I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time.
The Cork City Management Act of 1929 was the first of a series of Acts providing for the adoption of the council-manager plan of local government. In the 12 years that have elapsed since it was passed the system of local government which it embodied has been extended, first to Dublin and Dun Laoghaire, then in succession to the Cities of Limerick and Waterford and, finally, by the County Management Act of last year to the counties. As experience was gained provisions were inserted in the later Acts which were not included in the Cork Act and the purpose of this Bill, stated briefly, is to bring the Cork Act of 1929 up to date. The views of the city council have been obtained and it will be found that the Bill gives effect to most of the recommendations that have been made by the council. It provides for triennial instead of annual elections to the council, for the consolidation of the existing rates into one municipal rate, and for an extension of the reserved functions of the council. It also places an obligations on the manager to attend the council meetings and arrange for the attendance of such other officers as may be necessary, and gives the council the same power as other city councils with respect to requiring the manager to exercise functions not reserved to the council subject to the usual conditions. There is also included a simplified procedure for boundary extension.
Provision is made for combining the office of town clerk with that of city manager. Cork is the only county borough in which these offices are not held by the same person. The existing town clerk will, however, not be disturbed, but on the first vacancy in the office of town clerk the provisions of the Bill will come into force.
With regard to Section 4, which deals with the electoral area—at present the city forms one electoral area—the council do not wish to have it divided, but are of opinion that there should be power to do so at some future time if it is considered advisable. The Bill makes provision for that. It also, as I have stated, provides for triennial instead of annual elections. Under the Act of 1929 one-third of the members of the council was to be elected annually. This provision was in the nature of an experiment designed to prevent a complete change of membership in any one year. The precedent has not been followed elsewhere and the council wish to abandon annual elections, which are expensive. New provisions for the filling of casual vacancies on the council are necessary in view of the cessation of annual elections. The council will elect a person to fill a casual vacancy. Section 7 provides for certain additions to the functions reserved to the council.
In Cork County Borough there are several rates—improvement, borough, library, water and poor rates—and each has a separate fund. The Bill consolidates all these rates except what is called the contract water rate, which is in the nature of a rent or payment for a purchase of water, and creates a single municipal fund. The incidence of the rates will not be altered but wherever necessary adjustments will be made. Where premises are unoccupied for a reasonable cause a limited refund can be made.
It was originally intended to include in this Bill provisions relating to the superannuation of whole-time employees of the corporation, but it has been decided to deal with this matter in a Bill of more general application to be introduced later on.