Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - County Cork Rates.

Mr. Broderick

asked the Minister for Local Government and Public Health if he is aware that the deduction in respect of unpaid annuities in County Cork amounted to £48,300 for the year ended 31st March, 1934, which sum will have to be made good by all ratepayers in the county in the current year, and if in view of this he will permit of the county's share of the £300,000 which is being provided for local authorities to be used towards the reduction of this year's rates.

On the 23rd ultimo I circularised all county councils on this matter explaining that it should be clearly understood that the amount now proposed to be paid is in respect of grants for which county councils have already taken credit in previous years, and the amount payable to each county must not be applied to a reduction of the estimated expenditure to be met out of rates in the present year.

Mr. Broderick

In view of the answer, its effect on the local rates and the many implications it may have for one closely associated with local authorities, I wish to give notice that I shall raise the subject matter of this question on the adjournment.

Can the Minister explain what he means by stating that the amount is in respect of grants for which the county councils have already taken credit in previous years?

This amount is given as part recoupment of the moneys that we withheld out of the Agricultural Grant from county councils in previous years. That Agricultural Grant has already been taken credit for each year by the county councils.

Does the Minister mean that we should infer from that statement that where a county council was informed that a sum of £50,000 had been deducted from it out of the Agricultural Grant, the county council took credit for the potential asset represented by that £50,000 and that it did not strike rates accordingly?

Each council took credit. Before the amount of arrears was known they had taken credit for the amount of the Agricultural Grant.

Does the Minister mean to convey that if a county council were informed that £10,000, £12,000 or £15,000 was being deducted from them, they struck their rates without making any allowance for the grants that were payable to them?

They did, because the arrears would not be known until afterwards, and they had to strike rates.

Mr. Broderick

There are no cumulative arrears in this case. This deduction of £48,300 was for one year — last year.

Does the Minister wish us to understand that so far as the county councils are concerned, they did not make provision for the deductions from the Agricultural Grants when they were striking their rates? They were informed on the 31st January that certain deductions would be made. They got that information before the rates were struck. Are we to understand that notwithstanding that information they made up their rates, assuming that they were going to get the same amount of money as would ordinarily be forthcoming from the Agricultural Grant?

I believe they did.

Can the Minister say if the amount was in excess of or lower than the £300,000?

I cannot give the Deputy the figure.