Committee on Finance. - Local Government Bill, 1954— Committee Stage (Resumed).

Debate resumed on amendment No. 33.

When the debate was adjourned yesterday, I was putting the suggestion to the Minister that he might accept the amendment or at least inform us that he was prepared to consider it carefully and deal with it later on the Report Stage. Briefly, the purpose of the amendment is to empower the elected representatives to alter the names of streets or places. Power is given under existing Acts for them to initiate proposals, but the power to change the names of streets relies on a plebiscite being taken and the regulations made under the 1946 Act provided that a majority of four-sevenths of the ratepayers in a particular street must vote in favour of the change.

In this connection, I am advised that the plebiscite is strictly limited to the ratepayers. You may have a situation in a city or urban area where, while there might be a large number of residents in the particular street willing to agree to the change, because they are not clearly designated as ratepayers it is not possible to make a change.

I think the Minister will agree, on careful consideration of the matter, that local authorities—urban councils, councils of boroughs, etc.—do not lightly wish to alter the names of streets; but I think they should be afforded an opportunity of paying tribute by calling the principal streets of the cities or towns after people who have given their lives for this country.

We have a particular case in the City of Dublin where, on more than one occasion, efforts have been made by representatives of the organisations who fought for the liberty of our country to get the name of one of our principal streets changed, without avail. For some unknown reason, the majority of the rated occupiers in that particular street were not prepared to let the tribute be paid. I refer to a street leading from oue of our main railway stations, a street leading from Amiens Street up to O'Connell Street —Talbot Street. I think it will be remembered that a man famous in the struggle for independence gave his life for our country in that street. There is a memorial to his name in the form of a plaque in that street, but the street bears the name of Talbot Street, not the name of Seán Tracy Street. This street, I understand, was named as far back as 1821. It was named Talbot Street after a gentleman who bore the names Charles Chetwynd Talbot, 3rd Earl of Talbot, Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland from 1817 to 1821. It previously bore the name of Cope Street, North. Evidently the authorities at that time had some method of changing the name. I submit that the local authority in this case, the representatives of this city, should in a reasonable way be afforded an opportunity to change the name of that particular street.

In addition, I would make the general case. In our city we can by resolution call new highways and byways after people who served this nation. We had numerous cases of narrow residential streets, consisting of 20, 30 or 40 houses, connecting with no main highways, and we have been compelled when wishing to honour the city, by calling a highway after someone who has served the nation, to put his name on a small street such as I have described. I do not think that there would be any intention on the part of local authorities in Dublin, Cork, Limerick or any town or city in the country, to enter into an immediate race to change the names of all their streets but I do think that the local authority should have this power subject to the consent of the Minister. If the proposal, in any particular instance, appears to be frivolous the Minister would be there as a protection. In addition, the amendment proposes that residents in the street would have the right of appeal because the amendment provides that where four-sevenths of the ratepayers in a street object to changing the name of the street, they may appeal to the Minister. I put it to the Minister, and I hope he will listen to our appeal in this matter, that he should not take away from the elected representatives of the people in this Bill power and authority to record, in some permanent form, their recognition of the sacrifices of those who served the nation. Certainly in this particular case I think our amendment can almost stand or fall on the plea that under the present laws, and the regulations arising from these laws, even though each and every member of the Dublin Corporation or each and every member of this House feels that it would be right and proper to rename Talbot Street, Seán Tracy Street, it cannot be done because of the fact that two, three, four or half-a-dozen ratepayers can defy the wishes of the elected representatives, not only in the corporation but even in this House unless this provision is changed.

This situation possibly exists in other cities in the country and I think it is one that should be remedied. I believe that it is proposed to restore within a very short time to public representatives on the local level some authority. At the present moment public representatives on corporations, county councils, etc., have the right to strike rates, the right to take money off the ratepayers, but they have not the right to honour people who were not only prepared to, but who actually did, sacrifice their lives for this country. Surely it is a small thing to ask the Minister to agree to this amendment. I am aware that members, both on this side of the House and the other, would possibly have much more right than I to raise this matter because they are people who were personally acquainted with the man whose name each and every member of the corporation desires to honour in this fashion. I would ask the Minister to accept the amendment and to afford us this opportunity or, if not, to bring in an amendment on similar terms himself on the Report Stage.

I have a lot of sympathy with the movers of this amendment. I often think that our present system of conferring Christian names on human beings is wrong. We have it at the christening functions in which the unfortunates concerned have no say whatsoever. I am told, by people who remember, that after World War I, veterans who fought at the famous battle at Ypres who wished to commemorate the heroic sacrifices of their friends, christened their children with names such as John Ypres Smith. The unfortunate children concerned have the name "Ypres" wrapped round their necks still and they can never get rid of it. I think that if these children had some say in the matter they would certainly never have permitted a famous battle such as that of Ypres to be commenorated in this manner.

I propose under this section to give the ratepayers of a street some say in the naming of it. I propose giving the occupiers of small dwellings a say in the naming of it, in other words, to bring them in at the christening of their own homes and to give them an opportunity of having some say in what the name of the location of their home is going to be. I can visualise Dublin Corporation with a Fianna Fáil majority deciding to call some of their new streets, say, Briscoe Street. Immediately afterwards we may have a Labour Corporation coming in and deciding to rename the street by calling it Larkin Street. Then, possibly, Fine Gael will come along if they get a majority and decide to rename it——

"Pa O'Donnell Street".

I know I am not that much in the favour of Dublin Corporation. They might decide to call it "Dillon Street" or any street you wish. I believe the people residing in the street should have some say in the naming of the street. I am not going to labour the point. I am certain it is not for some frivolous reason the Deputies put this amendment down and I am prepared to consider it between now and the Report Stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section put and agreed to.
Amendment No. 34 not moved.

I move amendment No. 35:—

Before Section 53 to insert a new section as follows:—

The provisions of Section 73 of the Act of 1941 shall apply to a borough council and the said section is hereby amended by the addition of "or borough council" after "county council" wherever these occur in the said section.

Amendments Nos. 35 and 36 are cognate.

Yes. The purpose of the amendment is merely to enable the Dublin Corporation to have the same facilities in regard to the provision of buildings in the nature of community halls, and so on, as those which are at present available for the county councils, thus enabling the county councils to make grants to voluntary bodies from time to time for the provision of certain amenities. There has been a great deal of difficulty in Dublin from that point of view and I wonder could the Minister consider extending these facilities to Dublin.

There can be no doubt that under Section 73 of the 1941 Act it was the intention to assist rural Ireland and rural Ireland only. We are aware of the fact that in county boroughs and towns we have sufficient facilities and I would suggest that the Deputy would be cutting completely across Section 73 of the 1941 Act by having this amendment accepted. I am very sorry I cannot see my way to accept it but I would be prepared to consider the matter between now and the Report Stage.

I quite agree that at the time of the passing of the 1941 Act there was probably no necessity for it in Dublin, but Dublin has grown tremendously in the last ten or 15 years and one of the problems in Dublin, particularly in the newly built areas, is the provision of some kind of community centres which are lacking. It is really a very urgent problem now. The general policy of the corporation and the Department of Local Government—a policy which I think was a wise one at the time and one to which we all probably subscribed—was that the first essential was the provision of houses and that all the money available should be devoted to that purpose, and the development of community life could follow afterwards. By and large while there was a strong argument for that at the time, the result of that policy has not been a particularly sound one in that we have failed to develop that kind of civic spirit and community life in the newly built areas which we might have been able to develop had we provided some kind of community centres.

At the moment in the newly built areas there are practically no facilities for ordinary community life or community centres. That means that the young people are forced to go into the city which is not particularly good for the development of the area and, in addition, the cost of the amenities is increased considerably if they have to expend, say, 8d. to 10d. to come into the city to a hall. But a far greater reason than that is that they are forced away from their own surroundings right into the city. The provision of halls has become an urgent problem in those areas. I am speaking now of areas such as Drimnagh, Crumlin, Ballyfermot, Cabra and so on. Some members of the Corporation are very keen to have the provisions of Section 73 of the 1941 Act extended to the city if at all possible.

I am sorry I have to find myself in complete disagreement with the suggestion behind this amendment. We will be dealing with another amendment to Section 54 which would give the local authority the right to advance money on loan, and would meet the situation as we understand it in the corporation. The difference as regards the provisions in Section 73 of the 1941 Act is that they were designed for the purpose of according facilities in undeveloped areas, rural Ireland, where they had no great facilities such as cinemas or halls of any kind and where the population was naturally small in number. We know there is a need for the facility of what we might call parochial halls but, particularly in the City of Dublin, they have to be under some agreed form of control. The corporation could not itself erect hundreds of small halls all over the city and take the responsibility for looking after them. The argument Deputy MacBride has used would be better used in connection with the amendment to Section 54. I would say that, subject to Deputy Larkin's expressing a view, it would be better for us to have the powers we ask for in the amendment to Section 54.

I am slightly horrified to hear the Minister proposing to consider this matter before the Report Stage. I would have hoped he would resist it to the utmost. The whole purpose of Section 73 of the 1941 Act, as he said, was to provide facilities in rural Ireland.

I hope the Deputy does not misunderstand me. I hope to consider every section of the Bill between now and the Report Stage.

You did not give me that promise in respect of a couple of sections.

May I fortify the Minister's mind on this point? The whole purpose of Section 73 was to correct the drift from rural Ireland to the towns and cities. One of the contentions on that subject has always been that a material cause of the drift was the lack of recreational facilities in rural Ireland. If the Minister proceeds to widen the section to give facilities in the cities and towns, I think the section might as well never have been there at all.

Had the Deputy not better wait and see?

If the Minister is going to weaken all through the debate——

The Minister is not weakening.

I mean weaken in his statement that he will consider things on Report. On other occasions, I took it that when the Minister said he would consider a matter, he would do so, and that it was a specific promise.

That is quite true.

I take it that in this case it is wider——

I do not mean to be discourteous to Deputy MacBride. If I had said last night that I would consider the matter, it would have saved an hour of the time of this House but I refrained from giving such an undertaking. I do not wish to be discourteous to Deputy MacBride because I appreciate the motives behind his amendment. However, at this stage, perhaps I should explain that this Section 53 arises as the result of the reception of a deputation from Fóras Éireann by the then Parliamentary Secretary, now the present Minister for Social Welfare, Deputy Corish, on the 15th June, 1950. As a result of a deputation which he received on that date, this section has been inserted. Fóras Éireann is a body which was set up partly to assist rural communities in the provision of parish halls. It got £22,000 from the Carnegie Trustees and distributed the moneys in the years 1949-1950 by way of grant or loan to 12 rural communities for the building of halls. This assistance, unfortunately, ceased in 1950. The deputation from the body represented that the provision in the 1941 Act under which a hall could be provided by the local authority did not stimulate local interest, and one can appreciate why it did not. In the first place, local interest depended on the local authority's providing the hall. The local authorities fought shy of providing halls because they were afraid of the cost of maintenance and the cost of running them. It was then suggested by Fóras Éireann that assistance should be given to rural communities by way of grant to assist them in procuring a hall and to stimulate local enterprise and local interest. Really, it is as a result of that deputation that this section was inserted in this particular Bill—and the House will appreciate why.

In August, 1952, the Arts Council proposed that approximately £30,000 a year should be made available by the Government for the provision of halls in rural areas in which dramatic performances or concerts could be given and exhibitions of various kinds held. That particular proposal contemplated the building of 300 such halls in ten years. My predecessor held that the scheme was fantastic and I must say I agree. The Government, at a meeting on the 8th November, 1952, decided that the proposal should not be approved—and, again, I must say I agree. That is the position and I am sure Deputy MacBride will appreciate it.

Major de Valera

One of the things that are forgotten in an amendment of this nature is who is to pay for amenities of this nature. It is bad enough when one has to deal with necessary amenities: they are costly and it is difficult to find the money for them. However, when it comes to another type of amenity, it must be realised that it will have to be paid for by the community in one form or another. In this particular regard, I think you could hardly ask the Minister to take a provision of this nature just as it is stated.

I think the idea behind Deputy MacBride's amendment is one which will find ready support from all sections of the House. Whether or not Deputy MacBride's amendment would have greater or lesser merit than the amendment to which Deputy Briscoe referred is a matter for debate. However, what I want to say is that if the Minister rejects this amendment, I hope he will not reject is for the reasons given by Deputy Sheldon. In my view, it would be entirely wrong that we should approach legislation in this House along the lines outlined by Deputy Sheldon. The view that because a particular thing was introduced for the benefit of rural areas it should be considered as an automatic exclusion of similar facilities for areas such as those spoken of by Deputy MacBride would, I think, be an entirely wrong approach.

The difference is that we represent different types of constituencies.

The areas to which Deputy MacBride and Deputy Briscoe referred are areas such as Crumlin, Drimnagh and Kimmage. Any one of these areas contains in population more than the largest town that Deputy Sheldon could bring up from his constituency.

Everyone is flying to the city.

In the three areas together, there is a bigger population than in Drogheda. I think there is very nearly as large a population in the three areas together as there is in Limerick City. It does seem fantastic that, in the year 1954, you find a population of 40,000 or 50,000 persons without even one community hall where they can get together and hold meetings, whist drives or other recreational facilities of that sort. That is the position. Deputy MacBride knows it, Deputy Briscoe knows it and I know it. I do not intend to discuss Deputy Briscoe's amendment at this stage but, since a comparison has been drawn between the two amendments, Deputy Briscoe's amendment—which is supported also by Deputy Larkin and Deputy A. Byrne—does seem to me to be rather a fairer approach to the problem in that it deals with the manner in which the proposed erection of halls of this sort would be financed. As between the two amendments, I would rather incline in favour of the next amendment dealing with this matter. In any event, I hope the Minister will consider one amendment or the other or, if not the amendments as worded, something similar.

Is the amendment withdrawn?

Yes, but I should like to say something on it before withdrawing it. The Minister has been so patient that I do not want to add to his troubles by way of delays here. However, there are a couple of things that have been said that I should like to refer to. In the first place, Deputy de Valera said he did not regard the provision of halls in Dublin as necessary amenities. That is a completely erroneous view. In my opinion, and I think I know as much about the City of Dublin as Deputy de Valera, the increase in juvenile delinquency is largely due to the fact that we have failed to provide local amenities for the young people and the residents generally in the newly built-up areas and the young people, therefore, are forced into the city because of that lack. However, I do not want to digress too long on that aspect of it. The Minister introduced his little irrelevancy by saying that the last Government had turned down a proposal by the Arts Council to build 300 halls in ten years and that he entirely approved of the last Government's decision to turn down that proposal. Now I think that was a retrograde step. The provision of 300 halls would have been a valuable asset to the community generally. One of the causes of rural depopulation is the lack of such halls.

May I tell the Deputy that there were at least 30 halls voluntarily built during the same period by local initiative and without any assistance from the State?

I am very glad to hear that, but 30 halls in the condition in which the country is at the moment are only a drop in the ocean; I would much prefer to see 300 built. Lastly, I think the Minister dealt with this amendment as if it was an amendment to Section 53. It was not intended as an amendment to the existing section but rather as a new section. However, in view of the fact that Deputies representing the Dublin Corporation have an amendment dealing with the same matter we can consider the whole question on that amendment and I will, therefore, withdraw mine.

And support us on ours.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Major de Valera

Has the Minister any figures or details to show precisely what the main user of these halls is? It would be rather interesting to have that information.

I would not like to go into details on that. These halls may be used by some of the political Parties, so far as I know. I may mention, however, the fact that halls have been built at Ballyduff, near Lismore; at Tubbercurry; at Ardara; at Mooncoin, County Donegal; at Lettermacaward in County Donegal; at Kincasslagh in County Donegal. I am afraid to mention too many in Donegal because the Deputy may become suspicious.

Major de Valera

Take any sample week; there are six days, excluding Sunday. On the average, to what use are these halls put? Information on that would be a fair indication as to what we are providing for by statute.

I have a fair amount of information, but it certainly does not reach anywhere near a statistical survey of the activities of dance halls and parochial halls.

The Minister's point is that if the local authorities in Dublin were as up and coming as the people in Donegal, they would have the halls.

Hear, hear!

May I point out that I have already withdrawn the amendment?

Is it because there are so many halls in Donegal that Deputy Sheldon does not want them anywhere else?

Major de Valera

Those halls may be used for dances.

Amendment No. 36 not moved.

I move amendment No.37:—

In line 29, before "to" to insert "or a loan".

It is about time a country Deputy got in, considering all the dispute there has been about Dublin City. It is time the countryman's point of view was put. If we intend to stop the flight to Dublin and the other big towns, it is time the country got a look in. My colleague, Deputy de Valera, with whom I profoundly disagree in his approach to this matter, needs a little enlightenment. I want to give him certain facts.

First of all, when the Carnegie Trust made its funds available there was such a rush for the funds that they were used up in a very short time. If a similar fund was opened to-morrow morning, the moneys would be used and used to good advantage. Country people have as much right to dance as city people. They have as much right to go to a hall. They have as much right to have amusements as the people in the city. If it is logical to make a case for Crumlin to have a hall, and all these other places, will anyone say that anyone in the Dáil will stop a dance being held there? Is there anything wrong in having a dance in such a hall?

I live within four miles of one of these Carnegie halls. It is a model. It is in Collinstown, County Westmeath; Collinstown is a small village with a couple of hundred people. Those people collected £500 and planked the money down to show the trustees they were in earnest. They got a loan of £1,000 free of interest and they got a grant. I have the facts here from one of the most active men in County Meath, one of the men most active in taking advantage of the Carnegie Trust funds. I will not give his name and I will not delay the House by reading all that he has to say. He has been responsible for the erection of a number of these halls. Here is how the financial side of it works: (1) there is a free grant of £1,000 and a loan of £1,500 free of interest to small villages or rural communities with a population of 750 or under; (2) there is a free grant of £1,000 and a loan of £3,000 free of interest to large villages with a population of over 750, the loan to be repaid in seven yearly instalments and the first instalment to be paid one year after the completion of the hall. A local committee must be formed for the purpose of collecting funds by means of whist drives, dances, etc. I will not go into any more detail.

Let me enumerate now the uses to which Collinstown Hall is put. We have an agricultural committee and lectures in agriculture are given in that hall. So are lectures in horticulture. We have a vocational committee in Westmeath and every year there are a number of lectures under the auspices of the R.D.S. I invite Deputy de Valera to come down to some of these lectures, and I will show him a packed hall. There are more than half a dozen such lectures every year. Furthermore, there are vocational classes held during the winter months under the local centre at Castlepollard. Even if dances are held in between, what harm is there in that? Is not that an amenity? If there was no hall in Collinstown the people would go into Mullingar. They have as much right to dance in Collinstown as the people in Mullingar have to dance in Mullingar. Has not the State as much right to contribute and the local council as much right to advance public funds as they had when they erected the county hall in Mullingar? Why not establish the same principle as the Carnegie Trust Fund to help out the local people? Villages with small populations of 250, or so, have not the amenities that the people in the cities and towns have. They have no electricity. Very often they have neither water nor sewerage. I suppose that will come in time. I am not blaming anyone for that lack. They have no steamrolled roads such as they have in Crumlin and other places. Their county roads are full of pot-holes.

Surely not.

I am speaking the truth. The Minister knows it himself. Every Deputy knows it. Yet, when we come to provide some amenity in order to keep the people in the rural areas and arrest the flight from the land we are met with all manner of resistance. I think such moneys would be very well spent. There is a slight error in my amendment. The amendment I would have the Minister accept is: "The county council may make a grant or a loan, or both." I put in "or both".

Obviously that is what the Deputy intended.

That is what I intended. I appeal to the Minister, in the first place, and to the House, to accept this. If the same action is taken as I have seen taken in Meath and Westmeath, and if it is applied in the same way throughout rural Ireland, with the same provisions and the same set of rules as Fóras Éireann has, then you will bring a new outlook to the people and make life worth while in rural Ireland.

I agree with Deputy Kennedy and with his countryman approach. It is the approach which some of us have been trying to make here for the past three weeks. Like Deputy Kennedy, I am honest enough to admit that I have become bogged down by the legal fraternity who know nothing about the country. I agree entirely with Deputy Kennedy's natural approach to this problem. There may be a fair tioscán of halls in Donegal, but there are not many of them in Cork. In the counties where our roads have potholes we need them too. As I said, the views expressed by Deputy Kennedy on this matter are agreeable with my own and I think the Minister should look into them. Whatever amenities they may have in the large towns and cities we do not begrudge them, but I say that we are entitled to a fairer share of amenities in rural Ireland.

It is not the people's fault that they have not got them. The people must be given a chance. If there were provision by way of grant or loan or both it would undoubtedly mean a lot. There is provision in another section of this Bill whereby county councils have the right to give a grant for the building of halls but, as a member of Cork County Council, I would say that of the 46 members there would be 35 or 36 sudden deaths if I stood up at a meeting and proposed that a grant be given for these things. Let us face it from the natural viewpoint and in that way try to help the people of rural Ireland.

I should like to point out to Deputy Kennedy, who made slightly disparaging remarks about the people in Crumlin, that these people have little or no amenities. Apart from that I am whole-heartedly behind the amendment, but I do not see why there should be any conflict between the interests of the city and the country in these matters. It does appear to me a sensible thing that if financial facilities are being made available for the building of halls, county councils should be able to give these facilities by way of loan. I can see, as Deputy Desmond does, that county councils might find themselves faced with sudden vacancies if proposals were brought occasionally for the giving of grants for the building of halls. It is much more likely that we would have halls built if councils were able to give loans. I am glad the Minister has brought in this section which, I think, would be improved by the amendment. It would enable the working out of a more comprehensive scheme for the building of halls.

I must say I was touched by what Deputy Desmond had to say about the poor unfortunates living down in rural Ireland, but under the Act of 1941 the local authorities were permitted to build halls in rural Ireland in order to encourage people to remain on the land. Deputy Kennedy is a member of a local authority. He has been since 1941, and in that time not one solitary hall has been built by the local authority of which he is a member. They have not lifted their finger to retain the people on the land. Yet, by this amendment, he now asks me to give the local authorities permission to give loans for the building of halls. I can see now how useless the section of the 1941 Act has proved, and I have amended that by saying: "Look here, we will not ask local authorities to build halls but we will give local authorities the power to give free grants towards the building of halls." I think I have gone a long distance, but Deputy Kennedy asks me to go further, although he did nothing himself as a member of a county council to avail of the facilities of the 1941 Act.

We are inclined to forget that if we give a loan it must be repaid. We seem to forget that the people from whom we are seeking the loan are themselves depending on loans which they themselves must repay. We are inclined to forget that if a local authority is giving a loan the first thing they will require is security.

Is not the hall itself sufficient security?

As a lawyer some of the best cases I have had were over disputes about the ownership of halls, and I think Deputy de Valera will agree with me there.

Major de Valera

That is so.

Remember you will have no continuity in the membership of the local committees who are sponsoring the building of these halls. If the local authority requires security surely the committee could go to the bank and get the loan on the same security.

But at a greater rate of interest.

I question the fact. Surely the local secretaries would have to see that the bank would be paid much more quickly than would the local authority if the loan were advanced by them. The local authority might be much more lenient if the committee failed to function. I think I have gone a long way to improve and amend the 1941 Act and all I say is let the local committees down the country and the members of local authorities show some initiative. If they do I shall not hinder them.

I appreciate what the Minister means. He means the very best but we are at the other end of the stick. A Bill passed through the House recently whereby a local authority could give grants for housing and the local authorities have gone out of their way by figures and means tests to prevent anyone from getting them.

I am not repealing the section of the 1941 Act. Local authorities may still build halls and I feel sure that Deputy Kennedy will have a motion before his county council to build a new hall in Castlepollard in order to retain the people on the land, and I can assure him that if such a proposal comes up for my sanction I shall give it favourable consideration.

What the Minister says has a great deal of force, but he forgets that what are called "the appropriate Ministers" in another section have already put so many burdens on the backs of the local representatives——

And Deputy Kennedy is looking for yet another burden.

Deputy Desmond is talking about members of the legal fraternity, but I say that his point goes for more than the legal fraternity. Speaking in plain facts, I doubt if any local authority would dare to put this section of the 1941 Act into effect. What would happen if they did?

I am giving the power to put it into effect.

I am trying to show the Minister that nothing will in fact happen for the simple reason that local authorities have already such burdens to bear—if they give it to one parish every other parish will have as good a case—they dare not put their hand on the latch at all. They dare not. In connection with a loan it may be possible to make regulations. The Minister is taking quite a lot of power to make regulations which will govern the issue of loans when the local difficulties would not arise. As well as that, it would be possible to put a limit on the capital sum that the local authority could, within its jurisdiction, issue at any one time.

The Deputy does not favour grants?

I prefer loans.

You prefer loans?

The amendment says a grant or a loan.

I think Deputy Kennedy agreed that it should be "and/or."

Under the 1941 Act the county council could allow a local area under its control to build, to supply them with furniture and other facilities but then there was a question of who managed or controlled the hall. In other words, it would be a hall belonging to the council and they would rent it out. The Minister, in the section he is introducing in this Bill, wants to go a little bit further and he says: "I am now giving you powers to make grants." In the argument that has developed the Minister talked about the risk attaching to the ownership of the particular hall when it is completed or built if the money is not repaid, if portion of it or all of it is by way of loan, and then he talked of the possibility of getting similar conditions by an underwriter. The local authority might find it less costly to give a very small grant and to facilitate with a loan than by giving a grant because, if you want to give a grant that will enable the structure to be built, in relation to the cost of that unit, it will have to be a reasonably sized grant and this grant would be multiplied, as the Minister realises, over every parish or every small parish.

What is the trouble about ownership? The Dublin Corporation have discussed this matter. A local council or county council may authorise a loan even without a grant to a local group for a specific purpose under terms and conditions. They do not have to hand over title until the money is fully repaid. Surely the wisdom of legal luminaries attached to local authorities can ensure that the local committee will only be a caretaker committee until they have paid off the loan.

They have that power under the 1941 Act.

The Minister talked about the difficulty that would arise about ownership afterwards. Provision can be made beforehand. At any time, as Deputy Sheldon says, a properly drawn up direction can issue by way of regulation or directive from the Minister to each local authority. Deputy Kennedy's remarks should not be misunderstood. He was making a comparison between the situation in rural Ireland as compared with the facilities and amenities already existing in urban areas or in a city like Dublin. He is not finding fault or wishing to take them away. The Minister ought to accept this amendment. He can make certain regulations. He can limit, if he likes, the proportion of the cost of a building that should be by way of grant and can provide that there should be a maximum. Then, the local authority also want power and we want the power. We do not want to issue loans. Responsible authorities who wish to build parochial halls, who have approached us, want a loan and they do not even want it free of interest, but they want us to give it at a reasonably low rate of interest. These things should be left to the local authorities to decide, depending upon the need, the cost of the particular structure and the terms and conditions under which the loan can be paid off. Deputy Kennedy read out the terms and conditions attaching to the Carnegie Loan. They do not necessarily have to be the same. There is no reason why repayments should be over a longer period than the five years attaching to the loan of the Carnegie Trust. The Minister should accept the principle, and as Deputy Sheldon rightly says, hammer out the terms and conditions on which it can be operated from the point of view of protection to the authority which gives the loan with regard to ownership of the property, the property not being transferred from them until the loan is completely paid; giving the authority a right to go up to a certain maximum by way of grant and the balance by loan; that they can decide the matter in relation to the particular local need and the local conditions, the circumstances of the people in the area, their ability to meet certain charges; and to fix also a nominal rate of interest, if they so desire.

I take it amendment 44 is being discussed with this. It seems cognate. It is the very same amendment.

I think it is right that I should remind the House of the powers conferred on local authorities under Section 73 of the 1941 Act:—

"The county council may provide a building for use by an approved local council for public and other meetings and for lectures, exhibitions, general recreation or other similar social objects and may entrust the care and management of such building to such local council either temporarily or permanently."

To a local council?

What does that mean?

A local committee and, remember, the section which I have now put into the Bill refers to such council, a local council only.

"(2) The county council may purchase in fee simple or for any less estate or interest or take on lease for any term any land for and including a building to be provided under the section and for that purpose Part V of the Public Assistance Act, 1939 (No. 27 of 1939), shall apply as if such land were being acquired for the purposes of the powers and duties of a public assistance authority under that Act."

Sub-section (3) says:—

"The county council may assist an approved local council by supplying them with furniture, office equipment and stationery and, where a building is provided under this section for use by such approved local council, by paying the whole or part of the wages of a person acting as caretaker of and performing cleansing and similar duties in relation to such building."

That is very, very wide. Not a solitary local authority in Ireland has taken advantage of that. I am impressed by what Deputy Kennedy has said, very much impressed, and I am prepared to consider it seriously between now and the Report Stage.

Before the Minister puts on his considering cap I want to make a point to him, in view of the approach by Deputy Desmond. I want the Minister to leave the door open for a council if, in its wisdom, it decides to give both a loan and a grant.

But only to an approved local council.

Yes. I want the same rules and regulations, the proper conveyance of the land, the legal document prepared the same as is prepared under the Carnegie Trust, the same election of the body that controls the hall, the same supervision, the same guarantees as are given for the repayment of the loan.

You have not said that in your amendment.

No. I do not say it in my amendment but I submit that it is within the powers of the Minister to make regulations.

If I do anything in the matter I will give the local authority all the discretion they want and I think it is but right I should.

If the Minister gives the local authorities all the powers they want and indicates to them that they can have the same power as under the Carnegie Trust, getting repayment of the loans they advance, I am satisfied about its reconsideration.

I am also satisfied, as a result of what I have heard here, that this is a method of getting out of giving grants at all. I am quite satisfied about that. They will say: "We will give you a loan, but no grant", and I am satisfied that most of the Deputies who spoke are anxious to get clear of the burden of giving grants and are anxious to say that they will give loans.

Major de Valera

That is quite true.

That is quite true and it is accepted.

It is not accepted. I am the mover of the amendment and nobody will interpret my approach to it but myself.

Unfortunately, I have to interpret it, too.

I claim a right for any council. Just as, in the case of housing grants, a local council can give a grant and can give a loan under the Small Dwellings Act to the builder of a house, I want to put the power into the hands of the local council, if they so choose, to give a grant and a loan.

Would it not have been better to do what Deputy de Valera suggested—to move to have the section withdrawn and a new section added whereby only loans would be given?

I will not agree with any approach by Deputy de Valera to the matter at all. I am the mover of this amendment.

Major de Valera

I do not recollect having made the suggestion.

Deputy Kennedy will be flogged.

There is a rift in the lute.

I want an assurance from the Minister that he will consider this.

Major de Valera

We took this amendment simpliciter. There was no agreement with regard to amendment No. 44, which is a separate matter.

They are cognate, and clearly the same.

Major de Valera

With respect, they are not, and in any event two amendments of that nature would be taken only by consent and this debate has gone so far without reference to amendment No. 44.

Before the Minister gave his undertaking to consider it, you, Sir, had put the matter to the House. I was not quite clear on it and I feel that Deputies opposite were not clear on it, either. What I should like to know now is if the Minister's undertaking to give this matter serious consideration was given in the light that amendment No. 44 was also under review?

Oh, definitely.

I may assure Deputies that I had no ulterior motive in the matter. Long before the discussion came up, I came to the conclusion that amendment No. 44 was cognate. Clearly, it is the same amendment, with the same thing running through it.

It should not be considered because it is proposed by Dublin Corporation.

The Minister need not get facetious about the matter. There is this difference, as the Minister will agree, that there is no suggestion of a grant in the case of an amendment for Dublin Corporation—it is purely a loan. In respect of the loan, it is the same amendment but is unlike the amendment relating to rural Ireland, which envisaged the power of giving a grant as well. If the Minister says he is accepting amendment No. 44; it solves my problem. We are not asking for a grant.

The section provides for a grant. The amendment provides for an addition to the grant.

This is amendment No. 44?

Yes. It is to insert before Section 54 a new section to provide that the council of a county borough may issue a loan to an approved person. There is no suggestion that Section 54 should be repealed or withdrawn. Section 54 provides for a grant and this is an amendment to provide for a loan, so that if I accept this, it would mean a grant and a loan.

It relates to Section 53 because Section 53 excludes the Dublin Corporation.

So that rather than confuse the situation in relation to Deputy Kennedy's amendment, which applies purely to rural Ireland——

All right—if the Deputy wants it. It is a matter for the Chair.

I am not endeavouring to keep amendment No. 44 from full discussion, if the House wishes it.

The Minister indicated that he was prepared to consider the matter seriously and I took that to mean—it was after your announcement, Sir—that the Minister's remarks applied to amendment No. 44 as well as to amendment No. 37.

Yes, because I had already given Deputy MacBride an assurance that I would consider it.

Major de Valera

That disposes of it, then.

Amendment No. 44 is an amendment for the insertion of a new section which would have application to the Dublin City area and I am quite satisfied if the Minister will consider it seriously.

There are three different things here. The amendment by Deputy MacBride which was withdrawn related to an entirely different item altogether from what is referred to in amendment No. 44. That amendment seeks to put in a new section to allow the Dublin Corporation to make loans—not to give grants. Deputy Kennedy's amendment is designed to allow a county council, in its wisdom, to give either a grant or a loan, or both, under terms and conditions suitable to the particular circumstances.

Will the Deputy not agree that amendments Nos. 44 and 35 are cognate?

I submit that this Section 53 is based on Section 73 of the Local Government Act, 1941, which does not deal with corporations or urban councils at all. It deals with county councils and it ends up with "expenses of county councils under this Part of this Act." I am not a lawyer, but I can interpret that much anyway, and I can see that there is a distinct separation between the amendment.

I can also interpret the actions of the Deputies opposite.

In order to get out of the jungle of local government legislation, let us dispose of amendment No. 37 and I will allow amendment No. 44 to stand for discussion.

Amendment No. 37, by leave withdrawn.

On the undertaking of the Minister to seriously consider it.

I accept the Minister's undertaking.

Amendments Nos. 38 and 39 are consequential on amendment No. 36.

Amendments Nos. 38 and 39 not moved.

Amendments Nos. 40 and 42, I take it, are cognate.

Amendment No. 40 not moved.

I move amendment No. 41:—

To add at the end of the section the following sub-sections (as sub-sections to be added to Section 73 of the Act of 1941):—

(5) The county council may, for the purposes of this section, borrow in the same manner as they may borrow for the purpose of defraying expenses under the Local Government (Sanitary Services) Acts, 1878 to 1953.

(6) Money borrowed pursuant to this section may be lent to the county council 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 1953, and was authorised by an Act of the Oireachtas.

The purpose of this amendment is to enable a local authority to borrow for the purpose of making grants towards the provision of parish halls. I think I have already said that on an earlier section. The borrowing power is the same as that for local authorities assisting in the provision of swimming facilities as provided in Section 54 and the borrowing will be subject to the limitation of twice the valuation of the county council's area.

Is that limited to county councils?

Has Dublin the same powers?

They have a number of pools of their own and do not seem to be doing very much with them.

Why can Crumlin not come into this?

Amendment agreed to.

With regard to amendment No. 42, there is a bit of a difficulty. The Minister is going to consider amendment No. 37 in relation to the whole discussion. It would obviously take into account the subject matter of Deputy Boland's amendment No. 42 because the Minister would have in mind the matter in relation to the use of the halls and so forth.

No, no. The Deputy has not read the amendment.

Yes, I have read it.

It is merely retrospective. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the former amendment. Amendment No. 42 is completely different.

Where local councils or bodies have made a start and, perhaps, may be in difficulties to proceed or complete the building without a loan, would the Minister oppose the idea that the local council might make a payment for any such building?

Would the Deputy give me one instance?

An instance of where a local council have made a move? I can, Sir—Ballinadee, County Cork.

These are local councils and not local authorities.

I mean local councils. Suppose they have built the shell of the building, so to speak. In order to go ahead and make that building usable they might wish for a grant or a loan from the county council. Would the Minister now oppose the council taking these factors into consideration?

I am afraid I would for the simple reason that every local council in Ireland would say that their building is not completed and that they proposed adding a billiard room. They would say that the building was not completed and that they were entitled to a grant. You could drive a coach and four through the section if I accepted it.

Suppose the building is not structurally completed?

What exactly does the Deputy mean?

Suppose you have the walls erected but that the structure is not plastered?

I know a good few dance halls which have not been plastered and they have been in existence for a good many years. That is quite true. I am quite serious.

Is the Minister not prepared to consider any halls in the course of construction?

The Deputy knows very well that I could not.

I do not, indeed, Sir.

Would the Deputy believe me when I say that since the Bill was introduced I have had at least six different deputations in respect of six different halls?

Their own initiative is not being encouraged.

Amendment No. 42 not moved.

I move amendment No. 43:—

To add to the section the following new sub-section:—

(2) Functions of the council of a county under sub-section (1), (2), (3) or (4) of Section 73 of the Act of 1941 shall be reserved functions.

The purpose of this amendment is to make provision of a building for an approved local council, the acquisition of land, the supply of furniture, office equipment and the making of grants reserved functions. We want to give the elected members of the council some say in this matter. I feel confident that the House will accept the amendment.

We will be delighted to get it.

Amendment put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 53 stand part of the Bill."

I wish to refer to one matter. It is only a drafting point. Is the Minister quite happy about the word "may" occurring twice?

Is the Deputy referring to the amendment?

I am referring to Section 53. Usually, paragraphs are designed with the operative word at the beginning. This one repeats itself. You cannot read paragraph (b) without reading paragraph (a).

I see your point now. It is merely a drafting matter and there will not be any necessity for an amendment.

Section 53, as amended, agreed to.

I move amendment No. 44:—

Before Section 54 to insert a new section as follows:—

( ) The council of a county borough may issue a loan to an approved person or local council for the erection of a parish hall subject to such conditions including period of repayment and rate of interest as the council may decide.

The Chair ruled that we would take this separately.

The House will remember that my undertaking to inquire into the matter was given subject to both amendments Nos. 37 and 44 being taken together.

There is an essential difference which I have not referred to and Deputies, I think, ought to be given some opportunity of explaining the purposes behind their amendments.

They had 30 hours on this Bill alone in Committee.

I do not think I spoke for many of the 30 hours.

The Minister will get used to that——

I am glad the Deputy appreciates the position.

——after a while.

The wording here is to insert a new section because the Dublin Corporation is not included in the section previously discussed. The wording is:

"The council of a county borough may issue a loan to an approved person or local council for the erection of a parish hall subject to such conditions including period of repayment and rate of interest as the council may decide."

I want the Minister to understand that there are limitations. First of all, there is an approved person. He may be the local parish priest or the head of some religious organisation.

The Deputy refers to amendment No. 44.

The purpose is to extend to the Dublin Corporation the principle of what has been discussed in relation to the rest of the country, but with the limitations which are clearly defined. The person must be an approved person.

Approved by the local authority?

Yes, or a local council, a group of people. It is specifically for the erection of a parish hall. It would only be used for the purpose for which parish halls are commonly used under proper control and open to all the people in the particular parish area. I hope the Minister will accept it.

I cannot accept this amendment. As I explained on amendment No. 37, the purpose of the section in the 1941 Act was merely to enable local authorities in a rural area to provide facilities for certain amenities to residents of these rural areas. The Deputy wishes me to extend these facilities to county boroughs. If the local committee in a county borough are trustworthy they can always raise the money themselves through a bank or otherwise. If they are not trustworthy, the local authority should not make moneys available to them by way of loan. As Deputy Kennedy said we are anxious to retain the people on the land of this country. We are anxious to retain them in rural Ireland. It was for that purpose the section was inserted in the 1941 Act. I am merely trying to implement the section of the 1941 Act by the present section. I am sorry I cannot accept the amendment.

I want to say this. I said it already in relation to Deputy Sheldon. I am very sorry that the Minister approached the amendment on the basis on which he did because I think his arguments are fallacious. The Minister reads the amendment in relation to Dublin City by saying that if the people are trustworthy people they can raise loans from the bank or elsewhere. I cannot follow the reasoning. Would it not be just as correct to say in relation to rural areas that if the people are trustworthy they can raise loans this way or that way?

That is what I have said already.

The Minister has said that already, but he is basing his objection to this amendment on the differentiation between the city dweller and the rural dweller. I quite appreciate that when the previous Act was under discussion, it was intended to add to the facilities of rural areas and to do that for the purpose of keeping people on the land. I wish to point out that you do not in any way nullify or negative that objective by giving equal facilities to city areas. It must be remembered that, even since 1941, there has been colossal building in Dublin City, and there are vast areas—they were mentioned by previous speakers, Drimnagh, Crumlin, Kimmage, Ballyfermot, Cabra and other areas—where you have a huge population. These people were taken out from the centre of the city where these facilities we are discussing, while not readily available to them at least were more readily available than they are now. Those people were taken out and in some cases they were put three, four, five, six and seven miles from the centre of the city. The plea which is being made is that, in relation to those areas, machinery should exist to assist local committees or approved persons, as Deputy Briscoe has mentioned, if they are prepared to undertake the task of building parochial halls or community centres. I feel that that is worth considering. Remember, we are not looking for authority to give the ratepayers' money away freely. I believe that is an important distinction between the amendment being discussed now and the earlier amendment. We are not looking for any authority from the Oireachtas to dissipate the ratepayers' money in any way. All we are doing is looking for authority to utilise moneys raised by means of a loan repayable to the local authority.

The Minister or other speakers may make the argument—it has been made —"Surely these people can get loans from the bank if they are trustworthy." They can, but if authority were given to the Dublin Corporation to make these loans the corporation would have discretion as to the rate of interest, perhaps not generally on loans but on considering each individual case. Those of us who represent the new housing areas in Dublin know very well that 1 per cent. or even a ½ or a ¼ per cent. may make a considerable difference to the plans of local committees in deciding whether or not they will undertake the task of building these halls.

I want to say this to the Minister and I feel bound to say it. It was only during the present week—on Tuesday of this week—that I attended a meeting of an association in the Crumlin-Kimmage-Drimnagh area where for years they have been urging, through representatives in the Dáil and on the corporation, that something like this be done to assist them in building parochial halls. I feel it is a good thing to encourage that kind of civic interest in these new housing areas as well as in other areas throughout the city. By adopting a proposal such as this, in this form or in another form, the Minister will be giving some encouragement to these people, at no cost to the ratepayer.

Consequently, I was very glad to hear the Minister say earlier that he would consider this matter seriously. I hope that the fact that the discussion on the amendment has been segregated will not segregate the Minister's good intentions in the matter.

I wish to support this amendment. The last speaker pointed out a number of areas and I can point out others that are three or four miles from the city, but which still come under the jurisdiction of the Dublin Corporation and which have no amenities.

Are they under it at the moment?

They are. They are in my constituency and I have been approached by associations in some of those areas to give them the same facility now as is being given in the Bill to the rural areas.

The 1941 Act did not give it to them.

Times have changed and we should change with them.

And people have taken their seats in different places.

I suppose the Minister is at liberty to say that. The fact remains that the area I have the honour to represent is in a very bad way for social amenities. In Ballyfermot, West Finglas, Artane and such places, there is no place where you can have a meeting except in some of the local houses. That is very undesirable. Otherwise, for a meeting of an association or for any other matter, they have to come in to a hall in the city. There is no library or hall of any description. Only yesterday, two deputations were in with me from one area, stating there was not a hall there although they have 40,000 of a population. Surely that area is worthy of consideration for a parochial hall.

The Minister asked why the people could not raise the money themselves. These unfortunate people have just gone out to new houses and have to pay rent for them and pay for furniture. Even for the children and for the good of the nation as a whole, it is essential to have these local halls. Any encouragement we can give from this House to provide such halls and give them the same concessions as are given to the people of rural Ireland will be worthwhile, so I strongly urge on the Minister to consider that matter.

I do not want to repeat what was said earlier, but I would like to endorse everything that Deputy O'Higgins and Deputy Burke said. It is a serious and acute problem in the newly build areas in Dublin. Voluntary committees and organisations have been doing Trojan work in trying to provide amenities. It has been a great anxiety to the clergy in these areas that there are no amenities available and that the young people are driven out in the evenings into the city to get some form of social life or amusement. I appeal to the Minister to alter his decision, as the taking of the two amendments together or separately should not affect the issue.

After all, it is very seldom that you get Deputies of all Parties agreeing here on the necessity for a measure. I think the Deputies from Dublin City and particularly those who represent these areas, irrespective of their Parties, are agreed on the necessity for such a provision. The Minister said it should be easy to raise a loan, that people should be sufficiently responsible and creditworthy to be able to raise it. Strange as it may seem, it is probably more difficult in Dublin in these new areas to do that than it is in the country. These are virtually new cities. The people who move into them do not know each other and have not much opportunity to do so, as they have only just established their roots in the area. It is very hard, first of all, to get a suitable local committee, and secondly, it is hard to get this local committee to raise money. I would appeal to the Minister to agree to consider this proposal. It is a proposal that does not impose any burden on the rest of the country, a proposal on which all the members of Dublin Corporation, and of the House, are agreed. The Minister did, I think, promise rather rashly that he would consider the previous amendment.

I give you the promise now again.

I should like briefly to add my voice to that of other Deputies who have urged the Minister to accept this amendment. There is really a very large social principle involved. We, in the Dublin Corporation have, in the past few years, erected a very large number of houses, but in our efforts to keep down the expenditure of public moneys, I think we have not provided the amenities, in the way of community halls or similar buildings, for the various areas. It is of the utmost importance to provide these amenities, as every social worker in Dublin, of any sort, would agree that it is necessary to encourage the provision of halls which are properly managed in order to provide recreation for the young people, and for the citizens generally.

Deputy MacBride's statement that it is more difficult to raise money in the city areas is perfectly true, especially in areas like Ballyfermot. The people have only just come out to live there—I almost said that they barely knew the name of the place but they certainly knew nothing about the lack of these facilities until they arrived there. They owe no loyalty to the district and they are not as conscious as, say, people in more established districts such as Dún Laoghaire or Blackrock are of being inhabitants of the area. It would be almost impossible for them to raise money. At any rate, by the time these persons have come through the net of Dublin Corporation inquiries as to their suitability for re-housing—in the majority of cases they are unable to afford any type of contribution themselves—I am sure most of them would not impress a bank manager as people who would be able to pay much money to him if the hall did not pay its way. I would ask the Minister to consider this amendment. It is really a very important matter.

Even though this amendment has been discussed from the point of view of Dublin, I appreciate the initiative of those who introduced it, and also the fact that they worded it so as to give it general application to all county boroughs. We all know that the county boroughs have undertaken big housing schemes in the suburban areas and that the people who have gone into those areas have to incur many initial expenses attached to their occupation of these new buildings and transport to the centre of the city. I think it would be desirable that they would have a civic centre in their own district, or parish area, but owing to the fact that new schools, new churches in many cases, and other obligations, have fallen on the local clergy and the people of these districts, they have no resources from which they could build a hall, which is a necessity, so that, when the people go out, they will not be attracted to the big cinemas and dance halls in the centre of the city. I think that if the Minister could see his way to accept this amendment it would be of great advantage to the county boroughs.

Major de Valera

I do not intend to go into the merits of this but I think Deputy MacBride's earlier amendment has caused a certain amount of confusion here.

I confirm now that I would be prepared to consider this.

Major de Valera

Still it is no harm to say this. When this matter came before us to-day, with a proposal to attach Section 73 of the 1941 Act, the idea was basically to get the county councils or the local authorities to assist and, if that new section had been accepted, it would have meant getting them to build halls. The objection made to that by Deputy Sheldon and Deputy Desmond was that you would not get that done effectively, and the comments I made as regards county councils were fairly justifiable. It is a totally different matter here, it is not asking the local authority to do this; it is asking for a certain facility, and there is a very important difference. In the first place, it is restricted to the area which is going to benefit, and which has the immediate interest. In the second case, it is a proposal to issue a loan, which will be paid back, and this seems to me to be the most equitable way of dealing with it. If the Minister will pardon me putting it this way—I know he is considering other amendments and he will consider this— I would like to urge the point of view put by Deputy Desmond and Deputy Sheldon, and others, that the grant is not going to get very far. The provisions in Section 73 did not get very far, though I can imagine the feelings of anybody trying to get from Parliament here powers to make grants, and that kind of thing, at their own expense. Let us realise that we can be very generous at times in this Parliament, yet it might all boil down to eyewash. We are not at all generous when it comes to a question of what the county councils will have to spend mandatorily, though the county councils have not much choice in levying rates.

The county councils, and the local area of charge, have simply to bear the burden. We are very generous here, ordering the burden, and then we turn round and say: "You can spend more if you like." Of course that type of legislation boils down, in fact, to so much eyewash, as witness the Minister's own remarks on Section 73. Here we are dealing with something essentially different, and I am constrained to make these remarks because I feel, that quite unwittingly, the original introduction of this matter, through Deputy MacBride's amendment, which was totally different in concept, more or less bedevilled the issue. All we are asking here is that the county councils or the urban councils, mentioned specifically in this amendment, should be able to make a loan to reputable people. I am not going to quarrel if the Minister puts in some condition to ensure that there is a reasonable probability of the terms of the loan being adhered to, that reputable people are selected, and so forth, and the burden can be placed on the local authority to see that is so. It would be a very good procedure, a very responsible procedure, if a local body or some local persons of standing came and applied for a loan and there were conditions there that made it reasonably sure that loans would be repaid. Anyway there would be some security in the hall itself. Those are matters of detail that can be arranged. If a loan is granted you have this threefold arrangement: (a) if the loan is available and if the people are serious about the project, they will avail of it; (b) the local authority are likely to grant a loan because they know it will be repaid; and (c) the matter can be satisfactorily dealt with in the ordinary course of business.

The Minister has agreed to look into the matter.

Major de Valera

But there is no harm in pointing out that this proposal is essentially different from the proposal of Deputy MacBride.

Does that make it better?

Major de Valera

In this case it makes it a lot better.

Lest there be any doubt about the attitude in Dublin—Deputies suggested that this problem was acute in new areas—I would like to say that it is acute also in old areas.

Particularly those that have lost their halls like Rathmines and Ballsbridge.

Quite so. I might also add that the condition of part of the halls there which are available occasionally to the public leaves something to be desired. The condition of the floor in the main part of the Rathmines Town Hall is certainly a matter that might be attended to. However, I want to deal with the wording of this amendment. I take it that when the Minister comes to deal with it he will chop it around completely if he accepts it. There is a very good reason why it should be chopped around. An attempt was made by Deputy Briscoe to define the expression "approved person", but the expression "local council", which was not defined, is entirely wrong. The expression "local council" in the second line of the amendment does not mean the same thing as in the Act of 1941. If you define "an approved person" as a parish priest or somebody like that or a committee representative of the district, a difficulty arises. How can you have a local council related to a parish hall? To my mind a parish hall is a certain part of an area represented by a local council in the accepted sense. In this particular amendment the two are joined together. I feel the whole thing would have to be chopped around but I take it that will be done if the Minister accepts the amendment.

Again there is the question of the rate of interest. In the case of Dublin the rate of interest is under the control of the Dublin Corporation but there are certain other borough councils who have not control of the rate of interest. The idea behind this is one to which I think every representative of a city area or a county borough area has subscribed here to-night but the amendment itself seems to me to have been very badly drafted and to require considerable alteration, in fact, to be completely redrafted if the Minister is going to accept it.

I also wish to support this amendment and I hope the Minister will see his way to accept it. I presume the draft will be made right by those who are well versed in that procedure. However, we all know what we are talking about in the local councils. The need for these facilities in Dublin, without even going out to the new areas, is very great. In my own area there is a tremendous lack of anything in the nature of a parochial hall. A few that did exist in years past have been demolished in connection with housing and other developments. There is an urgent need for such facilities. I have known several cases in recent months where even meetings not comprising a dozen people could not get accommodation in the centre of the city or in hotels. This amendment is not asking to place any burden on either the taxpayer or the ratepayer. I am sure the corporation will take all the necessary steps and ensure that any money they may give out will be well safeguarded and will come back to them. If the Minister would adopt this new section for Dublin—and I am sure a similar position exists in other county boroughs— he would be doing one of the best things he could do in this Act.

Major de Valera

Either the Parliamentary Secretary does not understand what is in this or I do not understand him. The amendment provides for the issue of a loan to an approved person or a local council. The local council is very clearly defined in Section 72 of the Local Government Act, 1941.

That does not apply to county boroughs at all.

Major de Valera

I know, but the definition can be extended. The section reads as follows:—

"(1) Where the inhabitants of a locality in a county health district have, either before or after the commencement of this section, established a council, committee, or other body, whether corporate or unincorporated, for furthering the general social and economic interests of such inhabitants, the council of the county in which such county health district is situate may, on the application of such body, by resolution declare that such body shall be an approved local council for the purposes of this Part of this Act.

(2) The power to make a declaration under this section shall be a reserved function for the purposes of the County Management Act, 1940.

(3) In this Part of this Act, the expression ‘approved local council' means a body in respect of which a declaration under this section has been made and every reference to a county council made in relation to an approved local council shall be construed as a reference to the particular council of a county which made the declaration under this section relating to such approved local council."

There is nothing to prevent that being taken over and it is the general idea that is the important thing. The expression "approved person" is really good enough.

I thought we were dealing with a drafting matter. I raised the question simply because of the way the amendment is drafted. What about an "urban council"?

Major de Valera

I understand the Parliamentary Secretary now. In that case it would be a very simple matter to adapt the description under Section 72, by simply making it the borough council and city manager. It might be better to adapt it a little more than that. I do not think it goes quite to the substance of the amendment or the substance of what is sought to be done here. The whole point is to enable a local authority, whether it is rural or urban, to make loans to suitable persons under suitable conditions for these purposes.

Is the Deputy speaking to my amendment now?

Major de Valera

No, I am talking about loans.

This amendment deals with the council of a county borough.

Does the House wish me to follow in the footsteps of the Deputies and repeat what I have already said four or five times?

Will the Minister accept the amendment?

I have said that I will seriously consider this matter between now and the Report Stage. Is that good enough?

Amendment No. 44, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 54 put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 45:—

To add to the section a new sub-section as follows:—

(4) Section 76 of the Local Government (Dublin) Act, 1930 (No. 27 of 1930) is hereby amended by the deletion in sub-section (1) of "and for the passing of which not less than two-thirds of the members of the council shall have voted."

I wonder would the Minister say that he is prepared to accept this. It is a very simple amendment. This Bill provides that local authorities may now levy up to 3d. for decorations, and so forth, by means of a simple majority. I am not asking for permission to raise the levy in Dublin up to 3d. but, even for the purpose of raising the maximum allowed of 1d. we have to have two-thirds of the members present. Now, on occasions, it is difficult to get the number specified and we want to make our position the same as that of other local authorities where this matter is merely a decision of a majority of the council. It is as simple as that.

I do not propose to delay very long with this. Deputy Briscoe made the very same suggestion on the County Management (Amendment) Bill, 1953, in February last, and a member of the Dublin Corporation, who was also a member at that time of the Deputy's own Party, opposed it. At column 1145 of Volume 144 of the Official Report the then Deputy Colm Gallagher said:—

"I think that when we are dealing with public money or increasing the rates the members should be there. That is what they were elected for. Nobody asked them to go forward. They fought hard to be elected to do a job of work and when it comes to increasing the rates they should attend. There are 45 members of the Dublin Corporation and it requires 30 to make such an increase. It would be a reflection on the City of Dublin if we could not get 30 members to attend a meeting to consider such an increase in the rates. I think this suggestion would be a retrograde step and I regret that I must disagree with Deputy Briscoe in regard to it. The members of the corporation are there to do a job of work and, when it is proposed to increase the rates even by one penny, it is only right that they should be there to do the job they were elected for."

I am in full agreement with ex-Deputy Colm Gallagher in that.

The Minister has made an even bigger faux pas than I made on the previous amendment. He is quoting Deputy Colm Gallagher, as he then was, in relation to the striking of rates. I put this amendment down purely for the purpose of having power to raise 1d. for the decoration of our streets in certain circumstances and the Minister argues as if we were discussing an actual increase in rates. The Minister is giving local authorities power by a simple majority to raise up to 3d. in the £ for decoration purposes. I am asking the Minister to give us the same right up to our limit of 1d. I am not discussing rates. It is no use quoting someone dealing with the question of an increase in rates. Surely this is a very simple matter. We may be suddenly called on to decorate our streets for a new form of An Tostal——

Now, keep off that!

I am not talking about that.

We might want the 1d. to remove it.

I had no responsibility for the O'Connell Bridge monstrosity and I am very sorry it was discussed here. We have power to raise 1d. for decoration purposes but we are limited in our activity in that regard because we have to have a certain number of members present. It is sometimes not possible to get two-thirds of the members and the result is a resolution cannot be passed. This has nothing to do with the annual striking of the rates.

May I quote Section 76, sub-section (1), of the Local Government (Dublin) Act, 1930. It reads as follows:—

"The council, by resolution passed under this section and for the passing of which not less than two-thirds of the members of the council shall have voted, may authorise the expenditure by the corporation of moneys on the decoration of the city for occasions of public rejoicing or for other appropriate occasions."

This amendment suggests that we should take out of that section "for the passing of which not less than two-thirds of the members of the council shall have voted" and substitute "a simple majority". Is not that right?

That is correct.

What are the arguments in favour of it? The purpose of the amendment is to delete these words. Why?

Why does the Minister not provide for two-thirds for the same purpose in relation to the other local authorities?

It is not a precedent. Under the requisition section of the County Management Act——

The Minister intends to alter all that.

When I make a promise I keep it. The Deputy made no effort to alter this since 1930. When he did make a suggestion a colleague of his, who was also a member of the Dublin Corporation, said:—

"He mentioned that in the Dublin Corporation if we want to increase the rates by one penny to provide decorations for the city, it requires a two-thirds majority to do that. He wants that done away with so that it can be done by an ordinary majority."

I am quoting from the Official Report, column 1145 of Volume 144. That is the opinion of Deputy Briscoe's colleague at that time, another member of the Dublin Corporation. I would like to know if Dublin Corporation is unanimous in this.

Perhaps this will help the Minister. The Dublin Corporation —and Deputy O'Higgins is a member of that body and can confirm what I say—selected seven of their members representative of all shades of political thought——

I take it these seven selected the Deputy as their spokesman.

Yes. Seven were selected; only four happened to be members of this House and that is why there are only four names down here. These were all agreed amendments supported by all members of the corporation. I said earlier that I could only speak for 44 members; I could not speak for 45.

I am prepared to accept the amendment.

Amendment put and agreed to.
Progress reported; Committee to sit again.