Deputy Broderick made some very pertinent observations on Section 36 and then moved to report progress. Since he is not here now I assume that he has terminated his remarks. I should like, therefore, to reply to certain observations he made. He said first of all that there was no room in the Bill for free association between county authorities in respect of plans as they developed. He also spoke of there being nothing in the Bill to assist county authorities to co-operate where they could agree in advance. He further spoke of the difficulties arising from one authority carrying out work on a bridge in which another authority was vitally interested. In regard to these three different factors, so far as association between county authorities is concerned, during the preparation of plans there is nothing to prevent two county authorities from forming a joint committee under the Adaptation of Enactments Act, 1898. They can form it informally or they can form it under that Act for the purpose of discussing matters and if possible of co-operating in regard to plans for the bridge. They can consider the cost to each authority and the distribution of the cost as between the two authorities. In regard to their agreeing in advance of the Minister making a bridge Order, I think I already said that before the Report Stage we shall consider some amendment to facilitate such agreement in advance and to enable some of the provisions of the bridge legislation to be dispensed with by allowing these local authorities at some point to decide that they are going to share the expenses in an agreed ratio. That will be considered on the Report Stage.
In regard to executing the work on the bridge, it is our opinion that one authority, and one authority only, must carry out the engineering work on the bridge and that the engineering administration should be related to one authority. We feel that the alternative of creating a separate engineering organisation by two authorities would be unwieldy and cumbersome and that any watching brief, so to speak, held by one authority on a work being executed by another authority must be in the nature of an informal arrangement. So far as I know there is nothing in the Bill which would prevent, shall we say, the Cork County Council from appointing an engineer with a watching brief to consult with the Waterford County Council from time to time in regard to the carrying out of the work. It should be clearly stated that if the Waterford County Council or if, alternatively, the Cork County Council, carry out the work, to them would be left full responsibility. I need hardly add that in view of the very heavy financial commitments involved in the construction of such a large bridge, it or any large bridge, would be under the constant supervision of the engineering staff of the Department of Local Government. It is estimated that bridges on national highways across considerable stretches of water will cost anything from £140,000 to £250,000. It would, therefore, be the duty of the Minister to see that the work is carried out competently and expeditiously at every stage.
Deputy Broderick also referred to one county authority having a particular preference for a particular engineer. In regard to that matter the Minister must decide, in the first instance, who is to be the executing authority, and, in connection with any grant from the Road Fund made for the bridge, he must be satisfied that the special engineer appointed to work with the existing engineering staff, is a person of high qualifications. He must be satisfied that the work will be carried out under the authority of that person but I think the Deputy will realise that it would be quite impossible to deal with the preferences of any particular locality for a particular engineer within the terms of this Bill. I think that disposes of the points which the Deputy made. Before the Report Stage we shall see whether we can short-circuit the operations under certain provisions of the Bill by making arrangements to assist and encourage local authorities to co-operate and present an agreed report in advance.