Committee on Finance. - Local Government Bill, 1954 — Report and Fifth Stages.

Amendment No. 14 recommitted and debate resumed on motion to insert new Section 51:—
PART V.
Approved Local Councils in County Boroughs.
51.—(1) Where the inhabitants of a locality in a county borough have, either before or after the commencement of this section, established a council, committee or other body, whether corporate or unincorporated, for furthering the general social and economic interests of such inhabitants, the corporation of the county borough may, on the application of such body, by resolution declare that such body shall be an approved local council for the purposes of this Part of this Act.
(2) The making of a declaration under this section shall be a reserved function.
(3) In this Part of this Act "approved local council" means a body in respect of which a declaration under this section has been made and every reference to a corporation made in relation to an approved local council shall be construed as a reference to the particular corporation of a county borough which made the declaration under this section relating to that approved local council.
Question —"That the new section be there inserted"— put and agreed to.

With reference to my amendment to insert a new Section 52 in new Part V, Deputies have received in typescript two changes which I desire to insert in that new section to meet a case made by Deputy Briscoe. With agreement, I now move to insert the new Section 52 as follows:—

52.—(1) The corporation may provide a building for use by an approved local council for public and other meetings and for lectures, exhibitions, general recreation or other similar social objects and may entrust the care and management of the building to the council either permanently or temporarily.

(2) The corporation may acquire by agreement land for or including a building to be provided under this section.

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

(4) The corporation may—

(a) make a grant to an approved local council towards the provision by the council of a building for public or other meetings and for lectures, exhibitions, general recreation or other similar social objects, and

(b) as a condition of making the grant, require the council to enter into such agreements with the corporation (including agreements governing the use and disposal of the building) as the corporation consider proper.

(5) An agreement under paragraph (b) of sub-section (4) of this section may provide for the repayment by the approved local council of the whole or part of the grant (inclusive of such (if any) charges as may be made by the corporation in respect of the grant) at such times and in such manner as the corporation consider proper.

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

(7) Money borrowed pursuant to this section may be lent to the corporation by means of an issue from the Local Loans Fund as if such loan constituted a local loan within the meaning of the Local Loans Fund Acts, 1935 to 1953, and was authorised by an Act of the Oireachtas.

(8) Functions of the corporation under sub-section (1), (2), (3) or (4) of this section shall be reserved functions.

When I moved to report progress yesterday I had begun to press the Minister to see a certain problem confronting us in Dublin, and I think in the 24 hours since we last met, the Minister has, by introducing these amendments, met fully the point I was trying to argue. I want to express, first of all, my thanks to him for saving me further efforts and to assure him that this amendment covers exactly what we want in Dublin. I hope that there are no technical difficulties in the inclusion of it.

I remarked before on the fact that the Minister has this queer idea of putting everything in brackets. This amendment has now gone further, because there are brackets inside brackets. Surely commas would have done?

I am afraid it is the parliamentary draftsman that the Deputy should address, not me.

Perhaps the Minister would speak to the parliamentary draftsman?

Question —"That new section be there inserted"— put and agreed to.
Bill, as amended, reported.

I move amendment No. 14a in the name of Deputy Denis Larkin:—

In page 21 to insert the following sub-section before sub-section (3) of Section 51:—

Section 78 of the Act of 1946 is hereby amended—

(a) by the deletion in sub-section (1) of "with the consent of not less than four-sevenths of the ratepayers in a street" and the substitution therefor of "by simple majority decision of members present and voting and with the consent of the Minister",

(b) by the deletion of sub-sections (2) and (3) and

(c) by the addition of the following new sub-section:

(6) Where four-sevenths of the ratepayers in a street object to changing the name of the street they may appeal to the Minister."

This is more or less an inquiry to the Minister. Originally, we had an amendment to this effect, and having had a full discussion on it in this House we were given to understand by the Minister, as recorded in the Debates, that he was having it considered between that time and the Report Stage and as far as we can see in connection with the main amendments brought in by the Minister, there is nothing done about it. That is more or less why we had to bring it in again. There is no need at this stage to go into the reasons why we brought in this amendment. These are well known to every member of the House and the Minister, and we are, to tell the truth, very much surprised at finding that, as far as we can see, the Minister has made no attempt to help in any way, and we were completely in the dark in that we did not know what the Minister was doing about it. We are most anxious to know now what is going to happen.

The position with regard to this amendment is that I did consider it as I promised, and as a result of some research we found that no local authority ever failed to change the name of a street where it wished to do so under the provisions of the 1946 Act, which Act provided for the consent of four-sevenths of the ratepayers. I find that no local authority wherever it received that request failed to change the name. After all, the ratepayers have a vital interest — I do not wish to use the arguments used on the Committee Stage — but I did look into the matter carefully and I am satisfied as a result of past experience there is no necessity to amend the law. I would like very much indeed to meet the Deputy, but I must consider the people residing in the locality. Deputy MacBride did speak to this amendment when it was introduced before. I gave the House my reasons for not accepting it on Committee Stage and, as a result of the arguments which I have read very carefully since and as a result of the research I have made into past experience, I am satisfied that the law as it stands at the moment meets the requirements and meets the wishes of the people of this particular locality.

We are pressing the amendment, and I am surprised when the Minister tells us there has been no experience in the past when actually it has arisen in Cork City. In this particular instance there were many cases where, as mentioned by the Minister who spoke about the ratepayers——

The Deputy is referring to something that was before the last Act?

The last Act? We are not satisfied it ever worked. We believe our local councils are composed of men of common sense and there is no question of any particular instance in which there was anxiety to change the name to suit our own convenience or requirements, but we are aware that even under the Act mentioned by the Minister there are many instances where people had very good reasons to change these names and bring them into line with true patriotic motives and name them after men to whom we owe a lot, but the request was refused. This happened even under the 1946 Act because the ratepayers did not——

But I am amending the Act to bring in the small dwellers to assist you.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 14b:—

In page 22, line 15, before "to" to insert "or a loan or both".

Has the Deputy seen my amendment?

I would like to hear what the Minister has to say so that I can see whether his amendment covers the point I have in mind.

I was very reluctant to bring in either of these two amendments but I was impressed by the arguments made in the House yesterday. I was impressed by the argument put forward in respect of Dublin but I do not see why I should single out Dublin. I am convinced Dublin has a special case for the simple reason there is continuity of committee or ownership or trustees which we do not usually have in rural Ireland. However, I do not intend to single out Dublin; I am trying to put forward the case for rural Ireland and I will ask the Deputy to withdraw his amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 14bb:—

In page 22, to delete lines 22 and 23 and substitute "county council (including agreements governing the use and disposal of the building) as the county council consider proper."

As I have already said, this is to give rural Ireland the same facilities.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 14c:—

In page 22, Section 52, to insert a new sub-section (5) as follows (as a sub-section to be inserted in Section 73 of the Act of 1941):—

(5) Such building shall be exempted for a period of seven years from two-thirds of the rates levied thereon.

My reason for putting down this amendment is that when a hall is built there are different demands on it; it is besieged from all sides; the performing rights society and several other people are putting charges on them. I am asking that the Minister should give the same exemption from rates as he does to new houses and enable them to get on their feet. The Minister is being so good as to give us the other concessions and I am asking him to give us this one, which would be a great help to halls.

I have no doubt at all that it would be a great help to halls to exempt them from rates; in fact, it would be a great help to everyone if we could wipe out the rates on all buildings, but what about the unfortunate resident who is depending on the spending of the receipts from rates for the upkeep of various amenities in the area? If we were to wipe out rates altogether where would we get the finance to carry on local affairs? Here you are asking for two-thirds remission for seven years. The Deputy is well aware that any parish hall erected in the period of three years commencing on the 27th July, 1953, would be entitled, in common with other buildings, to two-thirds remission of rates for seven years under the Local Government (Temporary Reduction of Valuation) Act, 1954. This remission would apply to any increase in valuation following on the reconstruction or improvement of a parish hall carried out in the same period. I think that goes a long way to meet the Deputy's point.

That takes you to 1956.

From July, 1953, to July, 1956.

That expires next year.

I would ask the Minister to accept this amendment for this reason. We have asked him by the two amendments to enable a local authority either to make a grant or give a loan with or without interest or at a low rate of interest to the local parish council to erect a suitable hall to meet the requirements of the area. If in the case of Dublin or the country a responsible group of people accept a loan say, of X thousand pounds to build a hall, and so on, obviously having an undertaking that it would be repaid, that within a limited period of years, say, seven or ten years, it would be reasonable to say: "Pay us back our money." Afterwards the ratepayers will have the benefit from the money spent on the rates that will accrue after the lapse of that time, but if we put on their backs the repayment of the money, possibly a small interest charge and rates then, we are putting an impossible burden on people who are acting in the public interest, public-spirited people. If we were giving a grant and not getting money back I could understand the Minister's argument because the ratepayers would be giving that money, but both these amendments are concerned with what one might call large-scale halls in Dublin City and they would be meeting the requirements of a population such as that of Ballyfermot, as I mentioned yesterday.

I ask the Minister to accept that the position that would follow—not as the Minister says—is not that the remission of rates as envisaged in Deputy Kennedy's amendment is going to be an imposition on the backs of the ratepayers. In fact it is going to ensure that the ratepayers will get the benefit after a lapse of a limited period of years. It is going to enable those who are taking on the burden of the running of those parish halls to get on their feet. After a period of years the hall will be well established, the debt will be paid off, and so on, and then they will be of benefit to the ratepayers. I ask the Minister to see it in that light and to accept the amendment.

We have no objection whatever to a local authority helping a parish council to erect a hall. They may assist them by way of grant or by way of this loan which we have provided for but I think there is no reason why we should resort to a hidden method of subsidy. After all, the hall will be subsidised by way of grant or loan and I cannot see why it should be placed in a more advantageous position than a factory or a school. I cannot see the difference. These parish halls will get a remission under the 1954 Act which will come up for review in July, 1956, and I think the amendment is premature until that time. We have gone a long way to assist the parish hall both in rural and urban Ireland.

We have, again, these people prepared now to give loans or grants at the discretion of the local authority. It is milking the cow too much to ask them to give a remission of two-thirds of the rate for seven years, in view of the advantages they got under the 1954 Act, and in view of the fact that schools and factories are in exactly a similar position. The whole matter will come up for review in July, 1956, and I ask the Deputy to withdraw his amendment.

Deputy Kennedy to conclude.

I have experience of a local hall on which the valuation was £40. They are paying back the loan they got, in a ten-year period, to the Carnegie Fund. The Performing Rights Society followed that committee for a big sum of money which has been settled. All these burdens make their task well-nigh impossible in the rural areas.

I would suggest to the Minister that he should compromise. Where a hall only applies for a loan—not a big amount—he should apply this principle of remission of rates. After all, in the vicinity of the hall you would have 60 houses built, and these will be subsidised by a State grant and subsidised by the local authority. Some of them will have about £550 in grants, and in addition to that they will have two-thirds remission of rates for a period of seven years. These halls have been more and more sought after by the health authority for film shows, mass radiography, and a lot of other things. I would suggest to the Minister that he should accept the reamendment of the amendment, that where they only apply for a loan, and therefore repay the loan to the Government, the principle for remission of two-thirds of the rates for seven years should apply.

With regard to halls which have been used for charitable or cultural purposes——

The Deputy will observe that the debate is closed on the amendment.

I am sorry. It does not matter.

If I may interject, borrowers need not commence repaying the loan immediately. This is a matter for agreement between them and the local authority. In that way it may get over Deputy Kennedy's dilemma.

I would not accept that.

I cannot do anything more about it.

Never put off until to-morrow what you can do to-day.

The Deputy was not in the House, or he would know that.

I will press my amendment.

Question put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 51; Níl, 65.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Allen, Denis.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Blaney, Neil T.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Breen, Dan.
  • Brennan, Joseph.
  • Brennan, Paudge.
  • Breslin, Cormac.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Calleary, Phelim A.
  • Carter, Frank.
  • Childers, Erskine H.
  • Colley, Harry.
  • Corry, Martin J.
  • Cotter, Edward.
  • Crowley, Honor M.
  • Crowley, Tadhg.
  • Cunningham, Liam.
  • Davern, Michael J.
  • Egan, Nicholas.
  • Fanning, John.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Geoghegan, John.
  • Gilbride, Eugene.
  • Gogan, Richard.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Hillery, Patrick J.
  • Hilliard, Michael.
  • Kelly, Edward.
  • Kenneally, William.
  • Kennedy, Michael J.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Lahiffe, Robert.
  • Lemass, Seán.
  • Lynch, Celia.
  • Lynch, Jack.
  • MacCarthy, Seán.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • McGrath, Patrick.
  • Maher, Peadar.
  • Moher, John W.
  • Mooney, Patrick.
  • Ó Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O'Malley, Donough.
  • Ormonde, John.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.

Níl

  • Barry, Anthony.
  • Barry, Richard.
  • Beirne, John.
  • Belton, Jack.
  • Blowick, Joseph.
  • Burke, James J.
  • Byrne, Alfred.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Carew, John.
  • Casey, Seán.
  • Coburn, George.
  • Collins, Seán.
  • Coogan, Fintan.
  • Corish, Brendan.
  • Cosgrave, Liam.
  • Costello, John A.
  • Crowe, Patrick.
  • Deering, Mark.
  • Desmond, Daniel.
  • Dockrell, Henry P.
  • Dockrell, Maurice E.
  • Donegan, Patrick S.
  • Donnellan, Michael.
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • O'Carroll, Maureen.
  • O'Connor, John.
  • O'Donnell, Patrick.
  • O'Donovan, John.
  • O'Hara, Thomas.
  • O'Higgins, Michael J.
  • O'Higgins, Thomas F.
  • O'Reilly, Patrick.
  • O'Sullivan, Denis J.
  • Dunne, Seán.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Finlay, Thomas A.
  • Finucane, Patrick.
  • Flanagan, Oliver J.
  • Giles, Patrick.
  • Glynn, Brendan M.
  • Hession, James M.
  • Hughes, Joseph.
  • Kenny, Henry.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • Kyne, Thomas A.
  • Lindsay, Patrick J.
  • Lynch, Thaddeus
  • McAuliffe, Patrick.
  • MacBride, Seán.
  • MacEoin, Seán.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Madden, David J.
  • Manley, Timothy.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Murphy, Michael P.
  • Murphy, William.
  • Norton, William.
  • Palmer, Patrick W.
  • Reynolds, Mary.
  • Roddy, Joseph.
  • Sheldon, William A.W.
  • Spring, Dan.
  • Sweetman, Gerard.
  • Tully, James.
  • Tully, John.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Hilliard and Ó Cinnéide; Níl: Deputies Doyle and Mrs. O'Carroll.
Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment No. 14d:—

In page 22, to insert before line 24 a new sub-section (as a sub-section in Section 73 of the Act of 1941) as follows:—

(5) An agreement under paragraph (b) of sub-section (4) of this section may provide for the repayment by the approved local council of the whole or part of the grant (inclusive of such (if any) charges as may be made by the county council in respect of the grant) at such times and in such manner as the county council consider proper.

This is the amendment already discussed and its intention is to bring rural Ireland into line with urban Ireland. It is a substitute for the amendment which Deputy Kennedy withdrew.

I want to thank the Minister very much.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 15:—

In page 23 to delete lines 13 to 16.

The purpose of this amendment is to delete sub-section (4) of Section 54. This sub-section was inserted in the Bill by way of amendment on the Committee Stage. It was moved by Deputy Briscoe and was accepted by me under pressure. Sub-section (4) deletes the requirement in Section 70 of the Local Government (Dublin) Act, 1930, which provided that the consent of two-thirds of the members of the city council must be obtained before expenditure on the decoration of the city may be authorised. Exactly similar provisions are to be found in the Cork, Limerick and Waterford City Management Acts. The amendment as accepted applies only to Dublin and leaves Cork, Limerick and Waterford as they were. I have decided for the sake of consistency to amend the corresponding sections of the Cork, Limerick and Waterford Acts.

Does this mean that the amendment which I suggested is being inserted in the Bill?

Yes, and it applies to the other county boroughs as well.

I must thank the Minister. We will have recorded more thanks to the Minister than ever recorded on any one measure before.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 16:—

In page 24 to delete lines 2 and 3 and substitute "become so exercisable or performable by the other authority."

This is merely a drafting amendment. Section 57 provides for one local authority exercising or performing powers, functions or duties for another. The purpose of this amendment is to make it clear that it is the section and not the agreement that gives the necessary power to the local authority agreeing to exercise or perform the power, function or duty. The new sub-section to be added by the next amendment is similarly worded.

Does this have any effect of meeting to a certain extent arguments made here that it limits the authority; it is not the local authority but a body in the operations of which the local authority is actually interested? Is that what it means?

No. It is the section itself which will give the necessary power and not the agreement. This is merely a drafting amendment.

Amendment agreed to.
Bill recommitted for the purpose of taking amendment No. 16a.

I move amendment No. 16a:—

In page 24, to insert the following sub-section before sub-section (2) of section 57:—

(2) Where—

(a) a body, being a body established by statute and not being a local authority, are of opinion that any power, function or duty which may be exercised or performed by them should be exercised or performed, whether generally or in a particular case, by a local authority and

(b) the local authority are able and willing so to exercise or perform the power, function or duty,

the body and the local authority may enter into an agreement that the power, function or duty shall be so exercised or performed on behalf of the body by the local authority, and it shall thereupon become so exercisable or performable by the local authority.

This amendment is being moved in lieu of amendment No. 17. This amendment is designed to meet the grammatical criticism made by Deputy Sheldon and, as amended, the section will read, provided the amendment is accepted: "Where a body being a body established by statute and not being a local authority are of opinion." I think that will meet Deputy Sheldon's criticism. It is merely for that purpose that I have brought in the amendment.

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 17 not moved.
Bill, as amended, reported.

I move amendment No. 18:—

In page 26, to delete "sub-section" in Section 66, lines 48 and 49, and substitute "sub-section" and to insert at the end of Section 66 the following sub-section (as a sub-section to be added to Section 7 of the Public Assistance Act, 1939):

(5) Where the Minister proposes to make an Order under sub-section (4) of this section—

(a) he shall furnish a statement of his proposals for consideration, during a period specified by the Minister, by the council of the County of Dublin and shall consider any observations which they may make on the statement during that period, and

(b) he shall furnish a statement of his proposals for consideration, during a period specified by the Minister, by the Corporation of Dublin and shall consider any observations which they may make on the statement during that period.

I move this amendment because of an amendment which was tabled on the Committee Stage in the names of Deputies Byrne, Belton, Briscoe and Larkin. The purpose of that amendment, and the purpose of this amendment, is to ensure that Dublin City Council and Dublin County Council will be consulted on any proposal to change the boundaries of the Dublin public assistance districts. The object of this amendment, and of amendment No. 19, is to achieve the purpose the Deputies had in mind when putting down their amendment originally. This will require the Minister to furnish a statement of his proposals to the corporation and the county council. The making of observations on the Minister's statement will be reserved functions by virtue of the next amendment. In other words, the corporation and the county council will be consulted before any changes are made in the boundaries of the Dublin public assistance districts and a statement will be furnished to both these authorities by the Minister and their observations obtained before he makes his decision.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 19:—

In page 26, to add to Section 66 a new sub-section as follows:—

(2) Where a statement is furnished under sub-section (5) of Section 7 of the Public Assistance Act, 1939, the making of observations thereon shall be a reserved function.

This amendment is consequential. Its purpose is to make it a reserved function.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 20:—

In page 27, before the repeal in respect of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1931, to insert the following repeal:—

No. 27 of 1930.

Local Government (Dublin) Act, 1930.

The words “and for the passing of which not less than two-thirds of the members of the council shall have voted” in sub-section (1) of Section 76.

This amendment is consequential on amendment No. 15.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 21:—

In page 27, before the repeal in respect of the Local Authorities (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1936, to insert the following repeal:—

No. 35 of 1934.

Limerick City Management Act, 1934.

The words “and for the passing of which not less than two-thirds of the members of the council shall have voted” in sub-section (1) of Section 34.

The purpose of this amendment, and of amendments Nos. 22 and 23, is to apply the same provisions to the three other county boroughs in regard to resolutions authorising expenditure on city decorations as will apply in Dublin when the Bill is passed. Under the amendments only a simple majority of the members present and voting will be required to give effect to such resolutions instead of the present requirement that not less than two-thirds of the members of the councils must vote for the resolution.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 22:—

In page 27, before the repeal in respect of the Local Government Act, 1941, to insert the following repeal:—

No. 25 of 1939.

Waterford City Management Act, 1939.

The words “and for the passing of which not less than two-thirds of the members of the council shall have voted” in sub-section (1) of Section 32.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 23:—

In page 27, before the repeal in respect of the Local Government Act, 1941, to insert the following repeal:—

No. 5 of 1941.

Cork City Manage- ment (Amend- ment) Act, 1941.

The words “and for the passing of which not less than two-thirds of the members of the council shall have voted” in sub section (1) of Section 23.

Amendment agreed to.
Question—"That the Bill as amended be received for final consideration"—put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

I have no objection to giving the Minister the remaining stages now. While the Bill contains a lot of things which some people might be inclined to query as to how they come under local authorities, nevertheless the Minister since the Committee Stage has met quite a number of points put by the representatives of local authorities and has treated the Bill as a whole in a non-Party manner. As far as I am concerned, and I think my colleagues are with me in this, we are grateful to the Minister for the interest he took in the arguments advanced and we appreciate the results of his interest in the points made.

I am grateful to the House for the manner in which it has accepted the Bill. I would like to say to members of the Labour Party that, though I could not see my way to accepting some of the amendments they tabled here, it is only fair to mention that I discussed the Bill prior to its introduction with the Labour Party and I accepted suggestions from that Party at that time. Some of the sections in the Bill are in it as a result of suggestions made by the Labour Party.

Question put and agreed to.