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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 1 Apr 1925

Vol. 10 No. 20


I just want to gratify Deputy Baxter and to tell him that I have seen very bad houses in the constituency of Cavan, and that I have also seen very good houses in that constituency. I have seen very respectable houses there, and I was glad to see them. I hope those that I saw that were of a rather dilapidated nature will be improved on the next occasion that I visit Cavan on a mission similar to that on the occasion which he speaks of. One would think from the discussion here this evening that this Bill was introduced for the purpose of reconstructing houses generally. I think we all agree that what is most wanted at the present time is to provide houses that people can live in. In some of the country districts, even though the houses may be in a poor condition, the people have some accommodation, and there are very few of them that have not at least two apartments. These apartments may not be all that is desired. In many cases they are not what I would desire. I think they are not suitable for the people who have to live in them, but when we come to think of the way people are housed in towns and cities, when we come to find a family of five or six living in one room—I have known such cases in my own town— and paying perhaps from 7/- to 10/- per week for being housed under such conditions, I think that we should think twice before we proceed to spend the limited sum that is now at our disposal in reconstructing houses. First of all we must provide every person housed under those conditions, and to whom we can afford to give a house, with a proper house to live in. The Housing Act that was passed last year lent itself to a certain amount of reconstruction, but if we are to follow that up and to allow every person that comes along to get a grant out of this £300,000 that is made available at present for reconstruction, there will be very little available for the class of people to whom I refer. I am convinced that what we should aim at is to find houses for those people who have no houses at present and those who are housed under conditions in which none of us would like to live— with a family of five or six in one room. Deputy Wilson referred to a room 12 by 11. I have known cases where there are five and six people living in a room of that kind, and they were glad to get it.

I think the President has not met us very fairly in regard to this. I think the suggestion of a sum of £100 to reconstruct a five-roomed house in the country is ridiculous. I do not see why it would not cost as much to reconstruct a five-roomed house in the country as in the town, or very nearly as much. There is one aspect of this that I can see. Even if the amendment is accepted it will not apply to a large number of people whose houses require to be reconstructed—that is, to the very poor small farmers who want to have the roof fixed so that the rain will not come in. The same thing applies to these practically as applies to the grant for the building of houses. It does not quite give houses to the people who really need them, but it will at least give houses to people who are a step or two higher up. I think that there has been a most unfair discrimination in keeping this particular class of people from getting this grant. The necessity for the improvement of rural conditions undoubtedly exists. There are houses in the country which are little better than slums, and if the people could only get a certain amount of money to encourage them to improve these houses they would do so. I think a very important point has been made by Deputy Baxter. That is the fact that every house which was built under the last Act and for which a grant was given replaces another building.

If the reconstruction clause is made to apply to the rural districts, instead of building new houses they will repair the old houses, and therefore will set a good deal of money free for the purpose of making a grant for the building of new houses in towns. I think that is a point that should be stressed, and it is a very important one. I would ask the President to give the matter the very fullest consideration. Feeling in the country in favour of this is very strong. People feel that they have not been fairly treated, that the interests of the Government are largely centred in the towns and urban districts, and that very little consideration is being given to the rural districts, except when it becomes a case of making election speeches.

I wonder if Deputy Baxter would give his attention for a moment to the practical effect of the passing of his amendment. His amendment is to delete this rule. Let us suppose it is deleted, what then? There is no provision in the Bill nor in the schedule with regard to reconstructing houses, except the limitation in regard to the subsidy. Consequently the Minister for Local Government, in making regulations under Section 11, could operate as he pleased. I think that Deputy Baxter ought to weigh that well before he presses his amendment. Many of the speeches ostensibly in support of Deputy Baxter were really directed to the amendment that followed, proposed by Deputy Lyons, to introduce "rural" after the word "urban," so as to make the grant for reconstruction of houses applicable over a wider area. Deputy Baxter and Deputy Conlan seem to be under the impression, unless I greatly mistake, that if they succeed in passing this amendment they have secured for the whole countryside subsidies in aid of reconstruction. They have not, unless the Minister for Local Government so decides by regulation. Consequently they will really leave the matter at the discretion of the Minister, and no more.

I feel in complete sympathy with the speeches they have made, except for this restriction, but the speeches were made on behalf of something quite other than the purpose of the present Bill. There is no question whatever that the general health of the country would be almost immeasurably improved by the attainment of this ideal of Deputy Baxter's of better housing. Unquestionably many of the houses in which even the better-off farmers are doomed to live are really unhygienic. That is, as the President and as Deputy McGold-rick have already pointed out, part of a very big national problem which really would require millions of money to deal with adequately. It cannot be dealt with, except in a very piecemeal fashion, through the operation of annual Bills for housing facilities. Sooner or later the position will have to be taken up which, you might pardon my egotism in repeating, I outlined to this House on a former occasion, namely, to authorise, as, apart altogether from national loans for the purpose of running the country, a Premium Bond loan for the purpose of housing and reconstruction of houses. That is one of the great things before this country, and it will have to be taken in hand—the removal of all the conditions that militate against health, more especially the health of the children. A great deal has been done in the Local Government Act; it is an excellent beginning, but, with all respect to Deputies of the Farmers' Party who spoke on behalf of this amendment, I would suggest to them that while they have done a very great service in bringing this matter under notice, the proper thing for them to do is to agitate in favour of a great big scheme by which the whole housing problem would be tackled manfully, and tackled as it ought to be, but that they should not spoil an excellent Bill for the facilitation of house-building in a minor way within the competence of our Treasury at this particular moment by seeking to include in the Housing Facilities Bill something which is on an immeasurably bigger scale.

It is quite clear, as Deputy Johnson has pointed out, and I had already pointed it out to my colleague here before he made his speech, that the Definition Clause of the present Bill was deliberately and consciously changed from the Definition Clause of the Act of last year, with special reference to the existing facts, namely, that what is desired is, in the interest of providing more houses, to try to utilise existing buildings of the type that the President mentioned and which are no longer required, such as unused barracks—not facilities for repairs of buildings, though I quite agree that a Bill to that effect, if the money were forthcoming or could be raised, would be a very desirable measure. At the risk of repeating myself, I say, again, that sooner or later, if not the present Dáil, some Dáil not very far away from now in point of time, will be obliged to consider this question of raising millions, because it is a matter of millions; it could not be done if you triplicated or quadrupled the funds that are in contemplation in the present Bill.

This amendment has been discussed at considerable length. I would undertake, between this and this time next year, to consider very favourably a proposal that this be extended to rural districts on the condition that the county councils will pay up to two-thirds of the sum that will be given. That is, if £75 is given for reconstruction of houses that the Government would give £25 and the County Council £50. Now, I think the boot is on the other foot.

Will you make this apply to this Bill now?

No, but I will consider it favourably between now and next year.

Live horse and you will get grass. You are tired telling the people that.

The pinch would then be on the county council. If the Deputies put that to me I will consider it most favourably.

Is that why you are not contesting the county council elections?

Amendment put.
The Committee divided. Tá, 16; Nil, 33.

  • Pádraig Baxter.
  • Seán Buitléir.
  • John Conlan.
  • John Daly.
  • David Hall.
  • Connor Hogan.
  • Séamus Mac Cosgair.
  • Risteárd Mac Liam.
  • Patrick J. Mulvany.
  • Ailfrid O Broin.
  • Tomás O Conaill.
  • Mícheál O Dubhghaill.
  • Mícheál O hIfearnáin.
  • Seán O Laidhin.
  • Tadhg O Murchadha.
  • Pádraig O hOgáin (Luimneach).


  • Séamus Breathnach.
  • Seoirse de Bhulbh.
  • Máighréad Ní Choileáin Bean
  • Uí Dhrisceóil.
  • Patrick J. Egan.
  • Osmond Grattan Esmonde.
  • Desmond Fitzgerald.
  • John Good.
  • Thomas Hennessy.
  • John Hennigan.
  • Liam Mac Cosgair.
  • Maolmhuire Mac Eochadha.
  • Tomás Mac Eoin.
  • Pádraig Mac Fadáin.
  • Pádraig Mac Fhlannchadha.
  • Patrick McGilligan.
  • Eoin Mac Néill.
  • Seoirse Mac Niocaill.
  • Liam Mac Sioghaird.
  • Liam Mag Aonghusa.
  • Tomás de Nógla.
  • Peadar O hAodha.
  • Seán O Bruadair.
  • Parthalán O Conchubhair.
  • Conchubhar O Conghaile.
  • Séamus O Dóláin.
  • Peadar O Dubhghaill.
  • Eamon O Dúgáin.
  • Aindriú O Láimhín.
  • Séamus O Murchadha.
  • Máirtín O Rodaigh.
  • Seán O Súilleabháin.
  • Mícheál O Tighearnaigh.
  • Liam Thrift.
Tellers:—Tá: Pádraig Baxter, Mícheál O hIfearnáin. Níl: Séamus O Dóláin, Eamon O Dúgáin.
Amendment declared lost.

Amendment 21, in the name of Deputy Lyons, deals with the same principle.

Amendment 20 was to delete Rule 6. My amendment reads—

In Rule 6, line 35, to insert after the word "urban" the words "or rural," and to delete all words after the figures "1854" to the end of the rule.

It is a different amendment, and I really think it has the same meaning. This is out for the same purpose, to make the Bill apply to the rural districts, but it is not the same amendment as the last, and I think I should be in order in moving it.

I cannot accept the amendment.

You will have the same discussion on this as on the last, because the principle has been decided by the last vote.

I submit that the principle of this amendment has not been decided by the vote which has just been taken. I beg to move the amendment.

The same discussion will not take place on this amendment as took place on the last one, and at any rate I do not intend to say much on it. I intend to direct my remarks chiefly to the military barracks. I think the last amendment should not have been taken before this one, and if I had known the course which the discussion was going to take on that amendment, I would have asked the permission of the House to allow Deputy Baxter to move his amendment after mine. I want to know what the intentions of the Government are with regard to workhouse buildings and military barracks which, in some cases, are unoccupied in a great many towns. Is it the intention of the Government to allow these buildings to remain there until they fall of their own accord? The barracks in the town of Athlone could provide accommodation for over 35 families, and the barracks in Mullingar, which is four or five hundred yards away from the barrack square, could provide accommodation for about 36 families. Several communications have been sent by the people of Mullingar with regard to this barracks, while questions have also been asked in the House about it. The Government, however, have shown no sign of taking it over in order to relieve the housing conditions in the town of Mullingar. In last year's Act, a section was inserted making provision for the reconstruction of such buildings. I am sorry that the Government did not show the example themselves by reconstructing some of these military barracks and making them available for the accommodation of families.

If the Deputy would go up to Kehoe Barracks in Inchicore, he would see that considerable work has been done there in that connection, and I understand that work is about to commence shortly in Tipperary on an old barracks there.

I understand about the work that has been done in Kehoe Barracks. What I am anxious to know is, when the Government propose to hand over to the people the disused portions of the barracks in Mullingar, Longford, and Athlone? These barracks, if suitably reconstructed, would afford accommodation for 140 families in the three towns I have mentioned. I was not at all convinced by the speech of the President on the last amendment, and I hold that if this Bill is to achieve the object aimed at, this section in it should apply to rural districts as well as to urban districts. When the Bill becomes an Act, there is nothing to prevent the Minister putting into operation his suggestion that the county councils should provide two-thirds of the grant. I would welcome that. On the last occasion that I spoke on the Housing Bill, I said, in reference to the section which provides that public bodies may give a grant equivalent to the amount given by the Minister, that the section should be altered to read by deleting the word "may" and substituting for it the word "shall." If that were done we would be sure of getting houses built and reconstructed in the country districts. I would welcome the President's suggestion, and, indeed, would support it, that, county, urban, and district councils should provide two-thirds of the grants. I think, too, that 40 per cent. of the members of these councils would agree with me in that. Public representatives all over the country are crying out for improved housing conditions for the people, and I am sure that they would not object to the striking of a special rate of 1½d. or 2d. in the pound to enable the people to be housed better than they are at present.

I put it to Farmer-Deputies that this is an amendment which they should support. If it is adopted, it will produce wonderful results by providing improved housing conditions for the people in the rural districts. Many of them, unfortunately, are obliged to live in hovels at the present time, but if this amendment is adopted they will be enabled to get suitable dwellings. There are some Deputies in the House who belong to the medical profession. If they were to go down through the country and witness the conditions under which so many people live, I am sure they would come back fully convinced of the necessity of supporting an amendment of this kind. I recognise, of course, that the housing conditions in small and large towns are very bad indeed. This housing problem is a burning question in the towns. I agree, too, that county councils and urban councils cannot always be looking to the Government for help. There is no use in crying out and saying that the Government will not do such and such a thing. These bodies must give some help themselves, but at the same time, of course, it is the duty of the Government to realise the true position as regards housing in the rural districts, and to do their part in helping to relieve it. I hope the President will see his way to accept the amendment.

I want to know if I am right in interpreting the section, as amended by the Deputy's proposal, to mean that the house should be situate within the area of the jurisdiction of Saorstát Eireann?

I will give you permission to add that.

Am I correct in that? Is it the meaning of the amendment that we are not entitled to build outside? I submit that the amendment is exactly the same as a motion to dispose of the section altogether, and that it might in substance mean that these houses must be situate in any of the following counties—detailing the whole of the 26.

If the amendment is accepted, Rule 6 would then read:—"A reconstructed house shall be situated in either a borough or an urban or rural district or a town having Commissioners under the Town Improvements (Ireland) Act, 1854."

Will the Deputy inform the House if there is any other place in Saorstát Eireann not mentioned in which there can be a house?

No, I do not think so.

Amendment put and declared lost.

On behalf of Deputy Morrissey I beg to move amendment No. 22:—

To add at the end the following new rule:—

"A house shall in respect of its site, aspect, planning, construction, sanitation and number per acre comply with the prescribed conditions."

The words of this amendment are taken from last year's Act and are intended to ensure that the Minister shall prescribe conditions as to the site, aspect, planning, construction, sanitation, and the number per acre. Without such conditions it may be possible to build a house higgildy-piggildy of any style and in any circumstances. I do not think that that is intended, but it is not provided against in the Bill. I think that possibly it was an omission without deliberation and I ask the Minister to accept it.

There is no objection. It was proposed last year to deal with it by regulation, but I shall be prepared to accept the amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

On behalf of Deputy Morrissey, I beg to move amendment No. 23:—

To add at the end the following new rule:—

"A house shall in respect of the size, number of rooms and necessary appurtenances be in general accordance with prescribed plans or with such other plans as may be approved by the Minister."

I expect that this amendment will be accepted, too.

I am not quite sure about that. It is the intention of the Minister to issue plans as previously for the guidance of prospective builders. It is not proposed to make it a condition that they should conform exactly to those plans. Under last year's Act there was a good deal of confusion raised on this account, and while, of course, there would be regulations regarding certain fundamentals in connection with the planning of the houses, it is thought that to include this particular amendment would add to the confusion and, possibly, delay construction.

I am not quite sure unless the Minister thinks that by the insertion of a phrase of this kind: "with such other plans as may be approved of by the Minister," it might confine him to a certain rigid set.

That was the conception last year, that they were bound to the Minister's plan.

Surely not if this amendment were accepted, which says that a house shall, in respect of size, number of rooms and necessary appurtenances, be in general accordance with prescribed plan or with such other plans as may be approved by the Minister. That would appear to me to make it clear that any house to be built the plans will be submitted, and unless they are suitable they would not be approved, and that the plans must be submitted, if you are not going to allow any sort of a house to be built and to receive the subsidy.

There is a difference between Section 2 of the 1924 Act and Section 2 of the present Bill. In the present Bill there is this variation: Sub-section (1) of Section 11 of the Act of 1924 says, "The Minister may by order prescribe all such rules, conditions, plans and other matters as are in this Act referred to as being or to be prescribed." Then in Section 3, sub-section (1) of that Act, paragraph (b), you have the following conditions:—"The house shall in respect of the size and number of rooms and other necessary appurtenances, be in general accordance with prescribed plans or with such other plans as may be approved of by the Minister." Obviously all the conditions set out in Section 3, particularly that one, are intended to conform to the requirements of Section 2, so that nothing should be overlooked.

Now, in the present Bill where all reference to plans is omitted, it leaves it open to the Minister to make prescribed regulations and conditions which would be set out in some such publication as "The New Housing Order, 1925," and which would run: "enables the Minister to accept general description rather than determinate plans that would be reduced to diametrical representation." I went to the Government publishers, Messrs. Easons, to buy these plans. I found that for different types of houses, such as two or three-roomed houses, there were different sets of plans drawn out in detail by the architect, and, undoubtedly, anyone looking at these thoroughly individual plans, and reading the regulations here, would be under the impression that it was rather a dangerous course to adopt to depart from these in any important particular. Whereas if, instead of having set plans and drawings, you had a New Housing Order, 1925, that would merely indicate a minimum floor area, and so on, and stipulate the necessary appurtenances in houses with a specific number of rooms, then the freedom of the architect in the construction of the plans would be secured, and I should say that a great deal of unnecessary correspondence would be obviated likewise.

It is a fact that this particular amendment if passed might delay the work somewhat. So far as safeguarding the character of the house to be constructed, that will be safeguarded by the Minister under the rules.

What is the provision for that?

The house must be passed for the grant. It has to be examined by some approved person and reported on before it would be passed.

Does not the President see that that would leave more difficulty than ever in the way of building, because if there is a doubt whether the plans on which the house are to be built are going ultimately to get the approval of the Minister, there will be hesitation on the part of the prospective builder. If he knew he was building according to plans already approved, the only question that would arise is whether he was building properly.

If he has to start building with a doubt as to whether, even having started, he is going to get the sanction of the Minister, surely that is going to delay the building more than the proposition of getting the plans passed first.

I think Deputy Johnson, with all respect, overlooks the fact that in this New Housing Order, 1924, to which I now refer, there are all sorts of forms—Form A. "certificate of appointed officer approving of proposals," for example. All that regimentation and ordering has to be gone through anyhow.

That order may be revoked. We do not know. That Local Government Order has not had the sanction, approval, or inspection of the Dáil, and it only applies to the Bill already acted on. I cannot see how the acceptance of this amendment is going to prevent that order operating, but if the amendment is accepted it would ensure some supervision. Without the amendment we have not that assurance, except a verbal assurance which, no doubt, may be quite acceptable but is hardly satisfactory for legislation.

It is not intended to alter the order. It is not intended that there should be no general plans conformed to by the House. It is necessary, by Section 11, that the order made shall be laid on the Table of the House.

Where does this Bill make clear that plans other than prescribed plans would be considered, and adopted if approved?

It is not necessary. We are not confining them to the plans. That is the same position as last year.

I read Clause 11 differently from that, and if this amendment were accepted it would make the principle quite clear.

I have no objection to accepting the amendment.

Amendment put and agreed to.

I move:—

To add at the end the following new rule:

In the case of the reconstruction of an existing building, that building shall be certified by an appointed officer to be capable of reconstruction as a house fulfilling the requirements of this Act, and such certificate shall be given before the reconstruction is begun.

I do not think it is necessary to make a case for this. I think we already heard a fairly good case made out for it on the discussion of a previous amendment. Deputy Baxter and others led the House to believe that the person who merely pulled down the thatch of a house and replaced it by a slate roof would be entitled to a reconstruction grant. That belief is prevalent throughout the country. It would save the Housing Department a great deal of correspondence if this amendment were accepted, and if, before people were allowed to become qualified for a grant, they got a certificate to say that the building was capable of reconstruction, and what particular course of reconstruction should be engaged on.

Would the Deputy accept this instead of his amendment?

The Minister shall not make a grant in respect of a reconstructed house unless, before such reconstruction, the existing building to be reconstructed has been certified by the appointed officer or (in the case of an appeal to the Minister from a refusal by the appointed officer so to certify) by the Minister to be suitable for conversion into a house or houses, to which this Act applies.

I accept that and withdraw my amendment.

Amendment put and agreed to.

There is a small point to which I wish to draw attention in paragraph 6. "Reconstructed houses shall be situated in a borough or urban district"—I am doubtful if "borough" would include "county borough." In some other Acts "county borough" and "urban district" have been mentioned together.

It is meant to include "county borough."

Is it requisite, as a matter of law, to have "county" inserted?

I am told it is not.

Question—"That the first schedule, as amended, stand part of the Bill"— put and agreed to.
Grants which may be made in respect of houses.

Maximum Grant by Minister in respect of

Self-contained two-roomed flats.

House of three rooms

House of four rooms

House of not less than five rooms.













Erected by any person










Erected by any local authority or public utility society










Reconstructed by any person













Reconstructed by any local authority or public utility society













NOTE:—Where the erection or reconstruction is not completed within eighteen months from the passing of this Act, and the time for such completion is extended, the grant shall, unless the Minister otherwise directs, be reduced by one-tenth for every month between the expiration of the said eighteen months and the date of actual completion of the erection or reconstruction.

I move:—

In Part I. to delete columns 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 and substitute the following: "For each house erected and completed in accordance with the provisions of this Act a grant of £75 will be made by the Minister.

"For each reconstructed dwelling carried out in accordance with the provisions of this Act a grant of £50 will be made by the Minister."

While I agree that this schedule is a considerable improvement on the schedule of the 1924 Act I have two objections to it. The first objection is that it refuses a grant to private individuals. The 1924 Act, as the President pointed out, was one of the most successful Acts introduced in connection with housing, and the reason for that success, to my mind, was that it encouraged private enterprise. Instead of continuing in this Bill the successful feature of the 1924 Act, private enterprise is handicapped. Local authorities and utility societies are given advantages which are refused to private enterprise. Let me remind the House of what private enterprise has done for housing in Great Britain in the last 12 months. In a return recently issued by the Housing Authority there, I find that during the 12 months ended 30th September, 1924, 110,000 houses had been completed under the Housing Act. Of those, 95,362, or 86 per cent. had been carried out by private enterprise and 14,500, or 14 per cent., by local authorities. Of the houses in course of construction on the 1st October last 1924, there were 92,000. Of these 71,000 were being carried out by private enterprise and 21,000 by local authorities, so that the success, pointed out by the Minister on the other side, that has followed their efforts has been largely brought about by encouraging private enterprise.

When the Minister brought in a Bill last year he encouraged private enterprise, and, as has been pointed out, his efforts were successful. What I object to in this Bill is that, on the face of it, it handicaps those who were the means of making the Act of 1924 a success, and acts in an exactly opposite direction to what was found so successful by the housing authorities in Great Britain. I think that is a great mistake. For that reason I propose to amend the schedule.

The second objection I have to this schedule is that it encourages the building of five-roomed houses. As the President will remember, I took exception to that particular feature in last year's Act. What has been the result of last year's Act? Two thousand nine hundred and twenty-nine houses were erected. Of these 2,008, or 66 per cent. were five-roomed houses. Only 25 per cent. of the houses erected under that Act were four-roomed houses, and only 4 per cent. three-roomed houses. The whole tendency of that Act was to encourage the building of five-roomed houses.

When the President was speaking on this subject the other day, I noticed that he again spoke in eulogistic terms of the work that had been done for housing by the Artisans Dwellings Company. I think we all recognise that they have done really excellent work on behalf of housing in the city. I have before me figures in connection with the houses, as well as accommodation, in their different schemes. In all they have erected in the city 3,580 houses or dwellings. Of these 207 were single-room dwellings, 683 two-roomed dwellings, 1,471 three-roomed dwellings, 108 four-roomed dwellings, 101 five-roomed dwellings and 37 shops. Compare those figures with the figures that resulted from the 1924 Act. Under the 1924 Act we have 66 per cent. of five-roomed houses, while the Artisans Dwellings Company have only 2.82 per cent., so that their policy and ours do not concur. With regard to three-roomed houses, that I was hopeful would be encouraged under these Acts, they have 41.08 three-roomed houses. Nearly half their scheme is composed of three-roomed houses. As a result of the 1924 Act we have got 4 per cent. of three-roomed houses. They have 30 per cent. four-roomed houses, and under the 1924 Act we have 25 per cent. I find as a result of conversations with the Artisans Dwellings Company that the three-roomed houses are the most popular houses. That is confirmed by several local authorities that have considerable experience of housing problems in the city and suburbs.

The reason I object to the five-roomed houses is, first of all, because of the burden of high rents on those who are anxious to occupy a modern house. The rents are more than wage-earners can afford to pay. These people endeavour to get these houses and make sacrifices from their weekly incomes to meet the high expenses involved. That has a two-fold objection. It tends to increase—and this problem is becoming a very serious one in the Free State— the cost of living. The policy of the Government should be in the opposite direction. The cost of living is becoming a very serious burden and is already considerably in advance of what it is in Nothern Ireland or in Great Britain. From that point of view alone this matter ought to have the serious consideration of the Government. When we build only that type of house, and this Bill only encourages that kind of house, the result is that people who are anxious to get housing accommodation apply for these houses and try to pay the rent. They find after they have been a short time in occupation that the burden is greater than they can afford to carry. They are faced with two alternatives, either to give up the house or adopt sub-letting. The sub-letting is being aggravated to an appalling extent by building larger houses than the people can afford to pay for. The tenants are forced to sub-let. They enter into agreements when going into the houses that they will not sub-let, but the rent they are called upon to pay forces them to do so. As a result we introduce into these new dwellings all the objectionable features associated with tenements. In fact, sub-letting is becoming so bad in connection with new dwellings that cases are constantly coming before local authorities and others where families who took houses live in one room and have all the other rooms sub-let.

Particulars were given me only a short time ago of a case, and it is not at all an uncommon one, where in one of these small houses there were five families, amongst whom there were 27 children. That is a state of affairs almost worse than is found under the tenement system. The policy being adopted by the State of encouraging the building of large houses is bringing about that state of affairs in connection with such dwellings. I urge on the Minister that that policy is not sound financially, and is not wise from the point of view of the State. Amongst other objectionable features it is demoralising. If we cannot see our way to encourage the building of three-roomed houses rather than five-roomed houses, at all events, let us see that the building of three-roomed houses is not placed at any disadvantage. I have stressed the advantage of the three-roomed house on many occasions here. It is a house which is set at twenty-five per cent. less rent than a five-roomed house, and if we encourage that particular feature it will enable us to lower the cost of living. It would do away with the mischievous system of sub-letting and would enable us to get far more houses for the same outlay. These are features that ought to commend themselves to the House. My amendment would meet those point in this way—we give, under the amendment, £75 to any house erected under this particular Act, and that would mean that whether it was a three, four or five-roomed house it would get the same amount. The effect of that would be that while the three-roomed house is possibly not as cheap a structure to erect, from the point of view of cubic capacity, as a five-roomed house, it would give a certain monetary advantage and, therefore, I would urge that the schedule should be amended to stand in that particular way. That is exactly the form in which it stands in the British Act to-day. They do not give any preference. They give one amount for an erected dwelling, and they do not give preference to a five-roomed over a four-roomed house or to a four-roomed one over a three-roomed one. With regard to flats, exactly the same principle would apply: a grant of £50 would be given to any reconstructed dwelling approved by the Ministry. If that amendment were adopted it would get rid of a number of difficulties that arise in connection with floor space and so forth, because we have cases of floor space in connection with dwellings that create awkward features. I think if the schedule were amended in the form I have suggested, we would find it very much more workable and practicable, and it would have the effect of encouraging the class of dwelling which many of us would like to see encouraged, and that is a larger number of small dwellings rather than a small number of large dwellings.

I cannot see my way to accept this amendment. I quite agree that abuses may creep in in connection with four and five-roomed houses. My own view is that the same abuses would creep in in regard to three-roomed houses, and that it all comes back to the one question of the necessity for a larger number of houses than we have at the moment. The Artisans Dwellings Company, the figures for whose particular class of dwellings Deputy Good has quoted, ceased operations, I think, possibly ten, twelve, or fifteen years ago. Up to that time they were about twenty or twenty-five years in advance of their time, and the four-roomed house was regarded generally as a luxury. Up to about ten years ago, I think, the Dublin Corporation had not more than about thirty or forty four-roomed houses, if they had that number. In 1918 they put up their first scheme of two hundred four-roomed houses, and now they have gone in for five-roomed houses. I knew cases in which the sanitary officer of the Corporation found that there were more people in a three-roomed house than were permitted in accordance with the cubic capacity of the room, and the position in which the Housing Committee were fixed was that these people should be prosecuted for having a number larger than that stipulated for the house. There must be reason for all this. Sub-letting has its disadvantages to the person who is the first tenant, and to the second and third tenant, and unless there is a market for it, it is unlikely that the evil would creep in. There is, however, a ready market for it, and I think that the only alternative is the provision of more houses. There are people in Dublin who have been interested in housing for many years who condemn three-roomed houses as being insufficient for decent living and who claim that the parents should have one room, the boys another, and the girls another, if there happened to be boys and girls in the family. There is a good case for that. They claim that there should be one room set apart for cooking, so that people should not sleep and eat in the same room. For a household run on decent Christian lines, four rooms are needed, and the case is made for another room as a meeting place. That is why we have hit on the five-roomed house; first by reason of its popularity, and secondly from the point of view of hygiene. In addition, nearly all the housing reformers have favoured the five-roomed house as the only proper solution. I would prefer to see a larger number of four-roomed houses, but I think that unless where there is only one sex in the family, so that they could occupy bedrooms separately, it would be inadvisable to have three-roomed houses. As regards a two-roomed house, except for elderly people or those who have no children, it would be quite inadequate.

They do not come under this Bill at all.

No. I would prefer to see another year's working at any rate of this Bill before I could recommend the adoption of the suggestion made by Deputy Good.

Of course the principle that the President goes on is, we ought to aim at the ideal, whether the individual can afford to pay for it or not. If you were to apply that principle to ordinary life, how many of us would be in "queer street"? We all have to live in houses we can afford to pay for, and not the houses, not the castles that possibly some of us have in our minds, and that some of us would look on as the ideal to achieve. We cannot afford it, but the President tells us that is the house we should build for these people, and that having no other places to go into they will have to occupy them. That, to my mind, is not sound. It is creating a state of affairs that is very unfortunate. This sub-letting is going further than I have mentioned. We have cases cropping up where people are now beginning to live out of their houses. I have a case in mind where a working man got one of these houses, and he has sub-let it, and is getting £1 per week profit by the sub-letting. In addition to the dole, that enables him to live the life of a gentleman. That is not a state of affairs we ought to encourage. As the President knows, in all these houses set by a local authority there is a definite clause in the agreement whereby a tenant taking a house undertakes that he will not sub-let. Now we are forcing that particular tenant through the economic factor to break that agreement, and when he breaks it we simply look on and do nothing. That, as I say, is a system that we should not encourage, and if we find that the economic situation is such that these people cannot afford more than a rent of such-and-such an amount, we ought to see what is the best accommodation we can get for that rent, and meet it in that way rather than by putting up an ideal and forcing them into a situation we ought not to force them into. That is the effect of the Bill, and I hold it is wholly wrong. For that reason I would like if the President would see his way to reconsider the problem, and give encouragement to four-roomed rather than five-roomed houses.

took the Chair.

I think Deputy Good's case has, perhaps, a deeper significance and force than I would normally have thought, because of the difficulty of housing. This problem of sub-letting is undoubtedly a very grievous one, and the instances he has adduced show that it is going to take place even in the three-roomed houses. To substitute a three-roomed house for a five-roomed house in the case of a man and family who are living by sub-letting is not removing the evil. While it may be quite true to say that you would somewhat reduce the evil of sub-letting, I do not think you would to any wide degree remove the evil, but I think you would be creating another and perhaps even greater one than the one you are trying to overcome. Let us say that the present problem of so much overcrowding will be overcome in 10 or 15 years, but if you start the fashion amongst the working classes with a three-roomed house as the house suitable for them, and you build a house for them that is going to last 60 or 70 years, then even after the period of pressure and overcrowding you have still fixed in the minds of the working man and his wife and children that the three-roomed house is satisfactory. I think we ought not to do that. I think we ought to bear in mind that the house you are building now is going to help to create the mentality of the next generation, and the three-roomed house mentality in the city is not one we ought to fix. For that reason alone I am not inclined to support the amendment.

While I disagree altogether with the amendment proposed by Deputy Good, I agree with a great deal of the speech he made in recommending it, but I think he ought to have the courage of his convictions. Not once or twice on earlier occasions he has denounced the building of the five-roomed house, and has advocated strongly the three-roomed house as the proper type, yet here he advocates a flat rate in aid of three-roomed, four-roomed, and five-roomed houses, and upwards, indifferently. If he proposed to give a less subsidy for a house in excess of five rooms than for a house with five rooms, and less for a house with five rooms than a four-roomed house, so as to provide most for the three-roomed house, one could understand his position better. One effect of the amendment is, that in the re-construction of a building—the amendment says "reconstructed dwelling," but it becomes a dwelling only after reconstruction, for reconstruction is to make the building suitable for that purpose, but that is a mere trifle—he provides for the reconstruction of a building into a self-contained flat an allowance of £50 precisely as for the conversion of a building into a three-roomed, four-roomed, or five-roomed house. I do not think that is quite defensible. Is it not somewhat fanciful to say that the superior premium put upon a five-roomed house will have the effect of increasing the cost of living? Let us contrast the subsidy that is provided for the five-roomed as against the four-roomed house. The difference is only £15 as regards the Government grant, and even if the local authority give as much again the difference at the most will be merely £30. The Deputy goes on to speak as if this allowance in aid to the amount of £30 was going to force the policy of building five-roomed rather than four-roomed houses.

It did last year.

Yes, according to statistics. The fact was that 66 per cent. of the new houses constructed were houses of five rooms, but something to explain that is provided by the very interesting statistics brought forward by Deputy Good as regards the operation of the Artisans Dwellings Company. That association provided the greater number of houses of three rooms. The very fact that those engaged in enterprise of this sort preferred to provide five-roomed houses, shows that unless they were working wholly without regard to actual facts and actual conditions, they were providing for a want which they had ascertained to be the want. I think, therefore, the Deputy Good, in pressing this fact of the superior number of five-roomed houses built as subsidy houses, is rather arguing against himself, because he drives us to this dilemma, that those who built houses either disregarded the realities of the situation, or they were guided in what they did by their knowledge of what was required. I would prefer to adopt the second alternative and to believe that those who built knew what they were about.

The President made, not this evening, but on former occasions, a most conclusive case against establishing the three-roomed house as the type that the State, by its aid, is to approve as the proper type of working-class houses. In the regulations which were sent out by the Local Government Ministry, to which I have already referred twice, the Housing (New Houses) Order, 1924, specifications are provided as regards floor space for the different kinds of rooms that are to be included in those houses, according as they vary and according to the number of rooms. In the three-roomed house, Class A, there was to be a living-room of 175 square feet, a first bedroom of 160 square feet, and a second bedroom of 120 square feet. In the four-roomed house—it is very interesting in its constitution—there is a living room of 160 square feet, the first bedroom 145 square feet, the second bedroom 90 square feet and the third bedroom 75 square feet. Anyone who takes into consideration an average family, will realise that the minimum is really in this four-roomed house.

There is a technical term used here which I will take an opportunity of commenting upon as needing a little clearing up. The word "living-room," as applied in these specifications, evidently has in view a room of the sort that is found in non-parlour houses, as they are spoken of in other countries. That is to say, it is a room in which the meals are cooked and are also consumed. At one end of it is the cooking apparatus and somewhere in the rest of its floor space is the table at which the meals are taken. But that is not what is understood uniformly by a living-room. I have given very careful study in the last ten or twelve years to architects' plans of various kinds of houses of the modern sort. In at least 60 per cent. of cases a living-room is meant to indicate the general room in which the family meet. It is not a parlour in the technical sense of a parlour which is provided for in the five-roomed house, and which is meant to be a reception room in which non-members of the family are received and entertained. The equivalent of a parlour for the family itself may come under the designation "living-room." Now, it seems to me that the three-roomed house, of which one room is a living-room, providing, therefore, only for two bedrooms, ought to be discouraged rather than approved, and that the building of it should not be facilitated. It is a good enough house for the new beginner, before the children arrive. After that there is congestion and then the family are put in the awkward position of trying to find a house with larger accommodation. They very frequently are subjected to the painful necessity of leaving what was a nice little home in its own way and having to go into a tenement house, where they are under much more unfavourable conditions, but where they have something of the space requisite for a growing family. When one takes into account not merely hygiene, but the decencies and amenities of life, the minimum accommodation should be a four-roomed house and, as far as possible, a five-roomed house.

There is a slight departure in policy in this schedule which Deputy Good's amendment takes no cognisance of, and that is whereas in last year's Act the subsidy was given to a five-roomed house, and to nothing beyond that in the way of accommodation, in the present Act the subsidy is £75 for a house of not less than five rooms. So long as the area prescribed is not exceeded, the ingenuity of the architect may be exercised to provide the requisite space for the important rooms, and then find space for additional rooms besides. Anyone who has ever done what Deputy Good spoke of this evening—amused himself or occupied himself with planning houses—will have realised what an important difference there is as between an exceedingly good plan and a mediocre plan in dealing with the same limitations of space. The architect's genius can make a great deal more out of a given area than the ordinary practitioner, who is merely only a builder operating as an amateur architect. It is worth while to become one's architect, on paper only of course, and not in actual fact, for the sake of realising the value that lies in employing a real architect when it comes to business.

In so far as Deputy Good advocates private enterprise as against the subsidies to corporate bodies and utility societies, I am absolutely with him. I thought at one time the President also had favoured that policy, but he seems to have been converted, or perverted, I think. I think "pervert" would be a more correct term for, in the present Act, £75 is allowed for the five-roomed house erected by any person, whereas if it is erected by a public utility society the subsidy is increased to £100. Deputy Johnson and I have already taken the liberty of drawing the President's attention to how that difference can be worked upon, so that instead of A. B. providing his own fund to build his own house, he will get a number of his friends to combine into a utility society to build houses to a given number which, when the distribution stage is reached, means really a house for each of them. Instead of the subsidy being £75, as it would have been had they operated separately, it becomes £100 for each because they operated conjointly. I do not think the ingenuity of the President will extricate him out of that. There is really no good reason for eviscerating the second schedule in the very drastic way that Deputy Good has done, because, on the grounds that I have suggested, of good policy, of promoting proper standards of living, indeed, of educating the public on the requirements of decent life, it is most advisable to give the higher subsidy for providing better houses. Furthermore, his amendment, as I have said, excludes this excellent improvement on last year's Act by which houses are not restricted, for the purposes of the subsidy, to a maximum of five rooms.

Might I suggest to the President—I do not want to take up any more time discussing this matter— that possibly he might undertake to consider on Report whether he could not see his way to bring in some amendment to the schedule whereby encouragement would be given for the building of four-roomed houses. That would meet us. Perhaps he would also consider the second point and see if he could remove the handicap from private enterprise. If he considers those two points, I am quite satisfied to withdraw the amendment.

We propose to take the Report and Final stages on Friday. I can assure the Deputy that before producing this schedule more time was spent on the consideration of that particular part of the Bill than on all the rest of it. I would undertake to watch very carefully the operations of this Bill from time to time during the coming year, and to keep in mind what he said with regard to next year's Bill, but I think it would be unwise now to change this particular schedule.

He still bars out private enterprise.

I do not think so. We are giving private enterprise £15 in some cases and £25 in other cases more than is given in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, apart altogether from the advantage it is getting in the rates.

But 25 per cent. less than they got last year, after they came to the rescue and erected houses.

We are taking it off in the price.

I beg to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I beg to move:—

To delete in Part I., column 2, the word "flats" and to substitute therefor the words "flat in a reconstructed house."

This amendment is obvioulsy consequential on two amendments moved to-day by Deputy Duggan. Since these amendments were inserted some doubt has arisen in my mind as to its effect and really as to its intention. It seems to me that under the revised scheme it may be intended —it certainly is possible—for persons to build new houses for the purpose of letting them in flats. Whether that is the intention or not I am not sure.

No. It only relates to reconstruction. It may be observed that there are two vacancies in the portions of the schedule which refer to new buildings, and it is only in respect of reconstruction that the sums are inserted.

I suggest that this amendment we are now dealing with is the result of two amendments that were originally accepted.

It is in regard to the theory that I want to say a word or two, and to find out if it is intended or desirable that we should pay the same subsidy for the purpose of encouraging the building of large houses which will be turned into flats. For instance, I can see three flats being made out of one house, a new house, each flat containing three rooms, being a house under the Bill. If that house is erected by a public utility society it will receive £180 as a subsidy from the State and presumably an equal subsidy from the local authority and freedom from rates or, at least, a remission in regard to rates for 20 years. I think that will allow a very considerable amount to be spent in the building of a house and yet allow of a fairly good profit to be made out of it. If it were a larger house even than would allow three flats, three groups of flats with three rooms each, or three flats of four rooms each, I can conceive of a sum of £480 being paid to the builder of that group of houses, termed flats, and a still larger inducement being held out to the builders from the obvious result that these flats will be occupied by people who can afford to pay considerable sums in rents. We look at advertisements in the papers and see these flats being let at £100 a year or round about that. Specially constructed four-roomed flats of that kind in a big house might well bring a big revenue if you can get £480 out of the State and municipal authorities towards the building. I do not know whether that is contemplated or intended but if it is, it will require some consideration.

In respect of the particular amendment before us it is obviously consequential, and that being so, it may be thought that it is a little late at this stage of the Bill to discuss the question I have now raised. Possibly if the Minister can give us some assurance on the point it will not be necessary to raise it again on the Report Stage.

No such application involving a sum, such as was mentioned by Deputy Johnson, has been made. As a matter of fact, the reconstruction clauses of the Act of 1924 were a failure, an absolute failure, if it were not for the case of the Kehoe Barracks. It is not expected that this part of the Bill will again be availed of except to deal with barracks or workhouses.

The Minister missed my point. I am suggesting that it was largely an inducement for people to build new houses in the form of flats, and to have three or four flats in one building which would be tantamount to three or four houses in one building. Under these amendments it seems to me that that policy is possible, and I doubt whether it is not contemplated.

No, it is not contemplated. There was no such intention.

Will the Minister consider between now and the Report Stage whether it is desirable to leave that as a possibility? I think that it is possible.

I will undertake to do that, but I do not think there need be any fear of it.

Amendment put and agreed to.

I beg to move:—

"In Part I. to delete in columns 3, 4 and 5, first line, the figures 45, 60 and 75 and substitute respectively 50, 70 and 90."

The same argument more or less applies to this amendment as applied to the amendment of Deputy Good. I want to try, if possible, to give persons who wish to erect houses the same opportunity, or at least very nearly the same, as is given to local authorities. Under the Bill a local authority gets a grant of £60, £80 or £100, while a person building for himself only gets a grant of £45, £60 and £75. I would like to remind the President that under previous Acts local authorities had to increase their rates by something like 1/- or ? in the £. A lot of the money is still outstanding, and they are not in a position at the present moment to increase the rate by another 1/- or beyond 1/- in the £, for the purpose of erecting houses. I think that they will not take advantage of this Bill. The local authorities are few and far between who will erect any houses. By giving the increases I ask for and bringing the grants up to £50, £70 and £90, the same as they were in last year's Act, you will be encouraging people to erect houses for themselves; and that will not be an incumbrance on the ratepayers. If any local authorities were to erect twelve or fourteen houses they would have to raise a loan of at least from £5,000 to £7,000. That money placed on an urban district would mean that the ratepayers there would have to pay 6d., 8d. or 1/- in the pound for four or five years. Furthermore, you must remember that the borrowing powers of nearly all local authorities are almost exhausted. The local bodies that I know are very much in debt, and they are not in a position at the present moment to borrow any further sums for the building of houses. It is for that reason that I say if you do not agree to increase this amount, or make it equivalent to the loan given in last year's Act, you are not encouraging the erection of houses. A person who wishes to erect a house at a cost of £450 will get £45. That is a very small sum for him to look forward to when he has the house erected. At least it might be expected that the Government would encourage enterprise in this direction.

Deputy Good has spoken at length on his amendment. I do not wish to go into details or to repeat what he has said in favour of his amendment in urging mine. In both the same argument will apply. I think the President might look at this with a benevolent eye and say that he will accept this amendment for the sake of encouraging private enterprise and the giving of employment to the people in the country. As matters stand under this Bill, the urban council, town commissioners and county councils will not build houses. In the first place they have not the finance at their disposal. In the second place the rates are too high. In this way you will be depriving people living in these areas of the privilege of having houses erected for them, and you are moreover depriving the workers—builders, labourers, carpenters and masons from getting employment. If you agree to give the same grant as in the last year's Act you might get people who would be prepared to come forward and erect houses for themselves. Although the President says there were 2,462 houses erected under the Act of 1924, there should be double that many houses erected. What is wrong is that the people who require houses have not the money at their disposal to start. In order that they be eligible for this grant they must, first of all, have the house built and roofed, and then they get half the grant, and when the house is completely finished and passed by the engineer they get the remaining half.

If the Government were really serious about giving an opportunity to people to have better housing conditions they would give a more substantial sum. I am aware that the Government have a lot of liabilities and for that reason I know it is hard to expect them to increase the amounts that they are prepared to give. I take it that the Bill would not have been introduced were it not for the fact that the Executive Council and those associated with them were serious in their view, that they really mean to improve the positions of the people as far as housing accommodation is concerned. But then, being really serious, why should they offer a small grant to the person who built a house for himself and give £10 or £15 more to the local authority who, they know, will not build? It is only in the cities of Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford that advantage will be taken of this Bill. The local authorities in a town of five or six thousand of a population cannot afford to build houses. I ask the President to accept this amendment and so give to a three-roomed house a grant of £50, to a four-roomed house £70, and to a five-roomed house £90. If he does that, he will find that not only will you have 2,462 houses additional in the country but that twice that number will be built under this Bill.

For the same money?

You might be able to get more where that £300,000 come from.

I am sorry that I cannot agree with the amendment.

Amendment put and negatived.

Question proposed —"That the Second Schedule, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

On the Schedule as a whole I would like to ask the President if his attention has been called to the condition under which grants are made in the Northern Ireland area. He has referred to the subsidies being smaller there than the subsidies proposed here, but I will inform him that one of the conditions for the payment of the subsidy is that the materials that are used in the building of these houses shall, as far as possible, be provided from the area of the jurisdiction of the Northern Government. That has special reference to bricks, cement, and certain other things that are produced in that area. The effect of it, of course, is to prevent the possibility of any supplies being sent from this part of the country, but it induces the sending of supplies from that area into Dublin and other towns. I would like to draw the attention of the President to the desirability of introducing some provision of that kind here before making grants under this Schedule in cases where it is possible to obtain material produced within the Saorstát. Reference was made during Question time to-day to the closing down of the cement works in Wexford, a cement works owned by the same people that supply the cement that is sometimes sent from Magheramorne in the Six County area, and sometimes sent from across the water. There, obviously, is a case where the supplies from the country which is paying the subsidy should be called for, and I commend that idea to the President for his consideration, to see whether it would be desirable to put such a condition, either in the regulations or in the Bill, or in some way to ensure that the supplies, as far as reasonably can be, shall be produced within the Saorstát.

That might cause an increase in price, because in the case of cement there is a good deal of imported cement, and if we were now to encourage the Minister to make such an order it might create two difficulties. First of all, it might create a difficulty whereby the price would be higher for the houses so built; secondly the one works would not be capable of making all that would be necessary. There are matters that should have consideration.

I am afraid that it is too late to go into that particular question now. In every case in which the Minister is exercising his discretion, care is taken to provide for Irish manufacture in the drawing of the specifications.

Second Schedule, as amended, put and agreed to.

Title put and agreed to.

I read out an amendment which I proposed, to meet an amendment moved by Deputy Nagle. This was inserted in the Schedule, and it should have been put into the Fourth Section of the Bill. If the Committee were to agree, we could take it out and give notice for the Report Stage to insert it where it should have been put, in Section 4.

The amendment proposed by Deputy Nagle was amendment 24, to the First Schedule, and an alternative amendment was put forward by the President, and it was agreed to. The alternative amendment was:—

The Minister shall not make a grant in respect of a reconstructed house unless, before such reconstruction, the existing building to be reconstructed has been certified by the appointed officer or (in the case of an appeal to the Minister from a refusal by the appointed officer so to certify) by the Minister to be suitable for conversion into a house or houses to which this Act applies.

That amendment is clearly one which should be in the Bill itself rather than in the Schedule, and it would be more suitable if that proceeding were cancelled, the record deleted, and the amendment brought in on Report. Seeing that it has been agreed to, it is not likely that there will be any disagreement to it on Report.

Amendment by agreement deleted.