Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Persons Employed Weekly.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Unemployment Assistance.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Examination Supervision.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Loorha National School (Galway).
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Kilworth Timber (Cork).
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Ballyhooly Woods Timber (Cork).
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Doyle Estate (Cavan).
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Land Commission Houses.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Lemonfield Estate (Galway).
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Acquisition of Turbary.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Islandavanna Lands (Clare).
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Division of Clare Lands.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Revesting of Lands.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Acquisition of Balbriggan Estate.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Price of Acquired Lands.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - New Dublin Sorting Office.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Radio Éireann Broadcasts.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Educational Broadcasts.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Farm Improvements Schemes.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Death Duties.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Accommodation for Students.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - An Coimisiún Log-Ainmneacha.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Law Relating to State Lands.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Survey of Valentia Pier.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Cleaning of Breensford River.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Castletownroche Garda Barracks.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Donabate Coast Erosion.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Circuit Court Rules.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Army Strength.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Enniscorthy Pension Claims.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Swords Bus Shelter.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Cavan-Sligo Bus Service.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - County Waterford Bus Services.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Meath Train Service.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Malahide-Dublin Train Services.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - County Longford Electrification Scheme.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Dublin Restaurant Prices.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Briquetting Plants.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Cement Supply.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Visitors' Purchases.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Future Coal Position.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Manufacture of Iron and Steel Bars.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Importation of Paper.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Machine-Won Turf Scheme.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Factory for House Parts.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Restrictions on Issue of Building Licences.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Extra Sugar for Invalids.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Visitors' Ration Cards.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Houses Built in Laoighis-Offaly.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Housing Statistics.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Lismore Cottage Sites.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Clondalkin Housing.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Demesne Lands for Housing.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Cost of Building a House.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Survey of Library Organisation.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Longford Water and Sewerage Works.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Resurfacing of Cobh Road.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Mr. Malahide Sewerage Scheme.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Lighting for Council Cottages.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - North County Dublin Water Scheme.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - County Tipperary Water and Sewerage Scheme.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - County Kerry Water Supply.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - County Dublin Water Supply.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Wages of Board of Assistance Employees.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Irish Nursing Council's Examination.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Hospital for Cappawhite (County Tipperary).
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Population Statistics.
Order of Business.
Panel of Chairmen.
Supplementary Estimate, 1948-49—Leave to Introduce.
Trade Union Bill, 1948—First Stage.
Estimates for Public Services, 1948-49.
Committee on Finance. - Vote 41—Local Government (Resumed).
Written Answer to Question. - Acreage and Valuation of Agricultural Land.
 Do chuaigh an Cheann Comhairle i gceannas ar 3 p.m.
Mr. S. Brady: asked the Minister for Social Welfare if he will state, for each of the years 1946 and 1947, the estimated average number of persons employed weekly: (a) as derived from the net contribution income of the unemployment insurance fund, and (b) as derived from the net contribution income of the national health insurance fund.
Minister for Local Government (Mr. Murphy) (for Minister for Social Welfare): The estimated average number (to the nearest 100) of persons employed weekly during 1946 and 1947 (a) as derived from the net contribution income of the unemployment fund, was, respectively, 285,200 and 304,200; (b) as derived from the net contribution income of the national health insurance fund was, respectively, 442,600 and 465,900. The last figure includes approximately 7,100 brought into insurance by the National Health Insurance Act 1947, which extended the scope of national health insurance, as from the 7th April, 1947, to non-manual workers earning between £250 and £500 per annum.
Mr. S. Brady: asked the Minister for Social Welfare if he will state, for each month during 1947, (a) the average weekly number of persons in receipt of unemployment assistance, and (b) the amount paid each month.
Mr. Murphy: The information desired by the Deputy has been complied in tabular form and I propose, with the permission of the Ceann Comhairle and  the Deputy's consent, to have it published in the official report.
Following is the information:
NUMBER OF PERSONS TO WHOM UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE WAS PAID EACH MONTH DURING 1947, AND THE AMOUNTS SO PAID.
NOTE:—The amounts shown represent the totals of the amounts paid each week, the Thursday of which fall within the month specified. In consequence some of the totals are in respect of four, and some in respect of five, weeks. The numbers of persons represent the average weekly number paid each month. The amount paid for December, 1947 is subject to audit.
|Month||Average weekly number in receipt of U.A.||Amount of U.A. paid each month|
Dr. Brennan: asked the Minister for Education whether he will include in the terms of reference of the proposed Council of Education which he intends to establish consideration of the necessity for State supervision over the examinations conducted (a) by the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland and (b) by the Irish Nursing Council.
Minister for Education (General Mulcahy): I have not yet considered the terms of reference for the proposed Council of Education, but it is not my intention to suggest that the matters referred to by the Deputy might come under its review.
Mr. Killilea: asked the Minister for Education whether he will state the reasons for the closing of Loorha National School near Dunmore, County Galway, and whether it is the intention of his Department to reopen it in the near future.
General Mulcahy: An investigation into the condition of Loorha National  School showed that the school building had become practically uninhabitable and that its continued use might be a source of danger to the pupils. As it was ascertained that all the children attending the school lived within a reasonable distance from other national schools in the district, it was not considered necessary to have a new school provided to replace the old one.
Mr. Killilea: Is the Minister aware that this school was repaired recently and that there are eight children in the school area? Is he aware that this place is in a sort of mountainous district and there are children who have a long way to go to school across the mountain? It would be impossible at times for them to get there; it would mean tremendous hardship for the children to get over the mountain to go to other schools. Will the Minister reconsider this matter?
General Mulcahy: This matter was very thoroughly examined. There is no townland from which children were attending the Loorha school where the children had to go as much as two miles to an alternative school. There are six schools available within a radius of three miles of the old school —Cloonfad, Mount Delvin, Shanbally-more, Flaskagh, Gortaleam and Dunmore.
Mr. Killilea: There is a village called Clonkeen—and I think the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance can bear me out there—that is actually on the top of the mountain and it is very far away from any of these schools. Dunmore is three miles away and the other schools the Minister mentioned are beyond a reasonable school-going distance for young children. I think this matter might be considered again.
General Mulcahy: I will undertake that the matter will be reviewed again, and kept under review.
Mr. Keane: asked the Minister for Lands if he will state whether the standing timber at Moore Park, Kilworth,  County Cork, is fit for commercial use or whether there is any timber there fit only for firewood; furthermore, if he will make available from this park to the local authority some firewood timber for distribution among the deserving poor of Kilworth area at a reasonable price.
Minister for Lands (Mr. Blowick): Moore Park is administered by the Office of Public Works, but felling of trees there has been done in consultation with the Forestry Division of my Department. I am advised that the last of the trees of firewood quality were marked for felling in 1944.
Mr. Keane: asked the Minister for Lands if he will allocate the timber cut in the Ballyhooly woods to the local authority for distribution among the deserving poor of the Ballyhooly, Fermoy, Castletownroche and Glanworth areas at a reasonable price.
Mr. Blowick: A quantity of firewood logs is available at Ballyhooly State Forest for sale to the local authority or to any other person or body prepared to pay a reasonable price for the firewood.
Mr. Halliden: Is the Minister aware that the people of that locality consider the price of timber entirely too high, and will he take any steps to have it reduced?
Mr. Blowick: There is a quantity of firewood available there. The price seems to be reasonable, but it could be reduced, if necessary if there was a really good case put up for it.
Mr. McAullffe: The price of firewood sold by the Forestry Department is £2 in the woods.
Mr. Blowick: I am not aware of that.
Mr. Sheridan: asked the Minister for Lands whether it is proposed to implement the promise made by the Land Commission to provide for allottees on the Doyle estate, County Cavan (Record No. S.8306), an alternative right of  way and so obviate the necessity for their using the private avenue of Mr. Doyle the former owner of the estate.
Mr. Blowick: On the 24th November, 1947, the Land Commission issued a notice of their intention to make an order granting and conferring a right-of-way for the benefit of the allottees in question. Objections to this notice were lodged by five of the interested parties. The objection in one case has been disposed of and the remaining objections will be listed for hearing before the commissioners as soon as possible.
Captain Giles: asked the Minister for Lands if he will state how many Land Commission houses given out to tenants in County Meath are still unoccupied; and when action will be taken to have these houses occupied.
Mr. Blowick: The Land Commission are not in a position to state definitely how many of the houses situated on parcels of untenanted land in County Meath are unoccupied by the allottees thereof at any particular date. Warnings and directions to reside in the houses are served on allottees who are found from time to time not to be in occupation. If these warnings or directions are disregarded proceedings may be instituted to take up the houses and parcels.
At present the Land Commission have under consideration 47 cases of allottees in County Meath who have been reported as not in occupation of the dwelling-houses on their parcels and in 16 of these cases proceedings to resume possession have been or are now being instituted.
Mr. Lydon: asked the Minister for Lands if he will state when the roads and drains on the turbary of the Lemonfield Estate, Oughterard, County Galway, will be completed.
Mr. Blowick: Lemonfield bog was divided in 1937 and a comprehensive scheme of general improvements, including roads and drainage, was put  in hands and completed in 1940. The Land Commission expended £2,680 on the roads and drainage but no attempt has been made by the allottees to keep the roads and drains in good condition.
Mr. Lydon: asked the Minister for Lands if he proposes to acquire the turbary owned by Mrs. Matt Conneely at Glengowla East (O'Flaherty estate), Oughterard, County Galway, for division.
Mr. Blowick: The question of the acquisition and division of turbary on the holding of Matthew and Patrick Conneely at Glengowla East, Oughterard, on estate of Irish Land Commission (James P. O'Flahertie), S.6281, County Galway, has been noted for investigation in connection with the completion of purchase proceedings in the estate.
Mr. Hogan: asked the Minister for Lands if he will state when it is proposed to acquire and divide the Fergus Reclamation Syndicate lands at Islandavanna, County Clare.
Mr. Blowick: The Land Commission have instituted proceedings for the acquisition of the Fergus Reclamation Syndicate lands at Islandavanna Upper and Lower and Craggykerrivan, County Clare, but it is not at present possible to state whether or when these lands will be divided.
Mr. Hogan: asked the Minister for Lands if he will state what representations have been made to him respecting the division of the Crowe Farm at Dromore, Ruan, County Clare, and what steps he proposes to take in regard to these representations.
Mr. Blowick: I have received representations from the Deputy and from other persons in regard to the division of the Crowe estate. These representations are being investigated.
Mr. Hogan: Will the Minister indicate by what means they are being  investigated and how soon there is likely to be any result, to relieve the tension felt in this district in respect to the division of the land?
Mr. Blowick: I have been made aware by representations from the Deputy and from other people of a certain amount of dissatisfaction in this district and as a result I have asked a very high official of the Land Commission to conduct an independent investigation into the whole matter. That is at present proceeding. I have asked him to go very carefully into the matter. I do not know when exactly the investigation will be concluded, but I would say that three or four weeks would elapse before any result can be arrived at. I might mention that there have been as many as 500 applications from the district.
Mr. T. Walsh: asked the Minister for Lands if he will state whether the lands allotted by the Land Commission on the following estates will be revested in the allottees at once, as these people have not the incentive to carry out desirable improvements while they are not owners of their lands in fee simple: (a) Bessborough estate, Piltown, County Kilkenny; (b) Duckett's Grove estate, County Carlow; (c) Bellevue estate, County Kilkenny, and (d) Castlecomer estate, County Kilkenny.
Mr. Blowick: The holdings on the estates referred to by the Deputy will be examined with a view to vesting when they are reached in the ordinary course. Allottees who are making proper use of their lands and fulfilling the terms of their agreements with the Land Commission need have no hesitation in carrying out improvements.
Mr. Rooney: asked the Minister for Lands whether he will take steps to acquire the lands of the Hampton estate, Balbriggan, for the purpose of allotment amongst deserving applicants for land.
Mr. Blowick: The Land Commission have no proceedings for the acquisition of the Hampton estate, Balbriggan, but the Deputy's representations in the matter have been noted.
Mr. Cogan: asked the Minister for Lands if it is proposed to introduce proposals for legislation to ensure that all lands acquired by the Land Commission for redistribution shall be purchased at their full market value.
Mr. Blowick: The answer is in the negative.
Mr. Cogan: Does the Minister think it unfair to acquire land compulsorily from persons in whom the land has been vested at less than its market value, while unvested land is paid for at the full market value?
Mr. Blowick: I think I made my position clear in that regard in my reply to the debate on the Estimate for the Department for Lands. The Land Commissioners have authority to fix a fair price for any land they acquire or resume. While there is a certain amount of discontent at the price fixed in some cases, in many other cases there is no complaint. It is not easy to determine exactly what is a fair price.
Mr. Cogan: Might I ask the Minister is it the policy of the Land Commission to acquire vested land at its market value?
Mr. Blowick: The price to be paid by the Land Commission for vested or unvested land is determined by statute.
Mr. S. Brady: asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs if he will state in reference to the proposed new central sorting and delivery office for Dublin: (1) what progress has been made with the plans; (2) the location of the site; (3) the estimated cost of erection; and (4) when the work of erection is likely to commence.
Minister for Posts and Telegraphs (Mr. Everett): Preliminary sketch plans for the new Dublin central letter  sorting and delivery offices, on the site of the present building used for these purposes in Pearse Street, have been prepared for discussion, but I am not in a position to give a considered estimate of the cost of the proposals or the probable date of commencement of the structural works.
Mr. Little: asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs if he is aware of the general complaint that Radio Éireann is now being used through its news bulletins for direct political attacks against the Opposition Party, and whether he will place in the Oireachtas Library copies of the news bulletins broadcast from Radio Éireann over the period of the last four weeks to enable Deputies to have full information in the matter.
Mr. Everett: I am not aware of any general complaint that Radio Éireann is being used through its news bulletins for direct political attacks against the Opposition Party nor am I am aware that there have been any such attacks. I am not prepared to place copies of the bulletins in the Library. The broadcasting bulletins are, of course, available to everybody over the air.
Mr. Little: Would the Minister make further inquiries to make sure that the news bulletin does not carry any direct political attacks and give us an assurance that it will not happen in future?
Mr. Everett: If the Deputy will give me a specific case, instead of asking a general question, it will give me an opportunity to investigate his complaint. I can assure the Deputy and the House that the broadcasting service will not be used, and is not being used, to attack any of the different Parties.
Mr. Lemass: The Minister should listen to the news occasionally.
Mr. Everett: Give us a specific case.
Mr. Lemass: Certainly. The broadcast of the Fine Gael Ard-Fheis.
Mr. Everett: If the Deputy has any specific instance——
Mr. Lemass: I have given one. The proceedings of the Fine Gael Ard-Fheis were broadcast even though the proceedings of the Clann na Poblachta Ard-Fheis were not.
Mr. Everett: I have assured the Deputy that the broadcasting service will not be used in the interests of any political Party. If, however, Ministers are doing a certain service to the country, they will get a broadcast which other Deputies who are not giving any such service will not get.
Mr. G. Boland: Is the Minister not aware that there was a direct attack on the administration of the Post Office last week—an attack on his own Department? I was listening to it.
Mr. Everett: If the Deputy gives me a particular case——
Mr. G. Boland: I have given one.
Mr. Everett: I shall not interfere with broadcasting in any way except to ensure that fair play is given to all Parties in the country.
Mr. G. Boland: I will get the particulars and send them on to the Minister.
Mr. Little: The Minister might get——
An Ceann Comhairle: Question No. 18.
Mr. P.S. Doyle: asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs if he will consider the broadcasting of educational subjects to schools on similar lines to those at present given by the British Broadcasting Corporation to schools in Great Britain.
Mr. Everett: The Department of Education, which is primarily interested, has, in conjunction with the broadcasting service, been considering for some time the question of inaugurating a scheme of broadcasts for schools. I am at present unable to say when a decision will be reached in the matter.
Mr. Little: Would the Minister press the matter with the Department of Education? Is he aware that the advisory committee took a very keen interest in this question of using broadcasting for the schools? Would he press the Minister for Education to carry out the plans, to the preparation of which a great deal of trouble has been already given?
Minister for Education (General Mulcahy): Would the Deputy make any suggestions he has to make in the matter to the Minister for Education?
Mr. Little: The suggestion I would make is that he would look up the files about the matter. I know there are difficulties with the Department of Education but it is so valuable, especially for the Irish language, that I would ask him to look carefully into the suggestions made especially by the advisory committee.
General Mulcahy: If the Deputy has a more concrete suggestion to make than to look up the files I should be glad to have it.
Mr. Little: I cannot imagine anything more concrete than that.
Mr. Childers: asked the Minister for Agriculture if he will state: (a) the number of land improvement schemes sanctioned in the financial year 1946-47, distinguishing between works carried out by family and by paid labour; (b) the number of schemes sanctioned in each county distinguishing between (i) land reclamation, (ii) drainage, (iii) farmyard, farm road and farm gate improvements; and (c) the number of persons self-employed or paid, working on all such schemes carried out during the same period.
Mr. Harris: asked the Minister for Agriculture if he is aware that the delay in granting approval to applications for farm building grants is a serious handicap to a large number of applicants who are anxious to have buildings completed for live stock and poultry before the coming winter; and if, in the exceptional circumstances, he will allow retrospective sanction for  carrying out of works under the scheme.
Mr. Cogan: asked the Minister for Agriculture if he can state when it is proposed to extend the field drainage scheme to counties other than Galway and Mayo.
Minister for Education (General Mulcahy) (for Minister for Agriculture): With your permission, a Chinn Chomhairle, it is proposed to take Questions Nos. 19, 20 and 21 together. These questions will be answered on the return of the Minister for Agriculture, if repeated.
Mr. S. Brady: asked the Minister for Finance whether he will introduce proposals for legislation to amend the law relating to death duties in so far as they affect professional and clerical classes, in view of the feeling that they are unjust.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance (Mr. Donnellan): The current year's fiscal proposals have, as the Deputy will appreciate, been embodied already in the Budget and Finance Bill. While it was not possible in the circumstances of this year to take full account of all the questions that might have arisen and while naturally no forecast can be made as to the future, the matter referred to by the Deputy will be examined in due course in the light of the then existing situation.
Mr. S. Brady: Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that the Taoiseach spoke at great length on this subject, referred to it as a most unjust tax and stressed that it should be remedied at the earliest possible opportunity?
Mr. Donnellan: The Taoiseach will be back next week if the Deputy cares to ask him about it.
Dr. Brennan: asked the Minister for Finance whether he will consider the imposition of statutory obligations on the universities, schools and colleges of higher education to provide adequate accommodation for students to enable them to pursue their studies; and, if  not, whether he will ensure, if necessary by the introduction of proposals for legislation, that such students will be provided with proper housing conditions.
Mr. Donnellan: The answer to both parts of the question is in the negative; these are matters in which I consider it would not be appropriate for me to intervene.
Donnchadh Ó Briain: den Aire Airgeadais an bhfuil socair ag an Rialtas deireadh a chur leis an gCoimisiún Log-Ainmneacha.
Mr. Donnellan: If the Deputy will repeat his question in a week's time I hope to be in a position then to supply him with the information he requires.
Mr. T.F. O'Higgins: asked the Minister for Finance whether it is proposed to introduce proposals for legislation to deal with the alienation, assignment, leasing, acquisition and management of State lands and generally to amend the law in relation thereto.
Mr. Donnellan: A Bill dealing with the matters referred to by the Deputy is in course of preparation.
Mr. J. Flynn: asked the Minister for Finance if he will state whether the meeting referred to by him in reply to a question on the 14th April, 1948, regarding the survey of the pier at Reenard Point, Valentia Island, has yet taken place; and, if so, whether a decision has yet been reached in the matter.
Mr. Donnellan: The meeting took place on the 8th June, 1948, and the engineer's report thereon is at present being prepared.
Mr. Childers: asked the Minister for Finance whether he is aware that 200 interested persons are willing to contribute to a rural improvement scheme for the cleaning of the Breensford river, near Athlone; that the sanction  for the scheme is held up owing to an objection raised by the owner of a mill derelict for 50 years who does not reside in the district, and whether he will convey sanction for one or two schemes organised above and below the mill weir in question, commencing at Ballykieran.
Mr. Donnellan: An application was received for a grant under the rural improvements scheme for the cleaning of the Breensford river, but no action was taken as it was known that the owner of a mill along the course of the stream objects to the proposed work being carried out, and as the Special Employment Schemes Office have no compulsory powers in a case of the kind. The possibility of improving the stream below the site of the mill is under examination. I am aware, however, that a question of water rights may also arise in respect of this section of the proposal, and this may present some difficulties.
Mr. Keane: asked the Minister for Finance whether it is intended to build a Garda barracks in Castletownroche, County Cork, during the present financial year.
Mr. Donnellan: Steps are being taken to acquire a site for a new Garda station at Castletownroche, but it is not anticipated that a contract for its erection will be placed during the present financial year.
Mr. Dunne: asked the Minister for Finance if he is aware of the fact that considerable coastal erosion has occurred at Donabate, County Dublin, during the past five years; further, that no protection from erosion other than 14 feet of sand bank is afforded between the Brook, Portrane and Rogerstown; and, if so, whether he will take such steps as are necessary to prevent further erosion in this area.
Mr. Donnellan: I am not aware of the matters mentioned in the Deputy's question, but in any event there is at present no statutory authority to enable the State to embark on coastal protection works.
Mr. Childers: asked the Minister for Finance whether he has examined the correspondence between the association representing the interests of farmers whose lands were flooded between Athlone and Banagher during August, and the Electricity Supply Board; whether he is aware that court proceedings have taken place to test the responsibility of the Electricity Supply Board for such flooding; whether he will take steps either to relieve doubts in the minds of the parties concerned or to provide State compensation or to direct the Shannon River authority to take some remedial action, or to deepen the Shannon channel from Athlone to Banagher at the earliest possible moment.
Mr. Donnellan: The operations of the Electricity Supply Board are governed by statute and are not subject to review by me. The reply to the last part of the question is in the negative.
Mr. McQuillan: Will the Minister say whether he has any further information for the deputation which he received some time ago as to what steps the Board of Works intend to take for the purpose of doing something for the people mentioned in this locality?
An Ceann Comhairle: That is a separate question.
Mr. Lemass: He will take no steps. Did he not say that?
Mr. T.F. O'Higgins: asked the Minister for Justice if he can state when the proposed new Circuit Court Rules as drafted and approved by the Circuit Court Rules Committee will be signed and brought into operation.
Minister for Justice (General MacEoin): I presume that the question has reference to the draft rule in regard to costs and counsel's fees in the Circuit Court which was recently submitted for my signature by the Circuit Court Rules Committee.
The proposed new schedule of costs and fees provides for increases which in some cases are of a very substantial  amount and, having regard to the criticisms that have been heard in the past of the high cost of litigation in the Circuit Court, I feel it incumbent upon me to give the most careful consideration to any proposal to increase these costs still further. The matter is having my attention, but I am not in a position to say when a decision will be reached.
Mr. S. Brady: asked the Minister for Defence if he will state for the latest convenient date, the total strength of the Army, distinguishing between officers, other ranks, cadets, chaplains, Construction Corps and nurses.
Minister for Defence (Dr. O'Higgins): As the reply is in the nature of statistical information, I propose, with the permission of the Ceann Comhairle and with the Deputy's consent, to have it published in the Official Report.
Following is the reply:—
STRENGTH OF THE DEFENCE FORCES (INCLUDING CADETS, CHAPLAINS AND CONSTRUCTION CORPS PERSONNEL) AS ON THE 30TH APRIL, 1948.
|Officers||Other Ranks||Cadets||Chap lains||Construc tion Corps||TOTAL|
Strength of Army Nursing Service as on the
|30th April, 1948||99|
Mr. O'Leary: asked the Minister for Defence if he will reconsider the cases of those Enniscorthy men who took part in the Rising of 1916 and who were refused pensions, with a view to remedying any injustice which may have been done to them.
Dr. O'Higgins: As the administration of the Military Service Pensions Acts has concluded, I regret that I am not in a position to reconsider the claims mentioned by the Deputy.
Mr. O'Leary: The Minister must be aware that during the general election——
An Ceann Comhairle: If the Deputy has a supplementary question to ask, he may ask it.
Mr. O'Leary: ——that pensions were granted to members of the Fianna Fáil Party in Enniscorthy town.
Dr. O'Higgins: The position is that, since December, 1945, the honorary secretary of this association has been asked on very many occasions to supply the relevant extra evidence which would enable the Minister to reopen these cases. Up to the end of last year, no such supplementary evidence had been supplied to him.
Mr. O'Leary: Did you not receive a deputation from the Old I.R.A. in Enniscorthy town?
Dr. O'Higgins: I received a deputation, but a deputation is not evidence in accordance with the Act.
Mr. O'Leary: Did you promise them anything?
Dr. O'Higgins: If the evidence asked for over the past five years was forthcoming, it would be considered. I am still as blank with regard to evidence as my predecessor.
Mr. Dunne: asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he will draw the attention of Córas Iompair Eireann to the hardship caused to bus travellers at Swords by the lack of any bus shelter at the stopping place, and if he will urge the company to remedy this complaint.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. Cosgrave): The provision of bus shelters does not come within the matters in respect of which the Minister for Industry and Commerce has statutory functions. Questions of this kind should be taken up directly with the companies concerned.
Mr. Tully: asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he will direct Córas Iompair Éireann to run a second bus daily from Cavan to Sligo through Killeshandra, to alleviate the grave inconvenience caused by the closing down of the railway line between Cavan and Killeshandra.
Mr. Ormonde: asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he will direct Córas Iompair Éireann to restore the bus service between Dungarvan and Cork via Lismore and Ballyduff on at least three days per week.
Mr. Cosgrave: With your permission, Sir, I propose to take Questions Nos. 35 and 36 together.
I would refer the Deputies to replies given in Dáil Éireann on the 8th and 17th June to questions regarding the provision of additional bus services. It was intimated that Córas Iompair Éireann would consider the needs of those areas where there is a demand for increased bus services when their vehicle position improves.
Captain Giles: asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he is aware of the great need for restoring the Sunday train service leaving Navan at 10 a.m. and returning in the evening which linked up Kells, Oldcastle and Navan with the seaside at Laytown and Bettystown before the emergency and whether, in view of the importance of the service, he will make representations to the Great Northern Railway Company to have it restored immediately.
Mr. Cosgrave: I am informed by the Great Northern Railway Company that the question of restoring this service is under consideration.
Mr. Dunne: asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he is aware of the fact that considerable hardship has been caused to workers who have been travelling by the Great Northern Railway from Malahide to Dublin City by the 8.42 a.m. train, by virtue of the fact that this train no longer stops at Malahide; and whether, in view of the fact that this was a fast train and that the 8.30 a.m. train at present replacing it stops at all intermediate stations, he will make representations to the Great Northern Railway Company with the object of securing a restoration of the 8.42 a.m. train service.
Mr. Cosgrave: I am informed by the Great Northern Railway that the service to which the Deputy refers has already been restored.
Mr. Childers: asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he will state for the period during which the preparation for the rural electrification scheme in Abbeyshrule, County Longford, was taking place the number of households canvassed and the number now connected for electric supply.
Mr. Cosgrave: The number of households canvassed during the preparation of the rural electrification scheme in Abbeyshrule, County Longford, was 516.
Construction work and house wiring are proceeding in the area and the number of households connected to the supply at the end of May was 75.
Mr. Corry: asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if his attention has been drawn to the profiteering in some restaurants in Dublin City, which are charging 10d. each for cooked eggs; and, if so, whether he intends taking any action in the matter.
Mr. Cosgrave: There is no official control over the prices charged in Dublin restaurants and it would not be practicable to apply and enforce such control. I do not propose to take any action in the matter to which the Deputy refers.
Mr. S. Brady: asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he will state, for each of the years 1946 and 1947, and for the latest available date in 1948, (a) the total number of briquetting plants in operation in Ireland; (b) the average total monthly output for these periods, and (c) if it is proposed to install further such plant this year; and, if so, to what extent.
Mr. Cosgrave: The number of briquetting plants in operation in 1946, 1947, and up to the 30th May, 1948, were nine, nine and five respectively. The  average monthly output for each of these periods was 6,571, 4,463 and 250 tons respectively. As far as I am aware, it is not proposed to instal any further plants this year.
Mr. Childers: asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he will state when the plant for manufacturing increased quantities of cement will be installed and whether considerations of (a) price or (b) currency are holding up or limiting the import of cement and whether he can state the date by which cement will be available for works of importance such as farm improvement, minor house repairs, etc.
Mr. Cosgrave: I cannot say when the plant for producing increased quantities of cement will be installed, but I am in communication with Cement Limited on this point. Currency or price considerations are not at present holding up or limiting the importation of cement, although it will be appreciated that both these factors must be taken into account. The present output of the two Irish factories, aided by current importations, is sufficient to provide enough cement for all important works, and special arrangements have been made for the supply of cement to works being carried out under the farm improvements scheme.
Mr. Breslin: asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he will state whether there is any prohibition of the export to Great Britain and the Six Counties of articles of clothing, shoes, souvenirs and leather goods purchased by visitors during their stay here, for personal use; and, if so, what are the regulations governing the export of such articles.
Mr. Cosgrave: The export of the goods mentioned is controlled under the Emergency Powers (Control of Export) Order, 1940, as amended, and licences for export are not granted to visitors. Arrangements have, however, been made to allow persons leaving this country after a holiday to take with them, at the discretion of the  customs officials, reasonable quantities of certain goods, including those mentioned by the Deputy.
Mr. McGrath: asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he is aware that at a recent meeting of the Cork Harbour Board statements were made that a coal crisis was likely to occur in the next six months; and whether, in view of these statements, he will inform the House as to the coal position in order that people requiring coal might make adequate provision against any impending shortage.
Mr. Cosgrave: I have seen the statements referred to, but I am not aware of any actual or impending scarcity of coal. There may, of course, be cases where an individual user may not be able, at a given time, to purchase the particular variety or grade of coal to which he has been accustomed.
Mr. McGrath: asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he is aware of the scarcity of iron or mild steel bars suitable for making horseshoes and wheelbands; and, if so, whether he is in a position to state when the manufacture of such bars will again be carried out by Irish Steel Holdings, Limited, Haulbowline.
Mr. Cosgrave: I understand that the demand for steel bars suitable for making horseshoes and wheelbands has been abnormal of late. Irish Steel Holdings, Limited, are and have been meeting a fair proportion of the demand for these bars, but it will be appreciated that the company has also to cope with pressing demands for other types of merchant steel. If the Deputy will give me particulars of the shortages to which he refers, I will see what can be done to overcome these difficulties.
Mr. Rooney: asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce whether he is aware that the importation of paper into Ireland is causing unemployment at Clondalkin, Drimnagh and Killeen  Paper Mills; and, if so, what steps he proposes to take to protect the industry against competition from foreign sources.
Mr. Cosgrave: I am aware that the Clondalkin and Drimnagh Paper Mills have had to resort to short-time working recently, but it is not clear to what extent this is due to the importation of paper. I am however having the matter investigated. I am not aware that the Killeen Paper Mills are at present working short-time.
There is at present a protective duty on certain packing, wrapping, and manila papers, which types form a considerable part of the output of these mills.
Mr. Palmer: asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he will state (1) the number of Desmishoke machines operating on turf production in the Killarney district; (2) the cost per ton of production under the machine-won turf scheme; (3) the number of staff employed in the Killarney district and the total weekly cost of that staff; and (4) whether the rules which govern the consideration of discharge of employees by the board as laid down by the Minister have been adhered to in all cases.
Mr. Cosgrave: The number of Desmishoke machines operating on turf production in the Killarney district is 33. The actual cost per ton of production cannot be given at this stage as the cutting season has not yet terminated and the quantity cut is a determining factor in the final costing. The number of staff at present employed on the bogs where the Desmishoke machines are operating is 222 and the total weekly cost is £767. The procedure which has been settled for the discharge of workers falls to be applied by the board and I am assured it is being observed in all cases.
Mr. A. Byrne: asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he will cause a factory to be established for the manufacture of prefabricated parts to  be used for the emergency housing needs of the thousands of citizens now without adequate housing accommodation.
Mr. Cosgrave: I have no power to cause a factory to be established for this purpose.
Mr. A. Byrne: In view of the clamour that there is in the country for the building of houses of an easy and quick-building design, would the Parliamentary Secretary say if he has any power, in view of the fact that the Minister for Local Government said that he would break all red tape, to suggest to anybody the building of a factory for making parts for quick building of houses which are so urgently needed?
Mr. Cosgrave: A number of items which are used in the construction of houses are already prefabricated such as doors, windows and plaster boards but I have no power to do anything. Certain proposals have been made to the Department but none of them was a proposal for the establishment of a factory.
Mr. A. Byrne: In view of the fact that labour outside say that they will not handle imported prefabricated parts, something must be done by somebody in authority to suggest making these parts at home in order to have them when the clamour starts——
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy said that before, and the Parliamentary Secretary said that he had not the power.
Mr. A. Byrne: And meantime we are all asleep.
Mr. Rice: asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he will relax the restrictions on the issue of building licences to applicants in rural areas who are experiencing delay in the consideration of their applications.
Mr. Cosgrave: The amount of building work sought to be carried out at present is greater than the industry  can cope with. Building licences are issued to the full extent of the resources of the building industry. While difficulties are met with in securing men and materials, there can be no relaxation in the restrictions.
Donnchadh Ó Briain: asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he will arrange to have an additional weekly sugar allowance granted to invalids where such is prescribed by their doctor for the successful treatment of their ailments.
Mr. Cosgrave: I do not consider it necessary to make the special provision suggested, having regard to the fact that alternative sweetening agents are available and many foodstuffs of which sugar is an ingredient are in plentiful supply.
Mr. S. Brady: asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he will state the number of food ration cards issued to entrants to Ireland for each month during 1947, and for the latest available month in 1948.
Mr. Cosgrave: As the reply is in the form of a statistical statement, I propose, with the permission of the Ceann Comhairle, to circulate it with the Official Report.
Number of food ration cards issued to entrants to Ireland during each of the months indicated:—
Mr. J. Gorry: asked the Minister for Local Government if he will state the number of houses built in each of the years 1933-1947 in the following towns  by the local authorities concerned:— Birr, Tullamore, Edenderry, Clara, Kilcormac, Banagher, Portlaoighise, Mountmellick, Portarlington, Mountrath, Rathdowney; furthermore, if he will state the number of houses for which schemes are in preparation or awaiting sanction for (a) County Laoighis and (b) County Offaly.
Minister for Local Government (Mr. Murphy): The information asked for in the first part of the question is not readily available in the form required by the Deputy. I am, however, having the particulars compiled by the local authorities and will forward them to the Deputy when they are available.
With regard to the second part of the question the numbers of houses for which schemes are in preparation are as follows:—
(a) Laoighis, 452; (b) Offaly, 511.
Plans have been submitted in respect of some of these cottages and have been approved.
Mr. P.J. Burke: asked the Minister for Local Government if he will state (a) the number of houses in Ireland built by private enterprise; (b) the number reconstructed; (c) the number built by local authorities, and (d) the number reconstructed, during the period 1932 to 1948.
Mr. Murphy: With the permission of the Ceann Comhairle the reply in the form of a tabular statement will be circulated with the Official Report.
Following is the reply:—
Table showing the number of houses built and reconstructed (a) by local authorities, and (b) by private enterprise with the aid of grants under the Housing Acts during the period from August, 1932, to 31st March, 1948:—
|New Houses||Reconstructed Houses||Total|
|Built by Local Authorities||53,670||386||54,056|
|Built by Private Enterprise||35,589*||32,077*||67,666*|
* These figures relate only to houses built or reconstructed with the aid of grants under the Housing Acts.
Mr. Ormonde: asked the Minister for Local Government whether he is aware that his decision to annual the compulsory purchase Order to acquire the Lismore Showgrounds (known as the Fair Field) for the erection of cottages in the town of Lismore, County Waterford, will cause the cottages to be erected outside the town bounds, resulting in the occupants being deprived of all benefits and amenities afforded the townspeople; and, if so, whether he will reconsider his decision in the matter.
Mr. Murphy: I am aware that this compulsory purchase Order was annulled by my predecessor after public local inquiry, but I have not been informed that the decision will involve the consequences mentioned. Definite proposals for an alternative location of the proposed housing scheme for Lismore have not yet been submitted to me. There is no power to reconsider the decision on the compulsory purchase Order.
Mr. S. Dunne: asked the Minister for Local Government if he will state (a) the number and location of housing sites acquired and about to be acquired by the Dublin County Council in the Clondalkin area; (b) the number of houses at present estimated as necessary for the district; and (c) whether he proposes to ensure that the Neilstown site is utilised without delay as indicated to a deputation recently received from the Clondalkin Welfare Association.
Mr. Murphy: (a) The Dublin County Council have acquired one housing site in the Clondalkin area, situated at Neilstown, Clondalkin, Negotiations with a view to the acquisition of the other sites in the area have been entered into with their owners, but agreement has not yet been reached in any case. (b) It is estimated that there is at present a need for some 150 labourers' cottages in this area. (c) The local authority has been advised to proceed at once to utilise the Neilstown site for the erection of labourers'  cottages and detailed proposals are awaited.
Mr. Hickey: asked the Minister for Local Government whether he is aware that under the existing law local authorities are debarred from obtaining for building purposes certain areas of land which are classified as demesne lands or glebe lands; and, if so, whether he will introduce proposals for legislation to amend the law in this matter.
Mr. Murphy: I am aware of the restrictions on the compulsory acquisition of land for housing purposes under existing legislation. The question whether these restrictions should be modified depends on the extent to which they may be found to impede the provision of needed housing accommodation, and the position is being examined on these lines.
Mr. S. Brady: asked the Minister for Local Government if he will state the costs, in Dublin County Borough, for the years 1946 and 1947, of the approximate quantities required for an average four-roomed house of the following materials: concrete, timber, roofing and iron work, plumbing, plastering, glazing and painting.
Mr. Murphy: The costs are as follows (in each case the 1946 figure is that mentioned first, followed by the 1947 figure):—
|Roofing and Ironwork||63||19||2||77||11||3|
|Glazing and painting||8||18||8||11||13||4|
Mr. Childers: asked the Minister for Local Government if he will state the names of the Library Council and indicate by what date plans will be in  readiness for surveying the present library organisation with a view to improvement.
Mr. Murphy: A list of the 13 members of An Chomhairle Leabhar-lanna will be circulated with the Official Report. The council will, I have no doubt, lose no time in making plans for the survey referred to by the Deputy, but I am not in a position to state when their plans will be ready.
Following is the list of members:—
Chairman—Senator Eleanor Butler, B.Arch., 82 Merrion Square, Dublin.
Nominated by County Councils' General Council—Senator Michael Hearne, Dalriada, Blackrock, County Dublin; Denis Heskin, Esq., Deerpark, Lismore, County Waterford; Patrick Smyth, Esq., Bridge Street, Cootehill, County Cavan.
Nominated by Association of Municipal Authorities—Mrs. O'Shea-Leamy, 78a Summerhill, Dublin; Peadar Uasal Ó Dubhda, 5 Plás na Trágha, Dún Dealgain.
Nominated by Governing Body, University College, Dublin—James J. O'Neill, Esq., M.A., University College, Dublin.
Nominated by Governing Body, University College, Cork—Miss B. G. McCarthy, M.A., Ph.D., H.Dip. in Ed., 10 Aldergrove, Highfield West, Cork.
Nominated by Governing Body, University College, Galway—Professor Liam Ó Briain, M.A., University College, Galway.
Nominated by Board of Trinity College, Dublin—Dr. H.W. Parke, F.T.C.D., 9 Trinity College, Dublin; Joseph Hanna, Esq., M.A., Trinity College, Dublin.
Nominated by Council of Trustees, National Library—Professor F.E. Hackett, M.A., M.Sc., Ph.D., 20 Zion Road, Rathgar.
Nominated by the Library Association of Ireland—J. T. Dowling, Esq., County Librarian, Courthouse, Kilmainham, Dublin.
Mr. Childers: asked the Minister for Local Government if he will state the  progress made in sanctioning and expediting water and sewerage works in County Longford during the present year with particular reference to Granard and Mostrim.
Mr. Murphy: The acceptance by the county council of a tender for the provision of a water supply to serve Mostrim and Ballinalee has been approved. As regards the Granard water supply, suggestions for modification in the scheme with a view to reducing the estimated cost have been conveyed to the local authority.
Work is in progress on the contract for the Lanesboro' sewerage scheme. The preparation of plans for a sewerage scheme at Ballymahon is almost complete, but a decision has not been reached as to the full scope of the scheme. Plans have also been prepared for a sewerage scheme at Drumlish and have been returned to the local authority for consideration of suggested amendments.
Mr. Keane: asked the Minister for Local Government if he will sanction a grant for the resurfacing of the Cuskinny Road, Cobh.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Local Government (Mr. Corish): There are no funds available from which a grant towards the cost of the work could be made.
Mr. S. Keane: Is there any possibility that something could be made available to alleviate conditions at the Cuskinny Road, Cobh, which, owing to various circumstances for some years past, is in very bad condition?
Mr. Corish: Only if there is widespread unemployment in the area. If we receive any evidence that there is, we will have the matter considered.
Mr. Dunne: asked the Minister for Local Government if he will state whether he is prepared to sanction the sewerage scheme for Yellow Walls, Malahide, which has already been very much delayed.
Mr. Murphy: Before this scheme can be approved it will be necessary to define clearly the area to be included in the proposed sewerage system. Owing to the proximity of Malahide to the city and the amount of land available in the neighbourhood for building sites, an outline development plan should be prepared showing the zones suitable for housing development. In the absence of such a plan, it would not be possible to determine what areas should be included in the proposed scheme, the design of which will depend on this factor.
Mr. Dunne: Am I to understand that there is no plan in the Department for a sewerage scheme for Yellow Walls, Malahide?
Mr. Murphy: I would assume that the preparation of a scheme of that kind would be, in the first instance, a matter for the local authority, and I gather that no such scheme has yet been put before the Department.
Mr. Dunne: In view of the fact that I have been informed by the local authority that a scheme is in the possession of the Department, will the Minister take such steps are are necessary to investigate that?
Mr. Murphy: Certainly.
Mr. S. Dunne: asked the Minister for Local Government if he is aware that, although public lighting has been provided on the road leading to Donabate Golf Club, no lighting has been provided for the benefit of residents of 12 county council cottages in the vicinity; and if, in view of the urgent need for public and indoor lighting for these cottages, he will take steps to promote this very necessary work.
Mr. Corish: I am not aware of the conditions mentioned but I shall make inquiries and communicate with the Deputy.
Mr. P.J. Burke: asked the Minister for Local Government if he will state when work on the North County Dublin  regional water scheme will be commenced and if he will expedite the sanction of the plans submitted to him for this scheme.
Mr. Murphy: I am not in a position to say when work on this scheme will commence. The technical details are still under examination and additional data will be required before the scheme can be further considered by the technical advisers of the Department.
Mr. Kinane: asked the Minister for Local Government if he is aware that representations were made to his Department several years ago for the provision of a proper water supply and sewerage scheme at Upperchurch, Thurles, County Tipperary, and that nothing has yet been done about the matter; and, if so, whether he will give an assurance that steps will be taken at an early date to provide these amenities.
Mr. Murphy: The documents submitted in connection with the proposed water supply at Upperchurch were returned to the local authority at its request on the 8th February, 1947, and have not since been resubmitted.
Mr. J. Flynn: asked the Minister for Local Government if he will arrange to have the water supply at Glenbeigh, County Kerry, extended to the neighbouring village of Rossbeigh, in view of the fact that there is no such supply there at present and that it is urgently required for the use of the local inhabitants and the seasonal tourist traffic.
Mr. Murphy: The provision of water supplies is the responsibility of the local authority. I have been informed that it is hoped to include the work of extending the Glenbeigh water supply to Rossbeigh in the programme of work for the current year.
Mr. Rooney: asked the Minister for Local Government whether he will  direct the Dublin County Council to extend the water supply from Coolock to Newtown Cottages.
Mr. Murphy: I am informed that the local authority proposes to extend the water main to serve Newtown Cottages in the near future.
Mr. A. Byrne: asked the Minister for Health if he will ensure that the recent 11/- increase granted to certain employees will be paid to board of assistance workers, some of whom are working 60 hours per week on small wages that have not been increased for the past three years.
Minister for Health (Dr. Browne): Salaries of employees of public assistance authorities were revised as from 1st November, 1946. In general the revision resulted in increases of about 50 per cent. on 1939 salaries ranging up to approximately £400 per annum, but in the case of some of the more lowly-paid employees increases of 80 per cent to 100 per cent. were granted.
The payment of a further increase of 11/- a week to certain classes of employees of public assistance authorities is under consideration. I am very hopeful that I shall be able to give a decision in the very near future.
Mr. A. Byrne: Is the Minister aware that there are men working for 60 hours a week for less than £4, some of them on night work?
Dr. Browne: As I stated, this question is under review and I hope to give a decision on it in the near future.
Dr. Brennan: asked the Minister for Health if he will state whether in the last examinations held by the Irish Nursing Council a candidate or candidates received zero in the surgery examination; and, if so, whether, in view of the public interest involved, he will place for inspection on the Table of this House the records where this mark was allotted or request the Irish Nursing Council to furnish information concerning this whole matter.
Dr. Browne: I am informed that no candidate received zero in surgery in the last examination held by the General Nursing Council for admission to the general part of the register or to the register of children's nurses.
My functions in relation to this matter are confined to approving of the rules made by the General Nursing Council for the conduct of the examinations. The records of the marks allotted to candidates are confidential and are not available in my Department. I do not regard it as appropriate that I should ask for them or have them made public.
Mr. Timoney: asked the Minister for Health if he will consider the establishment of a cottage hospital at Cappawhite, County Tipperary, in the near future.
Dr. Browne: The Hospitals Commission have reported that they do not consider that the building of a cottage hospital at Cappawhite would be justified and, having regard to the fact that there are hospitals in Cashel and Tipperary,  I am disposed to accept that view. There is a very large number of urgent hospital building proposals which will need to be undertaken in the immediate future and, for that reason, I am afraid that I see little hope at present of considering the building of a hospital at Cappawhite until these rather more urgent requirements are met.
Mr. Seán Brady: asked the Minister for Health if he will state the total estimated population of Ireland on 30th June, 1946, and 1947, under the headings of (a) male; (b) female; also if he will state for the same periods (c) excess of births over deaths and (d) balance of passenger movement (inward and outward).
Dr. Browne: The information required has been prepared in the form of a tabular statement which, with the permission of the Ceann Comhairle, will be circulated with the Official Report.
The following is the information required:—
|Estimated Population (in thousands)||Excess Births over Deaths||Balance (outward) of Passenger movement|
|30th June, 1946||1,499||1,464||2,963||26,125||1,847|
|30th June, 1947||1,503||1,469||2,972||23,853||14,373|
Minister for Education (General Mulcahy): Business will be taken in the following order:—Nos. 1, 4 and 6 (Estimate No. 41 and Estimates Nos. 32 to 40, inclusive).
An Ceann Comhairle: Pursuant to Standing Order No. 15, I hereby nominate a Panel of Chairmen consisting of Deputies Patrick J. Halliden, Matthew O'Reilly and Gerard Sweetman.
General Mulcahy: I move:—
That leave be given by the Dáil to introduce the following Supplementary Estimate for the service of the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1949, namely:—Vote No. 9 (Office of Public Works).
The Estimate is ready for circulation and will be taken with the main Estimate for the Office of Public Works.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. Cosgrave): I ask for leave to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to extend for 12 months the provisions of Section 2 of the Trade Union Act, 1947, and to provide for other matters connected therewith.
An Ceann Comhairle: When will the Second Stage be taken?
Mr. Cosgrave: To-morrow, if there is no objection.
Mr. Lemass: We should like to see the Bill.
Mr. Cosgrave: You will see it before then.
Mr. Lemass: I think we had better leave it over.
Mr. Cosgrave: It has to be law by July 8th.
Mr. Lemass: We are not responsible for that. Say Thursday.
Ordered: That the Second Stage be taken on Thursday, 24th June.
The Dáil, according to Order, went into Committee on Finance and resumed consideration of the Estimates for Public Services for the year ending March 31st, 1949.
Debate resumed on motion:—
That the Estimate be referred back for reconsideration.—(Deputy MacEntee).
Mr. O'Leary: I am sure that the present Minister is fully aware of the needs of the country with regard to housing as he has travelled to many districts and visited local authorities. He has also been a member of the council in his own constituency for many years and knows more about the problem than the former Minister who had not any experience such as the  present Minister has had. We were told from the Fianna Fáil benches last week about all the houses they built. I should like to give particulars of the number of houses built in my own town of Enniscorthy since 1932 under a Fianna Fáil Administration and a Fianna Fáil council. The total number of houses built in those years was 263 and the number demolished or closed up was 103, leaving the town in a worse position than before they started building. No one could get a house only a slum dweller. Under the regulations of the Department you could not give a house to anybody else and, except you demolished a house, you could not get the subsidy. That is what brought about the scarcity of houses all over Ireland to-day. Houses were knocked down in which people like old age pensioners, blind pensioners and widows were living on their little means. These people were put into big new houses at higher rents. That policy was all wrong. It was no relief to these poor people to be given a new house at a rent of 4/-, 5/-, or 8/- when they were only paying 2/- and, in some cases, only 1/- and 1/6 for their former houses. If we are going to build houses we would want to build them at the right price for the working class people. Take the wages of farm workers to-day. If they have to pay 2/6 rent for new cottages they will want another increase in wages. The old cottages were let at 1/- per week. We should extend the time for repayment of the loan and not try to get rich quickly in 45 or 50 years. The loan should be extended to 99 years and the houses let at a reasonable rent. As a result of all the new social schemes I can see that the rates will never fall but will be increased year after year. There were great hopes on the introduction of the county management system. Local councils were told that rates would be saved and that managers would be great masters and would stop corruption in the local councils. It is a sad state of affairs to-day when a person cannot get a job or a house, under that scheme, unless be belongs to a Fianna Fáil club.
Donnchadh Ó Briain: That is not true at all.
Mr. O'Leary: That has happened— and I can prove it—in my own county, in my own town. An appointment was made very lately by the local manager of a relieving officer and rent collector. The person appointed was a member of Fianna Fáil in the Wexford County Council. He retired and was handed over the books and is doing the job without the job having been advertised. That is a fact and I would ask the Minister to inquire into it.
An Ceann Comhairle: If the Deputy has cases against identifiable and named individuals he should submit them to the Minister, not here, where one side of a story is told without any chance of a reply. That manager has no chance of answering the Deputy.
Mr. O'Leary: He can get it at the next county council meeting, if I have said anything wrong.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy is speaking under privilege. The other man would not be.
Mr. O'Leary: The other is acting under privilege, as county manager.
An Ceann Comhairle: I will hear no more about it.
Mr. O'Leary: I am against it. We are supposed to be a local authority. I have here a cutting from the local paper. He told me he would make these appointments as long as he liked. Is that the system that is going to be carried on? I am sure every member on this side of the House spoke from a platform during the election and intimated that one of the ten points that were to be put into operation in the life of this Government was the abolition of the county managers. The county management system is a burden on the rates. It means that there is a dictator in every county. We were heading very strongly for a dictatorship in the last 15 or 16 years. There was one in every county and finally we would all come under one.
Housing is a normal function of any Government. It should have been undertaken long ago, when much better materials were available. All the materials and labour used in building aerodromes and short-wave  stations and all the rest should have been put into houses for the people. I understand that there is a housing scheme in Castle Park, Rathfarnham, where the houses have been advertised for sale at £3,000. Why did the people who built these houses get materials when our council could not get cement or timber to repair the property of the people? That sort of thing was going on and the reason put forward was that there was a war during which supplies were not available. Yet, if one reads the papers one sees that speculative building was allowed while there was not a cottage being built in any part of the country.
The letting of cottages is a function that should be restored to the county councils. The matter should be decided by vote. I know of a case of a married man with a family who has been in a house for two years. He applied for nine cottages but did not get one. He went to lodge with an ex-Army man. The ex-Army man got a job in Waterford and the man to whom I have referred remained in the house. The rent collector accepted the rent from him. After some time, when somebody else came into the field, they wanted to put this man out. This man is an agricultural labourer. He has nowhere to go except to the county home. I went with him to interview the county manager on a few occasions with a view to getting him a house. There is no house for this man because he does not belong to the Fianna Fáil Party. Because he was a supporter of mine, he is victimised. That is true.
Mr. Killilea: Like all the other truthful stories you tell.
Donnchadh Ó Briain: The Deputy does not believe it himself.
Mr. O'Leary: Come down to Wexford and I will show it to you. Nothing but corruption is going on now. More so since the Government——
An Ceann Comhairle: Will the Deputy sit down?
Mr. O'Leary: The Minister——
An Ceann Comhairle: Will the Deputy resume his seat? The Deputy  is making charges of corruption against a county manager. He must cease.
Mr. O'Leary: I suppose I have to obey your ruling, but I am fighting this in the council for a long time without any redress, and when am I to get redress for the people I represent if I do not get it in this House by bringing the facts before the present Minister?
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy can do that outside the House.
Mr. O'Leary: Every one of us is sent here to express the views of the people he represents. There is too much hush-hush going on throughout the country in all the public bodies. I say to the present Minister that he should speed up the people in the Custom House and get them to sanction the schemes submitted by the various county councils. In Wexford we have been awaiting sanction for a long time. There are two or three landlords seeking a big price for land, £150 an acre. Others are selling at £115 an acre. Because they are seeking £150 an acre our scheme is held up. The Minister should not delay. There is a derelict site, where water and sewerage are available and on which work could start to-morrow. If we had the powers we should have we would have had a housing scheme in Enniscorthy long ago on that derelict site. Action should be taken immediately and there should be no delay in bargaining with people who want to make money quickly. It has gone so far that they have gone outside the urban area to get land because it suits a certain section. These are matters that must be faced up to. I suppose that is going on in every town. We want housing. Fianna Fáil did not give us a lead in that matter. Only 263 houses were built from 1932 to 1948. What is that to boast of? Houses were knocked down. There is nothing to boast of in that.
Donnchadh Ó Briain: There is a lot.
Mr. O'Leary: Remember, Fianna Fáil had a majority on the local authorities. Yet that is all they did. The local authorities were tied up with red tape. The whole system of the  Department will have to be changed if we are to progress, because this Government will meet with opposition. Anyone who is not with us is against us, whether he is in the Department or outside it. Let that be understood. Let these things be brought to light. Sabotage could be committed. We must get away from the old system and start anew. Time is passing. Every month that is lost people are breeding tuberculosis. The longer people are left in lodgings and in unsuitable houses the more tuberculosis there will be. If housing had been attended to in the way that other things were attended to, we would be very well off. Money was spent on other things. Cement could be got for runways, picture houses, dance halls. Timber could be got for all these purposes. Permits were issued to speculative builders. I am not blaming the ordinary members of the Fianna Fáil Party for that. They were tied up, because it was a Government or a Departmental regulation and they could say nothing.
With regard to the roads, I want to bring to the Minister's notice that roads in the County Wexford have been advertised for contract, while the county council itself has the machinery and the material to do them. Somebody is looking to get a contract now in order to make money. I hope the Minister will stop that. I think it should not be allowed. The Wexford County Council should be capable of doing the roads by direct labour and so cut out contractors' profits. The fact that these roads have been advertised for contract is causing great anxiety and will cause great trouble if it happens because the men in the rural areas are waiting for employment. If a contractor gets the roads he can bring men in his lorries to do the work and leave the men in the cottages to look on at other people doing the work. The county council should do this work itself, and I hope that the Minister will not sanction any contracts for road work in the County Wexford. We are quite capable of doing that work ourselves if we get the necessary grants. The ratepayers would be better satis-hus  fied to see that done than to see some fellow coming along and making a couple of thousand pounds out of a contract, and perhaps carrying out the work under sweated conditions of labour.
The by-roads need to be looked after as well as the main roads. If you travel by bus you will see men working on the main roads but you will see no one at all working on the by-roads which lead to our schools and churches. The youngsters going to school have to walk three or four miles through sludge and over loose stones. There is plenty of work available on the roads. We should have kept men working on the roads all the time. If we had done that, the roads would now be in a proper condition. If we had kept hundreds of men on the roads during the war, as we should have, a good many of them would not have gone to England. I do not want to say too much on this because the Minister himself, as a member of a local authority and when he was in Opposition, said what I am saying now. I do not think we need tell him anything because he has the experience of living in rural Ireland, and you must live there in order to know the needs of the people. The City Deputies have not that opportunity. They can travel by tram or bus, but we in rural Ireland have not trams and so we know all about the condition of the main roads. There is work to be done in connection with housing and on the roads. There seems to be a great deal of worry about the turf workers but we can provide work for all of them on the roads. We can keep them at home working on the roads and so there will be no need for them to go to the bogs of Kildare. But in order to do all that road work we will need to get good grants.
I also wish to bring to the Minister's notice the question of cottage repairs. At every monthly meeting of the Wexford County Council I bring forward complaints that I get from people about the condition of their cottages. I have been reporting some of those cottages since 1942, but so far they have not been repaired. I met a man on Sunday who told me that the tiles  had been off his house for the last 13 years. When I bring forward these matters at the county council meeting, I am told that they will be referred to the engineer. That is all you hear about them. In a year's time you may find that the cottages have not been repaired. If the local authorities had more power, there would be more work done. What is happening now is that the engineers only laugh at an ordinary member of the council when he brings up these things. He is told that these are executive functions and that he has no say in them. If the applicants for cottages canvass members of the council they are disqualified and will not get a cottage. That should not be at all. If the cottages were given to people on a vote of the members of the council, the people would be better satisfied. Even when the cottages are advertised, you often find that one of them is already occupied. I have before me the case of a man who is now told that he must leave his cottage. I want the Minister to be serious about this and would ask him not to stand for eviction. This man has, within the last couple of years, spent £10 on the house, and now he is going to be put out. Deputy Corish is, I think, aware of the facts of this case. I hope the Minister will do something to stop this.
What is needed is a change in the country managerial system. The members of the Government gave an assurance to the people that they would change it and would restore to the elected representatives of the people the rights which they had heretofore. Some of the appointments as county managers may not have been political appointments, but some were appointed county managers because of the political views they held. That is very bad, and that is why we are getting no satisfaction at all. Even the farmers' representatives on the council can do nothing. We talk about local elections. I wish we had them, and then you would see how many people would go forward. I do not think many would, because men are not interested, for the reason that they have no power. If the managerial system is not going to be scrapped, then I think it would be  better to scrap the county councils and so save the rates.
Mr. Madden: Hear, hear!
Donnchadh Ó Briain: Another Daniel come to judgment.
Mr. O'Leary: I think the people would be better satisfied if that were done than to have one dictator over 21 men. You have the expense of bringing those 21 men to county council meetings while they have no power to do anything. If you bring up anything you are told that it is an executive function. The county managerial system should never have been adopted. It was forced through this House, even though the Labour representatives voted against it and always will vote against it. I think it must have been a German idea. I will conclude now by asking the Minister, with the help of the other Wexford T.D.s, to see that their rights are given back to the people, and that our ten-point policy will be carried out, and particularly that the county managerial system will be abolished in this country once and for all.
Mr. Dunne: This Estimate covers a great variety of subjects. It would seem to me, listening to the views expressed by the various Deputies who have spoken, that there is a general realisation and acceptance of the fact that at the present time the country is facing a crisis of the first magnitude, a crisis which, I think, exceeds any of the imaginary crises that existed in the minds of some people during the period of the emergency; and that is the housing crisis.
I understand that reference has been made in the House to the number of houses built in the area which happens to be my constituency—County Dublin —by the previous Administration. I know that since the general election the Opposition Deputies have expressed the pious hope that the present Government will not stand in the way of the great housing drive the Fianna Fáil Party would have undertaken had they been re-elected. I should like to mention a few facts in connection with the housing position in County Dublin, and, incidentally, I  trust the Minister will take an early opportunity of inspecting County Dublin as he has done in the case of a number of other counties up and down the country. We have in the rural areas villages within what could be described, comparatively, as “a stone's throw” of the city where housing conditions are just as primitive as they are in the poorest districts of the western seaboard. Many people in the remote rural areas of Ireland fix their eyes on the capital as a place to be envious of. But, in fact, the area for which I speak is, without exaggeration, one of the most badly hit areas so far as housing is concerned in the whole country.
Deputies will recall that last week I was forced to ask a question in this House—a question that people would be ashamed to hear in this country in 1948—in regard to the provision of shelter for a woman of 74 years of age and her son, who is suffering from tuberculosis. They have been living for the past two years within the boundaries of County Dublin in a shelter made of sods at the back of a ditch. It is sad to think that that situation exists and it can be duplicated over and over again in every district in County Dublin, but particularly in the rural areas in the northern part of the county.
To return to the statement made with regard to the tremendous housing drive of Fianna Fáil before they were ousted from office, I should like to point out that in 1932 it was estimated that 1,541 cottages were needed to meet the then demand for houses in County Dublin. Up to date, 1948, just over 1,200 cottages have been built. The needs, therefore, of 1932 were not even met by the previous Administration. During those 15 years that have elapsed the position, as everybody knows, has become aggravated through houses falling into disrepair and being condemned while, on the other hand, young people were getting married and going into single rooms and rearing families in them. The result is that we have at the present time an appalling situation which is due in part or in whole to the maladministration of the present Opposition.
 Deputy Childers, during the course of this debate, stated that something between 5 per cent. and 7 per cent. of the materials required for house building were allocated for the building of what even he would describe as luxury buildings. He wanted to suggest that there was no shame in that. I think it is disgraceful that even .5 of 1 per cent. of the housing materials that were available in this country during the years of the emergency, small and all as they were——
Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: It was worse.
Mr. Dunne: ——should have been allowed to go towards the building of Butlin's Holiday Camp, luxury hotels and other such building works. It certainly is a poor consolation to the thousands of people in County Dublin who need houses to travel along the Stillorgan Road and find they can get plenty of houses there at £3,000, £4,000 or £5,000 each. Yet the Opposition talk piously of what they have done in regard to the housing problem. I hope that the present Minister for Local Government is in earnest in his expressed anxiety to remedy this problem. I am sure he is. It is not one that is easily remedied, nor one that is going to be remedied by any amount of talk in this House. It is a problem that has to be tackled quickly and in deadly earnest.
There is one aspect of the matter about which I am particularly perturbed. It is that in Dublin City and County the position with regard to houses has been allowed to deteriorate to such an extent that—with all the good-will in the world; with all the services of all the tradesmen in the country, were they all available in Dublin City and County and given full supplies of building materials—it will be many a long day before thousands of our people will have houses of their own. That is the problem which the Minister has to face. I would suggest to him that critical situations need drastic remedies. It seems to me that the only remedy for our present housing difficulties—a temporary one at any rate — is pre-fabricated houses. Were it at all possible to envisage the building of sufficient houses to meet  the present situation within a reasonably short time I would be the last to suggest pre-fabricated houses. Because the situation is so critical I think, however, it is the duty of the Minister to proceed with some such scheme as pre-fabricated houses in order to afford some hope to our people. As everybody knows our people are living at the present time under housing conditions that are disgraceful. Not alone that, we have many hundreds of cases of families that are divided—husbands unable to live with their wives and children scattered—in addition to the impossibility and the darkness of the future facing young people who want to get married but who have no hope whatsoever of getting a house. These people must be considered and something must be done for them. No matter what sectional objections there may be to pre-fabrication, my view is that the rights of the entire people transcend all other considerations. The people need houses above all other things at the present time.
Deputy O'Leary referred to one important matter, that is, house rents. I realise that it will be a problem, when houses are built, for local authorities to achieve an economic rent and at the same time a rent which the working class people can pay. Care should be taken that excessive rents are not allowed to be charged by any local authority, as if families go into houses where the rent is excessive, they will in time find themselves again without a house, through their inability to pay, which will cause them to be put out on the road. Therefore, it is bad from any point of view that high rents should be charged to working class people. It would be all right if they were paid commensurately with their services to the nation, but we have not arrived at that position yet.
I would ask the Minister, when replying to this debate, to give his views on the question of pre-fabrication, so that some hope may be given to the countless thousands of people who are awaiting hope outside this House.
One of the greatest single obstacles to house-building, at least in County Dublin, is the Town Planning Act. I  am sympathetic to the idea that cities and towns should not be allowed to sprawl promiscuously all over the country and that, in normal times, there should be planned development. At the present time, however, the Town Planning Act is working in County Dublin to prevent the building of houses which are badly needed. We have in the district of Tallaght an area known as the green belt and in that area no person is permitted to build a house unless there are five acres attached to it. In normal times, that would probably be quite a reasonable requirement, but at present, when land values are exaggerated beyond all reason; particularly around the City of Dublin, it is an impossible thing to ask that a person who is in a position to build a house, to avail of grants and loans provided by the local authority, must have five acres attached to it. The application of the Town Planning Act should be very generous in these matters and, in fact, where building is concerned, it would be a very good day for the people of County Dublin if the Act were abolished. I hope to see its provisions lifted for a period, at any rate, to enable people to go ahead with building, as many of them wish to do.
I am glad to note the Minister's announcement recently that he intends to re-establish the local authority in Dublin County, thereby reasserting the democratic principle of the right of the people to have a say in their local administration. That right was taken away from them some time ago, but the reasons for that were never made clear to me or to the general public. It may well be that there was some justification for removing some of the officials and possibly some of the members of the old Dublin County Council. I am prompted to say that by the fact that only yesterday I inspected a row of labourers' cottages, built under the Fianna Fáil Administration 12 years ago. Those cottages are fit only for condemnation now. They are cottages in which sea sand and earth were used and they are a veritable breeding ground of consumption at present. It would not be very difficult to push them down, if one tried. They were built 12 years ago, as part of the previous  Government's great housing drive. I do not like to make unfounded or wild charges, but I do say there was evidence of something wrong in that case, and in many other cases like it.
Mr. Killilea: Why not blame the local authority?
Mr. Dunne: The Government has to share the responsibility with the local authority. Regarding the wages of local employees, I have on a number of occasions criticised the previous policy exercised by the Department of Local Government, the policy of relating the wages of manual employees, principally road workers, of local authorities to the area rates as laid down by the Agricultural Wages Board. I am glad that the Minister has publicly evidenced his intention to break from that policy. There was never any justification for it. It was simply a device to keep wages down in rural areas. I ask that there should be regular periodic revision of the rates of wages of road workers and that it should not be a matter of waiting until there is a demand and the pressure becomes so great that it must be acceded to. There should be some relationship between the cost of living and the wages of those workers in rural areas, who are undoubtedly the worst paid in the country.
Many Deputies will have heard the fairy tale that it is cheaper to live in the rural area than in the urban area. I have yet to see evidence of that. I am sure no Deputy here will say that it is cheaper. However, while the Minister made a statement to the effect that he was departing from the previous policy of the Department in regard to the wages of road workers, I think it would be desirable that there should be a greater differential between the increases granted to road workers and those granted to farm labourers from time to time—a greater differential than that recently allowed.
In connection with the building of cottages in rural areas, there is a matter to which I would like to refer and one with which I am sure every Deputy is familiar, that is, the impossibility of getting housing sites. In County Dublin, particularly in the North County, it is very difficult for  the local authority to get housing sites because there the land is particularly valuable. There are a great many small farmers who will not part with their land because they are making their living out of it. On the other hand, there are a number of large farmers who would give housing sites if the cottages erected on such sites were built for their own workers. I realise that under the present Act cottages must be given to the most deserving cases on the recommendation of the medical officer of health. The net result of the enforcement of that proviso is the loss of potential building sites, because the farmers will not give sites except for the men who work for them. I would suggest to the Minister that he should consider as a possible solution for that that where farmers are willing to provide housing sites for the erection of cottages for their own employees they might be willing to provide a further site for the local authority for the purpose of the local authority itself. The idea of building cottages for the farmers' employees might help to solve the present problem. I think that that is one possible solution at any rate as far as sites are concerned. The difficulty of obtaining sites in my constituency is an acute problem at the present time.
I think, too, that we are considerably hampered and will be hampered in the future because of the very long delay which occurs where compulsory acquisition has to be embarked upon. In a number of cases I understand that compulsory acquisition can delay the erection of the actual houses for a period of anything up to two years. That is not a desirable state of affairs and it should not be allowed to continue. No doubt we must protect the interests of the person in whose name land is vested. But above all such interests and over all such interests comes the interest of the nation and the public good. Land in this country is not held by any absolute right of ownership. As James Fintan Lalor pointed out 100 years ago, it is held “subject to the public good” and there should be no need whatsoever of a delay of 12 months or two years in the acquisition of land for the building  of houses. The law should be amended in order to enable the local authority to acquire land with the minimum of delay.
Reference has been made to the contract system for the repair of roads and so on. I agree with those Deputies who expressed their opposition to such a system. I see no reason why, where a county is properly administered and a road scheme properly officered, a contract system should be embarked upon. When we give the work of repairing our roads to a contractor it is tantamount to an admission that our local authority is incompetent to do its job and we must bring in a private individual to do the job for us. Not alone that, but we must give him at the same time the ratepayers' money to do the job for us. I think that is an undesirable development. I know that the Minister is anxious to restore to the local authorities the maximum power in local government, but I think he should reserve the right and the authority to prevent the contract system becoming too widely operated. I would offer this word of criticism of local authorities: I do not think it is at all likely that in local authorities where there is a predominance of Fianna Fáil representation Deputy O'Leary's remarks are quite so jocose as some Deputies apparently consider them. I think the Minister should pay attention to the possibility that in those areas where Fianna Fáil representation is in the majority on the local authority a little bit of sabotage might not be embarked upon, particularly where employment is concerned, if it suited political purposes. I have had some little experience of that and I would urge upon the Minister the necessity for a constant vigilance in regard to these matters. I would urge him not to restore too quickly or too injudiciously these powers to the local authorities until he is satisfied that they will be exercised in the proper manner.
Finally, I would like to mention the urgent need for the building of community centres and village halls in the rural areas. Such centres and halls are a definite need at the present time. It is evident to anybody who has  travelled through the rural areas that the youth of the country are flying from the land as quickly as they can. Their sole object is to get away from the farm and from the land into the towns and cities or across the water. One of the contributing factors to that flight is the lack of any social life in the rural areas. Another contributing cause is the low standard of living and the low standard of wages. I suggest that the Department of Local Government could play an important part in the solving of this particular problem by the erection where housing schemes are undertaken of spacious village halls in which concerts and dances and so on might take place. I think that would be a contribution towards arresting the flight from the land.
I would draw the attention of the Minister to the fact that practically every cottage that has been built in County Dublin within the last 15 years is in need of repair at the present time. The board of health staffs are totally inadequate for the job. Up to some time ago at any rate there were some 90 men, between tradesmen and labourers, engaged upon cottage repairs in North County Dublin. In that area there are some 3,000 to 4,000 cottages, every single one of them needing repair. I think that the Minister should bring pressure to bear upon the mythical Dublin County Council which does not exist at the present time and which is purely a figment of the imagination of the late Minister for Local Government and the present commissioner. He should bring pressure to bear upon that body, in the person of the commissioner, to have the board of health staff expanded without any delay.
Mr. Bartley: I had not intended to intervene, but it would be impossible for me to avoid doing so after listening to the last few speeches. On the question of housing everybody has some views. It is a matter of nation-wide interest. It is always interesting to hear Labour Deputies talking about it. To-day I listened to a reply by the Minister to a question addressed to him by Deputy Seán Brady. Deputy Brady asked for information as to the costs  of the approximate quantities required for an average four-roomed house of the following materials: concrete, timber, roofing and iron work, plumbing, plastering, glazing and painting. If I remember the Minister's answer aright, he gave a figure in the region of £300 for the all-in cost of these materials. The price of a four-roomed house at the present time would not be less than £900, and it might in places go up to £1,700 or £1,800.
I would like to put this question to the last Deputy who spoke: Where does the extra money go? I know that labour organisations, and a great many others, make the charges of profiteering against contractors. I am not in a position to controvert that —it may or may not be true—but I have heard that by far the largest part of the money goes to the men who do the work. The improvement both in pay and in the working conditions of building operatives is in the main— to the extent of 75 per cent. or 80 per cent.—responsible for the very high cost of houses.
There is no use in talking of what Fianna Fáil did for 15 or 16 years in the matter of housing. As everybody knows, we had not 15 or 16 years in which to build houses; it was not possible to erect any houses worth talking about since the beginning of the war. There is now a big lag. I would say to the last Deputy who spoke that I think he is deluding himself in relation to pre-fabricated houses. I doubt if his organisation would allow the pre-fabricated parts to be imported. Anything that would take employment from Irish operatives would not, I believe, be permitted to enter the country; organised labour would resent it. If you do not allow pre-fabricated parts to be imported, you will not be able to speed up your housing programme. If the exorbitant prices of houses for ordinary people at the present time are the result of very high labour costs, even the pre-fabricated houses will not do very much to reduce those price levels.
I should like to see the high costs brought home to their proper source. I should like to find out whether or not  the high cost is due to profiteering. If it is, I should like to see that established. There is only one way in which it can be established, and that is for those people who have control of all the necessary labour and capital to undertake the building of houses for their own members. I do not think there is any body better equipped for achieving that work than one of our larger trade unions. They have well-paid members who would make very good tenants. These unions have the capital and I cannot see why they would not take up building houses and letting them at a rent in proportion to the cost of erection. In that way they could cut out the interest charges and the profits of the middle man. It is up to the labour people to demonstrate by some positive action of that kind.
Captain Cowan: There would be a difficulty about the use of union funds.
Mr. Bartley: Surely in the Congress of Irish Trade Unions or in the Irish Trade Union Congress they would have sufficient ability to get over that? If they cannot do as I suggest, then the people who talk so much about the housing problem should remain silent.
Captain Cowan: I think the use of the funds would be a difficulty.
Mr. Bartley: These bodies have a long history and considerable experience and if they cannot get over a difficulty of this kind, then they should stop badgering this Minister or criticising the last Government. It is childish for Deputies to talk about a Fianna Fáil House, a Coalition House or a Cumann na nGaedheal House. That sort of talk is fantastic and childish, and it is only trifling with the question. This matter of the cost of houses will have to be tackled.
Houses are too dear at the moment for the ordinary public. The question of politics does not enter into this matter at all. The people who continually drag in the red herring of politics are merely allowing somebody to get away with the stock in the meantime. That is the big difficulty that I see. It would be better for the Labour Party to drop all political  jealousies and get down to where the cancer really is. That type of red herring is popular enough in Belfast, where they put Catholic and Protestant against each other. That is what we have been told by Labour Deputies, and it is a pity to see them falling into the same error here in relation to housing.
The only people who can really bring this issue to a head and get any sort of solution are the organised workers, whether they are unskilled labourers or highly skilled tradesmen. The charge is being made that skilled workmen are getting all the fat in the building trade. I do not begrudge them if they get a decent wage, but it has been said that certain skilled tradesmen get £20 a week. That, in my opinion, forms the largest element of the cost of houses.
Mr. Pattison: That would be nearer to a month's pay.
Mr. Bartley: The Deputy must not take me as making the statement; I am merely repeating what has been said by others. I am sure the Deputy also heard it. It is up to the Labour people to show that it is not true.
Mr. Pattison: It is not true, and everybody knows it.
Mr. Bartley: That is the point— everybody does not know it. Many hear it and they pretend not to believe it. I suggest that the various elements that go to make up house-building costs require careful scrutiny. Nobody can enlighten the public better on that point than the organised trade unions. It is up to them to tackle this question because they can contribute more to it than the Minister or even the Government.
Mr. Madden: A vast amount of discussion has taken place here over the past three or four days. It would be much better if many of the things that were said had been left unsaid. This matter is too serious for the introduction of politics. It is one of the greatest of the national problems that have presented themselves to the Irish people for centuries. I wonder if Deputies  realise what it means in true perspective? We know that for centuries Ireland's history has been a dreary record of aggression, misgovernment, persecution and a denial of the elementary rights of local government by a foreign tyranny. Sitting here for the last three or four days, I heard many Deputies speak in more or less laudatory terms of the County Management Act. A few there were who spoke in condemnation of, it but listening to those who eulogised it, the thought occurred to me: would the late Lord Salisbury if he were sitting here have any reason to change the opinion he expressed over 60 years ago when he said that the Irish people were unfit to manage their own affairs? When one considers the insistence and the persistence of the Irish demand down along the years—physical force, constitutional agitation led by the Irish Parliamentary Party, and a reversion again to physical force—to wrench from an alien authority the right to have a national Government, one is surprised at what one hears to-day. We were called Hottentots——
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: What has that to do with the Estimate for the Department of Local Government?
Mr. Madden: I shall tell you. After 700 years we got the right to a measure of self-government in 1898. From 1898 until the advent of a national Government and the recognition of the Irish people completely to manage their own affairs we had district councils and county councils—
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: We do not want a history of local government. The Deputy should come to the Estimate.
Mr. Madden: I am working up to it if I am permitted to do so. The County Management Act has retarded the building of houses and the development of social services.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Deputy went back to Lord Salisbury. That was far enough for an introduction.
Mr. Madden: I might be permitted to say that the local authority in my native county, of which I am a member, from 1898 until the manager came, with a council untrammelled by any interference, built for the poor 5,750 rural cottages and 800 town houses. We installed water supplies systems and sewerage systems in every town. Before the manager came the old board of health—and it consisted mainly of Fianna Fáil members—worked out a scheme, acquired land and perfected a plan which at the moment is being carried out, at a cost of half a million pounds to provide a regional hospital. That was the work done by the local authority before the advent of the managerial system, a system which in my opinion has since seriously retarded local progress. The work done since the inception of that system bears no relation to the amount of work done by the people's representatives in the local parliament—a body of disinterested and unremunerated people, working for the people, elected by the people and responsible to the people as the manager is not. The manager wields a control that is too much for one man. Power is like strong wine to some men and, mind you, this policy will lead ultimately to dictatorship.
The rates have been increased to an enormous extent in our county, making all due allowances for the general increase in taxation and the rise of the cost of living following a great world war. We had a world war before which had its reaction on the rural and on the town ratepayer, but our rates then were only 7/4 in the £. With that rate we found it possible to maintain our obligations to the various institutions and to build cottages and houses in town and country. To-day the rate is 17/4 in the £, an increase of 250 per cent. over that which was levied at the time when the people's representatives did this work. I know that the first national Government interfered with local administration if only in a tentative way, but the tragedy was completed and the final act of the drama was carried to a conclusion by the last Government in giving supreme authority to one solitary individual to manage the affairs of the county. We have no power at present; the county  council is a laughing stock in the county and no one now aspires to have the letters Co.C. or M.C.C. after his name. At the next election, which will be held in 1950 unless there is a reversion, even in a modified form to the system which gave the people control over their own affairs, there will be no responsible citizen to bother his head to seek election to a council in which he will have no power. The only power at present left to the council is to elect rate collectors. We administered £500,000 under the board of health but under the present system we know nothing about that administration. Home help, public help, institutional treatment, the appointment of doctors and nurses, the selection of cottage tenants are all left to the manager. If there is a cottage in a remote part of my own town, I am not asked about it but a county manager from Dublin is supposed to know the whole ramifications of the county, the back lanes and the rural parts, and know of the depressing conditions under which many of the poor live. He could not know enough about all these matters if he were there for the next 300 years.
We got the chance of administering local government in 1898 and, mind you, the system was accepted by all the patriots of the time. They were delighted. It was only a form of parish home rule but it gave the right to the people to administer their own affairs. On the county councils and district councils we were very anxious to be economical, to be circumspect, and to do our work honestly. Apart altogether from the moral standards which influenced us, we had regard to the people's feelings, and the people were the best judges. For the county councils, and the district councils and later in Sinn Féin courts, they showed keen judgement in the selection of their representatives. The people are sometimes slow to move but once they make up their minds their verdict is irrevocable. How can a manager expect to discharge all these duties with the same diligence?
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The manager is appointed under the County Management Act and the Deputy may not criticise legislation on  an Estimate. I have given him a lot of scope but so far he has said very little about local government administration.
Mr. Madden: I have just touched on the system that was introduced by legislation and I thought it well to refer briefly to it. I want to quote a remark of the late James Connolly, Commandant General of the Citizen Army. He was an outstanding Labour leader and in addition an Irish Republican. Some time before the brutal execution of this wounded man in 1916, he expressed himself enthusiastically about the Local Government Act, about this bit of parish home rule as it was called. He said it was not the extent of the step that mattered but the direction in which it would lead.
I turn now to other points. I think the whole discussion on housing, important as it is, has developed a wrong slant. Since 1883, the number of houses built by public authorities was 114,203 and of these 51,283 were built in urban areas and of that number 23,792 were built in Dublin. Is it any wonder that Deputy Byrne should speak of the alarm felt by reason of Dublin's growing so big? Another Deputy spoke of the flight from the land. These people are flying where? First, into our towns and cities, and, then, across the water —and why not, when 23,792 houses out of 51,000 were built in Dublin to the relative exclusion of the rural areas? The estimated minimum needs at present are 60,848 and of these 44,511 are required in urban areas and 23,346 in Dublin.
I recognise that we must have towns and cities, but let us look at what this mad flight of the rural population into Dublin, which is already top-heavy, means to our people and to the preservation of the Irish race. During the past 54 years, public authorities built one house in the towns for every one built in the rural areas, and, in coming years, it is intended to build two houses in the towns for every one to be built in the rural areas. During these years, approximately one house was built in Dublin for every one built in all the rural areas combined which shows that the labourers are flying from these rural areas.
 You are creating what I might term a property-less class of people. In my town, there were a number of poor people living in thatched cabins and paying 1/- or 6d. a week. Many of these were getting from 5/- to 7/- a week home help to enable them to keep their little families together. They were living in small, clean—from the point of view of cubic space, unhygienic, if you like—and comfortable dwellings. An order was issued by the public authority declaring it a condemned area and I have seen these people leaving their little homes with tears and moans to go into residences prepared for them by the public authority wherein they had to find— and this is a matter for serious Christian and humanitarian consideration by the Minister—rents up to 7/- a week. On the Monday morning, these people got their 7/- from the home-help officer, and, on the Saturday afternoon, another officer of a public authority, the rent collector, came to them and collected the 7/- they had got to buy bread and butter to keep body and soul together.
I drew the Minister's attention to that in Limerick; I drew the attention of a previous Minister to it in the Seanad; I have several times spoken of it at the county council; and I now state it for the first time as a Deputy: that is a wicked, bad and vicious circle which the Minister must have regard to in building these houses, in clearing slum areas and creating conditions which constitute an encouragement to the development of tuberculosis in the people. That operates in many towns I know—by force of law and in the belief and the conviction that they are doing a great work, bringing people from what are called slums and putting them into houses where they are worse off, where they are poorer and where the little ones have often to go to school without a crust of bread for their breakfast in the morning. That is a position which I hope the Minister will look into. I have spoken of the creation of a property-less class of people. There are 100,000 of them already and I hope the Minister will bear that point in mind.
 I hoped that, in the discussion of a matter of this kind, there would be less politics, less acrimony and less bitterness. This is a tremendous work. 238,000 of our rural people have gone from the land. What satisfaction will it give me to say that is due to the policy of Fianna Fáil? These people have gone—they always went, and it is a tragedy. Why have these people left the rural areas? In the main, because they have no homes. I have particulars of appalling cases which have come to me over a number of years, despite the fact that 6,000 of these houses have been built and despite the fact that, nine months ago, I proposed a motion that another 1,000 houses be gone on with. That proposal has received the imprimatur of the Minister, but the machinery is exceedingly slow. Something is wrong. I know where there are 14 people living in one house, 14 people, three families. I know of grown-up boys and girls living in homes in which you cannot, knowing the weakness of human nature, maintain those moral standards which characterise us. But you find in the Department that it takes months for the machinery to move, it moves like the snail that drags its slow length along. “There are many reasons standing in the way; there is difficulty in getting supplies; in the acquisition of land by the Land Commission; and then you have to go to the Minister for Finance.” The whole machinery seems to move so slowly that it is becoming disastrous while the race, for want of houses, moves out rapidly. It is an awful catastrophe that 380,000 young boys and girls are running to wash dishes in the hotels of London because they cannot get homes in which to settle down and raise their families with the standards with which we expect them to raise them.
Here is another important point which may come as a shock. Some one came to me a month ago in Limerick and told me that if certain controls which have operated here for a number of years were removed, the materials essential for building houses would come in more expeditiously, more rapidly and in greater quantities. I said. “Are you serious, and can you  defend by facts, that a number of people in Dublin have control directing the buying of the essential wood and timbers which are the primary need for building houses?” They said “yes” and I have here authentic convincing proof:
“Following your remarks re importation of timber, at Saturday's meeting of the Limerick County Council, we wish to inform you that we are in a position to offer documentary proof in support of your statement. Furthermore, we can offer Swedish softwood of the grade and specification at present being imported at £40 less than the controlled price.”
The amount of imports for this purpose which came into the country in 1947 stands at £1,770,061. If the controls are removed, if free and businesslike competition takes its place, assuming that the imports in 1947 would be relative to those that might come in this year, if these people are permitted to deal squarely and competitively in the open market and supply essential material, on £1,770,000 they would save the country—or they would have done it last year if they were permitted—£365,517 11s. 6d. Since this thing happened I believe that something came off the radio, which I did not hear to the effect that the matter was being considered by the Minister and that there was to be a modification of this board set up, maybe for good and sufficient reasons—I am not going to question that there might have been good and sufficient reasons for it—to control equitable distribution to all parts of the country. That has now passed. In one item alone, “If we can import 4,000 standards as prepared, we can save the community on that lot alone £30,000.” I think that something along these lines and in more specific detail—I am speaking only in a general way—has been submitted to the Minister for Local Government. If these people and others who have come to me from different parts during the last three weeks— they are all in agreement—can save £365,000 out of the figures I have quoted then I trust it is a matter to  which this responsible and sympathetic Minister will give full and fair consideration. He has the facts before him and so had the previous Minister, because I have a letter here addressed to the Secretary, Department of Industry and Commerce, dated 10th December, 1947, offering timber, but for some reason they were refused. I do not want to be unfair in my judgment. They may have been turned down for good and sufficient reasons.
Mr. Killilea: Would the Deputy tell us who they are?
Mr. Madden: If the Deputy wants, I will pass him this paper for himself.
Mr. Killilea: I think the House should have the information.
Mr. Madden: I will give one of the names, A. Noyek and Sons, Dublin, and I can give him others. This is a matter of great importance, particularly in the present drive for the building of houses.
I do hope that the Minister will see the ratio between the houses built in the towns and villages and those built in the cities was entirely in contradiction to the number of rural areas. There are many reasons why rural areas should be considered primarily. According to medical reports the incidence of tuberculosis is definitely marked and increasing in the congestion of our larger towns and cities and the incidence of tuberculosis and other diseases is much more remote in scattered rural areas where nature, in her beneficence, gives that hygienic atmosphere with which nothing else can compare. We see our rural communities disappearing and we see in our day the prophecy of Goldsmith realised
“A bold peasantry, their country's pride,
When once destroyed can never be supplied,
These for departing seek a kinder shore,
When rural mirth and manners are no more.”
Mr. Briscoe: We have listened to Deputy Madden speaking on this Estimate for Local Government from a  historical point of view and from what he regards as being almost a practical point of view as a result of his own experience as a public representative. I want to compliment Deputy Madden —if he will accept a compliment from me—for his remarks to the effect that this problem should be examined without any reference to Party responsibilities. I agree with him that we inherited in this State a problem from a previous authority and this problem has grown as a result of our inability to deal with it as it develops. I can only speak of this problem as a result of my own experience in the City of Dublin. It is true that if we go back to 20 years ago the problem in Dublin was quite different from what the problem is to-day. This is due to two reasons: first of all the interruption in the very large scale building programme which was developed in the seven years immediately prior to the outbreak of war; it was also due to the increase in population due to the number of people who came to the city.
I listened with great interest to a number of speakers on this Estimate and I also read in the debates the remarks of others whom I did not hear in the House. I should be very interested to get clarification of certain matters. Up to this I was always under the impression that the importation of parts for the erection of pre-fabricated houses would not be tolerated by organised labour. I was rather surprised to hear the pre-fabricated type of house advocated by Deputy Dunne. I do not know whether he was speaking with the authority of the trade unions on that matter. It will be interesting to hear the promised statement by the Minister on the point. I do not regard pre-fabricated houses as a desirable type of house for our people. I quite agree, however, that in very difficult circumstances such as we have here now temporary accommodation provided by a certain class of houses might be a good thing. I am not prepared to advocate that however. I have seen pre-fabricated houses elsewhere and I should prefer to see the type of house built for our people to which they have  been accustomed—a substantial house which is comfortable from every point of view, meets the family requirements to a great extent, and which is suitable to our climate. I should like to have some authoritative statement on that, because it would help local authorities to make up their minds as to how they can increase the pace for dealing with this problem.
I do not think that Deputy Dunne realises the full implications of all the items he touched upon. With all respect to him, I do not think he is fully informed on certain matters, certainly so far as Dublin City is concerned. In Dublin City we have two ways of dealing with housing. I do not think the Dublin Corporation to-day has any complaint with regard to difficulty in acquiring land for building. I understand that the Dublin Corporation are in agreement with the town planning idea—that they do not agree with Deputy Dunne that the green belt which has been decided upon by the town planning authorities should be interfered with, because the idea of the green belt is to help to preserve the health of the city. We regard these green belts as lungs for the city. We are not short of land in the City of Dublin. There is no difficulty in acquiring more if we want it, because under a series of Acts, particularly the most recent Act which was passed, we can acquire land immediately. If there is any question with regard to compensation or price, we have not the difficulty that Deputy O'Leary spoke of. We could not be held up in that way in Dublin. If a person said he wanted so much for certain land we have power to acquire the land at once and the arbitration proceedings in connection with compensation take place afterwards. If the person is not satisfied with the arbitrator's award, he has the right of appeal. In the meantime, we are not estopped from going on with the scheme. I cannot understand why that should not apply in Deputy O'Leary's constituency.
There are a number of things that must be considered in connection with this matter. It is very easy for Deputy Dunne to say that the green  belt system of housing should not be confined to one house for every five acres. The question of sewerage, water and all the other amenities associated with a plan for the building of houses on a large scale in an area such as Dublin City or greater Dublin has to be considered. There has to be some control. You cannot allow houses to go up where there are no proper road possibilities, lighting facilities, sewerage and water supply. There has to be some scheme with which even private individuals have to comply. Consequently, I say that so far as Dublin City is concerned the hold-up in housing is not due to the difficulty of acquiring land, because the Dublin Corporation at present have so many acres of land that they could build very many thousand more houses than are included in their programme at present.
What is the difficulty? The Minister answered a question to-day and gave approximately the cost of materials that go to the building of an ordinary four-roomed house under local authority schemes for building. There is a tremendous difference between the £300 referred to and the final cost of such a house in Dublin. The final cost in Dublin of a house that pre-1939 cost about £750 is to-day £1,300. There is some reason for that. The £600 difference is not going to the corporation contractors. It is not due, as was alleged, to profiteering on this type of house. The Dublin Corporation have full power to employ direct labour for their housing schemes. On one occasion they did embark on that but had to abandon it. Some people criticised the figures in connection with that, saying that they were not a fair representation of the cost, because the full cost of the machinery purchased for the carrying out of a particular scheme was charged to that scheme, whereas a contractor uses his machinery for a number of schemes. In any event, the Dublin Corporation decided that it would be better to have the building schemes carried out on a contract basis. The Minister may be able to examine that matter of direct labour as there has been some criticism of it.
It is true that when the Dublin Corporation advertises for tenders for the  carrying out of a particular building scheme, say of 400 or 500 houses, and say, seven tenders are received, the tenders are usually very close. There does not seem to be any great variation between the tender of one contractor and another contractor. For that reason, certain people sometimes believe that there must be some understanding between these large contractors as to what sum they will quote. That is something which can be looked into. These costs can be examined to see if they could be brought down. Nevertheless, direct labour could be engaged in the carrying out of these schemes or there could be a continuance of the present system of contracts. In Dublin to-day I understand that there is no shortage of materials, no shortage of sites, no shortage of money, no shortage of subsidy and no shortage of contribution towards interest charges. Yet we are unable to get on with our housing schemes. It is extraordinary to have to confess that even during the war years we were able to build more houses than we are building in these post-war years. There is, of course, a certain limit with regard to the price you are prepared to pay, because we cannot put on the backs of the ratepayers unreasonable and unjust demands in order to house people. There will have to be a way found to bring about development on a rapid scale.
Deputy Bartley suggested that organised labour is best fitted and best suited at the moment to make a test but I would point out to the Deputy and to the House that I would not expect the trade union organisations, with their funds and with their labour, to build houses to suit all classes. It may be all right for them to build houses for members of their own organisations, but I do not see them being any different in connection with houses they would build than they are with regard to taking apprentices into certain trades where they limit the number of apprentices for the welfare, from their point of view, of the particular trade. I cannot see them coming to the rescue of all classes of Dublin people, including old age pensioners, unemployed people, and so on, because, from their point of view, with their  funds, it might not be a very good investment.
Captain Cowan: They cannot use the funds for that purpose. Their funds are very strictly controlled by law. The sooner that is realised the better.
Mr. Briscoe: If Deputy Cowan will bear with me a little further, he will see what I am trying to argue. It is true that their funds cannot be used for that purpose at the present moment.
Captain Cowan: Without legislation.
Mr. Briscoe: Exactly. But, if they wished it, they could very easily, in the present circumstances in the House, have legislation introduced to permit them to do so. But, I say, I cannot see them doing this and I do not see them pretending for one moment to do it. What I do find fault with is that the very people for whom they are speaking in this House, the very people for whom they want houses built and for whom they feel there is all this tragedy would not benefit by the houses they would build themselves because it would not be good business for them to do so.
Mr. Pattison: Did not one union make a very good gesture for everybody to follow, in lending £50,000 free of interest to the State?
Mr. Briscoe: I am afraid Deputy Pattison is not approaching the problem in the suggested manner. I am not making an attack on trade unions.
Mr. Pattison: The Deputy is talking about the cost of the house.
Mr. Briscoe: Yes. What is responsible for the uneconomic price that is charged to local authorities to build a house to-day?
Mr. Pattison: The moneylender.
Captain Cowan: Wages.
Mr. Briscoe: One Deputy says wages, the other Deputy says the moneylender. The moneylender was the State.
Mr. Pattison: No, it is not.
Mr. Briscoe: In this case. In the case of housing for Dublin, the Dublin authority borrows money and the rate of interest is subsidised to the extent of 60 per cent. of its cost. I do not suppose that is disputed. The cost of building, as far as the rate charges in Dublin are concerned, cannot be held responsible for the difference between the 1939 charge and the present cost.
Mr. Hickey: The point you are making is that there is profiteering somewhere?
Mr. Briscoe: I am not saying that there is profiteering everywhere.
Captain Cowan: What about the cost of the site?
Mr. Briscoe: The Dublin Corporation is not paying more to-day for sites than it paid in those years. The Dublin Corporation is prepared, for the purpose of building this type of house, to lease the ground at a very nominal charge to persons wishing to build their own houses. The charge is just enough to recover capital outlay for the acquisition of the ground and legal charges. I could argue with Deputy Hickey that at the time when the rate of interest was something like 5 per cent. We built the Clontarf sea wall and borrowed money for repayment over 35 years. The wall cost £18,000, but when we added interest charges over the period of 35 years we could have built three sea walls for the interest that was paid. I quite understand what Deputy Hickey is talking about, but what I am suggesting is that the Minister ought to look into it to see what is responsible. If it is interest charges and if interest charges make it impossible for the people to build houses in sufficient numbers to be let at rents that people can pay, a way will have to be found to try to get money cheaper or for nothing. But in recent budgets there was an increase of the rate of interest which local authorities must pay. I do not know what is the cause. Are the master builders in a conspiracy to say: “These are the prices we will charge, and we will vary them only a very little amount, depending on the work we have in hand?” Is  it due to the substantial increases in wages over the pre-war rates? Remember, I am not saying they should not have got these rates. I am just asking, how much does that contribute to it? To what extent do materials contribute?
We have had very many difficulties in the Dublin Corporation. We have had to go to the Minister for Industry and Commerce on one occasion to ask for permission to buy our own materials instead of having to buy through builders' providers. We came to the conclusion that the margin of profit in some cases was out of all proportion to what should be charged to the Dublin authority for housing. The Minister may have to examine this matter from the point of view of seeing will an authority like the Dublin Corporation have to set out to buy its own material abroad. It can buy sufficient and it uses sufficient materials to fill a boat at any time. So, there is no difficulty in that matter. The question is, can they get it cheaper? Is there an international scheme whereby only certain timber people can get timber from people abroad? It has been said that there is some kind of cartel and that only firms of a certain type will be supplied with certain materials. I do not know how true or untrue that may be, but the Minister must realise that local authorities recognise their responsibilities. In any event, public representatives do. It is no easy matter to have to face every day at least five or six people who are looking for housing accommodation and who, on investigation, are found to be living in circumstances which nobody wants to believe exist. But there they are and we can do nothing about it. I am sure that applies to every member of the Dublin Corporation.
I shall not say to the Minister that he has an easy problem before him. He has a very stiff nut to crack and he is coming to face the problem at an even more difficult time than when Fianna Fáil came into office. The world has altered, people's ideas have altered, in the last 15 or 16 years. The Minister has a tremendous nut to crack. He will find he will get the co-operation he wants from local authorities and I  believe we will get co-operation from his Department but there are certain things which sound very difficult and which have to be examined. I think it was Deputy O'Leary who said that the Minister should prevent local authorities from having houses built on contract basis. I know the Minister will on many occasions have to say to a local authority: “Before you spend so much money which you estimate for this or that job, I would like you to advertise for tenders to see if it could not be done cheaper by contract,” and he is quite right to hold that power because local authorities can err either way.
I heard Deputy Dunne talking about the number of houses needing repair and the number of years they are without repair. We in Dublin City also have a very growing difficulty. The greater the number of houses that we build the heavier becomes the liability for annual upkeep. We have to see that the doors and windows are painted regularly and that the houses are kept in good condition. If you neglect these things a degree of deterioration sets in that you can never hope to overtake. During the war years, when certain paints were unobtainable, we had to order the rotation in which houses were being painted.
I think the really important consideration on this Estimate is: how soon is this housing problem going to be solved or how soon is a solution for it going to be found? I see it as a very difficult problem. I see the housing situation, as it is, becoming a great social evil. I wonder is the Minister going to tell us, (a) we are going to go on as we were going before and try to speed up things; or (b) we are going now to bring about an understanding whereby, because of the situation that we have confronting us to-day, trade unionism will take a different view, and will permit the importation of pre-fabricated parts for the purpose of assembling pre-fabricated houses in this country. If he does that, I think he ought to take steps to ensure that the type of pre-fabricated house adopted will be one that will give some service over a number of years. I have seen some of them in another country. I must say  that, while they might have been all right during the war when bombs were falling, in normal times I would not regard them as being suitable.
Deputy Dunne, I think, ought to know that in Dublin City, on corporation housing schemes or on corporation work of any kind, even work that is given out to contractors, nobody, other than a resident of the city of two years' standing, is allowed to take employment. That was done at the request of the trade unions because we wanted to try and stem the flight of people from rural Ireland to Dublin in order to participate in those housing schemes. But, strange to say, private builders are not estopped from employing people coming in from outside the Dublin area. In the same way we do not provide housing accommodation for people unless they have been for at least two years resident in the city. All that is done for the purpose of trying to keep away the flow that Deputy Madden so correctly and accurately described. When we get down to this problem, we have to remember that the citizens of this State are citizens of it irrespective of what county they come from. We cannot be unreasonable and say that, in Dublin, we are going to have special conditions that will apply to the people in Dublin and that will not apply to those who come in from outside. There is reason, of course, in having, by agreement, a certain amount of limitation.
I am vitally interested in this housing problem because, as I have said, it concerns every member of a local authority every day in the week. I do not know to what extent the problem will be solved if the Minister should accede to the representations and demands made to him to abolish the managerial system. I do not know to what extent the new housing director, with his housing council, will be able, having completed his survey, to help in the matter, or to speed it up. I do want to say, for the sake of the people, that I agree with Deputy Madden that this is a matter which nobody, I think, approaches from the point of view of politics. I wish the Minister every good luck in this  matter. I hope he will succeed in finding a way to help the local authorities to bring about an alleviation in the sufferings which so many of our people are undergoing as a result of the housing shortage.
Mr. Spring: We are all aware of the fact that this question of housing is the most distressing one that faces the country. No great progress has been made in regard to it up to the present. Every Deputy who has spoken on this Estimate has referred to it. I think everyone will agree that the people who are and have been looking for houses for a number of years are more concerned with the provision of houses than they are with repairs to roads. Our task is to see that the people are properly housed. When I made my maiden speech in this House in April, 1944, I emphasised that housing was the biggest problem then facing the country. I pointed out that men and women were flying from the land simply because they could not get houses. I would say that the whole economy of the country is based on a solution of our housing problem. Unless we can provide proper houses for the people they will not remain on the land to give us that increased agricultural output which is so necessary for the welfare of the whole country.
I am thoroughly acquainted with the conditions under which the people in the county I come from live. I will go so far as to say that some of their houses are not fit to house animals in. I desire to direct the attention of the House to an article which appeared in the Kerryman on the 10th January of this year, dealing with housing conditions in Tralee. The article was written by the Kerryman staff reporter, and is headed: “These Families Pass Their Lives Waiting for Their Houses to Collapse.” It reads:
“I have just met people who did not spend a happy Christmas—and who spent New Year's Eve not celebrating, but waiting, terrified, lest the hovels they live in should fall about their heads and the heads of their children.
Those people are the fathers and mothers of eight, ten and 12  children, families living in the oldest part of Tralee's residential area—Mary Street and Abbey Street.
They took me up rickety staircases, warning me to `watch the holes there' (in fact I could see nothing but holes), to where they had placed buckets and basins and anything else that would hold the water which poured in from slateless roofs to sodden attics, and dripped, dripped through ceilings into bedrooms. In the bedrooms—if one could glorify by such a name, a few square feet of rotten floor-boards and damp reeking walls—the beds were shifted and pulled hither and thither in a pathetic attempt to evade the water coming from above and through the walls.
Mrs. X showed me one of these rooms where eight persons sleep (or try to), and showed me, too, where she turns the mattress up one-third way from the end of the bed where her 16-year-old and 14-year-old daughters sleep, so that they might be able to keep partly dry. The mattress itself I handled—it was wringing wet. On one night recently Mrs. X heard a beam in the attic overhead creak and groan. ‘Get up, for God's sake,’ she shouted to her husband, ‘the roof is falling in.’ When telling me this Mrs. X said, ‘And I was thinking which of the children would we grab if the roof fell.’ Looking at the roof itself and the rotten girders supporting it, I could not help thinking that if the roof did fall the choice would be out of her hands.
Mrs. A and Mrs. B reside in the same house, with eight and ten member-families. Here I was shown again the inevitable buckets and small zinc baths, into which rain poured from the slateless roof. A neighbour, Mrs. X, took me through her house, so did Mrs. Y. What can I say about any of them I could not say about all—human beings spending their lives waiting for their houses to collapse, watching the floors and walls decay day by day from water and dampness, fearing for the health of their children who  sleep in sodden bed clothes and on the bare floor.
This is a terrible story of human beings, housed worse than animals. Their houses have been condemned as unfit for human habitation; the urban council will house them when it gets 300 houses at Gallows Field scheme in operation.
But when? And meantime, what if those houses should fall? Will Mrs. X or Mrs. Y or any other of the distracted mothers or fathers there have any choice about whom they shall rescue? Will they be able to rescue themselves?
Said one of the women: ‘Why can't they open up vacant houses, like the Jeffers Institute and let us in until we get houses?’ Said another: ‘We got notice to quit from the urban council? Where are we to go?’ A third woman, whose patience had worn dangerously thin, said: ‘How could you try and keep that place clean? We do our best; if you were living in a pig-sty you'd keep it clean for your own sake, but even this is worse than a pig-sty’.
The smell of decay was there, and I could not answer their questions. A string of bare-footed children followed me from door to door. I asked one, thinking she would suggest something most kids would: ‘What would you like best to get as a present?’ She said: ‘A dry house’, and in that answer I could see the tragedy which had penetrated even to the souls of those little children.
I have given the names of a few people at random, whom I visited. What they showed me I saw in many other houses in Mary Street and Abbey Street—the collapsing roofs, the broken staircases, the damp, reeking walls, the windows stuffed with cardboard and papers (the sashes have come away and would collapse if a nail were driven into them), the sodden mattresses and the hopelessly overcrowded sleeping quarters. They even told me that many other houses were far worse than these.
And said one woman: ‘Nobody would believe you if you told them things are as bad as this’. I believe  it, because I saw it. Must the tragedy of sick children continue; must the tragedy of a fallen-down house, with its debris-buried victims occur before those people are succoured?”
This is the position as seen by a Kerryman reporter in Tralee. People are living in houses unfit to house pigs. Is that state of affairs going to continue much longer? That is the big problem facing us in Tralee. The unfortunate people do not know the hour nor the minute those houses will collapse. I am sure that a copy of the Kerryman in which this statement appears is in the Department of Local Government because, a week after its publication, before the urban council meeting in Tralee I moved that a copy of the statement be sent to the Department for consideration. The people living in those houses are becoming terrified and if they are compelled to live in them much longer they will become mentally defective and will have to be shifted to a mental hospital. After 26 years of native Government our people are still compelled to inhabit houses which are unfit to house pigs, cows or horses. I appeal to the Minister to tackle this problem as widely as possible and go out on an extensive drive to give a house to every family in this country. I approve of the Minister's policy of going down the country and getting the different views and ideas from the people in the different counties he visits. In that way he, himself, shall be the best judge of the conditions under which so many of our people are existing.
The great difficulty in connection with the building of houses, after the provisíon of building materials, is the present high price charged by contractors. During the years 1940, 1941 and 1942 the contract price of a house was £380. In 1946 we advertised a scheme of houses a few square feet larger than those erected earlier and with provision for a bathroom. The tender which was accepted amounted to over £800. In October, 1947—12 months later—the same houses, with provision for a bathroom, cost over £1,200. I consider that we should have a test case in this connection and thus  prove to the contractors that houses can be built at prices cheaper than those at present prevailing. At an urban council meeting in Tralee I advocated a test case. I requested the county manager to build about five or ten houses and in that way prove to the contractors how much cheaper we could build them. He would not hear of my suggestion. On the other hand, we in Kerry had repairs to labourers' cottages carried out by the contract system, for a period of two years. The system flopped completely and the county manager changed over to direct labour. The last time I inquired about the matter of repairs to labourers' cottages in my county under the system of direct labour I was told of the great improvement. If a county manager of a large county such as Kerry can embark on the direct labour system for the repair of labourers' cottages surely he should be able to embark on a scheme for the building of five or ten houses under the Tralee Urban Council for the purpose of proving to the building federation that the local authorities can build houses cheaper than the prices tendered for them to-day.
There has been a good deal of talk about all the houses which were built under the previous Administration. We all know that they did a certain amount in that connection. I am not going to criticise what Fianna Fáil did or did not do. There are certain parts of my county in which houses were not built during the lifetime of the Fianna Fáil Government. Take, for instance, the town of Castleisland where people are living in houses under conditions similar to those described in this House to-day by Deputy Dunne. I know that in that town there are houses about 12 feet square and 10 or 12 feet high. The roofs are made up of sods and straw and, indeed, any class of material that will keep out the rain. No house has been built in the town of Castleisland since the Lady Haig scheme. In 1932 15 houses were built in the town of Dingle by the old Kerry Board of Health, but not one since. The cry one is met with in these town is: “When are the Government or the local authorities going to start the building of houses?” About two  years ago we in Kerry advertised for applicants for labourers' cottages. Over 1,000 people applied but not one labourer's cottage has been started yet. I believe the trouble is partly the result of too much red tape and I was, therefore, glad to hear the Minister say that a good share of the red tape between the local authorities and his Department will be dispensed with. Half of the advertising and the red tape that exists between the local authorities and the Department of Local Government must be abolished. What we require is to get down to bed rock and to make an intensive national effort over the next few years to provide a house for every family in the country. However, we must remember that in doing so we must build them at prices which will enable us to let them to the tenants at an economic rent. We all know that houses in towns and country districts to-day cannot be let at an economic rent—especially to people depending for existence solely on unemployment assistance or the old age pension.
We in Tralee have already 2/11 on the rates of the town to keep the houses at an economic rent. I have one suggestion to make to the Minister. A great amount of money has been spent upon relief schemes and a certain amount of that has been spent by local authorities on making roads of no benefit to the towns they are made in. In many case they are only culs-de-sac put down to suit the business people who, if they get a well-surfaced road for themselves, are quite satisfied. I believe that some of this relief money could be spent on developing sites for houses, as that would place the Department and the local authorities in a position to bring down the cost of houses. If we could initiate a scheme for the making of concrete blocks by local authorities, which could be available to large contractors or which the county council could use themselves if building by direct labour, it would help to bring down the cost.
Some Deputies believe the workers are taking the greatest part of the expenditure on house building to-day. I believe that what the workers get is only 50 per cent. and that other costs  take up the other 50 per cent. I can give figures of cases in Tralee where a house was built in 1932 for £380, and a house a few square feet bigger, with provision for a bathroom, cost over £800 in 1946 and 12 months later cost over £1,200. There is something wrong there. The only way to tackle the housing problem is for each local authority to build a test house and let the building federation see that the costs must be brought down.
My last word to the Minister is to go ahead with the housing drive, as he himself knows the position of people in rural Ireland to-day. If we could give houses to our people, it would make them very contented. We must provide houses in the rural areas in particular, as that is the first step to keeping the people on the land and as that will increase production, which is badly needed to-day.
I do not want to go into the road question or deal with road surfacing, as the principal item in this Estimate is the question of housing for our people. Those who are looking for houses do not want to hear about the improvement of roads for streamlined cars. They want houses and until they get them they do not care about the condition of the roads.
Mr. Commons: If the Minister, who has listened so patiently for the last few days, pays heed to all the things he has heard, and goes as far as he can to meet the wishes expressed by Deputies from all sides of the House, he will go down in history as the greatest Minister for Local Government this country has ever had or could possibly have. In fairness to him, all we can do at this stage is to give him a trial, to voice our opinions in this matter as we have done in the past few years. The Deputies from different areas have made their suggestions and it is for the Minister to give heed to them and try to meet their views as best he can in his Department. The Minister has the advantage this year as compared to his predecessor, that the burden of local government and the Department over which he now has jurisdiction is confined to three main items—housing, roads and waterworks and sewerage. The health and  social services which were there last year in that Department have now been diverted to two new Ministers. That will leave the present Minister in a position to devote more time and attention to these three matters and will allow him to give closer and more personal regard to the major requirements of the country in these respects.
To me, one of the two most pleasing things in the Minister's statement at the outset was the fact that it is his intention at the earliest, possible moment to do away with the county managerial system. That was one thing we all looked forward to with acclamation, as we neither want nor respect the county manager system or the County Management Act. The other pleasing thing was the fact that it is his intention to go ahead with housing and see, as he has put it, that whatever else there are savings on in the Local Government Estimate there will be no retrenchment in regard to the amount of money to be made available for housing.
So far in this debate, the general feeling of Deputies who have spoken seems to be that there has been entire and utter neglect of the housing problem. Personally, I have as much dislike for the Government that has just gone out as anybody in Ireland, and I regret that they in their time did some very bad things and that lots of problems have been neglected. However, in fairness to Fianna Fáil—and here now I give them only a very meagre allowance of fairness—they did at the outset make a great effort to get at the root of this housing problem. In 1932, in the paper which they had at their disposal, the Irish Press, a great campaign was launched against the slums —the slums of the city, in particular— and a great deal of good work was carried on. It may not have been done as rapidly as it could have been, nevertheless it did go at a fairly good speed, until such time as it was influenced by what happened to Fianna Fáil in other spheres of their activity, until it came to their notice that it was much better to turn their attentions to backing up the wealthier classes of the community. Then, when they had  decided on that, the question of houses for the workers and for the poorer classes was forgotten. Then the luxury builder and the man like Butlin with his holiday camp got more attention from the Fianna Fáil Government than the necessitous worker in town and country.
Mr. Butler: That is untrue.
Mr. Commons: If it is untrue, Butlin's camp did not fall out of the sky. They had to get some permission from someone to build it and I never heard anything about how the amount of money spent there could be used to put up workers' houses.
Mr. Butler: It is fulfilling a necessity for the people.
Mr. Commons: It is fulfilling a necessity for the tourists from cross-Channel who can afford to pay £10 10s. or £12 12s. a week for the privilege of staying there on their holidays. I give Fianna Fáil that much praise and that much criticism. But the new Minister has before him a big burden of responsibility. He has a big job to tackle. He has told us that there is an urgent necessity for 60,000 houses for 60,000 families. Twenty-six thousand of those houses are required in the Dublin area. I have no doubt that the greatest demand for houses exists in and around Dublin. It is unfortunate that Dublin has always shown a tendency to grow larger and still larger as the years go by. Irrespective of all else people from the rural areas are flying into the city in an effort to get employment. To that is due in large measure the demand for such extensive housing accommodation. Nevertheless, in other parts of the country and in the county from which I come there is an acute shortage of housing. In our smaller towns there are people living under very impoverished conditions in very poor houses. We have slum dwellers. Our problem is not so acute perhaps as it is in Dublin because in the country we have at least fresh air. But our people are entitled to some consideration and we demand that they get consideration. They are definitely entitled to it. I hope that the Minister will bear in mind the plight of these  people in the smaller towns throughout the country and that they will have their share in the allocation of houses which will be erected in the future.
With regard to houses for the farming community and the rural community in general, I would urge upon the Minister the necessity for a new scheme of housing grants. New grants were introduced by the previous Government and they are being carried on by this Government. These grants will prove of advantage in solving the housing conditions throughout the country. At a meeting of our county council mention was made that legislation would be introduced to give an advance of money by way of loan to those people who can afford to build houses for themselves and who are anxious to build such houses, but to whom the grant would not be sufficient at the moment. Is it the intention of the Department of Local Government to implement any such scheme in the future? It would be both helpful and necessary. Taking into consideration the increased cost of building materials at the present time the grant, as it stands now, is not anything like sufficient. In 1932, 1933 and 1934 the grant of £80 which was then given was as valuable as the grant of £235 or £275 which is given at the present time. If anything can be done by way of financial aid in the form of a loan to these people who are inclined to build for themselves the Minister would be doing a good day's work in helping these people.
I want to refer now specifically to the matter of roads. The roads in this country have caused quite a lot of talk in this House; they have caused quite a lot of talk in every local authority and county council throughout the Twenty-Six Counties. In County Mayo we have an enormous mileage of roads because of the number of small farms and smallholders. The maintenance of those roads casts upon our rates every year a tremendous burden. We get little or no financial help from the central authority towards the upkeep of those roads. We get nothing like what we should get.
The previous Government seemed to be interested only in the maintenance  and upkeep of our main thoroughfares. Now I have always opposed the 60 feet wide roads in which the previous Government was so interested. I hold that we can never have a perfect road system in this country. The initial laying down of our roads is to blame for that. We are told that the old landlords wound the roads in and out in order to divide estates. It is upon those foundations that we have our main thoroughfares to-day. No matter what we do we can never hope to achieve the same standard as has been achieved on the Continent of Europe, or in Great Britain or even Northern Ireland. I see no reason why we should embark on a scheme of 60 feet wide roads in this country until we have done something to improve those roads which are just as important to the country people and which our rural population are entitled to have in as good a condition as can be achieved for them. There is also a series of roads which do not come under this Estimate at all. I refer to those culs-de-sac along which a large percentage of our rural population lives. Those people living along those culs-de-sac have to pay their rates to the county councils the same as the people who live on the side of the main roads. But those cul-de-sac roads seem to be nobody's baby. Under the special employment schemes sufficient money was not granted to improve these roads. The county council refuses to take responsibility for their maintenance and upkeep. One of our problems in Mayo is to try to secure enough money from some Government Department for the upkeep and maintenance of these roads. If the Minister would consider bringing that particular type of road under the jurisdiction of the county council such roads would be kept in much better repair.
Deputy O'Rourke mentioned here the other day the squandering of money on certain roads in this country. He mentioned one road in particular; that is the road westward. On the other side of Enfield there is a foundation of almost 18 inches being put in the middle of a perfect tarred road. The height of the road is being increased. It is being rolled, broken stone and fine ground stone is being laid over it  and tar put over that again. In my opinion that road did not call for anything like the work that is being done on it at the moment. I cannot understand whose idea it was. It is the greatest piece of squandermania that I have ever seen. If it were a road subject to flooding I might have seen some excuse for it. The sooner the present Minister steps in and puts an end to that sort of work the sooner he will be doing a good job for the country and the community as a whole. He will have money then to devote to other essential schemes, such as housing and so on.
There is talk of road safety. It seems to be a difficult thing to achieve road safety. Everybody knows that we have a considerable number of secondary roads leading on to the main roads in this country. Down those secondary roads come all kinds of vehicles out on to the centre of the main road.
Unless there is co-operation on the part of the public, you never will have real road safety. We realise that a man who takes out a motor car and tears along the highway at 50 or 60 miles an hour is more dangerous to the community than the man who travels at the gentle speed of 30 or 40 miles an hour. It is up to the people to help in this matter of road safety. If there is co-operation on the part of motor drivers, in particular, I believe accidents can be reduced to a minimum. The committee formed to inquire into road safety, and making the roads safe for animal traffic, will be a sheer humbug unless the people co-operate. Without such co-operation, there can be no real safety and no stopping of accidents on our main roads.
With regard to animal traffic, being of the farming community and having in my time driven a horse over the roads as often as I have driven a car, I say that the roads in their present condition are not safe for horse-drawn traffic because of the slippery surface that tar macadam develops. In Mayo we have started a new idea. We take three feet on the edge of the roads and put in there a mixture of broken stone and tar and roll it. That method is  giving satisfaction, but it is expensive and I believe that eventually we shall have to stop it. The amount required to do a small mileage is so enormous that the ratepayers will not be able to stand it. Perhaps the Minister could see if it is possible to provide extra financial assistance for counties inclined to carry out this scheme of making roads safe for animal traffic.
One thing which I regard as of great importance is the provision of water and sewerage for small country towns. These towns have grown up over the years and no real effort has been made to give them a proper water supply or system of sewerage. In some places the conditions are as primitive as they were 50 or 100 years ago, when the first group of houses was built and the name given to the town. That is not good enough. Everyone knows that these places can become the breeding grounds for disease, particularly when the sewerage is not properly regulated. We are very much perturbed in Mayo about this matter. We have made appeals to the Department of Local Government, sometimes successfully, but more often unsuccessfully, to assist us in the provision of proper sewerage and water supplies.
There are two matters that are of importance to every town in Eire. The first one is the absence of circular or back roads. As regards the town of Claremorris, we of the Mayo County Council are faced with the situation where one man can hold up the construction of a circular road at the back of a group of houses. These people have to bring turf and drive their live stock sometimes through their front doors or the doors of shops because there is no circular road at the rear. That road could be put there if there was any legislation to enable the county council to take over the necessary land. There is ample land at the back of the town on which a circular road could be constructed.
It is a strange thing that after 49 years of our own local authorities we still find ourselves in the position that one man, even though he may hold only 20 yards of a right-of-way, can prevent a circular road which can benefit 200 or 300 and perhaps 500 people in a town.  Recently, at the Mayo County Council, all parties were unanimous that this matter should be brought to the notice of the Minister. This matter affects, not alone our towns in Mayo but other towns all through the country. I shall be glad if other Deputies will help us in remedying this situation. We now have a Minister who is quite willing to listen to reason and we may be able to get him to introduce legislation.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy must not advocate legislation on an Estimate.
Mr. Commons: I am merely making a suggestion.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy is returning to this. I let him go the first time and now he is back again suggesting legislation.
Mr. Commons: I have brought to the Minister's notice the fact that this evil exists and I hope, when the Estimate for Local Government comes up again, something will have been done about it. In the town of Westport we have another problem. Forming a circle around the town of Westport is the Marquis of Sligo's demesne. The Westport Urban Council, in an effort to provide houses for the local people, have tried to get suitable land. In and around Westport it is difficult to get land, although there are 1,500 or 1,600 acres available right up to the centre of the town, but it is the property of the Marquis of Sligo and at the moment it cannot be procured. This gentleman is protected by some Act of Parliament passed in the British House of Commons 100 or 150 years ago and he can snap his fingers at the best efforts of the Westport Urban Council or the Mayo County Council and so hold up the progress of a group of men who are anxious to assist, not alone the people in Westport and in County Mayo generally, but also the Minister and his Department in their efforts to provide more and better houses for the people.
It is unfortunate that in the different Local Government Acts that were passed here something was not done to  alter this state of affairs. That demesne, until some remedy is introduced, will be left there instead of being utilised to house the workers and the middle classes of Westport. These people are not afforded a chance of moving inside the demesne walls and getting the ground that could be so valuable to them and to the country.
So far there has been no change in our system of local government. In our county councils we had good powers until the County Management Act came into force. Whether the giving of too much power to a county council is a wise thing, remains to be seen. As a member of the Mayo County Council I am aware that no person goes forward for election to a local body unless he has the interests of the community at heart.
People elected to councils have definitely a closer touch with the demands and needs of their county than any group of officials or civil servants in any Government Department. I therefore maintain that the suggestions put forward by a county council should always get first consideration and that they should not be overridden either by a county manager or a Government authority centralised here in Dublin and cut completely adrift from rural communities. County managers serve a useful purpose at times because in the different demands that have to be made to county managers for various things that are needed from time to time, a county councillor can easily get himself out of a hole by throwing the blame on the shoulders of the county managers. Nevertheless, I still maintain that the suggestion of the Minister that the intends shortly to curb the powers of these gentlemen was the most welcome part of his introductory statement. He should give back to the local authorities the powers that they require. When 15 or 16 men sit down together to debate a question, even though sometimes there may be a terrible lot of noise without an awful lot of light being cast on the subject, they do generally thrash out a fairly good system and put forward many admirable suggestions as to what is most satisfactory for the areas which they represent.
 I am glad to see that the Minister is visiting the various councils and I can assure him that, as far as Mayo is concerned, we shall give him every help and encouragement provided he goes his share of the way to meet our suggestions. It is true that we fell foul of the Minister in regard to a grant of £18,000 for the county which was made conditional on our putting up £4,000. I personally opposed the acceptance of the grant on these conditions. The whole council were unanimous in rejecting it because with the rates at 23/10 in the £ in a poor county of small farmers, where the land has the lowest valuation of any in Ireland and where the agricultural output cannot be increased, we were not going to saddle the ratepayers with another 4d. in the £. We had of course apologies from the Minister that he could not meet us in our demand but we would much prefer to have the money and get the apologies afterwards. He was tied hand and foot by the red tape and the regulations that have been in existence for a number of years. He is as powerless in his Department at the present time as any Minister could be. But unless he decides to cut himself adrift from some of the shackles that are binding him, and to abolish the system of centralisation of local administration which has been in operation for a number of years, he is only wasting his time and we are only wasting our time in expressing encouragement or criticism as the case may be. As a member of a county council for approximately five years, I have found that very useful work can be done by a group of men who constitute a local authority. People living right in the centre of their constituencies have a thorough knowledge and understanding of the needs of their districts but from time to time schemes put forward by the local authority have been turned down because of the complete lack of understanding regarding rural areas that exists amongst officials here in the city.
I want to refer for a moment to the question of town planning. Town planning is of course essential but it can be carried too far. We have had an example of that in a plan prepared for a little village in my county. That plan  provided for a branch railway while another place was laid our for an aerodrome and a third place for baths and swimming pools. We should all like to envisage developments of that kind if they were possible but at a time when the existing railways are being ripped up and when the craze for flying is being knocked out of our people, the architect or the town planner who prepares such a scheme for a small village is absolutely wasting his time as well as the fees the county council pay him for the preparation of the plans. It is quite true that we cannot allow houses to be built in a haphazard manner but at the same time we must cut our cloth according to our measure, and we must plan our towns according to what is feasible. We are never likely to see in this country the complete disappearance of the people from the countryside, leaving nothing in existence except towns.
I am glad to see that in the past couple of months every encouragement has been given to the people to get back to the land, but the flight from the land had so gripped their minds for a number of years that I am afraid they will have to be offered substantial concessions before they become as land-minded as our forefathers were. Town planning should be proceeded with cautiously and town planners should submit plans to suit conditions that may be expected to arise within the next ten years and not those that may be expected in 200 or 300 years' time.
I have listened to a plea from Dublin Deputies and Deputies from other cities as to the urgent necessity for houses in these areas and I want to point out to them that, as far as I and other Deputies coming from the country are concerned, we are wholeheartedly with them in their demands. I mentioned during the debate on the Land Commission that during the election campaign I heard a certain speaker remark that if the slum dwellers of the country and of the city united in one body they would be able to force recognition from any Government. So far as I am personally concerned, I would even go so far as to sacrifice road grants at the present time to enable the slum problem in Dublin to be taken in hand.  In this year 1948 it is awful to contemplate 12 and 13 people living in one house and six or seven people in one room. That is something which must be rooted out as soon as possible. We may talk about health and about the efforts being made to stamp out tuberculosis and other diseases, but while such a condition of affairs remains the people are living in conditions which constitute breeding grounds for ill-health.
Though I live a long way from the city, I and my colleagues are wholeheartedly behind those Deputies who have been so loud in their demands for increased houses for workers in the city. A Deputy some moments ago quoted lines from Goldsmith's Deserted Village. I thought of a few lines I learned at school:
“The dancing pair who simply sought renown
By holding out to dance each other down.”
It seems that speakers here have sought renown by talking each other down. That seems to be what has happened in all the debates here for the past couple of months. Out of all that talk must have come suggestions on which the Minister can act. I ask him not to pay too much attention to suggestions coming from officials of his Department but to listen to the voices of Deputies and to go as far as he can to meet their views. I ask him not to do as his predecessor did—to come in here and put his cards on the table, saying: “Take them if you wish, but whether you like them or not you have to take them.” That was the position for the past five or six years, a position in which we in the Opposition putting forward our cases knew that we were pleading a hopeless case and asking for something we could never get.
Things are now different. The Minister has a long experience of local authorities and should have a perfect knowledge of the job in hands. It is a difficult job, but, with the help he will get here and through the country, he should, within the next few years, be able to achieve success, especially in regard to housing, which seems to be the most urgent call on the country's  finances. I wish him the best of luck and I hope that, when he comes to County Mayo, as he intends, he will listen to what we have to put to him. If he ever decides to override the views of the council of which I am a member, I warn him that, instead of being amongst those who will acclaim him as being a very good fellow, I will be the most antagonistic member of the council. He has seen the faults of his predecessor and knows what is before him. If he tackles it in the right way, I have not the slightest doubt that he will be successful in his efforts.
Mr. Lynch: This debate has largely resolved itself, and rightly so, into a debate on housing. The Minister has heard many suggestions, many of them very constructive; he has heard criticisms; and he has had pictures of squalor painted for him. I do not intend to follow on any of these lines. Anything I could say in that regard would not help the situation because I feel that all that can be said has already been said. I subscribe to the hope expressed by other Deputies that the debate will be kept above Party politics and most Deputies in fact have kept it above Party politics. Some accusations, however, were made which I feel should not be allowed to pass. We had the accusation of maladministration by Deputy Dunne against the Fianna Fáil régime. Deputy Dunne knows that the number of houses built under Fianna Fáil was in the neighbourhood of 150,000. On the basis that the most deserving people, that is, those with the largest families, got these houses, approximately 1,000,000 people have been housed in new houses during the past 15 years. If that can be described as falling down on the job, Deputy Dunne's standards must be very high.
He quoted particulars of cottages in County Dublin and said that 1,500 cottages were required in 1932, of which 1,200 had been built. That represents 80 per cent. of the number required, which, in itself, is a tribute to the Administration which built them. He says that the position has got worse since because many of the cottages which were in good repair then have fallen into an extraordinary  state of disrepair since. Surely 15 years is a very short period in the life of any house, and, if the situation in 1932 was that 1,541 cottages were required, I cannot imagine that the situation is much worse now, particularly in view of the fact that 80 per cent. of the needs have since been met. Deputy O'Leary accused Fianna Fáil of pulling down houses. It is difficult to reconcile that accusation with the general trend of the debate, in which it has been pointed out that bad housing is the real cause of the incidence of tuberculosis. If houses were pulled down in years past, I am sure they were pulled down in the interests of the community.
In painting the pictures of squalor which were painted for us, Deputies concentrated largely on Dublin, and I am afraid the Dublin complex has pervaded the whole debate to a very large extent. I allege against some of the rural Deputies that the Dublin complex has pervaded their mentalities when they refer to “the city” as opposed to the country. There is more than one city in the State and I can say that proportionately the housing needs of the smaller cities are greater than those of Dublin. I do not need to point out to the Minister the housing needs of Cork City where slums are in many cases far worse than they are in Dublin. The people have better houses in Dublin, even though more people have to live in them.
My main purpose in rising was to bring to the Minister's notice the position which obtains, so far as people in Cork City who are lucky enough to have houses are concerned. I hope to point out to him that, even when he has built the houses, his difficulties will not end. In Cork, corporation tenants have voluntarily submitted themselves to a differential rent system, under which the incomes of the families are taken into account before the amount of rent to be paid is assessed. That system was introduced, I think, somewhere in the early war years, and it was to a large extent a very good system because the city manager or whoever was responsible for it saw the possibility of many people losing their  employment and being unable to pay the fixed rents as they were at that time. I think the average rent was about 12/-. He introduced a system which provided a minimum rent of 3/6 and a maximum rent of 18/- subject to the variations of the family income. That in itself was a very good idea but in the working out of the system injustices have cropped up. The Minister, I think, has already been circularised by the association which represents the interests of these tenants and I would like to bring some of the major points of that memorandum before the Minister's notice. Broadly speaking, the rent was fixed on a basis of one-sixth of the family income and tenants have since discovered that one-sixth is rather a high fraction of the family income to contribute solely to rent, particularly when they have a large family and their wages are relatively small. They suggest, and I am inclined to agree with them, that one-eighth of the family income would be a fairer proportion and I would put that to the Minister to examine when the opportunity offers.
In assessing the family income the present position takes into account, first, the income of the main wage earner and calls him the principal bread-winner irrespective of whether it is the father, the eldest son or even a daughter. It gives certain allowances from the income of the principal bread-winner and certain allowances of the small earners for the purposes of assessing the rent. The position is that when the father is out of employment for a period and happens to earn less than, say, the son, the son then is considered as being the principal bread-winner and a greater proportion of his wages are taken for the purpose of fixing the rent, than were taken prior to his father's disemployment. That system, I would suggest to the Minister, is making for a certain amount of social unrest. I have heard of families where the father happens to be out of work for a long period and the eldest son or the second eldest son or a daughter is then forced to make a larger contribution out of his wages to the family purse. In some cases the son or daughter has been known to leave their father's house and to go to  live with relatives in order to avoid the discomfort at home and in order to avoid being assessed as a principal bread-winner. That is one of the shortcomings which I would like to bring to the Minister's notice.
Consequent on that same point also, I might suggest it is affecting the marriage-rate to some extent. I am not making a big point of this, but when young men and young women come to a certain stage and receive fairly good wages they put by a certain proportion of their weekly wages with a view to marriage, but when they have to pay a bigger contribution to the family purse because of their being assessed as principal bread-winners, they find that they cannot save at the rate they intended, thus postponing marriage or making them think twice about it. It is a small point but it is happening to some extent.
Let us take a man whose wages are approximately £6 a week. Out of that £6 a week he might have to pay some donations or subscriptions to insurance or superannuation schemes which would make his actual or real wages £5 10s. a week. Nevertheless his income for the purpose of assessing the rent under the differential rent system is £6 a week, ignoring completely the contributions he has to make to the national health or a factory superannuation scheme as the case may be. If he is fortunate enough to live long enough to receive the benefit, the income which he gets as benefit is also assessed as income for the purpose of fixing the rent, which is in effect a double assessment on the man's earnings. I would suggest if a man pays these subscriptions that when he comes to receive the benefit resulting on them, the amount received in benefit should not be assessed for the purpose of fixing the rent.
Another form of benefit which is assessed as income is the new system of cash payments instead of food vouchers and unemployment assistance. When food vouchers were distributed no assessment was made of the extra value to the family purse that they provided, but now that vouchers are being distributed in the form of cash that cash is taken as  being part of the family income and is assessed in fixing the rent. Prior to the introduction of the Children's Allowances Act a shilling in respect of each child under 16 was allowed off the income of the principal bread-winner for the purpose of fixing the rent. When the Children's Allowances Act was passed the 1/- was stopped, so in effect the 2/6 which the head of the house received by way of children's allowance was also assessed.
Corporation tenants refused to pay rent but paid the rent to their own association and in order to show their bona fides, for a short time, I think a fortnight, the rent was paid in toto to the corporation on the understanding that the rent would be decreased. A resolution was passed, I understand unanimously, asking the manager to fix the rent probably on the basis of one-eighth rather than one-sixth of the family income. This resolution for one reason or another was never implemented. Later the tenants' case got the benefit of a public inquiry at which one of the Minister's inspectors presided.
For one reason or another—I will not go into them now but I can give them to the Minister later—the tenants say that they did not get a full opportunity of presenting their case in that inquiry, and I am now asking the Minister to meet them in a deputation and to hear their grievances on that score. I would ask the Minister to receive that deputation. I do not want him in his reply to deal with all these points I have raised because they raise serious social and economic issues, but I would ask him to think over them and when he sees fit to receive the deputation and to discuss them and to give the tenants' association the opportunity of again voicing their opinions in this respect.
I have no other contribution to make on this Estimate except to wish the Minister well in his effort to solve the serious housing problem and to wish him well in his efforts to provide the country with better roads.
Mr. Crotty: I do not intend to lecture the Minister for Local Government on the acute shortage of houses  which exists at present in the country, because I feel that the Minister more than anyone else in this House appreciates that shortage. He is only three or four months in office but his policy of establishing contact with the local authorities of the country has shown to the House and given to the local authorities the lead which they wanted in housing. At present in Kilkenny we are building 125 houses out of a scheme of 245 houses. When we had the first 125 built, we intended to advertise the second lot. But, due to the Minister's advice when he visited Kilkenny, we have started on a direct labour scheme of development for the laying down of roads and sewerage. So far that scheme has proved very satisfactory. When that scheme is completed, I hope we may be able to tackle the remaining 120 houses by direct labour, thereby helping to relieve the housing position in that city.
My principal reason in joining in this debate this evening was to bring to the Minister's attention the claim of Kilkenny to a special grant for the present housing scheme. Last March the late Deputy Coogan raised a question on the adjournment with regard to the flood damage in Kilkenny. He pointed out the damage which had been done to houses and the way in which houses were thrown down by the floods. When replying to that debate the then Minister for Industry and Commerce, Deputy Lemass, was asked by Deputy Morrissey: “How could the local authority rebuild the houses for the flood victims?” Deputy Lemass in reply stated:—
“I do not know that they lack any power. If they lack power, that lack will be made good and the Minister for Finance, within the limits of his statutory authority, will give very generous financial assistance to the local authority for the building of new houses. I feel sure that there will be little difficulty in ensuring that further financial assistance will be forthcoming out of the Transition Fund. Certainly, I can say that any effort by the local authority to provide new homes for these people  more suitably located will be supported by the Government financially as well as in making available the necessary materials.”
That was the hope held out by the previous Government to the victims of that terrible catastrophe. They did not give any financial assistance to rehouse these people, but they gave a promise. I do not know whether the previous Government would have implemented that promise but, on behalf of the people of Kilkenny, I ask the present Minister to implement it and give us some special help towards the building of houses for these flood victims who are being accommodated at present in the married quarters of the military barracks and at the central hospital while waiting for houses. We are doing our best and we expect that the Minister will come to our assistance and give us some special grant towards the housing of these people.
When these people are rehoused, there will be 20 married quarters vacant in the military barracks, two-roomed and three-roomed dwellings, and I suggest to the Minister that, with his co-operation, the local authority could take over these as dwellings for newly-weds or people with small families. That would relieve 20 families. These dwellings are in perfect condition and are outside the bounds of the military barracks. I think they would be ideal dwellings for small families and their habitation would keep them from going to ruin. On the Estimate for the Department of Defence we heard a lot of talk about barracks not being required.
I suggest to the Minister that he should give us his co-operation in converting these barracks into flats for the people. I am sure there are other unoccupied military barracks in other towns which could be converted for the same purpose. The barracks in Kilkenny are at present in perfect condition but, if left uninhabited, they will be derelict in 20 or 30 years. I, therefore, ask the Minister to help us to have these barracks converted into flats. These flats, with the 245 houses to be built, will go a long way towards relieving the housing shortage in Kilkenny.
 As regards the roads about which we heard a lot, I have only one suggestion to make. I suggest that very heavy lorries drawing trailers should be limited in size. I do not think that most of the roads at present are fit to stand up to these eight and ten-ton lorries drawing trailers of much the same weight. I also suggest that these lorries should have some distinguishing mark in front in the night time; a blue or yellow sign denoting that they are drawing trailers.
With regard to the County Management Act, I trust the Minister will amend it to a large extent. Again, Kilkenny has a special claim. A manager was appointed for the counties of Waterford and Kilkenny. Afterwards, the City of Kilkenny was added to his charge, although he did not want that done, without any extra remuneration. He has often complained to the Kilkenny Corporation that he was not getting anything extra for coming to corporation meetings. It is hard to expect a person to take an interest in work for which he is not getting paid.
In amending the County Management Act, I suggest that the Minister should appoint one manager for the County and City of Kilkenny and another for the County of Waterford, because for a long time the manager has not had time to go into matters in Kilkenny and he just comes there to sign on the dotted line. I wish the Minister well in his effort to cope with the housing shortage. As a result of his visits to different parts of the country he knows of the dearth of housing and I have no doubt that he will do his best to deal with the housing situation and that after some years it will be much relieved.
Mr. Davin: In my opinion, the Minister is to be commended for his common-sense decision to consult with the local authorities in connection with problems concerning these bodies and particularly in regard to the solution of the housing problem. If the Minister, as apparently he intends to do, meets representatives of all the local authorities throughout the country before the end of the present year, I am certain he will have improved his  education and that he will not come back to the House in 12 months' time and say that he does not understand the problem. In any case, I know he will not say that because he has a life-long experience of the working of one of our principal local authorities, and by the time he has interviewed representatives of all the local authorities he is bound to have improved his education, although he has that life-long experience.
I listened recently to representatives of local authorities in my constituency putting their case before the Minister and I listened to the Minister's reply and I must admit that I improved my own education regarding the urgency of the housing problem so far as it affects the towns and rural portions of my constituency. I do not want to encourage, and I do not think any Deputy would encourage, a debate on the urgency of the problem so far as it affects Dublin and other cities as against the urgency for a solution of the problem in the rural areas. It is not going to be dealt with on that basis, and I am sure the Minister will not approach the solution of the problem from that angle. I am not going to suggest that the previous Government could have solved this problem during the emergency period. We all realise that there was a shortage of essential materials and a shortage of skilled labour in the building trade because the skilled men, and the unskilled men to a certain extent, were given their passports to Great Britain because they could not get work, for understandable reasons, during the emergency. I join with some of the Deputies who have spoken in this debate and with responsible members of local authorities that I have heard speak elsewhere in appealing to the Minister, if that is necessary, to carry out an experiment in house building both in rural areas, if it can be done, and in the towns, by the direct labour system.
I had a conversation some time ago with a prominent building contractor in my constituency. In fact, I made it my business to contact a couple of building contractors during the past few months and to find out from them what was the problem from their angle. I learned from one contractor who has  carried out big contracts in my constituency that the builders in the provinces are now members of an all-Ireland organisation and they are going to use that organisation, as far as I can see, to get as much as they can out of the pockets of the ratepayers and the taxpayers and the tenants of houses that will be built during the coming few years, if they are allowed to get away with it. One particular building contractor told me that all the people in that area are members of the organisation and he went so far as to suggest that if there was going to be a strike in Dublin then there was going to be a strike all over Ireland. They are going to shut down everywhere. If they are going to carry out that policy in regard to the legitimate claims of the building trades workers, you may be certain that they will get as much as they can through that watertight organisation, if they get away with it in the cost of building houses in rural areas, cities and towns.
I am simply amazed at the high figure tendered in some parts of my constituency for the erection of houses. I do not want to see the taxpayers fleeced and I do not want to see the ratepayers fleeced in order to provide excessive profits for people in that business. That is why I am encouraging the Minister, if it is necessary to do so, in conjunction with other Deputies, to experiment, as far as he can, within reason, in building houses by direct labour.
It is a good many years since I went to the housing department. As a very old member of this House, I want to pay a tribute to the excellent service given to every Minister that I remember by the head officials of the housing department. I have had the privilege of knowing the heads of the housing department over a long period of years and under the Cumann na nGaedheal Government, the Fianna Fáil Government and the present Government, these men have been selected, I believe, because they know their job and are willing to do the work in accordance with the policy laid down by the Minister. I say that because I do not share the view expressed by  Deputy Commons in regard to the attitude of the officials of the housing department or the Department of Local Government generally. If the Minister, as I am sure he will, gives them encouragement and the material—by that I mean the necessary assistance from the administrative point of view, engineering and clerical—they will do their job and I am sure they will do it to the satisfaction of the Minister and the members of this House.
As I have said, some years ago I had a conversation with the head of the housing department and I persuaded him to carry out an experiment in a certain town in my constituency in direct labour. Practically at the same time at one end of the town a number of houses were being built under contract and at the other end of the town houses were being built by direct labour. I suppose the county engineer at the time was very fortunate in being able to secure the services of a highly skilled carpenter as clerk of works in charge of the direct labour scheme. If the Minister has time to visit that part of my constituency, I will bring him to see the houses that were built by direct labour and by contract. There was a slight difference in cost but I am as certain as I am speaking in this House that the houses built by direct labour will last longer and are far more comfortable than the houses built by contract. A similar experiment could be carried out, probably with greater advantage, to-day and for more urgent reasons than even obtained at that particular period.
I agree that if you are going to carry out an extensive scheme of house building by direct labour, authority must be given to the county engineer or the people carrying out the scheme to procure the necessary plant. You can justify sanction for whatever money is involved in that connection if you have a long term plan for building houses under the direct labour system. I agree that under the direct labour system it is essential to get as clerk of works in charge a man who knows his job, who has been trained in the hard school of experience. A good carpenter, generally speaking, is the best type of man for that. I have no hesitation in saying,  without disrespect to the engineers who have university qualifications, that a good carpenter who has learned in the hard school of experience is a better clerk of works than any junior engineer, irrespective of the university degrees he may have. A young engineer would be a wise man to listen attentively to a clerk of works when he takes up a job on a housing scheme whether it is under the direct labour system or by contract. I do not put my opinion against the Minister's or against the opinion of the other people who have more experience of the work of local authorities than I have, but, in my opinion, in the long run at any rate, whatever the cost, the direct labour scheme gives a better type of house. I appeal to building trade workers in my own constituency and throughout the country. If the Minister is embarking upon an experiment of that kind, he is entitled to the full support, so far as it can be given, of the building trade workers, particularly of the skilled men.
I have had the pleasure of listening to an exchange of views between the Minister and the representatives of local authorities in my own area and other Deputies who in future may have the same experience will admit that such exchanges save the Minister, Deputies and the local officials concerned a considerable amount of trouble and correspondence. The very fact that these views were exchanged between the Minister and the representatives of local authorities and the local officials leaves no room for doubt in the mind of anybody as to what the Minister's intentions are. That is good both for the Minister, the Deputies and everybody who is going to lend a hand in the solution of this terrible problem, that affects cities and towns and the country generally.
I find that in my constituency the problem has become worse in the last ten or 15 years in the towns where we have established new industries. Particular attention might be given by the Minister and his advisers to the overcrowding which exists in these towns. Up to a couple of months ago I received innumerable complaints from cottage tenants in the two counties of  my constituency complaining about the delay in carrying out repairs to labourers' cottages.
I have learned quite recently that the problem is not so bad to-day as it was, say, three or four months ago. I have considerable sympathy—that is all I can extend to them—with the poor people who were forced during two particular periods of the last two years to live in labourers' cottages that had not proper doors or windows and which have been needing repairs for a period of two or three years. If competent contractors cannot be got to do that particular job at a reasonable figure, again I say—and I have seen it carried out before—let us have the cottages repaired by the direct labour system. They will have to be repaired. No excuse should be accepted from a local authority, a county engineer or county manager or anybody else for putting these repairs on the long finger and leaving poor people in a mountainy part of my constituency during the past two winters without proper living accommodation. They are living, in certain cases I know of, under horrible conditions, and anybody with a human heart could not defend it on the grounds that competent contractors could not be got to do the work unless they got their own price.
Deputy Lynch of Cork argued with himself and put certain points to the Minister in connection with the rents to be paid for labourers' cottages in cities, towns, and rural areas. He suggested that the rent should be roughly one-eighth of the income of the tenant. I have never heard it brought down as low as one-sixth or one-eighth. I have heard people who claim to be experts in these matters of wages, costs, prices and everything else, suggest that not more than 10 per cent. of the income of the wage earner should be charged for the rent of the house he lives in. Within the last 48 hours I was looking at some lovely houses in Deputy Kinane's constituency. I discovered that the rent of them was 19/10 a week. That is too high a rent to charge to anybody living in the town in which I saw those houses. I do not think it can be justified. I believe it is what is called an economic rent. It is certainly  a prohibitive rent for anybody to have to pay for a house in a comparatively small town. I do not know what the views of the Minister are, but certainly the rents that are being charged for houses in many of our provincial towns are a serious problem for the tenants, and should receive his careful consideration. I am sure that, after hearing the views of the representatives of all the local authorities that he met in the course of his tour, he will be able to make up his mind on the matter.
I want to refer briefly to the urgency of having repairs carried out to our county roads. The majority of them in my constituency were badly torn up during the emergency period by the hundreds and thousands of turf lorries, and are now in a shockingly bad state of repair. I think it would be good policy for the Minister to ask his officials to prepare a long-term plan— say, five years if it can be carried through within that period—for their repair. The rural ratepayers who have to use these county roads for their daily domestic purposes are grumbling about the heavy increase in the rates. Over the last couple of years, it represents a very heavy burden on them, and yet no road repair, work has been done in those rural areas. Therefore, I think the ratepayers have good grounds for the complaints they make. I would ask the Minister to get his officials to see if something definite cannot be done as soon as possible, especially in those areas where the roads were badly cut up by the turf lorries that had been traversing over them during the whole of the emergency period.
I am certain that the Minister, with his common-sense approach to the problems that confront him in his Department, will be helped by the life-long experience he has had as a member of one of the biggest local authorities in the country. I join with the other members of the House in wishing him well, and particularly in regard to finding a solution for the terrible housing problem that exists not only in our cities and towns but in every part of the country.
Mr. Beegan: I am sure the Minister  must have a headache, having listened to all that has been said about the very serious housing problem we have in the country. I imagine he knows that himself better than most people here. As regards the housing position in the City of Dublin and in other cities, it was pointed out, and I think rightly so, by Deputy Giles, Deputy Madden and some Deputies on this side, that over a number of years that position has been accentuated to a large extent by reason of the centralisation of industries in Dublin and the extension of big building schemes in the city. All that proved to be an incentive to people to come to Dublin, first of all, to earn a livelihood and then, having been here for some time, to settle down in the hope that priority was going to be given to Dublin as far as housing was concerned. I think it was Deputy Madden who pointed out—I presume he was reading from the White Paper —that there were as many houses build in the cities and urban centres of the country over a number of years as there were in the rural areas. Many reasons have been adduced for the complexity of this housing problem. One is the shortage of materials, another the high cost of building and the prohibitive rents that have to be charged for houses. These are big factors that must be considered. As regards the high cost, I am sure the Minister will examine that thoroughly with his experts to see what can be done to bring about a reduction.
I think that, in present-day circumstances, the people who can best avail of the provisions of the Housing Acts are those in rural Ireland. No obstacles should be put in their way to get housing grants because in present circumstances the problem in rural Ireland, so far as cost is concerned, is not very great for the reason that family labour is available. The housing problem in rural Ireland, as a number of Deputies have pointed out, has not been solved. It is far from it. Indeed it is still pretty acute there.
I would like to bring to the Minister's notice a number of what are perhaps minor difficulties so far as the rural areas are concerned which have not been resolved to any great extent by the regulations made under the 1948  Housing (Amendment) Act. One of the things that an applicant for a grant is asked for is proof of title. It is quite easy to give that where administration has been taken out, but in a number of instances, where that has not been done, you may perhaps find that it is the representative of a great-grand-father who is in possession at the present time. If people have to go to the expense of taking out administration it will, in my opinion, put a great damper on the building of houses in the rural areas.
There is another type of difficulty that arises. It is the case where the Land Commission gave holdings to allottees, holdings which are still unvested. In a case such as that a person who desires to avail of a grant to build a house cannot show real proof of title. I would suggest that in such cases the Department of Local Government should be prepared to accept a certificate from the Land Commission showing that the applicant was the occupier and user of the holding. In the other case that I mentioned, from 1925 to 1948, the Department of Local Government—I speak subject to correction but I believe it is true— accepted the certificate of the rating authority that the applicant was the rated occupier of the holding and that was sufficient.
Another matter which I think is an obstacle to some extent is that when one submits an application to the Department it is a condition that the contractor's agreement should also be submitted. That did not apply before and I do not think it should apply now. After all, it is very hard to get a contractor to enter into an agreement to build a house unless a certificate of approval has been obtained setting out that a grant has been issued by the Department of Local Government. I think that in cases where individuals are building their own houses, and in the case of all applicants in rural Ireland and in every case where it is not a building scheme to be carried out by a local authority, the building contractor's agreement or a copy of it should not be insisted on. As I have pointed out, it is very difficult to get the contractor to sign a contract until he is  satisfied that the grant has been sanctioned by the Department of Local Government.
There is another matter which I suppose is not, in a sense, one for the Minister for Local Government but is probably for the Minister for Industry and Commerce. However, one dovetails into the other. It is the question of the C.B.4 form to obtain a building licence. Two certificates have to be signed by the local authority. I do not know how it is working out in other counties, but in County Galway the local authority—or, if you like, the secretary of the county council acting for the local authority—does not object to signing number one certificate. But he is reluctant to sign number two certificate in which the local authority certifies that the house is one to which a State subsidy is applicable.
In order to do that, of course, the county engineering staff have to come into the picture. According to my information they have refused in almost every instance in County Galway to give that certificate on the plea that it is not their business, that it is not part of their duty and that they are not paid to do it. I should imagine in that case, too, that a certificate from the appointed officer or his subordinate should be quite sufficient to ensure getting a building licence from the Department of Industry and Commerce. These may seem minor matters but the Minister for Local Government knows quite well the objection the ordinary people in rural Ireland have to the filling of one form to-day and another form to-morrow. That is why I should like him to bring out something that would be as simple as possible in order to get over the difficulties I have mentioned.
There is another matter on which I should like the Minister to make a statement during the course of his reply. It is a matter that came up on the Budget statement by the Minister for Finance to the effect that the interest on loans to local authorities was to be increased to 3¼ per cent. He did state, and the Minister for Local Government I think also stated, that in respect of loans to local authorities for the building of houses there was to be alleviation. The degree of the alleviation  has not been yet disclosed. I should like an early statement in the matter. I should like also the individuals who are building houses for themselves and who require a loan under the Small Dwellings Acquisition Acts from the local authority to get the same alleviation as the local authority building a number of houses in a town or village.
I am very anxious to hear the Minister's reply in this connection by reason of the fact that we had drafted out a loans scheme. We did so on the assumption that the interest rate was to remain at 2½ per cent. It was, therefore, all one scheme. Now, however, that there is going to be a differentiation in the loans to the local authorities and the loans to the individual the scheme will have to be varied. We are having a meeting of our county council on Saturday next when the matter will be gone into—hence my anxiety to hear what the alleviation is going to be.
A Bill was introduced and passed in this House which gave local authorities permission to make grants available for the provision of a room for a tubercular patient. I do not think this scheme has been availed of to the extent it might for the reason that a great deal depends on the county medical officer of health. If he states that the case is one for institutional treatment, even though the people are prepared to go on with the building of the room, the grant may not be given. I have a few cases in mind where the county medical officer of health stated that they were cases for institutional treatment. At the time, there was no accommodation for the patients in the institution and they went on with the building of the room. They were taken into the institution at a later stage and I am very glad to say that they have recovered in a very marked degree. Naturally enough, they would still use that room, but at the same time they built that room and they are not being recouped any of the expense. I can give cases to the Minister or to the Minister for Health where that has happened in my county and I think it is just too bad.
A good deal has been said about road  safety, which is really a matter for the experts. One type of road safety we hear a good deal about is in regard to horse traffic. On various occasions here, on this Estimate, we have heard about the slippery condition of the roads. I know that almost from here to Athlone the road is practically flat and I think it is far less dangerous for horse traffic than the new portion of the road, mentioned by Deputies the other evening, on the Dublin side of Enfield. If all the roads were made flat, a great deal of the risks that have to be met by horses and their owners would be overcome. Some of the engineering staffs seem to be still very struck on the old method of resurfacing the road, leaving the same camber in the centre as before.
There has been a good deal of delay in regard to waterworks and sewerage schemes, but it has been explained to us from time to time that there has been difficulty in getting materials, and so on. I am sure that that will be speeded up. I could never understand why, when the local engineer and the consultant engineer examined the area to find the source and to prepare the plans, there was so much delay in sending plans backwards and forwards to the Department, for anything from five to 15 years. There is something wrong there, as that should not happen. That is one reason why I supported the County Management Act, believing that, with the manager in charge, those things would be expedited. The managers took over in 1942, when there were the other difficulties created by the war, when material was in short supply, and so on; but despite all that, the preparation of plans was still being carried backward and forward time and again. It is very difficult to understand why men with technical knowledge should be so long discussing and arguing as to what the proper set of plans should be. There should be some way of getting over such a state of affairs.
There is another matter I wish to bring to the Minister's notice and I know very well he has an obvious reply and one which, I suppose, I would be inclined to give myself. We have urban councils all over the country and we have for many years, in one particular  town, an old gas-lighting system, although the Electricity Supply Board current is laid on to the town. The urban council never availed of it and it is a great mistake that such a state of affairs should be permitted to continue. The reasons given to me, on the few occasions that I made inquiries, were that it would disemploy a number of people. It would be as well for you to have a halfpenny candle giving light as to use that obsolete gas system. The suburbs of the town require a good lighting system, better even than that for the main streets, and the reasons are quite obvious to the Minister.
I supported the managerial system and have had experience of it and I do not see any great reason why I should alter my opinion yet. I have heard that the manager is all-powerful. I do not find him any more powerful than when he was secretary of the county council. At that time, the county council to a large extent was directed by him, particularly on any technical matters that came from the Department. As far as I can see, the council has control over him yet in many things. I was surprised to hear Deputy Madden with all his years' experience on local authorities, state that this managerial system was so much out of order. Anybody who had the experience of being on a board of health and sitting there from 12 o'clock in the day until 7.30 in the evening and adjourning without being able to complete the business, would readily understand why it was necessary to have some person with authority to deal with all that work, a great deal of which was routine work.
There has been a division of opinion on this question, even amongst the members of the Labour Parties. I think Deputy O'Leary was all out for having it fully abolished, while Deputy Dunne said the Minister might hasten slowly. I think he might hasten slowly and I do not see that there is anything gravely wrong if the council members do their duty and act up to responsibility in a proper way. They have control of the purse, they have the initiation of schemes and they can even force the manager's hands. When they have all that, it would be very foolish to give back powers to local authorities  over officials. I do not believe that anybody desires that. I do not believe that the Minister himself believes that that should be done. Before the managerial system came into being, I remember that you might have one official here and another there, and they had grievances or imaginary grievances every other day. After all, the local representatives would be better employed giving attention to matters appertaining to the well-being of the general public than in listening to all the imaginary grievances that were being trotted out.
There was some mention made of a letter that was sent down by the previous Minister, forbidding officials of local authorities to get in contact with the representatives, whether they be the local representatives or the Dáil representatives. In my opinion, there was not very much wrong in that either. As far as I know, our county manager will always look on things in a very fair way. If a case is put up to him he is very slow to take a decision on his own without the sanction of the Minister. In that eventuality the Minister enters into it and the Minister is completely divorced from local affairs and gives an impartial decision.
There is one other matter I want to mention to the Minister. Possibly it may seem to have a certain element of jocosity in it but I think myself that it is a rather important matter. We are, after all, a democratic people and we have a democratic Government. We have adult suffrage. The matter to which I wish to draw specific attention is the compilation of the voters' list. I do not think those lists are being done as they should be done. Not enough care and attention is paid to their compilation. Every adult, irrespective of his or her political affiliations, is entitled to appear automatically on that register. If one examines the register, however, one will find there are numerous voters omitted from it. That is bad. But there is an even worse feature in this matter. Perhaps the Minister for Local Government is not responsible for it; it may be the responsibility of the Minister for Justice. I refer to the case where a person's name appears on the voters'  list for maybe 25 years and, without any notification whatever, the name is suddenly crossed out and does not appear on that list for the next election. Such a prospective voter has a very genuine grievance—a more genuine grievance, in fact, because he has already exercised the franchise and now finds himself suddenly omitted. One will probably be told that these people should have examined the register at the time when it was open for such examination or scrutiny.
It is somewhat hard to expect people in the rural areas to make special pilgrimages to the post office, the Garda station or the courthouse during the period when the list is open for scrutiny by the public in order to ascertain whether their names appear or not. In the first place it never enters their heads that their names may have been removed. If the Minister can do anything in that matter I should be grateful to him for any effort he makes to avoid such occurrences.
I wish the Minister well in his efforts to solve the housing problem. I join with other Deputies in this House in doing that. I hope that he will see that applicants from the rural areas are given every help and every facility in present circumstances because I believe they have a prior claim under the Housing Act.
Mr. A.P. Byrne: I think it will be fairly generally agreed that, whatever may be said about the emergency period, the two main reasons for the slow rate of progress in the housing of the working classes to-day are (a) the shortage of skilled workers, because of the fact that so many of them have not yet come back from the other side, and (b) the fact that the skilled workers who are available tend very naturally to go to the more remunerative work with the speculative builder. With regard to the shortage of skilled workers, I think it will be fairly generally agreed that they will not come back unless they are guaranteed continuity of employment. That is one of the big headaches for the Minister and for the Dublin Housing Consultative Council and for the local authorities  throughout the country. If continuity of employment can be guaranteed to plasterers, bricklayers and carpenters who are now in the United Kingdom, these workers will come back to their own country. At the moment many of them are keeping two homes. They are separated from their families. It is a big problem. I do not profess to be able to solve it. The Minister apparently will not solve it either.
Deputy Davin strongly advocated the commencement of direct labour schemes throughout the country. If Deputy Davin were to examine the figure available for the only direct labour scheme for the building of houses for the working classes which the Corporation of Dublin inaugurated he would find that the costs were far far greater than the costs of houses built under the present system. Possibly Deputy Davin has in mind that by the provision of efficient clerks of works and so on the costs of such direct labour schemes could be brought down to a more reasonable level. That is something that the Minister and the consultative council and the local authorities must thrash out for themselves, always bearing in mind that unless they can guarantee continuity of employment the skilled workers will not come back.
Another aspect of the matter which the Minister might consider is the tendency of the workers to go to the speculative builder who can pay far more than can the builders working under the local authorities. Would the Minister consider asking the Minister for Industry and Commerce to make a proviso that every speculative builder who looks for a licence to build £2,000 and £3,000 houses will be given that licence only if at the same time he is prepared to build a certain number of houses for the local authority? I put that strongly to the Minister. I understand that system is working satisfactorily on the other side. I have every confidence that the Minister will give us good government instead of the maladministration of the strong Government that we had in the last 16 years.
Mr. J. Flynn: There are one or two matters to which I should like to draw the Minister's specific attention. The  problem of housing in the rural area has scarcely been referred to in this House except by one or two Deputies. From the point of view of density of population I admit that possibly Dublin has first claim. But counties, such as the one I represent, have their own problem and it is a serious problem in regard to housing. I would appeal to the Minister to depart from the existing procedure and to simplify the method both of application and legal procedure for the acquisition of land for housing schemes.
When he visited Cork and other centres the Minister mentioned that he would remove the red tape procedure. He said that in so far as he and his Department could do it in the future, the system would be simplified and we would have a more constructive policy in regard to housing. When a man applies now for a house, a labourer or a small farmer, he has to have at least three plans prepared. There has to be one plan for the engineer, one for the Department and a third for the local authority. When I was representing Kerry in previous years the Department readily accepted a plan drawn up by a tradesman—say a carpenter. Nowadays they ask the applicant to provide a plan which has to be prepared by an engineer. That may cost two or three guineas. Formerly the Department accepted a sketch plan prepared by a competent tradesman—a correct outline of the proposed work— and that was accepted because of the expense that otherwise would be involved. It is also necessary now to have an outlay plan, a plan giving the approaches to the house and showing the general surroundings. Further, they ask for a specification giving all the costings.
Where is the need for all this procedure? Is it any wonder that an unfortunate man, living in the country, knowing very little about the law and probably not in a position to pay an engineer or a solicitor, hesitates before making an application for a grant for the purpose of building a house? This unwieldy system could be simplified. The Department should be prepared to accept a sketch plan and they could dispense with the outlay plan and the  specification. Then there is the question of title. I submitted a question here in order to get to grips with the existing position. There are 57 cottage plots in Kerry on which houses were not erected. These are a relic of the old system. The plots were acquired and allocated to the labourers by the rural district council some 40 years ago, but no houses have been built on them. The men are in possession of the plots and the Department say they must show title before they can get any grant.
I approached the Minister on this subject and I must say that not alone did he meet me sympathetically but he was most encouraging, and I believe, from the attitude he adopted towards me, that the position in regard to these plots will be altered, as will also the position with reference to housing generally. I believe we shall see good results in that connection in the future. I am merely pointing out the difficulties we are up against. The position in Kerry is that the county manager submitted a plan with reference to the 57 plots to the Department of Local Government under the last Administration. That Department turned it down. They went on the plea that these people had not paid their rents regularly.
Since I was talking to the Minister I discovered that that scheme was submitted some years ago. It is a scheme that embraces proposals from the 57 cottiers who have the plots but are not the real owners of them. The manager at that time put forward his scheme to the Department of Local Government but, as I have said, it was not accepted on the ground that these people had not paid their rents for the plots regularly. These 57 plots are located over a very wide area, over almost half the county. It is a peculiar thing that after 40 years these labourers are still in possession of the plots and no houses have been built on them.
I should like to deal with major housing schemes in my district. I realise the difficulties that exist. We must acquire land for housing schemes in Milltown, Killorglin and Cahirciveen. I agree with the suggestion made by Deputy Collins last week, namely, that there should be a co-ordination of  Ministries. The Minister for Local Government, the Minister for Justice and other authorities should combine with the object of expediting the compulsory acquisition of land. I know there is a long drawn out and unwieldy procedure, holding an arbitration court and dealing with submissions for and against. That might take a year or two and meanwhile urgent schemes of housing are held over. I was glad to hear Deputy Collins suggesting a co-ordination of Ministries, whereby the legal difficulties could be simplified, the difficulties of the Department of Local Government would become less, and the Minister's efforts for an extensive housing drive would be facilitated. In that way, instead of having to wait a year or two in some cases, the land would be acquired and the housing scheme would be ready to be put into operation in a short period.
I make this case because I know the Minister and his Department have cognisance already of the matter in regard to the Cahirciveen and Killorglin areas. In these areas adjacent to the seaboard it is very difficult to get proper housing space because the districts are already congested. Naturally people are not disposed to sell land in such areas, especially to an extent that would facilitate extensive housing schemes—say 30 or 40 houses in one area or 20 houses in another. Only people living in these places can realise our difficulties. Dublin Deputies are making a case for their own areas but there is a different environment entirely in the area of which I speak. We have our own problems and they are just as acute in their way as those which exist up here. I know I am not pleading in vain. I know there is a Minister in charge now who means business and who has a vast experience in these matters.
In regard to the question of roads, I should like to say that we are not at all satisfied in County Kerry with the system that obtains at the moment. It is not a question of the county surveyor not being a competent man or not doing his work but there is a total disregard for county roads. It is a question of making a perfect road more perfect  still for the man who would speed along at 150 miles an hour, if it were possible for him to do so. It is all right for him, but the small farmer, the hardworking man living off the beaten track, as they say, who is working day and night, doing his part as a good citizen, is totally neglected.
Mr. Hickey: He cannot even bring a bicycle on it.
Mr. J. Flynn: He cannot even drive a bicycle over it. I am aware that our county surveyor is a capable man and is doing his best in the circumstances but the system compels him to allocate thousands and thousands to the main roads to make them more perfect while there is only £5 per mile allowed for the county roads per year. What can be done for that? Just one week's work and when that is finished nothing is done for the rest of the year. That is the position which we are in in regard to the county roads. It is no wonder the people in Kerry are looking forward with expectation to the coming county council elections. I could give the Minister examples of dozens of these roads and they are not mountain roads either. They are important roads carrying heavy traffic and nothing is done for them. I shall conclude by wishing the Minister every success. I say without hesitation that I have every confidence that the Minister will do his work and be a credit to his Department.
Mr. Gilbride: I should like to say a few words in regard to some of the points raised in this debate. I was sorry to hear the Minister say that he had abolished the committee appointed to deal with the question of regional water supplies. One of the biggest wants in the country is water, and up to the present the county councils could only tinker with this question because only very small supplies were available. The most they could do in country areas was to sink a pump. We thought that with the regional supply scheme, it would be possible to have a piped water supply in every house in the country or at least that something would be done in that direction.
We have heard so much about housing that I am rather nervous in mentioning  the matter at all. Practically every Deputy who spoke devoted most of his speech to the question of housing but, to my mind, very few Deputies approached the problem from the proper standpoint. If you call in a doctor to attend a patient, the first thing he does is to try to find out the cause of the disease. I heard a Deputy here say that in the City of Dublin there is 22 per cent. of the population of the country. I think Dublin Deputies should be satisfied by this debate because at least 92 per cent. of the debate was concerned with the question of housing in Dublin City. I know that a serious shortage of houses exists in Dublin, but what is the cause of that? The main cause to my mind is the drift from the land to the towns and ultimately to the cities. When I went home at the week-end I met a young man who had just been married and the first question he put to me was what was his chance, if he went to Dublin, of getting a house. I said to him: “They are as badly off or even worse than we are here.” He then replied: “I have been reading the papers and there does not seem to be a word about housing anywhere except in Dublin.”
Some Deputy suggested that there should be a publicity drive. There is a publicity drive but it is all hinged around Dublin. I do not object to that but I do say that it is creating the feeling in the country that the only place that is going to have any houses is the City of Dublin and everyone who has that feeling is making for the city. That is going to make the housing problem here worse than it is. That and the centralisation of industry in and around the city is the main cause of the growing housing problem in the city. Until that is remedied, until the Government takes some steps to decentralise industry, the housing problem in the city will tend to become more acute every day. That is all I wish to say on that question.
I should like to draw the Minister's attention to the question of fire-fighting appliances. Some time ago, the fire-fighting appliances belonging to the air raid precautions were handed over to the county councils. I was told of a case quite recently where some of  these appliances were taken out for some kind of display and were found to be quite useless. I would ask the Minister to take some steps to ensure —this mainly concerns small towns where there is no proper fire brigade— that these appliances are kept in proper order and that, in case of a fire, the same thing will not happen as happened at the display I speak of, when these appliances were found to be quite useless.
There is one matter in which I am very keenly interested and that is the question of the recoupment of grants. We in Sligo found ourselves in the position that, having completed our estimate for the roads, we were faced with a demand for an increase in wages. The council granted that increase, but found that the granting of that increase meant a further sum of £7,800. According to a letter sent from the Department on 27th February 1948, the council is not entitled to be recouped that £7,800 and the council now find that, by reason of giving their labourers that increase, they must cut down other works to the value of £7,800, if the Minister does not alter his decision and allow that amount to be recouped. I ask the Minister as a Labour man what is the use of giving a man an increase in wages and then leaving him idle for two months out of the 12. I should like the Minister to make the point clear as we are keenly interested in the matter, as, I believe, are other counties in the same position. I should like to hear some of the Labour Deputies on the point. Up to the present, we have got no guarantee from the Minister that he proposes to allow recoupment.
We have had a lot of talk here about the Managerial Act. The first thing I want to say in that regard is that that Act was the child of Cumann na nGaedheal, because the 1925 Act was the Act which took the powers from the county councils. I was chairman of Sligo County Council when the Act was put in force. I never liked it and yet I have still a very open mind with regard to it. I made a promise at the time that I would do all in my power to give it every chance to work, but I warn the Minister to be very careful about changing that Act, which has  now become part and parcel of the public life of the country. I have heard different suggestions about the Act— one Deputy wants to have it done away with completely, while another does not want to see the power with regard to appointments given back. Deputy Dunne or Deputy Spring suggested that the Minister should be slow to hand back these powers, especially to any council with a Fianna Fáil majority.
Mr. Spring: I did not say that.
Mr. Gilbride: Some Deputy on that side said it. For my part, I will make him a present of these appointments. I would not like to see the Minister giving back this power with regard to appointments, because I have a recollection in connection with some of the old boards of health, when they had the power to make these appointments, of sitting for a whole day making these appointments, with canvassing by different groups of people and councillors coming in late after spending half the day being canvassed and in public-houses. I would not go back to that system, and if that system is reintroduced I would not be a member of a public body.
One Deputy said that a better class of person would present himself for election to these boards. I cannot see why there should be any difference between the man who is prepared to go forward now and take his part in the public life of the country and the man who would go forward in those circumstances. I say that a councillor has as much power to-day as he had in the old county council, because whatever the council decided then had to be sanctioned by the Department. At present, these bodies have a good deal of power. The Act requires to be amended, I admit, but I warn the Minister to be very careful about giving back the power to make appointments. If he does give back that power, I will back my friend on the opposite side and let any Party that wants it have it. I wish the Minister well. If he comes to Sligo and I am still chairman of the county council, I shall be glad to meet him, but we shall probably not be throwing  as many bouquets at him as he might like. I will show him hundreds of houses built in the town during the term of office of Fianna Fáil and a couple of hundred other houses in course of construction, and I will say to him that, if he has done better than that when leaving office, I shall be the first to congratulate him.
Captain Cowan: I should like to begin my few words with a reference to the County Management Acts which have been referred to by the previous speaker. There seems to be a considerable amount of confusion with regard to this problem of county managers and how best the position can be considered and improved. There has been quite a considerable amount of criticism of the system, and I agree with those speakers who say that the system, as it is, is contrary to the principles of democracy. The Minister has indicated that he proposes at an early date to modify or to amend substantially the provisions of these Acts, and, in doing that, I think he will have the support of the great majority of Deputies, and even of those Deputies who say that they did not care much for the Act but decided to give it a chance. I take it that they could not have done very much else, once the measures were introduced by the previous Minister.
The system of county managers can possibly be modified in the way the Minister indicated, by making the manager the servant of the council and subject to the control of the council. In that way, the advantages of the Acts referred to by Deputy Beegan and Deputy Gilbride can be retained, while, at the same time, leaving full power to the local authority. I do not want to say more than that. I welcome the Minister's indication and I look forward to the very early introduction of the measure to amend these Acts.
Housing has monopolised this debate, and as a Deputy representing one of the Dublin constituencies I am glad that that is so. During the general election campaign, and taking part in that campaign, I visited quite a number of people in my own constituency and I was shocked by the conditions I came across. No person could  picture or could paint in words a picture of the horrible conditions under which so many thousands of Dublin families are compelled to live, and even in the areas where there are substantial and decent houses, such as Kil lester, there is a condition of overcrowding that is impossible to realise unless one actually visited and saw the families there. As I visited those areas in the general election campaign and was invited by the occupants to see the horrible conditions under which they were compelled to exist, I gave a promise to those people that if I were elected I would do everything in my power to ensure that decent accommodation was provided for them, and now that the Party I belong to is part of the inter-Party Government and the Minister for whom I have considerable personal respect is charged with the responsibility of looking after this housing problem, I just want to make this clear. I appreciate that the Minister understands it; but nevertheless I want to make my own position clear. Any Government or any Minister that will not get down to the problem of solving this housing question in Dublin City is not going to last very long in office. I think it is necessary that that should be made clear. It is necessary that city Deputies who represent areas in which there are horrible slums should make it perfectly clear that we cannot stand for any delay in tackling this problem and we cannot allow any obstacles to prevent that problem being solved quickly. I think that is all I need to say on the general problem.
This Government is now four months in office and four months is a very short period but nevertheless those months run into years rather quickly and I should have liked to see in Dublin by the end of this year at least 5,000 houses ready for occupation. That is the plan that should confront the Minister, the plan that should confront the Party: to provide the minimum this year of 5,000 houses, and if that is done it will be a start with the problem. Some Deputy at an early stage of the debate mentioned that this housing problem can be solved in 15 or 20 years; it must be solved quicker  than that. Tens of thousands of citizens would die if we were to leave the housing problem for 15 or 20 years. If to-morrow we were faced with an emergency, if there was a danger of an invasion of this country, there is no doubt whatsoever that the whole resources of the community would be mobilised to face that invasion and face that danger. I say that the danger that is facing us through the slum problem and the inadequacy of housing is as great a danger as the danger of a foreign invasion and the whole resources of this State must be mobilised and must be used so that the problem may be solved in a reasonable time.
The Minister, as an earnest of his sincerity in this matter, has appointed a Housing Advisory Council to advise him, under the control of the assistant city manager, to deal with the problem. Now I did suggest to the Minister, in a supplementary question that I put to him at Question Time, that this advisory council cannot be expected to make any appreciable hole in the housing situation because it will be just in the same position as the Dublin Corporation. They cannot hurry on the acquisition of sites, they cannot hurry on the making of contracts, and these are the troubles, these are the matters that have delayed the starting of schemes up to the present. It is a well-known fact that when the corporation decides to acquire an area for housing at least a period of two years must elapse before a foundation can be laid in that site. As things are at present that same period, or almost that period, must elapse, even with the assistance the Minister will get from the Housing Advisory Council. The Minister has promised to cut red tape. I know that is his intention; I know that is his desire; I know that he will do that as often and as much as he can, but that will not speed up very much the commencement of the building of houses. I would suggest to him that more speedy machinery is required and he can only get that machinery by coming into this House and looking for it. While he is tied down by legislation as he is, the delays have been and will continue to be there, and unless  he fortifies himself with new powers I see no serious effort being made to deal with the housing problems here in Dublin City.
During the course of the debate it has been suggested to the Minister that he should depart from the traditional methods of building and from the traditional from of houses. I agree with the speakers who have urged that on the Minister and I want to recommend for consideration by the Minister a new system of house construction which has been invented in England. It is known as the Trowbrick unit, and it is a new system which, apparently, is being adopted by local authorities there. It has only recently come on the market and I have been fortunate to get particulars. I just got them to-day by air mail and I propose to make them available for consideration by the Minister and the Department. The advantage, apparently, of this system is that the bricks are made from cement and that they can be all made in this country, so that the objections to the pre-fabricated house disappear so far as this is concerned. Another important factor, particularly at the present time when we have a shortage of skilled labour, is that no inherent or acquired skill is required and that erection may be by unskilled or amateur labour.
This system, I am informed, actually builds a house as good as the houses which have been built by local authorities. There are only seven shapes of pre-cast blocks used in the construction which provides for cavity walls and internal partitions of nine-inch cavity or three-inch solid. I do not want at the end of a long, wearisome and tedious debate to go into this matter at any length, except just to say that I will make available to the Minister the particulars I have got so that he and his Department may, if they wish, examine the specimens of this work. Our own labour and our own materials can be used in the construction of these houses. The blocks may be made by hand or by block-forming machines. The work can be done on the site where a house is being built or where a number of houses are being  built or at any centre or locality in bulk.
Mr. Rooney: Will the Deputy say what are the dimensions of the blocks?
Captain Cowan: I have all the particulars, but I do not want to weary the House with them. As to the weight of the blocks, they are between 16 lbs. and 88 lbs., with standard blocks of 74 lbs. and 55 lbs.
Mr. Rooney: Are they much different from the present type of cement block in shape or weight?
Captain Cowan: They are. The idea is that these blocks fit into one another. The matter is rather detailed and I do not want to worry the House with detailed particulars. I simply mention the matter to the Minister as a new method and I shall make it available to him. The blocks are all standard and they are 9 inch horizontal by 12 inches vertical. There are seven different types. It is claimed on behalf of this system that the degree of insulation against heat, sound and damp is superior to the traditional clay-brick structure. The actual dense volumes are: cement, one; washed sand, three; screened ballast, six. It can be said, therefore, that native materials can be used in the manufacture and that the work can be done by unskilled labour. There is a shortage of skilled labour at present. There is no difficulty whatever in regard to the foundations because the basis of construction is a raft foundation.
I should also like to recommend to the Minister a new system of sanitation which has been and is under test in England by local authorities. It is known as the electro-san system of sanitation. This system can be provided for single houses, for a block of houses, or even for a substantial area. The principle of the system is that there are two electric plates through which the current passes. The current can be produced from a battery such as works an ordinary flash lamp. The system can be used in areas where the local authorities may not be able to provide sanitation of the ordinary type.
For a single house, this electro-san arrangement neutralises and converts  the sewage into soft water with less current than is required for a common torch, and the usual 6-volt battery provides for from 750 to 800 uses before re-charging of the battery is necessary. This is rather technical and I just mention it because I am anxious, and I am sure the Minister and the Department would be anxious that any system which will enable the shortage of skilled labour and shortage of materials to be overcome and enable us to get the houses that we so badly need should be examined. I am quite certain that the Minister will give it examination and that his officials will carry out such tests as are necessary.
Advances under the Small Dwellings Act have been mentioned. I want to make one recommendation to the Minister that where grants were sanctioned prior to the increase in interest rates, although no draw had been made from the local authority, and where people had committed themselves to the building and the purchase of houses on the basis of an advance at the lower rate, the Minister should endeavour to make the lower rate apply. I understand there are not so very many cases but in those cases that have come to my notice-three of them from one town in the Midlands—the alteration in the rate increases the repayments by approximately 10/- a week. That is a serious increase. It would be equitable in their cases, where the advance had been sanctioned at the old rate and where the houses were in course of construction, that the new increased rate should not apply.
I should like to support what Deputy Beegan said with regard to the difficulties that arise under the administration of the housing grant. Two things are required, evidence of the contractor and proof of title. There are many cases where an individual purchases a site and, with the aid of a skilled foreman, constructs a house or gets a friend who is in the building line to construct a house, where there is no contract in the ordinary sense. In that type of case the Minister should not insist on getting a contract. I have before me a letter from the city architect's office in Dublin, addressed to an applicant for an advance. The applicant submitted a document from  his contractor saying that he had agreed to build the house and that the work was almost completed. That document was sent back and the man was informed that it was not satisfactory evidence. I would say to the Minister that the administration of the Act and interpretation of the provisions should be as reasonable as possible. From what I know personally of the Minister, from what I have heard him say in introducing the Estimate, I am satisfied that he is not anxious that obstacles such as that should be put in the way of applicants for advances.
The second difficulty that arises, and to which Deputy Beegan also referred, is the matter of title. In Dublin—I am sure it applies to many other places— a person purchases a site or takes a lease of a plot of ground and makes application for a housing grant. At the same time he applies to a building society for an advance on the security of the property.
At an early stage after acquisition of the site he submits his title deeds to the building society and, when he has built up his house to a certain point, he gets a draw on the building advance; he gets a further draw at a further stage and a final draw when the house is completed. In those cases, if the applicant in respect of the housing grant has to submit his deeds as proof of title, he must get a solicitor to take the deeds up from the building society and the building society must be paid a fee for lending the deeds. I submit that that is unreasonable and unnecessary and that where a solicitor has acted for the applicant in the purchase of the property or is aware of the title the Minister ought to accept as sufficient evidence of title a certificate from the solicitor that he is acquainted with the title and that the person is the beneficial owner. I would recommend to the Minister that a certificate from a practising solicitor ought to be accepted as evidence of ownership of the site. Otherwise there will be, not only difficulties in regard to getting the deeds from the building society and perhaps getting them from a bank, but the difficulty which Deputy Beegan mentioned, and which is a real difficulty in the country, that title may not be established without elaborate procedure,  extracting grants of administration, and so on.
However, I am not concerned with that aspect so much as I am with the case where there is no doubt whatever about the person's title and where his deeds are lodged with the building society and where it will put him to some expense to get the deeds for the purpose of submitting them to the Department or to the particular officer whose business it is to investigate them.
There is one special matter I want to mention in connection with this Estimate, that is, the matter of allotments in the Dublin City area. In the Dublin City area allotments are controlled. The administration of the allotments is under an organisation known as the Irish Allotment Holders' Association which works in conjunction with the Dublin Corporation, with the Department of Local Government and also with the Department of Agriculture. Very valuable work has been done by this Allotment Holders' Association in the nine years since it was founded. The figures given to me by the association indicate that in those nine years the members of the association have provided plots for 24,000 unemployed people, that they have purchased 1,900 tons of seed potatoes and that, by purchasing those potatoes direct from the producers, they have saved at least £2 a ton; that, in respect of unemployed alone, they have made 24,000 collections of seeds, that they have purchased 33,000 tons of farmyard manure, 20 tons of shallots and millions of cabbage plants. This Allotment Holders' Association is composed of a group of individuals who do their ordinary day's work. They meet at night, or at week-ends, to administer and control this whole matter of allotments in the Dublin area. Those individuals make a very serious complaint against the way they are dealt with by the Dublin Corporation, and to that extent the Department must take some responsibility. The complaints which they make against the Dublin Corporation are those—I think, a Chinn Chomhairle, the matter is of some importance,  and I am waiting until the Minister is ready to hear me.
Minister for Local Government (Mr. Murphy): May I assure you, Sir, that there was no discourtesy intended to you, or to the House or to the Deputy? I am not in the habit of being guilty of conduct of that sort, and I resent such an allegation being made. The purpose of my conversation should be quite obvious to anybody.
Captain Cowan: I do not think I made any allegation whatever about discourtesy. I did make an explanation to the Ceann Comhairle as to why I was not continuing, but I made no allegation of discourtesy.
Mr. Pattison: It is on record.
Captain Cowan: I am not concerned whether it is on record or not. I am raising this matter which, I think, is of importance, and I do not want to discuss the relative responsibilities of discourtesy in this matter. The objections that are made include the following: that correspondence which this association forwards to the Dublin Corporation is not answered without considerable delay; that the corporation reserve to themselves the right to supply all applicants to the association, and that when these applicants are found unsuitable they are unable to provide substitutes. The result is that this association may be at the loss of the cost of seeds which they have purchased.
Since 1946 the association has been endeavouring to get from the Dublin Corporation a lease of the lands which they hold from the corporation. Though they have been pressing the corporation for it since October, 1946, they have been unable to get that lease. This association of individuals in the ordinary way of an association, nominates trustees, but the corporation have taken the line that certain of these trustees appointed by this voluntary association will not be approved, and they furthermore adopt the line that only the persons that they want as trustees will be approved. The result is that there is a conflict going on between the corporation and this body that is trying to administer, in the interests of  the community, those allotments in the Dublin area.
There are other complaints, that areas are closed down without any reasonable notice to the organisation; that areas are notified as being available when it is too late to make them available, and, generally, this conflict that has gone on for years—it has been going on since the association was founded—is so tense at times that members and officers of the association have thrown the whole thing up and left. The new men who come on try to carry on, but they are up against the same stone wall.
Now, the individuals in this association are trying to do a big job of work and they are quite prepared to have this matter of the relations between themselves and the Dublin Corporation investigated or looked into by the Minister or by the Minister's Parliamentary Secretary or by any official that the Minister may choose to nominate from his Department. There has been pin-pricking going on for all these years, and the result has reacted very substantially against the success of the allotments scheme in the Dublin City area.
I do not think there is very much more that I want to say in this debate. Serious allegations have been made against the private builder—the speculative builder—and, as far as my investigations go, while some of these allegations may be correct, the case made against the speculative builder is in the main. I think, unproved. I am personally aware from facts and figures that have come to my notice that at the moment those private builders and building contractors who are erecting three, four, five or six houses at a time are having tremendous difficulty in recovering through sales the expenses that they are incurring in their houses.
It may be—and I think it is correct-that some builders will build a good class house and that other builders will build a shell of a house which will look very well to the naked eye but which does not contain the material. That type of builder may be making some money at the moment but the honest builder who is putting decent materials  into his house is not making the huge sums of money that have been suggested or mentioned here. I think it is as well that we should face that problem as one of reality. There is quite a number of builders who, in the last few months, have built houses and who now find themselves with those houses on their hands because they have built them for sale. They believed that the grants which were coming along would apply. But as the houses have not been built by the owners themselves and as they have been built for speculation by the builder, built for sale, these grants do not apply. The result is that in every area of Dublin those houses are now a clog on the market and it is impossible for any of the builders to dispose of them. I do not know whether in that particular case the Minister has considered the payment of the amount of the grant to the purchaser of one of those houses. If the house was built for a particular individual on a site owned by that individual the grant would be paid. Where the individual purchases the house after construction and purchases the site it does not appear to me to be unreasonable that that particular purchaser should receive the housing grant. It would be a substantial help to an individual to become the owner of a home and, so long as the other requirements are compiled with, the fact that the house has been built by a speculative builder and has been sold to the individual should not prevent the purchaser from benefiting from the housing grant. I make that suggestion to the Minister for consideration.
I want to repeat what I said at the beginning. In my constituency there are, to my knowledge, hundreds—the figure may run into thousands but at least there are hundreds—of families living in insanitary slums. One of the probable reasons why I was elected to this Dáil at all was to give particular attention to that problem. I do not want to see any more delay in tackling it. One of the tests of this Government and one of the tests of the present Minister for Local Government is whether he will solve this housing problem or not. We have had too much talk about the problem. What we want now is action. I say that the  Minister should set as a target between now and the 1st of January, in the Dublin area alone, at least 5,000 houses. If he sets himself that target, if he is determined to carry it out, if he is determined to examine all the alternative methods of building and the alternative types of houses that are available to him, if he faces that problem with the courage and determination with which a problem of that magnitude should be faced then he will do the job. But if he is content to leave the matter to his Housing Advisory Council, if he is content to leave the difficulties that are in the way of local authorities still there, if he is not prepared to come in here and get the necessary statutory power to overcome difficulties——
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy is repetitive.
Captain Cowan: ——if he is not prepared to do all these things then I fear the housing problem cannot be solved now. I want to see the Government solve it. I want to see the Minister solve it. I will give the Government and the Minister all the help I can in so far as they are working towards a solution of that problem. I want to make it perfectly clear, however, that there will be no stronger critic of the Government or of the Minister than I if this job of work is not tackled and done with.
Mr. Ormonde: I feel that this debate has been unduly delayed and my sympathy goes out to the Minister who has had to sit in this House and to a repetition of statements until he must be reaching the point of exasperation. The question of the provision of houses as speedily as possible for the many thousands in city, town and rural area who need them has claimed the attention of practically every Deputy who has spoken on this matter, to the complete exclusion of other aspects of local government. The housing shortage is undoubtedly the most vital problem confronting the Government. In its solution I feel sure that the Minister will have the co-operation and support of every Deputy in the House. The Fianna  Fáil Government, notwithstanding statements to the contrary by Deputies on the Government Benches, during their term of office have gone a long way on the road towards the provision of the needs of the people in regard to housing. One hundred and fifty thousand houses, new and reconstructed, is no mean achievement during their régime particularly when one considers that, during their period of office, there were seven years of emergency when building was practically brought to a standstill because of a complete lack of our requirements in building materials and equipment.
I have no hesitation in saying that were it not for the intervention of the war years the problem which is now facing the Government would not be nearly as great as it is. However, talking of past achievements will not help to solve the problem of the future. The Minister is faced with the colossal task of clearing the festering slums— the breeding places of tuberculosis-in Dublin, Cork, Waterford and elsewhere. Undoubtedly, it will be readily conceded that the getting rid of the slums and the providing of houses for the working class by local authorities should receive priority over all other building. However, the building of houses by private individuals should not be discouraged in any way by the withholding of licences. The shortage of houses for the middle-class people is very nearly as acute as it is for the working class and they should get every encouragement, because every house built is a step in the right direction and will help in the solution of the problems of all.
Another factor which is acting as a deterrent to private individuals' building is the upper floor space limit of 1,250 square feet. Many are convinced that, in a house which a middle-class family of seven or eight would require, that floor space limit would not procure all the necessary number of rooms, nor all rooms of a suitable size. Consequently, they are reluctant to build, or are deferring building in the hope that the Minister may be constrained to extend that floor space limit. It may be only a small point, but anything which helps even in a very small way to advance the housing  drive should be worthy of the Minister's consideration.
I make another appeal to the Minister, an appeal which I made to his predecessor in office when he introduced the Housing (Amendment) Bill in November last, and to which I believe he was sympathetically inclined, but the stumbling block was, I think, the Minister for Finance. The housing problem is of such vital importance that nothing should be left undone to ensure the expeditious and smooth carrying out of the programme. I appeal for the establishment of the temporary housing inspectors. There are only some 12 or 13 of them and they were considered by the Civil Service Commissioners 13 years ago to be the best available experts for this particular business. In view of their experience gained since that time, it would be very hard to find more expert advisers, particularly in view of the fact that engineering and architectural graduates can have had little or no experience in housing during the past five or six years. It is obvious that the completion of this housing programme will not be carried out in the life time of these existing temporary inspectors. Therefore, there is a definite need for their establishment and for the recruitment of additional temporary inspectors to work under those established officers. It is a decided asset or advantage to the housing section of the Department to have an expert staff of officers who will ensure the expeditious carrying out of the housing programme and who will insist that the progress in construction and design, which has been apparent in housing from 1932 to the present day, will be maintained.
The Minister replied to a question of mine to-day in regard to the annulment of a compulsory purchase order to acquire the Lismore Show Grounds as a site for the erection of cottages in the town of Lismore. I was not at all satisfied with the Minister's reply. Here you have an ideal site in the centre of the town under the control of the town commissioners, ideal from the point of view that you have already provided there a water supply, sewerage and electric light, and where occupiers of houses on that site would be  convenient to Church, schools and shops. No excuse that the Minister could put forward would outweigh the benefits that would accrue to the occupiers of those houses, built within the town bounds. I wish the Minister would reconsider his decision in regard to that particular matter.
Quite recently, the Minister for Defence received a request from the Waterford Corporation for the temporary use of the vacant military barracks in Waterford, to house the very many people in quest of houses in the city. The Minister refused, on the grounds that the barracks might be used again in the near future. I would appeal to the Minister to use his influence with his colleague in office, to endeavour to get him to accede to the request of the Waterford Corporation and to grant the use of the barracks as a temporary and a partial solution of the housing problem in Waterford City.
Much has been said in this debate for and against the managerial system. Not being a member of a local body and never having been one, I cannot speak with expert knowledge on that particular matter. However, I have had occasion many times to make representations regarding local matters affecting my constituents to the county manager, and on all occasions I have had that business carried out expeditiously and effectively. There are many matters which, by reason of the powers given to county managers, can be dealt with out of hand and immediately by them, which otherwise would have to be brought before a meeting of a local body, with consequent delay and probable inaction. In my opinion, any curtailment of the powers of county managers would be detrimental to local administration and I would ask the Minister to move cautiously in arriving at a decision as to how far he may proceed in divesting the county managers of their powers.
Finally, I wish the Minister every success and God-speed in his housing endeavours.
Mr. Rooney: I intend to be brief on this matter, although it is a very important Estimate. If we devote the  same amount of time to the Estimates to follow as we did to those which have passed, I am sure we will be here until next September. I wish the Minister the best of luck in the coming year. I am glad to see that he is devoting almost 90 per cent. of the Estimate towards the provision of houses. It is an example of the grave housing need at the present time and I regret that the Minister for Finance has not been able to make at least a further £2,000,000 available towards the solution of this problem. However, I am sure that at the end of this year, looking back over our achievements, the Minister for Finance will be able to see his way to making at least three times as much money available for housing in the financial year commencing next April. The Minister mentioned that something in the region of 100,000 houses were urgently required. Looking back over the achievement of the past year we must appreciate that it will be many years before the housing problem can be solved. In the year 1947 the county council provided 729 houses. Even if ten times that number were built during this year it would still be 15 years before we would reach the target of 100,000 houses.
I agree with the other Deputies who have spoken of the need for an increased number of technicians to come to the rescue as far as housing is concerned. Housing is an urgent national problem at the present time. I would urge upon the Minister that he should disregard the fact that piped water and sewerage are not available in certain areas where houses are urgently needed. In the past there has been a tendency not to proceed with the provision of houses in areas where water and sewerage and, perhaps, electricity were not available. I think that if we could house our people and shelter them in some way, even without these amenities, we should be going a long way towards solving the social needs of our time.
We are faced then with the problem of providing labour. Some builders say that they find it difficult to sign up contracts because they are not sure that the necessary labour will be available. To those of our men who are  looking for work I would say to them to go into the employment of builders. Because of the magnitude of our housing problem at the present time there will be at least ten to 15 years' constant employment available to such men. Two years have now passed since the war ended and it is unfortunate that at this time the Minister for Local Government and the local authorities should find themselves faced with the task of ferreting out sites for the purpose of building houses. The acquisition of these sites takes a considerable time. Development and building cannot be commenced until the local authority concerned owns the sites proposed for development.
References have been made by some Deputies to building costs. It is apparent at the present time that building costs have not been standardised to any extent because we see similar classes of houses constructed, built and sold at widely different figures. To-day the Minister pointed out that the cost of materials for a four-roomed house approximated to £350. Realising that such houses are fetching anything up to £1,750 and £2,000 we rather wonder where the balance of the money goes. If materials cost approximately £350 we must assume that the acquisition of sites, labour and other considerations make up the balance. There is no comparison between the cost of materials and the eventual selling price of these houses.
We have in this country a scarcity of skilled workers. Once again, I urge upon the Minister the desirability of considering what methods might be adopted to encourage potential skilled workers into the building trade. It is said that American bricklayers can do three times as much work in a given time as bricklayers in Britain or Eire. There must be some reason for that, either in the method adopted or the types of bricks used. I would ask the Minister to investigate the methods adopted by American builders. I would like him to compile statistics as a result of his investigations so that in future we shall be able to relate the eventual selling price of a house to the actual cost of building that house.
 The Minister mentioned in introducing his Estimate a possibility of encouraging the building of houses by the utilisation of direct labour. That scheme will also present difficulties. Rumours are current at the moment that a building strike is due to commence at the end of this month. With houses so urgently needed at the present time I believe that such a strike would be a national disaster. Although it may be difficult for the Minister to intervene, especially as it is a matter between the employers and the employees, I would urge upon the Minister to take every possible step to discourage such a strike. The strike weapon should be the last resort. Only when all other efforts at mediation fail should the community in general be asked to suffer.
In the course of his speech the Minister also mentioned the cost at which cottages at Wexford were being built. He mentioned a figure of £650 for a cottage in Wexford. It is somewhat difficult to understand why county council cottages in other areas should cost £1,300 each. That is exactly double the figure at which similar cottages are being provided in Wexford. Both these cottages contain the same amount of material. I know that wages are higher in Dublin than they are in Wexford, but I do not think that that alone can explain the discrepancy. The costs of these cottages eventually fall upon the tenants because the dearer the cottage the higher the incidence of rent the tenant will have to bear, especially when the payment is calculated to be made over a short term of years.
In local authority schemes I would urge upon the Minister the desirability of introducing legislation so that at least a small proportion of these houses would be made available for newly married people. At the present time it is generally known that these people cannot get accommodation for themselves. Many of them have to go into the houses of their in-laws, with the result that the majority of them postpone their marriages.
The population of Dublin has increased to a remarkable extent since 1932. That leads one to believe that the rural community found it difficult to earn a living in the rural districts  and they were forced into the city areas, where there are certain amenities and some kind of employment, usually provided by factories such as were established in the vicinity of Dublin City. The greater the population becomes the greater the housing problem. But it is difficult to prevent people coming into Dublin to live there if they decide to do so and the only method that could be adopted to prevent Dublin City becoming top-heavy would be decentralisation, by establishing factories in centres outside Dublin, and also providing houses. We find from experience that the people will go where the houses are.
In his Estimate the Minister has provided for road maintenance under the guidance of the local authorities. There was a reference by one Deputy to the repair of these roads by contract, and the Deputy deplored that these roads were being maintained by contract instead of under the supervision of the local authority. This is a matter of finance, and although the most desirable thing would be that the local authority should employ its own staff to do the work in its own area, we must measure the volume of work being done. Usually when work is being done under contract the contractor, besides having other obligations, is in a hurry to get that work done. For that reason I would like the Minister, if possible, to devise some scheme whereby he could ascertain the volume of work which any one person can do, when employed as a labourer by any particular county council.
I would like him to be able to say here the number of square yards per hour any man could do at road tarring operations, steam-rolling operations, or any other type of road operation, and that could be standardised and it could then be found whether any particular local authority was supervising the work properly in order to ensure that the ratepayers were getting a good return for the money collected from them. Local authorities must realise that they have a duty to the ratepayers, and the Minister must realise that he has a duty to see that the local authorities are efficient and that the work is carried out in an efficient manner.
 I shall conclude by saying that, from the short experience I have had of the Minister, I feel assured that he is well able for the job which confronts him, though it is of great magnitude. He is determined to give the people houses within the shortest possible time and in the most effective way. I am prepared to sit back and watch what the Minister proposes to do for us.
Mr. Keyes: I wish to express disagreement with the remarks of the last speaker on the question of working on the roads. I do not intend to advert to housing, which has been fully covered by other Deputies. I think that this question of contract is creeping in to a rather dangerous extent in relation to the maintenance of our roads. It may be argued that by working from a central position with lorries, men can do the road-building and it may be possible to give a better return to the ratepayers than has been given by the old method of opening quarries adjacent to the work and employing carters and men in the ordinary way. That is a very false economy, even if it can be proved that the man with the lorry, working from a central quarry to long distances, will give a better return per yard. It is, I repeat, a very false economy. Hitherto, the workers in various counties depended mainly on the county councils for their employment. They are necessary in the country because they are readily available and can be switched to agricultural work when required, but they cannot be expected to sit down between the harvest and sowing seasons.
This work given by local authorities in each county is essential for the proper utilisation of our man-power and I am satisfied that, properly supervised, these men can give an adequate return and it is much more economic. I think the other procedure is becoming a real menace and I fail to see the economy. I can tell the Minister about cases that I know of where stones are being carried from my county to adjoining counties. I am slow to believe that any county is so barren in quarries as to be incapable of providing suitable metalling for road material and screenings.
 I am aware of material going from one centre to three counties. It is a serious menace to those men who hitherto derived a living from it as carters and as workers in other capacities. I should like to see the county councils using their own plant and opening quarries in districts adjacent to where the work is taking place, so as to have a short haul of three or three and a half miles. I believe that with such a short haul the man with the horse and cart can do his work as economically as eventually it could be done using the man with the lorry and having a long haul of ten, 15 or 20 miles. I should like the Minister to inquire into that aspect of road maintenance. I cannot separate that from the employment of people. In this country anything that tends towards the unemployment of our people should be examined microscopically, because we have sufficient unemployment. The Minister should look carefully into the tendency which seems to grow, whether with or without the cognisance of the Department I do not know, but it is causing grave disquiet. I would like him to make every effort to maintain employment for our people by opening up quarries adjacent to where the work is taking place and eschew this practice of hauling ten, 15 or 20 miles from the place where the work is being carried out.
Mr. S. Brady: I should like, first of all, to congratulate the Minister on the very wise selection he made when he appointed Mr. O'Mahony to take charge of housing in Dublin City and county. I should like also to pay tribute to the personnel of the Housing Council which he selected. I know some of the members; I know their abilities and I do not think he could have made a wiser selection. In this I disagree totally from Deputy Dr. Brennan, who urged that the Minister should appoint a Deputy on this council. I say from my own personal knowledge that the Minister could not improve on the council he has selected for knowledge of the problem, for energy, and for ability. I am certain he will get the work done very thoroughly and very competently by the manager and by that council. I  would suggest to the Minister that as soon as possible he should let people know quite definitely, once he gets the necessary data and details, what his target is likely to be for the coming 12 months. Deputy Cowan suggested 5,000. I hope he will be able to reach that, but I would urge that that information be given to the public as soon as possible because from my experience—and I suppose every Deputy has experience of the housing problem—I do not think there is anything more cruel than that Deputies should unwittingly mislead these people who have been living in appalling conditions for a long time and raise their hopes by statements that they are going to get houses if sufficient houses are not available. These people have lived with extraordinary courage under very bad circumstances, and I believe they are prepared to be patient but any of us who have served on a local body will be aware that when houses are built in a certain locality and the supply is quite unequal to the demand, great disappointment is experienced by people who are not successful in getting houses.
The previous Government started a great housing drive. We were all most enthusiastic and that is why I stress this point to the Minister. We all went round and great publicity was given to the drive that was then made. Yet I am sorry to say that many of the people I visited even yesterday and who, I honestly believed would be housed in decent accommodation ten years ago, are still living in the same old dwellings. Here is the problem we have locally in Dún Laoghaire Borough. We carried out a terrific drive and we solved our problem for the time being. I remember when we brought the then Minister for Local Government, Mr. Seán T. O'Kelly, out to open one of our housing schemes, very imprudently we congratulated ourselves and said: “Now, the housing problem is solved; we have finished our job.” We were in the position that we even found it difficult to get tenants for houses at 15/- a week. When the announcement was made that Dún Laoghaire had solved its housing problem, there was an influx of people. As a result houses that were then first-class houses were  rapidly turned into flats and we created a problem worse than the problem we had solved. I myself saw basement flats in Dún Laoghaire that would horrify anybody. That was a problem we created almost overnight.
I have been looking up the figures in this regard and I find that according to the census the population of Dún Laoghaire has increased during the ten years 1936-46 by an average of 500 per year. That increase, according to the estimated figure for the last year is maintained. But serious as that problem is I find the problem in Dublin City is considerably worse. The average increase in population in Dublin City for the ten years according to the census was 3,367. According to the latest figures for the last year the increase has been, not 3,000 but 6,865. That shows that although you may solve one problem you may rapidly create another.
A further difficulty experienced arises from the fact that houses fall into disrepair. Shortly after the recent election, the Deputies for our constituency interviewed the county commissioner. We received complaints about the condition of houses in the outlying districts and the information we got was that for some years up to a short time ago, it was impossible to supply these houses with barrels and a very considerable amount of damage was being done by water percolating into the foundations of the houses. That problem has now been solved but, even to-day, where plastering is required, the present commissioner tells us that if there is plastering to be done in a house in County Dublin it cannot be done because of the shortage of plasterers. I listened to some Deputies to-day who did not seem to realise that houses are falling into serious disrepair, houses that are quite capable of accommodating the families occupying them, because plasterwork cannot be done even at the present day.
So far as the Borough of Dún Laoghaire is concerned, and I can only speak of it with authority, the previous Minister for Local Government warned us during the emergency years that housing could not then be carried on  at the required rate and that we were to prepare plans, if necessary engage an extra staff, and acquire sites, so that when materials and workers would be ready the drive could be carried on without any delay. As far as the Borough of Dún Laoghaire is concerned that was done and I do not believe it is possible to acquire another site in the district.
Everything is ready for going ahead with this housing drive. There is one problem we have, the problem of sewerage. It will not be possible to build houses in the outer districts unless the sewerage scheme is proceeded with immediately, and in that connection I sincerely hope that the rumour which is floating around from other constituencies-I mention it so that, if there is any truth in it, the Minister will reconsider and rectify the position—that the grant for sewerage or waterworks is being reduced, is unfounded. If the sewerage scheme is held up, it means that the housing schemes will be held up, and I appeal to the Minister to do everything possible to speed up the sewerage scheme, particularly for the Dún Laoghaire and Rathdown areas.
Another matter which has been mentioned is the matter of roads. Here, again, this is a matter which has a serious bearing on the housing problem. There are many people living in the outer districts of our constituency. They are quite content to live there and they are able to support themselves in the mountain districts, but the condition of the roads is so bad that these people are gradually leaving their accommodation in the mountain districts and looking for accommodation where it is next to impossible to give it to them. It was arranged that, on account of the production of turf in the Glencullen and Kellystown districts, these roads would be resurfaced. I hope that, now that the production of turf in these areas has been considerably reduced, the Minister will see that the roads are resurfaced so far as possible.
I know one road in Kellystown the use of which the people had to  abandon. It was dangerous to put a horse on that road and it meant they had to go miles out of their way. It would be a great economy in every way if these people could be facilitated by the resurfacing of these roads, instead of the loose way in which the job has been done up to the present, putting on a surface which will be washed away by the next winter's rain. It would help the Minister to keep even a half dozen people in these districts until housing has been provided in the other districts.
One other matter which I should like to bring to the Minister's notice is the matter of the meagre salaries paid to many of the professional staff in the local council offices. In Dún Laoghaire, we have been hampered very considerably by reason of the rates of salary offered to these young surveyors, engineers and other members of the staff. At one period recently, we lost five of our best men because they were offered better positions, which meant that the whole work of the corporation was thrown on the shoulders of the assistant manager. It knocked out the planning very considerably and even to the present day they have not overtaken the work that accumulated as a result of that depletion of staff. It would be a very wise thing if the rate of salary were raised so as to make the position in a place like the Borough of Dún Laoghaire secure for these professional men and so that we could attract the best possible brains and give these men encouragement to develop that important area in a suitable and becoming way.
With regard to the voters list, which has been mentioned by other Deputies, I have had the same experience of names being knocked off the list. I am quite confident that there was nothing political about it. I believe it applied to supporters of every Party, but there were numerous cases in the constituency of Dún Laoghaire and Rathdown. There is another point in that connection which the Minister might perhaps study, with a view to seeing if there is any remedy to be found for it. That is the position in the case of people like commercial travellers who have to leave their own areas before the day of the election and are thus deprived  of their votes. It often occurred to me that these people who are anxious to record their votes should be facilitated in some way because it is quite impossible for them to be in their own districts on the day of the polling. Perhaps the Minister could look into that position and see if it can be rectified. Like every Deputy who has spoken, I wish the Minister every success and I promise that, so far as I am concerned, I will have great pleasure in assisting Mr. O'Mahoney and his staff in their great task.
Mr. Maguire: I am sure I should apologise for intervening at this point, as I know the Minister intends to reply to-night. I would not do so were it not for the fact that I am rural-minded, and having listened to the debate so far and to the continuous demand made on the Minister to undertake the maximum possible drive to provide houses for the city and urban areas, I feel that a note of caution might very well be sounded at this stage. Personally, I do not regard as desirable at all this powerful drive for the building of houses in our cities and urban areas. I think that far too many houses are being built in the city of Dublin and other cities in this country, and this drive to build more and more houses draws people from the rural areas— which are the only areas we have to draw from—people who were producing in those areas the materials essential for the country. What have we to offer to them in the cities?
Building represents the main industry which encourages people to come up from the country and to leave their farms where they are producing necessary foodstuffs, and I believe that black market prices are offered in wages in order to allow contractors to build more. With this drive for more building in these centres, housing attracts more and more people from the rural districts, and for what purpose? To build houses for more people who will come from rural areas. I know that a limit is going to be reached when you have built more houses than can be occupied by people who can be usefully employed in the cities. They then will not be able to pay rent and it is like the dog living on his own tail.
 When you have not employment for any more people than would normally be wanting houses, then you will have too many houses. Now why not have a rationing scheme? Examine how many houses the City of Dublin can economically sustain in a normal period —this is not a normal period; we have not had a normal period for years— before rushing to build more and more houses in Dublin. Why not examine what proportion of Dublin could industrially maintain more people and build for that proportion? Do not be driven by the immediate clamour from the people who are coming into the city in abnormal times to build houses for themselves as this must soon reach saturation point. If you find out what Dublin and other industrial areas are capable of maintaining normally according to the number of their industries and their industrial potentialities, then I will say that you are building wisely and spending the national resources wisely. Build houses for the people by all means, but build houses which can be occupied during a normal lifetime.
Around the country, there are hardly any districts where you will not see empty houses, empty farm houses, some of which have not been occupied for years, some derelict and some which have been only recently vacated. Why is there this dereliction in the country while all these houses are being built in the City of Dublin? I think it was Deputy Brady who spoke of seeing a basement in Dun Laoghaire which was disgusting for human beings to live in, so why not centre more houses in rural areas where the grant is two-thirds of what it is in the city and where houses would cost less? What houses do you think can be built in rural areas at the present-day cost and with present-day grants? Some speaker, a moment ago, mentioned that the cost of a house in Wexford was £700 while the cost of a similar house in Dun Laoghaire or Dublin would be £1,000—those are not exact figures, I am speaking generally. Those are the costs of a labourer's cottage. If a labourer's cottage costs £700 even in the country, what is the amount of the grant you are giving to small uneconomic land-holders to build  houses? About £125. Is it any wonder then that you have this outflow from the rural areas and this influx into the centres of population? I would say to the Minister: if you are prepared to go on spending public money with this vast discrepancy between building houses in Dublin and in the country to the disadvantage of the rural areas, you are committing a serious crime. You are destroying the production of food on the land by bringing the people here and it is not fair to the taxpayers. I say, go slow; act in the reverse of what all this discussion has been leading to.
You have been listening to city speakers who have been pressing to your notice the conditions in Dublin; I know enough to know that they are not exaggerating, but I also know that these conditions are fictitious. Regard my advice and look at the conditions, look not to this year or next year but to what you can plan in the interests of the majority for the next 15 years. Unless we decentralise and get rid of this idea of “Beautiful Dublin” and other cities, and see that the rural areas are more important as it is the people there who will maintain this nation if it is to be maintained, unless we give them encouragement and give them sufficient grants to improve their housing conditions and other facilities, to interest them in rural life, we will do away with the rural population. You are doing away with them completely by a programme of spending the money collected from the ratepayers and taxpayers of this country to build a fictitious structure that cannot last.
Minister for Local Government (Mr. Murphy): I do not think that even the advocates of the widest possible discussion on public matters in this House can feel displeased with the manner in which this Estimate has been discussed. There have been 47 contributions by individual Deputies to the discussion on this Estimate and it has ranged over a period of five days; it has absorbed almost 21 hours of Parliamentary time—21 hours less three minutes. I am not making that opening reference in any spirit of complaint. I feel, on the whole, that the various contributions that have been made were made  with very good intentions and were, in fact, in their variety of suggestions helpful and useful. I am very glad to say that I have learned quite a good deal from the course of the debate and I am very much obliged for the suggestions that have been made.
May I say also how very much I appreciate the good wishes that have been tendered to me from all sides of the House. I know they were very sincerely meant and I can assure the House that they are very sincerely welcomed because I feel very positively my own limitations in this office and my own appreciation of the very, very difficult tasks that the office of Minister for Local Government entails on its occupant. I am very glad to feel that I have one great asset in facing those tasks, and that is what has proved to be the goodwill of the House. During whatever difficulties confront me or work I have to do, I will remember that and rely on it as a source of encouragement in the discharge of that work. It may be impossible in the course of my reply to touch on all the matters that individual Deputies have brought to my notice. If that is the case, I want to assure them that there is not the least intention to slight the views expressed by any Deputy, but that it is to the fact that it may be necessary to condense the reply to a certain extent and also because I am hoping that in a general way the reply on certain points may cover matters raised by a number of Deputies. In addition, there has been such a large number of matters raised that. I feel sure the House will be generous to me in excusing my inability to refer to all individual matters.
This has been a very helpful debate and I think I may claim at the outset that no case whatever has been made for the reference back of this Vote. Not even my predecessor, who moved the reference back of this Vote, made any reasoned attempt to show that there was a valid case for that. I take it, therefore, that it was just applying the usual Parliamentary procedure in order to widen as far as possible the scope of the debate. I am too new to office to be conscious so far of any serious neglect or dereliction of duty in the  discharge of these responsibilities. I am grateful for the personal good wishes extended to me by my predecessor. I regret, however, that a number of the matters raised here by him appear to have very little substance in fact, and I think I may say, without any disrespect to Deputy MacEntee, that to some extent his contribution to this debate has been in the way of discovering a very considerable number of mares' nests, and I think I shall be able to show that in fact that is so.
Let me take some of the points raised and set his mind and the minds of other Deputies at rest in connection with them. It has been suggested that a serious initial set-back to the progress of housing has been caused by the increase in the rate of interest announced in the Budget statement of the Minister for Finance. I want to assure the House that the local authorities will be in no worse position from this forward than they were in preBudget days. Discussions between the Local Government Department and the Department of Finance have not yet concluded, but I am in a position to give an unqualified assurance to the House that the local authorities will not be one penny the worse in connection with any commitments they have undertaken or may undertake as a result of that change. More than that I do not desire to say at the moment. I feel certain that the House will accept that assurance as an indication of the disappearance of any fears that may have been entertained in that direction.
I regret very much that Deputy MacEntee should have made certain references to the fact that I have undertaken to consult with local authorities. He has described my visits to local authorities as royal tours and oratorical picnics and an attempt at window dressing. They were conceived and were arranged for no such purpose. I think my predecessor will recognise that, if I consulted my own personal convenience and physical comfort, these conferences would not be a feature of my work. I have no desire to ape royalty in this or any other connection and, without being disrespectful, may I say that I think that role would become my predecessor very  much better than it would the present occupant of the Ministry of Local Government. For many years I have felt that the members of local authorities, the officals of the Department and the Minister responsible for that Department were out of touch with each other. There was a feeling amongst local authorities that I knew of very well and, I may say that I shared, that the Local Government Department and the policy of that Department were entirely too far removed from local affairs and that one reform necessary to make local government work effectively, to carry out the spirit of local government, which is sometimes very much more important than the letter of the Acts under which local government functions, was to have closer contact established. I, therefore, arranged, and I take personal responsibility for the departure, that that consultation could be obtained first-hand by the Minister. All the experience that I have got in the short time I have been in office has confirmed the view that that is a sound policy.
The officials of the Department who were represented as being dragged around as unwilling participants in these conferences are not in a position to speak for themselves. I think, however, I can say on their behalf that they are satisfied that conferences of this kind have helped to smooth out a very large number of difficulties, have helped to give them what perhaps could never be obtained from correspondence, a viewpoint on the spot of local problems which is very necessary in order to decide matters in which local authorities are very keenly interested. In addition, the conferences afforded an opportunity of settling on the spot a number of matters that were outstanding. I am very happy in the knowledge that from the first day they started quite a large number of matters were adjusted between officers of the Department and officers and members of local authorities. I think I can call not alone on members of local authorities who are favourable to the present Government, but on many of my political opponents in this House, whom I was very glad to see participating in these conferences and whose  suggestions were as welcome as the suggestions which came from any other quarter, to bear me out in that.
I move to report progress.
Progress reported; Committee to sit again to-morrow.
Mr. J. Flynn: asked the Minister for Finance if he will state in respect of each administrative county (a) the total acreage, and (b) the total valuation for rating purposes, of agricultural land, giving the acreage valuation per acre for each county.
Minister for Finance (Mr. McGilligan): There is no distinction in the valuation lists between agricultural and non-agricultural land. The following particulars for the year ending 28th February, 1949, apply to rateable land.
|Administrative County||Acreage||Valuation||Average valuation per acre|
|Tipperary (Nth. Riding||493,396||3||22||222,355||11||0||0||9||0|
|Tipperary (Sth. Riding)||558,033||2||34||320,451||7||0||0||11||6|
The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Wednesday, June 23rd.