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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 5 Dec 1945

Vol. 98 No. 12

Housing (Amendment) Bill, 1945— Second Stage.

I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time. Ordinarily, this Bill, which deals with building grants payable to private persons or public utility societies, would be concerned merely to prolong the operation of certain provisions of the Principal Act, that is the Housing (Financial and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1932, but this year it includes an important provision which is designed to assist the campaign now in progress to combat the scourge of tuberculosis. I will deal later with that provision of the Bill, which is contained principally in Section 3, but I think perhaps I should first deal with what might be called the more normal provisions of a measure of this kind. In clause 2 it is proposed to extend for another two years, from 1st April last, the time for the completion of new houses in rural areas and the reconstruction of existing houses by small farmers and agricultural labourers under the system of grants established by Section 5 of the Principal Act. Even since the outbreak of the European War in September, 1939, a comparatively high level of building activity has been maintained here. Quite a considerable number of houses have been built by private persons and public utility societies. As well as that, grants for the reconstruction of existing houses have been very largely availed of. The total number of new houses built by private persons and societies of the kind to which I have referred in rural areas since the passing of the Housing Act, 1932, is about 23,200—I think, to be exact, it is 23,202 —and, of these, 5,196 have been built since 1st April, 1940, while the number reconstructed since the 1932 Act came into operation is 30,696, of which 6,341 were reconstructed since 1st April, 1940. Of the total number of 23,202 new houses completed for private persons or public utility societies, in rural areas, 3,540 were for agricultural labourers and 9,791 for farmers with a valuation of £15, 2,186 houses for farmers with a valuation from £15 to £25, and 7,685 houses for other persons. As regards the 30,696 reconstructed houses, 27,963 were reconstructed by farmers with a valuation not exceeding £25, and 2,733 houses were reconstructed by agricultural labourers.

These, Sir, as I have indicated, are the provisions of the Act of 1932 which it is proposed to continue as a temporary measure for another two years. At the end of that period—long before that, we hope—I shall be putting before the Dáil a more comprehensive measure to deal with the housing problem generally, not only in the rural areas but in the urban areas also; but this Bill, as you know, is not solely concerned with that particular problem. It is merely an amending Bill, and we cannot, I think, at this stage, go into the whole question of housing. In any case, I understand that a Motion will be discussed this evening in the House with a wider ambit than this measure covers and, no doubt, there will then be an opportunity for Deputies who are interested to put their views before me, and undoubtedly, I shall listen to them with interest, and, I hope, with patience.

Of course, the Minister's function is to tell us, in an interesting and patient way, what he has to say on the problem of housing.

Yes, and I am sure that I shall do that. I come now to the novel provision in this Bill—a provision which, I think, is no less important than the provision with which I have dealt. With regard to Section 3 of the Bill, consideration has been given to the question of improving the living conditions in the homes of persons undergoing treatment for pulmonary tuberculosis in cases where the accommodation in the home is inadequate for the proper segregation of the patient from other members of the family. The section provides that on the certification of the appropriate medical officer of health the local authority may, and if required by the Minister, shall, make to the owner or occupiers of the house a grant towards the cost of the provision of an additional room in or attached to the house. A grant of the full cost may be made by the local authority, and two-thirds of the grant or £100, whichever is the less, will be recouped to the local authority by the Minister. Where the Minister is of opinion that the provision of a hut or chalet within the curtilage of a house would serve the same purpose, Section 4 enables the provisions of Section 3 to be applied accordingly.

Section 3 of this Bill may be regarded as a further step in the campaign against tuberculosis. The Tuberculosis (Establishment of Sanatoria) Act, which, the House will recall, was enacted by the Oireachtas early this year, aimed at the provision of additional sanatorium accommodation for patients who need it, and I am happy to inform the House that very satisfactory progress is being made with the planning of these new institutions, but these institutions will provide only for those cases which require institutional treatment. Further provision is required to deal with the cases of persons who, although suffering from the disease, do not require active treatment in sanatoria. It is very difficult to say how many persons in this country are suffering from tuberculosis. It is known that 22,879 persons received treatment under the various local authority schemes in 1944. No doubt, there are many others who are being treated by private practitioners, and also there is a large number of people who, unfortunately, unknown to themselves, are suffering from the disease.

Tuberculosis is an infectious disease, and therefore the first measure to be taken to combat it is to limit the spread of infection. It is hoped, at an early date, to put into operation an organisation which will enable us to deal with those persons who are anxious to undergo examination and satisfy themselves as to whether they are suffering from the disease or not. In the case of an infectious disease, isolation of the known open infectious case is a matter of prime importance. Infection is spread by careless coughing and spitting by persons who are known as sputum-positive cases; that is, persons who exhale the tuberculosis germ in large quantities. The incidence of tuberculosis infection and disease is, therefore, higher amongst persons who come into daily or perhaps hourly contact with infective patients in their own homes. It follows, therefore, that the incidence of the disease is higher amongst contacts under conditions of overcrowding both in the home and at work, because of the increased exposure to the sputum of persons suffering from the disease. We have to recognise that fact, if the disease is to be prevented from increasing. I am sure that there is probably no Deputy in the House who has not known or heard of a family, three or four, or perhaps more, of the members of which have died from tuberculosis.

It is this high mortality in certain families which has given rise to the delusion that tuberculosis is "in the family", as the saying is. Now, it can be definitely stated that tuberculosis is not hereditary and is not, therefore, "in the family". The reason why three, four, or more members of the family have died from tuberculosis is that, in their own homes, they have been constantly exposed to infection and "cross-infection" from one another. Section 3 of this Bill aims at reducing as far as possible this exposure to infection.

It is not necessary that every person who has contracted tuberculosis should be treated in an institution. In fact, there is a very large number of persons suffering from tuberculosis who do not actually require active sanatorium treatment. What they need is good food, rest, and fresh air. But, if we are to counteract their influence as a source of infection, it is essential that the conditions of the homes in which they live shall be such as will permit of segregated accommodation. If this accommodation can be provided, domiciliary treatment, that is, visits at frequent intervals to the patient's home by the tuberculosis medical officer, will meet the case and the person concerned will make satisfactory progress without entering a sanatorium.

During the last year over 8,000 persons suffering from tuberculosis received institutional treatment. It is highly probable that a considerable number of those persons did not, in fact, require such treatment. But, because their home conditions did not permit of segregated accommodation being provided for them, it was deemed prudent to have them admitted to sanatoria in order to protect the other members of their families. If treatment can be provided, say, for 1,000 such persons, as we anticipate under this Bill it will be provided, it must follow that the pressure on the bed accommodation in existing tuberculosis institutions will be relieved to that extent. Consequently, by the operation of Section 3 of this measure, which, I am sure, will become an Act, the existing shortage of bed accommodation will be relieved, which is naturally a very important consideration, and, as well as that, we shall have an additional safeguard against the spread of the disease and the infection of new persons by reason of the additional accommodation which we provide in the patients' homes.

When addressing the House on the occasion of the Second Reading of the measure to which I referred earlier, the Tuberculosis (Establishment of Sanatoria) Act, 1945, the Parliamentary Secretary (Dr. Ward) intimated that housing conditions had been advanced as being partly responsible for the rise in the death-rate from tuberculosis. He then informed the House that we had instituted an inquiry, which superintendent and county medical officers of health had already carried out, to determine the extent of overcrowding amongst those persons who were known to suffer from the disease. At the time when the Parliamentary Secretary was putting the Sanatoria Act through the House an analysis of the results obtained as a result of the inquiry was being carried out and the Parliamentary Secretary then intimated that we should have to consider every possible means by which segregation could be provided within the home for those persons who have undergone institutional treatment and have returned to their homes and are being looked after by the local tuberculosis officers. The survey and the analysis have now been completed, and as a result we have come to the conclusion that about 1,000 cases would secure the benefit of this new provision. That will mean that in 1,000 cases we are attacking this source of infection. That will mean that not only will there be 1,000 individuals for whose cure better provision will be made, but there will be a considerable number of other individuals, as yet uninfected by these, who will be protected against the spread of the disease.

The Government accordingly proposes in this Bill to permit, in fact almost require, local authorities to make grants for the provision of an extra room, as I have said, in the case of a house where the conditions admit of extension of the living accommodation and where the county medical officer of health or the superintendent medical officer of health, as the case may be, certifies that a member of the household is suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis and is undergoing treatment and that the existing accommodation is inadequate for the proper segregation of that person from other members of that family. I think it would be no harm in this connection to emphasise that those persons who may seek or may desire to avail themselves of the benefit of this section must be persons who are actually undergoing treatment and, of course, they must be persons who cannot provide this proper accommodation for themselves.

Towards the cost of the operation of this section the Government propose to give a very generous contribution, a more generous contribution, in fact, than was given in respect of any other housing activity. The maximum amount provided under the Act of 1932 to assist local authorities to carry out slum clearance schemes was, I think, 60 per cent. In the case of this measure, the Government will contribute towards the cost of providing this separate accommodation two-thirds of the total cost or £100, whichever is the less. That contribution will, of course, relate not only to the provision of the extra room attached to the dwelling-house, but will also apply in cases in which it is thought better that a but or chalet detached from the dwelling-house should be provided within the curtilage or garden of the original hereditament.

The Bill also provides that the valuation of the building consisting of or including the house shall not, on any valuation or revision of the valuation coming into force within seven years after the additional accommodation has been provided, be increased on account of any increase in the value of the hereditament or tenement by reason of the addition of the extra room or chalet.

These are the main purposes of the Bill. I am sure I do not have to say anything more to recommend them to the House. We regard Section 3 as providing a very important instrument in the campaign which we are waging against tuberculosis. The Government hopes, at a very early date, to circulate a White Paper giving a much more comprehensive review of the measures which we are taking to deal with that scourge than I am able to do within the narrow ambit of this measure. That will indicate that the Government's plans in relation to this particular problem are very well advanced. When the White Paper itself is in the hands of Deputies, they may take the opportunity, perhaps in the debate on the Public Health Bill which is now before the Dáil—or on another more suitable occasion, if the time which the House can devote to the Second Reading of that measure should be inadequate for the purpose—to debate the whole question at length. I have only to add that, if it would be acceptable to the House, I should like to get all stages of this measure to-day or, at the latest, to-morrow.

The Minister has told us a great deal about tuberculosis and the spread of it in this country, but I do not know what bearing all that he has told us about that unfortunate disease has on this particular Bill.

Read Section 3.

It appears to me that Sections 3, 4, 5 and 6 should not be part of a Housing Bill at all. This Bill is designed to extend the provisions of the Housing (Financial Provisions) Act of 1932. Under the 1932 Act, the grants were paid out of State funds, but this particular Bill goes further than any of the previous Acts, in so. far as it brings in the local authorities as well as the State. The local authorities will be obliged to make grants as well for the purpose of providing the additional accommodation necessary for people suffering from tuberculosis. I submit that sections of this kind should more properly be introduced or incorporated in a Public Health Act, that they are not related to housing legislation, or at least to housing legislation as we understood it in the past. Why bring in the local authorities? If grants are to be made in a Housing Bill for the purpose of providing additional accommodation for unfortunate people suffering from tuberculosis, I submit that those grants should be paid by the State and not by the local authorities.

The Minister has told the House and the country on innumerable occasions that local authorities are responsible, and solely responsible, for the finance of the local bodies, but in this Bill, in the Public Health Bill and in the Harbour Bill—to mention only three recent measures—all that authority of the local bodies has been taken away from them. The Minister has taken power to spend money on this, that and the other, without ever consulting the local authorities. That tendency has been going on in all the legislation passed in this Dáil in the last three or four years. In the end, it will happen, in a very short time, that local authorities will have absolutely no control at all over their finances. I submit that there is no justification for bringing local authorities into a measure of this kind. The grant for ordinary housing operations are paid by the State out of State funds and a Housing Bill designed to continue the operation of the Housing Act of 1932 should not have incorporated in it these Sections 3, 4, 5 and 6, which really belong to some other type of legislation, such as the Public Health Bill.

It is true that portion of a grant— two-thirds—will be refunded by the Minister, but even so, I submit that the responsibility for providing the whole of the grant rests on the Minister and the central authority and not on the local authorities.

I agree that it is necessary, in very many cases, to make provision from some source for building additional accommodation for the unfortunate people suffering from tuberculosis and I agree with the Minister that it is the duty of the State, with the co-operation of the local authorities, to do every thing possible to stamp out the disease and see that the people suffering from it get the best possible treatment and the best possible opportunities of recovering from the effects of the disease. I suggest, however, that the methods of dealing with tuberculosis should be devised in a Public Health Bill and not in a housing measure of this description. I think it is most unfair and I wish to protest very strongly against the novel procedure which the Minister has introduced into this housing measure, by making local authorities responsible for part of the grants for the provision of accommodation for tuberculosis patients. It is a bad precedent, though it is only in accordance with the procedure adopted not only by the Minister for Local Government and Public Health but by the Minister for Industry and Commerce and other Ministers. They have taken authority, in all legislation passed by this Dáil during this year and the previous two years, for the purpose of directing local authorities to contribute to this, that and the other, with the result, as I said, that soon local authorities will have no control whatever over local finances.

The Minister is to be congratulated on the progress he has made with the housing problem, but he is not to be congratulated on the manner in which the schemes submitted by local authorities are dealt with in his Department. Schemes submitted by urban authorities have been held up for months and months, for apparently no sound administrative reason. In the interval between the submission of a scheme and its actual return to the local authority concerned, costs have gone up enormously, with the inevitable consequence, of course, that the prices have had to be revised on numerous occasions.

Before the Minister proceeds to deal with housing again on a big scale, he should first of all set about the reorganisation of his Department and see that, when schemes are submitted for his approval, they are dealt with within a reasonable space of time. The local authorities and the unfortunate ratepayers as a whole should not be obliged, because of the Minister's negligence and the delay in his Department, to bear extra costs, as they have had to do on numerous occasions during recent years.

If we are to have a real housing policy, that policy should be administered on sound, efficient and economic lines. I suggest that the manner in which housing schemes and these proposals of local authorities are dealt with at present is a disgrace to any Department of Government. It is time some steps were taken to reorganise the Housing Branch of the Department, in order to see that there is expedition in dealing with these schemes.

I do not know whether the Minister has considered the possibility of increasing the valuation limits for reconstruction grants. A case was made, when this Bill was up for renewal last year, that the limit of £25 was unfair in many ways, since valuations differed in so many parts of the country, due to a variety of causes known to the local authority but probably not to Government Departments. For instance, it is well known that valuations along the western seaboard are exceedingly high as compared with other parts of the country. A man living inland with a valuation of £24 will get a grant, whereas another man along the seaboard with a £25 valuation and half the acreage of land, will be refused. I was wondering if it would be at all possible for the Minister to devise some ways and means, in consultation with the Land Commission, to deal with rather unusual cases of that kind. There is a grievance amongst many people regarding the valuation limits. They feel it operates unfairly in some cases, especially along the western seaboard. The exceedingly high valuation there is due to the fact that flax was grown extensively along parts of the seaboard in years gone by, and scutch mills operated in those districts for a period. Because of that, apparently, when the valuation was being made, the land was assessed more heavily than land where such developments did not exist. I suggest that, in fairness to the people of the country, and especially in order to see that the valuation standard operates fairly on all classes of the people, the Minister should look into this question and ascertain from his officials if it is possible to meet that difficulty in any way.

I rise merely to express my disappointment that the opportunity was not availed of in this Bill to set at rest the anxieties and doubts of local authorities regarding grants for their housing programmes. It is some considerable time since the Minister indicated that he was prepared to revise the subsidies in the light of existing costs, but so far there has been no positive indication given to the local authorities in that connection. A number of Deputies expected that this Bill would contain some indication of the general policy regarding housing subsidies, but apparently the Bill is merely confined to certain extensions.

The Bill is confined merely to grants to private persons living in rural areas and to public utility societies.

In other words, the Deputy will be suppressed.

The Bill has nothing to do with the matter the Deputy has been discussing.

On Second Reading, Deputies may take a rather wide view of what should be contained in the Bill.

Mr. O'Sullivan

I have only two points to make. One is to express my disappointment—indeed, I have already given expression to it—and the other is to comment on the Minister's statement regarding tuberculosis. I suggest his statement on this terrible scourge would be far more convincing and far more impressive if it contained some element of consistency that would suggest that there was sincerity in the approach to this problem by the Department of Local Government and Public Health. While the legislation to which the Minister referred was going through the House, Deputies on all sides applauded the efforts the Government were prepared to make so far as people suffering from tuberculosis were concerned. One defect in that legislation was pointed out by Deputies of all Parties, and that was, that no progress could be made while provision was left out for the dependents of patients undergoing treatment in sanatoria. Under a barrage of questions——

I suggest any references to tuberculosis are out of order.

Mr. O'Sullivan

The Minister traversed the whole ground on the subject of tuberculosis and he indicated that a White Paper would be introduced.

On a point of order. A Bill has been introduced, a public health measure, and it is hoped to discuss it to-morrow. In that measure provision will be made—power will be taken—to enable local authorities to make grants to the dependents of persons suffering from diseases, among others, tuberculosis. I suggest the Deputy is out of order in referring to the matter now.

I think that on previous occasions the Minister raised some matters like this on a Second Reading and I understand that, as a rule, Deputies can on Second Reading take a very wide view of things in the Bill and things which are not in the Bill.

I suggest that that is contrary to the Standing Orders. In addition, an opportunity will be given to-morrow, on a major measure, to discuss this whole question.

Mr. O'Sullivan

I am not going any wider than what the Minister voluntarily entered upon in his opening statement. I am well aware of the provision to which he refers in the Public Health Bill, but I suggest it does not meet the point I am making, which is that in the Sanatorium Bill we were given to understand that provision would be made for a scale of allowances for dependents of patients undergoing treatment. In some Parliamentary Questions recently I wanted the Parliamentary Secretary to indicate how far he was prepared to go with his scale of allowances and his answer was that patients such as I have referred to were capable of being treated by public assistance authorities.

This evening the Minister referred to the matter again and he said we were making a most generous contribution to sufferers from tuberculosis. He mentioned that there is a higher provision than ever has been made for subsidies on houses. It is not higher; it is precisely the same—66?—as in the case of slum clearances. He is entitled to claim that he is making a generous provision towards an extra room for tubercular patients, but his Department has turned down a claim for equally generous treatment for dependents of patients in sanatoria. That is a glaring inconsistency so far as the treatment of tuberculosis is concerned.

I think the Deputy is dealing with matters that are not quite relevant to the Bill.

Mr. O'Sullivan

I have finished.

I welcome this Bill as a first instalment in the important matter of housing. It proposes to do something for the persons who are badly in need of accommodation. I shall try to confine myself to that aspect and to-morrow we can debate the other points that were raised. While the Minister is going a certain distance in this Bill, I suggest that there are certain improvements that could be made. For instance, in one section it is set out that the Minister "may" recoup to a local authority an amount not exceeding £100. I suggest the word "may" should be "shall". You are proposing to compel a public body, which is quite ready to act on the recommendation of the county medical officer of health, to make a grant equal to £100 for extra accommodation in a rural area.

Those of us who have had experience on public boards and who are living in rural areas know that at the present time there is great hardship among numbers of people, small farmers and others with little means, in trying to get extra accommodation for members of their families who may be suffering from tuberculosis and who may be awaiting admission into a sanatorium. It would seem that after we provide that accommodation the Minister is taking precautions to have the owner of the house protected by not having the valuation increased. I should like him to go further and provide that, after a grant is given to the owner of a house for £100, he will not look for an increased rent as a result of the increased accommodation given and the grant from public funds. If protection is given in respect of the valuation, I claim there should be also some protection for the tenant. We should see that the landlord or owner will not reap any benefit by means of increasing the rent, even though the amount is rather small.

The Minister mentioned that this may give accommodation to something like 1,000 people. I was calculating that it would not give more than 40 extra rooms in each of the Twenty-Six Counties. My experience in regard to the treatment of cases, domiciliary and otherwise, is that in the infant stages, when you are unable to get even sanatorium treatment, or when the county medical officer of health may consider it necessary to get accommodation for one member of a family you require a much larger amount. It is an admission that the large number of houses which public bodies are building are not suitable for the present position.

I hope that in the new housing scheme which is being considered there will be greater accommodation for large families in working-class areas, that the houses will not be confined to those with three or four rooms, but that there will be larger grants available for public bodies to provide larger houses. Personally, as one who has had experience, I welcome the Bill as a measure designed to do something, pending the starting of a bigger housing scheme, and I hope it will go through as quickly as possible, so that public bodies will be enabled to make grants on the recommendation of the county medical officer and to make accommodation available for people who require treatment. I believe that we shall be doing a good day's work if we do something to alleviate in some way the sufferings of these people.

I should be inconsistent if I did not reiterate the demand I have frequently made in connection with similar Housing Bills for the raising of the limit of valuation for housing reconstruction grants. The grants to small landowners for the improvement of their homes have been very widely utilised and have proved a very valuable asset. Not only have they resulted to a great extent in an improvement of living conditions in rural Ireland but in an improvement in the appearance of large areas of the country. I cannot, however, see any reason why the limit of £25 valuation should still be adhered to. For the first few years of the operation of the scheme, there may have been good reason for limiting it to holders under £25 valuation, but, having proved the worth of the scheme and in view of the extent to which it has been availed of there is good ground for raising the limit by at least £10.

It might be contended that people over £25 valuation are in a position to obtain such financial asistance as will enable them to reconstruct their houses, or, alternatively, that they are in receipt of such an income from their holdings as would enable them to make the desired improvements; but anybody who knows anything about rural Ireland knows that, on a very large percentage of our farms under £50 and £60 valuation, the dwelling-houses are buildings which were constructed 200, and, in many cases, 300 years ago. They may have been reconstructed from time to time, but the old original buildings are still there—old that ched farmhouses which are now falling into decay. The landowner of the type I have mentioned, the man up to £35 valuation, has not the financial resources to enable him to reconstruct his home, because it must be remembered that the work of reconstruction is very substantial. A reconstruction grant of £40 would go only a very short distance in the reconstruction of the usual type of farmhouse; but, at the same time, it would be very useful, and I think the time has come when, having regard to the success of the scheme up to the present, it should be extended to valuations of £45.

I was under the impression that the grievance in this respect existed mainly in my own constituency, but I had occasion recently to visit a neighbouring constituency and to investigate conditions there. I find that, even in Wexford, which is supposed to be a very prosperous agricultural constituency, a very large number of farmers of valuations of £25 have very poor living accommodation and have not got the financial resources to improve them. The help which has been given to small farmers should now be extended to those with valuations over £25, at least up to £35 or £40. I think that would cover most of the needs of farmers whose housing accommodation is very bad. The Minister may say that if we raise the valuation limit to £35, why not raise it to £45, £50 and £60? That would not be a reasonable approach because it is on the type of holdings I have mentioned—those somewhat over £25 valuation—that you find a large percentage of the older type of house which urgently requires reconstruction. It is a pity the Minister did not introduce a provision to raise the valuation limit.

With regard to the provision of additional accommodation for people suffering from tuberculosis, I think it is a desirable provision, but I am anxious to know if it will apply to tenants of labourers' cottages in rural areas, that is to say, will the local authority be required to provide additional accommodation in these houses? It is a rather extraordinary thing that we very often find very large families in households in which there is a tendency to this disease, and the labourer's cottage, while adequate for the ordinary working family, is not sufficiently large to provide for the segregation required in the treatment of tuberculosis. The provision of an extra room is good, always provided that there is adequate education or instruction of those concerned, so that they may avail fully of the opportunity for segregation. Without that instruction, it would be of very little use. I have in mind the case of a very large family affected with this disease—three or four members of the family have already died. As they were smallholders under £25 valuation, they availed of the £40 grant to build an additional room, but, notwithstanding that, I know from personal knowledge that there has been no attempt at any kind of segregation and that the position is still almost as bad as it was. So far as the remaining members of the family are concerned, in spite of everything done up to the present, in spite of the arrangements of the county medical officer and in spite of the fact that they have this additional accommodation, there is still nothing facing this family but slow extermination.

This provision is welcome, but it must be accompanied by a very elaborate system of instruction, so that those concerned will be able to avail of the additional accommodation advantageously. As I understood from the Minister's statement, a local authority is empowered to provide a grant equal to the full cost of the additional accommodation. If I did not misinterpret the statement, a local authority would be recouped to the extent of two-thirds, or, £100, whichever is the least. Of course that means a small additional burden to local rates, but that may be offset, if the scheme is properly availed of, by a saving in the cost of institutional treatment. Wherever it is humanly possible to ensure that persons suffering from tuberculosis could be adequately treated in their own homes, that is, in certain respects, better than institutional treatment, and for that reason I welcome the provision dealing with housing.

I welcome this Bill. Deputies who have contributed to the debate so far carried on a discussion on the housing question generally rather than on the objects of this measure. I welcome the Bill, because I know from experience the necessity for it. Every Deputy who knows provincial towns has had the same experience. Many people would like to see the provisions of the Bill extended to rural districts, because, unfortunately, a great many people who are affected by tuberculosis are not in a position to make the necessary alterations in home conditions in order to grapple with the complaint. I have to express disagreement with Deputy Roddy and, to some extent, with Deputy M. O'Sullivan for their criticisms, and for finding fault with the Minister for placing an additional burden on local bodies. We have heard that cry in this House continually, but we have not yet heard one Deputy of any Party on the Opposition Benches make any reference to the extraordinarily increased values which the housing policy of the Government as a whole has created for local authorities. I often wonder if these Deputies think what the position will be 35 years hence, or it they ask themselves: "What will be the position of local bodies when valuations have increased by hundreds of thousands of pounds as a result of the Government's housing policy"? As the representative of a local authority—a county council—I make no apology to people who find fault with the Government in a matter of this kind.

I recall that Deputy Roddy complained some years ago that we were advancing too fast with the housing policy. It had a disastrous effect for the Deputy in the following June. I advise Deputies to give this measure their wholehearted support. It is one that is overdue. It is only those in constant touch with unfortunate families affected by tuberculosis who know what a benefit the Bill will be when it is put into operation. I ask the House to accept the Bill and to see that the best possible use is made of it.

I do not think anybody is objecting to provision being made to enable families suffering from tuberculosis to extend their housing accommodation with certain public assistance, although I would rather agree that the State might take that burden on itself. My principal reaction to the Minister's statement is that anyone affected by tuberculosis must be wishing that words could do something for them, because both here and elsewhere the whole question of tuberculosis is smothered with words. In this Housing (Amendment) Bill, after dealing with a continuance of certain powers in the 1932 Act, we get practically nothing at all about housing; information that would be of the utmost importance. We got a statement from the Minister which was completely obscured by a long dissertation on tuberculosis. Could we have a few words about housing? The 1932 Housing Act provided for the making of grants, to provide assistance for private persons and public utility societies building houses in urban and rural areas. That Act provided that the State would bear certain of the charges for houses built by local authorities in urban and rural districts. The Minister was rather anxious that discussion of this measure should relate only to the grants made to private persons building houses in rural districts. It would be interesting if he concentrated on that. The way to do so was to give some real information that would enlighten the House as to what house building by private persons is going on at present in rural districts, because if a study of what was going on were made, it would give the information we are looking for. We might know something then about the present trend of house building and housing costs, as well as of the people who are anxious to build houses in rural districts, but who do not know how to face up to the difficulties concerning materials and costs. They might also be able to learn something through the Minister, from information gathered by the Department, about the initiative of people building houses, if they can manage to do so.

The Minister has told us that under the 1932 Act something like 33,000 houses were built by private persons in rural areas, and that of these 5,000 were built since the 1st April, 1940. I suggest to him that what we are really concerned to know is what is happening at the present time, and what happened during, say, the past two years. Can he tell us what the trends indicate with regard to the possibility of speeding up the building of houses in the years immediately in front of us? The Minister's statement that 33,000 houses were built by private persons in rural areas under the 1932 Act, and that of these 5,000 were built since the 1st April, 1940, conveys nothing to us, because, of the 5,000 houses that were completed since the 1st April, 1940, some of them were a hang-over in the sense that the building of them had begun before the war, or at any rate in the early years of the war. The fact that this measure is being introduced now suggests to me that there has been practically no building by private persons in rural areas during the last year or two, and that it has now tapered out to no building at all. It would help if the Minister would tell us how many houses were completed during the last 12 months, and how many were completed in the 12 months before that, and, further, if he could give us some idea of what the costs were to the people who were building houses during that particular time as well as the kind of houses that were being built. The Minister could also help by giving some information about the 1932 Act under which grants were given to private persons to build houses in urban areas.

If a substantial number of houses are now being built in rural areas, will the Minister say why something is not being done to encourage private persons to begin the building of houses in urban areas? He must know that, in quite a number of urban areas, he has been pressing the local authorities to build houses. Have we reached this position, that Government policy is that all houses built in future must be built by the local authorities? If so, I want to ask the Minister why he is not reopening the policy of giving grants to private persons to build houses in urban districts. The 1932 Act provided for the payment of certain loan charges in respect of houses built by local authorities in urban and rural districts.

As I have said, the Minister has been pressing the local authorities in urban districts to build houses. Recently, he was pressing the Thurles Urban Council to build 62 houses. The urban council considered that 72 houses should be built, and looked for a tender for the building of that number. Twelve of the houses are going to have a bathroom, and the all-in cost of each of the twelve houses is going to be £940. The rent under present conditions is going to be 24/6. As regards the remaining 60 houses, 30 of them are going to cost £731 each, and the other 30 £700 each, the respective rents being 19/1 and 17/1. Again, I ask who are these houses being built for.

The Deputy is asking to have the scope of this Bill widened?

No, but I am taking advantage of this Bill to ask two simple questions.

Well, whether it is a fair advantage or not is what is worrying the Chair.

We heard a good deal said about tuberculosis.

There is something in the Bill about providing a room for tubercular patients, but there is nothing in it about rural houses.

I am asking one simple question with regard to private persons: why is the Minister not reintroducing the grant for private persons building in urban areas? The original Act provided for such persons, and I am evidencing the fact that the Minister is pressing local authorities to build houses in urban districts. My second question is this: is it the Government's policy to see that only local authorities will build houses in urban districts, and, if that is so, what class of persons are they building for? I ask that because, under the scheme that is being pressed by the Minister on the Thurles Urban Council and accepted by it, the rents are going to be 24/6, 19/1, and 17/1. If we consider the attitude of the Department of Local Government in relation to the standard of wages paid to certain workers under the local authorities, I do not see how on earth any of these people are going to be able to pay such rents out of their wages.

I have suggested to the Minister that there is a sufficient number of questions to be asked and answered, and that he will understand how irritating it is to us that a Bill like this should be introduced with nothing said about housing and so much said about tuberculosis. I think that the question asked by other Deputies might be answered by the Minister: if the house with a bathroom in Thurles is going to cost £940, is the Minister going to subsidise the loan charges in respect of that house only up to a level of £350 or £400, or what is the level going to be, because we cannot shut our eyes to the fact that the cost of housing has substantially increased and that there is not any sign apparent that it is going to fall? In the case of Great Britain various items were recently taken under which the cost of houses was examined. The various classes of materials used were taken, the extent of which the cost of them had increased and the extent to which the cost of the total house had increased. It was found that a house costing £550 pre-war would now cost in or about £1,200. When a comparison was made as between costs in 1938 and the present time it was found that the cost of materials had increased by something like 78 per cent. or 79 per cent. I would like to feel that there was some recognition of that on the part of the Government here. We feel that urban districts cannot have their housing problems properly considered by the local authorities. They are being left in the dark as regards the Government's intentions in the matter of housing and its appreciation of the housing position.

The purpose of this Bill is to provide additional assistance in the national campaign against tuberculosis. I would be inclined to welcome it, but there are two features of the Bill which lead me to suspect that, though on the surface it appears to be such, in practice it is going to be the reverse. Sub-section (3) says that:

"where a county medical officer of health or medical superintendent officer of health certifies that a member of the household of a house situated in the area for which such officer acts is suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis for which he is undergoing treatment and that the existing accommodation of the house is inadequate for his proper segregation from the other members of the household,..."

he may do certain things. I want to raise two points at once: one is whether this House is of opinion that the method of choice for treating pulmonary tuberculosis is treating it in the patient's household and, two, whether medical officers of health are to be restrained from authorising the erection of this additional room unless the tubercular condition from which the patient is suffering is pulmonary. To deal with pulmonary tuberculosis first, I understand that there are two classes into which that disease falls, one a very small class in which the probability of infection is remote; the other, the far largest class, in which the probability of infection is very great, and where segregation is eminently desirable. In this latter class the proper place for a patient who would ordinarily seek the benefits of this Bill is in a properly equipped sanatorium where he can be relieved of all domestic worry, where he can receive the kind of nursing without which recovery from tuberculosis is very improbable, where he can have available to him, should the necessity arise, the surgical assistance that such a patient may from time to time stand in need of and, above all, where he can rest tranquil in the certain knowledge that the family dependent upon him has the wherewithal to live.

If we are contemplating in this Bill the persons who are suffering from infectious tuberculosis, let us first consider parents of families. Is it seriously suggested that it is a desirable thing to plant them down permanently in the midst of family anxieties that must surround an invalid parent and have them night and day worrying in their sick beds about whether the wife and children can keep going so long as they continue to lie there. Surely the method of choice is to get such a person into a comfortable sanatorium and provide his family with a sum approximately equal to the average wages that man was earning before his illness smote him. Is there any Deputy who seriously believes that if the father of a family is taken away from his wife and children and put either into this room or into a sanatorium and told that while he is there in that bed, getting extra nourishment, getting care and medical attention, his wife and children are to go hungry and ragged, if need be, there is any prospect whatever of the patient recovering?

There is no use saying to me that such a one is entitled to draw national health insurance benefit, that such a one is entitled to avail of the social services. Take a man earning £5 to £7 a week, who has been accustomed to send his boys to the Christian Brothers' school and his girls to a decent convent school, who has been accustomed to seeing his wife turned out neat and respectable when she went out on a social occasion or about her shopping, and give him a couple of pounds a week, he himself being an invalid and therefore an additional charge upon the family purse, and tell me, do you imagine that such a person will have the peace of mind which is conducive to the recovery of health, either in this room or in a sanatorium?

The Deputy is travelling a bit outside the scope of this measure.

He was not here when I was introducing it.

The Chair restrained the Leader of the Opposition from discussing housing, on the ground that the Minister claimed to address himself exclusively to tuberculosis.

I did not make any such claim.

Nor, Sir, did I.

Is this a point of order? If it is a point of order, stand up and make it.

The Chair was raising a point of order. The Deputy is straying from this measure.

My position is that this Bill is represented by the Government to be a contribution towards the general scheme for the conquest of tuberculosis in this country.

But not a debate on the treatment of tuberculosis.

No, but ancillary.

Providing a room for tuberculosis patients; grants made to private persons building houses in rural areas—two points.

My submission is this: this is an ancillary scheme to the larger scheme.

Quite, but the larger scheme is not, therefore, open to discussion.

No, Sir. I am submitting to the House and, I think, with irresistible logic, that I question the prudence of this plan that we have envisaged in this Bill unless it be introduced with very emphatic and clear reservations by the Minister. What I am afraid of is this: that we are going to be told, when accommodation has been provided for perhaps one-half of the tubercular cases in this country, that the remainder must have recourse to the provisions of this Bill, that it is not practicable to provide sanatorium accommodation for all the people in the country suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis and that we need not get unduly worried about that inadequacy of sanatorium accommodation because those who cannot have accommodation in a sanatorium can fall back on the provisions of this Bill. My submission, Sir, is that, if any such attitude is adopted by the Government, they are sentencing a large number of the population to death and they are definitely wasting every penny of the money they are going to spend on their larger sanatorium scheme in the country.

If the Deputy would permit me——

With the greatest pleasure.

I do not think that he ought to waste either his energy or his eloquence in discussing this matter in view of the fact that he quite obviously did not hear what I said. I said when introducing this measure that the Oireachtas had enacted the Tuberculosis (Establishment of Sanatoria) Bill, 1945; that under that measure we hoped to provide institutional accommodation for those who required it, but that there is a comparatively large number of tubercular cases—he himself has indicated that he knows that fact—who could benefit by treatment and for whom it was not necessary to provide treatment in institutions. This Bill is designed to deal with these cases and these cases only.

Precisely, Sir, but there is our very difficulty. It is a matter of very acute controversy between various schools of medical thought as to what kind of persons may with safety be treated at home and what classes must be treated in sanatoria. I think all classes of medical thought would agree that, provided there was no disproportionate disruption of the domestic circle, it would be preferable to remove all persons suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis into a comfortable hospital.

The Deputy knows as well as I do that that proviso cannot in fact be universally complied with.

Because there would be, in a very large number of cases, that complete disruption which he fears and which would retard recovery.

Now the very danger that I foresee is beginning to show itself. I foresee that people are going to come along and say: "Here are family circumstances in which it is desirable that the infected person should remain within the family circle; let us have recourse to this Housing (Amendment) Bill and build a separate room for the patient. We admit it is not the most effective way of dealing with the pulmonary condition from which the patient is suffering or of meeting the family situation created by the incursion of this disease into the family circle, but in all the circumstances it is the best we can do."

It is the best thing.

Wait a moment. The Minister may feel assured in himself and advised by the medical authorities in the Department that in every case he would get the best opinion and would, with good will, be enabled to judge what in each case was the best thing. Would the Minister transport his mind down to a local authority in the country and consider how each local authority may look on these types of case? Can he not conceive a situation arising in which a local authority would say: "There are two ways of meeting the tuberculosis situation in our area of jurisdiction; we can either opt for sending the patients to the State sanatoria, with whatever charge that would bring on us, if that service is available, or we could opt to provide the accommodation designed under the Housing Act, 1945."

I am sorry that the Deputy has not read the Bill. The local authority has no option in the matter at all.

Is the authority reserved to a particular Minister?

To whom is it reserved?

The certifying authority in this case is the county medical officer of health.

Is a county medical officer of health in this country a person in whose absolute discretion the Minister would unreservedly trust in respect of somebody near and dear to him, if smitten with tuberculosis? In the rarefied atmosphere of the Custom House and of this Chamber, we are sometimes inclined to think that, whereas, if one of our family were struck down, we would search Dublin for the best practitioner available, it is good enough to leave the wife of a labourer, or the labourer himself, in rural Ireland to the tender mercies of whomsoever happens to be for the time being medical officer of health for that county. I do not want to do that. I want to have open to the humblest individual in the State the same amenities—I mean that literally—that would be available to the Minister or to myself if one of our families were smitten with tuberculosis. Does that sound unreasonable? I do not think that it does. I name no names but, were that disease to come on me or mine, I should go to a certain doctor in Dublin and try to get myself, or mine, into a certain sanatorium. We ought to make available to the humblest creature down the country precisely the same resources which would be available to the Minister or myself. When we were discussing this question of tuberculosis here recently, I think that that view was pretty generally held on all sides. Does the Minister seriously say to me that, if pulmonary tuberculosis were to manifest itself in one of our families and we were put to election between treatment of the patient in our own homes or sending the patient to a sanatorium where we knew he would be well looked after night and day and have at hand facilities for the treatment of any development which might arise, we should do as is suggested here? Suppose somebody said: "There are two courses open; you may send the patient to a sanatorium or keep him at home", would we send for the county medical officer of health for his opinion? In the case of certain counties, I would not. I should take good care to have somebody else's opinion.

The county medical officers of health were not primarily chosen as tuberculosis officers in every case. In a good many cases, they have been made to do that work. It is no disrespect to them to say that their treatment of tuberculosis in many cases is not one on which I should care to depend. I seriously apprehend that you may have the procedure envisaged in this Bill substituted, in some areas, for the plan which I understood to be accepted— the offer of sanatorium accommodation to every individual suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis who is prepared to avail of it. If the Minister says to me that, whatever the inclinations of individual patients may be, side by side with this measure he adheres to his firm resolution to provide adequate sanatorium accommodation for every foreseeable case of tuberculosis, then I believe he acquits himself very largely of the dangers to which this Bill may give rise. But I beg of the House seriously to dwell on this matter, because there is a very real danger. I have known these types of chalets to be availed of and I have known the patients to die. Of course, we all know that, in the best sanatorium in the world, patients will occasionally die. It is extremely difficult in this House to discuss a measure of this kind, because we are confronted by the Minister, who is supported by his medical advisers and purports to speak with their advice, whereas we, laymen, on the various sides of the House, are endeavouring to deal with a highly technical problem without the benefit of advice of that kind. I know enough of the problem to assert without fear of contradiction that, if we depart from our resolution to make provision in properly equipped sanatoria for every case of pulmonary tuberculosis that occurs in this country within the next 10 years, we shall sabotage the whole plan for combating that disease in the State. Therefore, if this Bill is in any sense contemplated as a substitute for the full provision of sanatorium accommodation, it is a bad Bill. If it is in addition to full sanatorium treatment for every case, it is a Bill on which I should like to have expert medical opinion before determining whether it should be supported or not.

That brings me to the second point which I want to make. Why does the Minister insert the word "pulmonary"? It seems to me that, if this Bill were used in the right way, in the event of its becoming an Act, it should be much more used for non-pulmonary than for pulmonary tuberculosis. As the Minister is aware, there is in this country virtually no provision in institutions for the treatment of bone tuberculosis. If a boy of 17 or 20 years of age gets Pott's disease of the spine, there is no hospital, so far as I am aware, which is prepared to keep him until he is completely cured, which may be for a period of two years. He will be brought to a surgical hospital and there, after a suitable waiting period, will be put into a surgical frame on which he may have to lie for upwards of 12 months while the healing process of the spine proceeds. In many cases, the patient is returned to his people. The tuberculosis nurse, the tuberculosis medical officer and the local dispensary medical officer may call and advise on his treatment from time to time but, ordinarily, the nursing of that patient devolves upon his family. Those of us who are familiar with country houses are aware of the common practice of those houses—that one bedroom is devoted to the girls, another to the boys and the third to the father and mother. Everybody must realise that the maintenance of a young person on a surgical frame for a protracted period in a bedroom used by two or three other members of the family becomes an acute inconvenience to the members of that family. Why should we not permit a household, in cases where the local medical officer of health determines that any tubercular condition requires a greater measure of segregation than the house in question can afford, to avail of the provisions of this Bill and build an added room? What is to be lost by taking out the word "pulmonary" in this case? Will not every Deputy in the House familiar with rural conditions confirm what I say—that a person who has a protracted illness before him which requires his being confined to bed should, in fact, have a room to himself and not be thrust in with one or two other members of the family? If the Bill is to go through I urge on the Minister to consider an amendment along those lines. Before the Bill goes through, I want from the Minister a categorical assurance that there will be no diminution of the Government's resolve to provide sanatorium treatment in adequately equipped sanatoria for every case of pulmonary tuberculosis that manifests itself in this country for the next 10 years.

I think that this Bill can be a big factor in the fight against tuberculosis. We are all aware of cases where, owing to not being able to get proper treatment in the initial stages, the affected person has developed tuberculosis to an incurable degree and some other members of the family have become affected to a lesser extent. There are many people who, if they could provide for the isolation of patients in their own homes, would be prepared to do so and at least keep the disease from getting so far advanced that it becomes incurable. I think that this Bill, therefore, will be of great assistance in a number of cases. Unfortunately sanatorium treatment cannot be provided for all those who desire to avail of it. In spite of all that can be done, it is not adequate to meet the requirements of people who may have to remain on the waiting list for years to come. Naturally this Bill can only deal with cases of patients who are in the earlier stages of the disease. Consequently, to my mind, time is an essential factor if the Bill is to become fully effective. Accordingly, I should like the Minister to take steps to see that when a case is discovered, there is no delay in certification and no delay in passing and sanctioning plans for these buildings. Steps should also be taken to provide that priority will be given in the allocation of materials necessary for such buildings. I think that some system of precedence for such cases is necessary. Further, I think that the clause in the Bill which prohibits an increase in the valuation for seven years is a wise one, as the possibility of being made liable for extra rates might act as a deterrent to some people in taking the steps necessary to provide the additional room. I heartily approve of the Bill.

The first part of the Bill deals with the ordinary subject of housing. This is not the Bill under which the big housing drive, which we anticipate, will be operated but the Minister has informed us that another Bill will be introduced to deal with that question. That is all we can say on that aspect of the matter at the moment. Section 3 provides that in certain cases assistance will be given to people suffering from tuberculosis towards the cost of adding a room to their houses. It is further provided that a local authority will not be able to obtain any extra rates in respect of that building and that the Department of Finance will not be able to obtain any income-tax in respect of that room for a period of seven years. So far everything seems splendid and I am sure every Deputy will approve of the provisions of the Bill. I would suggest to the Minister that he should consider the position in regard to the landlord of the premises. Perhaps the Minister has already done so but, in case he has not, I suggest that this is a matter that will require the most careful consideration.

As some Deputies are aware, in many cases the tenant of a house is precluded by the terms of the lease from putting up any additional building and very often there is a clause imposing a penal rent in the event of such a building being erected. I think the Minister should take power to deal with that situation, either by making such provision inoperative in regard to a room built under this section or leaving it to the Minister to decide whether the landlord should have that authority or not. There is another difficulty in regard to obtaining the consent of the local authority, particularly of the town planning authority. Town planning authorities are most hostile to the addition of rooms to existing buildings. That aspect gives rise to considerable difficulty for people who want to erect an additional room.

It is one and the same authority.

The town planning authority may take a more serious view. They may be concerned with the outline of the building, the skyline and so on, and the Minister might be concerned only with the medical aspect. I suggest that the Minister should have special power to override objections by the local authority or town planning authority in respect of rooms built under this section.

The introduction of this Bill will at least prove to the House that the Minister is awake to the seriousness of the situation. The proposal to grant £100 towards the erection of an additional room so as to separate the healthy members of the family from the tubercular patient is a step in the right direction, but what I have more particularly in mind is the immediate treatment of existing cases. I have in mind five or six hundred persons who are on the waiting list for immediate attention in sanatoria and who have little or no chance of getting into any sanatorium at an early date. Under this proposal to provide £100 for the erection of additional rooms in patients' homes, it will probably take a year or two before the room is ready for the patient. Again, the Minister, by giving them an empty room, is not providing them with tuberculosis treatment in their homes. There is nothing in the Bill about nurses to visit the homes of T.B. patients.

On a point of order——

Does the Minister——

There are two Deputies on their feet.

I saw you were going to get up.

Sit down.

May I point out to the Chair that this is a Bill which is intended to subsidise, through subventions to local authorities, the erection of additional accommodation for tubercular patients in their own homes? There is nothing in the Bill before the House dealing with nursing. There is this provision in the Bill to which the Deputy has not adverted—he must not have read it—that the grant will be given by the local authority only in cases where the person in respect of whom the grant is given is undergoing treatment for tuberculosis.

I do not know what point of order the Minister wishes to make because he saw that I was on the right track.

This is a Housing Bill, not a Public Health Bill.

I was on the right track —trying to draw the Minister's attention to the fact that he was going to give tuberculosis patients empty rooms, and that the empty rooms would not be ready for them for a year or two. What I am asking him is this: will he do something immediately for the 500 or 600 tuberculosis patients who are waiting for sanatorium treatment, some of them in our medical and surgical hospitals, taking up beds there because there is no other bed for them to go to?

On a point of order: may I direct the Chair's attention to the fact that, under an existing Vote of the House, provision has been made to enable local authorities to provide those persons with beds and bedding, and clothing and food. In addition to that, to-morrow the House will be discussing a public health measure in which this problem is dealt with more comprehensively. This is a Housing Bill, not a Public Health Bill.

I have no knowledge of the Bill that will come before the House to-morrow——

Has the Deputy not read it?

The Minister has all the knowledge. What I wanted to do is to draw the attention of the House to the urgent necessity of spending £100 per bed immediately—the £100 that is to be spent on rooms—in some of the sanatoria or hospitals that need increased accommodation for tuberculosis patients, so that they can remove those patients out of the medical and surgical wards and accommodate them in a separate ward.

The Deputy is outside this Bill now. There is a Public Health Bill for discussion to-morrow. Neither the Deputy nor other Deputies may anticipate the discussion of that Bill.

Could we not have put down a reasoned amendment to this Bill——

But the Deputy did not.

But if a reasoned amendment in those terms was open for discussion, surely we can argue that this is not the best way to spend this money?

No reasoned amendment was put down. The Chair would have to judge whether it was in order or not.

Is it not in order for Deputy Byrne to argue that this money would be better spent in another way to deal effectually with tuberculosis?

The Deputy is not so arguing.

I understood him to argue in that sense.

He wants more money for a matter which is outside this Bill.

The Minister is envisaging the expenditure of £100 per chalet. Deputy Byrne argues that the £100 per chalet could more effectively be used for the abatement of tuberculosis by providing £100-beds in hospitals which are willing and anxious to avail of that money to provide beds now for the treatment of tuberculosis.

The Deputy is in fact against the Bill? Is not that the point Deputy Dillon is making—that Deputy Byrne is opposed to this Bill?

Deputy Byrne is arguing that there could be more effective treatment of tuberculosis in the way he suggests.

It is a good thing that it should go on record.

If the Deputy were so arguing, he would be in order.

You would get more than 28 per cent, to come out and vote——

We might hear Deputy Byrne.

Almost before I stood up I could see that the Minister was getting ready to interrupt. I sat down to allow him to interrupt at the very beginning, because those are his tactics at all times when I stand up to speak on any measure. If he is trying to prevent me from making my case he is on the wrong track. Even if he sneers at me—his Parliamentary Secretary is sneering with him now— when I speak on this serious problem, it does not affect me in the least. I still say that there are hundreds of tuberculosis patients in this city waiting for beds and that this £100 per room could be better spent by giving it to hospitals which are anxious to improve their position, and letting them separate their tuberculosis patients from the medical and surgical cases that are in the one ward. That is the case I want to make. I do not condemn the Bill. The Minister was trying to misrepresent me when he said that. I welcome this Bill. I think it is a step in the right direction. I said I was glad that the Minister was awake to his responsibilities, and that the introduction of this Bill showed us that he was. What I want to get at is that this £100 per room means that he is going to condemn a patient to stay in that room without nursing facilities, without medical attention, and without the food that is necessary in a sanatorium for the treatment of tuberculosis.

There is that danger.

I remember a time in Crooksling Sanatorium when we had a special scale of diet for the patients. There were chickens on one day, and other kinds of food another day. The Minister is merely shoving his responsibilities on to other shoulders by introducing this Bill as if it were a complete remedy for tuberculosis. I know the case of a tuberculosis patient who, only yesterday, was put out of a sanatorium because they could not do anything for him. In cases like that the patients come home to die. In another case, only yesterday, a girl patient wanted to get into a sanatorium, and it fell to my lot to tell the family that she could not be admitted, and would not be able to avail of the benefit of treatment there. I want temporary accommodation to be found in some big buildings, on which the Minister could spend this £100,000 for the immediate benefit of the tuberculosis patients of to-day, and not the tuberculosis patients of five years from now. He is making arrangements——

If the Deputy thinks that, I hope he will have the courage to vote against this Bill.

—to provide for the patients of four or five years from now and on that matter he is to be congratulated, but what I am anxious about are the unfortunate 2,000 or 3,000 people in this city to-day who are not being properly looked after, and for whom no accommodation is being found. In common with other men in public life, I have met mothers who have said: "For God's sake, will you give my daughter a chance by getting her into a sanatorium?" I have tried and failed. I have done everything possible with the medical authorities to try to get beds for those patients. Only yesterday, as I have already said, a girl was refused admission to a sanatorium, and she had to go into a medical and surgical hospital. They are putting her out this week, although she has nowhere to go. In another case a man went into a sanatorium a month ago, and at the end of the month his unfortunate wife and family were told: "Take him home; we can do nothing for him." All I am asking is: for God's sake let them die in peace, and do not drive them out as they are being driven out of the hospitals and institutions to-day.

At times I feel sorry for having to raise my voice in the House on account of the way the Minister tries to irritate me. He is the only Minister who tries to do that when one endeavours to draw his attention to what is going on in the City of Dublin to-day. There are a thousand people waiting for sanatorium treatment, and this Bill is going to put them into empty rooms, without nurses, without doctors, and without the dietary scale that is provided for tuberculosis patients. I say there are a thousands of that kind in Dublin to-day, and I do appeal to the Minister to put this £100,000 or another £100,000 into some kind of temporary building, take a couple of hundred patients in, and pay a staff, and pay them heavily, to give those unfortunate people a chance.

I agree with much of what Deputy Dillon has said in this matter so far as the provision of extra rooms or chalets for tuberculosis patients is concerned. I think it should definitely be the policy of the Minister and this House that sanatorium treatment should be offered to all tuberculosis patients. We cannot hope to make a proper attack on the scourage of tuberculosis if we do not do that. I feel that this provision might be very dangerous if sanatorium treatment is not offered. It might serve a very useful purpose if a patient coming back after a course of treatment in a sanatorium is put into a room or chalet of this sort, but surely in the case of a patient even in the initial stages of tuberculosis it is essential to isolate that patient in the interests of the family.

Putting the patient in a room or a chalet outside will not ensure isolation. As a matter of fact, I think that one definite advantage that a patient gets from being in a sanatorium is that he learns to understand himself; that he must take certain precautions and keep certain rules of life, and I fear that these precautions will not be taken if the patient is not sent to a sanatorium, in the first place, where he can get the advice of the best experts that we have. We know that if a special room is not provided in a house for a member of the family who may be suffering from this disease, other members of that family—perhaps, young children, will be in and out of that room, and the utensils used by the patient will be used by the children and other members of the family; and the one thing that is essential, if we wish to save the rest of the family from the disease and to stop the spread of the disease through the whole family, is segregation.

In that connection, if we are to take the Minister at his word, I presume that if you are going to treat certain patients and provide sufficient institutional accommodation for them in the home, there will be sufficient finances provided for the maintenance of the family. However, I do not want to go into that, because I am sure that the necessary finances to maintain the family while the parent is in the institution will be provided, and I take it that the House is agreed that that should be so. It seems to me that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister has already informed the House that that aspect of the problem is being considered, but I think that the Minister, when he is replying, should give an assurance to the House that it is the intention, when sufficient sanatoria are provided, that every individual in this country suffering from tuberculosis will be given the opportunity of proper sanatorium treatment and advice, that some provision will be made for the proper amounts of segregation from the other members of the family when the patient returns home, and that it will be made sure that the patient understands how he has to live and what rules he has to keep for, possibly, a year or two after he returns home.

So far as the other part of the Bill —the part that provides for a grant— is concerned I want to say that I am very sorry that the Minister has not seen fit to alter the former provisions, in view of the circumstances in which we live and the increased cost of the building or reconstruction of houses. I have always felt that the limitation of £25 valuation was far too low, and that a man living on a holding of slightly over that valuation, and who has a family, has a very hard struggle to exists. Very often, in the case of such a man, when it is necessary to provide some increase in the allowance for his family, he finds himself unable to do so, and surely we ought to make some provision for such cases. In the case of rural dwellers, at the present time, who are living in a house which requires reconstruction, we should take into consideration the increased cost that would be involved if such a person were to tackle a problem of that sort. At the present moment, as the result of the emergency, the cost involved would be enormous, and, for that reason, I think the Minister should consider increasing the amount of those grants.

The Minister might also consider the fact that in certain parts of the country the valuations of certain small holdings have been increased because the county councils have put a certain amount of turbary in these areas, and that has increased the cost, and I suppose that that might prevent such people from benefiting from any of the things that will occur in connection with this Bill. That would be a very grave hardship on the people concerned, but, apart from that, I think that the provisions, generally, for assistance to individuals in connection with this Bill fall into the low categories so far as the valuation of agricultural holdings in this country is concerned, and that the amount of assistance provided is not sufficient. Accordingly, I think that the Minister should seriously consider raising the level of assistance and also increasing the valuation of holdings to which the grant would apply. As regards the provision of a room or chalet, for which provision is made under Section 3 (1) (g), for the recoupment to the local authority of an amount not exceeding £100 or two-thirds of the grant, whichever is the less, it seems to me that that means throwing back on the local authority a very substantial burden by way of the raising of that money. I feel, accordingly, that that will throw a great burden on the agricultural community because, after all, it is the agricultural community that subscribes a very substantial portion of the local rates, and I do not think it is fair to single out one portion of the community to bear the cost of this.

It happens to be a very personal problem to those who are living in contact with the disease.

This is a State contribution and, therefore, the cost should fail on the taxpayers as a whole, but it would appear that, under this Bill, it is going to fall on one section of the community, and I do not think it is fair to single out one section of the community to bear the cost. That has happened, not alone in connection with this particular Bill, but in connection with other measures also, and I do not see why one section of the community should be singled out to bear the cost. Again, I would point out to the Minister that since 1932 there has been a very large increase in costs of various materials, and that there will be new difficulties to be faced in the post-war period: that conditions which at that period were fairly good, are not now sufficient to meet costs in present circumstances. I would ask the Minister to consider that point.

I expected that every Deputy would have welcomed this Bill, and have had nothing but praise for it. I was really surprised to find that most of the Opposition Deputies, evidently unwilling to give the praise it merits, went outside the scope and intention of the Bill altogether. When Deputy Dillon started to speak, I thought he was going to confine himself to the Bill, but he was not more than a few minutes going when he ran true to form and tried to represent this very excellent measure as a measure actually designed to retard the fight against tuberculosis. He spoke as if this Bill meant the abolition altogether of senatorium treatment. There is nothing in the Bill which would lead anyone to make that assertion. I think it can only have been made with the usual intention of the particular Deputy to discredit anything that emanates from the Government. Deputy Byrne very adroitly saved himself by saying that he welcomed the Bill, that it was a step in the right direction. But immediately he went on to make capital and propaganda out of things completely unconcerned and unconnected with the Bill. I think it is a most enlightened measure, and that when it is availed of by the local authorities and by the poor victims of this disease, it will be recognised as probably the biggest step that has been made in this fight against tuberculosis.

It is a fact that you can have verified by tuberculosis specialists anywhere that hundreds of thousands of people have recovered from this disease in their own homes. In the course of the previous campaign against tuberculosis, I remember its being stated that the majority of ordinary people have at some time in their lives been affected by tuberculosis. There you have it clearly shown that people recover from it in their own homes. There is a certain amount of comfort in the mere surroundings that a person has in his own home. If things are even normally right, even in poor families I think that the comfort and companionship of his own people tend very much towards the recovery of the patient.

I am absolutely in favour of sanatorium treatment and, if there was anything in this Bill to cut out sanatorium treatment, I would not vote for it, but I do not see anything in this Bill that would bring about that result. Like Deputy Byrne and other members of the Dublin Corporation, I have seen people come home from sanatoria after having benefited by their treatment and have then seen them fall back again through overcrowding in their homes. I think the provision of an extra room will do much to prevent that. According to my reading of the measure this additional room will be of advantage to anyone undergoing treatment. I presume that if a person is undergoing treatment in a sanatorium this room can be built and that he can come back into the better surroundings with a chance of observing the rules and regulations he has been taught in the sanatorium and that a complete recovery will be likely to accrue.

The valuation provisions are very generous and very necessary. I think the Minister should be congratulated on every point in that particular section dealing with the tuberculosis problem. The provision of a chalet is sometimes necessary because you may have a big enough house without any overcrowding but, on account, of the bad aspect, if the house is facing north or north-east, it would not be possible to add on to the house. A distinct chalet or hut might be a better idea in that case. Then, sometimes, you have a house facing due south but with higher buildings in front of it, so that if you built behind the house the windows would be facing north. Therefore, you have to get a bit away from the house and I am very glad that the grant can be given towards the erection of a chalet or a hut.

The provision that the borrowing powers of the local authorities are not to be restricted by reason of the fact that they may take advantage of this measure is an admirable one. There is one possible abuse, however, that may arise when this comes into operation. From my experience as a councillor I know it is a possibility, and every other councillor I think will agree that it is a possibility that, when this extra room is put up, other beds than the bed for the T.B. patient will be put into that room. Indeed, our corporation experience leads us to fear that there might be even a worse abuse because some people, if they get an additional room, will take in boarders or lodgers. I hope that local authorities will keep a very strict watch to see that this additional room is maintained for the benefit and the cure of the tuberculosis patient and that it will not be otherwise used until the patient is completely cured. I welcome the measure and I think the Minister should receive nothing but congratulations from all sides of the House.

The Minister mentioned that he hoped to get all stages of this Bill through to-day. I hope he is not serious in that because, so far as the ordinary provisions of this Bill are concerned, it occurs to me that, in certain circumstances, I might be anxious to propose an amendment. If the remaining stages are being taken to-morrow, I do not know up to what time the Minister would be prepared to take an amendment.

The amendment will be a matter for the Chair, but the possibilities of amendment to this Bill are very limited.

Mr. Dockrell

I quite agree with the Minister that, no doubt, the Chair would have to be satisfied that the amendment was in order, and if it were not in order I am sure the Chair would have the assistance of the Minister.

The Minister has a very bad technique for getting a Bill through in one day.

I did not ask for it in one day, because I knew that we would be met with this obstructive attitude on the part of the Opposition, either official or unofficial.

Obstructive, my foot.

Mr. Dockrell

To continue about the provision with regard to tuberculosis which is in this Bill, I am trying to think of the machinery by which a room will be provided for a person who is suffering from tuberculosis. I take it that it must be physically possible to put an addition to the house or cottage. That would seem to rule out of consideration almost all the houses in Dublin and, I would imagine, a very large proportion of those in County Dublin. Of course when you get down to the country it is another matter. The Minister mentioned the possible provision of a chalet near the house. Now, a chalet is usually made of timber, and I would hazard a guess that the amount of timber used in a one-roomed chalet would be equal probably to the timber which would be required for a workingman's dwelling of the present day. Does the Minister envisage, any time in the next three or four years, having timber to spare?

There is nothing in this Bill which prescribes that only timber shall be used for building a chalet.

Is that a point of order or only just impudence?

Mr. Dockrell

As I understand the word "chalet", it is a word used for houses in Switzerland built, solely of timber. Possibly that is my ignorance.

Not at all. The Deputy is merely presuming the Minister's intelligence, which is a very great presumption.

Deputy Dockrell should be allowed to make his own speech.

Deputy Dillon will help him.

Mr. Dockrell

The Minister seems to be optimistic that these chalets can be put up of material other than timber. I make him a present of that idea: if they can, that is all right. To continue on the idea of a person who is suffering from tuberculosis and who is going to get the advantage or the disadvantages—I hope it will not be the disadvantages—of this Bill, I am making this case this evening for the Minister's consideration. The medical officer comes along and certifies that a patient who is receiving treatment ought to have this room provided. Now, I take it that the local authority would send along the surveyor and a plan or something like that would be prepared, together with an estimate of the cost, and that would be sent up to the Department. Does the Minister imagine that that could be provided inside 12 months? I suggest that 12 months is the very minimum, and quite conceivably the period would be longer.

Then the timber problem will not be so serious, as the Deputy tried to indicate a moment ago.

Mr. Dockrell

Well, if the timber problem is going to be solved in the next 12 months, Joseph Stalin will have to take a hand in our timber problem over here.

Do not mention Joseph Stalin or the Minister will go berserk this evening. He will declare war on Russia, if the Deputy mentions Joseph's name again.

Mr. Dockrell

That is not the only thing that has driven the Minister berserk this evening.

It is true for you.

Some of us think he is permanently so.

Mr. Dockrell

He has lucid intervals.

We accept that as a fair medical report.

This discussion might be carried on more effectively outside.

Mr. Dockrell

I am prepared to continue outside.

The Deputy may continue, but he need not take such notice of interruptions.

Mr. Dockrell

Very well, I will consider Deputy Norton beneath my notice.

Keep us out of war, anyhow.

Mr. Dockrell

Does the Minister suggest that accommodation such as is mentioned in this Bill can be provided inside 12 months? I would very much like that he should make an estimate for us as to the time it will take for this to be brought about. The Minister has the advantage of the medical adviser next to him as to what stages might be gone through in a rapid consumption case in 12 months. The really fair way of dealing with this would be for the medical officer to be able to order that person into a sanatorium, to be brought back when the accommodation was provided. Otherwise, it will leave a whole lot of people believing that they are about to get an addition to a house for their treatment which, indeed, and in fact, will never be provided. To my mind, that would be the acid test of the sincerity of this measure. In other words, this Bill in certain instances conceivably can provide an advantageous way of treating the disease, possibly in its early stages; but I suggest that full sanatorium benefit should be provided until that accommodation is available, and that that should be at the discretion of the medical officer in charge of the case.

Now, I will sit down and be very interested to hear the Minister's calculation as to what time he thinks would elapse between a medical officer saying that a patient should be provided with this accommodation and the patient going into the room that has been provided for him.

I move the adjournment of the debate.

Mr. Coburn rose.

The debate is being adjourned.

But I wish to speak on this Bill.

May I suggest a way out of the difficulty? The next motion is a motion by Deputy Byrne suggesting that a Minister for Housing should be appointed and, perhaps, the Deputy might, on that motion, make the speech that he would make on the Bill.

There are some matters connected with housing upon which I should like to address the House.

If the Leas-Cheann Comhairle did not see Deputy Coburn when he rose to address the House, that should not mean that he is going to be squeezed out of the debate.

That is a different matter.

On a point of order. I suggest that, as the Minister has moved the adjournment of the debate, he is now in possession for the purpose of concluding the debate.

Not at all.

No, that is not the position.

I would like to be clear on that point and, if we are not to have a difficulty to-morrow arising out of a misinterpretation of that, perhaps the Minister will now allow Deputy Coburn to move the adjournment.

I have no desire to prevent Deputy Coburn from speaking because I know that on most Housing Bills he makes a valuable contribution. If I could have some reasonable assurance that this Bill and the other important measure which will come before the House to-morrow will be passed through all stages to-morrow, I should be prepared to make a concession.

The Minister is endeavouring to make a bargain. There will be no bargain at all. Deputy Corburn and the Minister rose together. The Leas-Cheann Comhairle failed to notice Deputy Coburn.

That is not quite right.

There will be no bargain at all about a Deputy getting his right to speak. Deputy Coburn has a clear right to speak and, if he does not get it on this stage, may I suggest that he will have ample opportunity on the Committee Stage of the Bill to raise every point that requires to be raised? The Minister, instead of treating the House as if he were being blockaded, should try to recognise that Deputies here are endeavouring to act reasonably. But there will be no bargain.

In order to solve the difficulty, I suggest that the Minister should extent his generosity and allow Deputy Coburn to move the adjournment.

There is no member of the House I would rather hear on the subject of housing than Deputy Coburn. He generally talks sense and not as Deputy Dillon would talk.

Deputy Coburn is being taken as moving the adjournment of the debate.

I want to make my position clear. Independently of what other Deputies may say or do, I want my rights here. I rose simultaneously with the Minister.

The matter is settled now. The Deputy is being taken as moving the adjournment of the debate.

I trust it is not by way of being a suppliant that I am being put in that position.

No. I am taking you as moving the adjournment.

I am aware that the discussion is somewhat confined and, although perhaps on this Bill I could not do so, I should like to make a rather comprehensive statement on the housing question.

The Deputy will be in possession and he will resume the debate.

It is not as a sort of favour that that is being done?

No— that is clear. The House will now proceed to Private Deputies' Business.