Skip to main content
Normal View

Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 22 Mar 1934

Vol. 51 No. 11

Public Assistance (Acquisition of Land) Bill, 1934—Report and Final Stage.

I move my amendment:—

In page 2, line 50, at the end of Section 3, to add the words "provided always that, in the case of a holding of ten acres or less, the public assistance authority shall not have power to acquire part of such holding without acquiring the whole holding and any buildings thereon."

The amendment does not go anything like as far as what we had down on the Committee Stage, but it does seek to secure that there should be left to the small holder of a house and a small bit of land some feeling of security that part of that holding should not be taken from him and buildings erected there in close proximity to his house which might mean the serious mutilation of his property and cause serious loss by depreciating the value of his property. I think the amendment suggests a reasonable line on which the Parliamentary Secretary might be prepared to accommodate us in the matter of this difficulty which we have raised. I am quite prepared to accept his statement that the cases of hardship that we indicate as possible are not likely to be sanctioned by him, but I suggest again, and I do not think it can be too often repeated, that legislation with that kind of a safeguard is not a proper type of legislation for us to pass. If that is the kind of intention in the mind of the Parliamentary Secretary, he ought to be prepared to accept some safeguarding clauses such as those we have suggested. If he would accept anything of the nature of what has been suggested, he will avoid the serious mutilation which, it might be feared, would arise in, we will say, a few cases. I trust the Parliamentary Secretary will see his way to relieve our minds of this feeling that we have of this possible danger existing in the Bill.

I presume that after the discussion we had on similar amendments on Committee Stage, Deputy Thrift does not really expect the House to accept this amendment. The amendment proposes that

"In the case of a holding of ten acres or less, the public assistance authority shall not have power to acquire part of such holding without acquiring the whole holding and any buildings thereon."

If this proposal were adopted and incorporated in the Bill, it would create a very difficult position, an impossible position, in provincial centres. As I explained on Committee Stage, it has been the practice for local authorities, when they desire to purchase land, to negotiate for the purchase by agreement. They have not always been able to secure satisfactory terms or suitable sites. Sometimes the sites were small plots required for the purpose of dispensary sites, and the effect of this amendment would be that the local authority could not even arrange for purchase by agreement.

That is not the intention.

That is not the intention, I quite agree, but I am advised that that would be the effect; but apart altogether from that—and I know that the Deputy did not intend that—the local authority would be in the position that it would have to acquire a minimum of ten acres with any building on the holding. The average amount of land which constitutes a site for a cottage or district hospital would be an acre and the average size of a site for a county hospital is about five acres. If the county boards of health which wanted to acquire a site for a small cottage hospital with ten to 16 beds had to acquire a minimum of ten acres, I think it would be putting a very considerable barrier in their way in the provision of these hospitals. As I said on Committee Stage, there are certain matters of very great importance in the selection of a hospital site. As far as possible, we must try to have these hospitals convenient to centres of population, and such matters as proximity to sewerage, water and electric current are matters of primary consideration in the selection of such sites. If the Deputy's amendment were accepted, it would drive us out of proximity to the towns altogether. All our hospitals would have to be built outside the urban areas or we should have to acquire a minimum of ten acres.

Under this Bill, it may be contemplated that the sites for dispensary residences will come to be acquired and, again, it would be a very difficult position for the board of health and it would not, I think, provide any great inducement for them to secure a proper residence for a dispensary medical officer, if they had to take a minimum of ten acres of land and any building that might be on the land as well.

That is not in the amendment.

If it is not in the amendment, it would seem that there are two different views as to what is in the amendment. That is my interpretation of the amendment. It may not be what the Deputies concerned intended but it is the effect of the amendment that I am concerned with and that I have to deal with. I do not think that the time of the House need be—I shall not say wasted, because it would not be wasted—occupied in discussing this amendment any further. The amendment is not acceptable and I do not think any modification of it would render it acceptable.

I do not think it is fair for the Parliamentary Secretary to make that remark. What we objected to on Committee Stage was his taking of compulsory powers and it is just as well that the public should know what these compulsory powers are. In the vicinity of a town, there are a number of holdings of from two to ten acres with substantial premises on them and the Minister proposes in those cases in which they want a hospital to take the land and to leave the house. I do not think that is right. The house is really made suitable to the land and the land to the house, and if you take one, you should take the other and that is what the amendment aims at. It says "In the case of a holding of ten acres or less...." If the Minister or his Department then decide to acquire that holding, he will have to acquire all that is on it and I think that is perfectly reasonable. The Minister may say that there is no use arguing but it is quite necessary that the public should know what compulsory powers are being taken by the Government and how fixity of tenure in property is being shaken thereby. If a man has a house in the immediate vicinity of a town, he may be told that the local authority has the right to acquire the land around that house for any purpose for which it may need it. How will that affect the price of that property? The taking of compulsory powers in a case like that is very serious and it is quite a new course of procedure in this State.

I am not in order in speaking again but I may be allowed a word of explanation. I want to assure the Minister completely that there was no idea, in putting forward this amendment, of dealing with anything except compulsory acquisition. It was merely put forward to suggest a line upon which the Minister, if he wished, could be accommodating in order to meet this real difficulty. The possibility of a piece of land attached to a house being taken by compulsion and a hospital being set up in close contiguity with that house would bring about a serious depreciation in the value of such property.

Amendment withdrawn.
Question—"That the Bill be received for final consideration"—put and agreed to.

I object.

Is the Deputy challenging a division?

He is objecting to putting the question now: "That the Bill do now pass."

Surely the Minister is not going to force the Fifth Stage now seeing that there is no emergency whatever except that he has taken the whim into his head that he must have the Fifth Stage now, despite Deputy Good's objection?

There is this emergency about the Bill, that in two or three areas our scheme of hospitalisation has been held up for a long period because of the unreasonable demand of owners of land in regard to prices. We are very anxious to get this legislation through as soon as possible in order that we can proceed with the building of these hospitals. Apart altogether from the necessity of providing hospitals, the Bill will provide very much needed employment in the areas where the hospitals are to be built. For that reason it is time to have the issue determined. This Bill has been before the House for a considerable time but I have not noticed that Deputy Good manifested any interest in it until to-day.

I object strongly to the legitimate request of a Deputy, for time to consider the Fifth Stage of a Bill, being refused by the Minister on the ground that he is anxious to get the compulsory powers which the Bill contains, in order to facilitate him in acquiring land for the building of hospitals, when to my knowledge he is paying a supporter of the Fianna Fáil Party in County Roscommon an inflated price for a hospital site which is of a most unsuitable character. If every transaction that takes place under the compulsory powers of the Bill is of the character of the transaction entered into in that case there should be no dispatch or hurry to give him these compulsory powers. I urge strongly that the Final Stages of the Bill should be postponed to enable Deputies to give it reasonable consideration.

May I suggest that it is becoming a habit of the Government to offer as an excuse for urgency the fact that a measure is intended to relieve unemployment? I cannot see why the Bill has not been introduced long before now. Supposing what the Minister says is true, that there are cases outstanding for a very long period which require to be dealt with, why was not this Bill introduced in time?

We had to get rid of you first.

Two years and a bit is a long time to take for the drafting of this Bill. I suggest that the Minister has shown no case for urgency. If there is any delay, the fault is his. As I say, I notice that it has become a habit with the Government to postpone the introduction of a Bill as long as possible and then, when it is brought forward, the Dáil is told that they must get it passed within a certain period, otherwise certain consequences will follow. I suggest that the Government should get out of that particular habit. For that reason I object to the taking of the Fifth Stage of the Bill now.

Question—"That the Fifth Stage of the Bill be taken to-day"—put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 62; Níl, 38.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Blaney, Neal.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Breen, Daniel.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Browne, William Frazer.
  • Carty, Frank.
  • Cleary, Mícheál.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Corish, Richard.
  • Corkery, Daniel.
  • Corry, Martin John.
  • Crowley, Timothy.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Everett, James.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Fogarty, Andrew.
  • Gibbons, Seán.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Hales, Thomas.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Hogan, Patrick (Clare).
  • Houlihan, Patrick.
  • Jordan, Stephen.
  • Keely, Séamus P.
  • Kehoe, Patrick.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Kissane, Eamonn.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick John.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • Maguire Conor Alexander.
  • Moane, Edward.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Moylan, Seán.
  • O'Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O'Doherty, Joseph.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Kelly, Seán Thomas.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Pattison, James P.
  • Pearse, Margaret Mary.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick Joseph.
  • Ryan, Martin.
  • Ryan, Robert.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Victory, James.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Francis C. (Dr.).


  • Beckett, James Walter.
  • Belton, Patrick.
  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Bourke, Séamus.
  • Brennan, Michael.
  • Broderick, William Joseph.
  • Brodrick, Seán.
  • Costello, John Aloysius.
  • Curran, Richard.
  • Davis, Michael.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Henry Morgan.
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • Esmonde, Osmond Grattan.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Finlay, John.
  • Fitzgerald, Desmond.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Good, John.
  • Haslett, Alexander.
  • Holohan, Richard.
  • MacDermot, Frank.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGovern, Patrick.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Morrisroe, James.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Nally, Martin.
  • O'Higgins, Thomas Francis.
  • O'Leary, Daniel.
  • O'Mahony, The.
  • O'Neill, Eamonn.
  • O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
  • Redmond, Bridget Mary.
  • Roddy, Martin.
  • Rogers, Patrick James.
  • Thrift, William Edward.
  • Wall, Nicholas.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Little and Traynor; Níl: Deputies Doyle and Bennett.
Question declared carried.
Question—"That the Bill do now pass"—put and agreed to.