Financial Resolutions. - Local Government Bill, 1945—Report Stage (Resumed).

I move amendment No. 19:—

In page 20, before Section 48, line 58, to insert the following new section:—

48.—(1) Whenever a harbour authority are authorised by a harbour works Order under Part VIII of the Harbours Act, 1946 (No. 9 of 1946) to construct or maintain the bridge—

(a) this Part of this Act (except Sections 49 and 51) shall have effect as if such harbour authority were a road authority,

(b) sub-section (1) of Section 45 of this Act shall have effect as if the expenses incurred by such harbour authority under the Harbours Act, 1946, in obtaining the harbour works Order were part of the expenses of the work.

(2) The Minister shall not by virtue of this section do any of the following things save with the consent of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, that is to say:—

(a) include in the bridge Order a direction under Section 42 of this Act to a harbour authority to execute the work;

(b) include in the bridge Order a requirement under sub-section (1) of Section 45 of this Act of a contribution to be made by a harbour authority;

(c) in a case where the application for the bridge Order is made by a road authority other than a harbour authority and is refused require under sub-section (2) of Section 41 of this Act a contribution to be made by a harbour authority;

(d) vary under sub-section (3) of Section 45 of this Act a contribution to be made by a harbour authority under sub-section (1) of the said section.

(3) In this section the expression "harbour authority" has the same meaning as in the Harbours Act, 1946.

Section 134 of the Harbours Act, 1946, empowers the Minister for Industry and Commerce to authorise harbour authorities to carry out certain works. The purpose of Section 134 is to obviate the need for Private Bills on each occasion on which it is desired that a harbour authority should carry out the work. The purpose of this new section is to make a harbour authority, that has been authorised to construct or maintain a bridge, a road authority for the purpose of Part IV of the Bill. An example of how the section will work can be found in connection with the proposed transporter bridge over the river Liffey. The Dublin Port and Docks (Bridges) Act, 1929, provided for the construction of this bridge by the Dublin Port and Docks Board. The cost of construction and portion of the cost of operation was to be borne by the local authority. The time in which the work was to be undertaken has expired. Under the new Harbours Act it is open to the Minister for Industry and Commerce to authorise the construction of such a bridge by the Dublin Port and Docks Board, but before this could be done Part IV of the Bill would have to be brought into operation in order that the financial contribution by the Dublin Corporation, which was at that time contemplated, could be made.

The purpose, therefore, of this amendment is to include harbour authorities among the authorities which can be consulted by the Minister for Local Government in connection with financial matters arising out of the construction of bridges; that is to say, that if the Minister for Industry and Commerce should permit a harbour authority to construct a bridge, a preliminary report can be obtained on the character of the bridge and the necessary inquiries held, just as though the harbour authority was a road authority, in order that the road authority and the harbour authority could combine and co-ordinate in respect of the financial contribution. In fact, this amendment could have been inserted during the Committee Stage if the Harbours Act had been passed and if we were fully aware of its implications.

I do not know whether I follow the Parliamentary Secretary fully in this matter. Do I understand that the full purport of this proposed new section is merely to give the Minister an opportunity of consulting with the harbour authority, and it does not go beyond that?

I think the Deputy is, perhaps, understanding the position.

That is what I want to get clear on.

Under the new Harbours Act, the Minister for Industry and Commerce can authorise a harbour authority to construct a bridge, but if, for reasons of public good, the local authority should pay part of the cost of that bridge, then the harbour authority can be included along with other road authorities, or a road authority, in the application of the general provisions of Part IV of the Bill, so that if a harbour authority, for example, is to construct a bridge, the plans could be sent to the local authority and could then be examined by the Minister for Local Government if there should be some conflict between the local authority and the harbour authority. I think I have made the position fairly clear.

Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary will clarify, if not the section, at least my mind, a little more. This, I take it, brings in something new and it gives an opportunity now of putting the cost or portion of the cost on the local authority which could not, without the passage of this section, be put on them?

That is correct.

Therefore, it is a fresh imposition on the local authority. It is giving power to impose part of the cost of a bridge on the local authority, that power not being here if this new section is not inserted?

That is the position.

That is the point I want to get at. That is where I find myself in some difficulty because, having regard to the fact that the local authority now, or almost immediately, will be there in name only, for a purpose such as this it will consist of an official who, so far as his responsibility is concerned, instead of sitting in the Custom House will sit and operate in the City Hall. So far as any power in relation to the local authority is concerned, he will have none when this Bill becomes law. I object to the provision of fresh opportunities to put further impositions on local authorities, particularly when the direct representatives of the people will have no say in the matter. This section seems to me to be bringing into the Bill something for which the Bill was never intended from the beginning. It is a completely new matter. It proposes to give to the Minister a completely new power, a power which may result in a further heavy imposition on the ratepayers.

Amendment put and declared carried.

I move amendment No. 20:—

In page 20, Section 48 (1), to delete lines 63 and 64, and substitute the following:—

"that is to say, sub-section (3) of Section 37, sub-section (3) of Section 38, paragraph (b) of sub-section (2) of Section 39, sub-section (3) of Section 43, Section 45 and Section 47."

It will be recalled that on the Committee Stage of this Bill we inserted a Ministerial amendment enabling railway companies and canal companies to be included as persons or authorities that must be consulted in connection with the application of a bridge Order, and the other provisions of Part IV of the Bill. Deputies will recall that there have been a number of judicial decisions whereby the maintenance of a bridge over a railway is partly the responsibility of the railway.

This amendment is purely a consequential one. Once the amendment was put in on the Committee Stage, this amendment becomes necessary in order that a railway company or a canal company will take part in all the consultations and be provided with the plans for the building or the reconstruction of a bridge and be provided also with the preliminary report on the cost of such construction or reconstruction.

This amendment is drafted in such an extraordinary way that one cannot get the drift of it in a moment. I do not know that I have ever seen an amendment drafted in such a way. It talks about sub-section (3) of Section 37, sub-section (3) of Section 38, paragraph (b) of sub-section (2) of Section 39, sub-section (3) of Section 43, Section 45 and Section 47 —whatever all that means.

Now you have it.

It is worse even than your own Bill, and that is saying something. I presume the sections referred to are the sections of the Bill before us?

Yes. If the Deputy looks at Section 48 of the Bill he will see that

"Where a person other than a road authority is required by or under any Act to construct or maintain the bridge or a part of the bridge or to pay or to contribute to the expenses of such construction or maintenance the following portions of this Part of this Act shall have effect",

and then it quotes certain portions. We shall have further to amend the Bill in order that all the provisions of Part IV, which concern consultation or the forwarding of plans or decisions in connection with the bridge, shall apply to railway companies and canal companies; in other words, that they may be part and parcel of all negotiations in connection with an application for the making of a bridge Order. It is purely a consequential amendment.

That may be so. It would make it much easier for the House, and probably for the lawyers afterwards, if the Department would make it clear what they want before introducing Bills, and not be hacking them in this way between Committee Stage and Report Stages.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 21:—

In page 21, Section 50, to delete lines 36 to 39, and substitute the words "bridge Order by means of a general statement of the character and purpose of the work."

This amendment was put down to meet a point raised on the Committee Stage, giving a more precise description of the Order. I think it was Deputy Keyes raised it.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 22:—

In page 21, before Section 52 but in Part IV, to insert the following section:—

A sum borrowed by a road authority for the purpose of the construction or reconstruction of a bridge shall not be reckoned as part of the debt of such authority for the purposes of any statutory limitation on borrowing.

There may be some cases where State contributions towards the cost of a bridge may take the form of a contribution to the local loans charge in respect of a loan raised by a local authority for the construction of a bridge.

It simply means where a local authority borrows a sum of money, that borrowing is not to be taken into account in the way of lessening their credit.

It will not reduce the borrowing powers.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 23:—

In page 25, before Section 60, line 53, to insert the following new section:—

60.—(1) One or more than one road authority may, with the consent of the Minister, make and carry out an agreement with a harbour authority to undertake jointly with the harbour authority the doing of anything in relation to the harbour of the harbour authority which the harbour authority are for the time being authorised by law to do.

(2) A road authority may pay such proportion of the cost of anything undertaken jointly with a harbour authority in pursuance of an agreement under this section as is specified in the agreement.

(3) A road authority which is the council of a county or the corporation of a county borough, may for the purpose of defraying expenses incurred by them under this section, borrow money under Article 22 of the Schedule to the Local Government (Application of Enactments) Order, 1898, in like manner as if such purposes were mentioned in that Article, and money so borrowed shall not be reckoned as part of the debt of such authority for the purposes of the said Article.

(4) A road authority which is an urban authority may, for the purposes of defraying expenses incurred by them under this section, borrow money under the Public Health Acts, 1878 to 1931, as if such purposes were purposes for which such authority is authorised to borrow under those Acts, and money so borrowed shall not be reckoned as part of the debt of such authority for the purposes of any limitation on borrowing imposed by those Acts.

(5) Money borrowed pursuant to this section may be lent to a road authority by means of an issue from the Local Loans Fund as if such loan constituted a local loan within the meaning of the Local Loans Fund Acts, 1935 to 1945, and was authorised by an Act of the Oireachtas.

(6) In this section, the expression "harbour authority" means a harbour authority within the meaning of the Harbours Act, 1946 (No. 9 of 1946).

There was a section in the Harbours Act, Section 161, authorising harbour authorities, with the consent of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, to make and carry out agreements with other persons, to undertake works jointly, and to pay a proportion of the cost. This new section is intended to enable local authorities, with the consent of the Minister for Local Government, to make, carry out and undertake work with harbour authorities and jointly to pay a proportion of the cost. Section 161 covered the construction of roads in the neighbourhood of towns where there is joint responsibility between a local authority and the harbour authority. It makes it possible for a local authority to carry out road work on behalf of a harbour authority and to make an agreement for the maintenance and construction of the road to be apportioned between the two bodies.

By whom will the apportionment be made?

The agreement will be made between the two parties after consultation with the Minister for Local Government and the Minister for Industry and Commerce.

If a harbour authority shelves responsibility what happens?

Is there any machinery in the event of disagreement?

The agreement provides for a contribution.

If it is a road and if the cost is £20,000 who will apportion it? If there is disagreement between the parties as to the proportion they should pay who is to decide and by what machinery?

There is no compulsion. It is simply a voluntary agreement.

They agree to do something but probably do not know what the cost is going to be. They may agree to a fifty-fifty proportion but, in the event of disagreement, is there any machinery to provide for that situation?

Assuming that there is disagreement between a harbour authority and a local authority what machinery is there to deal with that position?

This is purely a voluntary matter. If Deputies examine the section they will find that in the case of bridges there is no arrangement by which the Minister for Local Government can decide a conflict. This is simply a voluntary undertaking to be carried out in respect to roads. Should the cost exceed the amount in the original agreement there will have to be another agreement. It is a question of resolving the difficulties between the local authorities.

Assuming that a harbour authority cannot be got to agree with a local authority where has the Minister compulsory powers?

I stated that there are no compulsory powers in this section.

If a harbour board refuses to make a contribution the full responsibility will fall on the local authority?

No. This amendment was inserted because it was felt desirable in some cases for harbour authorities to initiate the construction of roads. In a particular town, where there is a harbour adjacent to it, it might be considered desirable to construct a new road or to alter an existing road. Obviously, the main reason for including such a road would be to increase harbour facilities. It would not be a matter primarily for the local authority but they could combine with the harbour authority and make a joint agreement.

This proposal does not clarify the position with regard to the Minister's powers.

I think the matter is perfectly clear. If there is a voluntary agreement to make a road to the harbour, and if they agree, the Minister will not intervene.

And if the harbour board does not agree?

There would be no agreement then. If a harbour board and a local authority decide that certain work is to be done they can cooperate and fix the cost.

I take it that this is confined to roads and to the undertaking of works jointly. The sub-section could be applied to a bridge, a road or a tow-path connected with the work of harbour authorities.

There may be a case of a harbour authority deciding to construct a new building, and they might think it desirable to have a road reconstructed or widened. The reconstruction of the road might have some value to the people living in the adjacent area. If there is no agreement between the local authority and the harbour authority, it is obviously up to the harbour authority to pay the full cost of the work, if they so desire, for their own good, in order to increase the value of their own property and their own amenities; but if they can make an agreement with the local authority and if the local authority is willing to pay towards the cost because they think they will benefit, that section of the Bill becomes operative.

I am not objecting to what is sought to be done, so long as the Parliamentary Secretary is satisfied that disagreement cannot arise, or that, if disagreement does arise, he has machinery for settling it.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 24:—

In page 26, Section 63, line 10, to insert before the word "corporation" the words "council of a county, the".

During the Committee Stage, the suggestion was made that we ought to give to county councils the same power as we give to other local authorities to contribute towards the expenses of a band performance in a public place. The insertion of these words will give the necessary powers.

Will that cover the Borough of Dun Laoghaire? I notice that it speaks of a "corporation of a county borough or urban authority"?

A borough corporation has that power.

Amendment put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 25:—

In page 26, before Section 64, line 14, to insert the following new section:—

64.—(1) Subject to this section, the council of an urban district or the commissioners of a town may apply to the Government to make an Order under this section changing the name of the urban district or town.

(2) The council of an urban district shall not make an application under this section unless—

(a) four-sevenths of the ratepayers in the urban district have consented to the application being made, and

(b) the council of the country in which the urban district is situate have also consented to the application being made.

(3) The commissioners of a town shall not make an application under this section unless either—

(a) (i) four-sevenths of the ratepayers in the town have consented to the application being made, and

(ii) the council of the county in which the town is situate have also consented to the application being made, or

(b) (i) the commissioners have by resolution passed before the commencement of this section, purported to change the name of the town, and

(ii) the Minister certifies that such resolution has been adopted by the commissioners and that the new name specified in such resolution has been used for official purposes.

(4) (a) The power conferred by sub-section (1) of this section shall be a reserved function.

(b) the giving by the council of a county of consent to the making of an application under this section shall be a reserved function.

(5) The Minister may make regulations prescribing the procedure to be followed in ascertaining for the purposes of this section whether not less than four-sevenths of the ratepayers of an urban district or a town consent to an application being made under this section for an Order changing the name of the urban district or town.

(6) The council of a county shall before consenting to an application being made under this section consult the prescribed persons.

(7) (a) Where an application is duly made under this section by the council of an urban district or the commissioners of a town, the Government may by Order change the name of the urban district or the town to such other name as they think fit.

(b) An Order under this sub-section shall come into operation on the 1st day of January next following the expiration of six months from the date of the Order.

(8) Every Order made under sub-section (7) of this section shall be published in such manner and as often as the Minister may direct and shall be notified to the prescribed persons.

(9) Where an Order is made under this section changing the name of an urban district from its existing name to a new name, then, as on and from the date on which the Order comes into operation every reference in any instrument, document or map to the existing name shall be construed as a reference to the new name.

(10) A change of the name of an urban district or a town made by an Order under this section shall not affect any rights or obligations of any authority or person or render defective any legal proceedings, and any legal proceedings may be continued or commenced as if there were no change of name.

On the Committee Stage, arising out of the debate on the proposal to provide for an improved procedure for the changing of the names of streets, the question of the changing of place names arose and, under these amendments Nos. 24, 25 and 26, provision is now being made whereby place names can be changed in accordance with an authorised procedure which will ensure that all those whose interests may be affected will be consulted before the Government makes the change of names.

The amendment refers to "the council of an urban district or the commissioners of a town". Is it confined to these two authorities?

Yes, under this section. Attempts have been made to change the names of towns in a rather irregular way.

Why does the Minister fix four-sevenths when, in the case of a street, the fraction is two-thirds?

I think the Deputy is wrong. He will remember that, on Committee Stage, I agreed to reduce the fraction from two-thirds to four-sevenths, and I put down an amendment to give effect to that undertaking.

As a matter of fact, I think it is not desirable to reduce it.

I think the weight of opinion in the House was against the Deputy.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 26:—

In page 26, before Section 64, line 14, to insert the following new section:—

(1) Where a townland or a non-municipal town is situate wholly within one county, the council of that county may, after consultation with the prescribed authorities and with the consent of four-sevenths of the ratepayers in the townlands or non-municipal town, apply to the Government to make an Order under this section changing the name of the townland or non-municipal town.

(2) Where a townland or a non-municipal town is situate partly in one county and partly in another county, the councils of those counties may, after consultation with the prescribed authorities and with the consent of four-sevenths of the ratepayers in the townland or non-municipal town, jointly apply to the Government to make an Order under this section changing the name of the townland or non-municipal town.

(3) The power conferred by sub-section (1) or sub-section (2) of this section shall be a reserved function.

(4) (a) Where a non-municipal town is wholly situate in a particular county, the secretary of the council of the county shall, if and when directed by the council, prepare and submit to the council a list of the ratepayers in the non-municipal town and such list when adopted, with or without alterations, by the council shall, for the purposes of this section, be the list of ratepayers in the said non-municipal town.

(b) Where part only of a non-municipal town is situate in a particular county, the secretary of the council of the county shall, if and when so directed by the council, prepare and submit to the council a list of the ratepayers in the part of the municipal town which is situate in the county, and such list when adopted, with or without alterations, by the council shall, for the purposes of this section, be the list of ratepayers in the said part.

(5) The Minister may make regulations prescribing the procedure to be followed in ascertaining for the purposes of this section whether not less than four-sevenths of the ratepayers in a townland or non-municipal town consent to an application being made under this section for an Order changing the name of the townland or the non-municipal town.

(6) (a) Where an application, in relation to any townland or non-municipal town, is duly made under this section, the Government may by Order change the name of the townland or non-municipal town to such other name as they think fit.

(b) An Order under this sub-section shall come into operation on the 1st day of January next following the expiration of six months from the date of the Order.

(7) Every Order made under sub-section (6) of this section shall be published in such manner and as often as the Minister may direct and shall be notified to the prescribed persons.

(8) Where an Order is made under this section changing the name of a townland or non-municipal town from its existing name to a new name, then, as on and from the date on which the Order comes into operation, every reference in any instrument, document or map to the existing name shall be construed as reference to the new name.

(9) A change of the name of a townland or a non-municipal town made by an Order under this section shall not affect any rights or obligations of any authority or person or render defective any legal proceedings and any legal proceedings may be continued or commenced as if there were no change of name.

(10) In this section the expression "non-municipal town" means an area (not being a county borough, borough, urban district or town in which the Towns Improvement (Ireland) Act, 1854, is in operation) which is designated a town in the report of the census of population which is for the time being the latest census of population.

This will enable Newtownbarry to become Bunclody. I do not see Deputy Allen here to celebrate his victory.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 27:—

In page 26, Section 64 (1), line 15, to delete the word "two-thirds" and substitute the word "four-sevenths".

This is the amendment in relation to Section 64 which, on Committee stage, I promised to make.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 28:—

In page 26, before Section 64 (3), line 19, to insert the following new sub-section:—

(3) The Minister may make regulations prescribing the procedure to be followed by the appropriate authority in ascertaining for the purposes of this section whether not less than four-sevenths of the ratepayers in a street consent to the name of the street being changed.

The House will remember that, on Committee stage, various suggestions were made as to how ballots should be taken and the wishes of the ratepayers ascertained. I think we should not incorporate, in regard to a comparatively simple matter like this, an elaborate procedure in the text of the Bill and this gives the Minister power to prescribe the procedure to be followed in ascertaining the wishes of the ratepayers in a street.

The method adopted might have a very big bearing on the result.

These regulations will be published and people will have an opportunity of questioning them if they appear to be too lax or unfair.

I want to draw the Minister's attention to the situation in my area. He speaks of four-sevenths of the ratepayers in a street. Assuming that a local authority decides to change the name of a district which includes a number of streets, will that authority have to comply with that stipulation with regard to four-sevenths of the ratepayers of the whole area?

That is a problem which has never been brought to my attention before. Does the Deputy mean an area within a town?

I refer to a certain locality in which there are six or seven streets and the name of which the local authority decides to change. I have in mind the district known as Pearse Park in my town where there are something like 14 streets, comprising 320 houses. Must the council, if it decides to change the name, comply with the four-sevenths stipulation and get four-sevenths of the ratepayers of the entire area as apart from the streets?

If the purpose is to change the name of every street and to call them, say, Pearse Park East, Pearse Park West and so on, I am afraid it would have to.

I do not think that is the Deputy's point. Suppose somebody wanted to change the name of the park which covers all the streets?

Quite frankly, the problem has never been brought to my notice.

The problem confronts us at the moment and I should like to have the position clarified.

I think the fraction of four-sevenths is low, and I feel that it is necessary to have a considerable volume of support for a change or a number of people will continue to use the old name.

That is a point which is sometimes overlooked. The point raised here is somewhat difficult. I do not know whether the name of the park is one which has any legal significance. It is merely a popular description of the district, it will be necessary to change it by usage. If, on the other hand, it is a name of which official notice is taken in some official State document, I confess that there is no provision in this Bill, or, so far as I know, in the law, for the changing of the name of a district inside an urban area as distinct from changing the name of a street. If the district were outside the urban area, we could I think, follow the procedure in amendment No. 26—if, for instance, it were a townland—but I must say that this point has never arisen before and I have not adverted to it.

To make myself more clear, the position is that, when we were developing the town and embarking on a large scheme of houses, we went in on virgin soil and built some 320 houses. We gave the district the official name of Patrick Pearse Park. In that district, there are a number of streets—something like a dozen all told—and I want to know if the council will have power to change the name of Pearse Park by getting the assent of four-sevenths of the ratepayers, or will it be necessary to change the name of each street? That is the problem. I know it is a little complicated.

Perhaps we could get over that by making the definition a little fuller.

Originally, the name of the district was Hardman's Gardens. This new area was created and we gave it the new name, and there is a desire to change the names of some of the streets at all events.

Under the section as it stands, the word "street" is defined as including part of a street and also the whole or part of any road, square, lane or other public place.

That applies to a particular street.

Perhaps the Deputy's point might be met by including the words "public garden or other public area". I will look into that and see what I can do to meet the Deputy's point in the Seanad. I think it would still be necessary to get the four-sevenths.

Amendment put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 29:—

In page 26, before Section 66, line 40, to insert the following new section:—

66.—(1) Where—

(a) pursuant to any statutory or other enactment or the award of any arbitrator, a sum is received by a local authority in relation to the termination of any periodical payment previously made to them, and

(b) the Minister is satisfied that the sum should be treated as capital moneys,

the Minister may direct the local authority to invest the sum for the permanent benefit of the inhabitants of their functional area.

(2) A sum to which a direction given under this section to a local authority relates shall be kept invested by such authority in any of the stocks, funds, shares or securities in which trustees are, by any Act for the time being in force, authorised to invest, except stocks, funds, shares or securities created by such authority themselves or real or heritable securities.

The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that any receipts in the nature of capital moneys should not be treated as revenue for the particular year in which they are received by a local authority but are to be invested for the permanent benefit of the inhabitants of its functional area.

Amendment put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 30:—

In page 27, before Section 67, line 13, to insert the following new section:—

(1) The following provisions shall have effect in relation to any proposed disposal (not being by demise for a term not exceeding one year) of land which is held by a local authority and which is not required for the purposes of their powers and duties:—

(a) notices shall be sent by post on the same day to the members of the local authority giving particulars of—

(a) the land,

(b) the person to whom the land is to be disposed of,

(c) the consideration proposed in respect of the disposal,

(d) any covenants, conditions or agreements to have effect in connection with the disposal,

(b) at the first meeting of the local authority held after the expiration of ten clear days from the day on which such notices are sent, the local authority may resolve that the disposal shall not be carried out or that it shall be carried out in accordance with terms specified in the resolution,

(c) if the local authority do not pass a resolution pursuant to paragraph (b) of this sub-section, the disposal may, with the consent of the Minister, be carried out,

(d) if the local authority resolve pursuant to paragraph (b) of this sub-section that the disposal shall be carried out in accordance with terms specified in the resolution, the disposal may, with the consent of the Minister, be carried out in accordance with those terms,

(e) if the local authority resolve pursuant to paragraph (b) of this sub-section that the disposal shall not be carried out, it shall not be carried out.

(f) the disposal shall not be carried out save pursuant to paragraphs (c) or (d) of this sub-section.

(2) In this section the word "land" does not include land the disposition of which under the Municipal Corporations (Ireland) Acts, 1840 to 1888 (otherwise than by demise for a term not exceeding one year) is a reserved function.

In the Bill we propose to confer on local authorities power to acquire land sometimes in advance of the specific need. The point was made, I think, by Deputy Allen, that as the law stood at present apparently the power to dispose of land acquired by a county council is vested in the county manager, and he suggested that we should formulate some procedure whereby this could only be done after due notice being given to the elected members of the local authority and that the elected members should be given power to object or, if necessary, to modify the terms upon which the disposal should take place. This amendment provides for that.

What is meant by paragraph (a): "Notices shall be sent by post on the same day to the members of the local authority"?

That it will go to all the members on the one day.

Does this refer to house property?

That would depend.

I have a case in mind where a conflict has arisen as to the disposal of some old dispensaries by the county manager. Some objection was raised to that. Would that be covered by this amendment?

This only deals with land.

What is meant by "the person to whom the land is to be disposed of?"

It is an awkward phraseology but it is all right.

I should like the Minister to make the same provision in regard to the purchasing of land. He is still leaving it in the power of the manager to acquire whatever lands he thinks fit.

He cannot acquire them unless he has made provision to pay for them.

He has to go to the council in that way?

Does this apply to land that is leased? It might happen that a manager might lease land for a term of years. That is not disposing of it.

That would be regarded as disposal, if it is for a longer period than one year.

Say from year to year. Supposing he let land at £10 a year. That might be only for one year, but it could be a renewable lease for any length of time.

If the land is disposed of from year to year, I assume that the local authority, if they objected, would express that objection in some form or other.

The manager could lease a site from year to year for the purpose of a shop or any purpose like that which might not be desirable and might create a problem in the district. The local authority should know something about that before it is leased for a year or term of years.

If the land is going to be let for more than one year he must comply with this. If he only proposes to let for a year, I suppose he might get away with it the first year. But, if there was objection, I assume the local authority would take steps to bring that objection to my notice. I think "land" here is a very comprehensive term and that it would include buildings.

I think, as a matter of courtesy, if there is a transfer or sale of property belonging to the ratepayers, the local authority ought to be informed before there is any disposal of it.

That is what we are proposing here.

It includes property?

It includes every thing.

It does not include buildings.

I think it does.

That is what I am anxious about. We have a good deal of property in our area, such as the Cork and Passage railway and the houses there. Of course the manager informs us as a matter of courtesy. But, where there is property purchased by the ratepayers, they at least ought to be informed before there is any transfer of the property.

That is what is being provided for. On the point the Deputy raised, on the basis that you cannot dispose of buildings without disposing of the land andvice versa, they both go together.

I have a case in point. We had a piece of idle property and the manager let it on a monthly tenancy. The tenant came along a year afterwards and applied to the corporation for a lease. Of course the granting of a lease is our function and not the function of the manager. They get in the thin edge of the wedge and then they drive the wedge in the whole way. I think the Minister ought to give serious consideration to that matter.

There are two points which I should like to have made clear by the Minister. So far as I read sub-section (b), the local authority may resolve either to agree or to disagree. There is no provision made here for any amendment or for any compromise. For instance, the manager may want to dispose of a piece of property at a certain figure or under certain conditions. The local authority has no power. Do you see the point?

Yes, but I think the Deputy has not adverted to the significance of the word "resolved"—"are resolved that the disposal shall be carried out in accordance with the terms specified in the resolution". The act of resolving is expressed. You understand that?

Mr. Morrissey

Yes, I see that. Now, there is one other point with regard to the method of disposal of any property, whether it is land, houses, or otherwise, that is covered by this. Is there any machinery provided? Is it to be disposed of after it has been advertised for public tender, the ratepayers and the public generally being informed that a piece of land, say, the property of the local authority is to be disposed of? Or, is it to be within the competence of the county manager, if he so desires, to tell one individual, or a number of individuals, that he proposes to dispose of this land and "I will be glad if you will give me a price for it"?

The position is that the manager must take the initiative in this matter. It is the manager himself who proposes to dispose of this land and it is he who is bound to look for the best price he can get. Therefore he must advertise the fact publicly that he is prepared to dispose of it. The manager is bound to dispose of the land at the best price he can get for it. There is only one way of testing that and that is to invite applications.

Mr. Morrissey

One of the reasons why I raised that point is that I have a recollection that a member of the Minister's own Party raised a question here in the House quite recently as to the disposal of a piece of land in County Dublin. I do not know anything about that beyond what I heard here in this House. The allegation was that it was not advertised and that neither the ratepayers nor the people in the locality generally got an equal opportunity. I am concerned only with seeing that the machinery (1) which is likely to give every citizen an equal opportunity, and (2) which is likely to bring the best price to the local authority is carried out. I think, if that obligation is not already there, the sooner it is put there the better.

And it is there so far as the manager is concerned.

I think the manager is extremely foolish to undertake such a liability and to leave himself open to the possibility of suspicion by not associating with the local authority. In his own interests I think it would be extremely foolish.

Would not the local authority be informed under this Bill of the making of a lease by the manager? Is it not necessary that two members of the local authority shall witness the sealing of that document? If the members refuse to sign surely the manager has then got to bring it before the local authority? The practice is that where a lease is given by the county manager at least two members of the local authority must witness the sealing of that lease. In that way the manager cannot grant a lease without acquainting the local authority, at least, through two of its members.

I never heard of it.

I am somewhat disappointed to hear expressions of opinion here from members of local authorities commenting upon the disposal of public property. We have a very large estate in the neighbourhood of Drogheda, which is known to the Minister. When the lease expires, it is not to the manager we apply for a renewal of the lease; it is to the corporation. We then sit down and consider the application and decide upon the term and the figure. If there is a piece of property to be disposed of we also sit down and consider it; tenders are invited publicly and are considered by the corporation. Then when we have made our decision it is handed over to the manager to execute. But we are the people who make the decisions. There seems to be some ambiguity here, judging by the expressions of opinions of some of the members; that should be clarified. It is the elected representatives of the people who have the buying and the selling. That is specifically laid down in the Managerial Act.

There is no ambiguity here if what the Deputy says is the position.

I am only speaking from my own experience.

I suggest that the procedure here is that the manager will proceed to advertise the property first, according to this amendment, to discover the person to whom it is proposed to dispose of it. When he has discovered that person he then gets the sanction of the local authority. I am in agreement with Deputy Walsh that the procedure ought to be as he has outlined it. The local authority ought to deal with such a matter themselves and their consent ought to be secured. If the county manager advertises the property that he is going to sell and then comes along to the local authority to get their consent it will be much more difficult to get their consent in that case than if they were consulted in the first instance. The amendment, as drafted, does not provide for consultation at all. The manager proceeds to dispose of the property; before it is finally disposed of he must get the consent of the local authority. I do not think that procedure is wise and I do not think it is going to make for harmony between the manager and the local authority.

You see the position is not quite so simple as Deputy Hughes would like to make it. Now Deputy Walsh is dealing with an old-established local authority which is in possession of considerable corporate property. Under the managerial Acts the right to dispose of corporate property, in the city or urban district, is reserved to the elected body. Outside of that there is property held for specific purposes by local authorities, which is not corporate property. Hitherto the manager had power of disposal over that. The reason is that, in order to ensure that the executive functions of the Council are vested in the manager, that has been accepted as the procedure which is likely to be the most businesslike one. There was a flaw in it, to which Deputy Allen directed my attention—a flaw which might become a very serious one now that we are giving local authorities power to acquire property in advance of a specific need —that is, in anticipation of plans which, perhaps, at the moment have not been very definitely formulated. In that event, if the local authority is going to acquire land in that way, it has to provide for the acquisition of the land the money necessary for acquiring the land; therefore, before the manager can enter into any commitment he must be certain that the acquisition will be approved of by the local authority to the extent that they will be prepared to accept the financial obligations involved. But it is an entirely different matter when land has to be disposed of because then the manager does not have to go to the local authority and say: "You must provide me with money", because by disposing of the land he is in a position to put himself in funds. That, as I say, was a flaw in the section as originally drafted. This is now intended to deal with that situation and to ensure that where property which has been acquired in anticipation of a specific need has to be disposed of the matter will be brought to the notice of the members of the local authority concerned so that they will be in a position to approve of such disposal, or to suggest amended terms.

Now we must remember that county managers are beginning to learn that they have got to work in close association with the elected body; they are now beginning to understand that. I take it, once we have a procedure such as that laid down in the Act, any manager, who is fit to be a manager, will settle with his own council, before he proceeds to advertise, before any specific purchaser who comes along the terms upon which he may be permitted to dispose of this property. Having settled those terms in advance, he is then bound under Section 202 of the Public Health Act, where he is acting and his council proposes to dispose of property, to dispose of it at the best price that can be got for it. The onus will be on him to show to the auditor that he took every practicable step to ensure that the best price was got. The one thing that he would have to do would be to advertise the fact that he was prepared to dispose of the property on terms and to ask for tenders. On the basis of those tenders he would go back to the council and satisfy them that the transaction was abona fide one.

I am quite satisfied that the Minister will wish the closest association with the councils in this matter.

I can see the Minister's difficulty and about the wisdom of the local authority. I think they will get the co-operation of the local authority.

In my area it is always done. There has been constant co-operation between us.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No.31:—

In page 27, before Section 67, line 13, to insert the following new section:—

67.—(1) A road authority may, with the consent of the Minister, acquire by agreement or compulsorily—

(a) any land which has or will become severed by operations of the road authority under Section 24 of the Local Government Act, 1925 (No. 5 of 1925), and which, because of its shape or size, could not be used economically or has become or is likely to become derelict, or

(b) any land which forms the site of a road or any part of a road which in the opinion of the road authority is no longer required for the public use,

as if such land were required by such road authority for the construction of a road.

(2) Where a road authority—

(a) has acquired any land under sub-section (1) of this section, or

(b) owns any land which has or will become severed by operations of the road authority under Section 24 of the Local Government Act, 1925, and which, because of its shape or size could not be used economically or has become or is likely to become derelict, or

(c) owns any land forming the site of a road or part of a road in respect of which the powers conferred by sub-paragraph (1) of paragraph (a) of sub-section (4) of this section have been exercised,

the road authority may, after compliance with the provisions of this Act relating to the disposal of land not required, sell or transfer gratuitously such land (in this sub-section referred to as the road authority's land) or any part thereof to any person, who is the owner of any land which adjoins, and is situate on the same side of the road as, the road authority's land, for the purpose of providing that person with alternative means of access to the road or for the purpose of enabling the road authority's land to be used economically or for the purpose of preventing the road authority's land becoming derelict.

(3) Where a road authority sell or transfer any land to a person under sub-section (2) of this section, they may make the sale or transfer subject to such conditions (including conditions requiring that person to fence such land in with other lands and to permit it to be occupied with other lands) as the road authority think fit.

(4) (a) Where a road authority own any land forming the site of a road or part of a road which in their opinion is no longer required for use by the public—

(i) the road authority may, with the consent of the Minister, extinguish the right of way of the public over such road or such part, and

(ii) the road authority may by agreement with any person, who has a right of entry to adjoining private property through such road or such part, extinguish such right.

(b) The exercise of the powers conferred by sub-paragraph (i) of paragraph (a) of this sub-section shall be a reserved function.

Due to the road improvements, especially on trunk roads, which have taken place there are very odd patches of the former road left isolated where the old road was by-passed. The purpose of this amendment is to ensure that these plots will be fenced in and will not become derelict sites and a source of danger to the road users.

It is absolutely necessary.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 32:—

In page 27, before Section 67, line 13, to insert the following new section:—

67.—(1) An urban authority may borrow for the purposes of defraying any expenses incurred by them in the construction and maintenance of roads in the same manner in which a sanitary authority may borrow for the purposes of defraying expenses under the Public Health Acts, 1878 to 1931.

(2) The provisions of the Public Health Acts, 1878 to 1931, in relation to borrowing by a sanitary authority shall, with the necessary modifications, apply in relation to any borrowing under this section by an urban authority.

(3) Money borrowed under this section may be lent to an urban authority by means of an issue from the local loans fund as if such loan constituted a loan within the meaning of the Local Loans Fund Acts, 1935 to 1945, and was authorised by an Act of the Oireachtas.

This is to remove a doubt regarding the power of urban councils to borrow money for the construction of roads and bridges. In sub-section (3) of the proposed amendment, third line, before the word "loan" I would propose to make a verbal amendment—to insert the word "local" so that the line will read: "as if such loan constituted a local loan within the meaning of the Local Loans Fund Acts, 1935 to 1945." There is a definition in the Local Loans Act of "local loan." We want this to remove doubts raised as to the power of authorities to raise loans for the construction of roads and bridges.

It has not been questioned?

It has not, but if we put it in now, it will save legal expenses.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 33:—

In page 30, First Schedule, entries relating to Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1871, in the third column, to delete the word and figures "and 17" and substitute the word and figures "17 and 29".

Under this Bill the power of Town Commissioners to levy town rates will cease and the rates will be leviable therefore by the county councils. The section providing for appeals against town commissioners has become obsolete.

But the town commissioners will still make a rate?

No, a demand.

If the citizens of a town where there are town commissioners object, can they appeal?

I presume that would have to be made to the county council.

There is a limit of 2/6 in the £ rate for town commissioners. Is that now being removed?

And the sky may be the limit. The people may have a grievance if the demand is 10/- or 25/-. At the moment there is some redress. They can make representations as the rate is advertised before being made or struck. They make a demand on a county council like the vocational education committee or the county committee of agriculture and the county council must levy a rate on the town. The citizens of the town have no redress at all.

They will probably be represented by the local representatives on the county council.

We have in our constituency a village with town commissioners where they have water, sewerage and electric light. Now, as Deputy Allen says, the sky is their limit. They can make any demand they like on the county council.

That is not correct.

It will be a county-at-large charge for the water, sewerage and light, which were brought into operation by the town commissioners. We cannot get water or pumps for rural areas, yet this town could have electric light at a county-at-large rate.

This deals only with money demanded by the town commissioners for the purpose of the town rate. The rate will be levied on the town; it cannot be a county-at-large charge. It is a county-at-large charge in some counties where sanitary services are provided for the towns, but that is because the county council is the sanitary authority and I presume they have agreed not to have a special area of charge for the purpose.

It is very inequitable.

What we are dealing with is the demand which is made by the town commissioners for the specific purposes of the town and that particular demand which is made by the town commissioners for the specific purposes of their functions, if I may put it that way, will be levied on it, but not on the county.

And so far as there are any services, outside that, for water or sewerage, that the town commissioners have not provided for, the decision will be made by the county council whether they will provide that service.

I see another snag. Certain services are provided for by the town commissioners, such as lighting. That is the only thing they do that I know of.

They may do housing also.

They do not do scavenging, although they should under the Towns Improvement Act. The rate payers in the town should be made do scavenging, but they do not. I know of one small town where they do nothing beyond providing for lighting.

There may be other expenditures, such as on the town hall, managing the markets and the tolls.

Here is a point that may arise. The county manager is in the position that he has power to switch over the public lighting of the town as a county-at-large charge.

Only if the county council agree to pay it.

He can put it across without the county council knowing anything.

He cannot do that.

He can do it. He need not bring it in as an item. There is an allocation of one-third of the county council charges under the heading of "other charges" and we do not know what they are.

Why should you not know? Are you going to swallow everything that is put before you?

We know through certain channels, but, under the law, in the estimate each year one-third of the revenues that the county council are asked to raise is put under the heading of "other charges". There is nothing to stop the manager putting under the heading of "other charges" the lighting of a town or some other function that they are already performing. When you change the law in this measure you make no provision for ensuring that the services performed in the past by the town commissioners will be performed in the future. You have relieved them of the burden of loans and you have made that the responsibility of the county council. Is not that so?

We have not relieved the town commissioners of it at all.

They can borrow from the county council.

The council of the county may borrow for the purpose of lending to the commissioners of the town. We have not relieved the commissioners of anything.

I hold that the manager has power in the future to relieve them of some of the liabilities they had in the past.

Absolutely no power, unless with the consent of the county council. I must confess I cannot understand what the difficulty is in Wexford.

There is no difficulty in the world.

I think the Deputy is Chairman of the Wexford County Council and, if he is, I will direct his attention to Section 27 of the Management Act. He seems to be under the impression that the manager can do these things. If, under this heading of "other charges", there is reason to believe that the manager is providing for the lighting of a town——

He is not doing it up to the present, but I am arguing that he can do it in the future.

If so, it could only be with the consent of the county council, because under Section 27 every county manager, when requested by a chairman of a council, shall afford all information as may be in his possession or procurement in regard to any act, matter or thing pertaining to any business or transaction be in his possession or procurement in of the council. This must be a peculiar difficulty in Wexford, because the Deputy has suggested that it is difficult to get information from the manager about anything.

I have not said that. Under your official documents the manager must present the council with the details of the estimates. There are several headings and one-third of the revenues are provided under one heading. There may be £30,000 or £25,000 under that heading. Unless we ask specifically for the details of that heading, we are not given them.

But before you strike the rate you ask for full particulars and you are entitled to get them.

We do ask for them.

Do you not get a document with the estimates explaining everything?

There is no compulsion on them to give you these details.

They must give you full information.

I have seen the documents circulated to a number of county councils—I have not seen them in the case of Wexford, and I must get them in that case—in connection with the estimates and the demands. They are very voluminous and very informative. I do not think there is any point that is uncovered. We cannot devise machinery which will compel every county councillor to make himself fully familiar with the details of the demands.

I can see friction arising between county councils and town commissioners in certain directions. There are certain services that they should provide, that are not provided. Formerly the county council or the board of health took over services such as sanitation, water, scavenging and road-making that the town commissioners could have provided for themselves under the Towns Improvement Act. I can see friction arising in the future between these authorities as to whether it should be a county-at-large or a town charge.

That friction might arise, but the decision rests with the county council.

This comes as a surprise to me. The only statutory obligation for a county-at-large charge is roads. Sewerage, water supplies and other schemes are simply at the option of the county council to indicate what will be the area of charge. The manager can only go on the area of charge and on the amount decided by the county councils. He makes provision for the scheme in the demand note. The whole thing is quite simple and I never heard anyone question it. The manager or the secretary of the county council can only proceed to do what the council has instructed him.

That may be the situation in Deputy Broderick's area.

That is the legal situation.

In the County Louth the position is that all these water supply and sewerage schemes are county-at-large charges, even schemes for the towns. I am satisfied the Minister will rectify that. All these schemes in the County Louth, without exception, are county-at-large charges.

Is not that the option of the county council?

I am not blaming the county manager. It was in existence before the Managerial Act came into force.

The county-at-large included the towns.

There are county-at-large charges. People in some towns get services at the expense of the rural community. I am satisfied if the Minister says that he is rectifying the position.

If there were no town commissioners the county council would have to provide for these places. Wherever demand is made will have to be provided for in places where there are no town commissioners, and the charge on a district might be substantially bigger than that on the towns.

The point really arose out of Deputy Allen's point, that there was no provision for appeal on the part of an inhabitant or inhabitants of a town against a demand made by commissioners. I looked into that and I do not think there is much in it. After all, the inhabitants have their remedy when an election comes around.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 34:—

In page 31, First Schedule, entries relating to Local Government (Application of Enactments) Order, 1898, in the third column to delete the word and figures "Article 18" and substitute the word and figures "Articles 14 and 18".

This is merely following changes made in the law relating to changes in the name from district councils. There will be only one statutory provision governing the matter.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 35:—

In page 32, First Schedule, after the entries relating to the Dublin Fever Hospital Act, 1936, to insert the following:—

No. 55 of 1936.

Local Authorities (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1936.

Section 7.

This relates to a limit of town rates, and I do not think it is any longer necessary.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 36:—

In page 32, First Schedule, to add at the end the following:—

No. 19 of 1945.

Mental Treatment Act, 1945.

Section 49

This relates to a joint mental hospitals' board. It is no longer necessary in view of Section 57 of the Bill.

Amendment agreed to.
Bill, as amended on recommittal, reported.
Question: That the Bill, as amended on recommittal, be received for final consideration, put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 59; Níl, 35.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Allen, Denis.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Blaney, Neal.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Bourke, Dan.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Breslin, Cormac.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Buckley, Seán.
  • Burke, Patrick (Co. Dublin).
  • Butler, Bernard.
  • Carter, Thomas.
  • Childers, Erskine H.
  • Colley, Harry.
  • Corry, Martin J.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • De Valera, Vivion.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Fogarty, Patrick J.
  • Furlong, Walter.
  • Gorry, Patrick J.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Humphreys, Francis.
  • Kennedy, Michael J.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kilroy, James.
  • Kissane, Eamon.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick J.
  • Loughman, Frank.
  • Lydon, Michael F.
  • McCann, John.
  • McCarthy, Seán.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Moran, Michael.
  • Morrissey, Michael.
  • Moylan, Seán.
  • O Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O'Connor, John S.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • O'Rourke, Daniel.
  • O'Sullivan, Ted.
  • Rice, Bridget M.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick J.
  • Ryan, Mary B.
  • Ryan, Robert.
  • Shanahan, Patrick.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Walsh, Laurence.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Conn.

Níl

  • Beirne, John.
  • Bennett, George C.
  • Blowick, Joseph.
  • Broderick, William J.
  • Browne, Patrick.
  • Coogan, Eamonn.
  • Corish, Brendan.
  • Cosgrave, Liam.
  • Dockrell, Henry M.
  • Donnellan, Michael.
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • Everett, James.
  • Finucane, Patrick.
  • Flanagan, Oliver J.
  • Giles, Patrick.
  • Heskin, Denis.
  • Hughes, James.
  • Keating, John.
  • Larkin, James (Junior).
  • McAuliffe, Patrick.
  • MacEoin, Seán.
  • McGilligan, Patrick.
  • Mongan, Joseph W.
  • Morrissey, Daniel.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Norton, William.
  • O'Donnell, William F.
  • O'Higgins, Thomas F.
  • O'Leary, John.
  • O'Reilly, Patrick.
  • O'Sullivan, Martin.
  • Pattison, James P.
  • Redmond, Bridget M.
  • Roddy, Martin.
  • Spring, Daniel.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Kissane and Kennedy; Níl: Deputies Doyle and Bennett.
Question declared carried.

In view of the legislative programme, I wonder if there would be great objection to taking the Fifth Stage now?

Most decidedly.

Very well; next Wednesday.

Fifth Stage ordered for Wednesday, 15th May.