Thursday, 19 October 1944
Dáil Éireann Debate
Mr. Cogan: When I moved to report progress last night, I had been pointing out the desirability of including in the Bill the new section provided for in this amendment. The object of this new section is to ensure that county councils will have a certain amount of initiation. It does not seek to interfere with the powers of the commissioners, but seeks to give a new power to the local authorities which they would not possess under the Bill as it now stands. This power of initiation of drainage schemes will lead to a more active local interest in the whole administration of this Bill. In this amendment, we seek to give the county councils power to bring new drainage schemes before the attention of the central drainage authority, and if the central drainage authority or the commissioners turn down those schemes we have provision here for an appeal to an impartial tribunal. I do not propose to express any opinion as to whether the appeal tribunal proposed is the best that could possibly be devised, but on principle I think the local authorities should have some body to which to appeal. There is a definite danger that, if all power is left in the hands of the commissioners, certain areas or districts may not get the attention to which they are entitled.  It may be argued that this power in the hands of the county councils might obstruct and interfere with the central drainage authority in the administration of the Act, but I think the provision here that a tribunal will be set up to decide between the central body and the local authority ought to be adequate protection to ensure that justice would be done as between the two. I cannot imagine any properly constituted appeal board not deciding a case entirely on its merits. I do not think the Central Drainage Board would have anything to fear from an appeal to such an impartial body as that. Therefore, in order to preserve some authority in the hands of the local bodies, I think the Parliamentary Secretary ought to accept this amendment.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance (Mr. Smith): I can see no difference between what is aimed at here and what would have been achieved by the acceptance of the amendment moved by Deputy Hughes last night.
Mr. Smith: It seeks to give to the county councils the right to petition. Suppose you give them that right, what will be the result? Will it not mean that every county council in the country will proceed to send on petitions in respect of every drainage district in their area, and even after those have been received by the drainage authority will it not ultimately boil down to those men being called upon to decide which of the schemes will be taken first? I cannot see what purpose can be served by giving this power to local authorities. It is not, in fact, a power of initiation because you cannot disturb the right that is  proposed for the drainage authority here. You cannot interfere with it, because, if you do, then you have no drainage authority at all. It is because I can see that the effects of this amendment would be exactly the same as the effects which would accrue from the acceptance of the previous amendment that I must resist it. To my mind it certainly does not make for any improvement but rather for a considerable worsening in the provisions that are already here.
General MacEoin: That is an extraordinary statement by the Parliamentary Secretary, when we take into consideration the fact that it is the intention of Fianna Fáil to fight all elections on purely political grounds, and that they have apparently a majority of the electorate. The Parliamentary Secretary says that he cannot give a council that is likely to be a Fianna Fáil body the right to demand that something be done, that he does not trust them with any power of initiation at all, and that it must be left exclusively either to the central body or somebody else to decide when a request for a drainage scheme may be made in an area. I should like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary to tell us if he is satisfied that he cannot depend upon either the wisdom or the judgment of the local authorities upon that particular matter?
Mr. Norton: As I understand Deputy Cogan's amendment, it differs very much from Deputy Hughes's amendment, and from the arguments in which Deputy Hughes clothed his amendment last night. I gathered from Deputy Hughes's amendment last night that his desire was to leave the initiation of schemes in the hands of the local authority.
Mr. Norton: I am referring to the amendment which the Deputy moved last night and where he talked about taking the power to initiate schemes out of the hands of the local authorities. The difference between this amendment and Deputy Hughes's amendment is, in my opinion, that, whereas Deputy Hughes appeared to claim that the initiation should be in the hands of the local authority, Deputy Cogan does not make that claim, and all he wants is that the local authority should have the right to agitate for the introduction of a drainage scheme. Anybody who agitates and gets the Board of Public Works to move rapidly is a public benefactor.
Mr. Norton: The Parliamentary Secretary is too close to its activities to be able to measure the tempo of its progress but, looking at its activities objectively — and not offensively — a lot of us have some doubts that anybody in the Department will suffer from lightness in the head because of the speed at which schemes are brought to maturity. It may be that the machinery is not of a kind to promote that happening but, at all events, a lot of us have long experience of the Board of Works and know that things do not happen in a hurry and that no lightning storms occur when it comes to getting a decision to do a thing or from then on to the actual completion of the work.
It is because I hope that this Bill will accelerate the methods of the Board of Works that I support its general principles. However, Deputy Cogan wants to give a local authority the power to say to the commissioners: “We want you to carry out a drainage scheme in our area,” so that they can bring the claims of that area to the notice of the commissioners and so that the commissioners will not feel that, because they have decided, for instance, to initiate drainage in Connemara, the local authority in Carlow or Wexford may be entitled to say that Carlow or Wexford exist as well  as Connemara and that their drainage should be looked after. Deputy Cogan's amendment merely gives the county councils the right to agitate for a scheme, and I cannot see why the Parliamentary Secretary would not concede to the local authority that right. But that is entirely different from putting the local authority in the position where it initiates the movement for a drainage scheme.
If Deputy Cogan's amendment is carried, we will have a situation in which the commissioners in any case will decide where they are going to have a drainage scheme. Up to the moment, they are the only body that can do it, but Deputy Cogan says that we should let in the county council and let them say to the commissioners that there should be a drainage scheme here, there or somewhere else. That seems to be the purpose of the amendment. I do not think the Parliamentary Secretary has shown any substantial reasons why a county council cannot agitate to have a drainage scheme carried out. I think they already have that power. Whether there is, in fact, an inherent right in them to do so or not is another matter. I think a county council can, at any time, meet and pass a resolution instructing the county manager to write to the Parliamentary Secretary to tell the commissioners to come and drain such-and-such a river.
Mr. Norton: And if the Parliamentary Secretary does not do that, the county council can write to the local Deputies and get them to ask the Parliamentary Secretary in the Dáil why he has not drained a certain river. The Parliamentary Secretary is then put on his defence and so are the Commissioners.
Mr. Norton: I am making the point that the local authority ought to have the right to kick up a row, but I do not want the county council to go asleep and, because it goes asleep, that there will be no drainage scheme started in its area. That is the difference I want  to insist that the job of drainage will be done and let the Commissioners do it and, in case they are a bit slow, to let the county council agitate to have it done. But let us not put the responsibility for starting the scheme on the local authority as, if we do, in many cases it may never start. All kinds of objections arise and everybody knows what they are like at county council meetings. Someone wants to put in a sewerage scheme or a water scheme in a town and immediately there are deputations from outside the town, coming in and saying, “Please, do not do this, as it makes the area charge higher on us and we will get no water or sewerage.” I do not want that type of see-saw at county council meetings. I want the Commissioners to come in and get after the job of drainage, but I have not heard from the Parliamentary Secretary what case there is for preventing a county council from agitating for a scheme.
Mr. Norton: That is what I would imagine. If the Parliamentary Secretary meets the case made by Deputy Cogan by saying they can agitate from 1st January to 31st December, I think that is an answer; but if that is the answer, it is not the answer that the Parliamentary Secretary gave when he likened this amendment to that proposed by Deputy Hughes.
Mr. Cogan: I am afraid that Deputy Norton is at a bit of a disadvantage, in that he does not seem to have read either my amendment or Deputy Hughes's very carefully. As far as my knowledge of Deputy Hughes's amendment goes, it would put an obligation on the central authority to initiate the drainage scheme and would make it a binding obligation, which any person could take into court and enforce on the Commissioners. My amendment seeks to give the county council power, first of all, to bring a scheme to the notice of the Commissioners and, in the event of the Commissioners turning down the application, power to appeal to an outside impartial tribunal,  which would decide between the county council and the Commissioners of Public Works. I think that is a simple, straightforward proposal. It gives the county council more power, maybe, than the power to agitate: it gives them the power to bring their case against the Commissioners to the tribunal and have it decided on its merits.
Mr. Hughes: If Deputy Norton persists in grossly and deliberately misrepresenting what I said, that is a different matter. I did not in any place or at any time advocate that we should preserve the right to initiate schemes to the local authority, but I said that, once you take away that right, the drainage authority should then be representative of the people interested in drainage. In other words, instead of vesting the power to initiate national drainage in the commissioners, it should be vested in an authority drawn from people interested in national drainage.
Mr. Hughes: On this amendment, the Parliamentary Secretary pointed out that it would have more or less the same effect as my amendment. So far as my amendment is concerned, I say that, although it imposed a duty on the commissioners, yet if the Parliamentary Secretary reads the first two lines of the section, he will see:
Mr. Hughes: Anyway, we will leave it so. We dealt with it last night. There is no necessity for this amendment at all in regard to the local authorities' right to agitate and come together to pass a resolution and send it up to the commissioners, pressing them to have their problem examined.
Mr. Hughes: That is the difficulty. It goes further. I have no objection to the amendment, except that, to a great extent, it is impracticable. You may have requests coming from all over the country, putting responsibility on the commissioners to do works immediately that it would not be humanly possible to have done in a short period. I must honestly admit that that is the snag about the amendment. Otherwise, it might be desirable to have that amendment in. Whether the amendment is in or out will not prevent the local authority from passing a resolution drawing the attention of the commissioners  to the fact that they have a problem and are anxiously awaiting a solution of it.
Mr. Cogan: I do not think so. With regard to the point made by Deputy Hughes, that the business of the drainage board might be cluttered up with successful demands for local drainage works, arising out of appeals to the appeal board, I do not think that that would arise. If the appeal board were a body with a sense of responsibility and with full knowledge of the administration of the Act, I do not think that they would insist on the drainage board doing anything impossible. The drainage board would be represented at the appeal tribunal and, if it was impossible to carry out the work within a reasonable period, the appeal tribunal would have to consider that. I am sure the appeal tribunal would be fair both to the county council and the Commissioners of Works. The appeal tribunal suggested here is really one which Deputy Hughes has put forward in a later amendment. Deputy Hughes should have some confidence in the tribunal he is proposing, and he should be satisfied that the board will have a sense of responsibility and will not obstruct the operation of the Act.
Mr. Smith: I was not anxious at this stage to become involved in a discussion as to the wisdom or otherwise of having an appeal board. Several of the later amendments deal with that matter. I thought that the Deputy would not have insisted upon his amendment. I ask him and other Deputies who appear to favour his view——
Mr. Smith: The Drainage Commission estimated that an arterial drainage  scheme for the whole country would cost, roughly, £7,000,000. They suggested that, in order to grapple with this problem, certain things should be done. One of these things was the setting up of a drainage authority. When you proceed to set up that drainage authority, you must attach to it technical men who will advise, prepare, survey and block out the work to be done. Is it not obvious that the first two matters referred to in this amendment mean nothing if they are not read in conjunction with No. 3? When read in conjunction with No. 3, you discover that you are to have an appeal from the drainage authority which is set up, with its technical advisers, to an appeal board as to the wisdom or otherwise of selecting any scheme, or group of schemes, from a total of, roughly, £7,000,000 worth of work. Can the mover of this amendment show me how this appeal board which is to decide between the local authority and the drainage authority is to secure the  technical advice on which it will make up its mind as to which authority is right? I entirely approve of encouraging local authorities to make demands in regard to this matter. I expect to receive from them demands for explanations as to why the drainage authority will not do this or that. I expect that letters will be sent to Deputies and that questions will be raised in this House regarding suggested schemes. There can be criticism of the Board of Works and the drainage authority on any Estimates or Supplementary Estimates that come up. That, of course, will be influenced by the rate of progress the drainage authority will be able to make. I have no desire, even if I had the power, to curb that kind of criticism but, when an amendment such as this is proposed, it is an entirely different matter and I must insist on resisting it.
|Bennett, George C.
Dockrell, Henry M.
Dockrell, Maurice E.
Doyle, Peadar S.
Halliden, Patrick J.
McFadden, Michael Og.
O'Higgins, Thomas F.
Rogers, Patrick J.
Burke, Patrick (Co. Dublin).
Childers, Erskine H.
Crowley, Fred H. Lynch, James B.
O Briain, Donnchadh.
O Ceallaigh, Seán T.
O Cléirigh, Mícheál.
O'Connor, John S.
O'Loghlen, Peter J.
|Daly, Francis J.
Fogarty, Patrick J.
Gorry, Patrick J.
Kennedy, Michael J.
Lemass, Seán F.
Little, Patrick J.
Lydon, Michael F. O'Rourke, Daniel.
Rice, Bridget M.
Ruttledge, Patrick J.
Ryan, Mary B.
Skinner, Leo B.
This amendment seeks to ensure that schemes prepared by the commissioners, which must be sent to the county council and must be published in a short review and in one or more newspapers as the commissioners consider appropriate, shall also be published in papers, including the provincial papers circulating in the districts to which the particular drainage scheme relates. It could happen that the commissioners might prepare a scheme for, let us say, Donegal, publish the details in Iris Oifigiúil and, let us say, in the Cork Examiner, and then expect the people concerned to know about the details of the scheme through looking it up in the columns of Iris Oifigiúil or the Cork Examiner. Now, I am sure that that is not contemplated, but I suggest that it could happen, and that the details of such a scheme could be published in Iris Oifigiúil or in a Dublin City newspaper and not be published in a newspaper with a circulation in the area concerned. All that this amendment seeks is to have the scheme published in a newspaper circulating in the area in which the scheme will operate.
Mr. Smith: I think that in the past that has been the practice relating to drainage schemes, and I am sure that it will be the practice in the future, but I should not like to make a statutory provision for it in the manner suggested in the amendment.
Mr. Smith: Well, after all, when you make a statutory provision, you do not know what may arise in the future, and I think that it is better not to have a statutory provision in connection with this matter. In any case, that is what they will do, anyhow.
Mr. Norton: So far as the Parliamentary Secretary or his Department is concerned, they can look up Thom's Directory, and, if necessary, they can publish the scheme in every one of the 56 newspapers that are published in this country, and there is nothing in this amendment to prevent that. On the other hand, however, if a drainage scheme refers to, let us say, Kerry, and there is one paper published in Kerry, this amendment seeks to establish that the scheme should be published in the Kerry paper, so that the people there will be put in the position of knowing what it is all about. That is all that this amendment asks for, and if the commissioners at present cannot accept the burden of the responsibility of publishing the scheme in the local paper, then, through this amendment, they would have to do so.
Mr. Norton: May I point out to the Parliamentary Secretary that there have been similar amendments in connection with other Bills? As a matter of fact, I think that a similar amendment has been inserted in the Transport Bill.
Mr. Hughes: Surely, if we want the commissioners to do a certain thing, we ought to provide for them to be enabled to do it, and not merely say here that it is the usual practice for such things to be done. If it is the usual practice, then what is the objection to this amendment? The only logical conclusion to be drawn from the Parliamentary Secretary's argument is that if it is undesirable to publish the  scheme at any time, you are giving the commissioners an opportunity of getting out of publishing it.
Mr. Smith: After all, will they not publish the scheme in the papers circulating in the area concerned — the area where there is a scheme? That has been done in the past, and I am quite sure the practice will be continued in the future, but we do not like to be statutorily bound to do that in every case.
Mr. Roddy: Surely, the people interested in those schemes should be given an opportunity of examining them? The only way I can think of giving them an opportunity of examining these schemes in detail is to publish them in the newspaper or newspapers circulating in the county concerned, or in the three counties, as the case may be. There is another way of ensuring that the people will be able to see those schemes and examine them for themselves. It is mentioned here that they will be exhibited at the county council offices, but, after all, very few people will see them there, because very few of the people concerned would have an opportunity of calling to the county council offices, and I am quite sure that it is the desire of those in charge of the drainage scheme that an opportunity should be given to the people concerned of seeing the scheme and examining it for themselves.
Mr. Roddy: Well, all I can say is that if the Parliamentary Secretary does not show a more reasonable attitude, the discussion on this Bill may be prolonged. This is one of the amendments in regard to which I would wish the Parliamentary Secretary to meet the Opposition in a morereasonable manner.
In sub-section (2), page 5, line 41, to insert before the words “and shall” the words “during the period specified in that behalf in the notice relating to such scheme published in pursuance of the next preceding sub-section of this section”.
In sub-section (2), (b), at the end of line 45, to add the following words: “shall receive and consider any representations or observations pertaining to such drainage scheme that may be submitted, and”.
The purpose of this amendment, as the Parliamentary Secretary can see, is to ensure that the local authority will consider submissions that are made by individuals relating to any particular omission that may be made in a drainage scheme, and that they will consider it themselves and pass recommendations on to the commissioners. I think it is desirable that we should make the local authority take an interest in the scheme, and that, if they feel that there is an omission that should be included in the scheme, they would send notification of that fact to the commissioners.
Mr. Hughes: Surely, the local authority is responsible for maintenance, and, according to Section 48,  I think that, taking all factors into account, the local authority, definitely, has an interest there, since they will have to pay, through the rates, for maintenance in the future. Surely we are not going to leave it to the engineer who has surveyed the job to decide whether such a scheme should go through or not. Why not give an opportunity to a practical farmer from the district, who might happen to be a member of the local authority, the opportunity of expressing his opinion on it, which he would be quite capable of doing? I think it is only right and proper that the local authority should consider whatever representations are made. If, after looking at a published scheme, an individual feels that he has a grievance and makes representations to the local authority, his submissions may go by default simply because the secretary to the local authority did not bring the matter before it. My object in moving this amendment is to ensure that such representations will be brought to the notice of the local authority.
Mr. Smith: The only people on whom we can place responsibility for receiving and considering representations are the members of the drainage authority. It would not be possible to place that responsibility also on the local authority. It is only natural, of course, that individuals concerned might feel that if they made their complaints to the local authority and if the latter decided to make approaches to the drainage authority they would have more effect than if the individuals had approached the drainage authority directly. The local authority is free at any time to consider representations. I repeat that the only people on whom we can place legal responsibility for receiving and considering representations are the drainage authority, and I do not think the Deputy should press his amendment.
Mr. Hughes: It might very well happen that if an individual did write to the local authority the secretary might never bring the communication before it. What I am seeking to ensure is  that when individuals make representations to the local authority they must be placed before it for consideration. Suppose, under the Bill as it stands, the secretary to the local authority fails to bring a complaint before that body, what redress has the individual concerned? We ought to put in a provision to meet a situation of that kind, and make the secretary of the local authority recognise that in this section we are proposing to use the local authority for the purpose of facilitating individuals who feel that they have a grievance through an omission of one kind or another in the scheme. In that way we will be making certain that grievances will be brought to the notice of the local authority. That is not putting an obligation on it to accept whatever recommendations are made to it. The local authority can consider them on their merits, and throw them out if they like.
Mr. Allen: It is provided in the section that an individual can inspect the scheme. I submit that Deputy Hughes's amendment follows on that because it provides that the individual, having inspected the scheme, may make representations. In this instance I take the local authority to be the county manager.
Mr. Smith: Both Deputy Allen and Deputy Hughes have had experience of local authorities. Surely they are not serious in suggesting that, in putting forward proposals for drainage, we should proceed to lay down regulations as to how local authorities should treat the people whom they represent?
Mr. Smith: We are providing the local authority with the opportunity of making representations to the drainage authority after it has examined a drainage scheme, but surely it would not be right to stipulate in a measure of this kind that, say, when a rate-payer in Carlow, Kildare or Wexford writes to the secretary of the county council, the latter must bring that letter before his local authority?
Mr. Hughes: If an individual has a grievance and feels that Section 48, which is a compulsory one, may be operated against him later, why deny him the right to have his complaint brought before the local authority, which is composed of practical men who know the drainage district and the catchment area, for the purpose of getting their views? There has been a good deal of talk here about technicians, but on this drainage problem the practical farmers who are members of local authorities are quite capable of expressing constructive views on it. I think it is right and proper that this obligation should be put on the secretary to the local authority to bring complaints from individuals before the notice of that body.
Mr. Harris: I think that this suggestion of Deputy Hughes's is entirely nonsensical. From my experience, if any matter arises locally, the people interested will bring it before the local authority, and there is no need for compulsion.
Mr. Smith: What I cannot understand is why those who are responsible for bringing forward these proposals should be accused of robbing the local authorities of their rights, and of not giving them the recognition that they deserve. I have also been accused of showing mistrust in local authorities. As one who has had some contact with local authorities, I have not the slightest doubt that if an individual ratepayer raises some question with the local authority, either directly or through his local county councillor, the matter will be brought before that body. I have enough confidence in our county councils to think that that will happen. The idea of providing that a county council should do so-and-so, and shall consider each representation that is sent to it, is certainly going much further than I would be prepared to go. It does not mean anything.  It is of no importance, and it seems to me to be a very foolish provision to attempt to insert.
Mr. Coogan: Surely the Parliamentary Secretary can visualise a case where a watercourse or a source of power may be interfered with. The owner or owners may feel that they should have the right to put forward their case to the local authority when this scheme is being considered by them. We are only asking to have this provision inserted in order to ensure that if such persons or group of persons make any representations of that kind, they will get a fair hearing by the local authority, and that their representations will be sent forward, with the council's observations, to the drainage authority. We are merely asking the Parliamentary Secretary to ensure that that will be done, and that no omission can occur, through any mischance, on the part of the county manager or his officials. It is merely a safeguard to ensure that these people will get a fair hearing.
Mr. Smith: It is all right to talk about safeguards, but think of the safeguards that are already in the Bill. The scheme is prepared. The scheme is published and advertised. The people whose rights are being interfered with are notified. They are told the place at which they can see the scheme and make whatever observations they like upon it direct to the drainage authority. The local authority or local authorities, as the case may be, have the scheme in their office. They have three months in which to make their representations. The individual concerned can inspect the scheme, and he has a month in which to do it. He can make his representations. The local authority have three months to do it, and they can make their representations to the drainage authority. It is the duty of the drainage authority on receiving these representations to consider them. I do not see what other safeguards you require. If we were to accept an amendment of this kind, is it suggested that, in the case of some local authority refusing or failing, or some individual of that local authority failing,  the drainage authority would have to take proceedings against that local authority before it could proceed with the work for which preparations had been made? If you think of the provisions and safeguards that are already in the Bill and discuss the amendment in relation to those safeguards, I think you could not possibly even ask for the insertion of these words.
Mr. Coogan: There is no suggestion of the kind that the Parliamentary Secretary indicates. What I had in mind was the case of an individual who feels that if he has to make his case direct to the local authority he is a voice crying in the wilderness, whereas if he is able to make his case with the local authority and gets their support and has their observations forwarded to the drainage authority, he will at least feel that he is getting somewhere.
Mr. Smith: The county council is perfectly free to hear complaints, and will undoubtedly hear complaints and representations from individual ratepayers. They are perfectly free to consider these complaints and these objections and undoubtedly, as a result of receiving and considering them, will write to us about it. But to make it a statutory obligation upon the local authority to do that would be entirely unwise.
“Where a county council of a  drainage district receives representations from an occupier or occupiers of land in such district regarding the omission of any drain or drains or portion of any drain or drains from the prepared scheme as published by the Commissioners and where such council is of opinion that such drain or drains or portion thereof should be included, and having submitted such proposal or proposals to the Commissioners and the Commissioners having rejected such proposal or proposals, an appeal shall lie by the occupier or occupiers or county council from the decision of the Commissioners to the Appeal Board provided for in Section 19 of this Act.”
The House will understand that, the Commissioners having prepared a scheme, this section can only operate if there is portion of a catchment area omitted. A stream may be omitted because the Commissioners might feel that it was not necessary to have it opened. The individual or group of individuals in that particular district might feel that hardship was involved and that it was quite possible that later on another part of this Bill might be operated against them to compel them to open up that stream. In that case, as the Bill stands at present, the decision rests absolutely with the particular engineer or engineers who are in charge and there can be no further investigation. I suppose the Parliamentary Secretary would have implicit confidence in the engineering staff of his Department and would feel that they could do no wrong, that they could make no mistakes, but it is quite possible that if we do not make some provision for appeal in such a case, hardship could be inflicted on a group of individuals and that later on the Commissioners might compel them to open up a stream which should rightly be the responsibility of the drainage authority. I feel it is desirable to give the individual an opportunity of appealing in a case where he feels injustice has been done. In all legislation it is not merely desirable but absolutely essential that the individual's interest should be safeguarded and that he should have the right to  appeal to an appeal board or to a court of justice or to some other body. The appeal that I favour is set out in the amendment.
Mr. Smith: I must resist the amendment for the reasons I have already advanced in regard to amendment No. 8. Complaint will, I am sure, continue to be made as to the manner in which this problem will be tackled and as to the rate of progress that will be made. In the discussion that took place on the Second Reading of this Bill and in the discussions that took place in this House as to the inactivity of the Board of Works under the 1925 Act, the thing that strikes me as extraordinary is the criticism as to the rate of progress that was made and the criticism of that portion of the recommendations of the Drainage Commission where they refer to the amount of money that a drainage authority would be likely to expend in one year, and the time that it would take to give complete effect to the drainage problems of this country. When that report is referred to on Second Reading and when extracts are read from it, one hears all kinds of criticism from Deputies who say: “If you proceed to spend money at the rate of £250,000 per annum and if the estimated amount necessary for the drainage of the country is, roughly, £7,000,000, it is not difficult to estimate the time which will elapse before this drainage problem is fully dealt with.”
Those who advance these complaints, and that type of criticism, are people who, when you bring forward proposals of this nature, will try to hedge them round with conditions that will make the work of this authority  ten times more difficult, and more involved, than it would otherwise have been. In spite of what has been alleged I am not making the case that a drainage authority is not likely to commit errors of judgment or that the work of technical men will not be found at fault, but the grounds on which I am going to resist this and every other amendment along the same lines, are that there must be some final court, no matter what you are dealing with. There must be finality. If we are going to provide the court of appeal suggested, not only in this but in other amendments, not only will the time of the drainage authority that is to be set up be frittered away but also the time of technical people coming forward to give evidence. I stated on another amendment that this drainage authority must have technical advice. It must have on it people skilled in a technical sense and if an appeal board is set up of the type suggested in the amendment——
Mr. Smith: ——from whom will the drainage authority get technical assistance in order to come to decisions? I am entitled to claim that if there is to be a drainage authority, which will have the assistance of trained experts in their work, seeing that there must be finality, they should be in a position to weigh the pros and cons of objections brought forward by individuals and local bodies. If in some cases their judgment is not perfect and errors are made, so too might errors of judgment result from the deliberations of the proposed appeals tribunal. In fact, there would be much more liability to have decisions that would err from such an appeal board than from a drainage authority which would have the assistance of the skilled people I referred to. I could enumerate dozens of frivolous things on which there might be appeals. When I replied to the criticisms on the Second Reading by pointing out the length of time that appeals were likely to take, it was not my opinion nor that of the Commissioners of Public Works I was expressing. It was the opinion of the Drainage Commission with regard to the time it  would take to give effect to recommendations. When I think of the criticism offered as a result of repeating that opinion and relate it to the proposals here! If we are to have an appeals tribunal it will further clog the machine and hamper the progress that we want when the drainage problem is tackled. I could speak for hours if I wanted to produce arguments showing why this appeal tribunal could not be tolerated by anyone who has a hope of progress being made in dealing with this problem.
Mr. Roddy: I think the Parliamentary Secretary has considerably exaggerated the delay that is likely to arise from the hearing of an appeal, if it was decided to set up a tribunal. A staff of engineers will have to be recruited to carry out the drainage work implied by this Bill. I do not know if we have any drainage experts. At all events, a number of new men will be recruited to carry out various drainage schemes and it is quite inevitable that these new men, because of lack of technical experience in drainage, are likely to make mistakes. It is quite conceivable in some schemes that drains or portions of drains referred to in the amendment might be on different schemes, and their omission might have an important bearing on local life in certain districts. If local people are deeply concerned about having schemes under-taken, and if engineers take up the attitude that some drains should not be included, the people should have some right of appeal other than to the technical engineers who prepared the schemes. There is nothing at all unreasonable in the request to have such an authority set up. Difficulties might not arise frequently, but if there are complaints there should be some authority other than the engineers who prepared schemes to hear complaints. If drainage schemes are to be carried out, and if they are to win the confidence of the people, it is only just and reasonable that there should be something in the nature of an appeal board, where misunderstandings arise between engineers, local authorities and local people. An appeal tribunal was recommended by the commission,  and it seems to me that a just case has been made for establishing such a tribunal. The Parliamentary Secretary says that on the Second Reading he replied to the case made then for the establishment of such a tribunal. I cannot agree with the Parliamentary Secretary that its establishment would lead to a great deal of delay in the operation of drainage schemes.
Mr. Hughes: Surely we do not desire to pass legislation which aims at setting up an absolute autocracy, which nobody will have the right to challenge and with no provision made for an appeal from its decision. No plea of expedition justifies interference with justice. If there is any possibility of injustice being done, and if commissioners with overriding power can simply ignore the small man's interests, we should make ample provision to secure that justice is done in every case.
I think the Parliamentary Secretary has missed the real point. I have for some time been interested in the type of legislation passed by men with long experience of legislating in another country. The legislation passed by the British House of Commons always contains safeguards of this kind. They are essential safeguards, which may only in very rare cases be operated. I want to say this to the Parliamentary Secretary: I do not believe that there will be very many appeals in actual practice, but the insertion of such a safeguard would have a psychological effect, in that the commissioners would be conscious all the time that an individual had the right of appeal and it would act as a very effective means of ensuring their doing their job properly. It is absolutely essential, because the very fact that such machinery was available would induce the commissioners to make sure that no injustice was done and to carry out works, if the appeal board decided they ought to be carried out. In such cases, the appeal board, I believe, would very rarely operate, but do not insert this safeguard and I say definitely that injustice is bound to happen from time to time.
The Parliamentary Secretary has  agreed that the skilled technicians of his Department are human and can make errors. I am not reflecting in any way on their ability. I have every confidence in their ability to do the type of job they have been trained to do, that is, to get rid of surplus water and to carry out drainage schemes; but we, as legislators, have a responsibility to protect the individual's rights and liberties, particularly bearing in mind the background of the Bill, Section 48, in which we introduce for the first time in legislation compulsory powers in relation to the carrying out of certain works by individuals, even on their own farms.
Can the Parliamentary Secretary say why he has not attempted to implement the recommendations of the Drainage Commission set up by his Government with regard to this appeal board? I do not want to discuss this point in detail, because it appears later in an amendment of mine, but I want to say again to the Parliamentary Secretary that I disagree with him in his suggestion that such a provision would hamper the work of the commissioners. There will be very few cases of appeal, but the fact that machinery for appeal is provided will ensure that the commissioners will do their work efficiently and effectively, and safeguard the interests and rights of individuals.
Mr. Cogan: This amendment and several others raise the biggest issue that confronts us in regard to legislation at present, that is, the issue as between the democratic rights of the people and the demands of bureaucracy, of officialdom. It is quite reasonable to say that the official machine will act more expeditiously if there is no outside interference with it, but the arguments put forward by the Parliamentary Secretary were put forward in other countries in favour of the abolition of democratic institutions. They were put forward in favour of the County Management Act. We have seen the results of dictatorship in other countries and it is our duty now to insist that there shall be some safeguard for the individual citizen.  Remember that this Bill deals with the rights and interests of very humble and obscure citizens, of people living in the heart of the country in the most backward districts. These people are entitled to some protection. They are entitled to be in a position to appeal against the decision of unknown officials who come down from the city, make their decisions, and disappear again. The plain people in the bogs and the mountains who have rights which may be trampled upon in the expeditious carrying out of these drainage schemes ought to have some safeguard, and this amendment, I think, offers a reasonable safeguard. No plea of expedition should stand against the rights of the citizens.
Mr. Cogan: I am dealing only with this amendment, which asks that where representations are made by an occupier or occupiers of land regarding the omission of a drain or drains, or portion of a drain or drains, from the prepared scheme as published, and where these representations are rejected, an appeal shall lie to an appeal board. If a farmer finds that there is an omission from a scheme which would leave his land unimproved, or which would be detrimental to his property, surely he should have the right to appeal. That is all the amendment asks.
Mr. Harris: I have some little experience, as I am sure most Deputies have, of the difficulties many farmers experience in having drainage carried out. If their neighbours refuse to open drains, the position as things stand at present is that it is very difficult to compel them to do so. I do not want to interfere, and I am sure the Parliamentary Secretary does not want to interfere, with the democratic rights of the people, but he does not want to see the position clogged up and to see it made difficult to have drainage work carried out. The danger I see in the amendment is that there will be a tendency on the part of most land owners to force the authority to  have all drainage carried out. If I am a land owner, I will endeavour to extend the scheme to my holding to avoid doing it myself. That tendency will be very great and I foresee a large number of appeals on that basis. It will be just as difficult as at present for a man to get on with drainage, if we have hampering amendments of this type. The position is that the people do not feel equal to compelling a man to open drains on his land which he should have been compelled to open in the past. Under this, as I say, he will be compelled to open up the drains and he will utilise this appeal to hamper the whole position.
Mr. Allen: There is one thing that I would suggest to Deputy Hughes and Deputy Cogan in regard to democracy, and that is, that in every section of every Bill brought before this House democracy is attacked, according to Deputy Hughes and Deputy Cogan. I often wonder why they sit in the House at all. Their attitude is bringing the word “democracy” into contempt and making it appear ridiculous.
Mr. Allen: Deputy Hughes's amendment proposes to give the right to a county council to make representations to an appeal board if the Drainage Commission refuse to drain a few extra perches of somebody's land which they may not take into a drainage area That is what this appeal board provided for in this amendment amounts to. I wonder will this appeal board, when set up according to Deputy Hughes's amendment, be any more democratic than the Drainage Commissioners. Has he any reason to believe that it will be more democratic? According to this amendment, one member of the appeal board will be a  nominee of the Drainage Commissioners A second member will be a judge of the High Court. The third might be considered by Deputy Hughes to be democratic, as he is to be nominated by the General Council of County Councils. Actually the majority of the proposed appeal board will not be elected by anybody. Both of them will be officials. One, we will assume, will be an official of the Office of Public Works and the other an official of this House or of the courts — a judge of the High Court. Nobody can say that either of these, whoever they may be, if the amendment is carried, would be very democratic from Deputy Hughes's or Deputy Cogan's point of view.
I listened this evening, on another Bill which was before the House, to a Deputy sitting on the opposite benches talking about a tribunal which was set up recently composed of three judges, and he certainly had nothing but the most absolute contempt for their findings. I wonder if Deputy Hughes, before the Bill goes through, will want a supreme appeal board to which there can be an appeal from the one he proposes. I think the whole thing is ridiculous, because you will get just as good results in the end from the Drainage Board as from a dozen or 40 appeal boards. There must be finality somewhere and you might as well have finality in the beginning as after endless delays and expense with no further result.
Mr. Bennett: I am not going to go into the question of an appeal board which Deputy Allen went into extensively. I will only say that when we come to the question later on as to whether the appeal board should be set up or not, I hope Deputy Allen, being the democrat he is, will help us to make a real democratic job of it and set up a board of which everyone will approve. I was interested in Deputy Harris's statement that, if we accepted the amendment, the commission would practically have a wholetime job considering trivial requests from various owners of land here and there. The amendment does not ask anything of the kind. We would all agree with the Parliamentary Secretary  that if every owner of land or of a drain was to be empowered to go to the appeal board it would make the work of the Drainage Commission extremely difficult. Deputy Hughes does not suggest any such thing. He suggests that where an occupier of land thinks he has a grievance in connection with a proposed scheme he should bring his complaint, not to the Minister or to the Drainage Board, but to the local county council where he can get it considered without any hindrance to the Minister or the officials of the Office of Public Works. We may take it for granted that before a county council considers it at all they will send an engineer to make an inspection and see if it is worth while considering it. I think Deputy Allen will agree that county councils will not back up every foolish scheme that anybody suggests. We must expect them to be reasonable bodies, particularly now when they are governed by a county manager. We do not suggest that the county council will accept the suggestion and put it to the office of Public Works with such force that, if it is rejected, they will ask for an appeal.
If this Bill is to be pleasing to everybody we ought to make it as hide-bound as we can so that the difficulties of the commission will be as few as possible and the objections of the people whom the drainage will ultimately benefit will be as few as possible.
What I am particularly interested in is that it is possible that the engineers drawing up a scheme of drainage will leave out an essential drain or water-course. Is it unreasonable for an owner of land to suggest to the county council that a certain water-course or drain is essential to the scheme which would not be a success without it? That is all the more necessary when we come to consider Section 48. If a particular water-course which was essential to the scheme was not included, the occupier of the land could be compelled under the provisions of Section 48 to do the work on that particular drain or water-course, and that might be an impossible undertaking for small farmers.
 I can envisage that particular thing happening in connection with my land or somebody else's land. If a drainage scheme was being considered and a certain water course which local people might consider essential to the scheme was left out, it would be impossible for these people with their resources to maintain it in a proper manner. A subsequent section of the Bill makes it obligatory on them to do that work. This is not a trivial matter and I think the Parliamentary Secretary ought to consider accepting the amendment, if not in its present form, in a form which would be acceptable to him. There should be an appeal. It is not suggested that the occupier of the land should appeal directly to the appeal board, but that the county council, having considered his grievance, should have some say in the matter. One of the difficulties I saw under this Bill was that there was not a sufficiently close link provided between the engineers of the Office of Public Works and the engineers of the county councils. Until we have that close link, to my mind, there will be always difficulty in connection with a drainage scheme. I support the amendment.
Mr. Hughes: I want to say to Deputy Allen that there is nothing original in my idea; in fact, it is not my idea to have an appeal board. Deputy Allen probably read the report of the Drainage Commission. That Commission recommended an appeal board. No plea of expedition saves us from our responsibility in protecting individuals' rights and liberties and we must ensure above all things that justice is done. Obviously because this appeal board is a little bit inconvenient to the Board of Works it is cast out. Even if it is inconvenient to the Board of Works, I submit that there is a responsibility on us to ensure that no injustice will be done in any circumstances to any individual or group of individuals.
The mere fact of the appeal board being there will have a good effect, in my opinion. It will make people do their work in a manner that will not be questioned because they will be conscious all the time that an appeal  board is in existence. I venture to prophesy that if this appeal board is established — if this amendment is agreed to — it will be a rare thing to find an appeal to that board. The individual has to satisfy the county council and the county council must be satisfied that there is some merit in the case. The county council has to accept responsibility for the maintenance of a particular stream. If the council decide that the stream should be done by the drainage authority rather than the individual, they will incur a charge for maintenance.
Taking all the factors into account, and considering the responsibility that is on us to protect, above all, individuals' rights, some sort of safeguard must be put in. Here we are not putting in a safeguard, but we are creating an absolute autocracy, and that is what I object to.
If anyone goes to the trouble of studying past legislation he will realise the point I have in mind. Take the Diseases of Animals Act, where you provide a valuer to value animals that are destroyed in the interests of the health of the cattle population. That valuer values stock and there is a right of appeal, but it is rarely used. At the same time the valuer is conscious of the fact that the individual has the right of appeal and, therefore, he makes sure his work is efficiently done. If you were to remove that right, that man would walk in with a completely different mentality. He would approach the farmer like an autocrat, knowing he could treat him as he liked and assess whatever value he liked. The safeguard that is suggested is vital if we are to protect individuals' interests.
Mr. Coogan: As Deputy Hughes has explained, this appeal board was recommended very strongly by the Drainage Commission. The Parliamentary Secretary is at a loss to know what they could do if the appeal board was set up. The commission recommended that an appeal board be set up to settle any disputes which might be referred to it by the Minister for Finance. I suggest that a dispute might arise.
 The Parliamentary Secretary is perturbed that if he accepts this amendment he will bring something into the Bill which will make for delay. As I understand him, the policy of the Board of Works will be to expend a certain limited sum over a long period of years. This is a long-term policy and he mentioned a figure of £250,000 as in or about the figure which it is proposed to expend annually on drainage works. There cannot be any question of delay if that is the policy of the Board of Works.
I do not know in what order of priority they will take up drainage works in the country, or where they will begin, but it is quite obvious that if, in the first year, they spend £250,000, and so on in subsequent years, the Board of Works and the county councils will have ample opportunity for the discussion of schemes. If I am correct in interpreting that to be the policy of the Board of Works, then there is no substance in the Parliamentary Secretary's contention that the insertion of this amendment will make for delay. I ask him in all seriousness to consider this amendment favourably. Surely the county councils, who have to foot the bill in relation to maintenance, ought to have some rights in this matter. The Board of Works endeavour to force a scheme down their throats, but they are to be given no right even to voice their grievances.
Mr. Smith: Deputy Coogan is not right in assuming that it is the policy of the Board of Works to spend any specified amount on this problem of drainage. He would be right if he said that the Parliamentary Secretary gave a quotation from the report of the Drainage Commission in which they said, after an examination of the problem, that £250,000 was about the largest figure that such an organisation as they recommended would be able to expend annually.
Deputy Harris hit the nail on the head as to what was likely to occur if this amendment were accepted. I have just asked some of the officials of the Board of Works what was the number of miles of main rivers and arteries that were dealt with on the Brosna,  the survey in respect of which is completed. Roughly, the number of miles is in the neighbourhood of 600. It is all very well to stand up here and say the Drainage Commission recommended an appeal board. An appeal board looked very good to me. It is all very well for Deputies to say individuals' rights must be protected, but it is the duty of those charged with taking this Bill through the House to follow up each amendment and see what effect it is likely to have. The idea of an appeal board seemed all right to me.
Mr. Smith: So far as this drainage authority is concerned, they have no objection to the idea of an appeal tribunal as such, but I am concerned with seeing that when this measure goes through the House it will be an efficient piece of machinery. Now, you know, democracy is all right.
Mr. Smith: “Where a county council of a drainage district receives representations from an occupier or occupiers of land in such district regarding the omission of any drain or drains or portion of any drain or drains from the prepared scheme as published by the Commissioners and where such council is of opinion...” Who is going to advise this council?
Mr. Smith: The county surveyor will advise the county council. Most of us have been members of county councils. Some farmer in my area writes to me and tells me that the scheme as published and exhibited in the courthouse does not include a certain drain that serves some land of his and some land of some neighbour. How many such requests would come as a result of the acceptance of this amendment? How  many such requests would come to the local authorities that are functioning in the area of the Brosna, where we have dealt with 600 miles of river? How many little streams and arteries? Hundreds and hundreds of these in a particular district would be left out of the scheme as ultimately prepared. No matter how complete or how elaborate the scheme, there would still be hundreds of little streams that in the opinion of farmers, should have been included. They will send in their protest to the local authority. Is it seriously suggested that the county surveyor will rush out and will apply himself to this matter, knowing that it is not one which concerns him very vitally? Will he not be likely to say: “Well, there is an appeal board there. Those people are objecting. Why should I say that it is not necessary that this piece of river or stream be included? I will let it go before the appeal board”? If I were county surveyor, that is what I would do. Why should I take on myself, as county surveyor, responsibility to tell two or three farmers in the county in which I was working that they would not get the opportunity, however remote, to succeed by going before the appeal board?
Mr. Smith: I have invited the House and I am inviting Deputies to follow up the implications attaching to the acceptance of an amendment like this. I say that that procedure is entirely unworkable. If we were not making provision for meeting the case of people who had reason to complain because of injury which resulted from the carrying out of a drainage scheme by the Board of Works. I could understand this House insisting upon the right to appoint some qualified person to determine the extent to which damage was done and to assess the amount of compensation  to which those people were entitled. But those speakers who appear to be so kindly disposed to the recommendation of the Drainage Commission which said that an appeal board should be set up must remember that that commission also suggested that the occupiers of land benefiting under a scheme should pay 70 per cent. of the value of the improvement that would result to the land from the carrying out of the work. We are not accepting that recommendation either. We are relieving those farmers of the payment of that 70 per cent., and we are accepting that as a responsibility of the taxpayer. I have been asked to show reasons why the Commission made such a recommendation as this. After having decided that the owner of the land which had benefited as a result of the carrying out of a drainage scheme would have to pay 70 per cent. of the improvement, I could understand a member of the commission saying: “Well, in those circumstances, in order to make the fall a little bit easy perhaps it would be better to give them an appeal board”. I am not suggesting that, even if this Bill were to contain an acceptance of the recommendation of the Commission in relation to the payment by the beneficiaries, the idea of an appeal board would be accepted, but, when we have dropped the recommendation that they should contribute to the extent of 70 per cent. of the improvement to their land, surely that is a further reason why the suggestion about the appeal board should not be urged.
If I could see that this appeal board was a practical proposition, that it could possibly serve a useful purpose, and that it would not unduly clog the machine, I would not have anything at all to say against it. But this amendment and every other amendment which has been put down here must be examined by us, first of all, to see if there is any real necessity for them, and secondly, to see what effect their acceptance would have upon what is the desire of every member of this House who has any association with rural Ireland or who knows anything about the enormity of this problem of drainage.
 If there are people here in this House who would try to force me by all types of argument and all types of accusation to accept amendments which would result in slowing down the progress that we should all like to make in relation to this problem, then I must resist those amendments so long as I am satisfied that no real injustice can result to anybody as a result of my taking that course.
Section 48 has been mentioned, but there is really no occasion to drag Section 48 into this discussion at all. When we were having our Second Reading debate here, I was suspicious of Section 48. Although I was very anxious to accept the recommendation of the Drainage Commission, when I saw Section 48 I did not like it. Because I did not like it, I drew the particular attention of the House to it, in the hope that I would get from members of the House some suitable amendments which would enable us to accept the whole principle underlying the recommendations in the Commission's report without doing any injustice to any individual farmer. We have now put down Government amendments, and we can deal with them as they come along. When the House has disposed of them, we will have a new Section 48, and we will then have machinery by which none of the possible injustices to which Deputy Hughes and other speakers have referred can arise. There is provision there for having the matters in dispute between the drainage authority and the individual concerned referred to an arbitrator. As I have said, if it were a question of our doing some injury to a farmer or group of farmers, without making proper provision to ensure that a man technically qualified to assess the amount of the damage would be there to protect those men and their interests, I could understand the protestations that have come up here as to what this drainage authority might do.
There must be finality somewhere. The appeals board that is suggested here — even as Deputy Allen has said, one member to be appointed by the Commissioners of Public Works, one to  be a judge of the High Court and one to be nominated by the General Council of County Councils — does not contain an expert. How will they get information as to the condition or the size of a drain down on the Brosna? How will they get information as to a stream on the Glyde or the Dee, the Blackwater or the Erne? Where will they get the technical assistance and advice? Deputy Roddy has said we are, because of our circumstances, not well supplied with technical men to deal with this drainage problem. If the drainage authority provided for here has not got that technical knowledge to which Deputy Roddy referred, how will this appeal board get that knowledge?
Mr. Smith: Where will it get the special technical knowledge that is not available to the drainage authority? No matter from what angle you examine this amendment, you can see that it is not practicable. If a farmer goes to a county council to advocate his case, surely men from all parts of the county do not know his district and do not know about that field or this river. The county council may be asked to make some comment and will not want to deprive the man of the right to go before the appeal tribunal and they will say: “Why should we vote against this man, who is a neighbour of ours? We will let him have his appeal and have a show-down with the tribunal.” As a result, in the Brosna area, in which 600 miles of river are dealt with, in that one area I am positive, if this amendment is accepted, we will have hundreds of appeal cases. The time and energies of the drainage authority, the appeal board and of all the officials, engineers and architects associated with these authorities will be frittered away uselessly in dealing with an alleged hardship that I contend could scarcely ever arise.
Mr. Hughes: He gives that as a reason why we should not put in the necessary safeguards. That is all the more reason why we should have safeguards — that our technical advisers are lacking in the necessary experience and knowledge to deal with these matters. It is all the more reason why we should provide the machinery necessary to ensure that the individuals interested are safeguarded. The Parliamentary Secretary says it is unworkable. I say it is not unworkable, but that from the Commissioner's point of view, an appeal board is inconvenient and from the bureaucrat's point of view any inconvenience must be wiped out of the way. That is the reason why we are not prepared to implement this as it stands. That is the reason why the Parliamentary Secretary and the Minister for Finance are not prepared to implement the recommendations made by the Drainage Commission set up by the Government to examine this matter.
Mr. Hughes: The Parliamentary Secretary pointed out that we were not implementing the recommendations of the Commission in regard to beneficiaries having up to 70 per cent. of the improved value and that that was another reason why we could not have an appeal board. Arbitration on this particular matter we are arguing about arises only where there is no drainage done in a district, where the Commissioners decide that a particular drain is not an arterial drain and ought to be omitted. That particular man does not get his stream done. At the same time, he is asked, through his rates, to pay the maintenance of the remaining part of the catchment area in which the work is carried out, so the very argument the Parliamentary Secretary advances is an argument against himself. Here you are imposing on the individual a full charge, through the county-at-large charge for maintenance of the remaining portion of the works, while his particular area is omitted from the scheme.
 The Parliamentary Secretary admits that mistakes can arise, that even experts in the Department are only human and can make mistakes and that it is quite possible that streams which are not arterial streams could be omitted. At the same time, on a plea of expedition, he simply throws safeguards to the winds, so far as the individual is concerned. I submit to the House that it is our responsibility here, regardless of the inconvenience to the drainage authority, to safeguard the individual and, particularly, the small farmer down the country, who has no finance or ability to defend himself.
I submit, furthermore, that if safeguards of this sort are put in, it will ensure very careful and close examination by the commissioners, to see that no scheme, where it could be argued that such a stream is an arterial drain, will be left out. The mere fact that they are going to do their work with great care and anxiety, to ensure that there will be no possibility of an appeal on it or of sustaining the case on appeal, will mean that there will rarely be an appeal. For that reason, if the Parliamentary Secretary is not prepared to meet us, we will be reluctantly forced to press the matter. I do not wish to occupy the House unduly by pressing for a division, but we will be forced to divide the House on this matter. I might ask one categorical question of the Parliamentary Secretary. Where is the safeguard, so far as the individual is concerned, that will ensure that justice is done? If he can show me that the individual's rights are safeguarded, I am prepared to withdraw the amendment.
Mr. Cogan: I would like to point out  the danger which lies in the line of argument which the Parliamentary Secretary has advanced. He says this amendment would cause considerable inconvenience and would delay the work of the central drainage board. He could use the very same arguments against having this House here at all to consider this Bill. A Bill of this kind could be drafted by the Department and enacted as an Emergency Powers Order, without any of the delay which we have been experiencing to-day in debating this point. Surely nobody will suggest, however, that legislation by the permanent officials of the State is desirable in the national interest? Yet that is what he is definitely leading up to, if we are not to have some check, some safeguard, to protect the interests of the ordinary people in connection with the administration of this Bill. Why should we have any safeguards at all, such as are provided by democratic institutions as this?
Deputy Allen went further and said there must be finality somewhere, and that it is better to have finality at the beginning. That is an extraordinary argument. It is like suggesting that the Civic Guard who arrests a man on a serious charge should have power to decide the case and commit him to prison or execute him. The finality in a matter of this kind, where there is a dispute between a democratically elected local body and the central power, should lie with an impartial, disinterested body, which would hear the arguments of both sides and decide the case on its merits.
Bennett, George C.
Costello, John A.
Doyle, Peadar S.
Flanagan, Oliver J.
Halliden, Patrick J.
McFadden, Michael Og.
O'Higgins, Thomas F.
Pattison, James P.
Rogers, Patrick J.
Sheldon, William A. W.
Burke, Patrick (Co. Dublin).
Childers, Erskine H.
Crowley, Fred H.
Fogarty, Patrick J.
Gorry, Patrick J.
Kennedy, Michael J.
|Lemass, Seán F.
Little, Patrick J.
Lydon, Michael F.
Lynch, James B.
O Briain, Donnchadh.
O Ceallaigh, Seán T.
O Cléirigh, Mícheál.
O'Connor, John S.
O'Loghlen, Peter J.
Rice, Bridget M.
Ryan, Mary B.
Tellers:— Tá: Deputies Doyle and Bennett; Níl: Deputies Kissane and Kennedy.
Question declared negatived.
Section 5 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Mr. Hughes: I move amendment No. 15:—
In sub-section (1) (a), line 57, page 5, before the word “any” to insert the following words “such land proposed to be drained or improved as a result of such drainage scheme or”.
The Parliamentary Secretary may be able to give me information as to whether the word “easement” at the bottom of page 5 covers the proposal in my amendment. I want to make sure that the people who benefit will be notified. The section sets out the people who must be served with notice: “Every person named in such drainage scheme as a reputed proprietor, owner or rated or other occupier of any land proposed to be compulsorily acquired or substantially interfered with or of any easement”, etc.
Mr. Smith: Surely the Deputy does not want anybody else to be notified so long as those whose lands are being interfered with in any way are notified? We are making provision that notice of such interference should be served on those people but no purpose would be served by sending a notice to all the people who will benefit. It was the practice in the past to serve notice on people who were called upon to vote——
Mr. Hughes: Is it not proposed to serve notice on people who will benefit by this scheme?
Mr. Smith: It is not necessary and it would only cause delay. In the past notices were served on those who would benefit by a scheme in order to give them an intelligent idea of how to vote. We shall notify, of course, all those whose lands or rights we propose to interfere with, but there is no need to notify other occupiers as was the obligation under the 1925 Act.
Mr. Hughes: I submit that the word “easement” compels the Department to serve notice, because when you do anything to a drain which improves a farm, you are bestowing an easement on the occupier. I do not know exactly what is the legal meaning of “easement”. If it is the intention of the commissioners not to notify people other than those mentioned in the section whose land has been compulsorily acquired or interfered with, I submit that that is not sufficient, and that, having used the word “easement”, the obligation devolves upon you of notifying everybody.
Mr. Smith: It is hard to know what an easement is.
Mr. Hughes: Is not preparing a drain or reconditioning a drain an easement?
Mr. Smith: So far as I understand the term easement, it means, for instance, that where an engineer comes to a bend in a river, he can make a straight cut through, so as to effect an easement. The Deputy's contention could not be carried to the point that it would be necessary to serve notice in cases where the work merely consisted of skimming the sides of the bank of the river, because you were in a sense creating an easement for the water. There will be hundreds of farms where the land will be relieved of flooding but where you will not even touch the land to that extent.
Mr. Hughes: I believe that the word “easement” will oblige you to inform every individual affected, because the moment you touch a stream to clean it, without coming to the bend at all, from the farmer's point of view that is an easement.
Mr. Smith: That question could not arise, because the only people on whom we shall serve notice will be those whose lands or rights we propose compulsorily to acquire or substantially interfere with. As far as the other type of interference is concerned, we have the right to enter on land to do such things as are necessary. The question of notice would not arise in that sense at all.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Mr. Smith: I move amendment No. 16:—
In sub-section (1), page 6, line 1, to insert before the words “or other” the word “navigation-right”.
Amendment agreed to.
Mr. Smith: I move amendment No. 17:—
In sub-section (1), page 6, line 4, to insert before the word “and” the words “, specifying the place or places at which and the period during which a copy of such scheme will be available for inspection in pursuance of this Act”.
Amendment agreed to.
Section 6, as amended, agreed to.
Amendment No. 18 not moved.
Mr. Bennett: I move amendment No. 19:—
In sub-section (1) (b), line 49, before the word “Minister” to insert the words “Minister for Local Government and Public Health, the”.
Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary would accept this amendment, the object of which is to include the Minister for Local Government amongst other Ministers who may be consulted in this matter. The necessity for the amendment is perhaps greater than would appear from the wording. As I pointed out before, one of the defects of this Bill is that there is no opportunity to establish a link between local bodies and the board. No provision is made in that respect. For instance, in Section 5 it is not made obligatory on the board to accept the recommendations of the local council. At no other point in the Bill do I see any opportunity of establishing a link between the board and the local council. They have even gone so far as to ignore the head of the Local Government Department, the Minister for Local Government, who would be the Minister in closest contact with local bodies. I move that he be included in  the list of Ministers who shall be consulted in regard to drainage.
Mr. Smith: There is no serious objection to the acceptance of the amendment, but I think it is not necessary, as consultation would take place in any event, if the necessity should arise.
Mr. Bennett: It is rather strange that the Minister is left out.
Mr. Smith: Other Ministers are also left out, but if it could conceivably arise that their interests will be affected in any case, we must have consultation with them, and the fact that they are not specifically mentioned does not rule that out. The reason that the Minister for Industry and Commerce and the Minister for Agriculture are specifically mentioned is that we shall probably be interfering with canals and waterways in the one case and with fisheries in the other case. The fact that these Ministers are mentioned and that other Ministers are omitted does not mean that we shall be relieved of the necessity of consulting other Ministers if it should happen in any case that the activities of these Ministers' Departments will be affected in any way by the carrying out of any particular work.
Mr. Bennett: I think it would be more satisfactory if the Minister for Local Government were specified.
An Ceann Comhairle: I take it that the amendment is withdrawn for the present on the understanding that it will be redrafted?
Mr. Hughes: The Parliamentary Secretary said that he would accept it.
An Ceann Comhairle: It is not advisable to accept such an amendment as it stands on the Paper, since it may be necessary to redraft it.
Mr. Smith: I shall cover the matter.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Mr. Hughes: I move amendment No. 20:—
In sub-section (2), to delete line 60, page 6, and in line 1, page 7, the  word “scheme” and substitute therefore the following words: “submit such scheme to both Houses of the Oireachtas for approval or otherwise”.
This is, again, on the principle of preserving the power and authority of the people. I cannot understand why a bureaucratic body should be vested with the control and authority we propose to give them here. Again, why should the Minister exercise such autocratic power? What particular qualifications has the Minister, or the Parliamentary Secretary for that matter, to decide and O.K. a scheme? The Parliamentary Secretary, a moment ago, asked what did the local authority know about drainage? Why, my goodness, many of the people on the local bodies know a great deal about drainage. I am sure that the Parliamentary Secretary knows something about drainage, but you might find a man in such a position who might not know anything about it, and who is to advise him?
Mr. Smith: Who is to advise the House?
Mr. Hughes: There are practical men in the House also, but I am envisaging a situation where the occupant of the position of Parliamentary Secretary might not be a countryman at all and might know nothing at all about drainage. Who is going to advise him? So far as the House is concerned, there are people here who know something about drainage — at least, I think there are members here who know something about it.
Mr. Allen: They might be absent from the House.
Mr. Hughes: Well, I think that Deputy Allen is almost always here. Sometimes he may answer to the crack of the whip but he turns up all the same. I think, however, that this whole conception is too bureaucratic and autocratic, and that is why I put down this amendment. I am not saying that it is the ideal thing, but having failed ignominiously in getting the Parliamentary Secretary to ensure in a democratic way that the rights of the  people would be preserved and that the rights of the people charged with this scheme of national drainage would not be vested in the Civil Service, I am asking that such a scheme should be submitted to both Houses of the Oireachtas.
Mr. Smith: I cannot, of course, accept this amendment. I was surprised at the way in which Deputy Hughes moved it. I thought I could get him to smile, but I could not do so. However, that is his own look-out. I do not regard this at all, and I do not think he himself would regard it, as a sensible proposition.
Mr. Hughes: I am not saying that it is the best solution.
Mr. Smith: I am sure he would not regard as sensible the idea that a scheme, before being sanctioned, should be submitted to both Houses of the Oireachtas. Again, I say that the best way and, apparently, the only way of denouncing a scheme, if it is found to be unsatisfactory — if the engineers who designed it, in the opinion of those who know best, have not included rivers which should be included — would be on the occasion of the annual Estimate brought forward in this House. I think that that is the best safeguard that this House could reasonably ask for. I could not at all undertake that we should go any further.
Mr. Hughes: The attitude of the Parliamentary Secretary on Second Reading was that he vigorously opposed any suggestion that this power should be vested in a body of the people concerned in this matter, and that he believed in a bureaucratic institution to carry out national drainage in this country. Having failed to convince him that we should have democratic control, I was forced to put down this amendment, that the scheme should be submitted to this House before being undertaken. The Minister can put down whether he has any qualifications or not. Where does he get the advice as to whether a scheme is good or bad? Has he not to follow slavishly what the engineers  and experts of the Board of Works recommend? We are providing no other machinery for him, but there are some practical and useful men in this country who know something about drainage.
Mr. Smith: I am not conscious of having made any such statement that all the experts are in the Board of Works.
Mr. Hughes: I will draw the Parliamentary Secretary's attention and the attention of the House — and I have done so already — to the Report of the Vocational Organisation Commission, which was recently published. Some of its members were particularly interested in Fianna Fáil, but they vigorously condemned this type of bureaucratic legislation, and yet here we are pursuing that very type of legislation and are handing this whole matter over to a bureaucratic body. If we are to continue that policy, we will create in the end an intolerable position in this country. I hope we all disapprove of the totalitarian idea but, mind you, we are creating such a totalitarian position here, where the bureaucrats are being given absolute control, and we will have no say at all in the matter.
Mr. Allen: I see that there is an amendment later on, put down by Deputy Hughes, which is most undemocratic, as its effect would be to compel the county councils to wipe out rates.
An Ceann Comhairle: We shall come to that later.
Mr. Allen: Yes. I know that the Ceann Comhairle has a big interest in this amendment, if it is carried, and I can imagine him wanting to have a big say on this drainage scheme, and I suppose he would like to know whether there would be a provision made for eels, and so on, in connection with this drainage scheme.
Mr. Hughes: The Ceann Comhairle is always most obliging.
An Ceann Comhairle: He does not enter into debate. Deputies must leave the Chair out of it.
Mr. Corish: He will be drained of all authority, if that is so.
Mr. Allen: I would suggest to Deputy Hughes that we meet here for a serious purpose. Deputy Hughes should not take up the time of the House, or be causing expense, by putting down such ridiculous amendments. A more childish amendment than this has never appeared on the Order Paper.
Mr. Cogan: I was expecting that Deputy Allen would enthusiastically support this amendment in view of his statements on another amendment. He then suggested that an appeal would be undesirable because the appeal board would not be democratic. I do not think, however, he can claim that this assembly is not democratic.
Mr. Allen: I did not claim that.
Mr. Cogan: The Deputy now proceeds to oppose this amendment on the grounds that, if it were accepted, we would be involved in a discussion in regard to drainage and all that it implies. In following that line of argument, the Deputy was completely refuting the statement of the Parliamentary Secretary when he said that all those matters could be debated by the House when the Estimate for the Department is under consideration. Now, either the Parliamentary Secretary or Deputy Allen must be wrong, and they should try to settle this question between them. If we can debate this question thoroughly on the Estimate for the Department, then we will have the same kind of discussion of detail that we could have if we were to debate it when the scheme is put into operation.
Mr. Smith: It will be after the event and not before it then. That is the time when the practical man, without any technical knowledge, will be able to say whether the results of the activities of the technical men were successful or not.
Mr. Cogan: The position then will be that the unfortunate victims of the scheme will have been tried and  executed and cannot be brought back to life.
Mr. Smith: That always happens.
Mr. Cogan: The scheme, or perhaps a number of schemes, will then be in operation, so that the damage or harm done cannot be undone.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 21 not moved.
Section 7, as amended, agreed to.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Amendment No. 22, in the name of Deputy Hughes, has been ruled out of order.
Question proposed: “That Section 8 stand part of the Bill.”
Mr. Hughes: On the Section, I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to consider the operation of paragraph (c) of sub-section (2) which, in my opinion, will have the effect of penalising the action taken in previous years by progressive local authorities. In those years they operated drainage schemes, and in doing so incurred heavy capital liability in many cases. They are to be penalised now as against the county councils that simply sat back and did nothing, so far as drainage is concerned. In counties where no drainage work has been done the cost of schemes carried out in the future will become a national charge, but in the case of those county councils that initiated and carried through drainage schemes the charge relating to them is to remain a local one under this Bill. In my opinion, that is a tax on progress, and I am hoping that the Parliamentary Secretary will see it in that light: that he will look into the matter and see what can be done to remedy that situation. In regard to future drainage schemes, the State is taking over full responsibility for the cost. Therefore, I submit that a certain amount of injustice is being done to the county councils which in the past were progressive and energetic in attending to  drainage work. I do not know what sum would be involved if the Parliamentary Secretary were to concede the point I am making, but I would ask him to look into it and favourably examine it.
Mr. Smith: The Deputy must admit that the State is going a very long way in accepting responsibility for the constructional costs of all drainage works in the future.
Mr. Hughes: I agree.
Mr. Smith: But it would be going too far, I think, to ask the State and the taxpayer to shoulder, in addition to that burden, responsibility for meeting outstanding charges relating to drainage works. There would be no use in my saying that I would give favourable consideration to the Deputy's suggestion because I do not think it would be reasonable to ask the taxpayer to do that.
Mr. Hughes: The Parliamentary Secretary admits that there is something in the point that I have advanced. I see, of course, his point that the sum required to tackle national drainage is going to be very considerable. I do not know what sum would be required to relieve the local rates from this charge that I speak of, but, under the Bill as it stands, the Parliamentary Secretary is putting progressive people in the position that they are going to have to continue to bear their present burdens. It is logical, surely, to argue that if people who were not prepared to do their job in the past are not to be taxed in respect of new schemes, that the people who were progressive in the past should be relieved of their present burdens. I can see that the Parliamentary Secretary's difficulty is a financial one. I wonder if he could tell me what amount is involved in this particular matter that I am urging?
Mr. Smith: About £600,000. The Deputy has said that an injustice is being done to the progressive counties that took advantage of the earlier drainage laws. He should remember, however, that the State and the taxpayer came to their rescue in carrying out their schemes.
Mr. Hughes: To some extent.
Mr. Smith: Under the 1925 Act they got help to the extent of fifty per cent. of the total cost of the schemes they carried out. In that way they were helped by the general taxpayer. The Deputy has spoken of injustices. Take counties where hospitals were erected before the Hospitals Trust Fund was set up, or people who, by reason of their hard work and industry, have deprived themselves of the receipt of the old age pension, or people who earned such incomes that they are taxable, you have in all these cases, if you like to call them such, certain kinds of injustices.
Mr. Hughes: Has the Parliamentary Secretary any idea of what the annual charge would be on that sum of £600,000?
Mr. Smith: £30,000 or £40,000.
Mr. Hughes: For amortisation purposes?
Mr. Smith: Yes.
Question put and agreed to.
Mr. Hughes: I move to report progress.
Progress reported; the Committee to sit again to-morrow.
The Dáil adjourned at 9 p.m. until 3 p.m., Friday, 20th October, 1944.
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