Acquisition of Land (Allotments) (Amendment) Bill, 1934—Report.

I move amendment No. 1:—

In page 2 to add at the end of Section 2 a new sub-section as follows:—

Every regulation made under this section shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made, and if a resolution annulling such regulation is passed by either House of the Oireachtas within the next subsequent 21 days on which that House has sat after such regulation is laid before it, such regulation shall be annulled accordingly, but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done under such regulation.

This amendment is moved in response to an undertaking given to Deputy McGilligan yesterday. It is the usual section concerning the laying of regulations on the Table of the House.

The amendment deals with regulations made under a particular section, but there are other regulations to be made, such as regulations governing the conditions under which a grant for free manures, etc., may be given. I would ask the Minister to make his amendment applicable to regulations made under the Bill instead of under this particular section. It will mean transferring the amendment to the end of the Bill and putting it in as a new section.

Dr. Ryan

I have no objection. Will the Deputy be satisfied if I undertake to do it in the Seanad?

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Dr. Ryan

I move amendments Nos. 2 and 3:—

In page 3, Section 6 (1), (b), line 58, to insert after the word "manures" the words "potato spraying materials."

In page 4, Section 6 (1), lines 2 and 3, to insert in each line after the word "manures" the words "potato spraying materials."

On amendment No. 2 I would like to hear further from the Minister what his proposal is with regard to the appointment of an inspector and of instructors. On the face of this Bill advantage can be taken of it by four county boroughs, five boroughs, 61 urban district councils and 24 town commissioners. The Minister said yesterday he did not anticipate that advantage would be taken of it by more than seven of the larger local bodies.

Dr. Ryan

For this year.

I would ask the Minister to give to the House the names of those seven local bodies. If only those seven local bodies take advantage of the measure, then I would like to hear him discuss the necessity for appointing instructors as well as an inspector. He said yesterday that he might have to appoint three instructors for a certain number of weeks.

Dr. Ryan

I stated yesterday that the estimated expenditure in connection with this Bill is £6,500. Under that estimate provision is made for one temporary inspector and three temporary instructors. It is expected that an instructor would look after perhaps two centres. There would not be more than six or seven centres in all. Last year only two places — Dublin and Cootehill in the County Cavan — availed of the moneys given for this purpose out of the unemployment relief grants. The instructors would be appointed for perhaps 11 or 12 weeks in the year. The type of men that we would look for as temporary instructors would be men who had acted in a similar capacity under potato schemes or under schemes dealing with the reclamation of land in congested districts, men who had done one or two years' training in an agricultural college. It is not estimated that more than three instructors will be necessary for the first year.

The Minister has not given any indication of the places where it is expected this work will be taken up. Is Cootehill going to be one of them?

Dr. Ryan

In the first year the scheme may be taken up by the three cities of Dublin, Cork and Limerick, and also in Waterford, Letterkenny and Dundalk. I presume Cootehill will come in again. Cootehill was rather a unique case last year. A sum of money was left to the local branch of the St. Vincent de Paul Society and it was devoted by that Society to the provision of allotments for the unemployed. That sum was supplemented out of the Relief Grant. I do not know if Cootehill will come up this year again but it is likely it will.

If the scheme is going to be taken up in Letterkenny, does not the Minister consider that the officials acting under the County Committee of Agriculture of Donegal could very well look after the allotments there? The same would apply to County Louth, so far as Dundalk is concerned. Considering that the financial stringency is such that it is proposed to reduce the salaries paid to these officials, it seems absurd to appoint other instructors and pay them out of this small Vote.

Dr. Ryan

It is quite possible that in an isolated place like Letterkenny what the Deputy suggests could be done. I do not know if the Deputy is aware that there are difficulties under the Agriculture Act as regards using officials under county committees of agriculture even for the purposes of vocational education. I am not quite sure how we stand in regard to this matter but we are prohibited from using these officials in urban areas. In the cities of Dublin, Cork and Limerick, it would be necessary to appoint instructors.

Is not the Minister aware that while officials of county committees of agriculture working in rural areas adjacent to cities cannot give the services they hitherto gave in the urban areas, yet provision is made whereby, by arrangement between the committee of agriculture and the vocational education authorities in an urban area, instructors can give their services in an urban area? That is subject to a financial adjustment which must be approved by the Departments concerned. I have a recollection of an instruction coming from the Departments concerned to the Committee of Agriculture of County Dublin and to the Vocational Education Committee of the City of Dublin. It is only fair to say that there is some crux in the matter and that the arrangement has not yet been carried out. The matter is at present before the Departments concerned and the Departments and the two Committees are anxious to co-operate. The creation of separate machinery for this purpose is hardly desirable as the machinery required would be so small that it would not be so efficient. The enlargement of the existing machinery provided by the Committees of Agriculture, even though these bodies might have to invade the urban areas, would yield greater efficiency than would the appointment of an instructor who would be sent out on the loose, without any immediate supervision. Apart from the question of cost, I suggest that more efficiency would be obtained by utilising the existing machinery and, if necessary, extending it than by establishing a new machine.

Dr. Ryan

As Deputy Belton has mentioned, a crux has arisen between the Vocational Education Committee and the Committee of Agriculture in certain counties and we may have to introduce legislation to make that right. That could be got over but there remains the bigger point hinted at by Deputy Belton, that the officials under the County Committees have more work at present than they can do. I agree with Deputy Belton that, in some cases, this little bit of additional work might be sufficient to get an extra man employed by the County Committee. In a case like that, I should be glad to have the arrangement sanctioned. There are cases, however, in the cities especially, where we may have to employ temporary instructors.

Does not the Minister appreciate that better supervision in a matter like that of allotments would be got from a rural authority than from an urban authority? There is established machinery in the rural areas. The Corporation of Dublin can set up its own machinery to provide instruction in horticulture, poultry-keeping and so on for the added areas and semi-rural areas, or for the whole city for that matter, but that is deprecated — I think rightly so — by the Department. The amount of work to be done would hardly justify the setting up of an independent authority. The same would apply in this case. I am not speaking of the cost. Even if the cost were to be a little more, I should favour the utilising of the existing machinery. If necessary, an officer or two could be added — that is, if the existing officers were not able to cope with the additional work. The Department of Agriculture has supervision over these officials and the machinery would be more efficient than new machinery would be. The instructors would be under the immediate control of the Committee of Agriculture which, in turn, is under the control of the Department of Agriculture.

Dr. Ryan

I do not know if the Deputy was here yesterday when we discussed this point. I pointed out yesterday that this scheme was financed out of the Central Fund and that it is not usual to allow local authorities or their officials to supervise work financed out of it. It is felt by the Departments here that they should have control of officials who are looking after the expenditure of State moneys.

Is not a proportion of the funds of the Committee of Agriculture—half or a third—paid out of the Central Fund? Does not a proportion of the secretary's salary come from the same source? I do not think that that is an insuperable obstacle. Even if that is the precedent, it would be no harm to break it down so as to get a good working machine. If the Minister has not considered the possibility of this, I would urge on him to consider it before he sets up a person, say, on the outskirts of Dublin, who is really not amenable to any authority except himself or a Department in this city. It does not make for good work and it is not good business. I would urge on him to consider if there is any obstacle in the way of the immediate supervision by the Committee of Agriculture that is there already to supervise officials all over the country. In this way, a good deal of advice could be given to those plotholders.

Dr. Ryan

As I mentioned already, I should be very glad to have the co-operation of these committees and, as the Deputy suggests, I will look into the matter carefully.

I can guarantee it to you for Dublin. I should like the Minister to seek the co-operation of these committees before any appointment is made. I am not discussing the question of salary at the moment, but rather the question of the machinery of administering this Act.

Dr. Ryan

Yes.

Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 agreed to.
Question —"That the Bill be received for final consideration"— put and agreed to."

Dr. Ryan

If there is no objection, I should like to take the Fifth Stage now.

Agreed.

Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

Is it proposed to give spraying materials free?

Dr. Ryan

Yes.

And spraying machines?

Dr. Ryan

Yes.

Might I ask is there any restriction on the marketing of this produce?

Dr. Ryan

As the Deputy knows, the definition is "vegetables grown mainly for his own family."

Well, a very important further reason why the suggestions I have made should be seriously considered and, if possible, applied by the Minister is that if the produce of these allotments, which will be subsidised, are going to be allowed to be marketed in free competition with people who are paying trades union wages, you are putting them into a market which is already saturated. The result of that will be that this scheme, which is admirably intended, will only result in creating more unemployment. If you allow that produce to compete in a commercial way with the ordinary trade it is bound to result in men being thrown out of work.

Dr. Ryan

That is not intended.

I accept that.

Question put and agreed to.