the Local Government Department. Instead of the Local Government Department being a help, they are a hindrance to good administration. I do not think  that this Bill would be an improvement. If we got good managers, we might get very good, efficient and, perhaps, economic service. But suppose we get a bad manager and the bad manager happens to please the Minister for Local Government, there he would remain. Friction would be created between himself and the local bodies and that manager might make local government impossible altogether.
We should try to get back more to the system we had operating ten or 15 years ago rather than abolish the system altogether. If there are faults, it is to be expected. But that is no proof that the system itself is wrong and should be abolished. Under this Bill, everything is being taken away from the councils except the power to strike and collect rates. If this Bill is passed in its present form, county councillors will only have the function to collect rates for the county managers to spend in any way they like. What type of county councillor or local administrator will you get in these circumstances? The worst type possible. If local bodies have deteriorated for some time, imagine how they are likely to deteriorate under this system. No self-respecting man will go forward to administer such local affairs as are left to him to administer under this Bill. Only the worst type will go forward. I should rather see the county councils abolished altogether than pass this Bill and have a type of men returned who would not be suitable.
I strongly appeal to the Minister to leave this Bill over. It might not be necessary to appoint a commission at all but it would be no harm to let the problem be discussed and hear the suggestions which the people have to make. The Minister could then decide what form the Bill should take or he might appoint a commission to examine all the suggestions put forward instead of rushing this Bill through in a hurry. It is a very important step. I remember when the Local Government Act was passed 40 years ago. It was a great step forward. The bodies elected under that Act did credit to the country and proved that the people were qualified for self-government.  They were responsible for making it possible for this Dáil to meet and administer the affairs of the country. The local bodies gave men an opportunity to learn something of administration. They gave them a sense of responsibility and, even though it may have cost a little extra, it was worth it.
The principle excuse for this Bill is that these bodies are extravagant. It does not lie with the present Government to charge them with, and condemn them for, extragavance, having regard to their own record. If anybody is to be condemned, those who cast the first stone should be free from a similar fault. “Let him that is without sin amongst you cast the first stone”. The Government, who were guilty of the greatest extravagance in this State, is the body which has the arrogance to condemn every local body. Not only are they the worst themselves but they have even shown these local bodies how to mismanage their affairs. They have made it inevitable that extravagance and incompetence should creep in. After scandalising these bodies, they come along and condemn them. That is wrong. The administration of the local bodies would compare favourably with the administration of this Dáil and I would be in favour of improving the system of local administration rather than passing a Bill of this kind.
While this is a step away from democracy, I am not opposed to it so much on that account as because it is a step towards hypocrisy. It is hypocritical for us to charge these people with inefficiency and corruption. There may be individual cases but the general administration of these bodies compares favourably with administration in this House. I should not like to see local bodies reduced to the position to which they will be reduced under this Bill. I would rather see these bodies abolished completely than left to do the dirty work of striking the rate and collecting the money. Those who pay the piper should call the tune but here it is a question of one party paying the piper and another calling the tune.  The county manager may be very good but there should be an appeal from his decision to the local body—the people's representatives.
Not only are there to be county managers but there are to be assistant county managers. The Minister did not tell us how many assistant county managers there are likely to be. We know that there has been an enormous increase in the number of officials during the last six or seven years. We shall probably have as many assistant county managers as there are members of the county council at present. We should be told how many assistant county managers are likely to be appointed. Some of these assistant county managers might not be the very best and the whole plan of appointing county managers and assistant county managers requires more careful consideration. It is putting too much power in the hands of individuals. I know what will happen when county managers are appointed. The county manager will do nothing at all and there will have to be a number of assistant county managers to do the work and administer the affairs of the county. He may or may not superintend what is being done. The chances are that he will not bother his head about one-tenth of what is being done. He is simply there to draw his salary, and the others will do his work, and every year we shall have an application for another assistant county manager, and then again for another assistant county manager, and time will tell. I admit that you might have a bad council elected in certain counties, but at any rate the people always had it in their power, up to this, to change these councillors, but they have not got it in their power now to change the managers, and therefore I think that, in the interests of the people generally, in the interests of the ratepayers, and in the interests of the poorer sections of the community, the county managers should not be endowed with so much power and authority, nor should they be given that right for as long as they live or for as long as they wish to hold on to the position.
Parish councils and one thing or  another of that sort are being considered at the present time. I think it would be well if all these suggested changes were brought about at the same time. If changes are to be made, it might be well to consider this matter of parish councils, and also to consider what functions these parish councils, if they should come into operation, should fulfil in relation particularly to the operation of county council or urban council affairs. We are moving too fast in connection with this Bill. I believe that it would be better if you were to examine this Bill from every point of view, and adjourn the Bill for five or six months, so that proper consideration could be given to it. It appears to me that every Deputy who has spoken about the Bill, either from this side of the House or the other side, has spoken against the Bill— even the Minister himself did not say very much in favour of it—and therefore, I think it would be better to leave the Bill over for further consideration. If there has been so much opposition to the Bill, both inside the House and outside, surely it cannot be a good Bill.
Mr. Nally: First of all, I intend to vote against the Bill and in favour of the amendment. There is no public demand for this Bill from any point. In fact, there has been opposition to it from all over the country, and more opposition from Fianna Fáil than from Fine Gael supporters. I believe that this is the wrong time to bring in such a Bill. In the first place, we all know the financial position of the Government. We know that they have just passed a Supplementary Budget asking for more money and now, according to to-day's papers, they are appealing for £7,000,000 more. If they are in that position, what position do they expect the county councils to be in? I come from a county where there is a county council functioning, and they have given very satisfactory service. There may be room for economy there, and there might be a certain amount of extravagance there also, for which the county council is not responsible. It is the Department of Local Government that is responsible  for any extravagance which takes place there. The Department, during the last few years, made promises of free grants for minor relief schemes, and so on, on condition that the county council would provide a supplementary grant in connection with each of these schemes. That has meant a considerable increase in the rates.
It has been stated here that, in some county councils in Ireland, some of the officials have been getting commissions on goods and materials supplied to mental hospitals, boards of health, and so on. I do not believe that that occurs in Mayo at any rate. I would appeal to the Minister to look into this matter very carefully. I do not think there is any necessity for the Bill. So far as my county is concerned, they are just as honest, capable and upright as they have been during the last 15 or 20 years, and I do not think there is any reason to interfere with them. Is the reason for this, that the Government are afraid that, if we had local elections in the country, the present people would be put out of office? I have no doubt that a number of them would be put out of office. The Government produced a Bill extending the franchise, but an opportunity of exercising the franchise was never given. I think that the elections were supposed to take place in 1937, but we have not had them yet, and I suppose we are not going to have them in 1940.
I think the Minister would be well advised to leave the Bill over until he has ascertained public opinion on it. As I said before, we know the financial position in which the Government are at the moment, and as far as rates are concerned, I am afraid the people will not be able to pay any higher rate than they are paying at the moment. Of course, if this were a preliminary to derating, we would welcome it, but the Irish people will always oppose taxation without representation, and this Bill will take representation from them. The Government may regard themselves as people of superior minds here in Dublin, but the people of this country will never stand for taxation without representation, no matter what the Taoiseach or anybody else may say.
Mr. Maguire: In the discussion I have heard here there has been a great deal of criticism of county councils throughout the country. As a man who has had experience of county councils, not of recent years as a member, but either as a member or in association with county councils, I think it is only just that I should speak of county councils I have known. In my own county, at least, I think it only right that I should repudiate any charge of dishonesty, incapacity, or corruption. I should say that, in all my association with county councils in the last 25 years, I have found these men to be as capable, as honourable, as patriotic and as self-sacrificing as any of the members of this House. Now, the purpose of the Bill is not condemnation of the county councils. The purpose of the Bill is that it is the intention of the Department of Local Government to bring into modern conditions and under modern control the vast volume of business that has accrued to local bodies in the last 20 years. There is no business concern, handling even a fraction of the business and money handled by these bodies, that will not have in charge of that business a very experienced man who gives his whole time to the operation and management of that business. It is quite a fallacy to say that this Bill ruins democracy. It does not. Deputy McGovern referred to the danger to democracy. Then he illustrated that far more serious damage was done by the Government when they introduced the extension of the franchise. I cannot reconcile his opinion that democracy is being destroyed by the appointment of county managers with the fact that he deplores the extension of the franchise to the people of the country as it was extended a few years ago. I cannot see the logic in that reasoning, and I am afraid Deputy McGovern himself was not very sincere in his arguments. According to Deputy McGovern's argument the damage was done to local administration by the extension of the franchise; then I say that, in order to counteract that, if you do not appoint a manager you have to go back to the conditions under which the old county  councils were run, or back to the earlier days when the grand jurors administered the affairs of local government.
Mr. Maguire: The manager will be a man with experience of public administration. He is very different from the type of man the Deputy must have had in mind when he spoke in that conservative manner about the limited franchise bringing us back to the days of the grand jurors.
Mr. Maguire: In many cases there is a fear that this departure may lead to the limitation of democracy, and that it may limit the application of sympathy towards the more necessitous people in the community. I hope that fear will prove to be without foundation; I am certain it will, but there is reasonable cause for anxiety on that score. All we can hope for is this, that the men who are appointed will be ordinary human individuals, who, in association with the local representatives will see their point of view. It will not be good business on the part of the manager to act in direct opposition to the expressed wishes of his associates on the county council. He will know that he cannot do that and retain his position. He will know that if their case is reasonable he must meet it, and I think to that extent anyhow it will be a benefit. It is quite a fallacy to say that in the past the local government bodies ever had serious control. The Local Government Department was always a vexatious authority, and a lot of irritation was caused between the local bodies and the Local Government Department officials. One of the reasons, to my mind, was that those Local Government Department officials were too far separated from the county councils. Probably their point of view was right; probably it was wrong; but, if those two bodies of people could  have met and exchanged their points of view, in almost every case an understanding would have been reached. It was the distance, and the atmosphere of isolation that so often irritated the local bodies when their opinions were countermanded and upset by the authority of the Local Government Department. To my mind the bringing back of the manager, who will act to a large extent in the capacity in which the Local Government Department acted in the past, will make for more efficiency, speedier decisions, better all-round management, and much more economy and general satisfaction. I do not know whether or not the suggestion has already been made, but it does occur to me that the Local Government Department are not entirely without faults, and I hope, under the operation of the new scheme that greater efficiency will be achieved, that speedier decisions will be reached, and that a better understanding of local conditions and local needs will exist. Just as the county councils have gradually become overloaded with work, I am not very sure that the Local Government Department too does not suffer from the same difficulty.
Mr. Maguire: Oh, no. You are very quick in anticipation, but you are wrong this time. I do think, however, that if this managerial system proves a success it might be a good thing if we were to relieve the central body here of good part of the control work they are retaining for themselves, and hand down to the county councillors— those efficient men whom I believe we will get—a larger measure of control, relieving the central authority of that veto which they exercised, to my mind, unfairly in certain cases. I do not know whether the opinion is worth considering, but I would put it to those people who believe that democracy is  being impaired and that some tightening up in the efficiency of the local bodies is desirable—and that opinion has been expressed in almost every speech—that the central authority here in Dublin should be asked to hand over a much wider measure of control to the county councillors. I doubt if there is a superior handling authority here in the central headquarters to what might be found in the county councillors plus an efficient manager. I think that a very large measure of the control which is at present exercised by the Local Government Department could with safety be given into the hands of such a body.
Mr. Coburn: This debate, so far as it has gone, has been most unreal. I have never heard so many speeches delivered in this House that were so typical of running with the hare and hunting with the hounds at one and the same time. Deputies in this House have attempted to do what no man has ever done successfully, and that is to serve two masters. They are here to vote for the Bill and to evade the crack of the whip of the Party, and they are also here making speeches which will enable them to go down the country and say to Pat Murphy down in Tipperary or Wexford: “Did you see the great tribute I paid to the members of the old county councils?” There is no use in camouflaging this thing. I am opposed to this Bill on principle. There are three things in life that one holds dear, truth, justice and principle. There can be no compromise so far as truth is concerned; there can be no compromise so far as justice is concerned, and there can be no compromise so far as principle is concerned. It is a recognition of this great virtue of principle that has this gallant little nation, the Finns, fighting the mighty Russian at the present time. If they did not honour that virtue they could easily surrender to the Russian and have a good time. I am not going to vote for this Bill, because I do not believe it will make better provision for local government administration in this country. I believe the administration as it exists at the moment, and as it has existed  for the last 40 years has, all things considered, been carried out in a most efficient manner.
The object of a debate on the Second Reading, to my mind, is to discuss not the details of the Bill but the broad principles underlying it. Therefore, it is only natural to assume that, before any Deputy can vote for this Bill, he must assure himself beyond all doubt that he agrees with the principle underlying the Bill. If he is not agreed to the principle, then he must vote against it.
I might mention, at this stage, that it was because of the recognition of this great fundamental by all Parties that the Local Government (Ireland) Act of March, 1898, secured such an overwhelming majority in an alien Parliament. I should like, at this moment, to quote for the House a few passages from the speeches delivered in the British House of Commons on that occasion. They might be able to form an answer to some of the Deputies who spoke about corruption in connection with Irish public bodies. The Honourable Member for Down East, who was a Unionist, speaking on that occasion, said:
“As representing an Irish constituency I wish to say that it is my desire that this Bill should pass, not in any mutilated form, but in its entirety and in all essential details fully equal to the Local Government Acts of England and Scotland.”
“I have a large number of relations in the south and west of Ireland where their co-religionists are in a small minority, and they inform me they have no fear, and never had any grounds for fear whatever. They tell me they have never been badly treated by those around them, and if we in the North take up the same attitude, as I trust we shall, and if also the electors in the northern counties take care that men shall be put forward—say in Antrim and Down—of the Roman Catholic religion, if we take care to be fair to  the Roman Catholic minority in these counties, I believe the southern and Nationalist counties will act with equal generosity, and if that is done then I am convinced that this Bill will be the greatest boon ever given to Ireland by this House, that it will work splendidly throughout the length and breadth of the land, and that all the fears which have been uttered will be idle from every point of view.”
No matter how you may try to camouflage it, that was the opinion expressed in the House of Commons when the Local Government (Ireland) Bill was introduced there in 1898. Speaking on the same occasion, the leader of the Irish race for that particular period, the late Mr. John E. Redmond, wound up his speech with these remarkable words:
“Whatever influence my friends and I have in Ireland will certainly be used to obtain for this scheme a fair and successful working. Our desire will be to work this Bill on fair and tolerant lines as far as we can. No man's politics or religion will be allowed to be a bar to him, if he desires to serve his country on one of the new bodies. If this spirit prevails in Ireland generally, numerous benefits must certainly ensue from the passing of this measure, and men, who have been long estranged, men of different creeds who have had an almost impassable gulf between them all their lives, will be brought together for the first time in the working of this scheme of local government, and, under these circumstances, I scarcely think it is altogether rash to express the hope that this Bill may mean the beginning of a process whose end will be the creation of a really united  Irish nation, whose national liberties will then be easy of achievement.”
Another Irishman of great distinction who, like the rest, has gone to join the great majority—I refer to the late Mr. T.M. Healy, the first Governor-General of the Irish Free State— intervening in the debate in order to answer some of the criticisms that were used by members of the Opposition on that occasion in regard to a certain sum of money that was supposed to be voted to the landlords, said:
“And what are we paying it for? We are paying it to get in every town in Ireland a democratic constitution; we are paying it in order to give the people the power to build artisans' dwellings in the town; we are paying it to get in the counties, instead of jobbing grand jurors, honest men applying their own rates; we are paying it to get bodies of guardians who will be able to give their labourers decent houses and decent plots.”
“And, forsooth, I am told that because Lord Clanricarde may get £500 a year out of it, I am to refuse to Ireland a democratic constitution. I decline to do so. I say the money is well spent, and, for my part, will vote it with the utmost satisfaction. I decline to listen to attacks on this Bill under the pretence that is it not a great and valuable and a useful measure. I say it is everything that we have a right to expect from the Government; that they have faithfully fulfilled their pledges to the Irish people in regard to this Bill. There are a number of details that we have to consider at the proper time, but I will say this: that we have got from this Government, from the Tory Party, 10,000 times a better Bill than ever we could have got from the Liberal Party.”
The principle involved in this Bill is one that, in my humble opinion, is going to do away with the Local Government Act that was introduced in  the British House of Commons in March, 1898. All the then representatives of the Irish people, without distinction, although they might have had their private differences of opinion, still, formed one solid body in demanding that Bill because they realised it conferred on the Irish people a measure that was going to give them some form of home rule, of home government. Now we are being told in the year 1939, exactly 41 years after that Act was passed, that there was nothing but corruption and jobbery on the part of local authorities. I maintain that that measure was operated successfully throughout the country and the men who were responsible for its operation carried out their duties with credit to themselves.
We are told now by Deputies like Deputy Fogarty who, on his own admission, got on the register before he was the required age—we are told by this man, who gets up here like a jack-in-the-box, that there is nothing but corruption and jobbery on the county councils and the urban councils in this country. He makes that statement to the members of an Irish Parliament. I am not going to support this Bill, because I do not believe there is a necessity for it. The men who were made responsible for the operation of that Act that was passed in the British Parliament did their work in such an excellent fashion that it drew from the people who produced that Act this tribute, that they never thought for one moment that the Irish people would have made such a success of local government. Remember this— and I have it on the best authority— that many of those who voted for that Bill, as a means of conferring a type of local government on the Irish people, did so with the ulterior object that the Irish people would make such a mess of the Bill that it would be a great argument against the granting of Home Rule in the future. The particular English politician, however, was manly and honest enough to admit, years after, that the Irish people, to his astonishment, made a complete success of that Bill of 1898, and this is what we are now asked by members of an Irish Parliament to do away with  because, no matter how you may camouflage it, that is the meaning of this Bill.
I will deal now with the arguments in favour of the Bill. It has been said that the reason for the Bill is the impossibility of coping with all the business that comes before county councils, urban councils and boards of health, that the business is so intricate and involved that the members are not able to understand it. In the name of commonsense, I ask what are we spending £4,000,000 a year on education for, if we cannot understand the ordinary business that comes before a county council, an urban council or board of health? I am a member of a county council and an urban council, and I can assure the House that, so far as the Louth County Council is concerned, the meetings start at 11 o'clock, and, in 99 cases out of every 100, I am out of the council chamber between 11.30 and 12 o'clock. Even in the case of a quarterly meeting, where you have volumes containing possibly 150 pages before you, we have always been able to finish the business at 1 o'clock. What, then, is in this argument that so much time is wasted and that we do not understand the business? So far as County Louth is concerned, that is the way in which the business is done, and it is done in the same way on the urban council and the board of health.
I think it was Deputy Kennedy who said that a nurse will get her holidays more expeditiously under a county manager system than under the present system. He put that forward as an argument in all sincerity, swelling out his chest so that one would think it was a marvellously good thing. He said that he knew a case of a nurse who got leave from the county secretary to go on holidays for a fortnight. Her application for leave was sent to the Department for sanction and when it did not come back, the nurse went on holidays, with the result that there was a terrible row for three or four months after, and the nurse, secretary and everybody else were nearly sacked. That is one of the reasons adduced here for the setting up of the county  manager system. Changes may be likesome, but they are not always profitable. Set up your county managers; they will make no change whatever, so far as administration is concerned. The system is certainly not going to make any change so far as the effecting of economy is concerned, and that is the acid test. Show me any county in which the managerial system has been in operation during the last six or seven years, whether it be in Dublin, Cork or any of the other counties in which that system is in operation, in which the rates have been lowered, or there is even greater efficiency. We can go into that argument, too, and that is the test of whether this Bill is necessary or not.
Again, everybody knows that when the first Bill was introduced, things were not normal in this country. I do not want to introduce a jarring note into the debate at this period, but everybody knows that at the time the managerial system was first introduced, those who now form the Government were outside this House, and ignoring its authority.
Mr. Coburn: The Minister will admit that a state of affairs existed at that period which might warrant the introduction of a Bill of this nature. As I say, I do not want to introduce a jarring note, but everybody knows that state of affairs existed at that period. Happily, that state of affairs does not exist to-day. Members of public boards work in the greatest harmony and with the greatest co-operation. I am here to state that. I have worked, with members who hold different political opinions, but so far as the bodies within the county which I represent are concerned, they carry out their work in a very efficient manner and carry out all the orders issued by the  Local Government Department expeditiously, and with great care and attention. There is no denying that fact, and there is no use in members here saying that the reason for the Bill is the making of our present councils more efficient. They are efficient, no matter what may be said to the contrary, and they are honest, no matter what may be said to the contrary.
Deputy Fogarty may sneer at the representatives on those boards, but I know personally that the men who formerly constituted the Louth County Council carried out the affairs of that council so efficiently and well that, when they were displaced in the General Election of 1918, there was a sum of £30,000 to that council's credit in the Hibernian Bank in Dundalk. I was glad to hear the Leader of the Opposition, Deputy Cosgrave, state tonight—and he was right in stating it— the administration by county councils and urban councils of local government affairs was better and more efficient previous to 1916 than it has been since, and it ill becomes any member of the Fianna Fáil Party like Deputy Fogarty to say here that he, personally, knew that there was wholesale corruption, jobbery and everything else that was bad in the public life of this country.
I am going to vote against this Bill without any qualification whatever. I do not believe in voting for a Bill and criticising it at the same time. There is no use in Fianna Fáil Deputies saying that they are going to vote for the Bill, and, at the same time, endeavouring to change it in such a way as will make the Bill ineffective. We had an example of that from one of the Deputies for Roscommon, Deputy O'Rourke. He was most enthusiastic in his support of the Bill, but, strange to relate, the one section he wants to change on Committee Stage is the very section which is fundamental to the Bill, that is, the section setting out the powers of the county manager.
If there is anything in the Bill that is making it worth while it is the powers that the county manager has. I for one always believe that if a man is a boss he should be a boss; if a man is in charge of men, no man or set of  men should be allowed to interfere with him. Deputy O'Rourke does not agree with that. He wants the Minister, in Committee, to put certain shackles on the powers of the manager in regard to the officials that come under his control. You cannot have it both ways. You cannot run with the hare and hunt with the hounds. Vote for the Bill if you believe in the Bill, but do not try to speak with two voices. I am opposed to the Bill on principle mostly. It is the least tribute I can pay to the men who went before us because, if the system was as bad as some Deputies made it out to be, then those men were bad, because they were the men who voted for it. It cannot have been too bad to pull this country through for the last 40 years. This country did go through some hard times. They cannot have been too bad to pull this country through 1914, 1915 and right up to 1939. It is for these reasons, and these reasons alone, that I oppose the Bill, knowing the type of men that constituted our councils. The men I knew personally were doyens of industry, lords of industry, men who possessed the greatest business capacity, men of brains and men who made a complete success of their own business and who entered public life when that Bill was passed for the sole purpose of proving to the common enemy across the water that the Irish people were well fitted to carry on their own affairs. Now that is all going to be scrapped by this Bill and it is because I sincerely and honestly believe that that I am going to vote against this Bill.
Mr. O'Neill: I will not delay the House very long, but I would like to take a small part in this groping for efficiency, which is the fundamentum of this Bill. I am opposed to this Bill in the first place because I believe it is not going to accomplish what it sets out to do, that is, to improve local administration. On the other hand, as a Corkman I oppose it because Cork County has been so pre-eminently associated with clean administration since the inauguration of local government in this country. I feel I would  be false to every man who served that county in the past if I did not oppose this Bill.
I believe that the time has come when local government needs overhauling, when it needs a little more of that great quality we are seeking—efficiency. As I said, I do not believe it is going to be achieved through this Bill. As the previous speaker pointed out, local government has had some very severe knocks in the course of its existence here. It has been in operation for only about 40 years, and we must remember that the men who fought for and won that great measure of local government should have a tribute paid to them by this House and everybody in this country who believes in democracy or democratic control for the able, manly, decent, honourable way in which they took upon themselves and discharged the onerous task put upon them when they first took over the working of this country under the Act of 1898. It was the very first measure of any form of self-government accorded to this country. Again, it must be remembered that the men who took on the burden were only one generation removed from the hedge schoolmasters. The schoolmaster had not been very long abroad in Ireland when these men were called upon to carry the load of government. I think tribute will be paid by everybody who has studied the history of that form of local government to the disinterested way in which the men carried out the duties of their position and the efficient way they ran this country during that time. It was the first stepping stone to a greater and a fuller freedom, and what we have achieved to-day in that fuller and greater freedom and that national expansion is due to these men. I think it is only right that we should pay that tribute here.
It has also been remarked here to-night by the Leader of the Party to which I belong, Deputy Cosgrave, that local government was more efficient, possibly, before the days of Sinn Féin than it was afterwards. In taking cognisance of that fact we might also  take cognisance of the fact that local government after the outbreak of the Great War had to undergo very severe trials and, if we come down closely to examine the position, we must remember that we used local government in this country as the most efficient weapon we possessed to smash British control in this country. The machinery of local government had to be taken over by young men who possessed no fear, physical, moral or financial. They had to man the councils of this country and I think sufficient tribute has not been paid to those men who had to carry on the work of local government, who formed themselves into county councils or rural councils. Sufficient tribute has not been paid in the course of this debate by those of us who knew how these men who carried out that work were hunted from their homes and had no place to sleep. These men really smashed British rule in this country because it was not so much by the bullet, or the land mine, or by striking the Black and Tans that we hunted the British out of this country; it was more effective because we broke down British administration in this country. That was ably done by the men who, I say, fearlessly manned the rural and county councils in those days.
It was the best weapon we had. It was the most effective machine at our disposal. Is it any wonder that that machine should have suffered badly in the trials that it underwent? Is it any wonder that the machinery should have to some extent become impaired? I remember when the county council with which I was associated tried to take up the trend of things at that time one of our main difficulties was to try to put the council on a proper basis again. But we succeeded in doing so. Then again when things began to go back to the old system we found ourselves throttled, and hampered by other measures passed by our own Government. There was another outcry for more efficiency and they got a craze for amalgamation, central control and centralisation which, we found to our cost—and we found it ever since—led neither to economy nor to more efficiency. On the contrary, I  believe that the wiping out of the rural district councils destroyed local government in this country because if you are going to have local government it should be local government; it should be something that comes home to the lowest of our people; it should be closely in touch with their lives. But, in depriving them of their association with their local members on the rural councils you deprive the lower classes of this country, the poor, the sick and the needy from having any recourse through local representation to the administrating bodies. In other words, you would be dehumanising the local services and then holding this as a second manner in which local government is being impaired in this country.
We are now talking about going back to parish councils? What was the old rural council? It was simply a federation of parish councils and a very effective one at that, which put that human element into local administration which indeed it very badly needs. If local government is to be improved, it is to be improved by going back again to the original basis of local government and not by appointing these county managers. The county councils were wronged when we did away with the rural councils because not only did they take away the representation, but they lowered the dignity of the county councils and made them a sort of super-rural councils. You threw in all the work of the rural councils on top of them and overburdened them with work; you brought men up from the bottom and thus a lot of the dignity, practicability and efficiency of the county council was impaired by the abolition of the rural councils. The Government wants to go back again to the parish councils. If we want to improve local government, I would ask the Government to extend that idea of parochial councils. It was the best idea that we had and it worked most efficiently under the old 1898 Act.
Some very nasty things have been said in the course of this debate. I certainly refuse to believe a lot of them and I believe that they are exaggerated. As a Corkman who has been  associated with decent local administration, I can hardly believe that such things could really happen. Certainly, they could never have happened in our county. If the archives of the original County Council of Cork were searched and if their policy down along through the years were subjected to examination I think it would be found that in Cork, at all events, in spite of its huge size, and the different classes of the community that comprise that county, our administration was always excellent. I do not think that there is any need for such a Bill as this in Cork County where there are upright, decent, honest, energetic men, to do public work free of charge and to do that work disinterestedly any time it is required.
There is in the country very much feeling about this Bill and I am very glad to hear in this House such differences of opinion being expressed, as frank discussion upon it and some of the speeches from the Fianna Fáil side of the House have shown that this means we have come to the point that the administration of local government is something that should be above Party consideration and the only thing that should be taken into account is the carrying out of the work properly. I believe it will be found that that was done in spite of the politics that were introduced into these local councils. There was not so much politics in the time of the predecessors of the present Government, though there were always political differences of opinion in the country. But to come back to Cork again, in the years 1908, 1909 and 1910 you will remember that Cork was seething with frightfully high feeling in regard to the Parliamentary split between O'Brien and Redmond. Some of the people there were at loggerheads but during all those years the effective administration of the council did not suffer a whit in spite of those differences.
Listening to the speeches on that side, I am sure that every side of the House will agree that we have now come to the point when we have advanced educationally in the matter of administration and when polities should  not enter into consideration in connection with the expenditure of public money to the best purpose. There have been many differences of opinion on this matter and I again ask the Government to consider it very carefully before they carry this Bill through by a majority. There is no real feeling of a majority in this House in its favour. The Fianna Fáil Ard-Fheis will be taking place next week and it would be a good thing to put it before the members and to give them an opportunity of a free discussion and take a free vote in order to see the real feeling behind the Bill and the real strength of the demand that there is for it.
I believe that the managerial system is an improvement and should be carried out, but not in the way that it is set out in this Bill. Anybody who has a knowledge of commercial affairs knows that there must be a manager in any sort of concern, in addition to a board of directors and a body of shareholders; but that manager should carry out the wishes of the board of directors and also be responsible to the shareholders; he should be the servant of the shareholders and not their boss. Here we have a manager who has not to take his policy from the council; the council is going to be brought in and he will tell them what his policy is. That is all topsy-turvy and it is a misnomer to call such a man a manager. I would like to give him another name but it might not be a nice one. I believe in the managerial system because I believe that where there is a body of men who meet from month to month there are such long intervals that they will not be in close touch with general affairs. It seems very reasonable to say that where there is a body like that there should be a manager, some sort of efficient man who will be able to manage the affairs of that council when the council is not sitting. Such a man should take his policy from the council and from what I know of them they are intelligent, broadminded and patriotic enough to do the best they can for the people and to carry out the business in a proper way.
 At present enough has been said about the power of councils going to be reduced. This means that we are going to have the Minister dictating to the manager. He will be the creature of the Minister and in turn he will dictate to the council. They are there for the sole purpose of providing the money and striking the rate and appointing the rate collectors. It will be left to the manager to spend the money; probably he will do it in the best possible way he can, but it is not a good policy. He is given power to control the finances of the county and the control of the county is put into the hands of one individual. I am against this Bill for various reasons. A lot has been said here about democracy. I do not think that in this country we have reached a proper conception of democracy. People are making use of such words without having a proper conception of them. We know that the 1898 Act was a good Act, but instead of going forward and trying to improve it we should go back and come more closely in touch with the principles that form the foundation of that Act of 1898.
Mr. Ruttledge: May I say at the outset that I have made no suggestion or statement and, that no implication is contained in any statement I made in introducing this measure, that could or should have given rise to various charges that have been bandied about the House. I have had no experience and am not aware—either for the short time I have been in the Department or in the very long time I have been associated with public bodies—of any bribery or corruption. It is not necessary to make enquiries about these matters, as this measure is not brought in as a means of dealing with such, if it did exist. This measure is introduced here for the purpose of making for the better and more effective administration of local government services. Anybody who has been associated with public bodies knows, before the time when the social services and the local government services reached the extent that they have reached to-day, how very difficult it was for members of those bodies to deal with  the matters that came before them. If any of us who have been members of those public bodies want to be honest with ourselves and straight with one another, we will have to confess and admit that there were many items passed by us the details of which we knew little or nothing about. Even if we go back as far as 1929 or 1930, I know it was the experience of members of public bodies that often, after going through a rather long agenda at a county council meeting, they had then to take up a meeting of the board of health in which the minimum number of items was something like 40 at that time. I do not know how many there are to-day. I am sure there are much more. Anybody who has had any experience of it appreciates that it was utterly impossible for any public representative, no matter how conscientious he was, no matter how little value he placed on his time, fully and carefully to examine all the matters brought before him. Anybody who is honest with himself will have to admit that. The public representative was in the position that he had to depend very largely on the information and the advice he received from an executive official whom he knew to be honest and who would not try to mislead him. These facts were recognised quite a long time ago. They were recognised by the previous Administration and a commission was set up here to investigate the position. It issued a report which I think places beyond yea or nay, that the system had broken down and could not be operated as it then was.
Perhaps I might be permitted to refer to a few matters in the report of the Commission on the Relief of the Sick and Destitute Poor and to some of its findings. That commission was appointed on the 19th March, 1925. It was a very representative commission and it collected a large body of evidence. The report states:
“There was evidence that the boards (that is the boards of health and public assistance) find the work imposed on them too heavy. Mr. John Kiersey, Chairman of the Waterford County Council, states: ‘As a member of the board  of public assistance I say that under the present rules and regulations it is almost impossible to carry on the duties.’ Mr. M. J. Hassett, Secretary of the Limerick County Board of Health, says: ‘It is difficult for the board to get through all their business.’ Mr. E.J. Kelly, Chairman of the Monaghan County Board of Health, says: ‘We find we are not able to carry out duties without reverting to the system of district committees. I would be in favour of asking these district committees to do the same work as the old district councils and boards of guardians.’ Mr. Michael Flynn, Secretary of the Waterford County Board of Public Assistance, says: ‘The board are always complaining of work. The meetings sometimes take a very long time, up to five or six hours.’ Mr. P.C. O'Mahony, Secretary of the Kerry County Board of Health, is of opinion that: ‘No elected body could adequately deal with the volume of business of a board of health and avoid chaos.’”
There is a further extract from the evidence of a colleague of Deputy Nally on the Mayo Board of Health, Doctor P. O'Daly, who stated, in answer to a question whether the board of health were able to get through their work:
“Our proposal differs somewhat from this”—that is from Section 73—“as we recommend the abolition of the board of health and the assumption by the county council itself of the control of poor relief, working through a paid official, whom they would place in entire charge of the poor law services of the county in  the same manner as a general manager of a company under the control of a board of directors. By this means the control of the county council over finance would be retained.”
Mr. Ruttledge: Deputy Corish did not sign the report, but we have not been able to elicit from him why he did not sign it. He did not sign a Minority Report and he did not indicate with what particular portion he disagreed, because there were other portions, with which he agreed. I do not know whether it is with that particular part. It is a big report and I am sure it contained a good many things with which he agrees. We have, as I said, got no indication as to what part of it displeases him. There was, therefore, a proposal so far back as 1925 and 1926, to put the work of boards of public assistance under the control of a paid official, to abolish boards of health, and to have the control of finance in the hands of the county council, in other words, to place them in the position of managing directors. I have heard a lot about how the poor will suffer. I do not know what safeguard there was to prevent the poor suffering under the present system, but I tried to point out in a very brief way in introducing this Bill the reasons why it was being introduced. The grounds for its introduction were those I have now indicated, that the boards of health were not able to deal with all the work brought before them, in other words, that the machine could not carry the load and that some other method had to be devised. Deputy Brennan said it was  a shock to him that I had not made a case for the Bill. I assure him that it was not a shock, but nearly a stroke I got when I heard him say that.
In passing, perhaps I might say a word in regard to the attitude of the Fianna Fáil Party towards the Cork Management Bill when that measure was before the House. On the Second Reading of that Bill, the Fianna Fáil Party accepted the principle of the Bill. The Taoiseach pointed out that there were one or two matters reserved to the manager with which he did not agree, but he stated that we were prepared to give the Bill a Second Reading. Certain members may have voted against it, but I think 27 members of the Party voted in favour of the Second Reading. No member of the present Ministry, I think, voted against it. We have heard a lot of talk in this debate about inconsistency but, at any rate, we accepted the principle of control at that time. That is why I felt it was not necessary for me to go into details in introducing this Bill. I had grounds for assuming that it was not necessary to state these reasons, because this House has approved on four occasions of the provisions that are embodied in the Bill now before it. The Deputies who approved of the Cork Management Bill approved of a Bill and passed an Act here that curtailed very much more than this Bill does the power of councils.
Mr. Ruttledge: The Deputy was not here at the time those Bills were passed. But the people who were present then and are present now start talking about filching the rights of democracy, and all that nonsense, which is only giving lip service to something they do not believe in themselves. The Party opposite set up the Greater Dublin Commission in 1926 to inquire into the administration of affairs in Dublin. That was a very representative commission which had a large body of evidence before it. The commission made recommendations. Briefly stated,  they say, these recommendations contemplate:
“The incorporation of contiguous urbanised areas with the capital city to form a Greater Dublin. The government of this Greater Dublin by one elective central authority on a model which combines control by the people with efficiency in administration. The classification of municipal services as services of common enjoyment throughout the extended borough, and local services confined in user to limited areas applying thereto the equitable principle, ‘no service, no rate.’ The adaptation of the city manager idea to the special conditions in Greater Dublin. The annual submission of a civic budget to a committee of estimates by the city manager with public examination of the items thereof. The creation of an advisory planning board. The grant of valuable additional powers to the Council of Greater Dublin for the betterment of the citizens generally.”
“The scheme of city management under an elective council accords with the best experience of the United States, Germany and the more progressive cantons of Switzerland. Civic administration is a business; accordingly, the commission recommends the entrusting of the civic management of Greater Dublin to the business conduct of a body of directors. The system herein recommended of government by one elective civic council and administration by salaried civic managers has proved in the United States at once the most democratic form of municipal government and the most businesslike form of municipal administration.”
Mr. Ruttledge: I will come to that. That report was signed by Professor Magennis, chairman; Alasdair MacCabe, Siobhán bean an Phaoraigh,  Patrick McKenna, Ernest H. Alton, H. S. Guinness, J.T. O'Farrell, Oliver St. J. Gogarty, Alfred Byrne, Richard Corish, P. J. Egan and Richard H. Beamish. Now, there was a city manager——
Mr. Ruttledge: I leave it to any member of the Deputy's Party, or of the opposite Party, to read the document, and I venture to say he will not read into it what the Deputy is attempting to read into it. The document is quite simple and plain. At any rate, the people opposite, having set up that commission and accepted its findings, and, further, having implemented the findings of that commission in a Bill, I came into the House feeling that it would be sufficient for me to tell them that the machinery was there, machinery which they had accepted as far back as 1926, and that we should apply it to the country as a whole. But I had more than that to rely on. Deputy Cosgrave tried to convey to the House to-night in some sort of a peculiar way that it was a slip on the part of the Minister for Finance, under the Cumann na nGaedheal regime, when he indicated, on the Committee Stage of a Finance Bill, that it was proposed to introduce this managerial system which was in operation in Dublin to the rest of the country. Deputy Cosgrave comes along to-night—I do not  want to be unfair to him—and tries to get away from that by suggesting that it was never considered by the Executive Council. Now, I do not think there is anybody on the Opposition Benches who, for one moment, would be so foolish as to regard the former Minister for Finance, Mr. Blythe, as an irresponsible individual who would come in here and indicate to the House, and through the House to the country, that they were going to follow up the managerial system that was operating in Dublin and Cork, and apply it to the rest of the country. That was the policy of Cumann na nGaedheal at that time. Whether by changing their name that policy has been changed, I do not know, but at least let us be honest with one another. That was the policy of Cumann na nGaedheal at that time: that the managerial system as it was being applied here in Dublin was to be applied to the rest of the country. Now, why should anybody expect that this Bill was going to get a rough passage from the Opposition? Why should anybody expect that, unless we are going to throw consistency to the wind in these matters, and say that it is only fools who follow it. We have here in this House nice words and fine phrases loosely bandied about.
Mr. Ruttledge: We have heard talk about democracy and talk about entrenching bureaucracy. We have beard about filching their rights from the people. Democracy is not weakened but strengthened by a Bill such as this. It is not the privilege of democracy, and it could not be its special privilege, that in representing the interests of the people it is going to neglect those interests by doing something or attempting things that it is not able to do. Democracy is a system that nobody in this House can ridicule when we apply it to certain countries. I heard Deputy Everett talk about totalitarian States. I ask him, or any other Deputy, to look to countries where you have this managerial system, such as France,  where the Prefect system exists or to the work that the Communes have to do. Does this Bill go as far as they do in that democratic country? Let us look to the great republic beyond the seas, America, to see how the system works there. The managerial system was introduced in America in 1908, and has spread, and to-day it is in operation in 600 cities. Yet we talk lightly of filching away the rights of the people!
Mr. Ruttledge: It goes much further than this Bill. If the Deputy disputes that he can look it up to see if that is so. Let him not be trying to suggest that this system applies only to countries like Germany. This system is in operation in France and America, just as it is in operation in any well run business. I was rather amazed that during this debate practically nobody got up to criticise the operation of the managership in the City of Dublin. There does not seem to be any complaints or any criticism about that. The members do not seem unwilling to go to the meetings or complain that if they go there is nothing to be done. In fact, I saw from reports in the newspapers that the meetings were well attended and that they were able to get the work done. I did not see from the newspapers that there was a row between the city manager and the people who went to the meetings. They seem to be getting on well. There is no dispute about that. The idea in a Bill like this is co-operation and co-ordination of services.
Mr. Ruttledge: Having made his case there is no use in the Deputy talkabout getting the right men. How do we know what kind they will be? We hope to get the best men. The system that the Opposition set up is in operation to-day, and it tries to get the best men. Look at the position that exists at present. You have a county surveyor who, to a large extent is independent when dealing with the maintenance of the roads. In fact, if he  wants to assert his authority he is independent. I know that you can remove him just as you can remove the county manager. The county surveyor deals with roads, the county medical officer is in charge of the public health services, the veterinary inspector deals with milk and food and is also in a responsible position. Under the planning system you have an expert and for housing you have an engineer and an architect who are also to some extent, independent. Surely you want somebody to co-ordinate these services. The only way that we can see—just as our predecessors saw—of dealing with a situation where the load has become too heavy for the machine, is to pursue this managerial system.
When Deputy O'Higgins was speaking about this Bill he said that, from the point of view of efficiency, he liked the managerial system, but in view of the danger of loss of civic spirit, he thought it was probably better to leave matters in the hands of local authorities. I hope I am not misinterpreting the Deputy.
Mr. Ruttledge: Let us take it at that. Every one of us feels, no matter on what side of the House we sit, that if we are going to get better and more efficient service, and if the local government machine is to work satisfactorily, the best way to bring that about is, by getting a county manager. Looking at the other side, as to the loss of civic spirit, do the people not know, just as well as we do, from their experience of public bodies, that when there is a cumbersome agenda, out of which other matters arise, it becomes absolutely impossible for representatives on boards or on councils to perform their work satisfactorily, or to go into the details of the items on the agenda? Do the people not recognise that? I do not think it adds to civic spirit— I do not say this in any carping or critical way—when they see resolutions, amendments and negatives proposed, and long discussions going on, but very little real work being got through, or if it is, in the very worst way. They see also opprobious descriptions—perhaps  undeserved—applied to these bodies, as being talking shops, at which resolutions and all sorts of talk take up time. I often wondered if that added to the respect due to institutions like county councils and other bodies. Perhaps that may be an exaggeration, but if that is the effect on the people, as far as getting real work done, it does not impress the ordinary man in the street who has to pay rates and who takes an interest in the service he gets.
We have had a position in this country under the previous Government, and also under this Government, where councils had to be suppressed because the work was not done. I do not think that the fact of having to suppress councils gained any respect for those who constituted these bodies or who may have been responsible, if their suppression was justified. I will leave this question of civic spirit at that, but I should prefer to take a chance of the efficiency I would get as well as better services for the ratepayers, and those who are entitled to such services, than the alternative that has been pointed to. As far as I have been able to gather from the debate, there seems to be a consensus of opinion that some alternative system should be employed. I pointed out what the commission, set up in 1926, proposed. In view of the criticism I heard, I do not know whether those who oppose the present Bill would be agreeable to accept that proposal or not.
We have to recognise that of the £11,000,000 that is at present being expended on local government and public health services almost £5,000,000 comes from the State, that is, from the general taxpayers. It is a big sum of money, when we compare it with the sums contributed by the State when the local government system began to operate from 1899 onwards. In addition, when we look at these figures and the sums available for the service at that time and at the smaller number of duties that then had to be discharged by the county councils and board of guardians, we can easily realise how different the position is to-day compared with what it was  then. There is a great difference in the amount of work entailed in administering the affairs of the councils and public bodies now compared with the volume of business in those days that are passed. The position in which we have to administer such large sums of money to-day imposes far greater responsibility than when the duties were smaller and when more time was available to the members of those boards to discharge the duties. All this shows the necessity of having somebody there who will deal with the day to day expenditure and the various items that from time to time come before these public bodies. In view of these things I think it is a very unfair criticism of this Bill to state that an attempt is being made to make an inroad on the public services. That criticism could be made when the Cork City Management Act was put into operation. That criticism could be made when the Dublin City Management Act was put into operation and when the Limerick City Management Act and the Waterford City Management Act were being passed.
Mr. Ruttledge: We did not vote against the principle of the Bill. That is on the records. If Deputy Davin tries to push an untrue statement here he will not be allowed to get away with it. We have been told that in this Bill all control is taken out of the councillors' hands. Now under it the council have to strike the rates. I was asked by Deputy Cosgrave whether the council could reduce the rate estimate presented to them. What happens, as happens here in Dublin, is that the estimate is submitted to the council by the manager. The council can reduce the estimate or alter it according as they desire, but if they reduce it they cannot get the services that they require. What would happen in these circumstances would be something like this I should imagine. You have a number of members of the council coming forward and saying: “We want a concrete road in such-and-such a place.” The county manager would point out to them: “If you want to go ahead with the concreting of that road you cannot have this tuberculosis service that you have here.” In other words the estimate is made up of various services, and if the council want to alter one or increase one it will be at the expense of some other service. The council have a say in the making of the rate. If they want to be obstructive, they need not make the rate. Whether somebody would have to step in and take mandamus proceedings or not against the council I do not know. Under Section 21 of the Bill they have got power that was not in the Cork City Management Bill. In this Bill when they want to get a particular thing done they can move by resolution to have it done. If they require any particular act, matter or thing specifically mentioned they can have it done. If they supply the  money that particular thing can be done. As I have already said there was no such provision in the Cork City Management Act. If that is not giving power to the council I do not know what it means. If the council provide the money for it they can have it done. We have heard a great deal about the manager's control of the council——
Mr. Ruttledge: That is a question I can answer. If they are quite in agreement about it, they can strike a rate lower than that in the estimate unless it is at the expense of essential services. In such case the Local Government Department will probably step in and say: “you cannot do so”.
Mr. Corish: The point was made that the council would have control over the manager the same as a board of directors would have over their managing director. A board of directors has a control over their manager that the county councils will not have over  the county manager. He will be completely independent of them.
Mr. Ruttledge: The main thing is that we have this managerial system in operation in four cities. It is not fair on the part of any Deputy to say that this system has not been a success in these four cities. There is no use in asking me did the rates come down since they were appointed. Deputy Hurley, of Cork, mentioned a rate of 25/- in the £ there. The rate depends very largely on the valuation in those cities. A rate of 24/- in the £ in Limerick is lower if valuations are compared than 17/- in the £ in Waterford. As Deputies know the valuations in some of those towns have not been made since 1860. It depends largely on the amount of house building and the improvements done. Some times these figures are very fallacious. Deputy Brennan said he would not vote for this Bill if there was to be revision and if there was going to be a reduction of the members of the council. There will, of course, be revision of areas, but the reduction of the council will not be very much, as far as I can see.
Mr. Ruttledge: Yes, to urban and rural areas. Somebody mentioned about salaries and increments of officials. I would like if some such system obtained in the local government service as obtains in the Civil Service. From what is happening continually one is forced to say that there is nothing definite or fixed in these matters in the local government service. This has caused considerable difficulty, but I may tell Deputies that the Local Government Department has been working on that question for some time and I hope it will be brought to such a position in the near future that we will have regulations in the service by which regular increments at fixed scales will apply all round. Deputy Childers asked a question about parish councils and whether they might be  worked in some way like the old rural district councils. There have been various ideas about parish councils, etc. These would be voluntary bodies. That is a matter which I have not had an opportunity of considering. In any case, this Bill will not in any way affect any reform like that, if it were found possible or desirable later on. Deputy O'Sullivan asked about the reserved powers, as to whether they apply to bodies such as urban councils. They do, of course. The same reserved powers that obtain with regard to county councils will apply to urban councils. Some Deputy asked about tenders. That matter is set out in Section 20, which provides that regulations are to be made by the council as to tenders being opened and examined. The council will make regulations as to the method for the acceptance and examination of tenders.
Mr. Ruttledge: Just the same as the council, subject to the Local Government Department. Deputy Doyle asked some questions with regard to the reserved functions of the Dublin Board of Public Assistance under the Bill, if they will include the granting of home assistance, and will the manager be responsible for the granting of such allowances. He will be responsible for the granting of such allowances. As to the other matter about which Deputy Doyle asked with regard to the Dublin Board of Public Assistance, I am not in a position to answer that at the moment, but I hope before the Committee Stage to see if something can be done with regard to it. That is the position of the county council with regard to the borough council and the way that public bodies, such as boards of assistance, are intertwined between  the two bodies. There are recommendations made in the report of the Greater Dublin Tribunal as to amalgamation or consolidation. However, it is a big matter and I am not in a position to deal with it now.
Generally, I think that the House should be satisfied with the provisions of the Bill, as they are in greater part identical with the provisions of other Bills which have been passed by this House already on four occasions. This Bill goes further than the Cork Bill or some of the other Bills in giving larger powers to the council. I do not see how anybody can say that it is a negation of democracy. What I understand by democracy is that you should have popular representation but expert administrators to aid and assist the members. I feel that the essence of democracy as we should understand it is that you should have, side by side with popular representation, expert administrators, in other words, an expert executive.
Mr. Ruttledge: You have no Section 21 in Cork. As I said, under Section 21 of this Bill the council, if they are prepared to make provision by rate for it, can initiate any scheme they wish and the manager has no say with regard to that.
Mr. Hickey: I agree with that. But supposing the council, by a majority, decide that a certain job should be done by direct labour under the supervision of the officials and the manager says: “No, I am going to let it out by contract,” that would mean that the manager has complete control over the council. The manager has complete control over the officials and executive officers of the corporation as well as the ordinary labourers, and if we feel as a corporation that the manager is not doing things as we would like in connection with the appointment of the staff, the corporation of the moment have no power to interfere with the manager. Will the county manager have any lesser powers than that?
Mr. Dillon: While the debate was proceeding yesterday I directed the attention of the House to the fact that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister had voted against the principle of managership on a Bill which passed through this House in 1930. The Parliamentary Secretary interrupted, and taking up a copy of the Official Reports, he said he wished to correct me; that I would find if I referred to the Official Reports that he voted for the Bill. I, of course, accepted the Parliamentary Secretary's word without hesitation. This evening my attention has been directed to the Official Reports of Dáil Eireann, and according to column 1227, volume 33, the Parliamentary Secretary voted against the Second Reading.
Mr. Dillon: I am. According to volume 34, column 2447, the Parliamentary Secretary voted against the Fifth Stage of the Bill. I am now asking the Parliamentary Secretary if, when he interrupted yesterday, he desired to deceive, knowing he was doing that, or did he make a mistake, and, if so, does he propose to take  steps to correct the error into which he fell?
Dr. Ward: I stated in an interruption to Deputy Dillon yesterday that I voted for the Second Reading of the Cork City Management Bill. I think that was in 1928. I repeat that statement now. If he understood me to have stated anything else, he misunderstood me.
Mr. Corish: I would like to ask a question for the sake of clarification with regard to Section 21. Supposing that a certain amount of money is given by the Local Government Department or the Board of Works for the relief of unemployment in an area and the council wants that money spent on a certain road or street under their jurisdiction, who decides that? Is it the manager or the council?
Costello, John A.
De Valera, Eamon.
Dillon, James M.
Doyle, Peadar S.
Fogarty, Patrick J.
Friel, John. O'Grady, Seán.
O'Loghlen, Peter J.
Ruttledge, Patrick J.
Kelly, James P.
Kennedy, Michael J.
Lemass, Seán F.
Little, Patrick J.
McDevitt, Henry A.
McFadden, Michael Og.
O Briain, Donnchadh. Ryan, Martin.
Bennett, George C.
Broderick, William J.
Cosgrave, William T.
Esmonde, John L.
Mongan, Joseph W.
O'Donovan, Timothy J.
O'Higgins, Thomas F.
Pattison, James P.
Rogers, Patrick J.
Costello, John A.
De Valera, Eamon.
Dillon, James M.
Doyle, Peader S.
Fogarty, Patrick J.
Kelly, James P.
Kennedy, Michael J.
|Lemass, Seán F.
Little, Patrick J.
McDevitt, Henry A.
McFadden, Michael Og.
O Briain, Donnchadh.
O'Loghlen, Peter J.
Ruttledge, Patrick J.
Bennett, George C.
Broderick, William J.
Esmonde, John L.
Mongan, Joseph W.
O'Donovan, Timothy J.
O'Higgins, Thomas F.
Pattison, James P.
Rogers, Patrick J.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Smith and Seán Brady; Níl: Deputies Keyes and Hickey.
Motion declared carried.
Committee Stage ordered for 21st February next.
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