I completed the introductory statement at the last meeting of the Dáil and the Vote is now open for discussion.
In Committee on Finance. - Vote No. 69—Relief Schemes (Resumed).
The Parliamentary Secretary, this year, as in former years, asked for suggestions which he said he would be very happy to receive and sympathetically consider. I would like to draw his attention to a few places in the constituency of County Dublin where a good deal could be done by his Department through the medium of minor relief schemes. Some of these matters have already been brought to the attention of other Government Departments. I will first refer to the area about Shankill. There, numbers of new houses have been built, but the county board of health have not connected them with the main drainage and water supply systems. The houses are fitted for water and sanitary purposes generally, but there is no water supply available. The board which helped to build the houses is unable to supply the necessary money to connect the houses with the main drainage and the water supply. An application was made to the Minister for Local Government and, in reply to questions in the House, he said that if an application for a loan were made by the board of health to his Department he would be only too happy to sanction it. The Minister for Local Government, and perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary, does not know that the board could not get such a loan. That in itself would not only give some relief to the vast number of unemployed in that locality but it would be a work of public utility. These are very nice little houses with small gardens attached to them. The sanitary system is a type of dry closets. The result is that the gardens are used for emptying into them the refuse of those dry closets. If this continues year after year it is certain that some kind of disease will break out in the locality. The board of health is hopeless in the matter. It has not the money available. This would certainly be a most useful way in which the Parliamentary Secretary could expend some of this local relief fund. There is another matter to which I wish to refer. Coming further towards Stillorgan itself you will find that in that village, which is only a very short distance from Donnybrook, there are over 60 per cent. of the people unemployed. There is plenty of work available for these in the way of development and improvement, not on the main road to Bray, but on the roads off it. A good deal of employment could be given in clearing the sides of these roads and generally improving them. The work about which I have already spoken at Shankill and this work at Stillorgan would give employment to all the unemployed there for at least nine months.
Passing further north I would recommend to the Parliamentary Secretary, as a work of utility and also of ornament, a work which, I am sure, would appeal to his sense of dignity in our township. Along the river Dodder and by its side for many miles there is a possibility of what could be made a very useful and beautiful work. The expenditure needed would be a fairly large sum. A beautiful boulevard could be built from Ringsend to Rathfarnham. In no vicinity of the city could one find a more beautiful area than this if it were improved and developed in the way I suggest. It would cost a good deal of money but it would be a work of utility and it would help to add to and show off the already existing beauty of this locality.
As a final suggestion I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to take into consideration sometime the canal banks in our city. I take it that the responsibility for these banks and the keeping of them in order is at present on the Corporation. I know that it is necessary that the tow-path should be kept in a certain rough way, but I know that a good deal of work could be given by the expenditure of a comparatively small sum of money so that the very ugly sights along each of the canal banks could be removed. I could mention a number of other cases in the County Dublin where work of this kind could be undertaken, but I am afraid that the sums required to be expended would be too large to be brought under this Vote. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to bear these schemes in mind and also to bear in mind that under this Vote what has been given to County Dublin is very small compared with the large taxation collected there and the amount paid in rates.
May I intervene for a moment? It is for the benefit and assistance of Deputies that I do so. If a Deputy wants a particular scheme to be considered, the best and most expeditious way of getting consideration for it is to send in the scheme in writing, and it will be considered fully and considered immediately. Deputies will not, in fact, further particular schemes by bringing them forward in this way, because they will take their turn with the existing schemes already suggested. What I do suggest to Deputies is that out of the new order might come something of that kind. As the Deputy is aware, the points put forward are simply conventional—a catalogue of things which could be done in his constituency. That catalogue could be repeated in every constituency. The one new suggestion was his reference to the canal banks. If Deputies will concentrate on trying to get things of more general importance rather than detailed works which they want for their own constituencies, I think the debate will be more useful. I do give the House a definite assurance that the quickest, most effective and most expeditious way of getting any scheme for any constituency examined is to go to the trouble of putting it in writing and sending it in.
There are just a few things which I want to bring to the notice of the Parliamentary Secretary. First of all is the number of persons unemployed in South Mayo. According to the latest returns there are 8,000. I wish to make an appeal to the Minister, and I would be glad if he would tell the House if there is any prospect of starting relief works in South Mayo for the relief of these 8,000 persons. The works to which I refer are drainage works. There are quite a number of bogs in that area where drainage is absolutely essential at present. The position there is that in many of the bogs the turf cannot be cut and taken away through the want of proper drainage. There is also work awaiting to be done in the matter of the construction of roads into some of those bogs. Such work would very quickly relieve the existing unemployment there. The Parliamentary Secretary has asked us not to mention any particular scheme, and for that reason I do not wish to mention any scheme in particular, but in South Mayo there are at least two dozen such schemes which would need to be looked after and which, if put under way, would relieve unemployment in the district to a very considerable extent. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will do something about drainage and about the drainage of the River Robe in particular. The position is, as I have already said, that we have 8,000 people out of employment in South Mayo. These people pay their rates and their annuities. They are very honest people. The number out of work will show that the people there are very poor. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary, when allocating money for relief works, will remember South Mayo.
As far as I am concerned, I must say that the Parliamentary Secretary has taken very great interest in the matter of relief works, but whether his interest has been in one particular line is doubtful. I know very well that he has done a great deal in the way of construction of roads into turbary and so on. Probably it may not be all his fault that many more public works are not going on. I am sorry to have to call attention to the number of works needed in my constituency, but I think it will be found that that is general. First of all there is the question of the county boards of health. I know that the Parliamentary Secretary and the Minister for Local Government and Public Health have had some trouble with the Galway Board of Health. Schemes for waterworks and sewerage have been before the Galway Board of Health for some time. Every one of these schemes was adjourned for six months. The six months have now expired, but not one of these schemes has as yet been put into operation. I think a most useful way in the expenditure of money would be by way of waterworks and sewerage works for the small towns and villages of the country. Such schemes could be carried out in the small towns and villages of each county. The work is very necessary, as can be seen from the returns of the number of fever cases in the different districts and the cost to ratepayers for their maintenance in hospitals. If such schemes were carried out these outbreaks of fever would be reduced very much. I should like to give one instance. In the town of Athenry, from which I come, a waterworks and sewage scheme was carried out about 20 years ago. Since then the population has increased very much. Since 1913 a water rate of 5/8 in the £ has been paid in that town. There are several townlands in that district paying 5/8 in the £ which have neither water nor sewerage. At the present time we are in the position that we have a water supply for only four or five days in the week. What is going to be the position there during the summer months? There are several housing schemes being carried out there at present. Some of these houses have cost close on £900 each, and there is neither water nor sewerage available for them. There is a little industry about to be started there, but there is neither water nor sewerage available within a reasonable distance. That applies to several small towns in the country, and I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to look into these matters.
I would also ask that where Government grants are given for the carrying out of waterworks or sewage schemes, or where the board of health, out of the ratepayers' money, carry out such schemes and caretakers are needed to take charge of them, that only qualified men should be put in charge of them. Recently there was a vacancy for a caretaker for the Loughrea waterworks. The Galway County Council went to great expense in carrying out a new scheme there. There were three applicants for that position who were examined by a board of qualified men. One of these three men was experienced in this work and passed this board of three qualified men. The other two men were also examined, with the result that it was found that neither of them had any knowledge of the work. One of these two men was appointed to the position, and the qualified man was thrown aside. Where there is a large expenditure of money in putting up big plants, certainly a qualified man should be appointed to take charge of the works. The man appointed in this instance was a motor driver, and knew nothing whatever about this scheme in a town with a population of over 2,000.
In the town of Galway at present there is a good deal of building going on, but even with that amount of building work there are 4,500 unemployed. What will the position there be like within 12 months? At the present time the only employment the people have there is in the building industry. That is bound to slow up within the next 12 months, and if something is not done in the meantime the position will be very acute. I would, therefore, ask the Parliamentary Secretary to look into the schemes put up by the Galway Board of Health for the provision of waterworks and sewerage, and see that attention is given to them. It is work that is going to last and that will be of benefit to the health of the people. It will also help the ratepayers by reducing the number of fever cases which have to be maintained in hospitals.
I should like to draw the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary to the conditions existing in the town of Passage, which I think he knows as well as I do. No town in Ireland I suppose has had so many ups and downs in latter years as Passage has had. At one time there was a thriving dockyard there, and afterwards the male population was absorbed by Ford's factory. At the present time there are a very large number of people idle there. I think the Parliamentary Secretary will agree with me that it is pitiable to see the number of people who are idle in that town at present. I am not going to ask about any schemes—let them outline their own schemes—but I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to do something to give employment in that little town.
The Parliamentary Secretary has asked Deputies not to put forward any conventional schemes, but to send in suggestions in writing, which will be taken in strict order of priority. The Parliamentary Secretary, I am sure, does not look upon this House as a mere confidence chamber. The debates here are published in the Official Reports, and Deputies at some time or other want to be able to show that they have advocated claims placed before them by their constituents. Naturally they do not want to forego that right, even to meet the convenience of the Parliamentary Secretary. The Parliamentary Secretary must by now have very considerable experience of relief works. He has been going around the country for the last two or three years, and, judging by the newspapers, he seems to have visited nearly every part of the Free State. He seems to enjoy sightseeing in the West of Ireland, and they see more of him there than we do in the Midlands or in the East. If we are unable to put forward schemes which would meet with his approval, the Parliamentary Secretary himself might be able with all his knowledge to give us some suggestions.
In connection with minor relief schemes, I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to remember the huge sums of money that were paid for the Barrow drainage. I must say that the work has been a great success, and I desire to pay a tribute to the engineers, gangers, workmen, and to the general administration. However, unless very careful attention is given to the rivers that hinge on the Barrow, all that work will undoubtedly be nullified in the very near future. If an appeal comes for a relief scheme, especially where unemployment can be relieved, every attention should be given to the question of putting men to work in and around the cachment areas where the Barrow has been drained, so that the good work that has been done there already will not be nullified. That brings me to the position in the town of Athy, where the drainage of the Barrow was carried out efficiently and flooding relieved. There has been a repercussion from that work on the left bank of the river. About one mile below the town a grave position has been created by sewerage that the river in its old course more or less purified. To-day that district has become, if not an epidemic area, an endemic area of diphtheria because of the changed situation. If an appeal for relief work to deal with that menace comes from the town of Athy, I suggest that the Parliamentary Secretary should take a careful note and give it his personal attention, so that conditions there may be remedied. I expect that an appeal will be made at an early date owing to the urgency of the representations made by the local medical officer of health, the chief medical officer of health for the county and by the urban council. The whole position hinges on the drainage of the Barrow. If money can be granted for such work, it will add to the magnificent work that was done previously around Athy.
Do I understand that the medical officer of health has already reported that there is an epidemic in the area due to lack of drainage?
The Parliamentary Secretary is anticipating me. In view of the urgency of the situation a special meeting has been called to deal with it. Athy Urban Council did not know whether it should look to the Chief Medical Officer, the Local Government Department, the Board of Works or to the Inter-Departmental Committee, in order to try to get some money to relieve the situation.
It was a serious and a reasonable question to raise, but I may tell the Deputy that no information as to the conditions there has been conveyed to us, I will look into it myself.
Will the Parliamentary Secretary give it his sympathetic consideration if it is brought to his notice?
I will see to that.
When Deputy Brodrick was speaking, I did not know if he was referring to the Board of Works or to the Galway Board of Health. I am Chairman of the Board of Health, which has not neglected social services or adjourned the question of dealing with them. There are ten members on Galway Board of Health, seven being Fianna Fáil supporters, two belonging to the same Party as Deputy Brodrick, and one independent member. When questions dealing with sewerage or pumps came up we decided to hold a special meeting of the County Council, so that all Parties would be fully represented, and decide what could be done. Some people wanted to have it both ways. They wanted to have social services as well as other works. The people who most strongly opposed the making of sewerage schemes and the sinking of pumps were members of Deputy Brodrick's Party.
I thought the Deputy was going to make some point regarding Galway County Council. The action of local bodies may not be discussed on the Estimates. We are discussing Government Departments now.
I am sorry if I wandered. I think other Deputies wandered too. With regard to minor schemes, I do not think any fault can be found with Galway County Council in that respect. They were in charge of the county surveyors, and the manner in which the works have been carried gained the praise of all parties. The principal works carried out consisted of drainage, and the making of bog roads. There was a very fine return for the money expended. The work was not done on a political basis. Every party got a fair share of the work. As mention was made of Athenry, I may say that we have done more for that town in the past three months than was done in the previous ten years. We reduced the rates and made the charges a county-at-large one. When Deputy Brodrick says that the Galway Board of Health——
We are back again to the local bodies. The Deputy will have to fight that out in Galway.
Tell us something about the Loughrea appointment.
I will. The Deputy has a fair idea about it. I do not think very much more can be done in Galway except in one end of the county. I hope that some of Deputy Brodrick's suggestions in that respect will be carried out, and seeing that a certain section are biassed against that particular area, that we will get a grant from the Board of Works to enable us to carry out sewerage schemes that the rate-paying community refused to provide.
I was rather glad to hear a Galway Deputy express such satisfaction with the work that has been done under this Vote in his constituency, because what struck me about the map down in the hall was that the marks indicating the works were far more prolific around the Midlands than around the Gaeltacht area.
I would invite Deputy Minch to go down and look at the map. If he cannot get ten marks indicating works in County Longford for every one in Donegal or Kerry over the same area I would be very much surprised. At any rate it is notable that for one reason or another the works in Donegal, Mayo, Galway, West Clare, Kerry and West Cork, as indicated in the map, appear to be rather far apart in comparison with some of the Midland counties.
Some Deputy asked why. I do not know why. That is exactly what I want to know. It would certainly appear to me that the necessity for expenditure is at least as great in the Gaeltacht counties as it is in the Midlands. I have had comparatively few complaints from Co. Kerry, certainly, as to the operation of this Vote, but there is one thing which strikes me on the general aspect of the matter and it is that this is a Vote which presumably we can look forward to having for at least ten, fifteen or twenty years. It is not an Emergency Vote now by any means, and I think it would be to everybody's benefit— to the benefit of the Administration as well as of the persons who get employment under it—if its name were changed. I think it is now entirely a misnomer to refer to it as relief schemes. I think if this Vote were put down as a development Vote, or something of that kind, it would be far more proper, and would not have any of the nasty tang that there is about something which is called relief work. I do not know exactly what the limitation is to the size of the work that is being undertaken under this Vote. There would appear to be a limitation of £1,000 indicated under the Board of Works. Viewing the matter as I do, I think it is a Vote which has come to stay. Looking at it as a development Vote, it would be a better conception of getting value for money if we did not confine ourselves to small schemes, but took on a large scheme which would be of good public value, and distributed its cost over a period of say eight or nine years, doing the job bit by bit.
I have cases in mind which have been ruled out because of their cost. It was said in one case that the particular work would cost £4,000, and because of that cost it was considered entirely outside what would be undertaken under this Vote. That is so, if we look at the matter as we do at present, and if we must confine ourselves entirely to a couple of hundred pounds jobs, which are all very well in their way—drainage of bogs and all that sort of thing. That is all very necessary work, which gives a great deal of employment, and does a great deal of good, but I think we should not restrict ourselves to that. Where we get a sound proposition which has, from every point of view desirable aspects, we should not turn it down because of the fact that the cost runs into some thousands of pounds. We should be prepared to sanction it from the point of view that we will spend say £500 on it this year and each year following until the job is complete. There is no harm in mentioning here one of the works which was turned down; I am sure the Parliamentary Secretary is familiar with it. I refer to the Brida Pass road, in the Beaufort-Killarney area. I understand that the cost of the work was estimated at £4,000, and it was, therefore, ruled out. There was another scheme ruled out for the same reason, I think, down in the Waterville area, where the embankments along the Inny had burst, and it seemed to be nobody's business to repair them. The reason given to me for the turning down of the work was that the cost would have been too heavy.
I think if we look at this Vote as a permanent Vote for development purposes we should consider the undertaking of schemes which will cost a good deal more than has been so far sanctioned under this Vote, allotting a certain sum annually until the whole job is completed. I agree that attempting to undertake work of that kind in one locality or in one financial year would probably be undesirable, because this money has to be distributed as widely as possible. I think the objection would be met if you sanctioned a job and said "here is £400 for this year" and allotted a further sum each year until the job is finished. In that way, some of the suggestions made by Deputy Gearóid O'Sullivan could also be met. Undoubtedly, it would appeal to any person who lives in Dublin if it were feasible and if money were available to develop some of the canal banks. That could be undertaken in the way I suggest, if the work is done piecemeal rather than expending a large amount in any one year. I think the test should be the value of the job when done, and that a job should not be ruled out because the cost is too much to be undertaken in any one year. The test should be the public utility. When the proposed work has passed that test, I think it should be sanctioned as far as possible in its order of necessity and utility, and that if necessary the cost should be distributed over a number of years.
I should like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary when we may hope to get the report of the Inter-departmental Committee. There is a growing feeling in my area that if a main drainage scheme were carried out that main drainage scheme might not give the usual employment, but that minor drainage schemes would give a much better return in the areas. I am glad to be able to tell the House that there is a feeling among the unemployed there that they would prefer to be working rather than drawing unemployment assistance. If this Departmental scheme were submitted to us we could look with more hope to getting a better return for the money spent on minor relief schemes. I should be very glad if the Parliamentary Secretary would say when the report will be available.
In case the Parliamentary Secretary may form the impression that members of the Labour Party acquiesce in the wage suggested by him, I may remind him that I have here annually protested against 24/- per week for men doing work under relief schemes. They are working longer hours than men engaged on work under public bodies, and I do hope that the Parliamentary Secretary, for this year at least, will be the first to carry out the new policy which we have heard enunciated—that there is going to be legislation brought in providing for a week's holidays for men on certain work. I have put it up to the Parliamentary Secretary on previous occasions that while at one time I was not prepared to prevent men from working for 24/- a week because they were in receipt of only a small allowance from home help, I should prefer to see the Parliamentary Secretary or the Government adopting a shorter-hour week for the same rate of wages. I am protesting against the small rate of wages paid on the relief schemes. The Minister for Finance announced in his Budget that he was anxious to get schemes for the development of tourist roads and that he was prepared to give grants and sanction loans to public bodies to make new roads connecting tourist centres. I am sorry to say that the scheme put up by the County Council of Wicklow to connect West Wicklow with East Wicklow—a tourist centre—did not meet with the approval of the road authority, although the county council were prepared to pay their share of the cost. I do not know if the Department of the Parliamentary Secretary is responsible, but one of the road departments has refused to sanction that proposal for a road to connect East Wicklow with West Wicklow. We also put up a scheme for the making of a sea road from the Silver Strand into Arklow. A number of men in the rural areas could be employed on that work in the winter time—men who have no other employment. The public bodies concerned were prepared, if they received a grant from the Relief Vote, to put up their share of the cost so as to give employment, as well as do a very useful work. A small grant was given by the Parliamentary Secretary for coast protection. As everybody knows, there is a good deal of coast erosion in Wicklow. I should like the Parliamentary Secretary to pay a visit to that place and see the work done—work which has withstood the storms and the northeast and south-east winds up to the present.
I have already visited the place.
A large amount of valuable property was protected at small cost and, if a larger grant was given coming on to next autumn, a number of men could be usefully employed. In the work of coast protection 75 per cent. of the expenditure is represented by labour. The sand required is obtainable at hand. In connection with harbours, the rates in Arklow are very high and the result has been that the people of the town are unable to meet the cost of improving their harbour. Some assistance should be given by way of special grant for that work. The Parliamentary Secretary's Department will not give loans or grants—I may as well work this in now, because I was prevented doing so on the last occasion—where areas are unable to pay, or have not paid, instalments due. I suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that he should evolve a scheme similar to that which has been applied in the case of the farmers, and extend the periods of repayment, because people in the towns are paying back to the Board of Works loans obtained by their predecessors 40 or 50 years ago. Not alone have they to do that, but they are, in some cases, paying penal interest, while the rates are 20/- or 22/- in the £. Special consideration should be given, therefore, to the town dwellers. Some of the bodies are paying up the old arrears, but the whip hand is being used by the Parliamentary Secretary in other cases, and if harbour boards, or other authorities, do not pay, they do not receive any grants. Some scheme will have to be devised by the Executive Council to give assistance to the town ratepayers.
To do that, legislation would probably be necessary and legislation may not be advocated in discussing the Estimates.
I am somewhat ignorant of the rules.
The Deputy is acting very cleverly.
If I agree to take a note of what he has said, perhaps he will pass on to something else.
I want to ask the Parliamentary Secretary not to be using this whip on some of the local authorities to compel them to pay instalments about which there is a difference on the part of the local authorities as to whether they are due or not. I ask the Labour Party to take stronger action in connection with the small wages being paid to the road workers. These wages may appear all right in the Midlands, where farmers' sons are employed. I notice that Deputy Victory has no complaint whatever to make. In his area, there is nothing but dots—£100 and £500 all over Longford.
That dotted area in Longford is a very poor area.
That is why a lot of the farmers are signing on in the Labour Exchange. I do not suggest that these grants are being given on account of Deputy Victory. I know several Deputies who do not go to the Board of Works at all and yet their areas get a fair share of the grants. I do not think that I myself have been twice in the Board of Works. I leave that to the officials and to the councils, who are the best judges as to where the money should be spent. At the same time, I congratulate Deputy Victory on getting the largest share for his area. As the midlands received the larger share of the grants out of this £350,000, I hope that the south-east coast will not be forgotten next time.
The area which Deputy Moore, Deputy The O'Mahoney and I represent is one that requires special treatment. The people there have not engaged in a no-rate campaign. They are paying their rates and they ask the Parliamentary Secretary to assist them. They are not asking for wholesale free grants; they are prepared to make contributions themselves, if they get a proportion of the money, to develop the county for the benefit of the Government as well as of everybody else, because they are relieving unemployment by so doing. If I did not protest against this wage of 24/- as I have done year after year, the Parliamentary Secretary might think that I was converted to his view. I want to let him know that I am protesting and I hope that the Labour Party and other Deputies will take the matter up very soon and prevent, if necessary, a man working for 24/- a week. I can guarantee that if I organised the men in my area the Parliamentary Secretary would get very few men at 24/- per week. They could get unemployment assistance or home help instead of working a 60 hour week at 24/- for the Parliamentary Secretary.
May I put one portion of this matter in perspective at once. The suggestion has been made that Kerry has been completely neglected, that Wicklow has been completely neglected and that Longford has been covered with money. Longford got £3,400. Wicklow got £6,345 and Kerry got £23,000
The dots do not represent everything.
Deputy Nally raised the question of the Robe in Mayo, which he has already been assured is having the closest attention. We hope to have work commenced there soon. He also alluded to the fact that there are 8,000 registered unemployed in the area. More than two-thirds of these people are people with means. They are not unemployed persons in the sense in which the phrase "unemployed persons" was previously used. A good many of them are small farmers, but Mayo is one of the poor counties and that is illustrated by the fact that it is getting £21,000 out of the total for this year. One Deputy mentioned that he does not come very often to worry me and yet discovers that his area gets its share of the grants. The House may take it that the amount of worrying given to the Parliamentary Secretary by any Deputy has no relation whatever to the amount that goes into his area. We use the Deputies and their personal knowledge for the purpose of learning more than we may happen to know about the incidence of poverty or distress in particular areas in their constituencies. The money is distributed, as far as is humanly possible, upon the basis of the most exact knowledge we can get of what is a fair distribution of it relative to the necessities of all the districts concerned. I think that the House accepts that as the fact. If that were not so, I would not have the impudence or the cheek to give you the amount of information which is given in relation to the distribution of relief and which has never been given before. In saying that, I do not want to seem to criticise those Deputies who have put forward proposals based upon that map. I have used the figures I have given in order to put it into perspective, but I am asking the Deputies to go over that map and they may find that we have left out certain areas.
That is quite true.
Especially in the Deputy's constituency, I suppose! We took out all the electoral areas in the Free State and analysed them as carefully as we could with all the information at our disposal in order to see what proportion of a total grant of £100,000 should, in justice, go to each of these areas. From that we made out a schedule allocating the money, but although we had in our possession some 9,000 schemes, sent in by different Deputies, there were literally dozens of poor areas in which there was no scheme and where we had to go down ourselves and find out a scheme. It is for that reason that I am saying to the Deputies in the House that I will value their expert examination and constructive criticism of that map to enable us to do better than we have done in the past.
From the map Deputies can see the general contour. They will see that there is a dark and a light area, and as it goes from dark to light you go from poverty to comparative agricultural prosperity. It is a map showing the agricultural valuation, on Griffith's valuation, that is to say, on a tillage policy valuation per head of the agricultural population. Deputies may take it that when we come to distribute money, we try to distribute it in relation to such maps and such other information of a similar nature as is at our disposal.
Does the dark portion represent prosperity?
No—only prosperity from the point of view of getting relief money out of this Department. Deputy Desmond raised the question of Passage West. I agree that Passage West is one of the most distressed places. It is outside Deputy Desmond's constituency and my own at the present moment and therefore we cannot be accused of partiality. I appreciate the fact that the Deputy has raised the question of an area outside his and my constituency.
You are both from Cork.
Passage West is a very poor area. On this map we have analysed the different counties and local areas and Passage comes out as one of the poorest urban areas in the whole of the Free State. We did give Passage a grant last year and we will try to give it grants in other years, but it will have to be done with regard to the fact that there are other claimants. In this Vote we are not here to distribute an unlimited amount of money. Deputies should bear that in mind. We are here to examine to what degree we have efficiently and fairly distributed a limited sum of money, and that limited sum of money has to be distributed in the light of the fact that there were 142,000 registered unemployed, that there were 97,000 people who had a legal qualification under the Unemployment Assistance Act to say that they had a standard of living lower than a certain standard of living. The House may take it, without any hesitation whatever, that that is as detailed, full and honest examination of the figures, in their territorial distribution, as we could get, and that the money was divided in that way so far as our information was available. I think there are only about five small towns in the Saorstát at present which would be anywhere on a level with Passage West, and they will all have consideration on their merits.
Deputy Minch raised the question of the Barrow. I did appeal to Deputies not to raise particular questions unless they contained some general principle. I said that the most successful way to get work done is to let us know by post. This seems to be a case, as far as I can understand, in which there has been something gradually going wrong, and I certainly am surprised that Deputy Minch should wait for a debate for the purpose of letting us know about it.
I should like the Parliamentary Secretary to believe that I am absolutely sincere in this and that I could not anticipate the great developments of a serious nature that have taken place in the town of Athy in the last few weeks. These developments have been of a cumulative nature, but diphtheria has become endemic all along there where the Barrow used to act as a purifying agent.
The Deputy means that a critical situation has suddenly arisen?
Well, whenever sudden emergencies of a critical nature of that kind arise, I am asking Deputies to get a postcard and send it to my office immediately.
I do not know whether to take the Parliamentary Secretary seriously on that or not.
The Deputy can choose for himself. The House will understand. Deputy Lynch raised a question of a kind that I think is very valuable in such discussion as this. I agree with him that the time has come to change the name of this Vote from a Relief Vote to some other name. We have changed the name of the Section which deals with it, from Relief Section to Special Works Division, and I agree that it might improve the position. It might make for a clearer understanding of what the purpose of the Vote is, if the name were changed in that way. The real problem in Ireland, as Deputy Lynch will know in relation to his own area, is not sporadic, occasional, and cyclical poverty at all; it is endemic. It is the poverty represented by the dark portions of that map, the poverty represented by the fact that the people are crowded on the bad lands and crowded in the places in which economic life is extremely difficult. Most of the relief money which goes into Gaeltacht areas goes quite independent of anything in the nature of what would ordinarily be called unemployment. It goes mostly to people who, before special registration was introduced by this Government, were never regarded as employed people at all. It goes very largely to poor farmers of the small farmer and cottier class, and I agree that perhaps it would be better to find another title and I shall consider the suggestion which the Deputy made.
The Deputy suggested that we should take up the case of schemes of £4,000 and try to do instalments each year. Again, it is a question of the total amount of money in your possession. If we were dealing with a £2,000,000 Vote and dealing with a £500,000 vote per annum then the maximum size of the schemes which can be tackled varies with that maximum amount. For instance, in an area in which the allocation of money, relatively to other areas, would only be £100, it would be absurd to start a £4,000 scheme on the basis that we would do it in 40 years. Would the Deputy take the standard we are working on? We tackle a work which we may finish in two or three years. If, for instance, we have in any particular area a scheme which costs £300— that we consider it is better than any other scheme and that the allocation for that district is £100— then we will spend £100 this year, £100 next year and £100 the year after. I think the Deputy himself will agree with me that one could not fit into any scheme of reasonable distribution the taking up of schemes of the nature of £4,000 in areas in which the annual contribution from the Relief Vote would be only a couple of hundred pounds. As far as we can do it, we are attempting to do works in a continuing process from year to year.
Deputy Everett spoke of coast erosion in Wicklow. Coast erosion in Wicklow has a very long history. Brains, hope, effort and money have been wasted in the past in the attempts to solve that problem. Structures that have been put up to stop the tide have been removed, without any hesitation by the tide. The scheme which was tried in Wicklow was a well-designed scheme. We are satisfied that up to the present it has been on a sound basis. We put up, I think, about £500 originally for what one might call an experimental trial of it, but I cannot for a moment accept it that it is the business of a relief grant to complete work of that kind.
The urban council put up £1,000 extra.
No doubt they did, but this scheme as far as I can see will cost about £10,000. While we are prepared to make experiments to prove the soundness of the scheme by a contribution of £500 in a particular year we certainly are not prepared to take anything like the major responsibility.
I agree with you.
So long as we are on those terms we would regard the work done at Wicklow as being useful work and work towards which we intend to contribute. The Deputy also raised the question of Arklow harbour. It is one of half a dozen sand problem harbours that we are dealing with at the moment. They are very difficult harbours. We are not at all satisfied that any money that could reasonably be spent in Arklow at the present moment would not be completely wasted money. We are perfectly certain that expenditure on some of the works that have been proposed, and that have been strongly advocated, would be a complete waste of money. There have been suggestions to build an extention of jetties and so on in places in which we know that it is absolutely certain that if you built a jetty you could not get either water or a ship to it. The Deputy can take it that the problem of Arklow is under careful technical investigation. The difficulty in all those cases is this, that you can lay out schemes that will deal with what you might call the steady trend and movement of the sand. You can work out a problem and say that by the expenditure of a certain sum you can put up a breakwater which, for a period of five or seven years, will leave the harbour free, having regard to the purely normal movement of the sand, but then one night's gale from the wrong direction and the whole place is silted up no matter what you do. I am only saying that so that the Deputy may understand that, in considering the problem of Arklow, any delay that has been experienced in the matter is not due either to lack of consideration or lack of appreciation of the importance of the work.
Would the Parliamentary Secretary leave behind him here the map which he exhibited? It would be very useful to have it here when members on the Opposition benches start wailing about the economic war. We could then ask them to look at it and see over three-quarters of Ireland the light of prosperity on it.
Relief works! Relief works! Relief works!
Not at all. Look at the map. The Deputies opposite frequently displayed here documents issued by Fianna Fáil before an election. If we had that map we could produce it as practical evidence of the prosperity there is. They are always wailing about the economic war.
Relief works! Relief works!
According to the newspaper reports the Parliamentary Secretary stated in the House last evening that from £1 to £5 each is being spent in the congested districts for the improvement and development of uneconomic holdings. Would he say if that money is being spent in one congested district or is it being spread over all the congested areas?
It is being widely spread.
I have not heard of any of it coming to my constituency.
The Deputy should visit his constituency and, to the extent of which it is a poor constituency, he will find that the money is being spent. If the area which he visits is not a poor one he will find that it is not being spent.
I would be glad if I could have some particulars from the Parliamentary Secretary.