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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 28 Mar 1928

Vol. 22 No. 17


I move:—

Chun aon Acht do chur in éifeacht a rithfar sa tSiosón so chun a chur ar chumas Comhairlí Contae scéimeanna Dréineála Airtéirighe laistigh de chostas áirithe do cheapa agus do chur i ngníomh go bhfuil sé oiriúnach a údarú go n-íocfar amach as airgead a sholáthróidh an tOireachtas i dtaobh aon scéime dréineála den tsórt san pé suim na raghaidh thar pé méid acu so a leanas is lú:—

(a) an ceathrú cuid de chostas iomlán na scéime dréineála san do chur i ngníomh, no

(b) suim dhá chéad agus caoga punt.

That for the purpose of carrying into effect any Act of the present Session making provision for the formulating and carrying out by County Councils of schemes of Arterial Drainage on a limited scale, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of moneys to be provided by the Oireachtas in respect of any such drainage scheme of such sum as shall not exceed whichever of the following amounts shall be the lesser:—

(a) one-fourth of the total cost of carrying out such drainage scheme, or

(b) the sum of two hundred and fifty pounds.

Deputies will remember when this Bill was first introduced there was no provision in it for any grant out of public funds for the execution of minor drainage schemes. The Bill was then withdrawn, and it was re-introduced with the provision giving grants of 20 per cent. In the House, a number of Deputies from all parties suggested that the grant should be increased. What I propose in this resolution makes it possible to amend the Bill so as to increase the grant from 20 to 25 per cent. When the Bill was first being drafted it was thought that no provision for State grants should be made. I believe that the attitude then taken up was quite justifiable, because these minor drainage schemes might be compared to the main drainage schemes just as works on some boreens would be compared to works on trunk roads. Such schemes have no effect on public health, or the amenities of residence in any district. They are of benefit only to the occupiers of the land that will be improved. They will cost a limit of £1,000; the average cost will not probably be much more than £500, because the schemes that will be carried out under this Bill will generally cost only £100 or £200. As I say, the average may be about £600. The work will probably be carried out by and the wages paid to the owners, or their sons, of lands which will be benefited. Having regard to the fact that nobody will get benefit out of the schemes except those whose lands will be drained, we should expect that in addition to the paid labour some of them should give a little unpaid labour if it is necessary to carry out schemes without the necessity of grants from either the State or local funds. I would like to point out that smaller schemes are much cheaper per acre improved than large schemes. Under the old Act a great number of schemes were carried out.

I will give some figures in connection with it. The Act is Vic. 5 and 6, Chapter 89. There were five cases in which the expenditure was over £70,000 and in those cases the cost per acre improved was £8 7s. 10d. There were 20 cases in which the expenditure was between £20,000 and £70,000, and the cost per acre improved was £7 16s. 9d. There were 31 cases in which the expenditure was over £5,000 and under £20,000 and the cost per acre improved was £5 4s. 8d. There were 63 cases in which the expenditure was under £5,000, including 25 under £1,000. In those 63 cases the cost per acre improved was £3 18s. 5d. As the schemes decreased in size, they became progressively cheaper per acre improved. The biggest cost was £8 7s. 10d. per acre improved. The next was £7 16s. 9d.; the next £5 4s. 8d. and the lowest was £3 18s. 5d. We and the Board of Works, who have experience of it, believe that a great number of these small cases will, even if there is no unpaid labour, be economic without a grant at all but we felt that we had to simplify the procedure under this Act. We decided to dispense with the sending of plans to the Board of Works and a scrutiny by the Board of Works. We decided to dispense with any inspection by the Board of Works engineers and we came to the conclusion that when a grant was necessary, as it appeared to be necessary to make the County Councils take action, and to induce people to go ahead with schemes, we would simply have to give a small flat grant. We suggested 20 per cent. In some cases 20 per cent. would not be quite enough unless there was some unpaid labour, which there should be, but in a great many cases the 20 per cent. would be entirely unnecessary.

In view of the fact, however, that under the 1924-5 Act and of the Drainage Maintenance Act of 1924, State grants are being given, we felt that people would not proceed under the Act if no grants were given. Consequently we felt that some grant must be given or else the whole Act would be inoperative. On the other hand we do feel that this 25 per cent. which is now suggested in the resolution is the very maximum which we would be justified in giving. If the Dáil were not satisfied with the 25 per cent. I think we would have no alternative to withdrawing the Bill and to reconsidering the whole matter, because as I say, even with the 20 or 25 per cent, we will be giving money to people who do not need it. We will be draining their land and the improved value of the land will completely pay them for the cost of the work and no other grants will be necessary. Some other cases may not be as favourable as that. In any case it is desirable that we should do the economic, or the nearly economic, schemes first and that we should not undertake schemes that do not promise to be economic in any great number at the present time. I believe that when we have some experience of this Act it will be found that those are the schemes that will, as it were, best repay doing.

In regard to the bigger schemes the position is somewhat different. The best of the schemes running up to £5,000 have been done under other Acts long ago, and what remains to be done are schemes doubtfully economic or altogether uneconomic. There has been no simple machinery like this for doing the small schemes in the past, but I believe that it will be possible to do a great many of the small schemes under this Bill. As a matter of fact, there are schemes which should be done under this Bill which could be done without any legal machinery at all if the people would co-operate, set to, and do the work themselves. Deputies will realise, however, that in any country district where portion of a river requires to be drained, and where ten or fifteen people are likely to benefit, there will always be three or four who will decline to do anything. Their neighbours will refuse to go on with the work which would benefit these parties. What is required is a simple and expeditious method of doing work of that kind, and I think a great deal of it will be done under this Bill. A great deal of consideration has been given to this, and I think Deputies ought not to press for a bigger grant.

If we are going to be asked to give bigger sums we will have to reconsider the matter, and even although it will entail delay and increased overhead charges, we will have to see that the schemes will be scrutinised in some way on behalf of the State, which will be contributing a large part of the expenditure. I suggest that Deputies should agree to the amount now suggested, and that the Act should be given a trial so that the works which can be done under it may be done. If a residue remains we can consider the problem of that residue of small works as a somewhat different problem, and we can consider whether, as measures of relief, further provision should not be made. This Bill will cover the best schemes, the schemes that will pay, and I think more should not be pressed for.

I am glad that the Ministry has seen fit to bring forward this motion increasing the amount to be offered for minor schemes under the new Arterial Drainage Act. The county councils themselves are so burdened at present, their responsibilities are so great, and the economic conditions generally are so unsatisfactory, that, without offering them and also those who are likely to benefit some inducement of this kind of the substantial amount which I admit it is, I am afraid there would be little done in the way of work of this minor kind under the Arterial Drainage Act. I have been speaking to a number of men who would be affected and whose lands are affected in such a way that they are very seriously considering the possibilities of undertaking schemes.

They admit that it will be difficult to get the county council even when they get agreement amongst themselves. It is not too easy to secure, in a particular neighbourhood, unanimity amongst those likely to be affected, but even where they can secure a great measure of unanimity sufficient to carry the scheme, it will not be always easy to get the county councils and it will be a struggle to get a sufficient number of county councils whose interests will not be affected to agree to put the small amount of money necessary on the county council rate for this work, so that, unless a substantial inducement is offered, first of all, to the individuals likely to undertake the work and secondly to the county councils the Act is likely, in my opinion at least, to remain dormant. Therefore I am glad an addition has been made to the sum offered to help the scheme, and I sincerely hope it will have the effect of inducing arterial drainage schemes of a minor kind to be undertaken all over the country.

I agree too that it is only a proper thing in small schemes of that kind that there should be a good deal of free labour. Unquestionably a number of small land owners in the country will be the ones chiefly affected and if they want to increase the value of their own holdings where part of their holdings is under water at present they can, for their own advantage, undertake these schemes with the assurance that the county council and the Government will come to their aid to the extent set out in the Bill. I have heard others with whom I discussed this Bill, farmers and county councillors, whom I asked for an expression of opinion with regard to this Bill, say "Have we not too much land already in the country? We are unable to deal with what we have, but what we do till or make use of we are more out of pocket by it than making profit." I think that is a fairly common attitude with a number of tenant farmers. They say "We would be throwing good money after bad and wasting money in improving our farms under present conditions. We must make profitable use of the land. We have cattle falling in price; we are losing on every crop we are raising." If you go to farmers or county councillors who are mostly members of the farming community, you will not find them enthusiastic in supporting any major or minor schemes under present conditions. That is the attitude of mind we must now face. We must induce those afflicted with it to get over that. They will not improve their own or the country's condition as long as they are in such a pessimistic state of mind. If this increased grant will help them to get over that and help them to get other schemes of this kind for their improvement and the country generally I would welcome it.

I would like to know, first of all, if the passing of this Motion leaves the Bill in such a state that we cannot increase the grant in the Bill beyond one-fourth?



That is to say this affects the financial aspect of the grant in the Bill. Speaking for Cavan, I have definite instructions from the Cavan County Council to oppose this Bill unless the grant is increased 50 per cent. Already under the 1925 Act, the Cavan County Council has presented 96 schemes. They went to a great deal of trouble and a great deal of expense in getting these 96 schemes prepared. These are in the hands of the Board of Works, and it now appears that of those 96 some 58 are already in reserve as schemes that they will not allow the County Council to proceed with under the 1925 Act. They are holding them over until this new Act, which gives a very much less grant, is to be brought into operation. I may tell you that the feeling down there is that this minor drainage scheme Act is purely for the purpose of drawing a red herring across the 1925 Act and is practically in both cases inoperative.

But that is the feeling. If the 1925 Act is long in operation, so far as the County Cavan is concerned, not one penny has been spent on a drainage scheme under that Act, and some of the schemes have been in for months, if not for years. The County Council have tested this question and find that the ratepayers will not stand for schemes which only, according to the Act, was one-fifth, now increased to one-fourth, where the 1925 Act gave something like 38? per cent., which is nearer to two-fifths. Even with that, they find it very difficult to finance the schemes. There is no question about it. It has been said that the smaller the schemes the less the expense, but the Minister for Finance was dealing with schemes beginning at £70,000 down to £20,000, then going to £5,000 and under £5,000. We are now dealing with much smaller schemes. Take Cavan. It is a county with small holdings. You have average valuations under £10. It is a poor county. It is, perhaps, the most waterlogged in Ireland. That is not due to want of industry on behalf of the farmer. Certain difficulties present themselves where you have a number of small holdings. It is difficult to get agreement amongst neighbours as to who should do this side of the drain and who should do the other.

A great deal of drainage has been done under that Act. The fact that there were 96 schemes for County Cavan shows that they have been energetic in the matter of promoting schemes. Even for the purposes of the main drainage schemes it is necessary that the smaller watercourses be cleared up. The main drainage schemes are of little use if the smaller arteries are not cleared. There are difficulties in the way of the farmers of Cavan. They are willing to pay the cost of the reclamation of this land through drainage, but they cannot bear the rate. The difference, I calculate, between the cost of the 1925 Act and the cost of the proposed new Act would be relatively for every £100 7 per cent. In one case you get what is equivalent to £100, whereas you only get £70 under this Bill. The county council found it difficult to get their schemes through when they were prepared to put some of the larger ones through. They will not go on with some of the smaller schemes if they are all brought under this Act, when the grant will be only one-quarter. I think the Minister should reconsider this question; he should withdraw this motion and leave the question of the grant to be discussed by the House when dealing with the Bill. He could get opinions from representatives of the counties which will be affected by the Act, and I am perfectly certain, if those opinions are not already in the office of the Local Government Department or the Board of Works, that the general view in the country is that one-fifth, or even one-fourth, is not sufficient to warrant them going on with these schemes. They would cause hardship to the ratepayers.

The Minister for Finance referred to a lot of these schemes being done by unpaid labour. I think you may put that on one side. There is no chance of getting a public scheme of any sort done by unpaid labour, even though part of the work is done on the lands of the farmers. Who is going to supervise unpaid labour? If the thing is going to be done at all, it should be done well. I think to get drainage carried out by unpaid labour is only a waste of money. You might get people who would be quite anxious to carry out a drainage scheme without supervision, but if you do not pay for it I am sure that you are not going to have the work done properly. Besides, you have no means of compelling these people to do it. I would ask the Minister to withdraw this motion and allow us to discuss this question of the grant later. In the meantime, let representatives of the various counties who want drainage badly give their views as to what the grant should be. I am satisfied that you will have no drainage done unless the grant is increased to 50 per cent.

I have not the Bill before me. Would the Minister kindly say whether the Bill applies to the drainage of bogs as well as of ordinary farms?

It does not apply to what is called fallow drainage at all; it is arterial drainage. It would only apply to bogs in so far as it would be arterial drainage. You cannot make the ordinary draining of bogs arterial. You might simply deepen or improve the main artery by which the water would be taken off a bog.

It is allowed under the Act?

The Act is for arterial drainage.

To deepen existing rivers.

I think there would be a very big case, in these circumstances, for increasing the grant, because undoubtedly for the expenditure of comparatively small sums the labour in the procuring of peat could be greatly lessened. In my opinion, every year this is becoming a more serious matter because of the terrible hardship attached to the work, and on that account more and more people are giving up the use of peat altogether and are going in for the use of coal.


I think the Deputy is talking about a subject to which this Bill does not apply.

It does apply.

No. It does not apply to bog drainage. I think the Deputy contemplates a system of drainage extending over a bog. This Bill would not apply to that sort of thing at all.

Take a bog that is owned by a number of farmers. In many cases an expenditure of £100 in a case like that would mean a great advantage.


It does not necessarily bring it under arterial drainage.

Would the Minister state what section of the Bill prevents its application to bogs? Personally, I thought it would apply to bogs. I welcomed it, as a matter of fact, because I thought it would do a lot of good to bogs. I would like to know what prevents its application to bogs or the vicinity of bogs—what particlar section.

I cannot tell you. I am telling you what the Act was designed for. The purpose of the Act was not the drainage of bogs; it was to carry out minor schemes of arterial drainage. If the Deputy is referring to anything in the nature of what is called fallow drainage it does not contemplate that at all.

I just wish to make a few remarks arising out of Deputy O'Hanlon's statement which led me to believe that he is under a complete misapprehension as to the respective merits of the 1925 Act and this Minor Schemes Act. In one respect, of course, the Arterial Drainage Act of 1925 is much superior to this as regards finance, mainly in the respect that the Government can give grants up to practically any amount. But there is a principle underlying the whole arterial drainage code, which is in operation, I suppose, for something like 85 years. That principle is that the Government or local authorities should not subsidise these drainage schemes beyond amounts that are necessary to make them economic— that is, subsidise them to a greater extent than would make the annual charge for maintenance, consisting of interest and sinking fund, greater than the annual value of the land benefited. So that if a scheme is uneconomic without any Government grant, the principle has been for the Government not to give advances of even one per cent. in order to induce the people interested to go ahead with the scheme. That, to some extent, has been one of the causes why the 1925 Act has not been to any great extent availed of, because, owing to the present depression in agriculture, without some inducement of that kind farmers are not inclined to increase their overhead charges. Under this Act, on the other hand, irrespective of whether the scheme is uneconomic without a grant or not, the Government are now prepared to come forward and give a grant up to 25 per cent. So that to that extent the financing of this Act is very much better and would be much more acceptable to the local people than the Act of 1925.

As the Minister for Finance has pointed out, it is not the intention of the Government to interfere directly in the working of this Act. We do not want to increase the overhead charges of carrying out those schemes; we do not want to have any additional Governmental expenses entered into in carrying out this measure, and for that reason we are leaving it solely to the local authority. If we are going to increase the grant up to 50 per cent., as Deputy O'Hanlon is now asking, it would mean that the Government of necessity, would have to exercise supervision over these schemes. We must send down our engineers, we must send down our surveyors. That will greatly increase the cost of carrying out these operations. This is purely a local measure to benefit only the farmers whose lands have been drained. For that reason it stands on a very different footing from the Arterial Drainage Act of 1925, and, for that reason, I would ask Deputies on both sides of the House not to press the Government to increase this grant. If they do I think the only effect it will have will be that it will cost the Government a great deal more to carry out the schemes, if, in fact, it has not the effect of making them withdraw the Bill altogether.

As I have an amendment down, the object of which was to increase the amount of the free grant, I am very glad that the Minister has, to some extent, met the idea I had in my head. I certainly think, notwithstanding what has been said by Deputy O'Hanlon, that the free grant of 25 per cent. is very reasonable, considering the resources of the country. At the same time, I am afraid, no matter what offer is made, the County Council of Cavan would not be likely to be satisfied. As a matter of fact, there are other county councils in a similar position; for example, in the county that I represent. I am aware that schemes under the Arterial Drainage Act of 1925 were sent forward by the Roscommon County Council, and that in respect of a great many of these schemes a sum of 50 per cent. of the total cost was offered to the county council. I was certainly very much interested in these schemes, and I regretted the county councils did not take up these schemes more wholeheartedly than they did. In the County Council of Roscommon there were four schemes which were prepared by the Board of Works, who sent down their inspectors to go into them very fully. The total cost of these four schemes was £26,476. Of that total, the Government grant was fixed at £11,818. The sum which the County Council was asked to provide, in order to assist the schemes and make them economical to the holders of the land, would work out at £219 10s. 8d. per annum for 35 years. I do not know whether the County Council went into the matter thoroughly and clearly understood what they were refusing. The total valuation of the County Roscommon is £306,000. One penny in the £ on that sum would bring in £1,276. The sum that was required to pay for these four schemes would amount to something less than one-sixth of a penny in the £. These four schemes covered a great area of the county.

One scheme was in the extreme north of the county; two others were near the centre of the county, and the fourth was in the centre of the southern part of the county. The four schemes would have drained a large area in Roscommon. These schemes were not approved of by the County Council. I regretted that, and I was glad to hear the Minister for Finance the other day appealing to Deputies in this House to endeavour to get their county councils to adopt arterial drainage schemes. I hope that appeal by the Minister will be successful and more benefit will accrue to the people of the country. The spending of £26,476 in Roscommon would have had a great effect in providing employment. A great deal of a scramble took place over a sum of £2,500 that was given as a relief grant. A great deal of noise was made about that grant, and every district was endeavouring to get what they could out of it. But here was an offer of a sum of nearly £12,000 out of a total expenditure of £26,476. The Co. Roscommon could have the benefit of that large expenditure at the cost of a contribution of one-sixth of a penny in the £. If other schemes were put forward later the whole liability on the county rate would not cost more than one halfpenny in the £. However, as far as I am concerned, I am satisfied with the action of the Minister in meeting us to such an extent as to increase the grant from one-fifth to one-fourth of the cost under this scheme. I knew that the county I represent would not be satisfied with a contribution of one-fifth and I am glad that the grant has been increased to one-fourth. I am pleased that the Minister has met us in this way, and I support the Bill.

I am sure it is gratifying to most of us to find the Minister for Finance in a more or less generous mood and with having made an endeavour to meet us. Personally, I would be better pleased if the Minister could have seen his way to increase the grant to one-third, which would be my suggestion. The Minister has made reference to voluntary labour in the district being the cheapest. I quite agree with him there. I know something about local drainage. I was responsible for some of the smaller schemes. We found that when we had gone a certain length that our work was made of very little value, because in front of us, as we went along with the drainage, we found a bar of rock which would have needed a good deal of extra money to have taken out of the way. For that reason much of the money we had spent was more or less useless. I welcome this Bill, because it will give the local authority power to move obstructions like that out of the way and improve the land of the country. I do not quite agree with the Minister when he says that it is only the owner that is benefiting by the land that has been drained. Every acre of land that we improve in the State is an increased asset to the State and is over and above the present value of the land. Deputy O'Kelly said that some people said they had too much land and that it was useless draining any more of it. No matter what acreage of land a man occupies he has got to pay something for it. I would rather far to pay for productive land, or land made productive by drainage, than to pay for land that was waste and covered with rushes. I approve of the idea the Minister has put forward that the initial cost in connection with drainage schemes and in their preparation is being cut down, and that it will not be necessary for the Board of Works to be sending down their inspectors, but that the inspection will be done locally. In that way there will be a substantial saving in the cost. I welcome the advance that the Minister has made in the proportion of the grant he is giving from the State towards the carrying through of these schemes. As regards voluntary labour and as far as that is concerned I would say that, except we had some such Act as the Corn Production Act, whereby each man would be made liable to clean part of the drains which adjoin his land, voluntary labour is useless. I say that because, except a man's own lands are flooded with water, he will not feel inclined to clean the drains. The result is that the flow of the water is obstructed. I would have much preferred if the Minister could have seen his way to make the contribution one-third instead of one-fourth. However, I welcome the length he has gone to meet us.

The Minister has not made it quite clear, to me, at any rate, in his reply to Deputy O'Hanlon, whether this drainage means arterial drainage or the opening of arteries, or whether it is intended for sewerage schemes to make wet bog-land reclaimable. I would like to know from the Minister is it what the name implies— the opening of the arteries, or whether it means facilities to the owners of water-logged land to have shores made through it.

If the Deputy would like me to answer that I want to say that it is not intended to provide facilities for the owners of wet land to carry out fallow drainage or to put shores through their lands. It is for the purpose of opening and improving arteries.

We all quite agree that drainage cannot be undertaken economically by the owners of land at present and that it is the duty of the State, as the State has an asset in the land, to come forward with substantial help and afford the people facilities for drainage. I think if the Minister could see his way to give even a greater grant the Bill would be more beneficial to the country. I say that because the farmers who have to contribute the other portion of the drainage are in a very bad way at present and are not able to contribute their share. I think if the Minister could see his way to increase the grant to one-third, as a northern Deputy suggested, that it would be very welcome indeed and it would be very well expended money.

I would like if we had a little more clarity with regard to the application or non-application of this Bill to the drainage of bogs. I think perhaps the Minister misunderstands me. For instance, with regard to the drainage of bogs, we take a bog which probably provides for 150 to 200 families. Does it not come within the terms of this Bill that that bog may be drained into an adjoining river—say one big drain opened up and two rivers joined?

That is all I wanted to know.

To a great extent I am in agreement with Deputy O'Hanlon. I have before me the case of a drainage scheme in Waterford. The farmers are dissatisfied with the cost of it, and now the County Council are faced with the difficulty of collecting the special rate levied on the farms. The farmers hold that the benefit derived is nothing at all commensurate with the charge made on them. I am afraid the County Council for many years to come will have serious trouble in endeavouring to collect the rate. Apart from that, I believe it is not good to encourage the people to expect the State to do too much for them in connection with this matter. The Minister referred to voluntary labour. My view is that the men who actually own the farms will be paid a great amount of the cost, and in that way they will get a certain amount of benefit, apart from the improved value of the land. If you want to improve the value of a man's property, it is only fair that you should expect him to bear a proportion of the cost. It is not good policy to be constantly holding up to the people's eyes the idea that you are always going to do things for them, irrespective of the benefit conferred. It would be better if the principle of self-help was driven more home. I must say that the small increase in the grant to be allowed is certainly to the good; even this small increase will be appreciated.

I happen to be in the same position as Deputy O'Hanlon. The Leitrim County Council, of which I am a member, did not take advantage of the 1925 Act under which they were getting a grant of 50 per cent. The County Council was in very poor circumstances, and they were unable to afford any money on schemes under the 1925 Act. They were living in expectations thinking they would have a still greater grant under this Act, but they will be sadly disappointed when they see it reduced to half the former grant. There are a few things I would like to bring under the notice of the Minister. There are existing drainage schemes in Leitrim and I would like to know if they will get the same amount of free grant as new schemes under this measure. Under the old Acts there was some provision that prohibited the persons running a scheme from taking rocks out of the bed of the river. Will this new Bill enable them to remove the rocks? If a grant is given for the existing schemes on the same basis as the grant to be given on proposed new schemes, it will mean a lot; it would, at least, help 2,000 land owners in that area. There are two big schemes in my constituency, and I want to know will they get the same free grant as under this new measure.

As one of the Deputies who asked the Minister for an increased grant, I am very pleased that he saw his way to increase it. I welcome this Bill. There is one important thing in it. The county councils can now borrow money without lessening their credit; it will not count on the people's indebtedness or on the debt of the county council. I wish to thank the Minister, and I shall do my best in my own county to have as many arterial drainage schemes as possible.

Is dóigh liom gur leor cúig phúint is fiche fén gcéad mar dheontas i gcóir dréineála airtéirighe agus is dóigh liom go mbainfidh a lán feilméirí úsáid as.

Tá fhios ag an saoghal go mbíonn na feilméirí agus a gclann mhac beagnach scurtha díomhaoin ar feadh cúpla mí nó ráithe gach bliain.

Nílim ar aon aigne le Seán O hAnnluain, Teachta, óir creidim go ndéanfaidh na daoine cuidiú le chéile in obair den tsórt san.

Is mó athchuinge i dtaobh dréineála atá curtha isteach go dtí Coimisiún na Talmhan—do sheolas féin deich gcinn is fiche acu isteach le leith-bhliain anuas, ó Chondae na Gaillimhe amháin. Is fada an lá go ndéanfar beart de réir na n-athchuingí sin uile, má déantar go deo é.

Is é mo bharamhail, ámh, go bhféadfadh na daoine a chuir ainm leis na hiarrataisí sin cuid mhaith den obair a dheunamh fén mBille seo. Molfaidh mise dóibh triall a bhaint as go háithrid.

Maidir le scéimeanna beaga, is úsádaighe go mór an gléas nua so ná an sean-reacht.

Mar adubhart cheanna, creidim gur leor cúig phúint is fiche fé'n gcéad do thabhairt mar dheontas.

I do not think the grant is anything like sufficient. I think 25 per cent. is not sufficient to induce people to put forward drainage schemes at the present time. I was rather surprised when I heard Deputy Conlon saying that in the county he represents £26,000 was going to be spent and of that amount £12,000 would be a grant. He said the County Council did not take advantage of that scheme. Does he realise that they will get only £6,500 now? I think this grant will not induce any County Council to start a drainage scheme. The County Councils at present have too much to do in collecting the rates. I think the Minister should at least give one-third. If he gave 50 per cent. he would not be going out of his way.

Deputy O'Hanlon has been replied to to some extent by the Parliamentary Secretary, who pointed out that under the existing legislation no grant at all is being given, unless it is necessary to reduce the annual charges arising out of the work to a sum not greater than the improved annual value of the land. This Bill does not propose to limit the grant to any particular class of scheme. All schemes will get the 25 per cent. grant. The general provisions of the Bill certainly are not compatible with the giving of a big grant. The Bill was drawn up when it was not intended to give any grant. The Government has no control over the expenditure. It has nothing to say in regard to what scheme shall or shall not be carried out. Its whole task in connection with this is to pay up when the work has been done.

That being the case, I do not think we could possibly go beyond the 25 per cent. without taking the whole Bill back, going into it again, and providing some of the supervisory machinery which we have so far decided to leave out. Of the schemes that have been submitted from County Cavan, Deputy O'Hanlon has said that 28 have been set aside to be dealt with under this Bill. In my view, under the existing Act very few, if any, of these schemes could be dealt with for a long time, for the reason that the present machinery is too top-heavy for small schemes; it involves too much overhead expenditure. Consequently, the Office of Public Works will, even if we make no change in the law, prefer to deal with the bigger schemes, because this machinery is much more suitable for them. Of the schemes that will be carried out under this Bill, a very large number will be substantially under £1,000. A thousand pounds is only the maximum limit, and I venture to say that £600 will turn out to be the average, and a £600 scheme can be carried out much more cheaply, per acre improved, than a £3,000 scheme. It would be difficult, in a scheme costing £3,000, to get any voluntary labour, because the work to be done might be a very great distance from the lands to be improved. In most of the small schemes the work to be done will be quite close to the lands that are to be improved, and I think it would be reasonable to expect that the people who are going to benefit should either work at a special rate of wages, if that was the only way to manage it, or that they should come along and give some contribution by way of unpaid labour. Deputy Reynolds asked whether new works could be done under the Bill in an existing drainage district. They can, with the consent of the existing Drainage Board, but I presume that consent would not be withheld. In other cases they would have to be done by the Public Works Office.

Deputies have asked that we should reconsider the 25 per cent. We have given a great deal of care to this, and we feel that we must look for the cooperation of the people who are going to be benefited and that we ought to give this very much simplified system a fair chance; that the Dáil should not insist upon grants which would make it incumbent on the State to carry out a system of inspection and supervision which is not contemplated at present. If this Bill does not work, then the matter can be considered anew, but it certainly ought to be given a chance. Any contributions that have to be made come from the taxpayer, and the taxpayer who is not going to be benefitted by drainage may reasonably ask why he should give a very large contribution for the individual benefit, practically, of a man whose land is going to be drained.

I should like to say again that one of these minor schemes is very different from a big scheme like the Barrow drainage, which affects the health of the district, and the amenities of residence of all the people over a considerable distance around. These small schemes are almost private matters, and in reality, a fairly generous contribution is being given by giving 25 per cent. If there are schemes that can be carried out—and I am quite confident there is a large number of schemes that can be carried out with a 25 per cent. grant—then when the schemes we are able to carry out with that grant—to say no more than that— have been carried out, when we have done all that can be done, we have a new problem, and we can face up to that, but I think these particular schemes should be allowed to go through. I am quite confident that this will not hold up any scheme, because these very small schemes would not have been dealt with under existing legislation for a very long time. Under existing legislation, the normal grant is not in excess of 33? per cent., and nothing in excess of that will be given unless there is a county council contribution. As matters stand at present, so far as I can see, very few county councils will give any contribution. I think one or two have agreed to give a contribution, but, in the main, they have absolutely refused. So that the position as it stands is that for schemes that may run up to any amount—many of them will certainly run up to £7,000, £8,000 and £10,000— the maximum contribution is 33?. I think that if we are giving 33? for £6,000 and £7,000 schemes, 25 per cent. is a very generous contribution for a £600 scheme.

Question put and declared carried.
The Dáil went into Committee.