Presumably an arrangement has been come to with regard to the Second Reading of this measure and the assumption is that the House can immediately proceed to deal with the Committee Stage. It is quite possible that the Second Reading of this Bill could have been defeated. There is no adequate opportunity of submitting amendments to the Bill. The Labour Party desire to submit one, and perhaps two, amendments, and I do not think they should be denied the opportunity of doing so.
Housing (Financial and Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, 1932—Money Resolution. - Housing (Financial and Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, 1932—Committee Stage.
An agreement was reached that the Bill was to be got through all its stages to-day. If Deputy Norton desires to give his amendment in verbal form on this stage perhaps we might be able to discuss it. I would certainly be opposed to breaking the agreement that has been arrived at.
Perhaps Deputy Norton would hand in his amendment to me in written form.
Am I to understand that the House is prepared to discuss an ad hoc amendment which has not been circulated?
Yes. Where does it come in?
At the end of Section 5. I will submit it immediately.
(1) The Minister may, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, and subject to the prescribed regulations, make out of moneys to be provided by the Oireachtas—
(a) to any person or public utility society erecting one or more houses to which this sub-section applies in any urban area or in any rural area a grant not exceeding forty-five pounds, if the erection of such house shall have been commenced after the 1st day of April, 1929, but before the 12th day of May, 1932, and shall have been completed on or before the 31st day of December, 1932;
(b) to any person or public utility society erecting one or more houses to which this sub-section applies in any urban area a grant not exceeding—
(i) seventy pounds, if the erection of such house shall have been commenced on or after the 12th day of May, 1932, and shall have been completed before the 1st day of April, 1933;
(ii) sixty pounds, if the erection of such house shall have been commenced on or after the 12th day of May, 1932, and shall have been completed on or after the 1st day of April, 1933, but before the 1st day of April, 1934;
(iii) fifty pounds, if the erection of such house shall have been commenced on or after the 12th day of May, 1932, and shall have been completed on or after the 1st day of April, 1934, but before the 1st day of April, 1935;
(c) to any person (other than an agricultural labourer) who derives his livelihood solely or mainly from the pursuit of agriculture, erecting in any rural area for his own occupation a house to which this sub-section applies, the erection of which shall have been commenced on or after the 12th day of May, 1932, and shall have been completed before the 1st day of April, 1935—
(i) a grant not exceeding seventy pounds if such person is in occupation of agricultural land and buildings the rateable value as stated in the valuation lists under the Valuation Acts or aggregate of the rateable values as so stated of which does not exceed fifteen pounds;
(ii) a grant not exceeding sixty pounds, if such person is in occupation of agricultural land and buildings the rateable value as so stated as aforesaid or aggregate of the rateable values as so stated of which exceeds fifteen pounds, but does not exceed twenty-five pounds.
(f) to any public utility society erecting in any rural area a house to which this sub-section applies, the erection of which shall have been commenced on or after the 12th day of May, 1932, and shall have been completed before the 1st day of April, 1935, and which shall have been erected for occupation by a person (other than an agricultural labourer) who derives his livelihood solely or mainly from the pursuit of agriculture—
(i) a grant not exceeding eighty pounds, if such person is in occupation of agricultural land and buildings the rateable value as stated in the valuation lists under the Valuation Acts or aggregate of the rateable values as so stated of which does not exceed fifteen pounds;
(ii) a grant not exceeding seventy pounds, if such person is in occupation of agricultural land and buildings the rateable value as so stated as aforesaid or aggregate of the rateable values as so stated of which exceeds fifteen pounds, but does not exceed twenty-five pounds.
(h) to any person reconstructing a house in his own occupation in a rural area, a grant not exceeding forty pounds, if such person derives his livelihood solely or mainly from the pursuit of agriculture and is in occupation of agricultural land and buildings the rateable value as stated in the valuation lists under the Valuation Acts or aggregate of the rateable values as so stated of which does not exceed twenty-five pounds, or if such person is an agricultural labourer, and, in either case, the reconstruction of such house shall have been commenced on or after the 12th day of May, 1932, and shall have been completed before the 1st day of April, 1935, and such house when so reconstructed complies with Rules 2 and 3 of the First Schedule to this Act:
(i) to any public utility society within the meaning of the Housing (Ireland) Act, 1919, erecting a house to which this sub-section applies in any urban area, a grant not exceeding two-ninths of the cost of the provision thereof or one hundred pounds, whichever shall be the lesser, if—
(i) the erection of the house shall have been commenced on or after the 12th day of May, 1932, and shall have been completed before the 1st day of April, 1935; and
(ii) the floor area of the house as measured in the prescribed manner shall be not less than 500 square feet nor more than 750 square feet; and
(iii) such public utility society undertakes with the Minister that such society will not sell such house and will let such house only on a monthly or lesser tenancy; and
(iv) the urban authority of the urban area in which the house is situate undertakes to make to such public utility society a grant in respect of such house not exceeding one-ninth of the cost of the provision of the house or fifty pounds, whichever shall be the lesser.
(2) Subject to the provisions of this Act, sub-section (1) of this section shall apply to any house which complies with the rules set forth in the First Schedule to this Act.
I move amendment 1:
In sub-section (1) (a), line 28, after the word "society" to insert the words "or local authority."
Section 5, as it stands, is practically limited to making grants to private persons or public utility societies. Section 6 deals with the various ways in which local authorities may be helped. There is no provision to help a local authority with a cash grant; that is, by way of a loan. There are cases where a local authority has a sum of money at its disposal. It may be anxious to use this money in building houses and to get help by way of a grant for the purpose. I suggest the local authority might be put on the same level in this matter as a private individual or a public utility society. I suggest my amendment will meet the case.
There is at least one town—there are probably more than one—anxious to avail of assistance of this type. I think local authorities should be treated in the same way as private individuals or public utility societies that have money at their disposal for house building purposes. I am not aware that there are any provisions by which help may be given to the local authority circumstanced in the manner I have described. There are certain local authorities—I know at least of one—that have money at their disposal which they are anxious to utilise in this way. They feel that they would be at more liberty to utilise it if they were placed on the same level as private individuals and public utility societies.
I fear it would not be possible to accept this amendment. In the first place, it seems to me to run counter to the general policy as expressed in the Bill, which is to enable local authorities to carry out certain housing programmes by means of grants in aid of loan charges. We feel that by giving grants in aid of loan charges for work like slum clearances and the renovation of existing premises we are making an important advance in social legislation and we are undoubtedly giving enormous financial assistance. Deputy O'Sullivan now proposes that we should give further financial facilities to local authorities. In view of the provision which we have made, I do not think the proposal could be defended. It would, to some extent, run counter to our policy of concentrating on slum clearances and work of that sort and leaving public utility societies largely to co-operate with local authorities in other schemes of housing.
With regard to the particular difficulty of local authorities which have money in hands, it seems to me their requirements are met under Section 6 (2) and Section 11. If the Deputy looks up those sections he will find the point he has called attention to is covered. Local authorities that have been carrying on housing operations, provided that they commenced them after 1st April, 1929 but before the 12th May, 1932, where the building has actually been commenced though perhaps not yet completed, are covered by Section 11 which makes provision for a sum of £33,000 to meet outstanding cases. All cases which do not appear to have been covered by the last Housing Act, but which were begun under the 1929-30 Act and which are in a state of suspense, so to speak, as between different pieces of housing legislation, are covered by Section 11. Under Section 6 (2) cases which have been commenced on or after 1st April, 1931 are covered. Section 11 sets out:
In lieu of Section 61 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1931 (No. 50 of 1931), repealed by this Act, it is hereby enacted that the aggregate amount of grants made or to be made under Section 3 of the Housing Act, 1925 (No. 12 of 1925), as amended by Section 3 of the Housing Act, 1928 (No. 31 of 1928), together with the aggregate amount of the grants made or to be made under Section 3 of the Housing Act, 1929 (No. 12 of 1929), shall not exceed the sum of one million three hundred and thirteen thousand pounds.
The sum originally provided was £1,280,000. We are giving £33,000 extra to cover outstanding cases, cases where building operations have commenced and are not yet completed. I think the case Deputy O'Sullivan has made is sufficiently met by that provision.
I think the Minister will admit that Section 11 deals purely with outstanding cases. Therefore, it does not meet the case I have in mind where no work is yet undertaken but where the money is in the hands of the local authority and there is no public utility society. It is entirely new work and I submit it is not provided for in the Bill. Even from the Minister's own exposition it is obvious that it is the outstanding cases that are dealt with in Section 11. It is more or less to carry over the section and it is for new under-takings entirely. The purpose of the amendment is I fear not met in the Bill, but undoubtedly the purpose of the Bill is to clear slum areas. There is, as the Minister has pointed out, the fact that utility societies may build houses and so may private individuals. I suggest that the local authorities get the same help as the private individuals and utility societies. I suggest that my amendment is not doing any more than extending the help that is given to utility societies and local individuals to the local authorities.
It is quite true that in respect of housing authorities, there is a different procedure in this case. As I explained already, we have laid particular stress on the clearing of slum areas and we are dealing with that matter by loan charges. Section 8 of the Bill provides that an urban authority "may, subject to the prescribed regulations, make to any public utility society within the meaning of the Housing (Ireland) Act, 1919 ... a grant not exceeding one-ninth of the cost...." The urban authorities may give a grant to a public utility society and in that way the difficulty may be got over. It is suggested that the capital, if in hands, might otherwise be dealt with. In any case I am sure the House will agree that when we have made definite provision for existing cases that are outstanding we should not be asked to go further, if we feel it is in contravention of our policy. The framework of the Bill would have to be altered if we were to accept the suggestion that local authorities would have to be brought in.
I doubt if the Minister has read the Bill carefully. The first point to be considered in quite a number of towns and cities throughout the country is the shortage of accommodation in respect of housing in an area. It may be that it is impossible to deal with the slum problem by reason of the number of persons requiring to be housed and Deputy O'Sullivan simply asks for the same facilities for a local authority as are provided for private persons or a combination of private persons in a public utility society as was given some years ago. Ten years ago the advice was given to local authorities to build themselves and to go on with the work. At that time building had been interrupted for seven or eight years and it was necessary at all costs to see that the congestion was reduced. If it be the intention of the Government to make inroads on the housing problem as it has been popularly described, I am sure the Ministry will not exclude local authorities from participating in the effort to help in the solution of the housing problem. Deputy O'Sullivan's amendment was framed with that view, so as to help the local authorities to undertake this work.
There is nothing whatever in the suggestion that in some way or other by refusing to accept this amendment we may be doing something that will not help the housing problem. I have already pointed out that under Section 8, if the local authority sees fit, the difficulty may be got over. I have only again to say that as regards the local authorities we are endeavouring to concentrate their attention on the removal of existing insanitary dwellings and the wholesale clearance of insanitary dwellings and slum areas. We want the local authorities to concentrate on that work. As I have already said, with co-operation between the utility society and the local authority, there is no reason—and there is nothing in the Bill—to prevent the combination of these two from carrying out any scheme or doing anything that in the past has been done by local authorities in connection with housing.
Amendment put and negatived.
That disposes of amendments 2 and 6. They deal with the same principle.
I propose amendment 3:—
In sub-section (1) (b), line 38, after the word "area" to insert the words "or town which according to the Census of 1896 had a population exceeding 1,000 persons."
The object of this amendment is that towns which have a population of one thousand persons should be placed in the same position as urban areas. If a person lives in an urban area and builds a house now he gets the advantage under (b) (i) of Section 5 of £70 in certain circumstances; under (ii) he gets the advantage of £60, and in other circumstances he gets £50; whereas if he lives in a town that may be a substantial town, but is not an urban area, then the only sum of money that he can get would be under (e) a sum of £45. I submit that in some of these country towns the need of housing is just as great as it is in the country towns, which are, as a matter of fact, urban areas. I know, and I am sure the Minister is familiar with, certain towns in my constituency. There are two urban areas, and there are certain towns with more than 1,000 inhabitants. I certainly know that in one of those towns with over 1,000 inhabitants there are very strong complaints of the shortage of housing. I am not asking that the urban areas should be levelled down to the level of the other towns, but I am asking that the ordinary country town which is not an urban area should be levelled up. It will cost the State nothing more, and it will give to persons living in an ordinary substantial country town the same chances of building as in the neighbouring towns that happen to be a little bigger. I ask the Minister to accept the amendment.
If we depart from the definition of "urban areas" in this Bill I do not see where we are to find ourselves. An urban area is strictly limited. The authorities controlling those local areas have certain advantages there. You have a corporate organisation which is endowed under the Housing of the Working Classes Acts with powers, and so on, and conditions as regards the boundaries of those areas are strictly laid down. We know where we are with regard to an urban area. Urban areas are specifically mentioned. We know what their boundaries are and what are their powers and so on. If we depart from the definition of an urban area and extend the proposal in this Bill which deals with urban areas to outside areas I do not know where we are going to stop.
The suggestion is that we should include in the definition of urban areas places whose population exceed 1,000 persons. If we do that is there any reason why we should not go to places with a population of 500 persons? What is the criterion which distinguishes a place with a population of 1,000 from the place which has a lesser population? We assume that, generally speaking, an urban area corresponds to an area where you have trade union conditions, high wages and high costs of building. The very fact that it is an urban area means that very often you find these conditions. You have a higher price for land in such urban areas and because of these things the cost of building in an urban area is going to be higher than in rural areas. If you go outside the strict definition of an urban area, you are going to call any number of houses, say, even a good-sized village, an urban area.
With regard to the point that we are inflicting some hardship on those persons to whom it is proposed to give a grant not exceeding £45 for building new houses, I would point out that these areas which Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney has in mind might, generally speaking, be called agricultural communities, and I think that the people in these areas who are deserving of special financial assistance to enable them to provide dwelling accommodation for themselves can be all brought within the definition of agricultural labourers which, as the Deputy knows, is very wide. Therefore, the vast body of the people who are living in these towns in which the Deputy is interested can be brought in under the definition of agricultural labourer, if not perhaps of small farmer. I think as between the small farmer under £25 valuation and the agricultural labourer, practically the vast body of people in these small towns and the large villages can be brought in, and in respect of them we are giving grants as good as we are giving to the town dwellers. We are giving £70, which should be sufficient to enable them to start and we are giving it for the whole of the period. It is not an amount which is going to be reduced. For the whole of the period up to 1935 the £70 will be available for the small farmer entitled to it or the agricultural labourer. I think, therefore, in respect of financial assistance, the vast body of the people in whom the Deputy is interested will get substantially the same advantages as those in the towns. If a public utility society is carrying out the work it will get more advantages.
We are trying to encourage the development of public utility societies, recognising that in the civic spirit and the desire for social work which manifests very largely in the country at present there is a great incentive to form these organisations for this very worthy purpose. It should not be necessary for either the State or the local authorities or both to have to carry the whole weight of the responsibility if we get these public utility societies working. We may eventually get an organisation which will take a large part of the burden both of ourselves and of the local authorities. I have gone into that point to indicate that, as far as these rural areas in which the Deputy is interested are concerned, sufficient provision is being made for them and I could not accept the amendment.
Again if I were to depart from the strict definition of urban areas as defined in the Bill, I am afraid we would not know where to stop. The Deputy has not given any reason as to why we should set up an entirely new principle and depart from the basis recognised since the provision of housing was first started. It was recognised that the urban area was the unit along which the Act should be worked, but if the Deputy had his way that would no longer count and all areas would have to be treated alike. I might say that rightly or wrongly we insist on making this difference between the rural areas and certain classes in the rural areas and the towns. I feel that the working classes and the small farmers in the rural areas who can be said to be in the same class as the labouring population in the towns are getting substantially the same financial inducement or better in fact than the people in the towns.
I should like to point out to the Minister that I carefully refrained from referring to the definition clause because I saw it might lead to difficulties if I altered the definition of "urban area." Instead of putting up an amendment to the definition section I put it up to Section 5 and there no difficulties arise as regards definition. Certainly I would like to point out to the Minister that he is absolutely wrong when he says that in country towns the people would get the advantages under this Act that are given to agricultural labourers. That is not so at all. The ordinary town worker, the ordinary man who lives in a country town, of over 1,000 population is not an agricultural labourer. He is a carter or a builder's labourer. He is not an agricultural labourer and he is not getting the same advantages as a similar person would get in an urban area. When I limit the population to 1,000 I want to have a substantial town. In villages there would not be a great proportion of ordinary labourers. A town which happens to have an urban council or town commissioners should not have this great advantage over the ordinary country town.
The Minister has given as one of the main reasons for refusing to accept this amendment that it might set up an entirely new precedent. I am glad to say that this Bill is bristling with new precedents. While I realise that there would be certain difficulties regarding the question of the bounds to be observed, I have no doubt that the Ministry and the Department of Local Government could overcome that difficulty as I think they have succeeded in overcoming very many grave difficulties in the framing of the Bill. As Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney has pointed out, the Minister is quite wrong when he states that towns which are not urbanised towns are covered under the section dealing with agricultural labourers. Let me give a case in point. Take my own constituency. We have two towns of fairly substantial population, one with a population I think of at least 3,000 and it is not an urban area. The other has a population of well over 2,000 and it is not an urban area. These are the only two towns in Tipperary where there is any industry worth talking about, the only two that you might call industrial centres. To my own knowledge the workers in these two towns are very badly in need of houses. I say that it is very unfair that because a working man is living in an area, which for one reason or another has not been urbanised, he should be penalised. The point is that the only persons penalised under the Bill are those who live in the small towns. When I say penalised I mean penalised as regards the very much reduced amounts they are getting. As has been pointed out by the mover of the amendment, they are limited to £45 whereas a person living in an urban area gets up to £70. I should like the Minister and the officials of his Department to explain to me why £70 should be paid in Nenagh or Templemore and only £45 in Roscrea. Why should there be £70 paid in Cashel and only £45 paid in the town of Cahir or Fethard?
I think that the Deputy must not have been listening to what I said. In respect of agricultural labourers, they are entitled to a grant of £70 in respect of every person who comes under the definition of agricultural labourer. I think that everybody in whom Deputy Morrissey is interested will come. under that definition because the definition, as defined in the Labourers Act, is this:—an agricultural labourer "is a person (other than a domestic or menial servant) who works for hire in a rural district at some trade or handicraft without employing any persons except members of his own family." Therefore, under the definition of agricultural labourer, not only is the labourer who can point to working in rural areas for hire included but a tradesman. I do not say that we will always accept that definition, but the definition is wide enough to include such people.
Unfortunately it does not. In the town of Roscrea for instance we have a co-operative bacon factory in which there is a large number of men employed. I am sure they would not come under the definition. In Cahir we have a flour mill employing from 100 to 150 men. Would they come under the definition? I want it to be made perfectly clear. For instance, you have postmen and others, and we know that recently the Department of Local Government issued instructions to local authorities defining what was and what was not an agricultural labourer for the purpose of occupying labourers' cottages in the country. I would like the Minister to look more carefully into the matter. That is the position of the towns in my own county, and I am sure that in most other counties throughout the Free State there are other fairly substantial towns that will also be affected.
The Minister is perhaps dealing with the subject under a certain disadvantage. I suggest that there is not the slightest difficulty at all in locating, for the purpose of this amendment, the area and the nature of any particular town because the returns of the Census of 1926 describe every particular town and its population and if the Minister persists in the discrimination that is here referred to certain classes of workers will be debarred. Take, for instance, a post office worker. In the town of Gorey, with a population of 2,296—and a falling population, too, as reflected in the difference between the figures of the census in 1911 and those of the 1926 census—he would be entitled to a grant of £70. But in the town of Roscrea, to which Deputy Morrissey referred, the population of which is 2,772—bigger than the town of Gorey and with an increasing population—a post office worker in that town, wishing to build a house and get a State grant in connection with it, could only get £45. In other words, in the larger town with an increasing population he could only get £45 as compared with £70 in the current year in a town such as Gorey with a smaller and decreasing population. The difference, as Deputy Morrissey pointed out, also applies as between the town of Cashel with 2,953 as against the town of Roscrea with a population of 2,772. There would be a difference in the amount of the grant that a person, not an agricultural labourer, would get. The difference would be £45 in one case and £70 in another, and I submit to the Minister that that is not really the intention, and that whatever policy is enshrined in this particular Bill it is not intended to enshrine a policy that would prevent the proper development of a town like Roscrea which is naturally developing, and which would, perhaps, in an artificial way, help the building of houses, and give the benefit to a town where there was a natural decay.
I suggest that the Minister should reconsider his position and give some latitude with regard to this amendment, which does affect a number of small towns in my constituency. As Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney said, the acceptance of this amendment will not in any way affect the structure of the Bill, but will allow in a very deserving class. If I may respectfully say it to the Minister, I think he has been somewhat misled by the definition of agricultural labourer, which you will find in the Labourers Acts. As I understand it, you must have an employer and you must have a workman. There are a great many tradesmen who do not come under the definition of the Labourers Acts and they are not at all employed persons in that sense. For instance, if I go to a blacksmith and contract with him to make a set of shoes for my horse, I am not his employer—I have given him a contract. No matter what may be thought of it, I suggest that he does not come under the definition of an agricultural labourer. The same applies to carpenters and to a great many other trades where men are in the position of contractors and not in the position of employees. In that regard I do think that a very deserving class will be cut out of the benefits if the Bill passes as it stands, and that it will only be carrying out the spirit of the Bill if the Minister would accept the amendment proposed by Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney. I am sure that it was in the mind of the Minister who introduced the Bill. The amendment will let in a very deserving class—a class that should be encouraged to build—the small tradesman, who is not employed in the ordinary sense, and who would be able and willing to put up a house and do it very well. We have many growing and thriving towns in my constituency, such as Dunmanway, Ross-carbery, Castletownbere, Baltimore, Ballineen, Schull, Ballydehob, Cross-haven, Carrigaline and Drimoleague, some of which are growing towns and they are just the towns that ought to be helped. These are the type of small town that should be encouraged to build. Building will then be done in the right places and by the right men. I therefore ask the Minister to allow this amendment to come in.
I consider that this is a reasonable amendment. I have repeatedly drawn the attention of the House to the fact that a great many of the small towns in the country were decaying by reason of the fact that the inhabitants were nobody's children. When the county authorities set out to build houses, they very often build houses in isolated areas, and that perhaps is the right thing to do from their point of view; but some provision should be made to give help to the people residing in the areas mentioned by Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney and the other speakers. I think a good case has been made for the inclusion of these people. Unless something of this kind is done, these towns will decay very rapidly, because the county authorities will not give them the help they deserve. As Deputy Morrissey has pointed out, in these small towns there are other people than agricultural labourers, such as postmen, carpenters, blacksmiths and people of that kind, and no real, earnest provision is being made for them in this Bill. I submit, therefore, that the amendment is reasonable and ought to be accepted.
I wish to appeal to the Minister with regard to towns in my own area. You have such towns as Ballyhaunis, Claremorris, Ballinrobe, and Kiltimagh, the population of each of which is roughly about 1,500. There are only three urban areas—Ballina, Castlebar and Westport. I appeal to the Minister to accept the amendment, as housing conditions in the four towns mentioned are very bad, and building is almost at a standstill.
I would ask the Minister to accept this amendment and I think it is only fair, because the people in the constituency I represent would be penalised—especially the towns which are very anxious to build and have been anxious to build for the past number of years. The town in which I live is urbanised and comes under this Bill, but the authorities refused to adopt it, because the town is controlled by landlords. Balbriggan has town commissioners, but they refused to adopt the Bill because any price can be got for houses there. If a house that was let at 5/- a week becomes vacant a rent of 15/- can be secured for it. Within the last few years about 200 houses have been built in Skerries, which is one of the most important towns in Co. Dublin. I might also draw attention to the position in Rush district, with a population of several thousands, where a number of houses have recently been built. Such places would be penalised under the Bill, and so would Malahide and Swords. People who build in these places would only receive grants of £45. I ask the Minister to accept the amendment.
I have already pointed out, and I wish to repeat, that in my opinion, and in the opinion of the Department, the term "agricultural labourer" in the Labourers Acts covers all the classes mentioned. If necessary it covers the blacksmith, the postman, and the man who works in a co-operative bacon factory at Roscrea. If Deputies had only listened to what I read they would know that the definition is quite clear, and that it is wide enough to include the whole of the working classes in rural areas.
Is the Bill only intended for the working classes?
It is for all classes. If Deputies had paid attention they would know that in urban areas the Bill was mainly designed to deal with slums.
We are dealing in Section 5 with those classes who will not be dealt with by public bodies, who particularly deal with the working classes. The working classes may be catered for by Section 5, but I submit that Section 5 is there particularly to cater for people outside those usually regarded as working classes in connection with the Housing Acts. Is a shopkeeper going to be deprived of the benefits of the Bill?
An agricultural labourer is defined under the Labourers Acts as a person who works for hire in a rural district, other than a domestic or menial servant, and if not working for hire working in some rural district at some trade or handicraft without employing any person except members of his own family. That covers the rural workers in general. There is no provision in that definition that a person must be in regular employment for a given time, so long as that person is employed for some time during the year. I think I am not incorrect in saying that that would bring such a person within the definition. Deputy Morrissey and other Deputies emphasised a point which is wrong, that a grant of £45 is associated with these classes. All these classes, and not only the agricultural labourers, are understood by this definition. There may be a particular class where the Minister might consider, even on this definition, he would not be entitled to give a grant. I take it that since the definition is in the Bill, the Minister is bound to have cognisance of it, and that the £45 applies to those with a valuation of more than £25. In not giving the same financial assistance as small farmers and labourers would receive, it might be argued that people very much better off would get far better financial inducements. It is impossible in housing legislation to prevent anomalies. Rightly or wrongly, we have made differentiation between urban areas, and also made differentiation in rural areas between the different classes, according to the valuation. If we proceed to do away with this differentiation we do away with the policy which is behind the Bill. The House must simply accept the principle that we are treating different people differently, and if we depart from that——
Might I take it from what the Minister has said every person with a valuation under £25 will be entitled to £70 of a grant?
There is a differentiation between farmers over £15 valuation and between £15 and £25 valuation.
I take it that every worker, whether in a town or in a rural area, will be eligible.
May I take it that if a returned American settles in Ireland, in, say Cashel, and builds a house within the limits of this Bill, he would be entitled to £70 of a grant, but, if on the other hand a man settles down in Roscrea, and builds the same type of house he would only get £45 of a grant?
That is so.
Under the amendment there would be similar anomalies. Some houses have been put up in the village of Rathcoole, eighteen miles from Dublin. No one could say that land could be obtained cheaper in Rathcoole than in the average urban district or that houses could be built more cheaply there. I believe that a house was built there recently by a returned American. The development of places like Rathcoole means a considerable easing of the housing situation in Dublin, as many workers might be induced to build there, in view of the good bus service.
I would be willing to withdraw "one thousand" from the amendment and to put in "five hundred" if that would meet the point Deputy Moore has made.
Even the insertion of "five hundred" would not cover places like Rathcoole. I am not expressing any opinion on the merits of the case, but under the amendment there would be equally great anomalies. Practically every village convenient to a big town would be in the same position. I suggest, before the amendment is agreed to, that the position of villages of that kind, within easy distance of big centres like Cork and Dublin, should be considered. If any districts require special consideration it is places like the one I mentioned.
Before the Minister finally decides, he should reconsider the matter in view of what Deputy Moore said regarding the relief of congestion in areas where there are large populations. I would draw the Minister's attention to what Deputy Curran said with regard to Skerries, Malahide and Swords, to which there are good bus services. I am sure the Minister on reconsideration will be inclined to go at least half-way in the amendment of Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney. The matter is very serious for places that are not urbanised.
I should like to support the amendment, and to draw the Minister's attention to a number of small seaside resorts that have been opened up, and which have advanced rapidly owing to the road services that are now available. The Minister could under this Bill give an enormous fillip to the development of such places, as they are resorted to by people from the larger towns. We feel that if he rejects this amendment it will put a stop to development in small places at the seaside. Accordingly, I would ask the Minister to accept it.
I should like to give the fullest possible consideration to the arguments that have been made, but I feel that some of them are made on an improper understanding of the proposals in the Bill. I again emphasise that under the definition of "agricultural labourer" I feel that all possible classes in non-municipal areas that are deserving will be covered. I should like if Deputies would bear that in mind. If that is admitted, what is the idea of pressing this matter further? As I said in my opening remarks, we do not seem to be able to define the area we are finally going to decide upon once we depart from the well-defined basis which has been accepted in previous legislation.
May I ask the Minister how he would define a person who is not working at all?
I firmly believe that the definition of "agricultural labourer" covers sufficiently all that Deputies who are really interested in working people in the rural areas require. I would point out to them further that in the matter of the actual grant we are giving the same grants exactly to the agricultural labourers and very substantial grants in respect of other rural classes—working farmers. I find that of the 15,000 houses which have been built up to the present under all preceding Acts, 10,000 have been built in rural areas. Therefore, with the additional incentive we are giving people to build houses for those who employ public utility societies and so on it cannot possibly be said if you examine the question in a fair-minded manner that the balance is in favour of the urban areas. I think in fact the balance is in favour of the rural areas. I think the Government have taken a marvellous step forward in doing what was never done before by putting rural areas on practically the same basis as the towns. Certainly, on the same basis during the first year and during the whole of the period as far as the agricultural labourer himself is concerned. I am not convinced by the arguments that have been made. I fear that Deputies, as is clear from some of the remarks that were made, are under a misapprehension. Deputy Mulcahy has adduced the point that there should be no distinction between the returned Yank in Cashel and in Roscrea. I think when amendments were put up previously to his own Housing Act he never took up the attitude that there should be no distinction between urban areas and rural areas.
There was never such discrimination as this.
We are taking this particular differentiation as the basis and if I accept this principle the whole framework of the Bill, in my opinion, will have to be altered. No matter what form the Bill takes finally it cannot possibly meet all the objections unless, as I say, we are going to treat everybody exactly alike. If we treat everybody exactly alike the slum clearance is going to go by the board. We must recognise that houses in urban areas are different from houses in rural areas because it cannot be said that you could have the same regulations in regard to both. It is quite common in these small communities that people build their own houses. We know that under the Gaeltacht Housing Act they build and reconstruct their own houses and we put in reconstruction specially to deal with these people. If we are going to accept this we are going to do away with the special provision that we are going to make for the rural areas and no matter what we do we are going to have anomalies. These anomalies cannot be changed by legislation and by amendment taken in a somewhat rushed way as this amendment may be taken. You have to leave it in the long run to the administration. You have to have confidence in the administration and in the policy behind the Bill to see that the working people who really need assistance are going to get it. For that reason we brought in these special provisions. We are particularly interested in the workers. We want to give them a substantial preference. We are giving them that preference and I would appeal to the Deputies to allow the amendment to be withdrawn. I would ask them not to push the matter further, but to rely on the fact that when the Bill comes to be administered under the new Housing Board which will be there to advise and assist the Minister all these points will be gone into carefully. There is provision in the Bill to enable the Minister to go into particular cases. While anomalies, as I say, cannot be got rid of it will be the job of the Department and of the Housing Board to see that there is no unfairness. I think it is a great mistake to press the Government when they have already shown their intentions towards rural areas, when they are already making such good provision. We could not stop there, I think, in view of the explanation I have given in regard to the definition of an agricultural labourer. All these matters will be gone into very carefully and we will endeavour to meet any inequalities that may seem to be there.
The Minister has said that we are rather rushed and not giving as full consideration to this matter as we might like. Would he be prepared to consider the matter at greater length in order to make sure that the workers and the artisans no matter where they live will get the same amount? If he thinks that there is danger of any particular worker being excluded perhaps he would move an amendment, to cover the matter, in the Seanad. The Minister said that the Ministry and the Housing Board will do this and do that. I have no doubt that their intention is good but their intention is not embodied in the Bill and will not be there when it becomes law.
Is the Minister satisfied that the interpretation he has given is right? Will it cover a railway worker or a postman, for instance?
If Deputies will refer back to the meaning of the particular section they will see that it reads: "The Minister may ... and subject to the prescribed regulations." The operative part of the section enables the Minister to exercise this power within the limits of the definition.
That is the trouble— within the limits of the definition.
I am not satisfied with what the Minister has said and I must press for a division.
Would the term "agricultural labourer" cover such persons as officials retired on small allowances or pensioners?
I am not a lawyer, and I have not the actual Act by me at the moment. In my opinion, any person working for hire in a rural district, or carrying on his own trade, is within the definition of agricultural labourer. If Deputies will look at the definition they will see that the expression "agricultural labourer" has the same meaning as under the Labourers Acts, 1883 to 1931. The definition has been widened time after time. It was widened in 1919, as Deputies are aware, to bring in every possible class, and I think that should be sufficient. I can assure Deputy Corish and Deputy Morrissey that we intend to work upon the basis as laid down in this definition and that if there are any inequalities we will try to get rid of them through administration. I am convinced that a blacksmith, a postman, and a railway worker will be included.
There will be a vast number of people not covered.
The acceptance of this amendment would be disastrous. As the Minister said, the Bill, as it now stands, will include all necessitous people who are labourers, even the railway worker. I do not see any reason why this amendment should be pressed unless it is intended to admit, under the Bill, certain classes of well-to-do shopkeepers. It would spoil the whole principle if these people are included.
Are well-to-do shopkeepers, in rural districts, not to get the advantage of what is done under (1) (b)?
I might point out that under the previous Housing measure it was that type of people who grasped at everything.
In Kerry there are several borderline towns. They are in urban areas but have not town commissioners, and we feel they are not getting the advantage that urban districts are. This is an admirable Bill in many respects, but I suggest it would be a good thing if there could be machinery devised whereby the amount of its utility would be increased in so far as the rural areas are concerned. If that could be done, I suggest respectfully it would meet the points put up on behalf of such towns as I have indicated.
They will only get £45 in Kenmare.
A lot of stress has been laid on the definition "agricultural labourer." I am afraid the House is overlooking another class of person who are very plentiful in small towns, and these are, not wealthy shopkeepers but small, struggling shopkeepers with scarcely any revenue. In a vast number of those areas there has been division of land in years past, and such things as accommodation plots were given to those people. Every trader who possesses a house is entitled to an accommodation plot. That man is neither a labourer nor a small farmer or a shopkeeper; in fact, I do not know how to define him. I would like to know under what heading these people come. Are they to get the benefit of the grant under the Agricultural Labourers Acts or are they to be regarded as small farmers, or are they to be looked upon as shopkeepers because they have a few feet of counter?
As the struggling type of shopkeeper to whom Deputy Jordan refers is not employing labour, outside his own family, I think he might be brought within the definition here.
Is the Minister serious?
I am serious. Some persons work in rural districts at some trade or handicraft. I believe in administration these points could be got over. Though the definition, undoubtedly, was framed to bring in persons working in rural areas—a person working for himself with his own hands —Deputy Mulcahy cannot repeat that certain types would only get £45 or what they got under his own Bill——
It is a different thing. We are dealing with discrimination here.
Everybody would get £45. We make a distinction and we are giving a sum to the labourer and the worker to enable them to get housing accommodation, not to squander large sums in subsidies.
You are doing it under (1) (b).
I submit if you get a farmer above £45 valuation he should be in the position to reconstruct his house or build another. That is not the position of the agricultural labourer. After a time he becomes the owner of his house, but the expense of raising his dwelling is not upon that type for whom Deputy Mulcahy professes so much interest. At the time Deputy Mulcahy was administering legislation he gave everybody, no matter how poor or struggling, £45, the same as the magnate got.
He will get £70 now.
My point is that while the Minister is deliberately squandering money by giving a grant of £70 to a person building a house of the particular type not covered for places where you have town commissioners, he discriminates against growing towns like Roscrea and other places that are as big and as important as Cashel. I am not arguing for £70, but I am arguing against the discrimination that is here.
- Anthony, Richard.
- Beckett, James Walter.
- Bennett, George Cecil.
- Blythe, Ernest.
- Bourke, Séamus A.
- Brasier, Brooke.
- Broderick, William Jos.
- Brodrick, Seán.
- Burke, Patrick.
- Byrne, Alfred.
- Coburn, James.
- Collins-O'Driscoll, Mrs. Margt.
- Conlon, Martin.
- Cosgrave, William T.
- Davis, Michael.
- Desmond, William.
- Dillon, James M.
- Dockrell, Henry Morgan.
- Doherty, Eugene.
- Doyle, Peadar Seán.
- Duggan, Edmund John.
- Esmonde, Osmond Grattan.
- Finlay, Thomas A.
- Fitzgerald, Desmond.
- Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
- Gorey, Denis John.
- Hassett, John J.
- Hayes, Michael.
- Hennessy, Thomas.
- Hennigan, John.
- Hogan, Patrick (Galway).
- Keating, John.
- Keogh, Myles.
- Lynch, Finian.
- McDonogh, Fred.
- McGilligan, Patrick.
- McMenamin, Daniel.
- Mongan, Joseph W.
- Morrissey, Daniel.
- Mulcahy, Richard.
- Myles, James Sproule.
- Nally, Martin.
- O'Hanlon, John F.
- O'Mahony, The.
- O'Neill, Eamonn.
- O'Sullivan, Gearóid.
- O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
- Reidy, James.
- Reynolds, Mrs. Mary.
- Roddy, Martin.
- White, John.
- Wolfe, Jasper Travers.
- Aiken, Frank.
- Allen, Denis.
- Bartley, Gerald.
- Beegan, Patrick.
- Blaney, Neal.
- Boland, Gerald.
- Bourke, Daniel.
- Brady, Bryan.
- Brady, Seán.
- Breathnach, Cormac.
- Breen, Daniel.
- Briscoe, Robert.
- Browne, William Frazer.
- Carney, Frank.
- Carty, Frank.
- Clery, Mícheál.
- Colbert, James.
- Cooney, Eamonn.
- Corish, Richard.
- Corry, Martin John.
- Crowley, Fred. Hugh.
- Crowley, Tadhg.
- Davin, William.
- Derrig, Thomas.
- De Valera, Eamon.
- Dowdall, Thomas P.
- Everett, James.
- Flinn, Hugo V.
- Flynn, John.
- Flynn, Stephen.
- Powell, Thomas P.
- Rice, Edward.
- Ruttledge, Patrick J.
- Ryan, Robert.
- Sexton, Martin.
- Fogarty, Andrew.
- Geoghegan, James.
- Gibbons, Seán.
- Gormley, Francis.
- Gorry, Patrick Joseph.
- Goulding, John.
- Harris, Thomas.
- Hayes, Seán.
- Hogan, Patrick (Clare).
- Humphreys, Francis.
- Jordan, Stephen.
- Kelly, James Patrick.
- Kennedy, Michael Joseph.
- Keyes, Raphael Patrick.
- Kilroy, Michael.
- Kissane, Eamonn.
- Little, Patrick John.
- Lynch, James B.
- MacEntee, Seán.
- Maguire, Ben.
- Maguire, Conor Alexander.
- Moane, Edward.
- Moore, Séamus.
- Moylan, Seán.
- Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
- Murphy, Timothy Joseph.
- Norton, William.
- O'Grady, Seán.
- O'Reilly, Matthew.
- O'Rourke, Daniel.
- Sheehy, Timothy.
- Sheridan, Michael.
- Smith, Patrick.
- Walsh, Richard.
- Ward, Francis C. (Dr.).
I want to move amendment 8.
Under the agreement come to there is not time.
Is the Minister going to accept amendments 9 and 16?
I could not because the advance would be too wide. I shall discuss the matter with the Deputy.
Would the Minister accept amendment 13?
I move amendment 13b:
At the end of the section to add a new sub-section as follows:—
(6) Provided that where it is permissible to make a grant under this section from public funds the grant shall not be made unless the Minister is satisfied that if the erection of the house is being carried on by a speculative builder by contract or by a local authority or by a public utility society by direct labour, trade union wages and conditions of employment are being or shall have been paid to the operatives engaged in the erection of the house.
I am accepting this amendment. It provides for trade union conditions in connection with employment given by utility societies, local authorities and speculative builders.
Including rural areas?
Yes, including rural areas.
I want to speak on the section.
There is not time under the arrangement come to.
Is it necessary to get the Bill through to-night?
I would like to say a few words.
If the principal Opposition Party are prepared to devote some of the time to-morrow to the Bill it could be done.
An agreement is an agreement and we will get this Bill through to-night.
Why did Deputy Cosgrave take five hours instead of one and a half to-day?
I do not agree with that at all. I want to speak on the financial clauses.
Session and Chapter or Number and Year
Extent of Repeal
Date of Repeal
46 & 47 Vic., c. 60.
Labourers (Ireland) Act, 1883.
The passing of this Act.
No. 14 of 1924
Housing (Building Facilities) Act, 1924.
The passing of this Act.
No. 3 of 1927.
Local Government Act, 1927.
1st April, 1933.
No. 50 of 1931.
Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1931.
Sections 61 and 63; and Part VIII.
The passing of this Act.
I want to say a few words.
You are proceeding with such rapidity that I want to call attention to the fact that you forgot to call some of the amendments. I did not hear amendment 14a in my name called at all.
Take it on the Report Stage.
That will be now.
There is an amendment of mine that you did not call either.
I hope the President will notice that the obstruction is not coming from the Opposition side of the House.
I appeal to both sides of the House to adjourn the Report Stage until to-morrow.
I want to say something about the financial clauses of the Bill and I insist on my right.
An agreement has been made and it is being insisted upon. A lot of time was wasted to-day.