asked the Minister for Agriculture if he will indicate the number of applications that have been received from Kerry North and Kerry South, respectively, under the land rehabilitation project since its inception, in how many cases the applications have been approved and in how many cases grants have been paid.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Land Rehabilitation Project.
The Deputy will recollect that some time ago I undertook to have a statistical report of progress under the land project furnished to members of Dáil Éireann periodically. An up-to-date report is being prepared which will give the information asked for in so far as it is possible to do so, and it will be circulated to Deputies within the next week.
Is the Minister aware that this land rehabilitation scheme is hardly operating at all in County Kerry and that the farmers there are very dissatisfied with the rate of progress? Would the Minister consider resurrecting the farm improvements scheme so as to give these farmers the option of applying under that scheme, since that scheme gave much greater satisfaction to the people there than the present scheme is giving?
The Deputy will recall that the scale of grant payable for the improvements carried out under the farm improvements scheme is about one-half that paid under the land rehabilitation scheme? If the Deputy will procure evidence that the people in Kerry would prefer a substantial reduction in the scale of grants provided, I shall consider as to whether that can be made applicable in that particular area.
The Minister is aware that half a loaf is better than no bread.
They had to live on half a loaf for the past 15 years; the whole loaf is coming up now.
Is the Minister aware that I did not ask him to suspend the land rehabilitation scheme? What I am asking him to do is to give farmers in Kerry the option of applying under the farm improvements scheme considering that some of the present applications have been in the Department for upwards of 12 months and seemingly have not yet been considered.
If the Deputy would be good enough to await the receipt of the return which I hope to furnish to him in the course of a week, he might make his peregrinations in the County Kerry somewhat more frequently than he has recently and see the work that is proceeding.
I am quite well aware of what is taking place.
asked the Minister for Agriculture if he will state the number of applications so far received under the land rehabilitation project (a) from those who signified their intention to undertake the work themselves, and (b) from those who expressed a wish that the work should be undertaken by his Department, the number of approvals issued under both these heads, the number completed under these heads, the amount of money so far expended on each section of the scheme excluding administrative costs, and the number of applicants who expressed the wish to have their contributions under (b) consolidated with their annuity.
In answer to the Deputy's question I have to inform him that he should receive during the coming week a full statement of statistics relating to the land rehabilitation project to date, which I believe will furnish him with the information he requires. If any additional information is required I shall be glad to supply it in so far as is possible on request.
We received here an assurance from the Minister that statements such as the one to which he now refers would be issued by him from time to time in order to keep us informed as to the progress made. I would like to know now, since we will get one report next week, how often it is proposed these statements will be issued.
I suggested to the House every three months, but I indicated that if the Opposition requested that they should be issued at more frequent intervals I would go to the limit of my ability to meet that request.
The Minister realises, of course, the importance of having some fixed period in order to eliminate the need of putting down these questions.
Certainly. Every three months.
asked the Minister for Agriculture if he will state the sum expended to date on the purchase of machinery under the land rehabilitation project and where this machinery is at present working.
The total sum expended to date under the land project on the purchase of machinery is £159,694.
Machines purchased by the Department are now engaged in drainage and reclamation work in Counties Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford, Wicklow, Louth, Monaghan, Mayo, Sligo, Roscommon, Waterford, Westmeath, Clare and Tipperary.
Employed entirely on schemes supervised by his Department?
Yes, and in addition to that there is a good deal of machinery in operation which is the private property of contractors who are working for the Department.
What I am anxious to establish is that, whatever machinery is working, is working under the supervision of the Minister's own Department.
My main reply deals exclusively with the machinery operated by officers of my Department, and machinery which belongs to my Department but, in addition to that, there is a considerable amount of machinery working in the hands of contractors, which is their property but which is being used on work they are executing under contract on behalf of my Department.
Would the Minister say if any of this machinery is at present employed or has been employed under the Local Authorities (Works) Act operated by local bodies?
Not that I know of, though it could happen in a particular district if a local authority asked the Department to help them out by the loan of a machine their user of which would expedite the solution of the general drainage problem of the area. It is the desire of my Department, as it is of the Department of Local Government, to collaborate in every possible way consistent with the statutory powers they have.
I am not objecting to collaboration between the two Departments. I have asked for information as to where this machinery is being employed. I have been given information. Now that information is being qualified by the Minister when he says that he is not certain that some of this machinery can be employed on this work.
Except in the sense that we might lend one of these power driven shovels for three days, the Deputy may take it that the machinery mentioned in my reply is permanently at work now on the work and projects operated by officers of my Department, and is engaged on no other.
asked the Minister for Agriculture if he will state in connection with the credit scheme for fertilisers and lime under the land rehabilitation project whereby 90 per cent. of the cost can be added to, and be repayable with, the land annuities, for what period of years the repayment will run, the rate of interest charged and the total amount that will be repaid in principal and interest for each £100 worth of fertilisers and lime supplied.
The period of years during which repayment will take place will depend on the unexpired period of the applicant's land purchase annuity.
The rate of interest will be 3½ per cent.
The total amount which will be repaid will again depend on the unexpired period of the applicant's land purchase annuity.
Am I to understand from the Minister that these repayments will go on during the normal course of the repayment of the annuities?
That is right.