In reply to the question of Deputy Mulcahy, I wish to say that after the Bill was introduced it was circulated to quite a large number of public authorities and bodies who, it was thought, would be probably interested in the subject matter of the Bill. As a matter of fact, the Second Reading of the Bill was postponed for a considerable time at the request of some of these bodies—county councils and other bodies—so as to give them adequate time to consider the Bill and formulate amendments. I am sorry to say that in the lapse of time since the Bill was first introduced the amount of constructive suggestions we have received has been at a minimum. They were very few indeed. The Bill was submitted, as I say, to a variety of bodies. The Association of Municipal Authorities, as far as I am aware, has not yet replied. We asked them specially to give consideration to the subject matter of the Bill. We have had replies from the Dublin Corporation, the Cork Corporation and the General Council of County Councils. Some few amendments were submitted by these three bodies—nothing of a very substantial kind, but still helpful suggestions were made. Some suggestions were made by professional organisations like the Institute of Architects and the Builders Societies in Dublin. Some useful suggestions were made which were considered by the Department.
Outside of these very little interest— to my thinking, too little interest—has been displayed in the Bill so far by public authorities. However, it is true that the Bill deals with a matter that is new. Its subject matter is new in this country and, although bodies like the architects and engineers, and some of the premier public authorities in the country give careful consideration to the matter, there has been no practical experience of the working of a Bill of this kind. Therefore, what we are doing this time is trying to get power in law to do a thing about which we have no experience. Probably it will require three or four years working of this Bill, such as it will be when it is put through the House, to enable local authorities to say what advantage it will be to them and to the country as a whole. Then, I am sure that after three or four years working and experience of it, amending legislation of some kind is bound to be introduced.
On the point raised by Deputy Dillon, I do not think this is the time or place to enter into a discussion on the solution of the housing problem. That is a big problem in itself. It is unquestionably associated with the idea of town planning, but it is not directly touched on in this Bill. The Deputy knows what my own views on the matter are, and I think the House does also. How far I shall be able to make my views prevail with the local authorities, I do not know. I shall do my best with them to try to find a proper solution of the housing problem. However, that is another day's work, and I do not think it would be of any particular advantage in a discussion of this Bill to initiate a discussion on the type of houses to be built in Dublin or in other areas where the slum problem requires an early solution.