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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 5 Mar 1941

Vol. 82 No. 1

Committee on Finance. - Cork City Management (Amendment) Bill, 1940—Report and Final Stages.

I move amendment No. 1:—

In page 2, line 43, Section 4 (1), to delete the word "five" and to substitute the word "six".

This was suggested by Cork Corporation. There are already six aldermen. We are conceding that.

Question put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 2:—

In page 4, line 12, Section 7, to delete the word "city" and to substitute the word "borough".

Question put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 3:—

In page 7, line 22, Section 16 (1), to delete the word "city" and to substitute the word "borough".

Question put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 4:—

In page 9, before Section 21, to insert a new section as follows:—

21.—(1) The manager may from time to time amend any rate or assessment in the municipal rate book by inserting therein the name of any person who ought to have been rated or by striking out the name of any person who ought not to have been rated or by raising or reducing the sum at which a person has been rated or by making such other amendment therein as will make such rate or assessment conformable to the provisions of this Act in regard to the making of the municipal rate.

(2) Every person aggrieved by any such alteration shall have the same right of appeal therefrom as he would have had if his name had been originally inserted in the said rate or assessment and no such alteration had been made therein, and as regards such person the rate shall be considered to have been made at the time when he received notice of such amendment.

This section is in all City Management Acts except the Cork Act. It is not proposed by the amendment to give any power to the city manager to strike a rate, but to correct errors, omissions, misdescriptions, etc.

Question put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 5:—

In page 9, before Section 21, to insert a new section as follows:—

21. —Every loan owing by the corporation which immediately before the appointed day is charged upon any of the rates abolished by this Act or upon any fund maintained out of the produce of any such rate shall, on and after the 1st day of April, 1941, become and be charged upon the municipal rate or the municipal fund respectively.

This provides that when the existing rates will be abolished loans will be repayable out of the municipal rate.

Question put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 6:—

In page 9, before Section 21, to insert a new section as follows:—

21.—(1) The council, by resolution passed under this section and for the passing of which not less than two-thirds of the members of the council shall have voted, may authorise the expenditure by the corporation of moneys on the decoration of the borough for occasions of public rejoicing or for other appropriate occasions.

(2) Every resolution passed under this section shall specify the occasion for which the decoration of the borough wholly or partly at the expense of the corporation is to be authorised by such resolution and the amount which is to be expended by the corporation on such decoration.

(3) Subject to the provisions of the next following sub-section the corporation may expend for the purposes of this section moneys out of the Municipal Fund in accordance with and in so far as authorised by a resolution passed under this section but not otherwise.

(4) The aggregate amount of the expenditure of the corporation for the purposes of this section in any local financial year shall not exceed a sum equivalent to a rate of one penny in the pound of the rateable valuation of the borough.

Question put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 7:—

In page 9, before Section 21, to insert a new section as follows:—

21. —The corporation may agree to do all or any of the following things, that is to say, to provide, lay down, renew, or maintain the branch pipes or any particular part of the branch pipes by means of which a supply of water is conveyed from the main pipe to any hereditament or tenement in the borough.

Question put and agreed to.
Question—"That the Bill, as amended, be received for final consideration"—put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

Mr. Broderick

On this stage of the Bill I wish the Minister would clear up some points that seem involved. They affect property that in all probability will change the amount of rateable valuation which will lose in capital value. Take the question of the Agricultural Grant. At the outset it was stated that all newly incorporated land would get the benefit of the Agricultural Grant announced in this Bill, and that the rates would be half the city rates, which are now 25/-. That would leave a rateable charge of 12/-. I understand that the Agricultural Grant is a uniform grant over the entire State, approximately 6/8 in the £ on agricultural land. In this case Cork City will be receiving 5/4 in the £. Is there to be a special State grant to make up the Agricultural Grant or is the balance to be met by the ratepayers of Cork? Is the benefit to be applied uniformly as in the case of the Greater Dublin Act? By Section 67 of the Act of 1930 all agricultural type of land is to get the benefit of 50 per cent of the city rate. I see nothing in the Greater Dublin Act that exempts any portion of land. It refers to all land within the urban area and draws no distinction about land that is newly incorporated. It affects Cork in a very acute way because up to 1919 the agricultural ratepayers were only liable for one-third of the rates. Since 1919 they are liable for the entire rate. It would be interesting to know under what circumstances the agricultural ratepayers were compelled to pay three times their former rates.

There are three points on which I would like some information. The first is, is the increase of the Agricultural Grant in the City of Cork from 6/8 to 12/- in the £ to be met from State funds by a special Agricultural Grant for Cork City, or is it to be met by a levy on the rates of Cork City itself? The second point is this. In the Greater Dublin Act, which I assume is practically the same as this Bill, does the provision that agricultural land is to be only levied 50 per cent. of the rate of the city apply uniformly to newly incorporated land and the land already in the city? The third point is one to which I am sure everyone interested in this matter will be anxious that the Minister should give a very definite and categorical reply. Power has been taken under the Bill to set up an inquiry. When the report of that inquiry is received by the Minister, the view held by many, although I do not agree with that view, is that the Minister can, in a mandatory fashion, on the report of his inspector, prescribe what the new boundary is to be. Everyone interested will be anxious for the Minister to give a clear and definite undertaking that when the report is received any Order which is going to be made will be submitted for consideration and debate in this House.

Deputy Broderick informed me when he raised these points on the Second Stage of the Bill that the Minister had given an undertaking of some kind or another that if an inquiry was held and a report made there would be some type of submission to the House of the findings of that inquiry before the Minister made the Order. I suggested to Deputy Broderick that once this Bill was passed the Bill would be law, and any decision come to at the inquiry could be there and then confirmed by the Minister. The reason I raise the point is that people who objected to the passing of this Bill at an earlier stage are under a misapprehension because, the Minister having given some undertaking, they were inclined to withdraw their opposition to it. The position really is that they believe that after the inquiry is held the Minister will come back to the House and tell them what he is going to do and give them a chance of discussing it. That is not the position. I should like to know if it were the Minister's intention when he gave that undertaking that there would be some type of reference back. Is it not clear that when the Bill is passed and the inquiry held the Minister can make an Order extending the boundary without reference to anybody? I suggest that an undertaking of that kind is of very little practical importance. It is just the same as suggesting that, if the Minister brought in a Bill containing a penal clause for prosecution and gave an undertaking to a Deputy that he would not be prosecuted under that clause, that could be raised as a defence in court. I am afraid that would not work. I want to make it clear that, if the people who were opposed to this Bill on the Second Stage were under the impression, because the Minister gave an undertaking, that this matter would be referred back, that that is not so, and if they want to get something more definite they must still oppose the Bill.

I agree with Deputy Broderick that by the extension of the borough boundary hardships may be caused to certain ratepayers. But I also want to bring to the notice of the Minister and the House the very severe hardship that is being inflicted on certain classes of people owing to the non-extension of the boundary. An Employment Order is being made somewhat similar to the Employment Order made last year. That order will apply to tenants of corporation houses living immediately outside the city boundary. I refer to places like Spangle Hill and Horgan's Buildings, immediately outside the city boundary, where city workers have been transferred owing to the operation of the Housing Acts in Cork City. I have raised this matter several times in the House. These people are being deprived of unemployment assistance from now until October. They are married men with families, and, on the admission of the Minister himself, are regarded as city workers. Being deprived of unemployment assistance, these people will be thrown on to home assistance at the expense of the ratepayers. The hardship caused will be a double-edged one. These people will be deprived of unemployment assistance because they live immediately outside the existing borough boundary. There will also be a hardship on the ratepayers, because somebody must surely come to the help of these people, as they cannot be allowed to starve. Somebody must make up to them for the amount they will be deprived of under this Employment Order.

I submit to the House that that is a reason why the borough boundary should be extended, and why the proceedings with regard to the extension of the boundary should be expedited. I put it to the Minister that he has a responsibility to see that the extension of the boundary will be expedited. There is no doubt about the facts I have put before the House. The only remedy put forward to us time after time was an extension of the borough boundary. I sympathise with the point of view put forward by Deputy Broderick. I know that people who have built houses in the areas outside Cork City, and who have gone to a great deal of expense, will suffer hardship; but I think there will be a way out for them.

In my opening statement in opposition to the Bill, I stated that one of the difficulties I laboured under was that I did not know whether it was merely intended to incorporate districts where there were working-class houses and places where there is a large concentration of unemployed at the moment. I can see no reasonable objection to that. My objection is not to that particular form of extension, but to the possibility of an extension over a much greater area.

There is nothing between us as far as that is concerned. I can see that point of view. A very important section of the Bill is based on sections of the Greater Dublin Act, and I take it that at the inquiry the inspector and the other people concerned will advert to that Act. I think that greater hardship is caused by the non-extension of the boundary to places where you have hundreds of people living. Deputy Broderick is the Chairman of the Cork County Council and he is interested in the affairs of the South Cork Board of Assistance. He knows, from his own experience, that the demands on that board through the operation of this Employment Order on people whom it was never intended to affect will be a very serious thing for the ratepayers. I cannot see the justice of removing the burden from the national Exchequer and putting it on to ratepayers. But that is what has happened, and it is happening now on account of the operation of this Employment Period Order.

I want to say to the Minister that there should not be any delay in putting Section 7 of this Bill into operation. I want him to appreciate with me the hardships caused to those people who are being deprived of unemployment assistance. It is tantamount to telling them that, so far as the national Exchequer and the national Assembly are concerned, they can starve from now until next October. I want to pay tribute to the board of assistance for their action. They took up the burden last year, but I am not able to say how far they will be able to go this year. What I want to impress on the Minister is that he should exercise the powers given to him under the Bill to expedite the extension of the borough boundary so as to include those people who are city workers and who, due to the operation of the Housing Acts, have been removed outside the existing borough boundary. I want to get from him a guarantee that every possible step will be taken to expedite the enforcement of that part of the Bill.

My objection to this Bill is that it is going to impose further hardship on the ratepayers of the county to the extent of something like £58,000 a year. While the Cork County Council and the ratepayers of the county will be expected to keep up all the social services that we are maintaining, they will now have to carry this much greater burden. I think the Bill is most unjust in that way. While I sympathise with the aspect of the matter that has been put before the House by Deputy Hurley, I think a far greater hardship is going to be imposed under this measure on the poor ratepayers of the County Cork. They will be expected to foot the bill and to keep up all the social services, despite the fact that the county council will have to carry on with £58,000 less than they were receiving prior to the passage of the Bill.

I will take first the point raised by Deputy Hurley as regards expediting any steps that may have to be taken about the boundary. The initiative, as regards that, will rest with the Cork Corporation.

As to the other matters the Deputy raised, when the inquiry is held they will be looked into. All the relevant circumstances and matters will be considered at the inquiry. Deputy Broderick raised three points. His third point was emphasised by Deputy Linehan. They made reference to the agricultural grant and the halving of the rates on the land coming in under this Bill. They asked whether the grant, or the rates, was going to bear that reduction. The difference between the cost of relief and the grant which the city will get will be comparatively small, and the rates will, of course, have to bear that.

The question was asked, why the position in this Bill was different from that in the Greater Dublin Act. In connection with the latter, a number of considerations had to be taken into account. Two local bodies—Rathmines and Pembroke Councils—had to be considered, and a different set of circumstances had to be dealt with. In order to get them in, they were given a static rate for five years. As recently as 1919, as Deputy Broderick is aware, differential rating of land was abolished in Cork City. Hence, I do not think there is any case now for revising what was done then. The main question that I understand Deputy Broderick is concerned with, is that relating to the making of provisional orders. As the name indicates, they have to be confirmed in some way. Any provisional order extending the boundary must be confirmed by Act of the Oireachtas. The matter is put beyond all doubt in sub-section (3) of Section 21 of this Bill, which reads:—

"A provisional order under this section shall not have any effect unless or until it is confirmed by Act of the Oireachtas, but if and when so confirmed it shall have effect according to the terms thereof."

The question is: That the Bill do now pass.

Mr. Broderick rose.

The Deputy is not entitled to speak on the Bill again at this stage. If he desires to ask the Minister a question the Chair will allow him to do so.

Mr. Broderick

I wish, in the course of some general observations, to say

The Deputy may only ask a question.

Mr. Broderick

I want to say that I disagree entirely with the principle of the Bill, though I think our gratitude is due to the Minister for the way he has met us.

I understand quite well that the Cork Corporation will have to make the first move as regards the extension of the borough boundary. What I want the Minister to do is to give a promise that he will expedite his side of it, because the delay in all these things is usually in his Department——

I do not admit that at all.

——not only in regard to this but to other business. If the Minister does what I am asking he will be doing something to help relieve the distress that the people I have referred to are labouring under at the moment. I, therefore, hope that his Department will not cause any undue delay in this.

There has not been any avoidable delay in connection with anything in my Department, and the same will happen as regards this.

What about the Cork Fever Hospital?

Question put and declared carried, Deputies Broderick, Daly and O'Donovan dissenting.