Issues Out of Central Fund. - Electricity (Supply) (Amendment) Bill, 1930—Committee.

Sections 1 and 2 agreed to.
SECTION 3 (4).
(4) Works executed under this section shall not be Shannon works within the meaning of the Principal Act.

I move:—

In page 3, to delete sub-section (4), and substitute a new sub-section as follows:—

"(4) Moneys expended on the execution of works under this section shall be included in the sums referred to in Section 15 of the Principal Act as ‘the said advances,' but such works shall not be Shannon works within the meaning of the Principal Act."

The amendment mainly sets out that the moneys expended on the execution of works shall be included in the sums referred to in Section 15 of the Principal Act. The purpose of the amendment is to make sure that where works are being described as Shannon works for different purposes any money advanced shall count as part of the moneys for which the Board will eventually be liable both for repayment and the payment of interest while the main repayment is outstanding. It is to ensure that the Board will repay the expenses of these constructions.

Amendment agreed to.

I would like the Minister to inform us as to the significance of the word "may" in the first line of sub-section (2) —"The Minister may attach to the execution of any works under this section such terms and conditions ... as may be agreed upon by him and the person for whose benefit the works are so executed." Should not that word be "shall"? Should the Minister not be obliged to attach the conditions which are the result of an agreement between himself and the parties concerned? I take it that the use of the word "may" implies that the Minister intends to break an agreement so arrived at.

There would not be much use in answering that contention.

What is the reason the word "may" is used?

What is the good in letting the section read —"The Minister shall attach to the execution of any works... such terms and conditions...as may be agreed upon..."?

That is what should be there, in my opinion. The Minister should be obliged to carry out the agreement if he enters into one.

If I make an agreement, the agreement will be there.

But we know you better than these people do.

Then vote against the section.

Section 3, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 4.
(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (3) of section 12 of the Principal Act as amended by the Act of 1929, the total amount of the sums advanced in any one half-year to the Board under that section as so amended for any purpose, other than to meet the liability and expenses mentioned in sub-section (2) of that section as so amended, may exceed the limit of four hundred thousand pounds imposed by the said sub-section (3) in any particular half-year in respect of which the Minister for Finance is of opinion that, owing to special circumstances affecting that half-year, it is expedient that the said limit should be exceeded.
(2) This section shall have and be deemed to have had effect as on and from the 1st day of January, 1930.

Amendment 2, providing that the Minister for Finance shall advance money, cannot be moved by a private Deputy. The amendment is, therefore, out of order. The Deputy may perhaps make his point on the section.

The purpose I had in view was to make explicit and to have sanctioned by the Dáil such a large sum as half a million pounds. The Minister himself might consider that. I accept your ruling that it is out of order for a private Deputy to move an amendment involving expenditure of money.

I will speak on the section in the light of the amendment that has been ruled out of order. The amendment would mean that the sum of two and a half million pounds originally voted for the Board would be increased by half a million pounds. There is no necessity for that. The Board is not straitened owing to the outgoings to date. The Board certainly ought to show that the money that is handed over to it is going to be remunerative, and it has to make a case why it should get more money. To introduce this casually simply because the Cork station has been bought out is not justified. The purchase of the Cork station was always before those who drew up the 1927 Act, and the purchase price was always considered to be included in the two and a half million pounds. The whole thing was looked to. I do not say that the exact price was definitely arrived at, but a sum for the purchase of the Cork and other undertakings, and for the purchase by agreement of certain small undertakings, was always in our minds when we were arranging for this two and a half million pounds, and there is no reason to believe that that two and a half million pounds will not be sufficient.

I take it that the Minister assures us that the Electricity Supply Board will not be in any way hampered in having to meet the charge.

I would not like to say that, because I do not know enough about it, but they always had before them the fact that they had to buy the Cork undertaking, and they knew that the two and a half million pounds granted to them contained a sum which we thought was sufficient for that and for the purchase of other undertakings. I have no reason to believe that the two and a half millions will not be sufficient for all purposes.

If the £400,000 per half-year given to the Electricity Supply Board is not sufficient to meet this, will the Minister still be obliged to pay the difference, or what will happen the Electricity Supply Board?

Oh, no. The very purpose of Section 4 of the amending Bill, while keeping an over-riding limit of two and a half million pounds, is to enable more than £400,000 to be advanced in any half-year. It is clear that if a single transaction will cost more than £400,000 and when the Board has other liabilities falling on it for the past half-year £400,000 would not be sufficient. We meet that by Section 4, but we keep an over-riding limit of two and a half million pounds. The Deputy's amendment would simply say: "Here is another half million pounds." We do not think that another half a million pounds should be given so lightly as that.

Why was there an original limitation of £400,000?

That was imposed because we thought there would be no reason why the Board should expend more than that in any half-year.

But was the Minister not aware at the time that the Board would have to purchase the Cork City electricity station?

Then I take it that the price the Board is paying for the Cork station is higher than he anticipated.

No; the Deputy always rushes to false conclusions. The payments may be made in instalments.

Sections 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 put and agreed to.
SECTION 9.
(1) In order to remove doubts it is hereby declared and enacted as follows, that is to say: —
(a) for the purpose of determining the liability of the Board for the payment of any rate leviable by a local authority, the use or occupation by the Board of any hereditament, tenement, or premises otherwise rateable to such rate is not and never was in use or occupation by the State or a Department of State and does not and never did confer the exemptions arising by reason of use or occupation by the State; and
(b) the use or occupation of a hereditament, tenement or premises by the Board is not use or occupation of a public nature or for a public purpose within the meaning of section 63 of the Poor Relief (Ireland) Act, 1838, or section 16 of the Valuation (Ireland) Act, 1852, or section 2 of the Valuation (Ireland) Act, 1854, or any other enactment (other than section 96 of the Principal Act) conferring exemption from a rate leviable by local authorities generally or by any particular local authority or class of local authorities.
(2) Nothing in this section shall remove, prejudice, or effect the exemption from rates which is conferred on the Board by section 96 of the Principal Act as amended by this Act.

I move:—

Before section 9 to insert a new section as follows:—

"(1) Paragraph 1 of the First Schedule to the Principal Act is hereby amended by the insertion of the words ‘receive from such authorised undertaker or statutory undertaker' after the words ‘entitled to.'

(2) This section shall have and be deemed to have had effect as from the commencement of the Principal Act."

This is to make good a defect in the original Act on a small point. It was said that in certain contingencies people were to be entitled to certain payments, but it was not said by whom the payments were to be made. I propose to amend that by saying "shall be entitled to receive from such authorised undertaker or statutory undertaker," and we want that made retrospective.

Amendment put and agreed to.

I move: —

In sub-section (1) (b), to delete the brackets and words "(other than section 96 of the Principal Act)," lines 45-46, and to delete sub-section (2) and substitute a new sub-section as follows: —"Section 96 of the Principal Act is hereby repealed."

I think that here the onus lies on the Minister to make a case against the amendment rather than on me to make a case for it, because it is obvious that an injustice is being done to a very large section of ratepayers in County Clare. I want to be perfectly clear and perfectly concise on this matter. Some six years ago certain lands were acquired adjoining the Shannon, when the development of the Shannon power was in contemplation, and after a while a Bill was introduced transferring whatever power the Minister had to the Electricity Supply Board. The Bill passed all its stages in the Dáil, and passed all its stages in the Seanad up to the Report Stage, when the Minister introduced an amendment to exempt from rates what are known as the Shannon works. Practically all these works are situated in County Clare, and when we realise the extent of the works and of the land taken over we will have some picture of the injustice done to the ratepayers of the county.

I find myself in very good company in opposing this provision. I am not referring to the company of Deputy de Valera — probably his character in certain quarters is as open to question as my own — but when I find myself in company with Senator Sir John Keane, Senator Barrington, Mr. Hewat and the Earl of Wicklow in advancing a case against this provision, I think I am in very good company. In the Seanad Senator Sir John Keane said: "Take County Clare, which is a poor county. Clare has a very considerable property now established in the county. The use of that property and all the attendant circumstances throw a charge on the local services. The people connected with it use the roads; the employers use the hospitals; they re-act on the poor law; and the whole of that undertaking is to be exempt from rates. Is that just? It is a question of ‘all hands to the pumps.' At any cost this scheme must be passed over to the public — whether it is done by a dangerous precedent or sound finance does not matter. The public has to bear it. In this case the ratepayer, the small farmer, in West Clare has to subsidise this through free local services. I really think it is time to cry halt to this wholly unprecedented way of proceeding." We have had the Minister's own assurance that it is not a case of all hands to the pumps; we have his own assurance that the scheme is safe and that it is now a question of further development, so that the argument that the scheme is not economic, is not paying its way, falls to the ground.

Then we have Senator Barrington saying, "as a matter of fact if this section is passed Clare will suffer considerable loss. There is a considerable amount of property that will go to the Board and that at present pays rates in Clare. That property is being acquired by the Board, and now, in future, it will pay no rates. I do not think that is right. I think that these works should pay rates to the immediate district in which they are situate, and which has incurred a considerable amount of expense in consequence of them." Senator Sir John Keane went on to say that every bit of Government property pays rates. Civic Guard barracks pay rates. It is significant that the Minister did then say something with reference to it. He said that this scheme would be in exactly the same position as other Government Departments. But just as an act of grace, if the amendment is passed, the Board will be in exactly the same position as a Government Department. It is interesting to know that, and in the light of that statement it is interesting to see that no ex-gratia payment of any kind has been made to Clare Co. Council for the last six years in connection with this scheme. It is also interesting to inquire whether the Minister is going to make any payment to Clare Co. Council in lieu of the losses that body has suffered in rates.

When the matter came back to the Dáil Mr. Hewat said: "The Minister has argued consistently right through the Bill that the ratepayers and the consumers were not one and the same persons." The Minister intervened to say: "And I still hold to that." Mr. Hewat went on to say:

If that is so, what is the Minister's argument in this case in favour of this amendment? It simply means that he is going to charge the non-consumer a rate for something that he is getting no benefit for. Taking the works as a whole, distributed over the whole country, why should they be exempt from rates? I cannot follow the logic of this at all. I can see why a local authority confined within its own area could argue that there was no use in making a transfer entry of a sum of money in favour of the local rates from its own electricity undertaking.

The Minister repeated in the Dáil that the position of the Electricity Supply Board would be the position of a Government Department. The Minister bases his case on what he calls the advantages of the county and the ratepayers derived from the presence in Co. Clare of the Shannon works. It is interesting to know what we get in Clare as a result of the presence of the Shannon works. The Minister stated the other day that something like one and a half millions had been spent locally. I wonder was the Minister serious when he said that? Did he not know that most of the miserable wage, for which he was responsible, went to other parts of the country to help to keep the families of the poor men who were working on the scheme on a starvation wage? Did he not know that the only place that might have got any of the money was the City of Limerick? Did he not know that most of the food and a good deal of the clothing sold to the workers on the Shannon scheme was neither bought in the county nor made in the county, but was, to a great extent, imported?

Surely the Minister is not serious in saying to the ratepayers that because the Shannon scheme was operated within the county they benefited? Let us see what has been the effect of the Shannon scheme on local rates. We find that the expense on the board of health, which is responsible for the upkeep of hospitals, was £487 10s. for the treatment and support of patients consequent upon accidents and sicknesses contracted during the operation of the scheme. We find that the Shannon scheme tapped certain spring wells and interfered with pumps for which Clare Board of Health had to be responsible to the tune of over £100. Let us take what the county council calculates as its loss in the matter of valuation. We find from the county council books that lands marked "exempt from rating" in the valuation lists dated 1st March, 1930, represent 1,169a. 3r. 34 perches, of which the valuation was £739 1s. and on which the rates would have been £292 16s. 2d. We find lands marked "Waste under water" in the valuation lists dated 1st March, 1930, to be 368a. Or. 21 perches, of which the valuation was £283 6s., the rates on which would have been £115 7s. 9d. The loss that will arise in connection with the de-rating of fisheries will be something like £203 13s. 1d., making a total loss in rates of £611 17s. That is a serious loss to the ratepayers of Clare. It is something they are entitled to talk about and to ask the Minister why, when he has an opportunity, now that he is re-opening, so to speak, the whole scheme in so far as it affects local authorities, he does not see his way to remove the injustice? If new buildings are to be erected in Athlone or Mullingar — I have no particular reference to these places in my mind — in New Ross or in some part of Tirconaill, they are not going to be free from taxes; they are going to pay rates——

They are not.

Mr. Hogan

Do I understand the Minister to say they would not be rated?

If the Deputy will say again what he has just said I will give him a contradiction.

Mr. Hogan

I will not follow the Minister into his habit of quibbling.

Make a definite statement.

Mr. Hogan

I make this definite statement that the Minister had an opportunity of undoing the injustice he did to Clare ratepayers in 1927, but he made no attempt to do it. The advantages that the Minister says Clare derived were little or nothing. The losses are very serious and very grave, close on £500 for the upkeep of the hospitals while the scheme was in progress, and close on £1,000 in the matter of the valuation of the county. Let us see how it affects the ordinary user of electricity in Clare, where one would expect there would be some advantage given to those people who are paying to make the supply cheap. A house in Dublin with a valuation of £18 will get electricity cheaper, unit for unit, using, let us say, 240 units in the year, than a user in Ennis with a valuation of £6. That is how we are being recouped for what we have done for allowing the Shannon works to go free of rates for the last six years. I think the case for the amendment is that we have been getting no advantage from the presence of the Shannon buildings in the administrative county of Clare, that we are losing considerably in the matter of valuation and rates, and that as users of electricity we are getting no advantage whatever, and that as a matter of fact we are suffering a good deal when you realise that a man with a valuation of three times the amount in Dublin gets electricity cheaper than the man in Ennis. That indicates what the advantage is to the Clare people, and when you realise that the Clare ratepayers, small farmers, cottiers and shopkeepers scattered throughout the length and breadth of the county will not consume electricity for the next ten years you realise why it is not fair that the Clare ratepayers should be asked to subsidise an electricity undertaking in order to provide cheap electricity for, say, Deputy J. J. Byrne.

Like Deputy Hogan, I too would like to know on what principle the Minister for Industry and Commerce justifies this exemption from rates of the Shannon works. It seems to me that it is altogether a wrong principle if we are to judge of it by the way the Minister is working it out. It is altogether a wrong principle to deal with an enterprise like this as if it were a commercial enterprise, and then on the other hand to make a hidden subsidy to it. If it is so much property it ought to be dealt with as an ordinary commercial enterprise would be dealt with as far as accounts are concerned, and all these items ought to be shown up. That is number one.

Secondly, it would appear that the Minister tries to distinguish between new works erected and works or occupation of premises where these have already been paying rates. It would seem that this distinction is being made. I find it hard to justify that distinction. For instance, the Shannon scheme in Clare affects Clare. There are natural resources in the proximity of that area and that area would ordinarily benefit by them if they were developed in the ordinary commercial way.

We know full well that this matter of the development of the Shannon was not the outcome of a special brainwave that struck a member of the Ministry. As a matter of fact there were for a half century before various attempts and plans for the development of that on an ordinary commercial basis. If that were done Clare would benefit by the rates accordingly. Now the Minister has stepped in and he deprives Clare of the possibilities of the rates that would come from that development. That is dealing with it from the point of view of principle. Of course there is no justification of any kind that I can see for not making good to Clare the rates it has lost. The Minister has made that good in other cases. He has in this very Bill introduced a section to remove all doubt and to make it clear that this enterprise is not and never was a State enterprise of the kind that would exempt it from valuation. If that be so how is he going to justify this loss of £611? I think that that is estimated as the yearly loss which the County of Clare has got to bear by the taking away of lands and property which in the ordinary way would have paid rates to Clare. The Minister's attitude in this is very peculiar, so peculiar that I find it difficult as I said at the very beginning to understand on what principle he is proceeding at all. His whole attitude about the position of Clare seems to be one of utter disregard of the local interests that are involved. We know that for instance in the case of fishermen who are deprived of their rights he has made no provision for compensation to them nor has he made any definite provision for lands that at the moment are being submerged by the backwater flow from the raising of the level in Lough Derg. The reports to me at any rate have been that a number of people in these areas have had their lands submerged and no steps whatever have been taken to compensate them, and it is doubtful whether any definite provision is made for them except they proceed on their common law right to get compensation.

At any rate it would appear that the Minister has paid very little attention to them. In fact, it would seem that he has paid no attention to these particular items, at any rate, items of injustice upon the local people by the development of this scheme. Even in regard to public buildings, we have here in the Estimates every year substantial sums that are being paid by the Government for Government property in lieu of rates. If that be done in the case of accepted, definitely known and admitted State buildings and State services why should it not be done in the case of this commercial undertaking? As I say, I appreciate Deputy Hogan's view in this matter when he stated at the start that it ought to be the Minister who would make the case for exemption. The case for the refusing of this exemption is so clear to me that it seems like proving two and two to be four, proving that Clare should get the rates that are properly due to it. Accordingly I am moving jointly this amendment with Deputy Hogan.

I would just like to say one word with reference to the very kind remarks of Deputy Hogan. As I have already said in this House the City of Dublin always comes in for the worst end of the stick when anything in the nature of taxation or sacrifice for the national good is being discussed. I would like to remind Deputy Hogan that we have made a sacrifice that the people in Clare have not made for the Shannon Scheme. I would like to remind Deputy Hogan that our electricity scheme in the City of Dublin was thrown into the national pool without a penny compensation and that there has been no outcry as far as the City of Dublin is concerned.

Mr. Hogan

Why are you sitting there?

Mr. Byrne

I am putting the point to you.

Mr. Byrne

To the Chair, with all respect. I am putting the point to the Chair why Clare should receive no relief by way of rates, which Deputy Hogan is seeking when he bases his case on the City of Dublin. Clare has to lose a paltry £600 while the City of Dublin has to lose one and a quarter millions and are making no row about it.

Mr. Hogan

Yearly?

Mr. Byrne

Capitalise one and a quarter millions and see how much it will yield. I think Deputy Hogan's is the most selfish plea I have ever heard in this House. Of course, he has got to play his part from a political point of view but from a national point of view he is playing only what I call a despicable part.

This is the most naive proposal that has yet come before the Dáil, that there should be got for Clare out of a scheme, always described as a national scheme, de-rating to the extent of about 40 per cent. of the entire rates that fall on Clare. There are a few small points urged by Deputy Hogan that ought to be attended to. He said that if new buildings were erected at New Ross by the Board that rates would be paid on them. I said "no" to that. He then said I was quibbling. I do not know how a direct negative to a statement like that could be described as quibbling. The Deputy is quite wrong in the point. He said that users of electricity in Clare would get no advantage. I would like to find any man in Clare who is paying more for electricity now or only paying as much for electricity now as he was paying a year ago. Nobody is getting any advantage! That is one of the Deputy's statements. He also went on to make the statement that "we are not getting the same advantage as Dublin people." Users of electricity in Clare are getting no advantage. Would he give me individual cases of people who are paying more now for the Shannon current coming to them than they were paying before the Shannon current came?

Mr. Hogan

I want to make my position clear.

I will answer the Deputy's second point.

Mr. Hogan

I am not going to allow this presentation of my statement in an incorrect fashion. What I wanted to contrast was the position of the Clare ratepayer who is losing because he has to pay rates and the position of, say, the Dublin consumer. I pointed out that a man with three times the valuation in Dublin — a valuation of £18 — who was using 240 units of electricity per year is getting electricity cheaper than a user in Ennis with a valuation of £6. What is the use of talking about electricity before the Shannon scheme when there was no electricity there?

Mr. Byrne

There was in Dublin.

The Deputy is remaking his speech, except that while sticking to the statement that on a valuation basis Clare electricity consumers are not getting the same advantage as Dublin consumers, he has abandoned the other contention that nobody is getting any advantage.

Mr. Hogan

No more than anybody in Monaghan or Tyrone.

Monaghan, Donegal and Clare people are getting advantage. The Deputy cannot say of Clare that nobody is getting an advantage there.

Mr. Hogan

Clare is getting no extra advantage to compensate it. Let the Minister be honest in his representation.

On the second point, as regards valuation, why should the Clare ratepayer on a valuation basis be put on an equality with the Dublin man? Should the valuations be the same? To start with, property valued at £6 in a particular part of Clare would probably be valued at £18 in Dublin. Valuation in a country district is one thing, and valuation in the City is another. Supposing what he said is right, that the man with a £6 valuation in Clare is paying more than the man with an £18 valuation in Dublin. That may happen owing to the nature of things, but it is no injustice to Clare. It will certainly happen as between Wexford and Dublin, and it will happen, but not probably with the same marked difference as between Wexford and Cork, and it is right that it should happen. One of the advantages of belonging to the bigger community is that services can be cheapened. If the Deputy wanted to get that sort of thing changed he should have bethought himself of it when the 1927 Bill was introduced. He should have said that the expenses of Shannon electricity all over the country should be borne by electricity consumers at a flat rate. But we did make a difference. The difference is there, and I think it is justified. Deputy Hogan said that a tremendous loss is borne by the Clare County Council. Of course, there are a whole lot of imaginative losses. When we came to hard tacks, what did it amount to? The Deputy's best showing was £600, £400 by reason of land and some fantastic figure of £200 by reason of fisheries.

Mr. Hogan

Per year?

Per year. That is the height of the loss, and for that loss the Deputy's amendment proposes to give Clare about £50,000.

Mr. Byrne

Not a bad deal.

That is the proposition of the two Deputies and no regard is to be taken of the considerable concrete advantages that Clare derived from the Shannon scheme while it was in progress. Deputy de Valera does not understand the distinction that is made between new and acquired buildings. The distinction is this: That the House in 1927 agreed, in the interests of electrical development, that new property into which the State was putting a sum of £5,000,000 should be exempt from rates, it being regarded that electrical development was a necessity for this country if it was going to make any progress. When we came on to consider electricity not merely in its generation and long distance transmission aspects, but in its distribution side, I said as there were already Councils which had been relying on very big incomes from property that we would stereotype that for them. That is what we are doing now, but we are still acting on the old principle that generating and long distance transmission equipment in the interests of national development ought to be free from rates. That is the principle I am going on here. At any rate, nobody is going to agree to the amendment, because if the amendment were carried we would have to re-cast the whole rating arrangements with regard to the Shannon. We would have to say that the Shannon has to be rated in the ordinary way and that we would have to have these rates struck not according to where the generating end of the property lies but according to the areas from which receipts are got. That would not leave Clare in any better position than it is in at the moment. But it certainly would be an unjust thing to stereotype on the Board £50,000 or £60,000 for certain distribution works and then have a complete revaluation of the whole property, including the same distribution works and by reason of the locality in which certain of the generating plant lies giving a very big amount of the new rateable property to the County of Clare, giving them, as I say, in return for a loss of £400 or £600 a remission of rates per annum of about £50,000.

On what do you base that figure?

On a calculation of what the Shannon Scheme would be valued at, if the property were handled by the Valuation Department. I have had it considered by them.

Because you think £50,000 would be too much to give them you are going to deprive them of an annual amount of £600.

The Deputy, if he considered it, and it is doubtful that he has considered it, would find that it would amount to £50,000.

I had not your Valuation Department to assist me. I had no chance of getting what the actual figure would be.

If the Deputy has any idea of what his amendment would bring in it can be considered. On the basis of valuation or rating can he conceive that it would bring in to the County Clare only £600 per annum? With regard to the £600 outstanding, I said that there would have to be a readjustment of the returns on the scheme eventually. I said that the best time to do that would be 1931 or 1932 when the scheme was definitely paying its way. I said then that the Board ought to be put in the position of a commercial undertaking, that it should not have all the bad effects of a commercial undertaking and at the same time have all the bad results of a scheme financed from the Central Fund. I want to repeat that we put everything except the generating and transmission plant in the position of an ordinary undertaking. In fact, I said we stereotyped the valuation upon which rates should be paid, that even if the Board goes out of possession of certain property now rated they will continue to pay rates. We say further that they will be liable to income tax in the ordinary way and arising out of the fact that they are financed from the Central Fund, the Board has got to make repayments at a certain rate, sinking fund payments of a particular type and interest on the moneys not repaid in the way in which any commercial undertaking would face up to it. That will have to be adjusted. Is there any hardship in the meantime on County Clare in carrying out the ordinary local government procedure, that for a period of years new buildings are exempt from rates?

We applied the ordinary procedure as far as this £500 or £600 loss is concerned. When Deputies accepted that — and all Deputies not merely accepted that but welcomed it — in other respects, why do they object to it in connection with the Shannon Scheme? At any rate, we have got to this net point now: this £500 or £600 is the whole thing that is to be considered and, as I am advised, the effect of the amendment is to put into the hands of the County Council of Clare between £48,000 and £50,000. They are going to get de-rating in Co. Clare to whatever percentage that is of the total rates raised in return for a loss of £500 or £600. That is the proposition we are up against.

The Deputy has referred to fishermen. That matter will come up on another amendment and I shall not refer to it now. As to the payment in lieu of rates, up to date no payment has been made in lieu of rates. If this property were still to remain in the hands of the Minister — to that extent, the property would still be regarded as Government property — and if it were marked "exempt from rates" and if payment in lieu of rates were ordinarily to be expected, in fact no such payment would come because there is a limit in the ordinary law to the amount that can be paid in lieu of rates in any county. Co. Clare is at present getting the full amount which it is possible for it to get by way of payment in lieu of rates. As far as the Co. Clare is concerned, it is not losing anything.

Mr. Hogan

That is from Civic Guard stations.

It may be. If the Deputy objects to Civic Guard stations, his councils do not object to taking the money in respect of them. They are getting, at the moment, all they can get in respect of the rating of Government property. Again, there might be a better adjustment made as between the Civic Guard barracks and the Shannon Scheme as far as Clare is concerned, but if this scheme were to pay poundage in lieu of rates Co. Clare, situate as it is with regard to Government property, would not get anything in respect of the poundage so paid. On those grounds, I ask that the amendment be rejected.

I am not satisfied with the Minister's explanation. It seems to me he is mixing up two things. There are two questions involved here. There is, first of all, the question of new works, so to speak, and there is the question of the definite loss Clare has sustained. As regards the new works, I put the amendment in the form in which it is because I had no means of finding out what amount Clare would be entitled to if this were an ordinary commercial undertaking and rates were paid accordingly. Because this estimate is too high or because Clare would benefit by an amount which the Minister thinks too much, he is apparently going to end the matter by making no provision at all. Which of us, I wonder, is guilty of the greater exaggeration? Is it the Minister, or is it I in putting down this figure, when I had no opportunity of getting a definite figure, seeing that on general principles, unless something to the contrary can be shown, Clare is entitled to get the rates from this property? If a syndicate or some other body had come in and developed these works, it might be in the national interests generally but Clare would get the benefit of it. The Minister thinks he has a good point when he says that this is an exaggerated sum. His exaggeration is to remove it altogether. Probably members of the House who wanted to see fair play on this question would strike a figure somewhere between us. At any rate, whatever may be said about the question of getting the full value for new work, there is no doubt in my mind as to the right to restitution of the sum indicated by Deputy Hogan — the sum taken away from Clare. What excuse does the Minister give for depriving Clare annually of this sum of £611 odd? These are rates that Clare was getting. He is depriving Clare of those rates. He is suggesting that the citizens of Clare are, somehow, getting a special advantage but he has not shown in any single respect where they get this advantage from this national undertaking. What is happening is that Clare is subsidising the rest of the country and I do not think that that is fair.

Mr. Byrne

Is it fair that Dublin should subsidise the rest of the country?

I am not instituting any comparison. Give me any definite instance and I will say whether, in my opinion, it is just or not.

Better keep to Clare.

I have not introduced a comparison. I do not know what the Deputy is talking about, and therefore I cannot answer his question. I do say, in this particular respect, Clare is being asked to subsidise this scheme to the extent of £611 yearly, by way of rates to which it was entitled and which it is now to give up. Again, I am against this on general principle, because I should like to see the accounts of this undertaking brought out in the same way as the accounts of any ordinary commercial enterprise. I should like to know whether rates are being paid on the beet factory in Carlow. That beet scheme was regarded as a national experiment in the beginning, but I dare say rates are being paid on the property now. Ford's works in Cork are benefiting the community there, but I am sure they are paying rates there. Whether they are paying rates to the full extent I do not know; they probably are. Therefore, I ask the Minister what is the basis on which he is depriving Clare of these rates, and why is he making no attempt to make restitution for the £611 odd that Clare is shown to be losing as a result of the Shannon scheme? These two questions are separate, and I should like to get a more definite answer than the Minister has given about each of them separately, particularly about the second one. As regards the other questions of loss, such as the loss which they had to bear in providing hospital services for the workers on the Shannon scheme, these were definite losses imposed on Clare which would not have been imposed in ordinary circumstances. What is the Minister's attitude with regard to them, and what is his attitude with regard to the pumps? £33 in one case and £120 in the other case had to be incurred by Clare County Council in order to provide pumps where the Shannon scheme destroyed the existing water supply. What about the labourers' plots taken over? About eight plots were taken over, and in two or three cases houses and out-offices have been taken away——

As a result of this scheme?

Do you mean destroyed?

They were the property of the county council and they have been taken over and used in connection with the Shannon scheme or destroyed.

And no compensation paid?

So far, at any rate, there has been no compensation paid. The suggestion, of course, is that they are to be taken over at their existing value and not at their replacement value. There has been a suggestion of compensation of that kind, which would be altogether inadequate. Therefore I say that Clare has a very definite grievance in this matter. I ask Deputies who want to see fair play to vote for this amendment. If anybody wants to amend the provision when we have definite figures, then that can be done on the Report Stage if we get the principle accepted now.

I think I heard the Minister ask Deputy de Valera how he would arrive at a valuation which would produce £611 a year. Was not that £611 produced out of land?

Mr. Murphy

Would it not be possible to pay on the same valuation as the valuation of the land on which the houses were erected?

That is not the amendment.

Mr. Murphy

Could that be done?

There might be an amendment framed which would secure that.

Mr. Murphy

Which would produce £611?

And the Clare electricity users would pay for it.

Mr. Murphy

Indirectly.

They would have to pay for it directly.

With the council, that was a definite asset and they ought not to be deprived of that asset.

It seems to me that fair play obviously demands that what is done in connection with new buildings on one part should be done in connection with new buildings in another part. There is no case whatever for making new buildings in Clare liable for rates payable to the local authorities any more than for making them payable in the case of new buildings elsewhere. The principle the Minister has adopted in other parts of the country is that rates will continue to be paid on old buildings as heretofore. If it is the case — which I was not aware of — that County Clare will lose their rates on the valuation of the land which has been absorbed in the Shannon scheme, then there would seem to be a similar case for retaining from the Electricity Supply Board the amount payable hitherto on the lands now taken over by them. That would seem to be on a par with what is done in other parts of the country.

There is no use in the Minister twitting either Deputy de Valera or me as to the amendment on the Order Paper. The Bill came before us in a certain form. We found that there was no provision made in the Bill to restore to the County Clare what it had been deprived of by the Act of 1927. We put down this amendment to give the Dáil an opportunity of saying whether it considered an injustice had been done to Clare and, if so, to what extent. Nobody expected that the County Council of Clare would receive £40,000 or £50,000. Nobody suggested that. If the Minister says that is the effect, I suppose it shows that he cannot get away from the legal mind. It is not the effect that I want and I venture to say it is not the effect that Deputy de Valera wants. We want to secure that what has been taken from the rates of the Clare County Council shall be restored.

Is that right?

No, not all. I distinguish between the two and treat them as separate questions.

Mr. Hogan

Before any figure is arrived at the total amount of the land of the County Clare affected by the scheme will have to be determined. I do not say that we have the complete amount of it here. I know that there are other lands flooded since.

We are dealing with loss of rates. I suppose the Deputy means loss of rates.

Mr. Hogan

I meant loss of rates. Loss of rates will arise if lands are flooded.

It is not for me to say it but I suppose that would come under the heading of compensation.

It has to be compensated.

How is Clare County Council to be compensated?

They are the owners.

But will the Clare County Council be compensated for the losses it will have to sustain through these lands being regarded as waste land under water?

There is no such thing arising under the Shannon scheme.

Mr. Hogan

It is still arising. Quite recently a good deal of land has been flooded, and no order has been given from the Minister to take that land over. The Minister cannot say that there are abnormal floods at the present time. These lands were not acquired by the Minister, and surely the county council will not receive rates from these lands. We only want to see that the ratepayer is not losing. The Minister, when he twits us with having put down an amendment to cover that, in effect says that he himself had ignored it. Now he wants to make up for what he ignored.

We had better get clear at once on this question of flooding. If there is any land flooded under the Shannon scheme, compensation has to be paid. There is no land being flooded in the sense that there is no land being submerged for a season, and therefore rendered liable to deterioration. There is no such thing as that happening under the Shannon scheme. The scheme has, in fact, benefited lands.

Whenever we have taken land and definitely submerged it we bought it out. That is the land included in the acreage to which Deputy Hogan referred, coming within a valuation of £400. There is nothing beyond that. If any man says there is land now being flooded, not flooded before, I want to be told the exact spot where it is, and I shall get surveyors to go down and make examinations and submit a report to me. If land is taken by me and put in the condition that is described, in which it is submerged. I acquire that land. That land always stands exempt from rates because it is the property of the Minister for Industry and Commerce acquired under the Electricity Act, 1925. It is all included in the figure of £400. There is no other land flooded for which we are responsible. If there is a claim for flooding at some part of the year, as there is with regard to the backing up of water at a certain culvert, that claim is examined. Surveyors are, in the case I mentioned, on the spot, and compensation may have to be paid. But if it is a case of land that is going to be permanently flooded and goes on deteriorating in value, that land will be acquired by me. I may have to get rid of it and sell it, and if the sale takes place with all these evil conditions then I will get less for it, but I do not believe that that occurs. The only land I acquired is the land that I took definitely in regard to the scheme and which I submerged. Except for the land that I took around Lough Derg, of very poor quality, and land that I took for the whole canal system, it can clearly be said of Co. Clare it has benefited, and benefited greatly, by reason of the prevention of flooding. It is clear to anybody of commonsense who looks at it that, in fact, neither the river nor the Lough is held at any greater height than they would ordinarily rise to——

Mr. Hogan

What about Killaloe?

If that were being done a claim for compensation would arise at once. The scheme has been carried out very carefully as far as that side of the case is concerned. At other places, where there was a bank of a particular height, where the water held at the winter flood in a particular way for a certain number of months, and where there was liability to flooding for a corresponding number of months, if we were going to hold it for four months instead of two, we built an embankment. We have definitely bettered the land in Clare, and, if it is contended that that is not so we will have to get exact areas mentioned.

Then there was some talk of a water supply. I do not know what pumps are referred to, but if there has been a water supply damaged by reason of the operation of the Shannon scheme, I have to pay compensation or else remake the water supply. If the authorities are not satisfied with the terms given, they can even force arbitration, and I am quite willing to have the matter submitted to arbitration. In a great many cases, as far as the flooding of land is concerned, or in regard to some expense incurred by reason of pumping, they have been anxious to get arbitration. That must be met under the Act when the damage is proved. With regard to labourers' plots, if it is thought that the valuations on which they have been taken over is not fair, arbitration is there. It only means an application, and the arbitrator must be appointed by the Chief Justice. Let us wipe these things out of this case altogether. Similarly, fishermen do not come into this as far as rates are concerned.

Mr. Hogan

Where do they come in?

They do not arise in a debate on rates. I come now to the £600. I think it is £400 on land.

Plus the fisheries.

With regard to the £400 on land, there is a claim put down that we should repeal Section 96 of the Act. Deputy de Valera said that fair-minded Deputies would split the difference between him and me, that is between £50,000 and £400. A good bargain again.

The £400 that I put as a separate and distinct question has no bearing on the other matter at all.

£50,000 is in the amendment.

Only indirectly.

It is the most direct thing possible. Take away Section 96 and all the property is liable to valuation. How would the generating plant be valued? Take either of two things, constructional cost or the receipts that would be derived from that generating plant, in other words from the bulk supply of 137 million units of electricity all over the country. Take either of these two approaches to it, and take away the exemption from rates given by Section 96, and the Deputy is certainly going to get more than the amount in the amendment. The Deputy knows that there is a considerable number of thousands in the amendment. With regard to the £500, if Co. Clare is losing anything at the moment I say that in Co. Clare money has been expended that came from all over the country, money raised on the credit of electricity consumers' payments for years to come. That money was put out in shoals around Clare and Limerick. In three years I should say they got at least one hundred times this £400.

I would like to know when Deputy Hogan talked about hospital cases is it that Clare Board of Health calculates the difference between the cost of keeping the patients and the payments made for them by the contractors? At any rate, that is a separate item. With regard to this £400, Clare has got more than that in three years. There is a period according to ordinary local government practice during which new buildings are exempt from rates. Clare should stay out during that period. What was land taken over for? For the purpose of the canal, and the purpose of the canal was the power-house. In the ordinary way, apart from being Government property, the power-house would be exempt from rates for a number of years. I think that whatever adjustments have to be made had better be made at the time when one sees the Board's finances clearly and exactly in late 1931 or the early part of 1932. So far as rates are concerned, the principle was decided on here that in the interests of electrical development these new works should be exempt from rates. If they are not to be exempt from rates the way to achieve what is sought is not to have an amendment down to this Bill but to amend the whole section, and simply to say that the Shannon property and everything on it shall be liable to rates.

That will then be divided according to the way the Valuation Department will approach it, how they will assess liability for rates over the different counties. It would be unjust to have imposed on the Board a sum of £50,000 or £60,000 by reason of old buildings acquired and then have the entire property revalued. If the Valuation Department valued the whole works they would value on the basis of profits received and net gains. They would distribute that over certain counties. Possibly in the case of Clare they would take something off. Certainly Clare would not get anything like the £50,000 which this amendment would give them. I am pleading again that the amendment should be rejected. It has no relation to the small sum of £500. That sum should be left as it is and not paid to the Co. Clare for, say, two years. There is a longer period ordinarily covered by local government practice in regard to the exemption of new buildings from rates. As far as the other thing is concerned, if and when we decide to have the whole property valued and put on the ordinary basis we would have to see how the valuation procedure would distribute the rates derived from the whole property, and in addition the Board would have to get relief from certain harsh conditions imposed at present as regards repayments by reason of the fact that this is voted from the Central Fund.

The Minister said that I asked Deputies to split the difference. I did not do anything of the kind, taking the expression splitting the difference to mean what it ordinarily does. What I said was that, as between the amendment in my name and the name of Deputy Hogan and the Minister's attitude to give nothing, the Minister estimated our amendment would give Clare £50,000. I had no definite means of reaching any figure that I could rely upon, neither am I satisfied that I can rely on the Minister's £50,000, but assuming there is some figure like that, what I said was that fair-minded Deputies, realising the resources which are being taken away from Clare now, and which if exploited in the ordinary commercial way to the benefit of the Co. Clare, would have produced a large additional revenue for the Co. Council, would estimate some figure between the zero of the Minister on that matter and the £50,000. As regards the other matter, it does not directly come in, except as indicating what the attitude of the Minister towards Clare has been. That is the sum of £400 with respect to land and the £200 added in respect to fisheries, the rates on which they are going to lose also. That is a separate matter. I did not bring it in here as it is not relevant, but as things stand Clare is not merely losing the advantage she would have in the possession of these natural resources but the Clare County Council is also losing this definite sum, and in order to rectify that I am going to stand by the amendment.

Mr. Hogan

If the Minister is in earnest about the contention that in one or two years' time there will be some readjustment of the position, why is not provision made for that in the Bill, that the ratepayers in Clare who have been mulcted for the six years would have their position reconsidered? The Minister talked about the gains to Co. Clare. I dispute that there is any gain to the county, but even if on his assumption there has been a gain, surely he will admit that that has been to a limited area. He cannot say that the ratepayers in Ballyvaughan or Kilmihill got any advantage from it. They should not be taxed to subsidise the electricity undertaking. With regard to arbitration, the Minister says it is there. We have heard that so often from the Minister that we accept it as part of his stock-in-trade. I asked for arbitration twelve months ago in respect of land taken by the Minister and I am still waiting for any development in that direction.

Did the people affected ask for it?

Mr. Hogan

They did.

They have their rights under the Act, which they can force.

I think the Minister said an amendment could be drafted which would ensure that land on which new buildings were erected would continue to pay rates. I want to know whether that is so. If such a thing were done would it mean that Clare would be getting exceptional treatment compared with other counties?

That amendment is not before me. I do not propose to draw up such an amendment myself, and I would argue against it if such an amendment were proposed, on the grounds that it would be running contrary to the ordinary local government practice for exemption of rates for a certain period on new buildings.

Is it the Minister's point that something like that would normally come forward?

I think I said that the whole finances will have to be adjusted a little better as between the electricity consumer, the taxpayer and the ratepayer all over the country, not by any means as regards Clare alone, because I think Clare would suffer still, using the word suffer in the sense in which Deputy Hogan used it.

Amendment put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 36; Níl, 60.

  • Blaney, Neal.
  • Boland, Patrick.
  • Bourke, Daniel.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Buckley, Daniel.
  • Carty, Frank.
  • Colbert, James.
  • Colohan, Hugh.
  • Cooney, Eamon.
  • Corkery, Dan.
  • Crowley, Tadhg.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Doyle, Edward.
  • Fahy, Frank.
  • Fogarty, Andrew.
  • Gorry, Patrick J.
  • Hogan, Patrick (Clare).
  • Houlihan, Patrick.
  • Jordan, Stephen.
  • Kent, William R.
  • Kerlin, Frank.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Lemass, Seán T.
  • Little, Patrick John.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • O'Kelly, Seán T.
  • O'Reilly, Thomas.
  • Powell, Thomas P.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick J.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Sexton, Martin.
  • Sheehy, Timothy (Tipp.).

Níl

  • Aird, William P.
  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Blythe, Ernest.
  • Bourke, Séamus A.
  • Brennan, Michael.
  • Brodrick, Seán.
  • Byrne, John Joseph.
  • Carey, Edmund.
  • Cole, John James.
  • Collins-O'Driscoll, Mrs. Margt.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Craig, Sir James.
  • Daly, John.
  • Davis, Michael.
  • De Loughrey, Peter.
  • Doherty, Eugene.
  • Doyle, Peadar Seán.
  • Egan, Barry M.
  • Esmonde, Osmond Thos. Grattan.
  • Fitzgerald, Desmond.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Good, John.
  • Haslett, Alexander.
  • Heffernan, Michael R.
  • Hennessy, Thomas.
  • Hennigan, John.
  • Henry, Mark.
  • Hogan, Patrick (Galway).
  • Holohan, Richard.
  • Jordan, Michael.
  • Kelly, Patrick Michael.
  • Keogh, Myles.
  • Law, Hugh Alexander.
  • Leonard, Patrick.
  • Lynch, Finian.
  • Mathews, Arthur Patrick.
  • McDonogh, Martin.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGilligan, Patrick.
  • Mongan, Joseph W.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Murphy, James E.
  • Murphy, Joseph Xavier.
  • Myles, James Sproule.
  • Nally, Martin Michael.
  • Nolan, John Thomas.
  • O'Connell, Richard.
  • O'Connor, Bartholomew.
  • O'Donovan, Timothy Joseph.
  • O'Leary, Daniel.
  • O'Mahony, Dermot Gun.
  • O'Reilly, John J.
  • O'Sullivan, Gearóid.
  • O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
  • Rice, Vincent.
  • Sheehy, Timothy (West Cork).
  • Thrift, William Edward.
  • Tierney, Michael.
  • White, Vincent Joseph.
  • Wolfe, George.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies P. Hogan (Clare) and Killilea; Níl, Deputies P.S. Doyle and J.J. Byrne.
Amendment declared lost.
Section 9, as amended, agreed to.
Question —"That Section 10 stand part of the Bill"— put and agreed to.
SECTION 11 (2).
This section applies to every hereditament or tenement which, for the time being —
(a) is not part of the Shannon works; and
(b) is in the exclusive occupation of the Board; and
(c) is separately valued under the Valuation Acts; and
(d) is used exclusively as a generating station or as a transmission system or part of a transmission system or as a distribution system or part of a distribution system; and
(e) did not become vested in the Board (either before or after the passing of this Act) by virtue of a vesting order made under Section 39 of the Principal Act or by virtue of a conveyance made in pursuance of an agreement entered into under sub-section (2) of Section 38 of the Principal Act.

I move: "In sub-section (2), page 5, line 36, to delete paragraph (c).

The reason for this amendment is that if these words were to stand it might happen that certain property, which should be separately valued, would not be separately valued and the exemption would apply to a piece of Shannon property to which we meant it to apply and to some other property which happened to be in with it. It is better to leave out these words altogether. The effect would be that if a mistake were made property which it was not intended to exempt might fall under the exemption clause. It would then be for the local authority, if this subsection were left out, to see that the property which they want to have liable to rates is kept apart from Shannon property which will be exempted.

Amendment put and agreed to.
Question —"That Section 11, as amended, stand part of the Bill"— put and agreed to.
Question —"That Sections 12 and 13 stand part of the Bill"— put and agreed to.

Amendments 5 and 6 to Section 14 deal with the same point. They have no relevancy to anything in the Bill and it appears to me, therefore, that they cannot be moved. Amendment 7 is out of order on the same ground.

Question —"That Section 14 and the Title stand part of the Bill"— put and agreed to.
Bill ordered to be reported.
The Dáil went out of Committee.
Bill reported with amendments.
Report Stage ordered for Friday, 13th June.