Go ndeontar suim ná raghaidh thar £899,834 chun slánuithe na suime is gá chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1940, chun Tuarastail agus Costaisí Oifig an Aire Riaghaltais Aiteamhail agus Sláinte Poiblidhe, maraon le Deontaisí agus Costaisí eile a bhaineann le Tógáil Tithe, Deontaisí d'Udaráis Aitiúla, Ildeontaisí Ilghnéitheacha agus Ildeontaisí i gCabhair, agus muirearacha áirithe mar gheall ar Osbidéil.
That a sum not exceeding £899,834 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1940, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Minister for Local Government and Public Health, including Grants and other Expenses in connection with Housing, Grants to Local Authorities, Sundry Miscellaneous Grants and Grants-in-Aid, and certain charges connected with Hospitals.
Sa mheastachán so táthar ag beartú milleon, trí chéad agus naoi míle is dachad, ocht gcéad agus ceithre púint tríochad ar fad do chaitheamh. Baineann dá dtrian den tsuim seo le tithe.
Tá fás agus feabhas ag teacht ar chúrsaí na sláinte puiblí ó bhliain go bliain, go háirithe de bhárr na scéimeanna uisce agus camraighe atá dá gcur i bhfeidhm ar fuid na tíre, agus is féidir tairbhe na hoibre a mheas ón laigheadú atá ag teacht ar réim na ngalar dtógálach; cailleadh a dhá oiread daoine de dheascaibh na n-aicídí seo sa bhliain 1922 seachas mar a cailleadh anuraidh.
Fuair trí mhíle, cúig céad agus dhá dhuine thríochad bás den aillis anuraidh. Cuireadh Comhairle fá leith ar bun bliain ó shoin le cur in aghaidh an ghalair mhilltinigh seo agus tá súil agam nach fada go mbeidh feabhas mór tagaithe ar an scéal. Níor deineadh aon staonadh sa troid atá ar siubhal againn in aghaidh galaracha máithreachais agus aicídeacha an aosa óig.
Tuigimíd gur fearr an droch-rud a sheachaint ná a leigheas agus táimíd i gcomhuidhe ag iarraidh na leanbhaí a bhreith slán ó bhaol na hóige. Tá eigireacht á dhéanamh ins na scoileanna maidir le fiacla, scórnaighe agus súile na scoláirí agus is breagh liom a rádh go bhfuil deigh-mhéinn lucht ceannais na scoileanna againn san obair seo. Tá béilí bidh le fáil in aisce in a lán de na scoileanna agus bainne freisin.
Nuair a bhí an Bhóta so os cóir na Dála anuraidh labhair mé i dtaobh an Acht Bainne agus Déirithe. Tháinig an tAcht so i bhfeidhm i mbliana agus tá mé cinnte gur fearr agus gur folláine an bainne atá le ceannach ag an bpobal anois de thairbhe an Achta so acht 'na thaobh san is uile is cosamhail go mbeidh sé tamall sara dtuigfear i gceart cadiad buntáistí na reachtaíochta so.
Maidir le ceist na heitinne is taithneamhach liom a rádh go dtáinig tuitim ar réim an ghalair seo i rith na bliana. Tá scéimeanna leighis ar bun i ngach áird den tír agus, i gcomparáid le tíorthaibh eile, is mór atá an galar tar éis dul i laighead in Éirinn.
I rith na bliana do críochnuíodh trí óisbidéil chonndae agus óisbidéal amháin fiabhrais: sin trí óisbidéil is fiche do críochnuíodh ó tosnuíodh ar an obair. Deisíodh agus méaduíodh cuid mhór eile, agus díoladh a lán deontaisí i leith an mhéid airgid a cailleadh ins na h-óisbidéil i rith na bliana. Tá socruithe againn óisbidéil áirithe i mBaile Átha Cliath a chur le chéile agus a mhéadú agus tá súil agam go mbeidh bille agam 'na thaobh so os cóir an Oireachtas sa tSamhradh.
Mar adubhairt mé cheana, is le cúrsaí tithe bhaineann dhá dtrian d'airgead an Bhóta so. Nuair a réitíodh an staile a bhí ann anuraidh, cromadh arís ar an obair go fuinneamhail agus is cosamhail go dtóg-faidh na húdaráis áitiúla beagnach seacht míle teach i mbliana. D'iarr an Bárdas orm fiosrúchán fé leith a chur ar bun i mBaile Átha Cliath i dtaobh cúrsaí tithe sa chathair agus beifear ag pléidhe na ceiste seo gan mhoill. I rith na bliana thugamar céim mhór eile ar aghaidh maidir le cúrsaí tithe ar fuid na tíre. Críochnuíodh tuairm cúig is fiche míle teach—deich míle acu i mbailte—agus, maidir le haththógáil agus deisiúchán tithe, tugadh deontaisí i leith beagnach fiche míle teach go deireadh na bliana.
Dubhairt mé go minic cheana go raibh sláinte an phobail ag brath ar a dtithe comhnuithe agus ní bheidh mé sásta go mbeidh tosnuithe i gceart ar an obair againn go dtí go mbeidh gach teach comhnuithe—ins na bailte agus fén dtuaith—curtha i dtreo agus ar ordú shláinteamhail.
Maidir le cothabháil na mbóithre, chuir na húdarais áitiúla beagán níos mó airgid ar leath-taoibh 'na chóir i mbliana ná mar chuir siad anuraidh agus caitheadh níos mó ná leathmhilleon púnt as ciste an Bhóta Dhíomhaointis ar oibreacha bóthar. Is cosamhail dá bhrí sin gur mór an feabhas atá ag teacht ar bhóithre na tíre ó bhliain go bliain.
I rith na gceithre mblian a ghaibh tharainn bhí biseach ag teacht i gcomhnuidhe ar bhailiú na rátaí agus tá súil agam gur mar seo a bhéas an scéal feasta.
Tháinig feabhas freisin ar bhailiú na mblianacht talmhan agus thainig laigheadú ar iasachtaí gearr-théarma na n-údarás n-áitiúil.
Is breagh liom a rádh gur beag rud dá bhfuil fé n-ár gcúram a chuaidh ar gcúl i rith na bliana le n-a mbaineann mo chunntas.
The Estimate makes provision for a net expenditure of £1,349,834. Grants for housing amount to £852,919, and for health services to £340,350, making a total sum of £1,193,269 for the social services included in this Vote. The public health services are being gradually developed each year. There has also been a considerable increase in public health activity throughout the country. A higher standard of public sanitation has been secured by an extension of the environmental services, such as water supplies, sewerage systems and disposal of house refuse.
In considering the progress achieved by the various remedial measures it is wise to take as a criterion their effect on the incidence of infectious diseases and on the general death rate. A considerable period may elapse after the adoption of public health measures before their effect is reflected in the vital statistics because some other factor may arise to neutralize or conceal the actual progress attained. A particular instance of this kind is the large number of deaths attributable to influenza in the year 1937. The number recorded was 2,772, as compared with 683 in the year 1936, and an average of 1,248 for the decennial period 1927 to 1936.
In the year 1938 the total mortality from the principal infectious diseases was 1,241, including 667 deaths from influenza. If the deaths from influenza for the past four years are excluded, the mortality due to the principal infectious diseases shows a steady decrease from 941 in the year 1935 to 574 in the year 1938, which is approximately one-half of the number of deaths from such diseases in 1922. The vital statistics for the year 1938 are at present only provisional and may be subject to slight modifications, but they indicate a definite advance in the control of infectious diseases. The number of deaths from these diseases, excluding influenza, provisionally recorded for the year 1938, viz., 574, will very likely mark the lowest mortality record yet attained for these diseases.
An outstanding feature of the statistics for the year 1938 is the absence of any death from, or notification of typhus fever. This is the first year in which this has occurred since registration of deaths and compulsory notification of infectious diseases came into operation. The deaths attributed to typhoid fever in 1938 were 47, the lowest number of deaths attributed to the disesase in any year. The number of cases of typhoid notified in 1938 was 254, as compared with 413 in 1937, and is the lowest number of recorded cases since the notification system was efficiently enforced. As the incidence of this disease is to some extent an index of the standard of sanitary services in a country, the decline in mortality in 1938 is significant of the advance which has been made in public health administration. For the decennial periods 1911 to 1920 and 1921 to 1930 deaths from typhoid averaged 195 and 108, respectively.
The number of deaths from diphtheria in 1938 was 308, being 15 in excess of the number in the year 1937. The number of notifications also increased from 2,511 in 1937 to 2,983 in 1938, but almost a third of that number is accounted for by an epidemic of the disease in Dublin City. The average mortality from the disease for the preceding five years, 1932-36, was 373. The total number of deaths from scarlet fever in 1938 was 80, as against 128 in the year 1937 and 173 in the year 1936.
The number of deaths from cancer in 1938 was 3,532. The disease continues to exact a very heavy toll on human life. The Provisional Cancer Council which was set up last year will investigate and report on such aspects of the problem as the council thinks fit and submit proposals for the provision of a radio therapeutic institution for the modern treatment of cancer. The expenses of the council will be met out of the Hospitals Trust Fund.
Much attention has been directed in recent years to safeguarding the health of expectant mothers and removing as far as possible the preventible dangers attendant on childbearing. The mortality rate from puerperal sepsis which is the chief factor affecting the maternal mortality averaged 1.49 per 1,000 births for the period 1927 to 1936. In 1937 the rate of mortality fell to 0.9 per 1,000 births, and for the year 1938 a further decline to 0.7 per 1,000 births has been provisionally recorded. It is significant that while the aggregate urban death rate from all puerperal conditions including puerperal sepsis decreased from 4.2 per 1,000 births in 1932 to 2.6 in 1937, being a reduction of 39 per centum, the aggregate rural death rate only decreased from 4.76 per 1,000 births in 1932 to 4.26 in 1937, or a reduction of 10 per centum.
Special attention is given by school medical officers to the disease of the eye known as trachoma. It is a disease generally associated with poverty and unhygienic conditions of living. Recently it was stated that trachoma is assuming alarming proportions in this country. The investigations made by the county medical officers of health do not support any such allegation. Of the school children medically examined in the four county boroughs during the past three years, about one per 1,000 was affected with the disease. In the rest of the country the disease is rare amongst school children, the incidence being on the average one per 25,000 in 1938.
There was a reduction in the number of infant deaths in 1938 as compared with the years 1937 and 1936. The total number of deaths was 3,757, a rate of 66 per 1,000 births, and the corresponding totals in 1937 and 1936 were 4,121 and 4,309, representing rates of 73 and 74 per 1,000 births, respectively. The infant mortality rate for 1938 is still above the rates for the years 1933 and 1934, when the infant death rates were 65 and 63 per 1,000 births, respectively. The latter rate, however, was the lowest hitherto recorded in this country.
There are as yet no reliable figures as to the distribution of infant mortality in respect of 1938, but in 1937 the rate for all urban areas was 91.5 per 1,000 births as compared with 98.6 in 1936, and in rural areas 60.7 as compared with 58.9 in 1936.
In the County Boroughs of Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford the recorded infant mortality rates per 1,000 births in 1937 were, respectively, 102, 103, 68 and 97. The main causes of infant deaths in the county boroughs were diarrhoea and enteritis, pneumonia and premature birth. With the development of maternity and child welfare schemes, it is hoped that it will be possible to reduce avoidable infant mortality to a great extent in these areas. In the counties the highest mortality rates per 1,000 births in 1937 were in Dublin (109); Wexford (89); Kilkenny (85); and Carlow (84). The lowest mortality rates were in Leitrim (46); Mayo (46); Clare (49); Offaly (49); and Cavan (50).
The number of deaths from measles in the year 1938 was 99 as compared with 126 in the previous year. As measles is not a notifiable disease, it is only possible to adjudge as to its incidence by the mortality attributable to it. This further decline in mortality is encouraging. The average number of deaths for the decade 1911-20 was 383, and for the decade 1921-30, 253, whilst the seven years 1931-37 give an average of 210.
Maternity and child welfare schemes are being carried out in the four county boroughs, in 20 urban districts and five county health districts. In addition 115 voluntary associations are engaged upon this work throughout the country. In Dublin City there has been a very large expansion in the maternity and child welfare services. Several pre- and post-natal clinics have been established and valuable assistance and advice are being given to mothers and children. In the report for the year 1937 the medical officer states as follows:
"Pre-natal work has progressed to an extraordinary extent in the city. Ten years ago the pre-natal departments of the maternity hospitals were poorly developed and very poorly attended. There has been a sustained improvement over the last few years and for 1937 it has been found necessary to specially enlarge these departments and extra medical assistance will soon be necessary. At these departments 6,706 expectant mothers, all new cases, were seen, which represents 60 per cent. of the city birth rate. In the year 1927 only 850 mothers so attended. Unquestionably this increase has been largely due to propaganda and advice given under the city maternity and child welfare scheme by both health visitors and the medical officers."
Each successive year shows progress and expansion in school medical inspection schemes. The system of inspection carried out in the schools has the approval of school managers, teachers and the parents of the children. It offers great scope for the detection and treatment of disease in its early stages. Already there is evidence of improvement in the general health and physique of the children who have received advice or treatment, and of greater attention on the part of parents to the personal hygiene and the physical health of their children. The total number of children examined in the year 1937 was 124,256. The following defects were ascertained: dental defects, 54,118; number of children treated, 37,952; tonsils and adenoids and affections of nose and throat, 27,821; number of children treated, 7,199; defective vision, 16,200; number of children treated, 11,871; other eye defects, 5,460; number of children treated, 527.
School meals are provided in four county boroughs, 41 urban districts and seven towns under town commissioners. The meals are provided in 227 national schools. For the year ended 31st March, 1938, the average daily number of children in receipt of meals was approximately 28,000. The total number of meals provided was approximately 4,830,000.
School meals are also provided in rural areas of the Gaeltacht by the Board of Health for West Cork and by the Boards of Health for the Counties of Galway, Donegal, Kerry and Mayo. The total number of meals provided in the financial year ended 31st March, 1938, was approximately 2,800,000. In the majority of districts the school meal consists of milk or cocoa with buns or bread and butter or jam. Local authorities have been advised from time to time to make tuberculin tested or high-grade milk as far as it is available at a reasonable price the basis of the school meal. The importance of milk as an article of food cannot be too strongly stressed. For young children especially it is an essential part of diet.
The arrangements for the supply of free milk, for which a sum of £90,000 is provided in this Estimate, were continued during the year in urban and rural areas with the exception of two urban districts in which the councils again declined to co-operate on the grounds that the amount allocated for their districts was inadequate. The conditions governing issues from the grant were the same as in previous years. The allowances of milk are limited to children under five years whose parents and guardians are in receipt of assistance or are unable to provide from their own resources an adequate supply of milk for children under this age. The general supervision of these schemes is entrusted to the chief medical officers. The local veterinary inspectors inspect the premises of suppliers of milk to ensure that the methods of production are satisfactory. Tests as to the purity and quality of the milk supplied are made from time to time.
The Milk and Dairies Acts and Regulations thereunder form a comprehensive code for securing effective administrative control by local authorities of the supply of milk for human consumption in their areas. Any person who intends to supply milk for public consumption must be registered. A number of persons accustomed to sell milk were refused registration on the ground that their cowsheds did not conform to the requisite standard for the clean production of milk. The reduction in the number of registered dairymen affected to some extent the supply of milk under the Free Milk scheme. In some cases, too, increased prices were charged for the milk supplied on the ground that the carrying out of structural alterations to cowsheds before registration could be secured involved increased costs in production.
There was a scarcity of suppliers of milk in the rural areas of Donegal, Kerry and Limerick and, to a lesser extent, in the counties of Galway, Mayo and South Cork. In certain areas the experiment of issuing supplies of dried milk powder was resorted to as a temporary measure so as to obviate as far as possible any hardship on the children eligible for a supply of free milk. Before such action was taken an analysis of the powder was made and it showed that the powder when reconstituted as milk contained as high a percentage of milk fats as is laid down in the regulations for new milk.
In some areas the sale of milk by unregistered dairymen has been continued in defiance of the law without appropriate action being taken by the sanitary authorities, and in such cases it became necessary to draw special attention to the necessity of securing full compliance with the provisions of the Milk and Dairies Act. Generally speaking, however, the Act and Regulations thereunder are being more widely complied with, due in a large measure to the enterprise and efforts of the medical and veterinary staffs of the local bodies. During the past year 1,119 orders refusing registration under the Act were made by sanitary authorities. Formal appeals against these orders were received in 35 cases. In every case the appeal was disallowed after investigation of the circumstances.
There are now in operation those parts of the Act governing the designations which may be used in connection with the sale of milk. Special designations are, highest grade milk, standard milk and pasteurised milk. The general designations prescribed are, milk, new milk and fresh milk. No licence is required in respect of the use of a general designation in connection with the sale of milk. The use of any descriptive words or signs other than those coming within a special or general designation which indicate or are intended to indicate that the milk is of a particular quality, or prepared in a particular manner, or suitable for a particular purpose, is prohibited. So far 99 applications for special designation licences have been received under the following categories:— Highest grade milk, 45; standard milk, 32; pasteurised milk, 22. There have been 12 applications withdrawn and the total number to be considered is therefore 87.
Under the Milk and Dairies (Special Designations) Regulations, 1938, the minimum milk-fat content for any sample of highest grade milk and standard milk had been fixed at 3.5 per cent. Representations were made in this matter by representatives of the milk trade that the percentage of milk-fats was too high. After due consideration it was decided to modify the milk-fat standard, and amending regulations entitled the Milk and Dairies (Special Designations) (Amendment) Regulations, 1939, have been made. The new standard fixed is a minimum of 3.1 per cent of milk fat for any sample of highest grade and standard milk and an average content of milk fat of at least 3.25 per cent. for all samples taken from the supplies of the same dairyman over any continuous period of six months.
Schemes for the treatment of tuberculosis are in operation in each county and county borough. The slight increase in mortality from tuberculosis reported in 1937 has been followed in 1938 by a definite decrease to 2,464 deaths from pulmonary tuberculosis as compared with 2,854 in 1937, and 686 deaths from non-pulmonary tuberculosis as compared with 785 in 1937. The figures for 1938 represent a rate of 0.8 per 1,000 of the population in respect of pulmonary tuberculosis, and 0.2 in respect of non-pulmonary tuberculosis, making a total of 1.00 per 1,000 of the population for all forms of tuberculosis, which is the lowest rate recorded in this country.
The progressive development of institutional treatment of all types of tuberculosis on modern lines is proceeding throughout the country. On a previous occasion there was some adverse criticism of the form of treatment which I do not think was fully justified. Under a typical tuberculosis scheme treatment may be obtained in an institution or at a dispensary or in the patient's own home. There is usually a central dispensary and a number of branch dispensaries selected as far as possible with reference to the centres of population in the various areas and to the means of transport from outlying districts. In these dispensaries patients are examined on fixed days by tuberculosis officers, assisted by trained nurses.
Medical officers of dispensary districts are encouraged to send patients whom they suspect to be suffering from tuberculosis for examination at the central or branch tuberculosis dispensaries and any doctor sending a patient for examination may attend for a personal consultation with the tuberculosis officer if he so desires. Specially trained nurses visit patients in their own homes, including patients who are able to attend dispensaries. Sputum examination may be carried out locally or by specialists in the laboratories of the medical schools. X-ray facilities are available locally in many areas, and where they are not available patients may be sent to the nearest hospital possessing the necessary apparatus for x-ray examination. Sufferers from pulmonary tuberculosis who can benefit from active treatment of the disease by modern methods are sent to sanatoria. For the non-pulmonary forms of tuberculosis, treatment is available in the various county hospitals and in public hospitals in the larger centres of population. The special needs of child sufferers from surgical tuberculosis are catered for in four open-air hospitals. The reduction in the tuberculosis death rate in this country over the past 20 years compares favourably with the decline in mortality in other countries. In the year 1904 the death rate from all forms of tuberculosis was 2.77 per 1,000 of the population, and in 1908, the date of the passing of the Tuberculosis Prevention (Ireland) Act, the death rate was 2.5 per 1,000 of the population. The corresponding rates in 1936, 1937 and 1938 were 1.17, 1.23 and 1.00.
A sum of approximately £350,000 is being spent on new public health works in the present financial year, apart from the new scheme of water supply for Dublin, on which work is proceeding. The total number of hospitals provided by boards of public assistance to date is 21, viz., five county hospitals, 11 district hospitals, five fever hospitals. Two nurses' homes have also been provided. Improvements have also been carried out at seven other institutions. The erection of eight county hospitals is proceeding. They are being erected at Cashel, Ennis, Mallow, Kilkenny, Portlaoighise, Tullamore, Roscommon, and Sligo. The buildings at Cashel, Ennis and Mallow are almost completed, while that at Portlaoighise is well advanced. There are also in course of erection district hospitals at Gorey, Killarney, Listowel, New Ross and Schull, and two fever hospitals at Killarney and New Ross. The expenditure from Hospitals Trust funds on the provision of county, district and fever hospitals up to 31st December, 1936, was £1,142,164.
Works for the improvement of accommodation in mental hospitals have been completed at five institutions. Improvements at seven institutions are in progress. The expenditure out of Hospitals Trust funds on mental hospitals up to 31st December, 1938, amounted to £788,597. On the provision of new sanatoria, public health clinics, the expenditure to 31st December last amounted to £198,825. The total grants made within the same period to nursing associations amounted to £56,020, to the Library Council £6,104, to the Medical Research Council £10,000, and to the Provisional Cancer Council £500.
Applications were made to the Hospitals Commission on behalf of 42 voluntary hospitals for grants towards meeting expenditure in excess of income for the year 1937, and on the recommendation of the commission payments amounting to £106,541 were made to these hospitals. The commission pointed out in their general report for the year 1937 that voluntary hospitals are becoming every year more dependent on the proceeds of sweepstakes and that the payment of the annual maintenance deficits has had a decided effect on hospital methods of controlling expenditure.
In 1934, when hospital deficits amounted to £65,000, it was estimated that £2,000,000 would be sufficient to set aside for endowment. Since that year the total deficits of the voluntary hospitals have gradually increased to £106,541 in 1937, and the amount set aside for endowment has had to be advanced to £3,000,000. The additional provision necessary for endowment involves a corresponding decrease in the amount available for the erection of new voluntary hospitals and the extension and improvement of existing voluntary hospitals.
Unless it is possible to control the expenditure or increase income so as to keep the annual deficits of voluntary hospitals within a reasonable limit new projects will be seriously affected. There is £8,000,000 available from Sweepstake funds but, as I have indicated, £3,000,000 must be earmarked for endowment. Any provision for endowment above that amount would affect the building programme to be undertaken within the next couple of years, and I trust that the occasion for any further such provision will not arise. It will be readily agreed that it would be unwise to enter into any large commitments until they are adequately covered by funds in hand.
The future hospital requirements for Dublin City are to be met by an enlargement or replacement of three of the existing principal hospitals and by the erection of a new hospital to replace Sir Patrick Dun's, Mercer's and the City of Dublin Hospitals. The three existing hospitals to be enlarged or replaced by new hospitals are the Mater Misericordiae, St. Vincent's and the Richmond, Whitworth and Hardwicke Hospitals. The arrangements for the amalgamation of Sir Patrick Dun's, Mercer's and the City of Dublin Hospitals are well advanced. Proposals which will be necessary to give effect to the arrangements have been discussed with the representatives of the controlling authorities of these hospitals and a Bill will be introduced in the early summer, I hope.
The provision of additional bed accommodation and other improvements to be undertaken at the Mater Hospital and the building of a new hospital at Elm Park in place of the present St. Vincent's Hospital are at present being considered by the respective governing bodies of those hospitals. In regard to the Richmond, Whitworth and Hardwicke Hospitals, I understand that the board of governors as an alternative to carry ing out extensions at the present site are considering the erection of a new hospital on the outskirts of the city. I hope to have an opportunity of discussing with them their final plans at an early date.
In addition to the provision of adequate facilities for medical and surgical treatment, there is an urgent need for the provision of a chest hospital, an extension of orthopaedic facilities and psychiatry clinic for research into mental disease. It was schemes of this nature that I had in mind when I adverted to the possible postponement of some works owing to the increased demands on the funds to meet hospital deficits.
The Medical Research Council received 29 applications for grants for work on medical research. Eighteen awards were made. Six of the grant holders are occupied full time in connection with research, one of whom is undergoing training in juvenile rheumatism to be followed by a six months' survey of the disease as it occurs in Dublin and district.
The hospital library scheme which was put into operation in 1937 under the general control of the Hospital Library Council now extends to 57 hospitals with over 4,400 beds. Under the scheme 11,678 books were supplied for the use of patients. The council have rendered valuable assistance in the work of administering the service within the hospitals by advising on the provision of suitable accommodation and equipment and giving instruction in the method of issue of books to patients.
The provision in sub-head S for payments to local authorities in respect of housing schemes under the Housing (Financial and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1932, and grants to private persons and public utility societies for the erection of new, and the reconstruction of existing, houses amounts to £826,590. The number of houses built by local authorities in the present financial year is likely to reach 6,600, which is the largest number of houses erected by these bodies since the 1932 Act was passed. During the year 1937 there were strikes in the building trade in Dublin and Cork and the total number of houses built by local authorities in the financial year ended 31st March, 1938, fell to 4,890. During the financial year ended 31st March, 1937, the total number of houses built by local authorities was 6,094. In the previous year the number was 6,245. Of the 6,600 houses estimated to be completed between 1st April, 1938, and the 31st March, 1939, there were 3,750 houses built by urban authorities and 2,850 by rural authorities.
In Dublin County Borough the total number of dwellings completed during the year is likely to reach 2,300, which would be a record number of houses provided by the Corporation of Dublin in any year. The number of dwellings at present in progress in Dublin is almost 2,000. In response to a request made to me by the Corporation of Dublin for an inquiry into housing shortage in the State with particular reference to the position in Dublin, I have directed an official investigation to be made into all aspects of the housing question in Dublin. The investigations will be begun at an early date.
Last month in introducing a Housing (Amendment) Bill I gave statistics of the number of new houses completed by private persons and public utility societies, and of houses reconstructed with the aid of grants. The number of new houses was 25,835 of which 10,383 houses were erected in urban areas and 15,452 houses in rural areas. The total number of houses reconstructed by farmers and agricultural labourers was 19,946. The amount paid in grants up to 1st March, 1939, was approximately £2,500,000.
In the rural areas the largest numbers of houses were built in the Counties of Mayo (2,361); Kerry (1,842); Dublin (1,748); Cork (1,727); Galway (1,304); Monaghan (751); Roscommon (744); Sligo (635); Limerick (623); and Clare (584). The largest numbers of houses reconstructed were in the Counties of Cork, Mayo, Galway, Louth, Longford, Kerry, Rescommon and Monaghan.
The Housing and Labourers Act, 1937 made provision for State assistance towards the reconstruction of houses in urban areas. The regulations under that Act governing the payment of grants were circulated to the urban authorities in October last and they were requested to make a careful survey of all houses in their area that are defective in sanitary accommodation, and if such houses can be repaired at reasonable expense and made suitable as working-class dwellings, to take stops to serve notices on the owners thereof under Section 19 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1931. The survey of insanitary dwellings which urban authorities were asked to make would form part of a general survey which they had been requested to undertake earlier in the year with the object of ascertaining definitely the extent of the housing problem in each area and the number of new houses required to eradicate slum dwellings.
Only one-half of the urban authorities has yet completed the necessary returns in respect of the general survey. With the limited information at the disposal of the Department no comparison can be yet made with the surveys of requirements made in the year 1929. It is again being impressed upon urban authorities to complete the survey of insanitary dwellings for the purposes of the 1937 Act and to institute the necessary proceedings for the reconditioning of dwellings which are structurally sound but otherwise unfit for human habitation. Already these authorities are bound under the Act of 1931 to compel owners to put houses suitable for the working classes into a proper state of repair. The Act of 1937 provided a grant up to a quarter of the cost or £40 and enabled local authorities to operate the Act of 1931 with the least hardship to the owners.
Grants will only be made in respect of houses which can be converted into suitable family dwellings and in respect of houses situate outside places that will require to be cleared under the provisions of the Act of 1931. Normally no grant will be allocated in respect of any such house unless the separate dwellings are self-contained. In such cases, however, the entrance door to the separate dwelling may lead off a staircase, landing or passage used for access to other dwellings.
It is obvious that if houses which are structurally sound can be reconditioned at reasonable expense to conform with modern standards of comfort and sanitation, a good deal could be done to remedy bad housing conditions in urban areas and thereby help towards a solution of the slum problem. The preservation of existing dwellings which are capable of reconstruction should also reduce the need for new houses and to some extent lessen the charges on ratepayers.
There has been a new sub-head introduced in connection with the Seeds and Fertilisers Supply Act, 1933. Under that Act the Government undertook liability for one-half of any loss incurred by county councils in 1933 on seeds and fertilisers supply schemes. The maximum liability was limited to £25,000 apportioned between county councils. Sixteen county councils adopted schemes at a cost of £13,466. It is anticipated that claims for recoupment will be received from 12 counties and that in the aggregate these claims will not exceed £600. Except in Kerry County the loss did not in any county exceed £63. In Kerry it is expected the loss will be about £200.
The net provision made by county councils for road maintenance in the coming financial year amounts to £1,274,257, which is slightly in excess of the net provision made in the present year. The provision for main roads shows a decrease of approximately £12,000 and an increase of £25,170 for county roads. During the present financial year grants were made from the Employment Schemes Vote for road works in urban and rural areas. A sum of £243,324 was allocated to urban authorities and £390,970 to county councils. At the middle of last month employment on a rotational basis was afforded to 16,000 men on these works.
During the past four years there has been a gradual improvement in the collection of the rates in counties. In the present financial year the collection will show a further improvement.
Upon the clearance in February last of the Land Purchase Guarantee Fund to which local taxation grants are hypothecated, there was a net issue to the local taxation account of £63,368 over and above the amount of the grants paid to the fund during the year, owing to the amount of arrears of annuities recovered during the year being in excess of the net amount of new arrears that accrued in the same period. Fourteen councils received £85,760 in addition to their full grants, whilst in the remaining 13 counties the aggregate amount absorbed in the fund was £22,392.
There has been a steady and substantial reduction of temporary borrowing by county councils for revenue purposes, and with two or three exceptions their financial position is very satisfactory.