When progress was reported I was drawing the attention of the House to the fact that if this amendment is accepted it allows a public assistance authority, in addition to county councils, to devolve its powers and duties to a parish council, or approved local council, as the Bill describes it, and I was objecting to that in view of the fact that an approved local council has no responsibility to anybody. The effect of allowing it to carry out the duties of a public assistance authority might be that it could distribute money in a more generous fashion than an authority which had a responsibility to those who elected it. My fear is that the amendment, if accepted, would tend to increase the amount of public assistance distributed.
Local Government Bill, 1940—Committee Stage (Resumed).
What might be delegated to an approved local council would be of a very limited character. The Deputy is concerned that if a public assistance authority delegates to a local council or to an approved council the latter might have power to give home assistance or to give relief. That is reserved to the manager. When the County Management Act is operated that will be a function of the manager. There is no need to worry about that. It is dealt with in Section 29, sub-section (5) (c) of the County Management Act.
But a law has been passed in such a way that a public assistance authority can delegate to an approved body the paying of home assistance. How will that idea square with the idea in the Trade Union Bill? In towns like Tipperary or Drogheda labourers' associations may have been carrying on satisfactory negotiations with employers regarding wages but that is going to be practically forbidden in future by law. It is hard to see where is the principle. In the Trade Union Bill there is a possibility of a new branch of activity being opened to the law. The Minister is asking the House to pass an amendment in favour of what he rather suggests he would be against.
I am trying to get nothing into line with the Trade Union Bill. That is another matter.
There is a common idea.
This Bill was introduced long before the Trade Union Bill.
Will the Minister say whether this Bill was introduced in a spirit which has changed?
It has not changed.
I pointed out that under another Bill before the House, local organisations doing a class of work that they could do satisfactorily, have been forbidden by law to continue doing it.
The Minister attempted to torpedo my argument by stating that the disbursement of home assistance would be a managerial function when the Bill becomes operative. Against the section that the Minister quoted in support of his argument, let me quote this for him. Sub-section (3) of Section 16 of the County Management Act gives power to the Minister to transfer duties from the manager to the local authority—at least, so I read it. It appears to me, therefore, that if for any reason an agitation were created in any part of the country, an approved local council could have this power of distributing home assistance. The Minister, under the sub-section I have referred to, could transfer the power to do so from the county manager to the public assistance authority which, in turn, could transfer it to an approved local council. My objection to the Minister's amendment is, to a certain extent, tied up with my amendment No. 82, which seeks to remove the powers that the Bill allots to approved local councils.
The Minister can transfer those powers from the manager to the local body.
So that, in fact, my original argument is sound, provided the Minister does that. It is a possible conclusion, anyway: that, on the acceptance of the Minister's amendment, it is possible for an approved local council to distribute home assistance.
It is possible, but I do not think it is probable.
That may be.
I move amendment No. 81:—
In sub-section (2), page 32, to delete in line 5 the word "the" and substitute the word "a" and to delete the words "county council" in every place where they occur and substitute the words "local authority".
I move amendment No. 82:—
In sub-section (2), page 32, to delete all words after the word "council" in line 8, to the end of the sub-section.
The object of the amendment is that I want to remove all power from the local approved councils. It seems to me that the parish councils, during the short period in which they have been operating, have done a certain amount of very excellent work. I think those of us who attended the meeting held recently in the Mansion House— similar meetings have been held throughout the country—were much struck by the enthusiasm and keenness of the representatives of those parish councils who came there to try and solve some of the problems that they are up against. It seems to me it is a great pity that the parish councils should not be left alone to continue their good work. Apart altogether from the wisdom or otherwise of giving them the powers contained in the Bill, it is possible that the effect of giving such powers to parish councils may have the effect of bringing their work to an end. I think they would be far more effective bodies if left to carry on without any statutory authority or rights of any sort.
I think a sufficient safeguard, in regard to parish councils, is provided in the Deputy's next amendment in which it is proposed to take power to revoke the delegation. I am prepared to meet the Deputy on that. I do not want to have the parish councils statutory bodies. What they may do is only indicated in a very general way.
Did I understand the Minister to say that power can be taken from the manager and transferred to such bodies as Deputy Benson has been referring to?
Certain functions of the manager can be transferred to the local bodies.
I do not propose to move the amendment as the Minister has indicated his willingness to accept the principle of it.
I will bring in an amendment on Report Stage to meet the Deputy's point.
On behalf of Deputy Brennan, I move amendment No. 84:—
In page 32, line 24, to delete the words "acting as rural sanitary authority" and to substitute the words "for like purposes".
I do not know that there is much in this.
I move amendment No. 85:—
In sub-section (1), page 32, to delete in line 30 the figures "1936" and substitute the figures "1884".
With regard to amendment No. 87, in the name of Deputy O'Higgins which, I think, proposed to deal with the question of superannuation, I just want to say that a Bill has been under consideration in the Department for a considerable time. In my opinion it would be more appropriate to have the matter referred to in the amendment dealt with under it than in this Bill.
I move amendment No. 88:—
In page 33, to delete in line 20 the word "elect" and substitute the word "make", to insert in line 20 before the word "new" the word "a", to insert in line 21 before the word "members" the words "appointment of", to delete in line 28 the word "elected" and substitute the word "appointed", to delete in line 33 the word "election" and substitute the word "appointment", and to delete in line 42 the word "elected" and substitute the word "appointed".
On behalf of Deputy Brennan, I move amendment No. 89:—
In paragraph (c), line 20, to delete the words "in each year" and to substitute the words "at its first meeting after a triennial election".
The purpose of the amendment is to avoid having an election for the subsidiary bodies every year: that they should have one election after their own election, and that it should stand for the life of the council.
Will the Minister consider the point raised in the amendment?
I move amendment No. 90:—
In page 33, to delete sub-section (1) and substitute four new sub-sections as follows:—
"(1) Each of the following local authorities shall be a local authority to which this section applies, that is to say:—
(a) a council of a county,
(b) a joint committee of management of a district mental hospital,
(c) a local authority in respect of which an order under sub-section (2) of this section is for the time being in force.
(2) The Minister may by order apply this section to any local authority and may at any time, either on the application of such local authority or without any application, revoke such order.
(3) Subject to the provisions of this section, every local authority to which this section applies shall defray the expenses of locomotion incurred by each of their members in travelling to and from meetings of such local authority.
(4) No person shall be paid under this "section travelling expenses in respect of a meeting held at a place less than five miles by any route from his official residence."
This amendment is in substitution for sub-section (1) of Section 76, dealing with the travelling expenses of members of councils and committees.
Is not sub-section (2) of Section 76 open to some abuse? To my knowledge it very often happens that there are two meetings——
The Deputy can raise that on the section. Amendment No. 90 is now under consideration.
On the section, sub-section (2) states that the travelling expenses in respect of any particular meeting shall not exceed the amount which would reasonably have been incurred in travelling from and to a member's residence to the place of meeting. A person might attend two meetings in one day and claim two sets of expenses. I am raising this question for specific reasons.
Thanks. I shall have the matter looked into. That might be possible.
Does the Minister consider that nobody in a county borough lives so far from the place of meeting to entitle him to travelling expenses? Is it not possible that a member of a county borough council may not live in the area and may be a considerable distance removed from the place of meeting? He is debarred from receiving travelling expenses while a member of a county council receives travelling expenses.
If it is five miles from his official residence to the meeting?
Even if it is five miles, a member of a county borough council is not entitled to expenses.
That is so.
He is expected to live within the borough boundary.
I move amendment No. 93 on behalf of Deputy Brennan:—
To add at the end of the section the words "having regard to area and population".
This amendment is similar to one which we have already discussed.
Yes. What Deputy Brennan has in mind is that the area should be fixed according to population. I had an example for Deputy Brennan from his own constituency to show that the amendment could not be accepted. In Ballinagare electoral division there is a population of 1,200, and the acreage of the area is 12,401. In Baslick, the population is 409, and the area 4,000 acres. You have to take the convenience of the electors into consideration.
I move amendment No. 94:—
In page 34, to delete in line 33 the words "the Irish Land Commission" and substitute the words "or the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland, the said commission or the said commissioners (as the case may be)".
This amendment provides for apportionment of Board of Works annuities in the same manner as the section provides for apportionment of Land Commission annuities.
I move amendment No. 95, which is consequential on amendment No. 72, and is as follows:—
In sub-section (1), page 35, to delete in line 37 the word "an" and substitute the words "a local government" and to delete in line 38 the words "under this Act".
I move amendment No. 98:—
Before Section 84 to insert a new section as follows:—
84.—(1) In this section—
the expression "urban authority" means any of the following local authorities, that is to say, a corporation of a county or other borough, a council of an urban district, and the commissioners of a town;
the expression "approved association" means an association of urban authorities approved of by the Minister and the objects of which include consultation as to the common interests of urban authorities and discussion of matters relating to local government;
the expression "the approved amount" means—
(a) where the urban authority in respect of which the expression is used is a corporation of a county borough—twenty pounds,
(b) where such urban authority is a corporation of a borough which is not a county borough or is a council of an urban district—ten pounds, and
(c) where such urban authority is the commissioners of a town—five pounds.
(2) Subject to the provisions of the next following sub-section of this section, an urban authority may contribute to the funds of any approved association.
(3) The total amount standing for the time being contributed under this section by an urban authority shall not exceed the approved amount in respect of such urban authority.
This is a new section to enable municipal authorities to contribute to their association in the same way as county councils now contribute to the General Council of County Councils.
I move amendment No. 99:—
Before the second Schedule to insert a new Schedule as follows:—
Enactments Applied to Election of Members of Local Authorities.
Session and Chapter or Number and Year
Extent of Application
45 & 46 Vic., c. 50.
Municipal Corpora- tions Act, 1882.
So much of the Act as relates to election petitions.
47 & 48 Vic., c. 70
Municipal Elec- tions (Corrupt and Illegal Practices) Act, 1884.
So much of the Act as relates to election petitions.
No. 12 of 1923
Electoral Act, 1923.
Sections 22, 26 to 39, 60, 62 and 63, Parts I and II of the Fifth Schedule.
No. 38 of 1923
Prevention of Elec- toral Abuses Act, 1923.
Parts I and II, Part III except sections 23 and 24, Parts IV and VII, and Part VIII (except section 50).
No. 9 of 1923
Local Government (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1923.
The whole Act.
Would the Minister say whether or not there is likely to be an election for county councils and local bodies this summer?
It is not the present intention to have elections this year. A Bill to postpone elections will be introduced in due course.
Committee Stage fixed for Wednesday, 25th June.