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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 24 Oct 1928

Vol. 26 No. 7


I move the Second Reading of this Bill. The Bill completes the housing proposals of 1922, 1924, 1925 and 1926 and it extends to the 17th October, 1929, the date for the completion of houses by private persons and public utility societies under the provisions of the Act. It makes provision for carrying out the promise made by the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Local Government during the discussion on the Estimates, for houses which would not otherwise have received the grants made available under the 1926 Act. It makes available a sum of £200,000 for the payment of grants to private persons, public utility societies and local authorities. The total number of houses under the scheme that have been in course of erection since 1922 runs to about 14,000. This Bill will provide for a further 2,500 houses. The Bill is not on a par with the other Housing Bills which have been introduced here, inasmuch as they marked a departure or outlined a policy. It is a completion of the policy which has been in operation since 1922. I formally move the Second Reading.

The Bill as it stands, seeking as it does, judging by the statement of the President of the Executive Council, to complete what was in mind when the Housing Bill of 1925 was introduced, may be all right within such limitations, but I would like to ask if it is a fact that it is the only Bill dealing with the great and urgent problem of housing that is to be brought forward by the Executive Council within the present session. If the President or one of his colleagues in the Executive Council could assure us that a Bill dealing with this problem of housing, in the way that it needs to be dealt with, would be brought forward at an early date there would probably be little talk or discussion on the Bill as it stands, but unless an assurance of that kind is given I hope there will be very considerable discussion on the housing question in general. If this is the only suggestion for the time being put forward by those in authority to deal with the problem of housing, it is to my mind an insult to the House to offer a Bill of this kind with the sum of £200,000 attached—to offer that amount of money to the local authorities and societies interested in housing. £200,000 for the whole of the twenty-six counties to deal with the urgent and pressing problem of housing. If that be all they have to offer it is to my mind a grave scandal, and it is something that the House ought not to put up with. Housing conditions have often been described in this House— every Deputy should be familiar with them. I know I am familiar with the housing conditions in Dublin City and other areas. In Dublin there is no other problem, with the probable exception of unemployment, that is more urgent, that needs more serious and pressing consideration, than this subject of housing.

The President tells us that since the Housing Act of 1925 was passed 14,000 houses have been built. That may be so. But it is also a fact that there are in Dublin City to-day as many, if not more, families living in one-room tenements than there were ten years ago. The problem of housing is in a worse condition to-day than it was when the Executive Council took control. Instead of improving, the conditions in Dublin are disimproving. They are worse now than they were. Despite the fact that 14,000 houses have been built, as we are told, anybody interested can examine that statement for himself and can get from the housing authorities in Dublin figures which will bear out what I say. Before the Act of 1925 was passed there were 20,000 families living in one-room tenements. I am credibly informed that that number has increased—not perhaps to a very great extent—but it has increased and is increasing every day. Instead of going in a wise way to tackle that grave problem, we are presented with a footy Bill of this kind and offered £200,000 to solve, I suppose, a grave, urgent and pressing social problem, than which there is no more urgent problem before the country. It is, I repeat, a scandal. It is a mockery of the poor, of the unemployed, of the houseless and homeless people of this city, where there are so many, and of the whole Twenty-six Counties. If those who are responsible have no better solution and no more hope to give us than is outlined within the ambit of this Bill, the sooner they get out and acknowledge that they are inept and unfit to deal with this great problem the better. I am sure I can speak for my colleagues when I say that we do not like dealing with this urgent and grave problem from the party standpoint. I would join with any party or individual or set of individuals in this House in an earnest effort, if a serious effort were made to tackle this very urgent problem in the way that it needs to be tackled, and in a manner that it has not been tackled so far by the Executive Council that is charged with the responsibility. Even the principal Act, that we are amending to-day, has not tackled the problem in the way it should be dealt with. We may be told that there are grave difficulties in the way. Of course there are grave financial difficulties in the way. What are we here for but to find a way out of these difficulties?

It can be done. It cannot be done in six months, or one year, or perhaps in five years, but a scheme could be introduced and we could accept responsibility for a scheme, financially and otherwise, which would certainly end the housing problem as we know it to-day within ten years. This Bill will not do it. It will not do it within the next fifty years, if it goes on at the same rate of progress. Some of us have reason to remember the glowing promises made a few months ago when the Committee on Unemployment had been sitting for some time. A vacancy arose in North Dublin and the chairman of that committee was put up as a candidate. A friend has been kind enough to supply me with extracts from the speeches of the most prominent Cumann na nGaedheal members who went into that constituency to advocate that Deputy Rice be elected, because he was chairman of that committee which was going to solve the housing problem. I am not going to trouble the House by reading extracts from these speeches. I am sure we would find it very amusing to hear read the glowing promises made by responsible people when they said that if the Deputy were added to the members on the Cumann na nGaedheal Benches the housing problem in Dublin City, at all events, would be ended in twelve months. Not quite twelve months, but a considerable time has elapsed, and some consideration I presume has been given to the subject of housing, especially in the city of Dublin. This meagre Bill with its £200,000—a fleabite even in the city of Dublin to tackle such a problem—is what is offered to us as a consequence.

I think every Deputy who is really in earnest ought to get up and bombard the Executive Council and impress the House with the grave necessity for tackling this problem. If we tackle it as it should be tackled, we will be, as it were, killing two birds with the one stone. We will be bringing our minds to bear on one of the greatest social evils with which the country is oppressed, the question of housing, and we will also be providing for the early solution of the unemployment question: because if we tackle the housing question as it should be tackled, we will be able to find employment for all the idle artisans and labourers connected with the building trade, not alone in Dublin but all over the country. That will have a very beneficial effect on the question of unemployment. I urge that this matter be dealt with by the House in a way that it has not evidently been dealt with, and that there is no intention of dealing with it by the Executive Council, or those responsible for trotting out a foolish, ridiculous, absurd, make-belief of a Bill of this kind.

I oppose this Bill, but on quite different grounds from those put forward by the Deputy who has just spoken. The Deputy has experience in the matter of housing, and he has rightly said that this problem of housing is one of the most serious problems that confront this House to-day. I agree with him in that statement, but when we come to deal with serious problems let us have constructive criticism. Deputy O'Kelly has spoken at considerable length and in considerable detail, but he has left us quite in the dark as to what his proposals are for dealing with this large problem. That is no use at all. If we are to speak upon this problem, let us try to help towards its solution. Any remarks I have to make will be aimed in that direction.

The objection I have to make to this Housing Bill is that it begins at the wrong end. The real problem in connection with housing in this city and throughout the Saorstát is the tenement dwellers. As the Deputy has rightly pointed out, figures have shown, notwithstanding what has been done by the Government over a number of years, that that problem is worse to-day than it was when this Government took on the responsibilities of office. There is no doubt on that point. Now if we turn back to the 1925 Act, referred to as the principal Act, we get the substance of my objection.

In the schedule attached to the Act we find that the local authority which erected three-roomed cottages gets a subsidy from the State of £60 per cottage. The same local authority that erected four-roomed houses gets a subsidy of £80, and if they erect five-roomed houses they get from the State a subsidy of £100 each. I need not mention, in this House, because all of us have some knowledge of building and dabble in it, from time to time, that the greater the number of rooms in a house the cheaper the cost per room. What is the effect of that when you apply it to this schedule? A house with five rooms gets a subsidy of £100 while a house with three rooms only gets a subsidy of £60. Naturally the result is on the part of those building to go for the larger subsidy. In other words the Act of 1925 puts a premium on large houses as was distinctly pointed out at the time. What the problem to-day needs is that the premium should be put upon the smaller houses so that we may encourage the erection of houses for which the people occupying tenements can afford to pay. What is the use of telling a man in a tenement "here is a five-roomed house, a lovely looking picture," at a rent of 15/-, 17/6, or 20/- per week—an impossible rent for him to pay. Therefore I say we are proceeding along wrong lines and from the wrong end. The Government has done that. Every succeeding Minister has blundered along the same road since we started upon this housing problem and the poor person in the tenements to-day, is, as a result, in a worse position than he was five years ago.

There are limitations as to what this or any Government can spend, and as to what any local authority can spend on houses. We have not got an indefinite amount at our disposal to deal with to finance a huge problem of this character. But what we ought to be sure to do is that what we can afford and what we do spend shall be spent wisely. That is my contention, and my objection is that this money has not been spent wisely. I have been told by predecessors of the present Minister for Local Government that we cannot do anything with the slum dweller. Building at the moment is uneconomic; we cannot help him; the expenditure is too great. I am not at all satisfied that there has been any real desire on the part of the Government to help the slum dweller. I have not seen a single Bill that has come before this House since I had the privilege of being a member, that made any attempt whatever to deal with the problem of the slum dweller in the single roomed tenement. I want to see that something should be done for him.

We have done a great deal in this House and by successive Bills brought forward to help the housing of the well-to-do artisan because it is only well-to-do artisans who can afford to pay rents for these larger houses, and under previous Acts we have helped the well-to-do artisan and I want something done now for the poorer people. Therefore I urge that in spending additional sums on houses these sums ought to be spent in the direction I have mentioned. As far as I am concerned I would urge, in view of the limitation of the finances of this Government, that any money devoted to housing, in the future, should be spent entirely in helping that particular class and for that reason—I do not go so far as to object to this Bill—I urge, as strongly as I possibly can, that the money should be used differently from what is proposed in this Bill.

We favour this Bill in so far as it keeps faith with the people who built houses in the belief that this money would be available but, so far as our opinion of its solving the housing problem or doing anything in that direction is concerned it is a different matter. Deputy Good certainly has surprised me by the attitude he has taken towards this Bill. He has taken up an attitude different from that which he has taken on the previous Bill.

That is not so.

He objected to certain statements made by Deputy Sean T. O'Kelly and stated that he was waiting for some constructive criticism from him. I thought from that statement that we were going to hear something from Deputy Good as to how he would solve the housing problem and I must say I was very much surprised to see him sitting down without making any effort, good, bad or indifferent, to solve that problem. He criticised the past policy of the Government and, much as I have to say about the Government's housing policy in so far as the spending of the grants are concerned, I am in entire agreement with what they did. I have almost twenty years' experience of housing in local authorities and I do not agree at all with the proposal of Deputy Good that a larger subsidy should be given for a small class of house. I am totally opposed to a three-roomed house for the working man because I believe that if you encourage the erection of three-roomed dwellings that a state of affairs would prevail after a short time equivalent to those which are rightly condemned in the slum areas. A working man is entitled to a house with decent accommodation. He is just as much entitled to a bath-room as a man in any other walk of life. I know very well it is not easy to bring about that at the moment but I would ask the Government not to heed the suggestion made by Deputy Good that a larger subsidy should be given for a three-roomed house. A five-roomed house is small enough for any worker especially if that man has a mixed family. To ask a man with a mixed family to live in a three-roomed dwelling is inhuman.

As far as I can see from the Bill it has no provisions to enable either a local authority or a private person to build houses in the future. It is just the Government keeping faith with people who have been building for the last twelve months and I would like to know when the Government are going seriously to tackle the housing problem. I would like to know when the pledges of the President and other of his Ministers are going to be fulfilled. I have seen it stated by responsible people of the Government within the last two or three years that money on loan would be available for a comparatively long term of years to enable local authorities to start building in earnest. Up to the present it has been impossible—in a provincial town at any rate. I do not know altogether what the conditions are that prevail in Dublin—to erect a house which can be let at a reasonable rent to a working man. At the moment the banks will not advance money for a longer term of years than ten to a local authority. The tendency is to build a bungalow type of house of three rooms and a cubicle. That house is being built in various localities, and provincial towns in Ireland at £290 or £270 in some cases. If we assume that it costs £270 and the Government gives a subsidy of £70, you will have to borrow £200 at an annuity of £12 10s., and that will work out a rent with redemption of principal and interest at 9/7 per week. I would ask the President does he consider that is a reasonable rent for a working man to pay in a small town in any part of this country? If the Government would do what they have promised repeatedly that they will do, to give money out of the local funds to local authorities for thirty or forty years, that would, to my mind go almost the whole way to solve the housing problem. If the Government were to release money from the Local Loans Fund for a period of thirty years you would have a rent of something about 5/9 per week. That would be very acceptable at the moment in view of the fact that the working classes, up to this, have not been able to take advantage of the housing schemes which have been set in motion under the Acts from 1925 onwards.

I would ask the President in all seriousness when he intends to do something practicable in so far as housing is concerned. This Bill is just a make-belief; it is pretending to do something which the Government are not doing. It is keeping faith with people who have been in a position to build houses during the last twelve months. A great many people in the country when they saw that a Housing Bill was to be introduced were expecting great things in view of the statements made by Ministers during the past twelve months or two years. I believe there will be keen disappointment felt all over the country when they know the terms of this Bill.

Deputy Sean T. O'Kelly has referred to the fact that Deputy Rice's name was broadcast all over Dublin during a recent by-election as the man who was Chairman of the Committee going to solve the housing problem. That statement was certainly made by very influential people in Government quarters. I believe that the country is entitled to know what actually is the housing policy of the Government and immediately that the Government should bring forward some kind of a Bill to enable local authorities to tackle the housing problem in a proper manner. This is merely tinkering with, what I think is, the most important problem this country is confronted with to-day. To embark on housing schemes necessary for this country would not alone help to house people under decent conditions but would relieve unemployment all over the country. This Bill is certainly not a Housing Bill. I think it is a nickname to call it so. I hope the President will tell us what the policy of the Government in the very near future is going to be so far as housing is concerned.

I believe this is the most important problem that this country has got to solve. Bad housing, in my opinion, is the principal cause of tuberculosis and many other diseases which are so wide-spread at present. I have had brought under my notice recently the serious position. There are some 33 houses which were handed over by the Minister for Defence in the military barracks at Mullingar now to be given away. There are 200 applicants for about 30 houses and each and every one of those are most deserving. I came across an application yesterday where a man, woman and seven children were living in one room. I came across several others almost as bad. I am glad to say that I am not a member of the Board and that I have not to pick the 30 out of the 200. As I have already described them they are really in a terrible position. I strongly appeal to the President and the Government to try and do something more in connection with this housing problem which in my opinion is the most important one this country has got to face.

The terms of this Bill are disappointing in the extreme to anybody who had been looking forward to a serious effort on the part of the Government to solve this housing problem. We have been led to believe that the Executive Council had really considered this question seriously and from public statements made in this House and outside of it people who are interested in this problem were justified in concluding that when a Housing Bill came to be introduced in this House it would be a Bill that would aim at the solution of the housing problem.

I have before me quite a number of extracts from statements by various people including the Minister for Local Government and the gentleman who was to solve the housing problem in the Saorstát, Deputy Vincent Rice. I do not propose to go into all these statements. I shall refer the Government to just one extract from a statement by Deputy Rice at the by-election in North Dublin.

"The Government had given an undertaking that they would take up this great programme the moment this election was over, and this great programme involved a housing scheme costing fifteen million pounds, spread over a period of ten years."

He stated that that was a definite programme. I quite agree with Deputy Vincent Rice that that was a definite programme, but the Bill now before the House certainly does not make any attempt to give effect to that very definite programme that Mr. Rice outlined to the electors of North Dublin. The upshot of all the promises that have been made is that no grant will be available under the Bill for any house that is not already in process of construction or that had not been in process of construction on Wednesday of last week. Section 5 of this Bill amends the principal Act in the following manner:

"The principal Act shall be construed and have effect and be deemed always to have had effect as if the following rules were inserted in the First Schedule to that Act in lieu of the rule now contained in that Schedule, that is to say:—

"The erection or reconstruction of a house shall have been begun after the passing of this Act and not later than the 17th day of October, 1928, and shall have been completed before the 18th day of October, 1929."

That simply means that if the house is not already in process of construction no grant will be available. The Bill states that the aggregate amount of the grants to be made under Section 3 of the principal Act shall not exceed the sum of eight hundred thousand pounds. Six hundred thousand pounds have already been spent, and apparently the other two hundred thousand pounds have already been allocated or must have been allocated before the 17th of the present month. I think there are many public authorities throughout the country, and many private individuals who did not embark on the building or construction of houses pending the introduction of this Bill. The very fact that they did not embark on the construction of houses means that they are going to be deprived of the facilities that even this Bill places at the disposal of the people who had started building before the 17th October.

I do not know whether there is any substance in this, but it is suggested that some people who were in a position to know what the terms of this Bill would be—some public authorities and some private individuals who were particularly well informed and belonged to a Party who knew what this Bill would be—started their houses before the 17th October, but those who did not know what the terms of the new Housing Bill were to be did not start the building of houses, and of course they will get no grant. I do not know what substance there is in that statement, but I am very much afraid that there is some. There is a great scarcity of houses in most of the urban areas throughout the country as well as in the city. In the urban area that I come from a scheme involving the erection of 50 or 60 houses was begun last year. Ten of these houses were erected. No steps were taken to continue that scheme pending the introduction of this Bill. There are no houses now actually in the process of construction, and, so far as I can interpret Section 5 of this Bill, none of the £200,000 still available can be allocated to continue that scheme.

The Minister for Local Government seems to forget that, as well as being Minister for Local Government, he is also Minister for Public Health. I think in matters of public health one of the most important considerations for any Minister of Public Health is the question of housing. A lot of the effort and expenditure on public health questions at the present time, and on the treatment of disease, is wasted by reason of the housing conditions under which the poor have to live. I think the Minister for Local Government ought seriously to take that side of the public health question into consideration, because he is not going to make much headway in his public health programme otherwise. He may have all kinds of avenues to the treatment of disease, but until he devotes more of his attention to the very evident causes of disease he is working in a vicious circle.

The President may say that there is no money evailable for a larger advance or for a more ambitious housing scheme than is outlined under this Bill. I suggest for his serious consideration that the solution of this problem does not rest entirely in the matter of grants. Take, for example, one of those four-roomed houses for which a grant of £80 is available. Under the Schedule of the 1925 Act such a house can be built for, roughly, £280 or £290. A loan of £200 has to be raised from the bank, and I think the longest-term loan that can be got from a bank at the present time would be fifteen years. The interest on that would be four and a half per cent. Such a house cannot be let at an economic rent at the present time. What is actually happening is that when these houses are built they are in great demand, but not by those whom we know as the ordinary labouring classes.

They are in great demand by public officials, clerical staffs and that class of the community—that is to say people who have a reasonable income. But when the demand of that class of the community comes to be satisfied, when sufficient houses have been built to satisfy their demands, you are not any further on in the solution of the housing conditions of the poor than you were at the start. Deputy Good was on the same line in that regard. You have built houses the rents and rates of which will run from eight to ten shillings a week. Any man of common sense will agree that a labouring man getting 30/- per week cannot occupy houses at a rent of 8/- or 9/- per week. He cannot be expected to keep a wife and family or to keep himself without a wife and family on the balance of the 30/- per week. So that that solution of the matter is not going to get you much further. Personally I believe that until the long term loans are restarted that the housing problem will not be solved. Under the old regime that preceded the President and his Party over there, loans were available for terms of fifty to sixty years at 3½ per cent. Under these conditions it was possible to build houses that could be let at an economic rent. I do not think it will be possible to restore such favourable conditions for obtaining loans as those were. But it is in that direction I think that the solution of the housing problem will lie.

I do not know whether the Executive Council would consider if there is not money available for these long term loans by the Board of Works approaching the banks and telling the banks that they would not be allowed to hold up national development, that the banks would have to advance money to the public authorities at reasonable security for a reasonable term of years and at reasonable interest. There is just one point in connection with the remission of rates. I think it was in Section 7 of the principal Act. That is a matter to which I would like to draw the President's attention. It is generally understood by the ordinary man in the street who does not understand the intricacies of a Bill passed through this House, that the rates or part of the rates on these houses will be remitted for a number of years on a sliding scale, 95 per cent. of the rates the first year, 90 per cent. the second year and so on, so that 20 years will have elapsed before the full rates have to be paid. So far as I know, private individuals who have built houses and got grants for the purpose are not getting the advantage of that section. I quite understand that a petition can be sent to the Minister for Local Government and Public Health if the local authority does not remit the rates. But it would be better to take that section out of the Bill altogether—either to give them a remission of the rates or not to give them a remission of the rates, but do not allow them to think that they are to get a remission if in actual fact when the house is built they are not to get the remission.

I want to say a few words on this matter. I think we ought to realise at the very outset that this Bill which is now before us might be called a Bill to wind up the House-Building Facilities Act, that instead of making any further provision for houses or enabling us to make any further provision for housing that it enables the Government not to make any further provision for housing. It is not a Housing Bill. It is a Bill to stop house-building. I think the Dáil ought to realise that. As I see it, the position is that when the original Act was passed a sum of £300,000 was provided by the Oireachtas, and when that amount had been expended another Bill was brought in and a further sum of £300,000 was provided. That amount was fully allocated early this year, and many people who had started the building of houses in the belief that the money was available and that they would get a grant just the same as their neighbours, proceeded to build their houses only to be informed that there was no money available from which they could get a grant. The matter was raised in the House here, and the Government promised that they would bring in a measure seeking for the money to provide a grant for those people who had built in the belief that the money was available.

This Bill asks for a sum of £200,000. Of course, that does not necessarily mean that the £200,000 will be spent. It might not mean that even £50,000 would be spent, because so far as I can understand the Bill, no person other than a person who had started to build his house before the 17th of this month will get any grant. I think that is a great pity because I contend that the House-Building Facilities Act did achieve a very good purpose.

Hear, hear!

According to the figures given by the President when this Bill goes through and when all the houses under these schemes have been built there will have been erected between 16,000 and 17,000 houses for a cost to the State of £800,000. I am sure that most of the Deputies in the House who travel through the country will have noticed new houses of a very good type springing up all over the country in place of the old tumbledown thatched houses that were in the country before. This applies with great force to the rural areas. I think it is a great blunder on the part of the Government not to continue the House-Building Facilities Act and give these grants to the people to encourage them to build houses for themselves. They should continue these grants until such time as they are able to go forward with this great national scheme if they are ever to go forward with it. But if we cannot have a fifteen years' scheme costing £10,000,000, at least let us go on doing something. Let us provide the money and give encouragement to people who are anxious to build. If I do not mistake, the Minister for Finance a few months ago stated in this House that not only was it the intention of the Government to introduce legislation to enable them to give grants to those who had decided to build houses in the belief that the money was available, but he also stated that it was his intention to introduce a Bill to continue the giving of grants, but he intimated that the grants would be smaller than they were under the original Act.

I think that if the Minister makes a promise here in this House that that promise should be kept, for otherwise it is very hard for the Dáil to carry on or to accept anything that a Minister may say. I do not know whether the President is in a position to state what are the intentions of the Government regarding housing policy, or whether he has considered the report of the Committee on Unemployment in that connection. I do not know that he has, because I am not aware that the Joint Committee set up has as yet reported to the Government. If they have done so they have not said anything about it. This scheme, which has proved very beneficial and which has, at a comparatively small cost, succeeded in giving to the country 16,000 or 17,000 houses should not be dropped in this way.

I rise to impress upon the Government the necessity of building smaller houses. I, too, would like to paint the same rosy picture for the workingman as Deputy Corish has painted. I would like to see five-roomed houses and nice gardens for the workers, but we all know, as Deputy Good informed the House, that when these houses are completed they charge 16/- and £1 a week for them. The class of workman in Dublin who requires a house cannot pay a rent of 16/- or £1. I will quote for the President an example which he himself has very often quoted with pride. All Dubliners feel proud when they look back on the work of the Dublin Artizans' Dwellings Company, the splendid two, three and four-roomed cottages that were erected and that are now housing very decent working-class people. If you want to find out where they are visit the avenues adjoining Seville Place, in the parish of St. Laurence O'Toole. You will see two-roomed houses in the Fourth Avenue, three-roomed houses in the Third Avenue, four-roomed houses in the Second Avenue, and five-roomed houses in the First Avenue. All these places contain the decentest people it is possible to meet, and they are rearing good families. I support the President in the policy he adopted in the past, when he approved of the building programmes of the Dublin Artizans' Dwellings Company.

As far as I am concerned, I speak on behalf of the people who live in North Cumberland Street, Gloucester Street and Gardiner Street. There are houses there in North Cumberland Street containing sixteen families. Some of these houses fell down some years ago and others had to be condemned within the past few years. The unfortunate families occupying rooms in those places were then obliged to live in single rooms with as many as eight or ten flights of stairs to climb in order to reach those rooms, and the only accommodation they had was one lavatory in the back yard. If I could get two or three-roomed cottages for the average Dublin tenement dweller, a cottage with a hall door, a little yard and a lavatory, I would be doing a good day's work for the city of Dublin. A suitable rent would be five shillings, six shillings or seven shillings a week. There were three-roomed houses built in Drumcondra recently and they were set at ten shillings a week. The Dublin City Commissioners have had before them practically 11,000 applications for three-roomed houses. I am prepared to support any policy that will give two, three or four-roomed houses.

We all know the conditions of labour in Dublin to-day. The best of our tradesmen are on half-time, and there are others drawing a miserable dole. There are others still with nothing at all and they are depending upon the St. Vincent de Paul Society or the Roomkeepers' Society. They are living in single rooms, and the rents in these rotten tenements are four shillings and five shillings a week. Within the past six months I brought a member of this House to see where people were living in an underground apartment, twelve feet below the level of the road, and where the daylight cannot penetrate. The unfortunate family living in that place pays 7/6 a week for that apartment. If I could get a two-roomed cottage or a three-roomed cottage for that family, even though it would be a shilling or two more, I would be very glad indeed.

Deputy Corish painted a very rosy picture of the pretty garden round the cottage, the green grass in front and the ivy round the door. I would like to see that all realised for the unfortunate dwellers in our tenements. I appeal to the President to see if he can induce the Dublin Artizans' Dwelling Co., no matter what the subsidy may be, to start building operations again. If he can induce them to build two-roomed cottages and three-roomed cottages to house those people it will be a great step in the right direction. I would be very glad indeed to see them living under the same conditions as the people in the avenues that I have referred to.

As regards housing in Dublin, I want to know what is going to happen in the near future. In the Dublin tenement districts, the Coombe, Gloucester Street and Gardiner Street, there are sixteen-roomed houses, and there are also derelict sites there. Are these sites to be left as eye-sores? Would it not be well if decent flats were erected and let at reasonable rents, gardens or no gardens? What was the demand made for the flat accommodation recently constructed in some of the city barracks? Is it not a fact that there were fully 1,000 applications for every room vacant? I would ask the Dáil to support any policy that will give that class accommodation.

As far as the rates are concerned, I thought I saw in this Bill that the matter was optional and that the local authorities can grant a relief of rates which will be a great encouragement to the good class person, a clerk or mechanic in constant employment. It will give such a man a better opportunity of buying his own house. A remission of rates is certainly a great encouragement. I am aware that a number of people were disappointed in Dublin, Cork and Waterford. Houses were built there, and the small builders got a grant. The tenants going in thought that they would get a remission of rates because under the 1925 Act people who got a grant also got a remission of rates. I would ask the President to do something for those people who were disappointed and who considered that they would get the same conditions as those who built their houses three years ago. In the Phibsboro' district private builders were building a rather nice class of five-roomed house. The people there thought they would get relief from rates, knowing at the same time that a grant was given for the building of the houses. They based their belief on the grounds that those who built under the 1925 Act obtained relief in the matter of rates and had a grant also given. I would ask the President to consider the case of those people in Phibsboro'. To give you an idea of how bad things are in Dublin, I will read portion of a letter which I received to-day: "I regret that Wm. Phair is not eligible, in as much as he has only seven in family." Because a man has only seven in family he cannot get a Corporation cottage.

He would not have much accommodation for them in a three-roomed house.

Cannot something be done for cases like that?

As other Deputies have pointed out, this is a Bill which the Dáil cannot refuse to pass, no matter how unenthusiastic they may be over it. The Bill is for the purpose of enabling the Government to carry out a promise which it gave with respect to the building of houses after the amount allocated by the 1926 Act has been expended. I thought, however, that we would be entitled to expect from the President when introducing this Bill a much fuller statement concerning it than that which he gave. This Bill relates only to houses, the construction of which was commenced prior to Wednesday last, and the Dáil, I think, could be informed, and is certainly entitled to ask, how the figure of £200,000 was arrived at. The Government must, or should, know by this the exact number of houses to which the Bill relates, the exact amount of its liability in relation to these houses and should give that information to the Dáil.

I wonder is there any foundation for the suspicion which was mentioned by one of the Labour Deputies that that £200,000 is only there for political purposes and that that sum will not be required or could not be expended under this Bill. I hope that the President will endeavour to remove that suspicion and will assure us that the full number of houses which that £200,000 represents are under construction and were commenced prior to the 17th October. I listened with considerable interest to the speech which we heard from Deputy Good. Deputy Good asked that Deputies on this side of the House should approach this problem of housing in a serious manner and endeavour to bring forward constructive proposals in relation to it. I was very much surprised to note that Deputy Good confined that request to this side of the House and that he did not, before addressing us at all, make that request to members on the Ministerial Bench. The President has told us that this Bill marks the end of the Government's present housing policy but he did not tell us what their future housing policy is going to be. I thought that Deputy Good and other Deputies would be much more anxious to hear what the future housing policy of the Executive Council in office is than they would be to hear what the possible housing policy of the Party in Opposition would likely be.

The President gave no hint as to whether the Government have any future housing policy or if they have, along what lines it is likely to develop. We can, perhaps, assume from what he said that they are satisfied that the lines on which they were working heretofore were not the best. If they were the best, undoubtedly, they would not change them but the fact that they propose to change their policy is, I think, an indication that they are not satisfied with the results of that policy. Of course, they could not be satisfied. They have produced, the President said, some fourteen thousand houses and this Bill will result in the production of another two thousand or two thousand five hundred. We know that the construction of houses has barely kept pace with the growth of the problem and that, in fact, the problem has been growing more rapidly than houses have been built.

We have had figures produced in the report of the Unemployment Committee which show that since 1922 the number of families living in single rooms and tenement houses in Dublin has actually increased. It is, therefore, quite obvious that some change in the Government's housing policy is urgently needed, but we would be much more interested to hear what that change is going to be and along what lines the Government are going to act in future. I do not think that it is necessary that we here to-day should, and in this manner state our views in respect of this problem. We have had a rather satisfactory announcement from the President at the opening of to-day's session to the effect that he is proposing to establish a committee to examine the whole economic conditions of the country in relation to the problem of unemployment. We will have no hesitation in putting in detail before that committee our views on any of these problems and on the manner in which the solution of them could, in our opinion, be best found.

The fact that is worrying me, however, at the moment, is that a general impression was conveyed, not merely in this House, but throughout the country and particularly in Dublin, that the Government had actually another housing policy carefully thought out and ready to be put into operation. Anybody, for example, who took the trouble of reading the speeches made by Ministers in a recent by-election in Dublin City could not but have received that impression. The Deputy who was elected on that occasion was very definite about it himself. Some of his remarks have already been referred to, but there is one statement made by him to which I would like to refer particularly, not because it concerns him, but because it concerns the Government. With regard to the report of the Unemployment Committee of which he was chairman he said: "They recommended that the Government should undertake a continuous housing programme at a cost of £15,000,000, spread over ten years. That was a definite programme. The Government had given an undertaking to him that they would take up this great programme the moment this election was over." Deputy Rice stated definitely that he had received an undertaking from the Government that a definite programme, involving a capital sum of £15,000,000 spread over ten years, would be embarked upon by the Government immediately that particular by-election was over.

That by-election was held in March last. Those of us who opposed the election of Deputy Rice did not, of course, place much reliance on the promises made to secure his election. We did expect however, that when the question of housing would be debated in the Dáil, Deputy Rice would have had the common decency to be present. In view of the fact that he was elected because he was the Chairman of the Unemployment Committee, and because he gave that promise of ten years' work on housing, we thought that when a Bill of this kind, or any Bill dealing with housing, would be under discussion here, he would come and, even if he did not participate in the debate himself, at least listen to what would be said about it. Deputy Rice, however, is not here, and I do not think that he will be here after the next general election either. I would like, however, to ask the President, in his reply, to state if, in fact, the Government did give an undertaking to Deputy Rice prior to that by-election that such a programme of housing would be embarked on, and, if not, did they at any time endeavour to restrain Deputy Rice from making similar statements during the course of that election campaign? One or two other matters have been raised in the course of this debate which we think call for very careful consideration. I feel inclined to agree with Deputy Corish that you do not solve the housing problem by building three-roomed houses. I agree with Deputy Alfred Byrne that if we cannot get any solution of the slum problem except by building three-roomed houses, then let us build them.

I agree with Deputy Good that the Government do not appear to be sufficiently interested in the problem of the slum dwellers. We are going to discuss as the next item on the Order Paper to-day, a Censorship of Publication Bill. I would ask Deputies to realise that all the evil literature that was ever printed or will be printed could not do one half as much damage to public morals and public decency as the continuance of the conditions which at present exist in the slums of Dublin. When you have 78,000 people—I think that figure is correct—living in single-roomed tenement dwellings, with people of both sexes eating, living and sleeping in one room, you cannot expect to have a proper outlook upon life existing amongst that portion of your population, and that portion of your population constitutes almost one-fourth of the entire population of the capital of the country. This problem of the slums in Dublin must be tackled, but it must be tackled in a national way. I do not think that we will ever reach a solution of the problem merely by giving grants to encourage speculative builders to build houses. It is a State problem and must be tackled by the State. It must be tackled as any other big national problem would be tackled.

It will require at least the £15,000,000 referred to by Deputy Rice, and it will take at least ten years to do it, but we must plan on that basis, plan to cover the whole problem and to start at once at the beginning of it. We will not do it in the way the Government has been attempting to do it up to the present, voting £300,000 this year, £300,000 next year, and £200,000 two years later. That piece-meal way of settling the problem will get us nowhere. It will undoubtedly result in the building of extra houses, but it will not solve the housing problem. That can only be solved by taking the problem as it exists, studying it as a whole and working out a solution that will enable a start to be made on the right lines. I do hope that this committee which the President undertook to set up or some similar committee will sit down to examine the problem to the bottom, and that as a result of their recommendations a State scheme will be embarked upon. The difficulties of the problem were not referred to by Deputy Good. Deputy Good carefully avoided any specific reference to the main difficulties of solving the problem. We can easily reach agreement as to whether grants given under an Act of this kind should be greater for three-roomed houses than for five-roomed houses or vice versa. That is a very small point in relation to the problem. The problem as a whole relates in the first place to where is the money to be got, and secondly, are we going to get value for the money that we spend.

That is the first time that point was mentioned this evening.

I agree. Deputies know that that is the kernel of the problem, and if they carefully avoided referring to it it is not my fault.

I was afraid the Deputy was going to forget it.

I had no intention of forgetting it. The other questions which were raised can, I think, best be dealt with by a committee such as I have referred to. We cannot get a solution of the housing problem by debate in this House. We can, however, indicate that we are willing to cooperate in the finding of a solution, and as far as such indication is required from these benches it is freely given. This Bill must be passed undoubtedly, but let us have no illusions about it. The only thing which might give the impression that this Bill is going to solve the problem of housing is its title. It is not going to solve that problem. It is not going to result in an extra sod of turf being turned for the purpose of building houses which have not already been started. I do not think the President is trying to claim for the Bill more than he is actually entitled to, but we know that efforts will be made to represent it as being something more than it really is. In so far as it is going to result in the building of 2,500 houses, even at a cost which might not be absolutely necessary to produce that 2,500, we will support it. It must go through, as faith must be kept with the people who actually commenced to build houses, but if we are going to find a solution of the problem it will be along entirely different lines to those upon which the Government has been working heretofore and which are enshrined in this Bill.

I want to express my dissatisfaction with this Bill. In doing so I want to state that I do not approach it in any party or partisan spirit. I think it is one of those measures which should be considered by all Parties in the House without any regard to party bias or feeling. We should also keep out of the arena, for the time being at any rate, personalities in our various Parties, and not introduce anything of a partisan nature. I deprecate anything of that kind, and any comments I have to offer will be made in the best interests of the class I represent and in the direction of providing houses for those who are houseless at the moment. I think it will be readily conceded and admitted that the need for housing is greatest amongst the working-class population. Much has been said in this House as to what is taking place in Dublin in regard to housing. I do not want to comment upon what is being done in Dublin, but I certainly do know what is being attempted in Cork. We find that under the schemes of municipal building the original intention was to provide houses for the working classes, but when the houses were built they were sold at anything from £500 to £540, £640, or thereabouts. I put it to any Deputy in this House how many working-class people do they know who can pay £500 or £600 out of their own pockets? Personally I know very few, but that is the only solution we got in Cork at any rate of this housing question so far as it affects the working-class people. Those schemes of building houses of the six-roomed class have not very much effect in dealing with congestion, as it relates to the cities and towns of the Saorstát. I have a certain measure of sympathy with the opinions expressed by Deputy A. Byrne, not that I believe that a two-roomed, three-roomed, or even a four-roomed house is sufficient to house any decent family consisting of a father, mother and three or four children, but because I believe the problem is so acute to-day that we have to seek the nearest, readiest and cheapest remedy.

I agree with Deputy Lemass that the herding together of families in single-room tenements has a more demoralising effect than the flood of evil literature coming into the country. If Deputies are sincere, and are not speaking with their hands on their hearts and their tongues in their cheeks on some of these measures—and I believe some of them have been and will be in connection with the Evil Literature Bill—I would ask them to concentrate on this Bill which seeks to remedy the evil which will be dealt with in the Evil Literature Bill. In doing so, I think they will have done a useful day's work, not alone for the morals, but for the physical well-being of the country. If further consideration were given to Section 5, the President would see that it is bound to inflict an injury on any people who made an attempt to build houses before the date mentioned in the Bill. I know the case of a farmer who bought a farm adjacent to the City of Cork, and, understanding that this Act was still in operation, he brought materials there in order to begin building operations, but was informed that he would not be entitled to the grant.

What is the date?

Before the date mentioned in the Bill. I ask the President to define what is meant by the beginning of building. Would the beginning of building, according to the Bill, mean the time when the materials were brought to the ground or when the engineer drafted his plans? If that proof were accepted of the beginning of a building, it would meet some cases I have in mind.

What I am mainly concerned with, however, and what the citizens of Cork are mainly concerned with, is the building of more houses at a cheap rental to suit the working classes. We believe that that can only be obtained by long-term loans. So far as Cork is concerned, where congestion exists to almost an alarming degree, we believe that to meet the economic circumstances of those requiring them, houses should be provided at from 7/- to 10/- per week.

Apart altogether from the question of unemployment, in many cases wages have fallen to many degrees below the pre-war period.

Would the Deputy give some details of that statement?

I can, even in the Deputy's own industry. So far as Deputy Good's side of the question is concerned, the cost of building materials remains largely the same. I want to illustrate the situation as it relates to some members of the Irish Master Builders' Association. I would not have alluded to it but for the interruption of Deputy Good. I can quote a case in Cork city—I can see the President smiling because he knows the case—where a number of Irish builders, of whom Deputy Good is such an ornament, tendered for a large number of houses. I am sure Deputy Good will be at his wits' end to explain how there was such a disparity in the prices tendered by a number of Irish builders. The tender accepted was £10,000 lower than the next lowest, and something like £30,000 or £40,000 than the highest. I know it was a large sum, but I am going to confine myself to the £10,000.

It meant that an English contractor took the contract to build the houses at £70 per house less. I also want to emphasise what this English contractor was able to do. Possibly he was satisfied to do with less profit. He was able to continue his labourers at work during the last four or five weeks when all the other building labourers were locked out by the employing builders. I do not like to call them master builders, because they are not master builders. These employing builders kept their unfortunate labourers and others walking the streets of Cork for some weeks, because the men would not subject themselves to a reduction in wages. Yet, this English firm, who I am sure are not philantropists, were able to keep their men employed the whole time. I also understand that they are perfectly satisfied that the men have given a decent return and that they themselves will have a decent return out of the contract. I feel Deputy Good is not very pleased with himself for interrupting.

I hope I shall get an opportunity of replying to the Deputy.

I know Deputy Good does not like that kind of "rubbing up" at all.

When thieves fall out!

I want to express my dissatisfaction with the Bill. I do not think that the President pretends that it is even a slight contribution to the building programme about which we heard so much during the earlier part of the Session. He cannot pretend that it is a contribution. It does, of course, permit of certain amounts being granted. I understand the figure is about £15 per room to speculative builders. Speculative builders have built and sold houses, and I will admit have done something to solve the problem, and have incidentally given a good deal of employment. I am not going to say that it would be a good thing to put the brake on their activities. If they are able to make a profit and able to get buyers for their houses, they are doing something, at least, so far as the internal economy of the country is concerned, by giving employment on the one hand and getting buyers for their houses. Each buyer must in turn vacate another house and thus make room for somebody else. The whole kernel of the question is untouched as to the provision of houses for the humble labouring man with £2 10s. or £3 10s. a week. They are practically not catered for at all. The artisan class is catered for in some way, but the humblest type of worker is not catered for so far as any of the building schemes that have emanated from Government Departments are concerned. I hope that the President will do something in this Bill that will at least be tantamount to saving his face and that will at least make it appear that this is a serious contribution towards solving the housing problem of the country.

I welcome this Bill simply because it is named a Housing Bill. In the rural districts the building of cottages is as dead as Julius Caesar. We have not had a scheme for the building of cottages in my district since 1912. People of that kind were promised houses and we had a scheme passed and everything would be all right until the big war broke out and blew up our scheme. Now one is ashamed as a member of the Board of Health when a cottage becomes vacant because you would have five, twelve or fourteen applicants for that cottage which could only be given to one and all of those people are badly off and need a house. You are sure to fall out with the other twelve if you give it to one of the thirteen. I know a family in my district numbering thirteen in one room—a father, mother and eleven children. I welcome the housing scheme for three-roomed houses. I am not prepared like Deputy Anthony and Deputy Alfred Byrne to be able to suggest the payment of five or six shillings a week for three-roomed houses. Seeing that the wages in the rural districts are only 29/- a week I should think that the Boards of Health should be encouraged to take up schemes of labourers' cottages. We can build three-roomed cottages with small plots. Labourers' would guarantee to pay twice the rent they are paying now for the bigger house and bigger plots. That will go to show the real necessity in the rural districts for a housing scheme.

There is another section of the community in the rural districts that seem altogether to be forgotten. I suppose it was because they had not as good leaders as the labourers and that class is the small farmers under £10 valuation. They are a lot worse housed than those other people. They have the most insanitary houses in the whole bunch, more insanitary even than the houses described by Deputy Alfred Byrne. I only ask in the interests of the rural areas that we get some powers to start labourers' cottages on old lines. We will accept three-roomed cottages with smaller plots at a rent that will be economic, having regard to the wages paid in the particular areas which are 29/- a week without any perquisites, and many of them at 7/- or 8/- a week beneath that rate. I think 2/- a week would be a good rent if we could get three-roomed cottages and there is a longing for them by the people in the rural areas. These people would be a lot better off than sleeping in sheds in which they are compelled to live at the present moment. I sympathise with the people whom Deputy Anthony speaks for with 50/- or £3 or £3 10s. a week, but I have more sympathy with the poorer people with only £1 a week and with very large families. There are a lot of families in my district and they are fully qualified to take up such cottages but they cannot get houses at all. I think it is the bounden duty of the Government to take up this matter and to see that schemes of labourers' cottages on the old lines will be immediately started again.

As the few points that I intended to make in connection with this debate have been made by Deputy Daly, I can only amplify some of them. I was very sorry to notice that the President, in moving the Second Reading of this measure, made such a brief statement. All of us in this House who have had experience of discussions on housing matters in the last four or five years are agreed that the President is an authority on the subject. We agree also that the question is one of great interest to him, and I am very sorry that his statement this afternoon was such a short one. There were many things some of us would like to have explained, and we have now to make certain points in the hope that when the discussion is concluding certain matters which are not at all clear now will be cleared up by the President. I must express my amazement at the provision in this Bill excluding applicants that have not made a move in the matter of building before the 17th October. I can imagine very easily the consternation that will be caused down the country by that provision. I am afraid some of us in this House, by reason of the impression we got from replies to questions put in the last three or four months will be more or less responsible for that confusion. The view in the country is, at the moment, that there was no use in proceeding with the work of building houses until the grants were available and until a definite step had been taken in the introduction of this Bill. Rightly or wrongly, that is the view in the country at the moment, and I should plead very strongly with the President to go into this whole question and see if something could not be done to meet people who are ready to proceed with the building of houses in the near future and who, unfortunately, have been misled in connection with the whole matter.

I remember when the Housing Act of 1924, and I think the Housing Act of 1925, were before this House, the plea being made by Deputies for the insertion of a clause in connection with the reconstruction of houses in the rural areas. I think that the President, who spoke on that occasion, said that the difficulty was that the number of cases that could be successfully dealt with altogether would not warrant all the expense that would be maintained in the work of necessary inspection.

If one fact has been borne out stronger than any other on us who represent rural constituencies, it is the need for doing something in that direction. The number of small farmers to whom a grant of £70 or £80 would not be enough in the matter of putting up a house, and who could make successful improvements in their houses if they were permitted to avail of a reconstruction clause, is very large. I do suggest that in any housing policy embarked on by the Government that aspect should be considered. There may be cases where the expenses would not be warranted, but on the whole I believe an experiment of that kind would justify itself entirely. I have in mind a number of small towns in the country where the rate of wages is not very great. Thirty-five shillings would be the average wage paid to a county council employee where I come from, and that would, to some extent, represent the standard wage in the small towns. I feel where people have the benefit of the grants given in previous Acts the rents charged for the houses have been too high. They have been built by the assistance of Government grants and loans from the local authority, but are to a great extent out of the reach of the person who has to confine himself to the limits of a wage such as I have mentioned. This, I hope, does not, as the President said, represent the end of the housing policy. It might represent the end of a particular programme in housing. I suggest that Deputy Lemass struck the right note when he said that the housing question should be taken on entirely broader lines and with an entirely more progressive outlook. I have had experience of the working of the Housing Acts of 1924 and 1925, and I would like to bear tribute to the great change that they have effected in a great many small towns. I know in the small town in which I live the whole appearance of the place has been changed in the last five years. In that respect also I would like to pay tribute to the officers engaged in carrying out this Act. As to the officials and inspectors of this Department, I can say with entire truth that their idea has been to have the houses built, and they have got over small technical difficulties on every occasion they could. They have carried out the spirit of the housing policy with the machinery at their disposal in a very generous and sympathetic way. I would like to see far more progress in housing at the present time. The President a while ago echoed the query as to where the money is to be found. I realise there are difficulties, but when we consider all the money that has to be found in this as in other countries from year to year in combating disease due to bad housing we ought to be able to devise ways and means of finding that money and spend it in preventing disease rather than combating it when it has broken out.

The question of labourers' cottages is of very considerable importance. I know in my county at the moment initial steps have been taken towards formulating schemes for the building of labourers' cottages. If this disqualifying clause for people who have not moved in the matter of building houses applies to local authorities as well as to private individuals then our scheme for the building of labourers' cottages cannot be proceeded with and this in itself is very serious. Deputy Daly is perfectly right when he says that large numbers of applicants canvass and implore members of the Board of Health on every occasion when cottages have to be let. In a certain case of that kind before the Board of Health in Cork no less than eighteen applicants, all married men with families, were looking for the tenancy of a vacant cottage.

There is just one class of people in the rural areas that I hope some provision will be made for. I have before me a case illustrating the need for doing something for these people who cannot avail of this or another housing policy on similar lines. It is a case of a small farmer in the western part of my constituency. A teacher who has interested himself on his behalf wrote a letter to say that the West Cork Board of Health recently warned him to put his house in sanitary condition. "He is wretchedly poor," he states, "and his cabin roof threatens to come down over their heads any moment. The house contains no window and in daylight is pitch dark. He has a wife and six children. To prevent a possible tragedy I am asking the West Cork Board of Health to give some help towards putting a corrugated iron roof at his disposal. In the meantime, I am wondering whether we could get any aid for him towards a new house through the building scheme or through the Land Commission."

That is the case of a large number of people in the poorer areas and in the congested areas. That type of case is no less urgent than the cases that have been referred to in the more populous and congested areas of the cities and bigger towns. I would like to express my dissatisfaction that this Bill does not go at all as far as we think it ought to go. Before the debate on the Bill closes I think we should have a fuller statement from the President as to the possibility of doing a great many more things that are to be done in the more progressive policy we are going to embark on.

This discussion reminds me of the old Irish phrase, "beirt ar aon aigne agus iad ag troid." Everyone in this House is agreed that the housing problem is in a serious state, and I am sure every Party in this House would be only too glad to give the President every aid possible towards procuring the money. We realise that everyone is anxious to solve the problem, but undoubtedly the provision of the money is a very serious stumbling block. Perhaps it would be no harm to point out a few facts. I listened with great sympathy to Deputy Murphy, Deputy Daly and Deputy Corish when they were dealing with the position of the small man. In the rural areas and in the smaller towns the problem of letting the houses at what would be an economic rent is a very serious one indeed. Seven shillings a week may be an economic rent in Dublin, but in the district with which I am quite familiar five shillings or even four and sixpence would not be an economic rent. Tradesmen in the smaller towns may earn ten shillings a day, but their week as a rule consists only of three or four days, so the rents that would be satisfactory for a man in steady employment at ten shillings would not be at all satisfactory for a man whose work is of a sporadic nature. There is one aspect of the problem that perhaps attention might be directed to in connection with the labourers' cottages in the rural districts. The Board of Health I was connected with, time and time again, had applications from the occupants of labourers' cottages for the addition of an extra room. If we cannot get a four or five-roomed cottage, and I agree with Deputy Corish that four and five rooms are as essential for a labouring man as any other, at least we might endeavour to provide an extra room in the cottages we have. I received an application lately from a man somewhat in the position of the man described by Deputy Daly, a man with a very large family living in a three-roomed house. He inquired if the Board of Health could build him an additional room. The Board of Health had to refuse. Could not facilities be granted to the Board of Health to provide extra rooms in such cases? The position in the rural areas is far worse than in the towns, because no effort is being made to cope with it. As Deputy Daly pointed out, no cottage scheme has been in operation since 1912. and the result is that there are practically no houses available now. It is a pity that in some places, at all events, some effort was not made to avail of workhouse buildings. In County Waterford there are three immense buildings going to ruin. Some Deputy pointed out that if buildings of this nature could be reconstructed and let out in flats at reasonable rents, it would, to some extent at least, solve the most pressing portion of the problem in many areas. In my town there is a magnificent building going to ruin. The County Council refused to keep it in repair. Their argument is that the building is empty, and that they fail to see the necessity of putting an extra charge on the rates to keep it in repair. The building is capable of accommodating, probably, twenty families. An expenditure of a few hundred pounds would render it suitable for occupation as flats. It would not be a very expensive undertaking, and it is a pity to see a magnificent building going to ruin when a very little expenditure would save it. In the town from which I come we built two houses and, exercising every economy, we were unable to let them at a less rent than seven shillings a week. We could not build more houses at that rate. The people who required the houses most could not afford to pay a rent of seven shillings a week. As I said, in my opening statement, any help that we can give to solve this problem we shall be glad to give, because we all realise the very serious nature of it.

I would like to support the Government in carrying through this measure as far as it goes. I am only sorry that the measure does not go further, and it does not go half far enough. I admit frankly that the Government has done a great deal to alleviate this evil of want of proper accommodation for the people. We want an extension, not only of two-roomed houses, but of three, four and five-roomed houses. I agree with what Deputy Corish stated, that there is no use in increasing the number of two-roomed cottages, because I believe there is a far greater need for four or five-roomed houses. I do not think it is good, either from a sanitary point of view or from the point of view of decency, that any man with a family should be put into a three-roomed house. Where a man has a mixed family I do not think that should be done. I know of cases where several families have engaged one room in large tenement houses, and they have each been living in a corner, perhaps four people in each, with the lady who owned the room living in the centre in a sort of tent. That can only conduce to two things—bad sanitary conditions and immodesty and indecency. I want to say, as far as money spent in this direction is concerned, it would be money well spent, because there would be much less money spent in insurance and in sick pay, and there would be very much less money spent in treating people who were suffering from disease that arises from living in insanitary houses. The Germans are a very wise people, and many years ago the insurance companies in Germany discovered that it would be a very much cheaper proposition to build large sanatoria for their consumptive people than to attempt to give them sick pay. They found that it would be a cheaper thing in the end, because the men are sent back at an earlier date to their work, and less sick pay has to be paid. I know that the President is very sympathetic, and that he is willing to do all he can in this direction. I know that he finds difficulty in raising the money, but where the will to raise the money exists it can be found. It has been found in the past on an occasion when, in my opinion, it was wasted. Money to raise an army to quell civil rebellion had to be found. It is a more necessary expenditure to build decent houses for the people to live in. If you have a number of people living together in small insanitary houses, and if an epidemic of an infectious disease occurs, it spreads like wildfire amongst these people, and in many cases infectious diseases are accompanied by certain complications that lead to permanent disablement. The result is that you have permanently disabled people thrown upon the Government for their support.

I have spoken on several occasions about the evil consequences that arise from people living in damp, underground kitchens, and of the number of illnesses that arise from this condition; I am not speaking now about even the city. I wish to see houses for the poor increased in large numbers in the rural districts as well as in the towns. I know more, perhaps, about the evils that arise from living under insanitary conditions in the city than in the rural districts, but I quite agree with my friend Deputy Daly when he says that there is a class of people who are unable to provide any sort of decent sanitary accommodation, and that is the small farmers. In my opinion they are housed in a most miserable condition, and the surroundings of their little houses or cottages are anything but sanitary. I merely rose to support the Government in so far as the measure goes, and to suggest to them that it would be money well spent to try and do a great deal more than they are attempting to do.

I feel rather surprised at the trend that this debate has taken, particularly when I had in mind two things. One is that we had a definite statement from the President on the 24th May in a debate similar to this, that the housing question, as far as the Government were concerned, was not a national question. The President, in answer to a question by Deputy Davin, said the Government was not prepared to carry every baby in this country. Others can carry their own babies. It was in connection with the Committee set up to deal with unemployment, and from whom it was expected some suggestion would come that would help to alleviate the distress amongst the unemployed, and at the same time bring about some progress in connection with this question of housing. We on these benches realise all the difficulties that would confront any government, particularly when the housing problem is so acute as it is in this country. The position, as I say now, is that this Bill is introduced—I am saying this subject to correction—to enable plans that are already advanced to a certain extent to be put into operation and carried out. In other words, houses that cannot be completed because of the cessation of the grants are to be permitted to be completed under this Bill. There is no intention, as far as I can see, of the Government taking up the housing question at all. I may say that the Government have been quite frank and honest in stating that this is a problem that even now they are not prepared to deal with. The Bill provides for £200,000 to enable the building of 2,500 houses. Deputy Seán T. O'Kelly pointed out, and it is not disputed, that there are 20,000 families living in single rooms in tenements in Dublin City alone. If all the money that is now being provided by this Bill were used to alleviate some of the distress caused by the housing shortage in Dublin it would only be able to accommodate 2,500, and there would be 17,500 as before.

When this money is to be divided up between twenty-six counties, how much per county are you going to be able to allot and how much is each county to benefit even to the extent of labourers' cottages? The position, as I see it, is that it is really a waste of time for Deputies to get up in this House and to talk about distress in Gloucester Street or Phoenix Street or the Coombe and pointing out about distress in rural areas through want of housing accommodation. I do not think we are facing up to the situation. The position is that the Government find themselves to-day not able to cope with this particular danger that is threatening the health of the country in general. As Deputy Sir James Craig has pointed out, the health of the nation depends on its housing accommodation. We are not facing up to this aspect of it. This is one of the subjects that we should tackle as a national problem. Note the inconsistency of the Government. They satisfy themselves that there is an immediate need for the generation of electric power in the country and they provide up to £7,000,000 for the establishment of a scheme which will supply power to help industry. But they do not see that the same urgency, or in fact greater urgency, exists with regard to the housing problem. They do not face up to the problem in the same way, and say that this money must be got and that the scheme must be put into operation. Deputy Good, of course, has one particular outlook as regards the Bill. I believe Deputy Good feels that if the wages of labourers and tradesmen were reduced everything would be fine and plenty of houses would be built if we had cheap labour. But in the building of houses, there is more than wages. What about the cost of materials? When the Committee sat to consider this question, they got down to brass tacks with the labour people whom they met and with whom they could not agree. Why did they not also call into consultation the suppliers of the building materials?

They did.

Why did not the Government consider the advisability instead of giving grants to the builders or to private enterprise for the building of houses—why did they not consider the advisability of supplying materials to the people who would build them, in the same way as when they took over control of the electricity business from beginning to end, from the generation of current to the supply of material, why did they not act in the same way in this matter of building materials? In this same way, they could take over the housing question in this country and if they could not get satisfaction between the employees and the builders, they could have taken it in hands themselves and set out to get supplies of materials which they could have bought in bulk, cheaper than these supplies are being bought from building suppliers whom we know here and about whom we have heard so much in this House? I do not know that there is any use pleading here for houses to be started and houses to be built. All I can say is that I believe the individual Deputies realise the seriousness of the situation. Every Deputy realises it. I believe if this particular matter of housing was left as a non-party question, if members from all parties could get together and try to suggest ways and means and go on with some kind of a scheme, and take into consideration every kind of person and every kind of trade affected, they would get a solution. As I see it, there is no use in talking here. The President has stated that the housing of the people of this country is a baby he is not going to carry. There is no use for us to talk about houses being wanted here and cottages there when the Government are not going on with the house building at all. I believe that this Bill is only for the purpose of fulfilling the schemes already planned. It is not a scheme framed to deal with the successful solution of the housing question in this country.

I was very pleased to hear the almost unanimous opinion of the entire House to the effect, as the Deputies put it, that they would support the Government in carrying this Bill. But the speech of the Deputy who has just spoken was like a shower of cold water down my back. He had no thanks to the President for saving the lives of 2,500 familes, in taking them out of those wretched hovels in which they lived and putting them into decent houses. The Deputy, I suppose, considers that that was not a step forward in the Saorstát. I tell him as representative of a constituency extending from Cork Harbour to Castletownberehaven, one of the most congested constituencies in the Saorstát that this Housing Bill is a measure that will be received there with acclamation. I had occasion a short time ago to go to the Local Government Department, for the loan of an inspector to go down to that constituency. They cheerfully consented to send down the inspector and when they sent him down I accompanied him. He sent up a report here with regard to housing in my constituency, a report that shows that the housing conditions there are as bad as the housing conditions in Dublin. He said, and I can bear him out, that some of the houses in which the people live were not fit to house pigs.

Now when the President has come forward with a Bill to improve those conditions, and when we on the boards of health in the south of Ireland are hopeful that through that Bill we will get grants, these people realise that we are coming to their rescue in order to save them from the wretched surroundings in which they have lived. But it is rather disheartening when the President does this to find that he is only held up here in the pillory for what he is doing. Nobody in the House but must admit that the President has not a great treasury behind him. He has a limited command of the money. We should realise that if he is to give grants these grants must be paid back by taxation on the people. If he does not give grants, he is denounced, and if he gives grants he is also denounced for increasing the taxation. Now he is denounced when he is proposing to build houses. I pity the President, but I tell him here now to go on as he is going, to be of good heart, to continue his policy of helping the people of the Saorstát, and I have every hope and faith as he goes along that the Deputies on every side of the House will appreciate the difficulties and realise that side of the problem. And realising these difficulties, I hope they will nobly support him in the great scheme for social reform which he is endeavouring to carry out.

It is with great pleasure that I have listened to the speech made by Deputy Sheehy. I hope that the President will continue his policy and amplify it a little more. I do not take this Bill before us as the last word in housing in this country. I think it is only carrying out the policy started in 1925 under the first Housing Act. But it does not deal at all with the larger question of housing. I am sure the President will agree in that. The question is a wide one, and it will tax the ingenuity of every Deputy in this House to put it into operation, so as to be of any use to the people. I am in full agreement with Deputy Corish here that houses of less than five rooms should not be built. I would only say that in very exceptional cases should we build four-roomed houses. We all know the evils of small houses. On one occasion, in examining a house in my constituency lately, I found in one room twelve by eleven feet, three beds. I asked the woman of the house who slept in these beds. I found that she and her husband slept in one; her son, aged 17, in another; and her daughter, aged 11, in the third. If you want to do anything in the way of protecting the morals of our people I think you will have to strike at the root and the breeding ground of the immorality, if I may call it so, and unless you do this your Censorship of Publications Bill will be of very little use in improving the morals of the working people.

With respect to labourers' cottages, we all know the need for labourers' cottages throughout the country, but many of our boards of health are only too much given to the idea that they can get rid of those they already have control of so as to throw the extra cost on the labourers, as they see that the ratepayers are losing by the upkeep of the buildings. Let me ask some of the boards of health: Are not the labourers of the country good assets, and should not the ratepayers and the farming community be prepared to help them instead of driving them back on the roads and trying to deprive them of the benefits of an Act which the British Government, with all its faults, gave to this country? The Act of 1925 provides that no grant will be given for a house with a larger floor area than 1,250 feet. I think that in very exceptional cases the Minister should be empowered to give a grant in cases where the floor area is 1,600 square feet. There is in some parts of the country many a man with a modest income and a large family who may require a house with more than five rooms. When that man's occupation and income are taken into account I think the Minister should be enabled, if he thinks there is a genuine case for it, to give a grant to that person. I am now speaking of a man anxious to build a house for himself. I am not speaking of men who build houses for others. I think that point should be carefully considered and an addendum attached to the First Schedule giving power to the Minister in exceptional cases to give grants where the floor space is 1,600 square feet. I hope on the Committee Stage that the Minister will be able to meet my views.

Before the President replies I wish to say that we have not learned very much in this discussion in spite of the number of speeches. The only two speeches to which I could listen with any attention, outside that of my friend Deputy Sheehy, were those of Deputy Good and Deputy Briscoe. Since 1922, according to the report of the Committee on Unemployment, 14,000 houses have been built, and 2,900 of these have been built in Dublin. In the year 1922, in Dublin alone, there were 947 built. That means that even in the City of Dublin, where we are told there is a concentrated effort being made by the Government to build houses, there is actually a reduction instead of an increase in the number of houses being built.

We are told there were 14,000 houses built since 1922. The fact that we are at present discussing a Bill which will enable us to build 2,500 houses more makes one ask the question whether there is a definite limit to the number of houses that can be built in this country. Are we to understand from the brevity of the President's opening remarks that it is physically impossible for the Government, owing to trade and labour conditions, the lack of tradesmen and so on, to accomplish a larger building programme than that which they are now contemplating? If that is so, if the difficulties in front of the Government are so great that it is impossible for them to produce the building programme that we all had expected, then surely it is time to let the House into the secret and let us know exactly what the difficulties are. Not alone is it apparent that the number of houses being built is not increasing but there are indications that the housing programme begun in 1922 has now ended. Then there was a concentrated campaign in improving the roads of the country but the Road Fund is now exhausted and there is not likely to be much more employment given from that source. The winter is coming on and it is all the more necessary that the Government should indicate whether there is any large building scheme to be presented in the near future.

I agree with Deputy Good with regard to the three-roomed houses. I think that Deputies should go into this matter seriously, apart altogether from the question of politics, and I believe they will see if they do so that there is a definite bridge to be made up. That ought to be the object of the House. That is the bridge between the houses at present being built in Marino, into which only civil servants or people with salaries of five or six pounds a week can go, and the other end of the problem, the tenants in places like Gloucester Street, where, for houses that originally cost £50 they are paying now £150 rent. The receipts are such that we are told the owner of houses there can afford to keep her sons in Paris or somewhere like that. I agree with Deputy Good that the question of the slum problem will have to be examined more seriously. There is no use in Deputies pretending that the building of houses in Marino provides a solution for the housing of the poor. It is no solution and if we are serious about the matter we will have to get down to the question of building materials, the question of costs, the acquisition of sites and a simple design of houses. If we cannot get anything better than the three-roomed house to bridge the chasm between Gloucester Street and Marino, we ought to take it.

I believe that with better financing the Government should be able to do a great deal. I think Deputies should devote special attention to the question of subsidies and the manner in which they are being paid. Is the argument of Deputy Good, that £20 per room is not the best system, worthy of consideration? If the Government had so little opportunity or time to consider the matter during the past five years, they might well consider the alternative that Deputy Good has put up; that is, to concentrate on simpler houses which would benefit the rural areas as well as the city. There are large numbers of comparatively poor people in the country districts anxious to go on with house-building, and that problem should be tackled separately from the slum problem in Dublin. The country people as well as the slum people will be quite satisfied, and a scheme like that would go a long way towards relieving unemployment at the moment. The urgency of the situation would be relieved if the Local Government Department concentrated on turning out a simpler type of house. There is a great deal of fault to be found with the present Government arrangements. I have here a communication from the Corporation of Kilkenny pointing out that the average cost of building a house, a four-roomed house with a scullery, is £414. There is a grant of £70 towards that. The rent of that house would work out at 14s. 3d. per week. It is absolutely impossible for workers in Kilkenny to pay that. The fact that that rent can be reduced and that better financing is possible is shown by the scheme which is at present in operation in the City of Belfast. The houses there consist of a kitchen, scullery and three bedrooms with a small mangle space at the rear, with a combined bath and w.c. on the first floor, and with gardens front and rear. There are garden plots leased to the purchasers of some of the houses at low rents. These houses are being built at a cost of £370. There is a Government subsidy of £100 and a Corporation grant of £40, so that the net price is £230. The price in Kilkenny is £344. Therefore, there is a gap of £114. A house in Kilkenny is nearly half as dear again as a house in Belfast. Furthermore, when a house is built in Belfast there is a weekly rent of 8s. 5d., which not alone covers the payment of principle and interest, ground rent and fire insurance, but also includes the rates and the cost of collection. A tenant in Belfast for a payment of 8s. 5d. per week can get what seems to me to be an immeasurably better bargain, and at the end of twenty-five years he will become the complete owner of his house. He is able to get a much better bargain than the tenant in Kilkenny can get for 14s. 3d. per week.

If the President took up the matter seriously with the Commissioners and extended the borrowing powers of the Dublin Corporation and other municipal councils there would, I have no doubt, be a great possibility of our being able to imitate to some extent the valuable work done in Belfast. At present, however, when building costs are so high, when the borrowing powers of the councils are limited, and, above all. when loans can only be got for fifteen years at 4½ per cent., it is almost impossible to see how anything can be done. I had hoped that the President would have made a statement as to what extent the building conference which was held in Dublin under the chairmanship of Deputy Rice, had progressed. If that conference were really serious, and if it had all the different interests connected with housing represented before it, the information which was acquired by the Government through it, and the evidence submitted would be particularly valuable to all Deputies here. I desire to support the request of Deputy Daly and other Deputies that more provision should be made for cottages in rural areas. There is in the city a difficulty of building costs and of insufficient numbers of tradesmen, but in the country, as I have said, you have a very large number of people who, if they get reasonable facilities to build a simple design of house, and if they get reasonable financial facilities will themselves build. I think, however, that, once and for all, we must get it out of our heads that we can make any progress in housing by means of such schemes as we have at present. I hope when he replies that the President will throw a little more light on the subject than he has done so far.

I welcome the Bill, but I would much prefer the Government would face this very important subject in a different way. I had hoped that the Government would embark on a very large building scheme involving a capital expenditure of anything approaching ten million pounds. As a Deputy, however, if I ask the Government to do that, I should also say that I, as a representative of an important constituency, should also be prepared to do my little share to help the Government in solving this pressing need, namely, the provision of suitable housing accommodation. I would like Deputies to study the real facts of the situation and ask themselves whether it is a fact that houses built in the Free State are much dearer than in Great Britain or Northern Ireland, and ask themselves what are the reasons for the difference, if any. I am of the opinion that there is a little difference between the cost of building houses in the Free State and the cost in Northern Ireland and Great Britain. Somehow I am of the opinion that there seems to be an idea prevailing throughout the country on the part of employers engaged in the building industry that the building operatives are not giving of their best.

How far that statement is true I am not in a position to say, but this I will say, as Deputy Flinn said during the debate on the Censorship Bill, this country morally and physically is sound. I say that the workmen who are engaged in the building industry are prepared to give of their best, if afforded an opportunity of doing so. It seems to me that those who are engaged in the building line are more or less trusting to a war of endurance, and have made up their minds not to proceed with the erection of houses until such time as wages come down somewhat. That may be all right to a certain extent, but I am of opinion that there is grave danger, if that policy is pursued, that the great building industry will become a thing of the past. At present there seems to be absolutely no prospect so far as the construction of houses is concerned. On the other hand, if it is a fact that those engaged in the building industry are not giving of their best, then the facts should be given, and I, in company with Deputy Derrig, would like to know the findings of the Committee set up to deal with this very important industry.

I would like to know what recommendations were made by the employers on one side and by the representatives of the workers on the other, and what was the reason of the failure of that conference, because it must have failed, for otherwise we would have had some result and statements would have been made here as to what the findings were. I say in all sincerity that I believe that the time has arrived when those who are engaged in the building industry, both employers and employees, must give of their best if the housing question is to be solved. I want to speak honestly on this point, because, as one who knows what it is to go out on a cold winter morning and taste a biting December blast, I am fully convinced that, unless there is hearty co-operation between employers and employed, unless that confidence to which we were accustomed some fifteen or twenty years ago is restored, there will be no houses provided for the working classes. There is no use in Deputies saying that it is absolutely essential for a working-class man to have a five-roomed house. Do Deputies ever consider the cost of a five-roomed house? It is almost impossible to erect a house of that kind for less than £700 or £800, and no workman can afford to pay the rent that would be charged for such a house.

I am wholeheartedly in agreement with Deputy Good when he states that it would be much better if we had a number of three-roomed houses erected in Dublin and all over the country than to have a large number of five-roomed houses erected and let at a rent that it would be almost impossible for any working man to pay. Everybody knows that at present young married men with their wives are living in rooms in houses and have to pay from ten, twelve to fifteen shillings a week for one room. Surely a three-roomed house even at a rent of 8/- or 10/- a week would be more suitable for people of that class than one room in a house, perhaps a tenement house. This is really a question of finance. We are not a big rich nation like Great Britain, and the sooner we realise that fact, the sooner we realise that this is only a State within Ireland, and that without co-operation between workers and their employers no progress can be made in the provision of houses, the better it will be for all concerned.

Another question that we should ask ourselves is, are we utilising to the fullest extent the natural resources of the country? It is a remarkable fact that at the present time practically ninety per cent. of the materials used in the construction of houses are imported. We have let our quarries go derelict and to become filled with water. At the present time, as far as counties Louth, Monaghan and Cavan are concerned, the whole of the northeast of the State, there is absolutely no brickyard. I think the Government would do well if they took steps in the immediate future to set up in this country a few brickyards on a national scale, because everybody knows that, no matter what may be said as regards concrete houses, they are not exactly the desired article. Bricks, as everybody knows, make a far drier house than concrete. It is essential that the Government should take steps in the immediate future to have a few brickyards started in the Free State so that those who are about to erect houses will be in a position to secure a supply of bricks. So far we have got to import every brick used in the erection of these houses from England, or get them from Belfast. I do not think that it is to the credit of the leaders of industry in this country to see that we have so many natural resources at our disposal and have made such little use of them. I hope and trust that the Government will, in the immediate future, embark upon a big housing scheme and that Deputies, no matter to what Party they belong, will give their support to that scheme, because I am convinced that no Government can settle this question unless they have the co-operation of all Parties in this House, backed up by the co-operation of the people in general throughout this State.

It is all a question of money, and for that reason I hope that the Government will be in a position in the near future, after consultation with officials of the Local Government Department and perhaps after consultation with Deputies here representing different Parties, to embark upon this housing scheme so that they can relieve this most pressing problem that confronts the people at present. In embarking upon that scheme they will be achieving a twofold object. They will be providing decent houses for the people and alleviating unemployment. One goes with the other. Everybody must agree that where there is no building there is no progress. When building is going on in a town it is always a clear indication that that town is making progress. At the present time in the towns and villages of the Free State, building seems to be at an end. I only hope and trust that the Government, having the co-operation and loyal support of the people, will undertake a great national housing scheme that will have the support of all Parties in the House and of the people in the country in general.

This does not profess to be a Bill for the solution of the housing problem, therefore I do not intend to make any general observations concerning that aspect. As I read it, it is simply a Bill to enable the Government to deal with those schemes that were left over under previous Acts. Within that modest ambit I propose to confine my remarks. There are just two things that I should like to ask the President before he comes to reply. I notice that in Section 5 of the Bill the date 17th October, 1928, is mentioned. The effect of that is that no house can qualify for a grant unless it has already been begun. If that is so, I would ask the President to consider whether it is not possible to give an extension so as to enable the work to be undertaken in the future. There is another small provision which I think might go some way to meet the needs of a particular class, the poorer people in country districts. I was delighted to hear Deputy Murphy speak so justly of the efforts made both by the officials, here in Dublin and the inspectors in connection with the work that has been carried on. I think those who have practical experience of the work will join in that tribute. I think it is very well deserved and I am extremely glad to hear it paid. I would like to ask the President if it is possible to carry on this work a little bit further. I am speaking now of the grants for houses built by private individuals. Would it not be possible to alter the regulations which are made in Section 4 of the principal Act, so as to enable some small part of the grant to be given at a rather earlier stage? The main difficulty which I have observed in the working of the Act is this, that it is an admirable Act for any people who are well enough off to be able to meet any considerable expenditure before they receive any grant.

I am open to correction if I am wrong, but my recollection is that the first instalment is payable when the house is ready to receive the roof. I think that probably means that by far the greater part of the expense has been incurred at that time. There is no doubt that does deter a great many people whose need is perhaps greatest, and I would like to ask, if we are going to carry it a little bit further, would it not be possible, when a man has given sufficient earnest that he is really proceeding seriously with the house, to give him a small part of the grant? I would suggest, for example, that when a man has got out the foundations, and has got lime, sand and stone on the ground, it is not likely that he is going to cease and not do any more. I would suggest that the Department might consider whether they could not give him part of the grant when that has been done. If that is not possible in all cases, then perhaps the inspector, who knows the circumstances and the man, might be given a certain discretion as to when part of the grant might issue.

With regard to the first point raised by Deputy Law, the date, 17th October, refers to private individuals and public utility societies and not to local authorities. The point was also raised by somebody else. I notice a disposition on the part of some Deputies, who were most voluable in their criticism, to avoid approaching the problem as it should be approached. Deputy Lemass was, I think, the first who came to the kernel of it. Deputy O'Kelly carefully avoided it. He managed to sandwich into his speech a good deal of abuse and a not very intelligent examination of the Bill and the problem, but avoided point-blank what is the real trouble in the matter. It is not a question of money—that is not the trouble. Money can be found, if there be value got for it. There has been a marked disposition on the part of most people to avoid that particular issue. So far as the statement made by Deputy Rice at the election in Dublin is concerned, I will be prepared to stand over it as far as the £10,000,000 or the ten years is concerned, provided the report on unemployment is adhered to—paragraphs 35, 36, 37, 38, 39 and 40. These are the things which Deputies who are anxious to score and to make speeches without considering what they are making them about avoid paying any attention to, just like Deputy Briscoe in speaking of building materials. I suppose he never heard of the Housing (Facilities) Act, 1924. Did he ever hear of Section 9 of that Act? Did he ever hear of or make any inquiries as to whether any application had been made to put that section into operation? If he did not, I can tell him that no person ever applied to have it put into operation. As far as the Shannon scheme, involving a cost of £7,000,000, is concerned, it was fashioned on a basis on which we can also solve the housing problem—on an economic basis. The scheme must pay for itself; no other money must be brought in to help it. The people who take the current will have to pay for it, and it is so fashioned that we will be able to supply that current at a moderate price.

Deputy Derrig solaced himself with the reflection that if this housing problem were better financed, it would be easily solved. What does he mean by better finance? What he means is that more money from somebody else must be found to enable a man to get a cheaper house. I suggest that that is not an honest way of describing the situation. By better finance he simply means giving a bigger subsidy. Is that sound business? Will the gentlemen who are advising Deputies opposite say that that is a proposition upon which you can borrow money? Those who speak about compelling banks to lend money ought to remember that any person who goes to a banker and threatens him if he does not lend money on an unsound proposition, is not doing much for the good of the country. The Deputy stated that a certain house in Belfast costs £370, that a house with the same number of rooms costs £414 in Kilkenny, and he dismissed that as if it were of no account —a vital point. Ten per cent. added to the cost of construction of a four-roomed house in Kilkenny as compared with Belfast—that is a matter of no account; better finance would solve that. I submit to the Deputy that he cannot get out of it so easily. The problem to be solved is whether you can provide five-roomed houses which cost £495 in 1927 and £443 in 1928; four-roomed houses which cost £427 in 1927 and £389 in 1928: and three-roomed houses which cost £402 in 1927; whether, having paid that money for these houses, you can rent them to people at 4/- or 5/-. That is the problem. All the genius of all the different parties multiplied together is not going to solve that problem. It can only be solved on the lines laid down by the Committee on Unemployment—that you must get value for the money. The only Deputy who mentioned that has really made a greater study of the problem than all the others put together. £10,000,000 can easily be borrowed in respect of this or any other service if you can show value for it.

This Bill is a condemnation of the economy of housing; all the previous Bills were a condemnation of it. If Deputies will examine the history of housing during the last six years, they will find that an improvement has been made. The cost of the provision of houses is not what it was in 1922. It is not so difficult to persuade people to build now as in 1922. There were 22 local authorities who would not proceed with housing schemes in 1922, although they were offered £2 of Government money for every £1 they put up themselves. Yet we have Deputies like Deputy O'Kelly telling us that we have not made any attempt to solve the problem. Deputies who speak on this question should make a study of it. In the whole course of his speech, Deputy O'Kelly did not make a single constructive proposal.

When we started in 1924 with the Housing (Facilities) Act, a subsidy of £20 for every room was given—£100 for a five-roomed house. That has gone down in the 1925 and 1926 Acts and in this Bill to £15 for private individuals. As I said, this Bill is a condemnation both of the master builders and the operatives and a condemnation of most of the speakers who have spoken on the subject and who addressed themselves to it as if it were a question of shovelling out money. That will not solve it. Anybody who has made a study of it knows that. The country is not rich enough to solve the problem at that price, and the sooner we realise that the better. The sooner we are honest with ourselves on that aspect of it the better.

took the Chair.

I ask the President if, according to the Estimates, a barrack for four Civic Guards cost from £1,500 to £2,500? What kind of a family does he intend putting into one of those £370 houses?

I am certain that there were more than five rooms in that house. I can give the Deputy a much more extravagant example of the cost of a house, which I had to pay myself.

Can the country afford to pay £1,500 for a Civic Guards barrack?

That is not the question. What we are concerned here with is the provision of thousands of houses. So far we have provided about fourteen thousand, at a cost to the State of about £1,800,000. Most people will tell us that three or four times that number is required. Extravagant estimates have even been made of something like five times the number. Is it possible to get £9,000,000 in subsidies in order to provide that number? We know it is not. The solution of this problem, as far as it has been approached by the Government during the past few years, has had two main aspects. In 1922 building—if you can call the activity of builders and operatives by that name in 1922— was practically at a standstill all over the country. It was by reason of the large amount which had to be given in subsidies that any building was got going at all. Now building operations are going on, generally speaking, over the country. This Bill is carrying out or winding-up the particular policy adopted in 1922—practically completing that. I hope that when other proposals are under consideration here a more business-like approach to the solution of the problem will be evidenced from all parts of the House. We had to start building operations first of all to provide houses for the working classes. We could have done what Deputy Good has suggested, built fewer or paid more money. Gradual improvement of the housing of the people in Dublin has led to a gradual improvement of the less well-to-do citizens, but it has not improved the lot of the whole of the slum-dwellers. In so far as that term is concerned, it is used by people who know very little about it. All the people who live in tenements are not slum-dwellers by any means. For the information of those who address themselves to this matter as if there were a great moral danger to those people, I may say that there is as high a standard of morality in the Dublin slums as there is in any district in any other part of this or any other country, and much higher than in a great many, and there is no danger whatever to morality by reason of conditions there. This winding-up of these particular schemes involves the provision of something like 900 houses by private individuals and public utility societies, and something like 1,600 by local authorities throughout the country, including the Corporation of Dublin, the Corporation of Cork, Pembroke Urban Council, North Dublin Rural District Council, Carrickmacross Urban Council, South Dublin Rural Council, Macroom District Council and Cork Board of Health. That practically exhausts the list with the exception of Kilkenny and some other districts.

Wexford ought to be there.

It is not of the importance of the City of Dublin or Cork.

It is in that list, if you take the trouble to read it. It is doing very good work too.

There are 1,655 houses in all, including labourers' cottages. The people who are being housed in Dublin are people with five, six, ten and even thirteen in family. Deputy Byrne mentioned the case of a man who had only seven in family, and was unable to get a house, but the Deputy may be satisfied that if it was not possible to provide that man with a house it meant there was one more available for a man with a larger family. Deputy Ward, I think, asked if special information was given to certain individuals in connection with this Bill and withheld from others. The Executive Council had this Bill before them less than a week before it was introduced into the House. Therefore, it would be impossible to send anything out about it unless within three or four days. Deputy Anthony asked, in the case of a man having begun a house and stopped, how he would stand with regard to the grant under this Bill. As there is no section dealing with a man having stopped, I think he would have a fair chance of getting the grant if he goes on and keeps on.

I think that finishes practically all the points raised in the course of the debate. This is a Bill dealing with the completion of the policy dealing with houses started in 1922 and has no relation to any other.

Would the President tell us what happened to the conference of which Deputy Rice was chairman?

I would like to ask the President what he meant by saying that Section 5 does not refer to local authorities. Does that mean they can go and build?

If they get sanction for a building scheme there is provision for 1,655 houses for the local authority, even if they have not begun by the 17th October, but it does not follow that an unlimited sum will be available.

There are local authorities that have schemes half-way through. The houses may not have actually been begun, but the schemes are ready.

Has the President considered the possibility of lending money to people to be used for the purchase of houses under the Bill?

No, not under this Bill.

It has been found quite a sound financial proposition by English insurance companies who advance money to people in this country to purchase houses.

Not under this Bill; this is purely a Bill for continuing the subsidies of houses. The other matter would probably arise in connection with the Town Tenants Commission report. That Commission, I think, recommended the provision of money for that purpose.

Question—"That this Bill be now read a Second Time"—put and agreed to.

We propose to take the Third Stage this day three weeks.

Can the President not see his way to take it earlier than that? I think it would be regarded as non-contentious.

We have to get the Estimates through, and the Appropriations through, by the 1st December, and I am proposing to allot, after tonight, all the time for the next couple of weeks to the Estimates.

But I think the President would get unanimous agreement for the Committee Stage of this Bill.

The House has spent three or four hours upon the Second Reading of it.

Half an hour might do for the Committee Stage. I ask the President to reconsider this matter and to put it down for this day week.

If the Deputy wishes, I shall put it down a week earlier, but I do not anticipate having the Estimates finished by that time.

Say this day week.

If the President is informed by different Parties that the Bill will not be opposed, would he not put it down earlier?

It is a question of time.

Five minutes might do.

If it takes only five minutes I will put it down for this day week.

We could not guarantee that it will only take five or ten minutes, but it will only take a little time.

Then we shall put down the Committee Stage for this day week, Wednesday, 31st October.