Committee on Finance. - Local Authorities (Works) Bill, 1949—Fifth Stage.

Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

This Bill as it now stands. —the Parliamentary Secretary can correct me if my calculation is wrong— contains 199 lines. As introduced it contained 110 lines. It has a completely altered look, since it first appeared in this House. As a matter of fact, if its own father saw it in its new look, he would not recognise it. As introduced, this Bill gave the Minister power to appoint persons other than local authorities to go in on anybody's land at any time without notice, to trample over that land, to throw spoil anywhere and give no compensation. As it now stands, thanks to the work of Deputy MacEntee and the other Opposition Deputies who assisted him, this Bill now provides that the Minister cannot send in any person he likes to nominate, that it is only the local authority can do that. It provides that the farmer must get reasonable notice and that he can get full compensation from the ordinary competent courts of jurisdiction and there is a special arbitration arrangement for dealing with claims for damage which are more than the local court could normally adjudicate upon. In face of the change that has been made in this Bill, how could the Parliamentary Secretary yesterday complain that the Opposition had put down too many amendments to this Bill? Why should he use words which enables the Irish Times to-day to have a display caption: “Opposition blamed for impeding Bill”? Who impeded this Bill? It was first submitted to this Dáil on the 23rd February and it is now the 1st July. The Bill was debated in the Dáil for a very short time. It got every facility from the Opposition and they had to do what the Government did not do. That is, they had to examine the Bill, to examine the problem that was supposed to be dealt with, to introduce amendments and to write into the Bill safeguards for citizens that should have been in the Bill as introduced if the Government had been thinking of how to deal expeditiously and fairly with the problem.

The Minister yesterday said, according to this caption in the Irish Times, that the Opposition were trying to block the Bill. In making that allegation yesterday, the Minister had no basis for it. If there is anybody to blame for the Final Stage of this Bill being taken on 1st July, it is the Government. The Government spoke about the Bill on the 23rd February. I grant you they were in a very great hurry on that date to state that they were going to do something about the relief of unemployment. When the First Stage was taken on 23rd March, there was a great fuss made about getting it through quickly. It was not our fault that it was not got through quickly. In the time at its disposal and the opportunities which it got, the Opposition did introduce and get the Government to accept, I am glad to say, certain amendments which give some protection to citizens who might otherwise be adversely affected by the proposals introduced. We failed to have certain clauses inserted which would have provided additional safeguards. I must not discuss those now.

I want to appeal to the Minister however, to give a pledge on this Fifth Stage that he will take steps to ensure that wherever a major drainage is undertaken it will only be proceeded with after consultation with the one drainage authority we have, the one body of experts we have in the Board of Works. The Minister has power to do that. Before work can be undertaken for which the Minister is to give a grant the particulars of that drainage scheme have to be sent to the Department of Local Government. It is a simple matter to consult the Board of Works about such drainage projects. It will be a safeguard to people living on the lower reaches of a river that they will not be flooded out if the Minister will see that the Board of Works are consulted as to whether the main river basin is in a fit state to take additional water.

Is the Deputy discussing an amendment of his which was defeated?

I am now on the question of the administration of the section of the Bill under which all drainage projects will come from the local authority to the Department of Local Government.

I am still of the impression that the Deputy had an amendment down to that precise effect and that it was defeated.

That is true. I do not want to discuss that particular amendment. I am glad to see that the Minister and those associated with him did accept a number of other amendments which now appear in the Bill and which lessen the dangers which were in the Bill as originally introduced. Even though he did not accept other amendments, I hope that in the operation of the Bill the Minister will do his utmost to carry out the spirit of the amendments, which were purely designed to see that damage would not be done unnecessarily to a number of people who have no means of defence against the Minister.

I agree with Deputy Aiken that the Bill has been altered considerably since it was first introduced. It is a tribute to the Dáil as a whole that we can discuss a measure. that amendments can be suggested from all sides of the House, and that the Parliamentary Secretary in charge of the Bill and the Minister, who will have the responsibility of administering it, have listened to the arguments and, as far as possible, have endeavoured to meet the views of the Dáil. That is something for which we should all be grateful. As a Parliament, we all should be proud that we have in our own way contributed to the production of the best possible measure.

From this side of the House there was a certain impatience to get the Bill on to the Statute Book so that work would be provided for people who are now looking for employment; that work which would be a benefit to the country as a whole would be done. In our enthusiasm to have the Bill placed on the Statute Book, I admit that there was a certain amount of impatience with the attitude of the Opposition. Probably we were wrong in that, because if we are to maintain Parliamentary democracy there must be the right for every individual in Parliament to press as strongly and as hard as he can such amendments as he thinks will improve or better a Bill. It has been stated that the Bill has been held up by the Opposition. Having said what I have said in favour of the line taken by the Opposition, I think that everybody outside this House, as well as inside it, will agree that the Bill has been held up unnecessarily by the Opposition. For instance, last night we reached the Fifth Stage. Everything we could do as a Parliament in regard to the Bill has been done and the usual procedure is to accept the Fifth Stage.

It is not, the Deputy is quite misinformed.

Let me develop that.

I should like to hear the Deputy on the Bill and not on the virtues, vices or defects of any Parties. I have heard nothing at all about the Bill from the Deputy.

I am following the line taken by Deputy Aiken, except that I am on the other side. Everything that we can do in regard to this Bill—which every Deputy, with the exception of a few, has said is going to do valuable work—has been done; nevertheless, we had to vote last night as to whether we would take this stage to-day or not. I hope that we will be able to get through this stage to-day and send the Bill to the Seanad for their consideration and that it will be law by this time next week. The unfortunate point is that, if this Bill had been law two months ago, a considerable number of people could have been employed in the last two months. Those people have been denied employment.

Why was not the Bill put through?

There is very valuable work to be done under the Bill and that work is being delayed. Everything that could be said against the Bill and against every line and section of it has been said; and, now that we have reached this stage, I would appeal to the House to let the Bill pass, let it go to the Seanad and let it become law as soon as possible.

Deputy Cowan is breast high for most measures that will deny to the owner of private property his legitimate rights. We on the other side stand diametrically opposed to that point of view. We do not think that the State should be omnipotent, we do not believe that the local authority should be given dictatorial powers. We believe that the State and the local authority exist for the individual citizen, that the individual citizen has rights in regard to private property which he owns and that those rights should not be interfered with. The task of the Opposition in relation to this Bill has been raised by Deputy Cowan, and by the Minister for Local Government yesterday, and it is right to put it on record that here in this Dáil the Opposition was fighting the battle of the farmers of Ireland, and particularly the small farmers of Ireland.

They are going to get other fighters in future.

It has been alleged that the Opposition have held up this Bill. Let us see what the facts are.

You were away for a month.

Deputies ought to have learned in a year to keep order in the House and not be interrupting. A year's experience should suffice.

The Bill was introduced on the 23rd March. The Second Stage was ordered for the 31st March, but the Bill was not circulated to Deputies until the 29th March, and when the debate opened on the Second Stage there were Deputies who rose to say that the text addressed to them in the ordinary course of post had not reached them before they left their homes that morning. Therefore, this House was expected by Deputy Cowan and members of the Government to discuss legislative proposals which had not been seen by many of its members. While we may not be enthusiasts like Deputy Cowan where private property is to be trespassed upon, we were not elected here to be enthusiasts. We were elected by our people to form a deliberative Assembly; we were sent here as prudent, thinking, far-seeing men, to deliberate together and to discuss with each other proposals which might make for the betterment of our people. We could not do that if we were to accept every proposal which comes from the Government as something coming down like the tablets of the law from heaven; and accept the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Local Government as another Moses. That is not how we can improve measures as this measure has been improved. Nobody will deny that. I do not think that the Bill as it stands is even a good Bill, but it is a better Bill now than the measure when it was first introduced. How has that improvement been secured?

I was saying that the debate on the Second Reading opened on the 31st March. An attempt was made then by the late Minister for Local Government to steamroll this measure through the House. We were told that all stages were expected on that day—of a Bill which had only been in the hands of some members for not two days and had not reached the hands of many members at all. The Opposition refused to discard its proper function, which is that of being critical of proposals which are sent here. We have a duty as an Opposition to look after primarily the interests of plain ordinary citizens. When the Government proposes to take over to itself, or to confer powers upon any corporative authority, it is our duty to examine those proposals and see how the rights of the ordinary individual are going to be affected. We stood on that principle and, disabled and all as we were by the short time given to us to consider the measure, we did at any rate elicit from the Minister, even before the conclusion of the Second Stage, an undertaking to consider some of the objections we had expressed, some of the disadvantages and dangers of the Bill, to see if he could remedy those disadvantages and remove those dangers. It took us—let us make no mistake about it, because the concession was not willingly given—three days of prolonged and careful discussion to secure that concession from the Government.

After the debate on the Second Stage had concluded, the Committee Stage was ordered provisionally for Wednesday, 20th April last. The Dáil did not sit, however, until Wednesday, 27th April, and then the tragic and regrettable death of the late Minister for Local Government intervened and, quite naturally and reasonably—none of us could make any complaint about the delay—the Committee Stage, which had been originally fixed for the 20th April, was not taken until Wednesday, 1st June. The Opposition had no responsibility for the delay which took place between the 6th April and the 1st June and I certainly would be the last to suggest that the Government had any responsibility for that either. The hand of Providence intervened in a manner which we must all regret and we simply had to shape our purposes to its decrees. However, the Committee Stage commenced on the 1st June. There were, I think, some 45 or 46 amendments put down to this Bill on Committee Stage. They were amendments which were put down in all earnestness and in all seriousness. They were amendments which were put down with several purposes, the first one being to protect the ordinary private property owner in this country, to secure him against an unjustified invasion of his property. Others of the amendments were put down to ensure that if works were carried out by a local authority under this Bill those works would be properly co-ordinated with major works which the Central Government was carrying out through the agency of the Office of Public Works or through some other instrument such as Bord na Móna or the Electricity Supply Board.

It has been pointed out in the Drainage Commission Report and in more recent reports, the report dealing with the agricultural conditions in this country, that a great deal of damage can be done if the natural flow of water is interfered with, that drainage works, instead of being a blessing, can very often be a bane, and that the only way to ensure that they will do no harm and some good is to fit them into a preconceived and adequate design. Several of the amendments which were rejected had that purpose in view. I do not want to discuss the merits of them. I am merely stating the purpose.

Another purpose which we had in mind was this: it is quite clear and, unfortunately, it still remains the case that under sub-section (3) of Section 2 of the Bill, opportunities for, as the Americans say, dipping into the porter barrel, present themselves, opportunities for using, as I said last night, public moneys for the benefit of private individuals. We endeavoured by some of our amendments to preclude so far as it was practicable to do so the misuse of the powers which the local authorities are given under sub-section (3) of Section 2 of the Bill in that way.

Now, what was their objection in principle in amendments having one or other of these purposes? Is there anything to object to in trying to ensure that a man's land will be safeguarded against unjustifiable trespass? Is there anything unjustifiable in endeavouring to ensure that if works are carried out under this Bill they will be co-ordinated in such a way that they will yield some benefit and will not result in some disadvantage or damage? Is there anything to be ashamed of or anything to apologise for in trying to ensure that legislation passed by this House will not be abused in such a way that, as I have said, private individuals may reap a private profit out of public expense?

These were the purposes which our amendments were designed to secure. The Parliamentary Secretary accepted, in what I must candidly say was a grudging, meagre and insufficient way, the principle of some of these amendments. He rejected others. Why he rejected them is to me incomprehensible, except that, perhaps, no good can come out of Nazareth, that he believes that and that, accordingly, there could be no merit in any proposal submitted in this House by the Opposition. I suppose we owe the fact that he has accepted some of them to this, that the criticisms which we were making of this Bill made many of his followers uneasy in their minds as to the consequences of them; that a certain amount of pressure was brought to bear on him to hearken to what we were saying and to be guided by a spirit of common sense and to accept in, as I have said, a meagre and insufficient way, the principle of some of our amendments. In so far as he has accepted them, I suppose we should be grateful to him for it, but let us be clear about it that not one of these amendments would have appeared in this Bill if the Government and the Government Parties had had their way when the Second Stage of the Bill was opened in this House on the 31st March last; not one single one. The question of compensation would remain in the same unsatisfactory way as it was when this Bill was first introduced. The sole resort that a person claiming that his land had been damaged would have had would be the District Court with all the limitations imposed by law upon the District Court in relation to torts, and I think this would have been a tort.

Fortunately, and again let us give credit where credit is due, when this matter was discussed on the Committee Stage or on the Second Reading, I think both Deputy Timoney and Deputy Cowan felt that Section 5 of the Bill, as originally drafted, was a very imperfect section and they joined their voices with ours in asking the Parliamentary Secretary to reconsider it. As a result of that, we have now, as Deputy Aiken has reminded the House, a section in relation to compensation which has been considerably amended and, to the extent to which it has been amended, considerably improved. I do not think it still goes far enough in that regard but, in any event, we are grateful to the Deputies and to the Parliamentary Secretary for the concessions which have been given. Now a person who claims that the damage to his land or property exceeds £20 can have the damage on that issue determined by arbitration under the Acquisition of Land Acts and I think that is highly satisfactory.

Much more satisfactory, however, from the point of view of the fundamental principle, is the amendment which has been made in regard to Section 4. When this Bill was first put before the House we had a great many lawyers, not Deputy Cowan nor Deputy Timoney, on the other side claiming that one of its merits was that the purposes had been tersely and succinctly expressed. I concede that in regard to Section 4 of this Bill, as originally introduced, because it provided:—

"A local authority or person executing works pursuant to this Act or an Order made thereunder or any officer, servant or agent of such authority or person, may enter on any land for the purposes of the execution of the works."

The succeeding sub-section of the section provided:—

"A person who obstructs or interferes with the exercise of the power conferred by sub-section (1) of this section shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine not exceeding £10."

Very tersely and very succinctly expressed. There was no right of appeal. There was no provision, first of all, that notice should be given to the person who owned the land that entry was going to be made on the land. There was no right of appeal to any quarter to restrain a local authority from entering on that land, even if the owner of the land believed that grave and irreparable damage might be done to his property.

Does the Deputy realise that this is the Fifth Stage of the Bill and that we are dealing with what is now in the Bill?

I am coming to that, Sir.

It strikes me that the Deputy is repeating what I heard him say on other stages of the Bill.

Let us see what is in the Bill now.

First, we have a local authority "executing works pursuant to this Act or an Order or agreement made thereunder, or any officer, servant or agent of such authority..." The person who now enters the land must be a person who enters it as a servant or agent of such authority and only a local authority, acting through their servants or agents, may enter on the land. That is a considerable improvement, I think, over the measure as first introduced. It was an improvement which was secured as a result of many debates in this House, as my colleague, Deputy Aiken, reminds us. It was not an improvement which was spontaneously given. It was an improvement which was extorted and exacted. It was not an improvement which was announced when the Bill was first introduced. So that, at any rate, in so far as it is an improvement, the people of this country, and particularly the landowners of this country —and ultimately, I am sure, it will be found to be the workers of this country—have a right to be grateful to those who succeeded in having that section of the measure redrafted until it now appears in the Bill in its present form.

What next is in this Bill? In this particular Section 4 of the Bill, dealing with the right of entry, we read:—

"Before entering on land under this section for a purpose other than the execution of urgent works, a local authority executing works pursuant to this Act or an Order or agreement made thereunder, shall either obtain the consent (in the case of occupied land) of the occupier, or (in the case of unoccupied land) of the owner or shall give not less than 14 days' notice in writing of the intention to make such entry."

I hope that the House—those who have been talking about the alleged obstructive attitude of the Opposition, and the Minister for Local Government who alleged that we were impeding the passage of the Bill—will note what we have secured and wrung from him very unwillingly, because the discussion of this measure need not have occupied the time it did take if the Government had been willing to consider criticism reasonably. We are now, as I have said, in the position that a local authority must either obtain the consent of a person before it enters his land or shall give not less than 14 days' notice in writing of the intention to make such entry. There was nothing about consent in this Bill as originally drafted. There was nothing about giving notice in this Bill as originally drafted. As I have said, the admission of the principle that a man has the right to be forewarned before his house or his land is entered upon had to be exacted from this Government. It is because they refused to give it willingly that so much time of the Dáil was occupied in the discussion of the Bill. Sub-section (3) of Section 4 lays down the procedure by which notice shall be given. I do not think it is necessary to spend any time on it beyond saying once again that provisions of that sort did not appear in this Bill when it was originally submitted to the House.

Then, what I think is perhaps—next to the fact that notice must be given of entry—the most important concession that the intelligent criticism of the Opposition succeeded in securing appears in sub-sections (4) and (5) of Section 4. What are they? I doubt whether any of those people who have been critical of the Opposition's attempt to secure justice and protection for the landowners of this country have read these sub-sections. Sub-section (4) of Section 4 provides:—

"Any person to whom a notice of intention to enter on land has been given under this section may, not later than 14 days after the giving of such notice, apply to the justice of the District Court having jurisdiction in the district in which such land is situate, on notice to the local authority by whom or on whose behalf such notice was given, for an order prohibiting the said entry on such land, and, upon the hearing of such application, such justice may, if he so thinks proper, either wholly prohibit such entry on such land or specify conditions to be observed by the person making such entry."

Is there any member of a Government Party who represents a rural constituency who says that the Government was not justified in writing into this Bill, after it had been introduced and at the instance of the Opposition, a provision of that sort? Does Deputy O'Higgins—I forget which is the rural Deputy, but I know that Deputy Seán Collins represents West Cork. Does Deputy Seán Collins contend that it is a bad thing that a farmer who has been given notice that his land is about to be entered should have the right to go to the District Court and ask the district justice to determine whether the entry could be rightfully and properly made or whether the proposed entry should be prohibited? I think if Deputy Seán Collins were to take a plebiscite of the farmers of West Cork on that he would secure a majority very much larger than the majority the Government secured recently in that constituency in favour of the proposal Fianna Fail has succeeded in persuading the Minister for Local Government to accept in relation to this Bill.

Sub-section (5) is, of course, consequential upon sub-section (4). It merely provides that once the District Court has prohibited entry under sub-section (4) it will not be lawful for anybody to contravene that prohibition and enter upon the land. There is what is in sub-section (4); there is the addition that has been put into the section by reason of the examination given to the measure by the Opposition.

Then we come to Section 3 as it now stands and I think that even now it is a very objectionable section. I concede that it is, perhaps, an improvement on the section as originally introduced, but to whom is such improvement due, to what is such improvement due? It is due to the Opposition, to the stand which the Opposition took, and the persistence with which the Opposition, despite all the attempts of the Government to misrepresent its view, pointed out that Section 3 as it originally stood in the Bill gave the Minister virtually dictatorial powers. I agree that he has, to some extent, fettered his hands and, to that extent, it is an improvement. On the other hand, I think that when he introduced an entirely new principle into the section, a principle of his own conceiving, he has practically nullified the good which he has done by accepting in part our point of view by the ill which he has done by giving effect to his own ideas in relation to this matter.

I do not want to weary the House any further on this Bill. It will pass in this House and go elsewhere. I hope when it goes elsewhere and is discussed in another House it will be approached by the Government with a more open mind, that it will be considered by the Government with a mind more ready and more receptive to helpful suggestions than was manifested by the Government here. Before it leaves I should say that we have no objection to enabling local authorities to carry out the works which they are empowered to carry out here. I made that clear in my speech on the Second Reading of the Bill and I quote column 2159, Volume 114:—

"I am not for a moment going to deny that it would be useful to give power to the local authorities to do some of the things that are embodied in this Bill. It would be very desirable that they should be able to make drains in certain circumstances. It would be very desirable that they should be able to remove substances causing obstructions in water-courses. For instance, as the Minister has said, the accretion of loose stones which often chokes the eyes of bridges and causes flooding is not a very desirable thing."

However, as I said, this Bill went far beyond that. It gave to local authorities, and I am afraid it still gives to them, arbitrary power to go into any man's land and do any of the things they think are reasonable or necessary. The attitude of the Opposition with regard to this Bill was motivated— it is not a nice word but I cannot think of another at the moment—by the desire to improve the Bill. We have no objection to local authorities being given power to carry out any of the works mentioned in the Bill, but what we did object to was the fact that local authorities were being given these powers without concomitant safeguards being provided for the rights of private individuals. It was the trespass on their rights we objected to, and it was to prevent that trespass we objected to the Bill. It is some consolation to us that we succeeded in securing amendments, not very far-reaching amendments, but amendments of some substance which will make it more difficult for local authorities to dismiss the rights of private individuals when they think works should be carried out for their own benefit or for the benefit of an individual.

First of all I would like to say at this stage that I welcome the conversion of Deputy MacEntee to the idea of this Bill at all, because anybody who listened to him on the Second Reading, or who read his Second Reading speech, would get the impression that he was totally opposed to it. He talks about pressure being brought to bear on me to accept certain amendments, but I think it is more obvious that pressure was brought to bear on Deputy MacEntee by members of his own Party. When he opposed it on the Second Reading there was a noticeable murmur around him and there was a notable change when the Second Reading was resumed; practically every member of his Party who spoke condemned the attitude of Deputy MacEntee and welcomed and lauded the Bill.

There has been certain criticism here about obstruction and delay in having this measure brought before the Dáil. I think it is a happy thing that Deputy MacEntee came to the rescue of his companion, Deputy Aiken. Deputy Aiken could not give any reason why there was delay, but I am glad that Deputy MacEntee has the good sense or the courtesy to admit that there were certain circumstances since the Second Reading which prevented the taking of the Bill in Committee. I would like to point out to the House and to Deputy Aiken, as he forgot to mention the fact, that there was the Easter Recess, the Budget and certain financial resolutions which had to be taken. As far as the Government is concerned, I do not think anybody can allege that there was any unreasonable delay. Again I want to stress, although I do not want to slap anybody on the other side, that there were unusual circumstances inasmuch as the Minister who introduced this measure did not have the opportunity of piloting its other stages through Dail Eireann. So far as obstruction is concerned, I do not think anybody on the opposite side of the House can accuse me of alleging obstruction against the members of the Fianna Fail Party. I refrained from doing so because, personally, I did not want to allege obstruction and provide further opportunities for still more obstruction. However, last night, Deputy MacEntee went out of his way to obstruct the passage of this Bill. He spoke for 35 minutes on the deletion of Section 3 and the insertion of a new Section 3. Afterwards, when consequential amendments were being discussed he welcomed that particular section and nearly went so far as to say that he had been instrumental in having this particular section included in the Bill. I might say with respect that both Deputy MacEntee and Deputy Aiken displayed ignorance of the case because neither of them had read subsequent amendments about compensation. Even here to-day Deputy Aiken suggested that Section 3 meant that the local authority, on whose behalf a person was nominated by the Minister to carry out works, would not be liable for compensation. There was such a provision in the original Bill and I think it is unfair for Deputy Aiken to allege that there was no such provision for compensation even in respect of Section 3. I do not know why Deputy MacEntee has taken up the attitude he has. He has been in an argumentative and contrary mood ever since he began to talk about this Bill. He wants one thing and then again he does not want it. If he gets it he is not satisfied and if he does not get it he is again not satisfied.

I am not one of those who think that all the ideas are on one side of the House. I take a poor view of any assembly that is not prepared to concede a point to the other side and to accept an amendment as I did last night. I remember when Deputy MacEntee was on this side of the House he sat resolutely through debates and refused at all times to accept any amendment, no matter how reasonable it was, from the Opposition. He talks about the rights of individuals and safeguarding the individuals, but my experience in this House was that there was very little consideration for the individuals when Fianna Fail gave taxi drivers and bus conductors the right to remove from vehicles any person whom they considered to be suffering from a disease.

I suggest that in this Bill the local authorities have, and always had, sufficient regard for the rights of the individuals and their interests. The debate on this Bill has always been charged with suspicion on the part of the Fianna Fáil Party towards local authorities. One would imagine that they are totalitarian bodies or dictators. I have no hesitation in saying that some of the protections and safeguards included in the Bill are unnecessary, and if we had accepted even 25 per cent. of the amendments suggested by the Opposition this Bill would be totally unworkable and you would have no local authority availing itself of the power which they have to execute certain works under this particular Bill. We had amendments running to the extent of one and a half pages and it was almost suggested that the colour and thickness of the paper on which applicants should make their claims for compensation should be laid down. Deputy MacEntee tried to make the point that the original Bill was 110 lines and it was now 199.

I think the Parliamentary Secretary is giving credit where credit is not due.

It was Deputy Aiken who made the point. I think that difference is easily explained especially when you consider that it takes 30 lines to lay down a procedure to be adopted in serving 14 days' notice. That would take a big slice out of the difference between 110 and 199 lines. Deputy MacEntee talked about the effect on farmers and landowners for whom this Bill is intended to do good. This Bill is intended to secure the co-operation of the farmers, landowners and local authorities in the protection of lands against flooding and to protect the property of the local authority which is the ratepayers' property against the things mentioned in the Long Title of the Bill. Too much time has been taken up already on this Fifth Stage and I feel sure that none of the back benchers behind Deputy MacEntee will be willing to vote against the measure.

Question put and agreed to.