In the short space that remained to me at the close of yesterday's debate I took advantage of the President's proposal to refer the whole question of Local Government to a Committee of Investigation to press upon the Executive Ministry's notice and upon the notice of the Dáil, that mixed up with this larger problem is another equally important, I will not say more important, but an exceedingly complex problem, the problem of the future development and administration of a larger Dublin. I drew attention briefly to the urgency of this particular problem and the necessity of leaving out of the Bill and leaving out, therefore, from the scope of any Committee, whether a Parliamentary Special Committee or an External Committee of Inquiry, this particular problem, so as to have it dealt with by itself and without further delay by the appointment of a Special Committee. It was pointed out to me since by one of my friends in the Farmers' Party that I had made a mistake that was natural to the Dublin citizen, of thinking that Dublin is Ireland, and that all the interests of Ireland must be postponed in favour of those of Dublin. I was reminded that there are other towns. I am not unmindful that there are other towns, but I would beg Deputies to remember that Dublin is not a mere ordinary town, but that it is the national capital and that it occupies a position in regard to Ireland that, in many respects, no other metropolitan city, ordinarily called a capital, could possibly occupy. It is more than the seat of the national Government. It is also the greatest port in the Free State. It is the centre of the shipping and of the commercial life of the country. It is the whole focus of the commercial life of the Free State, with just a few partial exceptions, and it is undoubtedly the cultural capital of the Free State. What New York is to the United States, what Washington is to the United States, and what Boston is to the United States, all these things, Dublin is in one to the Free State.
Therefore, the city requires special and peculiar consideration of its own, and that, I contend, it cannot get if this highly complex and difficult problem is to be taken up as merely an incident in what is itself a very complex and difficult problem. I have been told that I have made a second mistake. However, I believe that the great mistake was in speaking at all, under the circumstances. The second mistake was that I appealed to the President, and that I should have appealed to the Minister. I have the bad habit, unfortunately of putting two and two together, and though I may be wrong, and I am not in the secrets of the Executive Council, and in no position even to operate as an eavesdropper and become illegitimately aware of these secrets, it must have been obvious to everyone that the proposal to substitute a Commission of Inquiry and a conditional passing of the Second Reading came as a surprise to the Minister in charge of the Bill himself. The Ministries Bill has altered the position of the External Minister. I know that the Attorney-General will exclaim that I return to a denunciation of that blot upon an otherwise perfect Constitution, the External Ministries. Under the Ministries Bill an External Minister merely does the will of the Executive Council or goes out, and consequently, in view of that, I appealed to the President. If I were technically correct and socially wrong I apologise to the Minister for Local Government, and I amend my appeal now, and make my plea to him and to the President of the Executive Council to exclude from the operations of the Bill the County of Dublin, so that the relation of the county borough and the whole county in the future may not be prejudiced by this Inquiry.
The portion of the Bill in which I am most interested, so far as I am a representative of a constituency, is that which deals with public health. Deputy Johnson declared that the praise which Deputy Sir James Craig, another University representative, gave to that section of the Bill was cheaply bought. I cannot assent to that view because, though the reforms are not so thorough-going and complete as the medical profession perhaps had a right to expect, at any rate, in so far as they do go, they are a positive contribution to useful and needed reforms. I mentioned two of them particularly yester day, and I need not repeat further than to give a passing reference to the creation of the County Officer of Health, making him a whole-time officer, and removing him from the very awkward position he found himself in hitherto of being in conflict with his best-paying patients if he carried out reforms in the proper spirit of the reformer. The second is the making of it imperative to have all these Medical Acts that are in the Fourth Schedule to the Bill applied for the whole area of the Free State, instead of leaving it in the option of a particular local authority to apply them, like the Dogs Act, which used to be so absurdly worked that it was a crime, or at any rate a misdemeanour, to bring a dog out for a walk without a collar round its neck if you crossed the canal, whereas it was quite law-abiding and good citizenship to give the same dog the same type of walk on the other side of the canal. That kind of anomaly with regard to medical administration is removed.
As regards the section dealing with roads, in my personal character and not as representing medical graduates, it seems to me that this is a very vital matter, and I agree with Deputy Johnson that the Minister has not perhaps carried out to the fullest extent what he undertook to realise, to make the trunk roads a national concern. I took a very little, a very qualified interest in the Railways Bill; I am sufficiently a crank to regard railways as obsolescent; they are contrivances that were good enough in the Victorian period, and because they exist something has to be done with them. But they will shortly be an anachronism, and Ireland, being an island blessed with the possession of very many great ports, could far more usefully develop a system of carrying heavy freight by sea —coastal traffic. I should not say coastal, because when I referred to this matter with that term in the last Dáil I found myself recorded in the Official Reports of the debates as advocating the substitution of a postal service. That, of course, would be a reactionary proposal of the worst type, even if it were feasible to carry it out. A good system of highways in conjunction with a coast-borne traffic is undoubtedly the proper thing to look to in the industrial and commercial expansion of Ireland in the future and therefore the provision of a real system of efficient highways is all-important as a factor in the development of the country. I will not use so strong a term as absurdity, but it seems absurd that it should be left to the discretion or indiscretion of a county council to have charge of a highroad up to the more or less artificial boundaries of its bailiwick, and then that the same road, which is a continuous highway, should be subject to the indiscretions of the next local authorities. I quite agree that as regards roads of convenience for a particular district the local authority ought to be, whether it is in fact or not, the right body to supervise and have control of the making and of the proper repair of these roads, but the arteries of traffic ought to be a national concern. I am almost afraid to advocate that any further for fear that Deputy Johnson would wake up to the fact that this is advocating bureaucracy. I want, in the better sense of the word, a bureau to have charge of the roads. I want a road fund raised by a proper system of taxation upon all that use the roads. Anyone who is acquainted with the excellent roads of the County of Dublin will realise what terrific havoc has been made by heavy lorries continually passing over these roads, and the ordinary private motorists who use high-powered American cars, such as the Ford and the Canadian Chevrolet, pay £20 or £18 as a contribution to the upkeep of a road that they do very little damage to, and the heavy vans and the farmers' carts, with their little narrow rims and steel tyres, cut up the roadways still further once the perishing of the surface has been set going by the heavy lorries.