I was asked some question on the last day about this measure. I have some notes on the subject, and I think this will be the proper time to mention them. It is not possible to give any estimate either of total cost or of Government grants, for the following reason. There are 178 drainage districts in the Free State, large and small. Any or all of these may require restoration works. No trustworthy opinion can be given whether any work, or what amount of work, is required in any district till it has been inspected by the Board of Works engineer. Fourteen districts have been inspected; each inspection takes some days. Perhaps twenty more may be inspected this season, and many more next season, if the Minister for Finance approves. Works can only be carried out in a few cases during this season— the season usually ends in October—for want of time; and no trustworthy estimate can be made yet of what can be spent this season. Most of the money for relief schemes will be for works other than drainage works. Only a small amount for the latter will be needed. Few of the possible drainage works will be in areas where unemployment is acute. It will be understood, of course, that we shall not recommend in any district expenditure to be recovered from the proprietors of land unless we are satisfied that it will be remunerative to them by the improvement of their land.
The following figures may be of interest:—The total number of drainage districts in Ireland is 185; of these 7 are in Northern Ireland, leaving 178 in the Free State. There were two main drainage codes in Ireland. The principal Act of the first is dated 1842. The works under this code were mainly carried out by the Board of Works. Many of them were spoilt financially by being carried out as relief works during the great famine. In the Free State there are 114 districts formed under this code—4 costing over £70,000 apiece, total £383,000; 20 costing from £20,000 to £70,000, total £823,000; 31 costing from £5,000 to £20,000, total £347,000; 59 costing less than £5,000, total £117,000. Grand total, £1,670,000 for 114 districts. The principal Act of the second Code (which is still in force) is dated 1863. The works under this Code were not carried out by the Board of Works, but by committees of the landowners interested. In the Free State there are 64 districts formed under this Code:—4 costing over £70,000 apiece, £545,000; 3 costing from £20,000 to £70,000, £88,000; 27 costing from £5,000 to £20,000, £273,000; 30 costing under £5,000, £69,000—£975,000. So, that taking the two Codes together, the total number of districts in the Free State is 178, and the total cost, £2,645,000.