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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 3 Mar 1955

Vol. 148 No. 8

Committee on Finance. - Vote 70—National Development Fund (Resumed).

I wish to criticise the administration of the National Development Fund since the change of Government, with special reference to a particular proposal which had been examined and approved by the Taoiseach. As the Minister himself explained, part of the money was set aside for projects for the well-being of the Gaeltacht. As the Act sets out, this National Development Fund is applicable only to works which could not in the ordinary process of things be dealt with before the year 1957. The experience has been, in relation to marine works, that the prospect of getting anything worthwhile done by any county council in any part of the country, not to speak of the poorer counties in the West, before 1957 was very thin indeed. The western councils have stated time and time again that their finances were unequal to the task of meeting the urgent problems of the west coast and particularly the west coast islands.

I think it was particularly shabby, as I said last night, that because of a slight error made by the technical officers in relation to a proposal for one of the Aran Islands, Inis Thiar, the sanction which had been given on the original report of those technical officers and which subsequently had to be withdrawn in favour of an alternative proposal——

The Deputy knows that is not true.

The Deputy knows what he says is perfectly true.

It is not true.

The Deputy knows it is perfectly true.

The technical officers never approved the substitute proposal that the Deputy suggested.

I want to deal with this here and now, a Cheann Comhairle; let me give the details.

I wish the Deputy would.

There were three proposals for Inis Thiar. The three of them were submitted by myself, both as a Deputy and subsequently as a Parliamentary Secretary. One of them was for the improvement of the main landing place, the pier; another one was for the provision of a slip for currach fishermen; and the third one was for the improvement of a place on the eastern side of the island to facilitate the landing of turf in the summer weather, where about a quarter of the island's supply is landed when the weather is suitable. By some mischance, these technical officers reported on the wrong place. The report came in and was duly approved, because the Taoiseach could not be expected to know all the details of a proposal of this sort and he took it that the matter had been dealt with, that the people appointed and qualified for the purpose had done their job well; and without hesitation he sanctioned the expenditure of a sum of £8,000.

As I say, it was discovered a short time afterwards that the recommendation had been in respect of the wrong place. That mistake was corrected as quickly as possible, but the substitute proposal could not be approved by the Taoiseach, for the reason that in the meantime a general election had taken place and the Taoiseach felt that it would not be proper for him to sanction expenditure of money, seeing that his term of office was coming to a close. I understand that the etiquette of such situations is that you leave these matters for the attention of the succeeding Government. That etiquette need not have been applied, in my opinion. Were it not that the Taoiseach paid particular attention to it and was particularly observant of the etiquette in the matter, he might very easily, in the circumstances, have given his approval to this proposal, without having committed any serious breach of this practice which has come into vogue in situations subsequent to elections when it is obvious that a change of Government is pending.

I say without any hesitation, and with all the more vehemence because of the Minister's interruption, that the treatment of this particular proposal was particularly shabby. The island of Inis Thiar is a very remote place. It is a Fíor-Ghaeltacht island. Surely if there was any doubt about it both the Minister for that Party as well as anybody on this side of the House would be expected to have no hesitation in giving the benefit of any doubt that might have existed in favour of a remote place like Inis Thiar.

The Deputy's facts are not correct.

The Deputy's facts are correct and if the Minister would set on foot an inter-departmental inquiry, I would be prepared to go there and state the facts in greater detail.

The facts are that the second proposal was never before the then Taoiseach.

There is something wrong now.

The fact is that the Board of Works engineers submitted an alternative proposal estimated to cost a sum of £11,000 and that that proposal had come in from his technical officers. If the Minister for Finance is again going to treat these people on a punctilious point such as he has now put forward, I say his attitude is particularly shabby. Does the Minister not know that this alternative proposal came in for £11,000?

I think the first proposal was a better one.

Does the Minister deny that a recommendation for the expenditure of £11,000 for the improvement of the main landing place at Inis Thiar came in from these technical officers? Can he deny that?

What is the use of quibbling about a piece of paper that was put under the Taoiseach's nose? These people had decided to improve the facility. It could not be done by the ordinary process in vogue all down the years. The National Development Fund was brought in for just such purposes as these. I say it is treating these people in a very shabby fashion to delay for a period of nine months a decision on something of vital importance to them. I think, having said that much about it, I have said enough to pin-point the matter and stress its importance small and all as the sum is in relation to the total figure of £6,000,000. I have said enough to stress and emphasise its importance in a discussion on this subject.

The Fíor-Ghaeltacht in this particular case is the place in question. The Fíor-Ghaeltacht has got a great deal of lip service all round this House. I want to ensure that the efforts that were made to transfer some of that lip service into solid, substantial service will not now be jettisoned on any footy and technical point. A footy and technical point it is.

The Deputy knows he was the person responsible for the delay.

Can the Minister for Finance give me a satisfactory reply to the question I put, namely, why should there be a delay of nine months on a proposal which had reached practically final form? Was it not only a matter of submitting the thing to the Taoiseach and getting his O.K.?

What about the Taoiseach's courtesy in referring it to the incoming Government?

I do not understand what the Deputy is saying.

Deputy Bartley should be allowed to make his statement without interruption.

I do not want to delay any longer on it. It is certainly a very striking commentary when we recall all the glowing talk about how the incoming Government was to handle the National Development Fund, how they were to repatriate our foreign assets for the purpose of building up the country and how a new Budget would replace the old one for the same purpose and give employment to all. As I said, it is very difficult to have patience, when, in spite of all these rosy promises, you find a blanket of complacency settling down over the Coalition on all these promises which were forgotten. In fact, the good work which had already been in train was thrown overboard.

What good work was thrown overboard?

Have I not, as vehemently as I could, outlined one?

The Deputy has not.

This proposal for one of the poorest areas in the country which is a Fíor-Ghaeltacht area, a proposal which was essentially of a character contemplated in the setting up of this National Development Fund, has been thrown overboard. So far as I know it has been thrown overboard. I put down questions on two occasions within recent months to the Minister for Local Government who, I understand, is charged with the responsibility for Oifig na Gaeltachta agus na gCeantar gCúng. All he could tell me was: "We have not yet made a decision in the matter". It is quite obvious to me that no decision was made. What I wanted to find out was when he was going to make and honour a decision already taken?

If the Deputy were a watchful Deputy he would have sought to have that scheme implemented during the time of the last Government.

If there were some watchful Deputies now they could do it in nine months.

We made progress in a very short time with it. We cannot understand why it takes nine months to decide the expenditure of £10,000. If that is to be the yardstick for the administration of the rest of the money, well then it will not be spent before the three years' period for the life of this fund has expired.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Government criticised the expenditure of the money in relation to roads. He made a comparison between the allocation for main roads and that for county roads. He pointed over to this side of the House and said that was the sort of thing the Fianna Fáil Government did. He will get a whole lot of people on this side of the House who will agree with him that a change in that particular respect might very usefully be made but what I want to say to him is that, when this Party formed the Government, they did not go into these technical details which the Parliamentary Secretary is now so perturbed about. They did, in fact, leave the selection of these roads to the technical officers both local and in the Department of Local Government to work out these details themselves.

They did not do that with Inis Thiar.

What about Sruthán?

What did the Minister say?

But you did not do that at Inis Thiar?

I was speaking about the expenditure of some of these funds on county council roads. I thought we had left Inis Thiar in the category to which it had been allocated when the fund was first set up. Will we leave it so? Can the Minister be persuaded to leave it rest for the remainder of my participation in the debate? I am agreeable if he is.

On the question of the main roads versus the county roads, the local engineers have nothing at all to do with these Gaeltacht schemes. On the question of main roads versus county roads, a good case could be made for what the Parliamentary Secretary said that, in fact, possibly not too high a proportion of money in respect of individual jobs but too high a quality of work was probably decided on by the local engineers and the engineers in the Department of Local Government. On that he is going to get a whole lot of people to agree with him. At all events, it was a technical matter which was left by the previous Government to be decided by the technicians. If the last Government made a mistake in that respect, then the Government to which the Parliamentary Secretary belongs can correct it. It is not a case of taking a global sum for main roads and of comparing it with the bulk sum on county roads. The nature of the complaint is the quality of the work which was been decided on by the local engineers in respect of a given job.

In my own constituency, I could point to jobs that have been carried out in which, in my opinion, the quality of the work is too high. I think that a lesser standard of performance would have met the problem quite well enough, and that more of this money might be freed for the benefit of the county roads. I do not think that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Government had much of a peg on which to hang any substantial complaint.

How long has this complaint about the roads been going on?

Deputy Bartley might continue to make his statement and ignore these interruptions which are very disorderly.

He seems to have ignored them.

Deputy Briscoe read quotations from speeches which were made by Deputy Dillon, the present Minister for Agriculture, when the debate on this fund was taking place in December of 1953. One of the ugly appellations which Deputy Dillon applied to the fund was that it was a slush fund: in other words, that we were going to use it to bolster up a bad case in the by-elections. There is one thing that I can say, and it is that whatever slush one finds attached to it in the mind of the present Minister for Agriculture, we have not seen much of it in practice. Here is one thing that was not done in relation to it. The political administrators of this fund when Fianna Fáil were in office did not communicate privately with particular T.D.s and Senators down the country about individual decisions on expenditure. They did not write to T.D.s and Senators——

Who did that?

Will the Deputy leave me alone for a moment and he will hear if he has a little patience? They did not write to T.D.s and Senators and tell them, early on, what was going to be spent in such a district out of, say, the Tourist Roads Development Fund. According to the news which we have been given in the West of Ireland, the present Minister for Finance wrote to one of his Party politicians some time in the month of January and gave him a list of roads to be improved in the year 1955-56 out of the tourist roads development programme, and he gave him that information before it was given to the Galway County Council. I am telling the Minister that this news appeared in print. We all read it.

It could not be 1954-55, because the list of roads mentioned was not the 1954-55 list, which was already public property.

There is no sanction to my knowledge for 1955-56.

All right, the news item is false.

No, 1954-55.

The news item to which I am referring is a news item——

I know the one that I am referring to.

——telling the public in County Galway that the Minister for Finance had written to a certain member of the Oireachtas telling him that certain roads, particulars of which were set out, were going to be improved in the coming financial year. When I inquired from the Galway County Council for verification, I was told that they knew nothing about the matter, and that no such information had yet been conveyed to the County Galway roads staff.

Do we take it that you object to these roads?

You are not the fair haired boy in relation——

To some Fianna Fáil members.

The Deputy was not the fair haired boy in relation to the getting of this information before the Galway County Council. It was not the Deputy who was favoured. Perhaps he should take a note of that and perhaps he is taking a note of it.

In fact, Deputy Coogan was written to by me.

I am telling the Minister for Finance about the news item which appeared in a newspaper.

I know nothing about that, but I know of the letter that I wrote.

Will the Minister for Finance say whether he did or did not write a letter to a member of the Oireachtas giving him a list of the roads in West Galway to be improved in 1955-56 season under the tourist roads development scheme, and that he gave that information?

Tourist roads?

No. The National Development Fund allocation for 1954-55, yes.

In any event, the Minister admits that out of some fund, whatever the correct label for it may be, he did write to a member of the Oireachtas.

Certainly. I always answer letters when I get them.

And he gave him a list of the roads?

I was asked by a member of the Deputy's Party, too.

It was given before the roads administration was informed of it in Galway.

I do not think so.

Yes, the county council verified that when I inquired. They said that they knew nothing about it. There were no slush tactics of that sort used when Fianna Fáil were in office. They did not give, in advance, information for the purpose of building up their own political fortunes whether or not a county council election was pending. I think it comes badly to make these attacks of slush tactics in relation to the administration of this fund when, in fact, these doubtful tactics apparently have been employed by the present Administration only. I possibly would not have spent quite so long addressing the House on this matter if the Minister for Finance was prepared to show a more considerate attitude towards the places which really should get first consideration and attention from this national Parliament. We should be more solicitous to see that the remote places which have not got the same daily contact with the current of Irish life as other places were in particular catered for out of a fund which was set up for the purpose of doing things that had no prospect of being done from any other source. I can quite accept that some delay in order to comply with formalities might have taken place, but I would not have spoken so long or so vigorously on it if I could get any sort of promising reply from the Minister for Local Government, who is responsible to this House for the administration of Oifig na Gaeltachta agus na gCeantar gCúng, which is the funnel through which, in the main, these proposals for the welfare of the Gaeltacht come.

It does not augur well for the early completion of the formalities in respect of this proposal to find the Minister for Finance adopting the same evasive attitude as has been adopted by the Minister for Local Government in regard to parliamentary questions. I hope that what I have said in relation to this matter will produce a change of heart, because it seems to me it is a change of heart that is wanted and that whatever deficiency in the mechanics of putting the proposal forward existed, it must have been remedied long since, and that really it is a decision that is required, if the Minister would be big enough to approve of a decision, even if it were made, or even if it were formulated or even if it were advanced almost to the final point of conclusion by his predecessor.

Even though I interrupted Deputy Bartley, I am inclined to agree strongly with his suggestion that such places as Inis Thiar should get special treatment under this fund. I appreciate with him the difficulties of people living in remote islands such as the Aran islands and I feel sure the problems which apply there are typical of those which affect islands around the coast of the constituency of Cork West, which I represent. Of course, it is rather peculiar that Deputy Bartley should be so critical about the treatment meted out by the present Minister for Finance, having regard to the fact that since this fund was made available Deputy Bartley enjoyed a post as junior Minister in the former Government, and I believe if he displayed the same interest on behalf of the people of Inis Thiar when he was Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture as he now displays when he represents West Galway as an ordinary Deputy that the necessary improvements in Inis Thiar would have been effected long ago and that he would not have occasion to trouble the House with them to-day.

Every Deputy in this House welcomes the Supplementary Estimate of £3,000,000 for national development but even though the term national development is used I am afraid it is not very national in the true sense of the word. The tendency, so far as I can gather, is that all such moneys made available for development in this country are usually utilised in very few centres, such as Dublin, Cork, Waterford and the bigger cities. The main problem we have to face up to is that no matter what Government is in power—the present Government just as much as the last—rural Ireland and, particularly, remote areas are forgotten. Reading the Minister's statement we find that more than £500,000 of this money is to be put into harbour development in the City of Dublin. We find that an almost similar sum is to be put into harbour improvements in the City of Cork, so that taking these two works alone, harbour improvements in Cork and Dublin are going to eat up over £1,000,000 of this money.

While I believe that these improvements may be necessary, at the same time I am of opinion that if we looked at this measure from a national viewpoint much more essential works could be carried out with that £1,000,000 in other parts of this country. The big question that we have to face up to is the fact that in rural Ireland we have people leaving every day, particularly for England, in order to eke out a livelihood denied to them at home. The great dread of every young person in this country at the present time in rural districts is that he or she will have to emigrate in order to earn a livelihood. That is the position, and I had hoped that when this National Development Fund was first inaugurated money would be made available in a much more substantial way for carrying out effective improvements in the rural districts, but now we find, as indicated in the case of the bulk sum of £1,000,000, that the bulk of the money is to be spent in Dublin and other large centres.

I think it is about time that this Government got it into its head that decentralisation of industry and decentralisation of all public works are essential. That was the policy carried out by Fianna Fáil, and it seems the present Minister's attitude has not changed too much from that policy. I, as a Deputy representing a rural constituency, want to impress that fact on the Minister very clearly here to-day. The main question I think which confronts this House is: are we utilising the £8,000,000 already made available under this fund to the best advantage of this nation? I am rather doubtful if we are. So far as I can see, no benefits whatsoever have yet accrued to the constituency of West Cork from this measure and judging by what I have read about it very little benefit is likely to accrue unless there is to be a change of policy. It is my duty here representing that area, as it is the duty of other rural Deputies representing other rural areas, to impress on the Government and on the Minister that rural Ireland will no longer stand for being forgotten. They are entitled to a fair share of whatever is going.

If we examine the position that obtains to-day we find that there are more than 70,000 people unemployed. We find that the main problem confronting parents in Ireland, particularly in the rural parts of the country, is how they are going to provide a livelihood for their growing families, for their sons and daughters, seeking and hoping for any chance they can get of securing that livelihood at home without having to emigrate. It may be said that it is a rather difficult question, but what strikes me forcibly is this fact: if we take the number of unemployed people in any particular district in Ireland at the present time we find that we may have 100 men unemployed in a particular area and we will take it they are getting unemployment assistance or benefit, and taking those in receipt of unemployment benefit, in the case of a married man with a wife and two children, he is receiving 50/- a week paid out by the State, and I know no man in my constituency who would prefer unemployment benefit to work.

On that basis, the Government cannot find money to provide productive employment, but the Department of Social Welfare, apparently, must provide money to pay unemployment benefits and assistance allowances, which the people dislike. It is a very peculiar position. In West Cork at present, people are drawing unemployment benefit and unemployment assistance in areas where plenty of useful work could be provided.

I believe there is no co-ordination whatsoever between the different Departments. If we examine the matter from this viewpoint, we find that the present rate of wages paid in Cork is £4 9s. 0d. per week. The State pays 50/- per week to a man as unemployment benefit. That money is dead. There is no production whatsoever so far as that 50/- is concerned. If the State added 39/- more, then we would have a return for that amount. Which of the two is the better? I believe some scheme could be devised in the Departments to supplement what the Minister for Social Welfare pays to these people, and bring it up to a figure which will enable them to give a week's work instead of drawing money for nothing. That is my viewpoint.

I am not against social welfare benefits. I realise that they are essential, but at the same time in a small country like this with less than 3,000,000 people, I think it is scandalous that more than 70,000 people draw that benefit at the present day. As a result of drawing it, they are debarred from taking up employment under penalty of being brought before the courts. That is the forceful point I want to make.

I want to add that the most degrading thing, in my opinion, for any man in this country, is to go into an exchange, sign on the register, trot around to the guards' barracks in order to get unemployment assistance and unemployment benefit. Of course, so far as the benefit is concerned, he and his employers have made contributions towards that. Would it not be much better if something were done to offset that happening? I am a complete believer in doing something to end that system. I cannot find words adequate enough to condemn a system of paying money to able-bodied people for nothing. It is a bad and rotten system which should not obtain in this country if a proper approach were made to the problem of providing employment by some Government, inter-Party, Fianna Fáil or any other.

I made my position clear in this House a few years ago on this question of paying money by the Department of Social Welfare. I asked could any effort be made by the Department of Finance at that time, and the Department of Social Welfare, with a view to getting this money which is paid out in unemployment benefit or unemployment assistance as a fund to subsidise employment. It would be better to start some industries even though at first they might not be economic, but subsequently they would be economic, and give general benefit. I think it would be better to utilise all this dole and assistance money in that direction. I believe the principal problem which confronts the Minister, and not only the Minister, but the Government, is the solving of the unemployment question. The Minister could probably ask where could the money be got. I can tell him: it is by getting back part of the money paid out to——

The Deputy is travelling very far. The Deputy cannot advocate legislation on an Estimate. I allowed the Deputy a good deal of latitude, but what the Deputy suggests cannot be done.

With all due respect, I believe that my remarks are quite relevant.

The Deputy will appreciate that the Chair is the authority on relevancy. I told him that it is not relevant, and that he must not advocate legislation on an Estimate.

The Chair may have misinterpreted me. I was talking of how useful employment——

I did not misunderstand the Deputy. I gave him a good deal of time to make his point. In order to do what he wants done, legislation would have to be introduced and carried through this House. The Estimate may not be utilised for the purpose of advocating legislation.

I would like then to close with a few remarks on this particular point. I had in mind a suggestion that if the money made available—£8,000,000—under this National Development Fund was used with the money paid by the Department of Social Welfare, plus a little more, I think it would provide full employment, and thereby eliminate unemployment assistance and unemployment benefit for which no return comes. I will leave it at that. I think I am right in making myself clear that I am not against the payment of benefits to deserving applicants, but I believe that the Minister should take steps to see that the need for those benefits should cease.

To provide employment, I believe there are many fields to which we can turn our attention. Again and again, I have agitated here for a survey of the mineral resources in West Cork, and I believe Deputies of other constituencies have made similar agitation, unfortunately without result. In my constituency there are men idle, drawing benefit, while nearby there are extensive deposits of slate and barytes. Such useful minerals could be made available if a little extra money were granted to these districts towards development. I am sure when the development work would be completed that these industries, small though they may be, would stand on their own feet. We are sick and tired of agitating for such development. Again and again I mentioned that so far as the slate deposits in West Cork are concerned, in the Roscarbery-Leap area, there is a wide field. I hope that the present Minister for Finance will take more cognisance of that than his predecessor did.

Another important field for development is the fishing industry. Deputy Bartley referred to the hardships of the people all around the coast, and I heartily agree with his remarks. I have stated in this House before that unless these people get some attention from the Government life in these districts will fade out altogether in the not so far distant future. I wonder how much of the £3,000,000 which we are asked to vote will go towards the development of this industry. I saw little or no mention in the Minister's statement to the effect that the fishing industry was getting any money.

Another useful means of providing employment which would be of benefit to farmers and give productive employment, would be the improvement of by-roads and county roads, especially roads leading to farmhouses. Funds were made available by the first inter-Party Government in a rather liberal way under the Local Authority (Works) Act. They were reduced by Fianna Fáil, almost completely wiped out. Now they have been increased by £100,000 and I hope we will see in the Minister's Budget statement that they will be increased by at least £1,000,000 because that type of money serves a dual purpose in helping farmers to get their water-logged land drained and in helping workers to get productive employment.

I wonder what has the Minister for Finance in mind so far as helping the small uneconomic holders in this country is concerned. Is any help from this £3,000,000 going towards these people? One of the most hard-pressed sections of the community, their position has been mentioned by me and other Deputies time and again, so there is no need to repeat the question but I ask the Minister to take cognisance of the plight of these people and to give them some aid to develop their holdings and to live in reasonable comfort.

Let me come to one of the major problems of all, the position of provincial towns. Industry is completely centralised in Dublin and in the other big cities. The towns are fading away and business is receding, due to a number of factors. One of the principal factors is that around every town, particularly in the South of Ireland, you have a number of creameries selling all commodities, which hinders the business in the towns and reacts adversely on them. I am not going into the question whether it is right or wrong because people's views differ on the matter, but when business is taken away from the town by creameries and so on, I believe some other help should be given to them. The only help that can be given —and I have mentioned it again and again—is by the establishment of some useful industries in the provincial towns and doing away with this business of centralising everything in Dublin. In passing I might say that if suitable land were available contiguous to Dublin City I am sure the oil refinery would be here, too.

It is rather surprising now that we will have £8,000,000 in this fund that only £1,500,000 has already been spent. I am not too conversant with the position, but I have a feeling that a larger proportion of this money is being expended on administrative costs than should be. Take a small project such as the improvement of a small pier down the country. It will have to be surveyed by several engineers before the work is finally approved by the Department. I cannot see why all these journeys and all this type of expenditure is necessary. I take it for granted that a contributory factor in holding up schemes which have already been sanctioned is this fact of having too many surveys and too many reports.

I cannot see how that can be discussed on this Estimate.

The Minister in his opening statement indicated to the House that although schemes totalling £5,750,000 had been provisionally approved, not more than £1,500,000 of that money was expended and I believe my remarks are quite relevant.

The Deputy is discussing the cost of investigations and I cannot see how it can be discussed on this Estimate.

What I do not like to see happening is that rather too big a percentage of this money should go in administrative costs. I am telling the Minister that at least some of this money will probably be ultilised in harbour works and such other types of work and that there should be some reduction in the number of surveys made. I know of a few little schemes in my own constituency and they are being surveyed again and again. The surveying usually lasts about two years and I am doubtful as to what it costs. In conclusion, I strongly appeal to the Minister to give more attention to the provincial towns and to the rural districts. I feel sure that if he gives them attention he will have the blessing of the people as a whole and he will go a long way towards removing this unemployment which exists, particularly in the towns and in rural districts, and go a long way in making life much brighter than it is for the people of this country.

Ar an gceist seo, Forbairt Náisiúnta, caithfidh mé cur síos a dheánamh ar cheist na dtithe, go mór mhór tithe na bhfeirmeoirí beaga faoin dtuaith. Freisin, ba mhaith liom cúpla rud do rá mar gheall ar cheist na muirighne. Baineann an cheist seo leis an bhfadhbh a bhí á plé ag an dTeachta atá tar éis labhairt ar shaol mhuintir na tuaithe.

One of the important problems we are up against in examining the question of the flight from the land and rural depopulation is the question of the houses for the small farmers, particularly those under £20 valuation. The State has been very liberal in the grants it has offered to small holders for the erection of houses and I would like to point out there are a number of small farmers who never can avail of these grants. Conditional on the grants or loan is the fact that half the house must be completed before a grant or loan is given. The walls must be up, the roof must be on; then when the inspection is reported half the grant or loan will be paid. Take the position of a small farmer in my own constituency on a £5 or £6 valuation. Where is he going to get the credit to get the cement even if he is doing the job himself with a few artisans? Where is he going to get the timber, the slates, the wood and the various other things to get to that point at which half the very generous grant is given?

This, to my mind, is a national problem. Seventy-three per cent. of our farmers live on valuations of £20 and under and they have been untouched, and their housing problems have been untouched, by all the legislation that has been passed through this House. Deputy Murphy dealt with two things—he dealt with the repairing of the boreens and with the flight from the land. A man living at the end of a boreen does not maintain a cul-de-sac. Though his land may be of greater fertility than that of a man living at the mouth of the boreen, if it is put up for sale it will not realise half the price of the land at the mouth of the boreen for the very obvious reason that access to his land is very difficult and because the man living beside the main road has every facility.

It is no wonder then that he does sell his land and that he does fly from it. He has no way of getting into his farm and he has no way of erecting a new house. Another fact which we must consider is that farms are getting bigger and bigger. That applies in every county; it applies in the maritime counties in the West of Ireland as well as to Leinster and we want to ask ourselves, when examining the rural economy of Europe and the position of the small farmers in Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany, should something not be done for the small farmers of this country from the moneys available under the National Development Fund. We should see what can be done in a country like ours where we have no heavy industries, and we must pay particular attention to this matter of the erection of houses for that class of small farmer. I strongly advocate a positive programme along these lines. I strongly advocate an examination of this problem, and with it an examination of what can be done about the repair and the maintenance of the boreens.

In Leinster, leaving out for the time being the other provinces, there are 44,607 holdings of £20 valuation and under, according to the Statistical Abstract of 1938. Many of these may have disappeared since. Recently I asked a colleague of mine from County Mayo if they had disappeared to any great extent in his county and he said they had not. That problem remains and it will remain until we tackle it and until we give financial aid to the man at the end of the boreen. If we do not give this man financial assistance to erect his new house his old one will topple and the rural population will continue to disappear.

On this question of emigration I think our approach should be as realistic as possible, It has been pointed out to me that emigration has had its good effect as well as its evil for the nation. In certain parts of the Midlands it was the habit for the whole family to grow up into bachelors and old maids. Eventually there was none left and the farm was given to charity, or sold, or something like that. Now there is a new approach to things in the Midlands. The young people have discovered that they all cannot inherit the farm, that the farm will eventually go to the eldest. So the others make way for the eldest son to get married and in that way, in that particular area, emigration is not such an evil thing as some people make out. Accordingly, there are more marriages as a result; there are more young marriages than there were from the turn of the century to 20 years ago.

But returning to the problem of the erection of houses for the small farmer I should like to repeat that this is a problem that should be tackled and examined. To the problem of the boreen there are two approaches—the one of repair and the other of maintenance. Year after year hundreds of thousands of pounds had been devoted to minor improvement schemes and to rural improvement schemes. To the latter there is a contribution by the beneficiary and to my mind the money spent in this way has been money poured down the drain pipe. The money spent there is being spent on the main roads and the farmer living along these roads has to fence his ditches and to breast his hedges in order to let the sun in on the road so that there will not be future uneconomic expenditure on the maintenance of the roads. On the other hand, when we throw anything from £200 to £500 into a boreen we make no condition whatever about the ditches and the hedges so that the boreens eventually become closed in like the jungle in Africa and if you bring a motor-car through the boreens it is scratched on either side.

How does this apply?

I say it applies——

He is a very lazy farmer who would not cut his hedges out of the way.

I do not think the Deputy knows anything about it. He is not a rural Deputy.

Of course I am a rural Deputy and I know quite a lot about it.

Well then, the Deputy must be used to stone walls. There must be nothing but stone walls in the Deputy's constituency. I am talking about the provinces.

About the thistles of County Meath.

There are no thistles in Meath, either. We have ploughed them out and we have machinery to cut them down.

I am glad to hear that.

Anyway, going back to the particular point I was making before being interrupted by the Waterford Deputy, the relevancy of the point, I think, should be quite clear with all respects to the Chair. I understand from statements made here that the Minister is prepared to give a substantial sum towards the cutting and the breasting of hedges along main roads and I now want to advocate further that a sum should be transferred to the county roads so that money could be provided by the county councils for this work. These roads would first have been declared public roads. The boreens could, in that way, be properly maintained.

The Deputy cannot have read the newspapers this morning.

I am afraid I did not.

If he had the Deputy would have found that the Minister for Local Government did that yesterday.

That is good enough.

I shall amplify it for the Deputy when I am replying.

Right. There is another point I should like to make in connection with the main highways. Many of our towns are very, very old and want their streets widened in the worst way, and I think that the State should come in here and help out the local authorities in the provision of compensation to people affected by street widening programmes. To give an example, I shall explain the position in Athlone. Athlone is a very old town and its main street, Church Street, is very narrow. Thanks, however, to the Church of Ireland authorities in the town, a big area of graveyard has been given in order that the street might be widened. A local house occupier has also decided to give premises up for the same purpose, but the sum involved is very big and I think the State should come in here and help out the local authorities in the payment of compensation, because what applies to Athlone applies to various other towns up and down the country.

The Minister should consider the point of view I am putting forward in relation to the giving of some State compensation to help out the local authority where street widening is concerned. I did not see this morning's papers, but I think the Minister will agree that the destruction to roads from the 8th December last onwards has been unprecedented. In the Midlands we have suffered very severe snow storms and the roads have deteriorated much more than they usually deteriorate in a normal year. Not only should this grant be increased but increased grants should be given towards rehabilitation in regard to roads, and where the grants remain unexpended at the end of the financial year, it should be permissible for the local authority to carry those grants over into the next financial year instead of returning them to the Department.

Deputy Murphy talked about the wonderful work that was done under the Local Authorities (Works) Act and he criticised the Fianna Fáil Government for cutting down the grants under that Act. I do not agree with Deputy Murphy that wonderful work was done. I think there were some shocking abuses under that Act. There was certainly grave abuse in the Midlands at any rate. The works carried out were not of a lasting nature. There was no contribution towards future maintenance. Indeed, it was money down the drain.

I cannot see how the Deputy can discuss the Local Authorities (Works) Act under this Vote.

I shall not pursue it any further. I merely intervened to make two points, namely, the repair and maintenance of boreens and the necessity for helping the small farmer with the low valuation who is not in a position to avail of State grants or local authority grants for the purpose of erecting a new house.

I heard Deputy Briscoe and Deputy Bartley quote here something that Deputy Dillon, now Minister for Agriculture, said when this National Fund Bill was first introduced; he was quoted as describing the fund as a "slush" fund. I do not think he was far wrong. I and several other Deputies at that time, then in opposition, stated that the Bill was mere camouflage because two by-elections were pending. It is obvious from the course pursued in this debate that it was a ridiculous and unnecessary piece of legislation because we are discussing here in a sense generally—possibly some Deputies may be discussing in a particular way — the Estimates for the various Departments. However, since it has become an Act and has been accepted by the present Government and the present Minister for Finance we must only continue to make whatever use we can of it.

As a slush fund?

Surely the £2,500,000 put into this fund from the Road Fund could quite properly be left to the Department of Local Government. In actual fact it really is left there. I cannot understand where this fund exists at all. Money is put into it from various Departments. Why not leave the moneys in the various Departments and let the Departments do the work? Is it not the Departments which will do the actual work? It is the Department of Local Government which will spend the £2,500,000 put into this fund from the Road Fund. A sum of £250,000 will be devoted to projects for the Gaeltacht. Is it not the Gaeltacht services branch and the Department of Lands which will carry out that work? The Board of Works would be responsible for the special employment schemes and so forth.

It was ridiculous, in the first instance, to set up such a fund. Now that the fund is there, however, we can only consider the best means of expending the money. Deputy M.P. Murphy took exception to the fact that £500,000 is being spent on the development of Dublin harbour and £400,000 on Cork harbour. That represents practically £1,000,000. All these works may be necessary. It is, however, a good thing that there was a change of Government or we would have had another £2,500,000 or possibly £4,000,000 spent on the renovation of Dublin Castle, and another £600,000 on the Bray road. I hope these schemes will not be proceeded with and that the money that was set aside for these projects by the Fianna Fáil Government will be spent in the area in which I consider the greater portion of it should be spent, namely, the Gaeltacht or, as some would describe it, the undeveloped areas. To enable that to be done a minute survey of the Gaeltacht areas should be carried out at the earliest possible moment in order to find out the requirements of the particular areas involved, such as drainage, land improvement, the rearrangement of uneconomic holdings and the transfer of uneconomic holders to other areas, the improvement of the fishing industry, and the improvement of the roads.

In relation to roads, Deputies, members of local authorities and the people in general were glad to discover in this morning's Press that a sum of practically £1,000,000 extra was to be devoted to the further improvement of roads. I understand it is the rule that the engineer attached to the local authority requires that a road must be a certain width in order to be steamrolled. I think it is 16 feet to 20 feet wide. I would suggest in relation to the further improvement of county roads that, irrespective of width, they should be steamrolled.

I think that is a matter for Local Government.

Other Deputies referred to particular Departments.

The Chair is referring only to the width of the roads, as mentioned by the Deputy.

In the carrying out of improvements my suggestion would save a lot of money and a greater portion of the roads could be steamrolled if a width of 16 to 20 feet were not insisted upon. In years to come, when there would be further money available, the roads could be extended and widened.

Quite recently, £80,000 was devoted from the National Development Fund for the purchase of boats, free of deposit, in Gaeltacht areas. That would purchase only about ten 50-feet boats and I hope that provision will be made from the fund in the coming year for a further £80,000 or more, if possible, because it is necessary to develop the fishing industry in the Gaeltacht areas. As another means of improving fishing, money should be devoted to the greater protection of our territorial waters.

In order to brighten the lives of people in undeveloped areas it is necessary to extend rural electrification, even to the remotest glens. In order to do that, it may be necessary further to subsidise the E.S.B.

More money should be devoted to forestry because in the Gaeltacht, mountain and remote areas, forestry gives the greatest employment, not only temporary employment but almost permanent employment. It has the further advantage that it will confer future benefit on the country.

As turf generating stations are being erected in some areas along the western seaboard it is absolutely essential that at the earliest moment there should be full bog development. New roads should be built to the bogs and old roads should be repaired. In making the survey that I have suggested, consideration should be given to the question of what local industries it would be possible to establish in such areas. If such industries were supported locally they would be entitled to grants under the Undeveloped Areas Act.

It is in the way that I have suggested that real development can take place in the areas that require to be looked after in a special way, the Gaeltacht areas, if we are to keep our people in these areas and if the language is to be saved. It is only by brightening their lives and enticing the people in these areas to stay at home that such areas can be made prosperous.

The importance of this Estimate demands that every Deputy should express his views on it, however briefly. At this stage of the debate practically every point has been covered and one must necessarily be brief. I remember speaking in this House when the National Development Fund was first introduced. The debate took place on the last occasion the House sat before the Christmas Adjournment, 1953.

I believed then, as I do now, that the establishment of the fund was a step in the right direction to provide for work, productive and otherwise, that could not be provided for out of ordinary expenditure as accounted for in the annual Book of Estimates. It is not necessary to refer to the scorn and ridicule that was poured on the scheme at the time by people who now occupy the Government side of the House. I thought it was a pity that that was the approach at that time because I do not believe that any member of the then Opposition believed that the fund would be used otherwise than honestly in the development of work and the provision of employment which was then very necessary and which is still, unfortunately, very urgently needed.

"A slush fund" was the common description applied to the fund. I hope the last Deputy who spoke did not really mean what he said. If he rereads his statement in the Official Report he will find that he said that he believes still it was a slush fund that was introduced, that the present Minister intends to carry it on. I do not think he believes any such thing and I know the present Minister, while he may have said otherwise, did not believe it was slush money then. It was an unfair attempt to malign an important scheme which will always remain, no matter what Government is in the House, and will grow in importance from year to year. The speech of every Deputy, no matter how much he condemned it, goes to prove how much the fund was necessary to carry out, even in a small way, the many projects enumerated by the last speaker. If only £1,000 were given to each of the projects mentioned here, millions would not finance all the useful schemes mentioned, for most of which no provision is made in the Book of Estimates.

I can visualise hundreds of schemes on which this fund can be used and in respect of which no other provision is made. I suppose every Deputy could supply the Minister with a list of works which would consume the entire fund. Naturally, we do not want to see it all spent in Dublin or Cork, but I am sure the unemployed in both cities would be glad to get a share of it now. Unfortunately, along the western seaboard there is another outlet for the unemployed. When their names disappear from the register at the employment exchange it usually means that they have bought a single ticket to cross the Channel.

I do not want to mention again all the various things to which I would like to see money devoted out of the National Development Fund, but I would like to impress upon the Minister that in the allocation of this money he should keep uppermost in his mind the fact that the congested areas are becoming depopulated and the cities, like a magnet, are attracting the population into them, to nonproductive employment or the dole, while one by one the cabins on the hillside cease to send up smoke as year by year they become derelict and vacant. This does not tend to an improvement in rural conditions.

While the provision of money for harbours and landing places is essential, the Minister in the first place should take steps with regard to the lack of technical advisers in the marine section of the Board of Works. There seems to be little or no technical staff available in that particular section, the fisheries section of the Board of Works, to undertake the huge amount of work which is lying there, which is crying out for attention and which would provide employment in two ways, first, in the actual carrying out of the work and, secondly, in the giving of better facilities to the inshore fishermen using them or to fishermen in other ports where there are craft large enough to go out into deeper water.

One would think, listening to some of the speakers on the opposite side, that Fianna Fáil had only marked time, but Fianna Fáil in their time used money to develop areas where it was found useful and they did not spare it when it was found that it gave a good return. I have only to cite a place like Killybegs in my own area as an example of a place where we have built one of the best harbours in Ireland, where we have the best fishing fleet in Ireland, as a result of development, where we have a quick-freeze plant, a fish meal industry, a boat-building industry and a kippering station—and the development has only been scratched yet. If the Minister will extend a generous hand, there is no telling where development in that direction may end. I hope there will be no curtailment or easing off of the assistance for the development of projects so useful in so many ways in relation to giving employment in the undeveloped areas such as the area I have mentioned.

We have the tweed industry in Donegal, and while we would like to see money spent on capital development, everybody will applaud the spending of money on something which is productive. In the world-famous Donegal tweed industry, we have an industry that is going from success to success and the Minister's predecessor did not spare money when it was found that its expenditure would improve the facilities for, employment in and development of that world-important industry, and we think it would be a crime at this stage not to give the necessary impetus to the development of that industry to the point to which it could develop and consequently put the Gaeltacht and undeveloped areas of Donegal in a position in which there would not be a single person on the unemployed roll.

These are only some of the many things one can easily visualise on which money can be expended out of the National Development Fund. It is wrong to say that the fund is unnecessary, that provision could be made in the ordinary Estimates, because, from examination during the year, many projects can be mooted which will require assistance and the usual red tape which is entangled in the Estimates which are voted annually would not attach in the same way to grants from the National Development Fund. In fact, that is or should be one of the features of the fund—that little or no red tape should impede progress on any project financed out of that fund. When we were on the other side of the House, the members of the present Government were always loud in condemnation of any effort we made to provide extra money, because it was a very nice thing for their constituents to read next day how they had opposed the raising of extra money by any means whatever, but when it comes to a question of spending, they are quite glad to have this money in their coffers, and they will not fail to try to take all the credit they possibly can out of the expenditure of that money.

Is the Deputy suggesting that there was any money left in these coffers for me?

The Deputy must realise that there was a minus quantity in the Exchequer when I took over on 2nd June.

If the Minister will keep quite for one moment, I will point out one particular instance. However irrelevant it may be, many Deputies have already cashed in in relation to mentioning the grants out of the Road Fund this year. Where did the Road Fund come from? Where did the increased Road Fund come from?

I suppose it came out of your pockets over there?

Deputies opposite voted against the provision of the money which they are now boasting they provided for roads. They went into the lobby and opposed it, but that is where it comes from. It was a very popular thing to oppose it, because it was with no great enthusiasm that we introduced the increased road tax. It was a lovely thing to oppose it, but it is an even lovelier thing now for them to boast about the spending of it. They cannot have it both ways. They cannot oppose the raising of money and, at the same time, boast about how they can spend it, and that is what is taking place now. When the Minister says that we left nothing, he forgets that he, too, voted against the provision of that money in the form of the increased road tax, although he is now cutting in on the debate to boast about the extra money available. A Government can do many things if it has the money, but it can do very little without it.

Was it not a pity that you left me none?

Now the Minister who was loudest in his condemnation of any effort to increase these funds while on this side realises what he can do with the extra money and he has definitely made no effort to curtail the revenue derived from the things he then opposed and which now bring in these moneys. But that is not the point about which we should be concerned in this Estimate. We are interested in the fact that we have the National Development Fund which can be used in many ways to develop the country in order that more people can have a better standard of living in it and find employment here, and so to frame national policy that eventually the maximum number of people will live in the maximum degree of comfort in their own country. Anybody who says this is not a useful means towards that end is either speaking against his mind or does not know what he is speaking about.

I see in the National Development Fund the forerunner of a great effort that will, or should eventually, lead towards the development of many projects in this country which otherwise would never be undertaken. I think every Deputy who has spoken in this debate has already enumerated quite a few of them. I hope the Minister has taken cognisance of the fact that practically every Deputy who has spoken so far on this fund has agreed that something should be done with regard to the particular road which is neither a county road nor a main road, which is nobody's child, and which is neglected except for an occasional special employment scheme or rural improvements scheme grant.

Everybody concerned must now fully appreciate that the accommodation road which is not in any way the responsibility of the county council or of the local authority has become an important factor in our national economy and that something must be done to provide continuity in respect of the maintenance of such roads. Up to the present, we have been making the best of a bad job. Money was allocated annually for these roads in proportion to the unemployment figures in the electoral area concerned. The money had to be expended within a particular period and the unemployment figures were taken in relation to a particular period.

That system is outmoded. These roads are no longer rights of way for carts, donkeys, or anything else. They are now used for tractors and heavy lorries and they are used the whole year round. Many of the people who are using the bogs or other lands to which such roads lead are depending almost entirely on their being able to bring their transport over these roads. Something must be done immediately if these roads are to be kept in a state in which they can be used continually by this new mode of transport which has come along in this mechanical age. If the present Government do not do it, then, as soon as we become the Government again, we shall have to do it——

Fianna Fáil had 22 years.

——and I am afraid it will not be very long——

The Deputy need not be a bit afraid.

——until we shall have to take responsibility for adopting means whereby these roads will be accepted as a national liability. I believe that the present Minister is politically wise. I hope he will heed the general appeal that has been made by Deputies to do something for such roads and to provide for their repair and maintenance. I hope that either the Minister or his counterpart in the Cabinet will formulate a plan whereby these roads will be maintained. I hope more money will be diverted to them thus ensuring—irrespective of the number of unemployed in the area— that, at any time of the year when the work requires to be done, a grant will be made available for the carrying out of the work forthwith. It will be agreed by all that that is essential. Sometimes, during the turf haulage season, roads completely collapse. The position then is that the local people must wait for a special employment scheme grant—and sometimes that is not given. As a matter of fact, they might opt for a rural improvements scheme grant under which the people will contribute a portion of the money. Sometimes the difficulty arises that, because of some petty grievance, some of the people will not collaborate and then the whole scheme is held up. That system will have to be departed from, and the sooner the better. I congratulate the Minister on his complete confession——

——of his attitude towards the fund. It is only a short time since he was sitting on the Opposition Benches and ridiculing it and scorning it——

The Deputy might quote what I said.

——and now he is defending it. He believes now—as I believed then, and as I still believe— that the money will be used to good purpose. If it is used in the same manner as we proposed to use it, and at the discretion of local bodies, then it will be well used. It will lead to further employment and a better standard of living and we shall reach the stage where every member of this House will be clamouring for more money to be expended through the National Development Fund.

Every rural Deputy feels that he should make a contribution to this debate. In my view, one of the reasons for unemployment is the high rate of interest, because it restricts the ability to provide money to handle the terrible scourge of unemployment. In the first place, I should like to congratulate the Minister on the steps he has taken at least to peg down the level of the rate of interest being charged in respect of moneys for capital development.

There is danger round the corner.

It is usual to allow a Deputy to make his first speech without interruption.

The Deputy is thinking of Mr. Butler.

I have listened to Deputies trying to make political capital out of the very serious unemployment situation. We are all only too familiar with the type of speech in which other Deputies are reminded of what they said five years ago, three years ago or last year. It is the present that counts and we must all make a determined effort to help to solve the outrageous evil of unemployment. If we fail in our efforts then we should make way for other men who are prepared to break new ground and to take a chance in trying to solve the problem. It may be that there are men in the country who are unconnected with politics but who can make a better fist of the solution of the unemployment problem than can the members of this House, as it is at present constituted.

I should like to give the House an instance of the difficulties which face local authorities with regard to their estimates. I am a member of the Kerry County Council. Last Monday, at a preliminary estimates meeting, the deputy county manager said a rate of 57/10 in the £ would be necessary to provide the services required. This represents a jump from 41/9 to 57/10 in the £. That is a serious situation. Naturally, we have to consider our very limited resources. The rate has not yet been struck but, on hearing the proposal, every member of the county council felt that something would have to be done about the matter.

The point I want to make is that we are also notified from different areas— particularly Gaeltacht areas—of the state of the roads there. Next Monday a monthly meeting will be held and we shall receive a deputation on the subject of the condition of the roads in the backward areas. I feel that moneys from the National Development Fund could be used for such purposes. I admit that it would only be a temporary measure to stem unemployment and undoubtedly if we cannot find a more permanent remedy for unemployment our Gaeltacht will go and more than our Gaeltacht will go.

As regards temporary stop-gaps, such as the Local Authorities (Works) Act, I heard some Deputies put forward the opinion that it was money badly spent, but in my opinion it was money well spent. Minor employment schemes, as far as I am aware, are next to impossible to get at the moment. Rural improvements schemes, because the unfortunate people concerned are compelled to make a contribution, are given more favourable consideration; but as far as I am concerned it is next to impossible to get sanction for minor employment schemes. I would ask the Minister to consider that as a stop-gap only.

I have no solution for the problem, or any permanent solution, other than —as far as my experience goes and my knowledge of the local area goes—that afforestation is one of the permanent remedies for unemployment which will give a return at a future date. It will give permanent employment, it will bring untold benefits. I am sorry to say that that problem has not been tackled. I am probably speaking out of turn and perhaps I should not raise it, but I hope I will be excused. In my area—I intend to raise this at a later date—there are thousands of acres suitable for afforestation which have not been touched. If portion of the National Development Fund could be devoted to that scheme it would bring great benefit to a large area, in fencing and planting and all the other things that go with afforestation.

The local authority is closer to the situation than anyone else. The opinions of the local representatives should be collected and analysed with regard to these problems, including unemployment and housing, and portion of the fund could be devoted to them. Housing is still a big problem and the rate of interest chargeable, both to the local authority and the occupant of the house, is becoming a crushing burden. If something cannot be done about that, housing will be brought to a standstill and other development also. If our financial questions cannot be tackled in some other way, development will have to stop because of the crushing burden of the interest.

I am very glad to hear that the grants are being substantially increased for main and county roads. There are still hundreds of miles of road in our county which have not been taken over by the local authority, who are prevented because of lack of finance. When we were presented by the deputy county manager with a rate of 58/10 in the £ it was time to call a halt—and that did not include any sum for those roads and for cul-de-sac roads on which there are groups of people living—nine and ten families living isolated, with only a boreen going to their group of houses. Portion of the fund could be devoted to that and the local authority could be taken into the confidence of the Department and asked to submit proposals for the intelligent spending of portion of the money. There are numerous other ways and every Deputy would be failing in his duty if he did not put up the greatest possible plea from his own constituency for portion of the money.

Deputy Murphy and I have something very much in common with regard to unemployment and the dole. It is a pity this question cannot be tackled in a more intelligent manner. It has gone on for a number of years. Successive Governments have pursued the policy of giving dole, but it is like asking: "Who will bell the cat?", "Who will stop the dole and provide employment?" The big political Parties —and the small ones, too—will not venture, they will not take a chance, because there are people passing their lives on the dole who could not stand up if told: "We are going to provide employment and stop the dole." These people are passing their lives on a paltry pittance and are satisfied to go on and to live in hunger and ease. It is a sorry state of affairs. Nevertheless, some Government will have to tackle the problem, someone will have to bell the cat and then we may get somewhere.

That problem must be got over and sufficient money must be provided from somewhere for our people to live in a reasonable standard of comfort, especially in the rural areas. In the big centres, Dublin, Cork and Limerick, there is a reasonable good standard of living, but outside that there is not. There is not, because money is too scarce. I hope the Government and the Minister will tackle this problem objectively and pursue it to its logical conclusion. In conclusion, I repeat that the views of the local authorities should be taken as to the best way to deal with stop-gap expenditure which will stem emigration and unemployment at the same time.

I had not intended to intervene in this debate at all and would not have done so were it not for the irresponsible and mischievous statement made by Deputy Corry here last night. I am sorry he is not present now, as his presence might inspire me to deal with him much more effectively than I hope to do in his absence. He referred last night to the £400,000 which the Minister indicated had been allocated from the National Development Fund for the improvement of Cork harbour and he stated that in his opinion this was a waste of public money. He said that most of the money was going merely into tearing the bottom of an old stream. I think it will becomes a Deputy whose constituency borders on Cork harbour to make such a statement and I hasten to assure the Minister that that opinion is certainly not shared by people who have the interest of Cork City and its hinterland at heart.

The Cork Harbour Commissioners have for very many years been advocating the supply of a grant such as this to do work that is very necessary. Cork harbour, the largest and best harbour in this country and one of the best harbours in Europe, has been hampered for some years because work that was necessary in the interests of trade and commerce in Cork and its hinterland could not be carried out for want of funds. I am not a member of the Cork Harbour Board but I am conversant with the good work the members of the board have been doing. They are members of various political Parties, but I can truthfully say that, in true Corkonian fashion, whether they are Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael or Labour, when they sit down at a meeting of the Cork Harbour Commissioners they do what they can as Corkmen in the interests of the port of Cork. I am sorry that Deputy Corry's colleague, Deputy McGrath, was not here to hear him make that statement.

I feel it is my duty, as a Cork City Deputy, to place on record in this House our appreciation of the earmarking by the Minister of £400,000 for the improvement of Cork harbour. Furthermore, I think it is only fair to place on record also that I feel if there had been no change of Government a Fianna Fáil Minister would have done likewise and yielded to the pressure exerted by the Cork Harbour Commissioners for very many years. I had hoped that we might get some statement from the Opposition as to whether or not Deputy Corry was issuing the official Fianna Fáil policy on the development of Cork harbour when he spoke last night. Apparently, we will not have an opportunity of hearing that.

Let me get away from that subject to say just a few, general remarks on this Supplementary Estimate. It appears to me that in the main the Minister for Finance has been unjustly criticised for confining to £3,000,000 the Supplementary Estimate for the National Development Fund on the grounds, apparently, that £5,000,000 was voted last year. I think there would have been much merit in the Opposition's argument if the whole of that £5,000,000 or the greater portion of it had been utilised during the year. The Minister in his statement, however, pointed out, and rightly so, that, although sums to the extent of £5,785,400 had been earmarked for various beneficial schemes up and down the country, in fact, only £1,500,000 of that amount had been used, leaving a balance of £4,250,000 earmarked for schemes but not utilised.

The Supplementary Estimate adds £3,000,000 to that. I feel that the Minister thereby has made sufficient provision in the fund to meet the demands in the forthcoming year. This time next year, if he feels more is required, I am quite sure he will then recognise the good use that the money has been put to and provide the money. I think it is only right to say that during last year many of the schemes for which money had been allocated could only be at the planning stage. We may expect an increase in the tempo of the utilisation of the allocated amounts during the coming year.

I think the second justification by the Minister should be apparent to all. It is not disputed, I think, that one of the aims of the fund is to relieve hardship at a time of excessive unemployment. Fortunately, our unemployment figures in recent months show a downward tendency. Apparently, the Minister took that trend into account when allocating £3,000,000 to the fund this year. I am glad to note that by so doing the Minister has indicated that he has sufficient confidence in the ability of this Government to maintain that very encouraging trend in our unemployment figure.

Lastly, as some other speakers said here last night, I hope that none of us on any side of the House will ever allow himself to slide into a groove and think that anything around the 60,000 mark or under is not excessive unemployment. I do hope we will never use the National Development Fund as a cure-all for unemployment but that we will tackle the basic problem of unemployment and emigration in the way that all genuine Deputies would wish to do.

I have confidence that the present Government, one of whose points in its programme is to do all in their power to relieve unemployment, will continue to do so and that, ultimately, there will be no need for us to introduce a Supplementary Estimate for such a fund as this.

As a member of Kerry County Council, I agree with my friend, Deputy O'Connor, in appreciating the Government's increase in regard to moneys for road development and road grants. There is a point in the Minister's statement to which I should like to refer. It is this question of money for farm buildings and water supplies. In that connection, I should like to remind the Minister that the grant allowed in respect of farm buildings is not at all adequate. I am informed that the grants are based on 1940 prices. There is no increase in respect of grants for farm buildings, the amenities required in farm yards and other things required by farmers. The amount given is not at all sufficient. In fact, it is estimated that the grant should be twice or two and a half times the amount to meet present day requirements. That is an important factor in so far as the farming community are concerned. There is an allocation of £200,000 in respect of farm buildings and water supplies. If relevant, I should like to have that question examined.

The other point concerns the survey of roads and road works in regard to turf-generating stations. I also appreciate what the Government have done in that respect but the amounts fall far short of requirements. I think the amount that will be allocated to our county is £18,000. I appreciate that is a great advance but in view of the great development that we expect to take place and the number of roads which the producers will require to be developed, I think that amount could be very much increased. If that is done the areas concerned will produce on a considerable scale; the unemployment position will be eased and the maximum production assured.

The last paragraph of the Minister's statement concerns the question of other projects being considered and the matter of a decision. We have, for example, some long standing proposals in South Kerry. There is the question of the erection of a bridge to Valentia Island and the carrying out of a hydro electric scheme on the Commerah River at Waterville.

The Minister, in the course of his statement, referred to the fact that he had provided moneys for schemes submitted to his Department by the Minister for Industry and Commerce. I am wondering if he got any proposal from the Minister for Industry and Commerce in respect to this hydroelectric scheme which has been under consideration for a number of years. It is held up at the moment because local people have raised objections in regard to the fisheries and fishery development. I think that no Government should allow any vested interest, or anybody else, to hinder or obstruct the carrying out of a scheme of national importance such as that scheme is, one which would, in fact, give a considerable amount of employment in the initial stages of its execution and also in the future. I am anxious to know from the Minister if it will come into the category of schemes referred to in the last paragraph of his statement.

The Minister also referred to schemes of national development. There is the question of unemployment. It goes without saying that schemes, such as the one I have mentioned as well as afforestation and other works, are of very great importance because of the big amount of employment they give. I want to refer to the question of afforestation. I have already mentioned it to the Minister for Lands. Great play and, if you like, propaganda has been made on this question by every Government that we have had. We have been speaking about it for a long number of years. Ministers in every Government have referred to it and rightly so as a question of national importance. I would like to point out that over a number of years a good deal of money has been spent in acquiring land in three different areas in my county for the purpose. While that is so, what do we find? That half a dozen men have been employed in each area. Fancy having such a small number of men employed in areas where from 600 to 1,000 acres of land have been acquired for afforestation. So far there is no prospect of any big scheme, which would give employment on a large scale, being carried out. I had a question down to the Minister for Lands some time ago, and was told, six months ago, that, when certain development had taken place, the number of men employed would be increased. I have discussed the matter since with the local forester who told me that there is no immediate hope of an extra number of men being employed.

I suggest that this is a very important matter for the Minister for Finance and the Government to consider because when we were speaking about afforestation schemes recently, and some years ago, mention was made of providing employment for 50 and 100 men on some of them. At least we thought so, but the position in South Kerry at the moment is as I have just mentioned. The position in Glencar, Glenbeigh and in the Milltown district at the moment is that only half a dozen men are employed in each place, a total of 18 men. One would have gathered from the Minister for Lands that up to 1,800 acres were to be developed in these three areas.

The Minister, as I said earlier, referred in his statement to schemes still under consideration. In that respect, I hope that he will take into consideration the question of the construction of the bridge to Valentia Island. A considerable number of men could be employed in that work which, I submit, is one of national importance. It would mean the linking up of the island with the mainland. We have 1,200 or 1,500 people on the island at the moment who are, so to speak, isolated. I hope the Minister will consider having that work put into operation. I suggest that it could be financed out of moneys from this fund. With Deputy O'Connor I, as a member of the Kerry County Council, appreciate the advance that is being made in respect of some other schemes. We also appreciate the difficulties which any Government will find itself in by acceding to all the applications which come in from the different counties. We are unanimous in our appreciation of the sums of money which have been allocated to our county, as well as to every other county, in the way of Road Fund grants.

I have my own opinion as regards this fund. I have listened to the speeches which have been made on this Estimate during the past few days and the conclusion that I have been driven to is that talk is very cheap. There has been far too much window-dressing. Originally, when this fund came before the House, we were told that money would be made available for the establishment of industries in the Gaeltacht and in the West. I should like to know what has been done in that respect during the past two years with money from this fund. I do not know that anything has been done, and I think it is time to bring this fund to an end. I think that Deputy Dillon, the present Minister for Agriculture, gave it its proper name when he described it at the outset as "a slush fund." There has been political play-acting with it and nothing else. It provides a means of demoralising the people and demoralising political Parties.

I thought myself that, when this Government came into office, the present Minister for Finance would abolish it, and see that if there were any surplus moneys available they would be spent by the different Departments in the normal decent way. If that were done we would not have any of the political play-acting which there has been since this fund was established. The political play-acting was started by those on the other side of the House. I hope that it is not now going to start on this side, because if that were to happen it could be said that one side was as bad as the other. I am satisfied that since this Government is a realist Government we should face up to our responsibilities. We always knew that this fund was a fake. Therefore, I think when this Government came into power they should have abolished the fund and be honest about it. I hope that we are not going to carry the fool a bit farther, now that we are in power.

One thing that strikes me about expenditure out of this fund is that the schemes which have been undertaken have a very small labour content. They are not giving much employment to our people. In my opinion, it would be much better, instead of having this fund, if more money were made available for the Land Commission. There is plenty of work for it to do if it had the money. It could spend up to five or ten million pounds on very useful schemes. There is still a great need for bog development schemes. In my opinion, millions of pounds could be spent on work of that nature as well as on afforestation. We are not getting ahead half quickly enough. Why not spend a million or two on afforestation and cut out the slush fund? The same applies to building. Why not spend a million or two on housing and cut out the slush fund and spend the money through the ordinary Departments?

Again, in the case of the fishing industry we heard a lot about it in the last 20 years but we have seen very little money being spent in the manner in which it should be spent. Another £1,000,000 more could be spent on ports and docks and such things. Why not spend it through the Department and cut out the slush fund? The same applies to harbour development, the money could be spent through the harbour commissioners. But no, it must be all political money spent for political purposes. We are all crying out about the flight from the land, but how much of this fund is going to be spent on the land? It is going to be spent on spectacular schemes that will take people away from the land.

Take any ordinary farmer in this country with a £50 valuation and you will find that he employed one or two labourers in the past, but now he has nobody employed except, perhaps, his own family. We talk about the age of people getting married and about old people who will not give up control. How can they give up control when there is no place for them to go and when no effort is being made to remedy this situation? Is it not a fact that on every holding of 50 or 60 acres we need two homes, one for the old family and one for the new family coming in? We know the old family does not want to give up control because if it did it would have no security, but if this State has a slush fund with plenty of money why not earmark some of this to build a second house on such farm holdings and give the old people a chance to retire to the new house or let the young family move into the new house and the old people stay on where they are. Then the boy or girl getting married could take over the other house.

If we have money available why not do that, and then we would have our aged farmers stepping out of the way with the young farmer coming in and marrying at 21 or 22 and bringing up a family in a businesslike and thrifty way. He would then be content whereas at present he is not content. The unfortunate son who stays at home is 40 or 50 before he has the slightest chance of getting control and getting married and that is the cause of the flight from the land. I believe there should be a second home on such farm holdings so that we can have the two families living in harmony side by side. We do not expect a new couple coming into the house to get on with the old couple in the same kitchen. Human nature does not allow it. Let us give them two kitchens and if we do that, we will be doing something of benefit for this country.

This money should be utilised to the fullest extent on the land, for bog development, afforestation, building, fisheries and repairing of harbours. Cannot this money be spent through the ordinary Departments? And as far as we can, we should get some of the money spent by private enterprise. If we continue as we are going, I can see nothing but demoralisation on every side. Private enterprise will be squeezed dry. Why should anyone do anything when the State steps in and pushes him out of the way to do it for him? Why not let the people spend their own money in their own way? We are taxing them to the extent of £5,000,000 to have this slush fund but why not let the people have this money and spend it themselves?

I believe the make-up of this House is political and no serious, self-sacrificing effort is made by the House to do the honest thing by the people. If such an effort were made, I think you could cut taxation by almost 50 per cent. Instead, year by year we increase taxation and the State must spend this here and that there and let private enterprise do nothing at all. I believe our people could carry a bigger load in their own way if they were let alone. But no, we must play-act here in a big way with public money. I believe we are squeezing private enterprise dry and leaving our people soft and flabby and good for nothing. If we allow the people to spend the money where it is needed in improving their own houses and the position of their own families, we will get better returns.

Talking like that in a materialistic age, is, I suppose, just foolishness or what is called whistling against the wind. I do not believe in any money being easily obtained; I believe it should be got the hard way. This slush fund is only something to dangle before the people. One always knows when an election is coming. Roads are repaired, fishery industries are to be started and bogs are to be opened up. Then you have the election and the road repairs stop; the bogs that were opened close down and the fishery industry never starts. Still the slush fund is there to be talked of year in and year out. I think it is sickening to have this social security, these doles and slush funds and all these things. I think we are leading the people completely astray in this, the grandest little country on God's earth with its good, Christian people. They are being demoralised by this House because that is what I see going on here.

Why not face up to it in a big way, in a manly way, and cut down taxation where you can, and not have those funds lying there? There was £5,000,000 in the Fund last year and I think only £1,500,000 was spent. One thing I do know is that none of it was spent in my county. Why have it lying there idle? Why not leave it in the people's pockets where it would be far better? There is too much spectacular nonsense going on. Take my county—not one penny of this fund ever came to us, or ever will. We were never earmarked for it. What about Meath where, because of floods, we had 23 bridges wiped out and it will cost £30,000 to repair them? We are putting up £30,000 to repair them and we want no slush money from anyone. I wish the people of the country elsewhere would do the same, but they will not. I think in my area we are as poor as any others.

I see migrants who are supposed to come to my country from very poor, primitive areas, and yet when they arrive they are found to be as well off as anyone else. In fact, they seem to come up with big bank accounts and compete with and beat the Westmeath and Dublin men on the markets. Still we have to subsidise them. We in the eastern parts are getting nothing. Take my own area, in Laytown and Bettystown, where there is a grand strand and health resort, and not one penny was ever spent there or ever will be spent because vote-catching money is not needed there. The politicians must get down to the other side of the country where vote-catching is very necessary, or to the City of Dublin where vote-catching is necessary, but along the eastern coast there are only a few votes and the attitude is: We will spend nothing there. We never get a penny.

I hope the present Minister, who appears to be realistic, will close down this fund, and let the money we have be spent through the normal channels. When you start this slush fund you start an executive of officials to work it and you must send them scurrying all over the country and you find after two years there is only £1,500,000 worth of work done. I would like to know what executive staff is required to work this fund and what they have cost? The same thing occurs in the county councils where you have this red-tape, civil service mentality. The attitude seems to be that, when this money is there, you must get a big staff around about it and see what they can do about it. When the thing is wound up there is a lot of scurrying but nothing is done. A lot of money is wasted on pure nonsense.

Is that what we got our freedom for? Are we doing the best thing by the people? I want this slush fund cut out. We struggled for a purpose; we struggled in order to be enabled to allow our people to remain in their own country, and rear their families; we did not struggle so that they might be for export. We are not making the slightest effort to stem this flow from the land. The people are flocking from it. If this slush fund was used on it, it would stop a few gaps. If we do not do something how can we expect our men to marry at 20 or 25? If we wish them to do so, then give them a second house on the holding; at least give them a fair chance of building a second house on that holding. Then when they marry and rear a family you will have the population increasing once more. There is no effort being made to do anything about this problem. If we are in earnest about changing the economy of this country, let us do our duty and cut out the slush fund. Any money we have to spend should be spent through the Departments in the ordinary way, in the interests of the people, so that politics and play-acting may not play any part in the building up of this nation.

I heartily agree with one point made by Deputy Giles. I agree with him when he said that for months before elections many promises were made, perhaps by all Parties, and all Governments. Apart from that I am afraid that the famous or infamous Youghal Bridge, about which we have heard so much, would not gulf the stream which lies between the views expressed by him and the views I wish to express.

If this is to be a National Development Fund, I think we must consider whether it is to be based on something of a permanent or temporary nature. If it is to be based on expediency, then we know it will always be utilised by whatever Government is in power in keeping with the views that that Government may hold. I believe it is far more important that we should try and face this problem in a sensible, realistic way, and to ensure that development schemes will be based on a programme of a permanent nature, which the over-all economy of this country deserves.

Deputies have spoken about the problems of unemployment, emigration, and emergency schemes, The problem of unemployment will only be cured if we base our programme on national development which will be directed in such a way that no matter what Government is in power the programme will give to this country economic stability, will give a fair return for the money spent, and will be of advantage to the people. I believe, and members of the Labour Party believe, that unemployment must be tackled in a different way from what it has been in the past. It is true to say, unfortunately, that emigration has been one of our biggest problems, not for the past three, four or five years, but throughout our history. I am afraid that Governments at various times have not realised the problem as they should have.

With regard to the figures given by the Minister in introducing this Estimate, I think what is of vital importance is that, of the amount of money allocated in the past, so little has been spent. As we know, it was the last Government who introduced this scheme, which I believe was introduced in a state of panic at the time, simply and solely to meet an emergency. It was not brought in and operated in such a way that the money allocated was spent, not leaving us an unexpended balance. It is well known that when this scheme was introduced the Labour Party supported it. We had no hesitation in doing so. Our only note of warning at the time was that it was being introduced as a stop-gap, in such a limited way, to try to help the national development, and that it would not give us the benefits which we consider essential in this country.

Therefore, I believe it is most important for us, when speaking on this issue of national development, to say that we cannot be satisfied, whether we are part of the Government or in opposition, to have a knowledge of the £4,000,000 or £5,000,000 introduced in one year or £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 in another year, and then ultimately find that only a fraction of that has been expended. Undoubtedly, some of the money which has been earmarked has been spent on very good projects. At least it is a consolation to know that even if it is on a limited scale, if the money has not already given a return, it will undoubtedly do so. As time goes on we will see the benefit of such a policy. There is no need for me to mention anything about roads. So many members have already spoken from all sides of the House on this particular aspect of the matter that I shall not say very much on it. But what I appreciate, and what all the members of the Labour Party appreciate, is the fact that we know that every £ provided for road works has a two-fold advantage — it gives much-needed employment to the people entitled to it in rural Ireland, and it helps to provide good roads in areas where they are badly wanted. Both of these advantages are essential. I think that the most important of these two questions is the providing of employment for the people who need it in the rural areas. I feel, however, that no Government could be completely satisfied that continuous employment could be provided in this way for a certain number of men working for the various county councils. Only a certain sum of money is being allocated to these councils. We have had the experience in certain districts that road workers have been faced with this problem: that when the roads in their areas had been put into good condition they were faced, if not in the near future, certainly in the not too distant future, with the spectre of unemployment.

In many parts of the country the only two possible avenues of employment for the rural worker are the chances of a job with the county council or with the farmer, and surely while we are providing, as we must provide, sums of money for the improvement of our county roads, we must ask ourselves the question as to what we are prepared to do in the way of providing other forms of employment for these men when the time comes when there will be no further need for such comprehensive schemes of road improvement. I think myself that the National Development Fund has been much too limited and much too restricted during the period of its operation. Much has been said about agriculture. We have been told that £936,000 has been allocated to agriculture. I agree that every penny of it is being put into projects which I believe to be very essential for the betterment of the country's economy and I have no intention of elaborating on the question. I should like, however, to say that there should be sufficient money in the kitty, as it were, at all times to provide for any urgent expenditure on agriculture, so that there might be no necessity to draw on the National Development Fund for such expenditure. Surely it should be unnecessary, except on very odd occasions, for us to say that we have failed to provide a sufficiency of money for agricultural projects and that we had consequently to draw on the National Development Fund.

Great credit is due to the Government—in fact it is due to the last Government also for having brought in this measure—for having provided £400,000, through the Department of Industry and Commerce, for work in Cork harbour. Many other Deputies from the South have already spoken on this matter and I believe that, contrary to the views expressed by Deputy Giles — and when I mention his name I should like to say that it is a pleasure at all times to listen to the views of Deputies from every county—this money will mean a much greater revenue to one of the important ports of this country. I am afraid that at times some of us may have failed to realise the importance of having such a port at the present moment. I do not mind the remarks made by one Deputy when he spoke of cleaning the bed of a stream. On that matter it is really sufficient for me to say that where ignorance is bliss it is folly to be wise. I shall say quite clearly, as other Deputies from Cork have said, that I think every penny of this £400,000 is being well spent and I think that credit is due to the Government for the way in which it has been provided.

There are very few additional remarks that I want to make because so many members have already spoken. I believe, however — and I think this opinion was expressed by one other Deputy — that we cannot afford to lose sight of the importance of possible development in other fields to which we gave such small service in the past. In that I am leaving out agriculture because of its own particular importance and because it gets pride of place. One of the problems with which we have been concerned is that of the fisheries. Surely if we are sincere in our concern for national development we would not be speaking of providing £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 for a spread-over programme when we have the possibility of real national development there. We are shelving the possibility of added national wealth if we fail to face a problem like the fisheries.

My final remarks should, I think, be devoted to the hope that we will face properly the whole question of national development in relation to what we believe should be the right of a development committee to have powers of initiation in so many important problems in relation to national development. What is going to happen in that regard? At the moment we are on the Government side but it must be remembered that, no matter what Government may be in office in five, ten or 15 years, we are only retarding development if we do not get away from the system under which we have to make inquiries from Department to Department, from one section of one Department to another section of another Department and eventually to the Department of Finance. Surely we all agree that we have in this country the brains to help us to solve national problems and to build up a true system of economy here. Why is it that, though we could have a committee capable of solving important problems, after 12 months a Minister would come along and say, as he is justified in saying under the present system, that progress has been slow?

I believe the fault is ours and that until we remedy that fault we can make no progress as regards the development of the country. Let us therefore realise that first and foremost national development must be at the top, as it were. The brains and the ability are there but I believe that the present system is retarding our efforts. We must always regard national development as of such importance that we are always prepared to provide sufficient money to promote it. It is true that last year we provided more money than was required but that is so only because of the faulty system under which we have been operating. I believe that if we face this problem in a truly realistic fashion we well may hear less in the years to come about emigration; we may hear less about the problems of unemployment and we may hear more about the happiness of a contented people in their own country.

When this National Development Fund was initiated by Fianna Fáil the then Opposition levelled all kinds of criticism at it. Nothing was left unsaid or undone to misrepresent and belittle the purpose for which it was set up. Even though that is so, we are very glad that the present Minister for Finance, Deputy Sweetman, and his Government have decided to continue the operation of the fund because we believe that the national economy can benefit considerably from it, and schemes of a really beneficial nature can be financed from this fund. Before the advent of the present Administration schemes totalling £6,521,900 had been sanctioned, and I would like to hear from the present Minister when he is replying what new schemes have been added to that list and if any of the schemes approved by his predecessor have been cancelled because I feel it would be a great mistake if the Minister decided to cancel out the schemes that his predecessor had planned.

In the six or seven months before the change of Government the National Development Fund was responsible for enlarging the Road Fund to the extent of £2,500,000. I do hope the Minister will find it possible to continue that policy because we Deputies on all sides of the House realise the necessity for building up the biggest possible Road Fund for the improvement of our roads generally but particularly our by-roads or our county roads. I sincerely hope the Minister will not avail himself of the increased yield to the Road Fund from the increased motor taxation to shirk his responsibility and not give from the National Development Fund at least as much as, and if possible more than, was given in the six or seven months prior to the change of Government. We all conscientiously believe that the Road Fund should be made as big as possible and used specifically for road making. If the Minister succeeds in doing this he will be doing a very good job of work.

Before the change of Government, from November, 1953, to June, 1954, the Special Employment Schemes Office was allocated £900,000 from the National Development Fund for rural improvement schemes, minor employment schemes and bog development schemes. Many Deputies have spoken about the necessity for doing something more spectacular in connection with cul-de-sac roads and it is not necessary for me to reiterate what has already been said but I would like to make one simple suggestion to the Minister, that he would set aside a specific sum from the National Development Fund to meet the local contribution for the financing of rural improvement schemes. We all know the difficulty in securing from the beneficiaries under a rural improvement scheme the local contribution and if the Minister could set aside a sum to meet the local contribution he would be making the rural improvements scheme much more practicable and much more acceptable to the people in rural areas who are in dire need of special consideration so far as cul-de-sac roads are concerned.

I hope the Minister will also find it possible to continue the policy of allocating moneys from the National Development Fund for roads leading to the hand-won turf generating stations. Again, local authorities, county councils especially, find it impossible to carry out all the repairs that are needed in our villages and small country towns. If a specific sum could be set aside for such improvements it would be a very good thing. The paths in many villages and country towns are in a deplorable condition and, while local authorities are very anxious to carry out this work, the financial implications of it make it impossible for county councils to come to these works as soon as we all desire. The cleaning of derelict sites and their development for road making and the erection of halls in the rural areas would be other ways in which the fund could be spent beneficially. If money is devoted to these purposes I feel it will be of great benefit to the rural areas.

From time to time we rural Deputies hear of mineral deposits in certain parts of the country and whether the contentions that are made are of a sound nature or not we are not in a position to say but I feel it would be a good thing for the Minister to set aside a sum to carry out geological surveys to ascertain if certain mineral deposits exist and to carry out boring operations to determine whether coal deposits exist in certain areas or not. Most of these operations will not be carried out by private enterprise but if it were clearly established that mineral deposits existed in a particular region I think the necessary capital would become freely available for the development of such mineral deposits. I, therefore, ask the Minister to consider seriously setting aside a specific sum for the carrying out of geological surveys in certain areas.

Many speakers have referred to the plight of small farmers as far as housing is concerned. I do not wish to delay the House except to join my voice with the other speakers who have referred to this particular problem. People who reside on uneconomic agricultural holdings are not able to avail themselves of the grants that are already given for the erection of a new house and until something much more generous is done for these people a lot of them will continue to live in the old mud-walled cabins which they are in at the moment. The Minister should consider carefully and sympathetically the plight of these people and make available grants of a much more generous nature for the erection of new houses for them.

If the Minister can see his way to give favourable consideration to the few suggestions I have made I feel he will earn the gratitude of a very large number of people. He will have taken a very practical step towards solving the unemployment problem in rural areas and he will give to the people who have been neglected up to now a benefit that is long overdue to them.

The fact that the present Minister for Finance has introduced this Supplementary Estimate of £3,000,000 thereby continuing the good work which was started when the fund was established, is an indication that he is alive to the situation generally with regard to unemployment and the development of the country. Some Deputies remarked yesterday that the National Development Fund was instituted for the purpose of augmenting money which had already been put aside by local authorities and different Departments for the carrying out of certain projects. I think that is a correct description of the purpose of this fund.

Much emphasis has been laid by different speakers on the necessity for allotting as much money as possible for the upkeep and repair of side roads and culs-de-sac. In my opinion the money could not be better spent. It is rather pitiful, travelling around the counties, to see the condition of these county roads. The people have had to tolerate these bad conditions but I think the time has come when something definite and something concrete must be done to help them. Recently, somebody described these county roads as "coffin roads"; in many instances that description is very apt. I hope the Minister will allocate as much as possible from this fund to the Special Employment Schemes Branch so that the present unsatisfactory position will be remedied.

The Minister has stated that the fund can be drawn upon for the purpose of speeding up certain works programmes and for the initiation of new schemes with a high labour content. That is a very laudable purpose and, in connection with that, I wonder would the Minister consider regional water supply schemes and sewerage schemes. These have a high labour content. I trust that he will give favourable consideration to any requests made to him for financial aid for the carrying out of such schemes. Many local authorities are anxious to inaugurate such works but are debarred from doing so because they know the rates will soar. From that point of view they are severely handicapped. I mention these two specific matters because Louth County Council and the Dundalk Urban Council have applied for grants from this fund for the purpose of carrying out water and sewerage schemes.

The scope of this fund is, as far as one can see, limitless and I think the Minister will have a fairly difficult task in trying to please everyone. Nevertheless, I am sure he will do a good job when it comes to allocating the actual moneys. Different speakers have sponsored different projects. I hope that the Minister will give favourable consideration to the requests for improving county roads and for bringing water and sewerage to the people.

At the outset, let me say that I approve of this Development Fund as a new member to this House because the country as a whole is so under-developed that some assistance from an outside source is vitally necessary. I have in mind, in particular, water schemes and sewerage schemes, particularly in those areas where the rates are high and the land is thinly populated. In that connection, my own county comes to mind at once. Ballinasloe will serve as a good example of an area where the rates are exceedingly high; indeed, we have almost the highest rateable valuation in Ireland; the rates this year are over 45/- in the £. At the same time there is a crying need for water-supply schemes and sewerage schemes. We simply cannot undertake these unless we get assistance from a fund, such as this fund. We can only do a very limited amount of work without putting an excessive burden on the people and, from that point of view, these schemes have to be shelved year after year. The burden at the moment is excessive.

In relation to development, first things should come first, and these essentials should be top priority in the development of our country. We hear a good deal about providing funds for industry. In a sense industry should be left to private enterprise initially and should be assisted, where such assistance is needed, to a limited extent and in relation to the merits of the particular industry itself and the need for it. The first essential is to see that our people have proper water facilities and adequate sewerage facilities, particularly in the small towns.

As far as labour content is concerned, the desirability and the necessity for such schemes should prompt the Minister to allocate a reasonably substantial proportion of this fund for drainage in the smaller catchment areas which are not at the moment within the scope of the Board of Works programme or the arterial drainage scheme actually in hands or intended in the future. I have in mind one river in my own constituency, the Kilimor. I am sure there are similar rivers in other constituencies. Now along that river there are substantial portions of land and a very large number of small farmers are seriously affected by flooding year after year. I imagine that the labour content in a drainage scheme on that river would be high. It would solve two problems: it would help to solve the unemployment problem in the area and it would be of tremendous benefit to the farming community because it would enable them to reclaim large portions of their holdings. These are matters which we rural Deputies will press on the Minister very strongly and I would like him to consider them very seriously when allocating the moneys in this fund.

This debate has roamed over almost every aspect of our national life. In some respects, Deputies dealt with problems as they saw them, and genuinely saw them, in their own constituencies. In other respects, I am afraid some Deputies dealt with them in a much more irresponsible fashion. Last night and to-day Deputy Bartley dealt with one point and it is a point that I would like to dispose of first. He complained very bitterly of a decision that had been taken in respect of a project under consideration in relation to Inis Thiar island. I would not mind him putting forward his point of view in respect of that island and in respect of the works in which he was interested there provided he had not tried to make it, in addition, an argument of general application.

He suggested that, not merely were we anxious to ensure that no progress would be made in respect of the work on that island but that we were also anxious to cut down on work generally in those islands, as typifying our policy in relation to the West. Of course, the facts, as the Deputy knows and knows very well, are entirely contrary. Not merely have we shown that such is not our intention but during the course of last year, when an opportunity arose to expand substantially a project that had been initiated by the previous Government on the neighbouring island of Inis Meadhon, that expansion was immediately sanctioned and put in hand.

As the Deputy entered into such detail of what he alleged was the position in respect of Inis Thiar, it might be as well if I repeated the facts already given to the House by the Minister for Local Government on another occasion. The facts are that the reason for the delay in the projected work there is solely because Deputy Bartley when he was Parliamentary Secretary tried to override the technical officers who advised as to the best place at which this harbour construction work should be undertaken. I shall not in this House go into the reasons why he did so. I am fully aware of those reasons and I do not think that they are adequate or sufficient to override the views of technical advisers as to the best siting for the works, nor do I think really that they do any great credit inasmuch as they were the cause of the work being held up for a substantial period.

Deputy Bartley also seems to object to my informing the people about decisions I have taken. Tradition, courtesy and, indeed, the duty of Ministers is, when they are asked either in this House or elsewhere, about decisions which they have already taken, to inform their inquirers of those decisions, particularly when those inquirers are public representatives. The allegations that were made by the Deputy in respect of these matters are typical of the irresponsibility with which he approached the discussion of this Estimate, an irresponsibility which, for example, the last paragraph of his speech, as reported in to-day's issue of the Irish Press, specifically connotes. He is reported in the Irish Press as saying that in the latter half of last year insurable employment had decreased by 3,000 people. His exact words were: “Those who were in insurable employment in the latter half of last year were 3,000 less than the previous year.”

The Deputy is not a raw new Deputy to this House. He is well aware of the manner in which information as regards employment can be obtained from the Central Statistics Office, the Trade Journals and elsewhere. I am quite sure that the Trade Journal of last December was fully available to him and, if he takes the trouble to look at page 250 of that journal, he will find that, instead of there being that decrease of 3,000 people to which he referred, there is an increase in September, 1954, as against September, 1953, of 3,240 people in insurable employment. That type of irresponsible statement does not, I suggest, do this House or the Party for whom a Deputy in that position speaks any real credit.

It is not as bad as calling it a slush fund.

I had intended coming on to certain things that Deputy Briscoe said in a few minutes. As the Deputy has interrupted, I will come on to them straight away.


Deputy Briscoe gave us a longish dissertation yesterday on the Special Works Section of the Dublin Corporation. The Deputy tried to make it appear that there had been an effort by me as Minister for Finance or by the Minister for Local Government or by the combination of both of us to cut down the work of that Special Works Section of the Dublin Corporation in a way that was not anticipated, that was not visualised, that was not intended by our predecessors in office. The Deputy, in so doing, was very careful to avoid anything specific but, of course, the implication was there and the innuendo was there just the same as it was when he attempted to do this before on the 23rd June last.

The position in respect of the allocation from the National Development Fund to the Special Employment Schemes Office or to the Vote for Employment and Emergency Schemes, as it is more technically known, is on the record and the record is perfectly clear. On 10th April, 1954, a sum of £500,000 was suggested to my predecessor as being a suitable allocation from the National Development Fund to the Employment and Emergency Schemes Vote. On 22nd May, my predecessor in office personally directed the issue of a minute that, not £500,000, but a decrease of £100,000 on that amount—£400,000—was to be the amount allocated from the National Development Fund to that Vote.

For how long?

The allocation that was requested by the then Parliamentary Secretary on the 10th April and that was ruled on by my predecessor on the 22nd May is clearly, beyond question, the additional supplement that was to go to that fund for the financial year 1954-55. More than that, when that allocation was in fact made, there was, on 1st June, a determination by my predecessor of the manner in which that £400,000 was to be segregated and divided between employment schemes in one county borough and another and, on that date, my predecessor in office specifically determined that the sum of £140,000 was to be the amount that was to be available for Dublin County Borough. That was done on 1st June, 1954.

Major de Valera

Dublin County Borough — is that the city?

Yes, that is the official name. That was done on 1st June, 1954.

To keep us going for how long?

That was to be the additional sum that was to be allocated for the current financial year, that is to say, to end on the 31st March, 1955, in another 30 days. Those facts are beyond question on the files.

He sought sanction for a lot more.

He did not.

I will go further. I will not merely make it quite clear that that was done as the basis for the year but I will give the reason why it was done. For the previous year, Deputy Briscoe will remember, the amount allocated was £200,000 in respect of the same amount. The proportion of the Vote which went to Dublin was £200,000.

That would make it £340,000 altogether.

Between the two, yes.

That is right.

I know it is right.

I know it is right too.

I am telling the Deputy the truth now. The Deputy did not imply it before. The reason for the differences between the allocation for 1953-54 and 1954-55 was made perfectly clear. The figures were based on the unemployment registration figures in Dublin at the two periods for the two respective years. When I came in I found that picture, not the picture that the Deputy tried to make us believe, that he had authority from the previous Government for huge, expanding schemes that were going to rise from an employment content of 300 people to 1,200 people, that the previous Government had said that they were going to be undertaken and that we were the bold, bad wolves, so to speak, cutting down that previous intention. The fact is that the scheme may have been one in the Deputy's mind. I am not going to argue about that as only he can know what was in his mind, but I can say that the facts as to what my predecessor was going to allocate are clear and definite on the files and clearly and definitely show an entirely different picture from the picture which the Deputy has endeavoured to spread abroad.

When I came in, I found that picture, but I was not prepared to accept it merely at its then face value. My ruling was a slightly different one. My ruling was based, not on funds but on this, that that money had been allocated by my predecessor and, so far as I was concerned, the basis of allocation that I was prepared to operate was a basis which would ensure that no lesser number of people would be employed than had been employed previously. At the time I made it, I felt that that might require additional funds, over and above those which were authorised and sanctioned by Deputy MacEntee, but it was a proviso which was not there at the time he made his decision shortly before the change of Government. Those are the facts. As I say, I have no knowledge as to what was in Deputy Briscoe's mind about the Dublin Corporation special works. What I have just said is the intention shown by the previous Administration in that they reduced rather than increased the allocations that had been there before.

If unemployment should vary in such a way as to demand additional attention, I take it the Minister will be approachable in the matter of allowing us to increase our numbers?

I will deal with the general question of unemployment in a few minutes. At the moment, I am merely dealing with the incorrect implication and innuendoes which Deputy Briscoe endeavoured to spread abroad.

Major de Valera

That is a Department file the Minister is talking about. There was always, of course, the Government in relation to extraordinary action, as in the case of that fund initially.

Yes, the setting up of it in the beginning.

Major de Valera

If we are to go into that, we are opening up a very wide field. We all know that Departments very frequently inhibit expenditure and that Governments have to intervene to override the Departments.

If the Deputy wants to make the case that the Minister for Finance in the previous Government had no control over what was done in respect of finance, he can make that case, but, much as I opposed my predecessor on various lines, I am not going to say that he had that disregard of his duties. The Deputy may do so if he desires.

The Minister has to have regard not only to his Department but to the conflicting interests of spending Departments.

I thought the Deputy knew that the Special Employment Schemes Office was under the aegis of the Minister for Finance and that therefore the same Minister was dealing with both.

Major de Valera

The Deputy knows when a lawyer is making his case and how well a lawyer can make a case of that nature. That is merely why the Deputy intervened. It is a very well put case and a very fine bit of misrepresentation.

I thought the Deputy was trying to intervene for the purpose of throwing a smokescreen in a futile effort to save the exposure of the untruths which were disseminated by Deputy Briscoe.

Major de Valera

There were no untruths.

On a point of order, I want that withdrawn.

The Minister to continue without interruption.

The Minister is not going to suggest——

I certainly do. I say that the implication which Deputy Briscoe tried to give this House, and deliberately tried to give to Deputy Larkin across the House, that this Government had curtailed the special works programme of Dublin Corporation in a way which the previous Government did not intend to do, is untrue.

The Minister is talking an untruth now. A deputation had to go to insist on its being continued and we were then given the limited permission to go on as before.

The Deputy is not telling the truth.

The Minister is not telling the truth.

The Minister, on the Estimate, without interruption.

There is a pair of us at it, according to that.

I can understand Deputy Briscoe's ire, because he has tried this before. He tried it in a special heading of the Irish Press some six months ago and I was hoping he was going to put down a question when the House came back last October after the summer recess, but he did not do so.

About what?

On this subject of the present Government curtailing the special works section.

The Department of Local Government received a deputation and adjusted the matter.

The Department received a deputation and Deputy Briscoe and the deputation were told that there was no record in that Department either of the allegations the Deputy had made at the time.

We were told at that deputation that we could continue the work at its existing level until the Government made a decision. That is what we were told.

You were told that on 23rd June, exactly 21 days after I came into office, and getting through all the files in connection with matters such as these in 21 days, in spite of the period I was kept here by the Opposition, is fair enough. If the Deputy likes to make the case that he had to wait 21 days, he is welcome to make it, but the Deputy knows that what is really annoying him is that the case he has been trying to make over the past six months or so, whenever he got an opportunity, as he thought, is now being exposed.

I made a public statement that the Minister had agreed to leave them at their existing level.

The Minister must be allowed to speak without interruption.

And he ought to be allowed to tell the truth.

There is no such restriction ever on Deputy Briscoe.

You would be the first to pull me up on it.

I have often done so and I am doing so now.

Go back to the "slush" fund.

Deputy Briscoe also told me last night that he was going to quote various speeches by me on the Bill. Curiously enough, he did not.

He did not quote very much at all. There is only one quotation he made, and if he looks at it again, he will find that not merely is it a speech made in December, 1953, but it is prophetic, and expresses exactly my view to-day.

What are those views?

I suggest to the Deputy that he should read it again carefully and he will see that it agrees exactly with what I have been saying. I do not make any secret of the fact that, if I were starting afresh to deal with a problem like this, I would probably tackle it in a different way from that of the National Development Fund; but I do not think it is good policy, regardless of what Government is in office, merely because a person thinks he might have a better way of tackling a problem, as soon as he comes into office, to throw overboard completely everything started and initiated by his predecessors.

We are glad to hear that.

Even though one may have a personal predilection for a different method, it is very often better to take the method that is there and to utilise it, perhaps in a different way, and I am going to indicate a different way in respect of this as I go along— using it in a different way rather than, so to speak, stopping the machine and starting again in a separate fashion by the method that, if I had the handling of it from the beginning, I might myself have chosen at that time. I think that to deal with the matter in that way would be somewhat irresponsible. It is in that spirit that I approach the National Development Fund. It is in that spirit that I have been authorising the issues from that fund, and I am coming now to this House to ask for the additional funds necessary to put into it and necessary to implement it.

Most of the debate yesterday and, indeed, a lot of it to-day, though not quite as much to-day, turned, in respect of this fund, to its uses to deal with unemployment and with the problems that were arising in respect of unemployment from the time it was announced and the time it was inaugurated. Deputies will remember that it was announced and inaugurated by the then Taoiseach in August, 1953. There was at that time, subsequently in 1953, a serious unemployment problem. In respect of that, I want to make the case that the unemployment problem then in existence was one largely created by the then Government as a result of its then policy. The position at the time they took up office was that we had declining unemployment and rising employment. The previous Government, quite deliberately, by a policy of theirs first inaugurated in the White Paper on Trade in the autumn of 1951, and then subsequently continued, started out on a deflationary policy which had the exact effect of creating more unemployment.

Yesterday, I heard Deputy Childers speak here and tell us that the reason for increasing unemployment at the end of 1951 was the fact that the stockpiling following the outbreak of the Korean war was wearing out—that the ending of stockpiling and the activity that the Korean war had engendered in the early months of 1951 was responsible for the difficulties at the end of 1951 and early in 1952. I remember Deputy Childers quite clearly and I remember other members of the then Government telling us in that debate on the White Paper on the Balance of Trade that there was no such thing as stockpiling. If we had to wait three and a half years to get an acknowledgment that part of the problem then was a stockpiling one, it was worth while listening to the Deputy's speech yesterday. The fact, of course, was, as I said a minute ago, that there was a serious unemployment problem at the end of 1953—a problem that had been created by Fianna Fáil themselves. The figures in respect of unemployment when they assumed office and when this National Development Fund was announced speak for themselves. Even allowing for the increase on the register, because of the new Social Welfare Act, the figures would show an increase of some 17,000 persons between February, 1951, and February, 1953.

I want to make perfectly clear, in respect of employment at the present time, that the figures which I quoted a second ago in contradiction of Deputy Bartley—and which showed that there was an increase of some 3,000 odd over the previous year in respect of the last available figures for insurable employment—are one facet of the situation. The other facet is the number of people registered as unemployed. By and large, that figure shows a substantial decrease this year over last year. There are less unemployed registered this year than there were last year even though, as Deputy Aiken pointed out, the number of claims current is greater because of the fact that, under the last social welfare legislation, registrations have to be effected for the purpose of contributions being deemed to have been made and, in that respect, there is a switch, so to speak, from unemployment assistance cases to unemployment benefit cases. The trend that there is in the decrease in unemployment is a satisfactory trend. In saying that, and in taking—as we are entitled to take—credit for that trend, I want to be equally positive that we do not feel there is any reason to be complacent about it and that we believe we shall be able to improve that trend as the weeks and the months go on.

Deputy Briscoe asked me whether, in the event of there being any increase in the unemployment position in Dublin, I would vary any decision I had made. One of the first things I did when I went to the Department of Finance was to ensure that certain figures would be made available to me forthwith so that I could watch the trend of employment and unemployment. I can assure the Deputy that, if I think the necessity for any action has arisen, this Government will have taken action on it long before it is necessary for the Deputy to come to see us and talk to us about it.

Has the Minister the present Dublin exchange figures in regard to unemployment?

Yes. The position for the last Saturday in February is that the figure is down 4,099 compared with the figure for the last Saturday of February, 1954. To be exact, there is a reduction of 4,099 in the number of unemployed according to the figures for the last Saturday of February, 1955, as compared with the figures for the last Saturday of February, 1954.

That is not the point.

What is the point?

One of the reasons why we took the action as a Government that I announced in the House to-day was because we were determined as a Government that there would not be that move towards deflation that might engender substantial unemployment, if it could be avoided. The position in Britain——

Deflation creates unemployment, not employment.

That is what I am saying.

The Minister said the wrong thing. It does not matter.

I know it does not matter to the Deputy. The whole trouble with the Deputy is that he is seeing all his anxiety for difficulties arising for the Government being met before he is able to cash in on them. The position here is entirely different from the position that exists on the other side of the water. On the other side of the water they have their problems and their underlying difficulties. We have our problems here, but they are of a different nature, and if it is possible for us to deal with them according to our own methods it is much better that we should do so rather than that the method adopted by previous Governments should be accepted as being the better one. I believe that an increase here in advance rates would have had the effect of creating difficulties in employment, particularly in the building industry.

It was in our anxiety to avoid those difficulties that I made the representations I did, and to which I referred earlier to-day in respect of bank advance rates. I hope that the situation here will remain such as will ensure that we need not take action of the type that had to be taken elsewhere. In the modern world of to-day, however, we cannot be definite at any moment as to what the position may be a period ahead. I certainly want it to be clear that any action we can take to prevent unemployment, to prevent it being more difficult for people to develop and to engage in building expansion, will be taken by this Government so long as the circumstances permit us so to do. That was why we felt it desirable to take the line to which I have referred.

Keeping the bank rate at the present level—is that what the Minister means?

Keeping the advance rate at the present rate — which the Deputy's Government never did.

See how you will succeed in the long run.

The essential thing is that we are taking the decision in respect of our own economy in our own way.

What does the Minister mean by that? Does the Minister mean that the banks have not directly——

The Minister must be allowed to speak without interruption.

The Minister for Local Government issued a circular last night in respect of the grants from the Road Fund. As reference was made here to the Road Fund and to county roads as against main roads, perhaps it is proper that I should make some reference to it in this reply. We felt as a Government that one of the things to be done was to shift the attention from some of the main roads to the county roads that more directly assist in county production. In consequence of that, the Minister for Local Government announced that the allocations being made from the Road Fund for 1955-56 would include an additional £500,000 for county road improvements. Deputy Kennedy referred to that earlier to-day—he felt it would be a good thing if we did more county road improvements, so I am sure he will be delighted to hear of this.

I agree with the Minister, but I was referring to cul-de-sac roads as well.

We will go on to cul-de-sac roads at a later stage. I am dealing with county roads at the moment. There has been—and justifiably so—criticism in various parts of the country, not merely confined to the Press but amongst people all over the country, that some of the work being done on our main roads was of such a luxury nature that we could not afford, that we were doing that luxury work at a time when many of the county roads required to be put into such a condition that they would be real roads and not a conglomeration of pot-holes.

I agree with those Deputies who made it clear that they had great anxiety about the roads leading down to farmers' houses, down to land and to places where people had to live, but I would suggest to Deputy Kennedy and to those other Deputies who raised that point, that in considering what should be done, the first shift was to go from the main roads to the county roads, that it is important to tackle the county roads before we go on to the others. No matter on what side of the House we are, we must always accept it that the resources of the State are limited; and I suggest that with those limited resources the first step to be taken is the one that was announced by my colleague, the Minister for Local Government, in respect of county roads. I would also add in passing that, in addition, he increased by some 50 per cent. the allocation made from the Road Fund over that made last year to deal with some of the dangerous bridges about which we have heard from time to time.

What about the couple of millions in the petrol tax?

I will come to Deputy Corry in a minute; there is no danger that I would forget him, after his statement about Cork. Deputy Childers suggested that the Road Fund was owed substantial sums from the Exchequer in respect of the war years. I do not accept that argument. I think the position is somewhat different and that Deputy Childers could not make that argument fairly, after the allocation that was made from the general Exchequer to the Road Fund last year and the allocation that I made in the same way this year. The income of the Road Fund will be such this year as to provide for a substantial increase in grants and if it is necessary to augment that for capital works there is a way of dealing with the matter, as I indicated on the 18th December 1953, and as Deputy Briscoe refrained from quoting last night, but which I will give him the task of doing now.

I quoted the Minister twice last night—two of his observations.

If the Deputy looks at what I said then, he will find that I indicated just exactly what I said a second ago.

The Minister said there was no need for this fund at all. That is what I quoted him as saying.

In regard to individual items in the fund, some Deputies asked for certain figures and I gave them at the beginning. There is a difference between the figures that were given in June and those given now—an obvious difference, because there were certain projects then under consideration which it has now been decided will not be gone ahead with, and equally certain projects that were not then under consideration have been approved since and will be responsible for issues out of the fund at a later stage.

I want to reiterate and stress what I said in opening this debate. In so far as I was concerned I believed that the proper method of utilising funds that would be allocated from this Vote was towards productive schemes if it were not necessary to utilise them purely for employment in respect of any critical situation.

The best productive scheme of all to my mind is one that deals with that which I believe to be the basis of all our national development and that is agriculture. The best scheme in respect of agriculture is the scheme that brings into use the greatest amount of our land. It was for that reason that in the previous inter-Party Government Deputy Dillon, who is now Minister for Agriculture, and who was then Minister for Agriculture instituted the land project—a project which Deputy Childers had the hardihood to claim as a Fianna Fáil project when speaking quite recently in Athy. It was because we believed, as a Party and as a Government, then, that the best thing we could do to develop our economy nationally was to bring into use every acre of land that could usefully be employed that the land project was instituted at that time. For the purpose of expanding the land project and ensuring that further land can usefully be employed I would like to see as much as possible of the National Development Fund utilised on proposals such as those for further drainage work which could not be coped with in the ordinary way.

It is for that reason that when a type of work like the Rossmanagher scheme came up I was very glad to be enabled to make an allocation from this fund for work of that sort. I would like to be able to make further allocations from the fund for drainage work throughout the country. I would like to be able to see that we could move ahead quicker by reason of issues from this fund in respect of arterial drainage but I am quite appalled when I see the delays and difficulties that will arise in respect of such expansion in arterial drainage. I want to assure the House that, so far as I am concerned, any application that comes to me for the purpose of utilising portion of the funds that are included in this Vote or in any future Vote for this fund that the House may give at a later date—work such as, perhaps, the work referred to by Deputy Glynn, the Killimor small catchment area—will be treated by me most sympathetically from the point of view of money if it is possible from an engineering and technical view to carry out that work.

I do so because I believe that it will be the foundation of our economy and because, in addition, it will be a method of providing further employment in the rural areas. The desirability of that work has, I think, been accepted on all sides of the House for a considerable time. The difficulties that are there are technical difficulties which were touched on in the report of the Drainage Commission. In so far as there is money available for the purpose of doing any scheme of arterial drainage that is technically possible and is feasible from an engineering point of view and that will not create further problems down the stream, so far as I am concerned any application for an issue from this fund will be most sympathetically considered.

Other Deputies referred to different aspects that affected them in their own constituencies. I will not go into any of the things they mentioned because I think that on reconsideration they will realise that some of them, though desirable in themselves and would, perhaps, bring some benefit, would hardly come within the classification that I have said of productive schemes that would improve the economy of the nation as a whole.

I think the comment made by Deputy Corry last night in respect of one of those schemes which will undoubtedly assist was, to put it mildly, reprehensible. It seems extraordinary that of all people a Cork man, even one whose constituency is outside the City of Cork, should describe the Lee as an old stream and that it is merely going into tearing the bottom of an old stream. I think those were the Deputy's words.

I do not think the members of the Cork Harbour Board need me to defend the importance of their harbour from the irresponsible attack made by Deputy Corry. The only thing I am sorry about is that Deputy Corry was not in the House when Deputy Casey was dealing with it as one Cork man to another. A similar scheme in respect of Dublin will, I believe, assist port facilities there. That is the type of thing that will bring benefit to the country as a whole. That is the type of thing that will assist employment in the areas concerned. They are schemes that are worthwhile as allocations from this fund.

The only other allocation from the fund to which I want to make any reference is that in respect of the bovine T.B. eradication scheme. We are very lucky in that, through the generosity of a former American administrator, part of the Grant Counterpart Fund will be made available to assist in eradicating bovine T.B. It is, I think, as we on all sides of the House accept, one of the things that are vital not merely to agriculture but to our economy as a whole that we would take urgent steps to ensure that our cattle would be free from T.B. so that in that way we would be enabled to expand our outlet and market further.

As far as this fund is concerned, we are utilising it for the purpose of speeding up the work that has been done, and that we hope to do, with the American Grant Counterpart Fund. The issues from this fund will be utilised to develop that scheme in the County Sligo and also in the Bansha area. The amount that has been allocated so far on schemes directly is £423,000. In addition to that, we decided that, as part inducement to assist that scheme and as part propaganda for the development of that scheme, we would increase the grants for farm buildings and for water supplies to people who are going in for the T.B. eradication scheme. That will cost a sum of £230,000. I personally can think of no way in which £650,000 from this fund could be spent to better advantage when considering the long-term development of our economy as a whole.

I think the Minister would be advised to clear up what might be a misunderstanding with regard to one particular part of his speech to-night. Earlier to-day, at Question Time, the Minister made it clear that, as a result of representations, the banks had agreed not to follow the rates of interest in England, and in reply to a supplementary question admitted that we had no legislation by which such an Order of the Government could be enforced on the banks.

Ordinary legislation, I said.

In the course of his speech this evening, the Minister held out the hope that apparently the reaction to his representations would be maintained as part of the policy of the Government. Perhaps he would make that clear because it might be misunderstood. I do not want to misinterpret the Minister and perhaps he would amplify it.

I do not understand the Deputy.

Would the Minister repeat what he said? Maybe I am dense. I am certainly prepared to say now that I may not be able to understand it when I read it in the Official Report.

What I said in that respect was perfectly clear. The increase in the bank rate in England was taken to deal with the situation existent there which is not existent here at present. Hitherto, regardless of the economic position here, the Irish bank rate has always automatically followed the British bank rate. On this occasion, the Government made representations to the banks. I had discussions with the banks and I indicated that, in my view, it should be the economic position here that would affect the issue. When I was answering a question to-day, I paid tribute to the banks for their decision. The banks accepted the view that I put forward, that the economic conditions here were entirely different from the economic conditions which justified the action taken by my counterpart on the other side.

I am not raising this issue in any hostile way of trying to queer the pitch. Everyone would like to see that the rates of interest on our overdrafts would not go higher. But industrialists and, if you like, persons engaged on working on overdrafts and those carrying out large-scale housing schemes, might construe from what the Minister said that they would be safe in raising large overdrafts now on the assurance that the rate would not go higher at a later date.

I made the position perfectly clear when I said that the economic factors are factors which must be considered from day to day, but the fundamental thing is that this is being considered in the light of our economic conditions and not in the light of economic conditions elsewhere.

Vote put and agreed to.
Vote reported and agreed to.