I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time.
The purpose of the Bill is, as stated in the Long Title, to enable the corporation of a county borough to provide, or to assist in the provision of a concert hall, theatre or opera house. Last September the Cork Corporation passed a resolution agreeing in principle to give a grant of £25,000 to the Cork Opera House Trust Fund and requested the Government's permission to do so. I may say that this resolution was passed on the understanding that State assistance by way of a loan towards the rebuilding of the opera house would be provided. I informed the corporation that while existing legislation did not empower them to make the proposed contribution of £25,000, the necessary steps would be taken to enable them to give effect to their resolution. The Bill, however, is not being restricted to Cork Corporation. It is proposed that the corporations of the four county boroughs will be given the powers set out in the Bill. A request was received from Limerick Corporation that any concessions being made to Cork should be made to Limerick, so that they might consider the making of a grant to the executive committee of Féile Luimnighe towards the provision of a theatre and concert hall.
Subsection (2) of Section 1 sets out the procedure which must be followed where a corporation propose to operate the provisions of the Bill. It entails the publication in the press of a copy of the resolution. A waiting period of between 60 and 180 days is then allowed so that any person who objects can make representations. The resolution must then be confirmed by a further resolution and becomes operative when it has been confirmed by an Order made by the Minister for Local Government. This procedure may seem cumbersome but it is desirable that the maximum publicity should be given to any proposal to provide for expenditure from the rates on projects of the nature contemplated in the Bill. A similar procedure, is contained in the Harbours Act, 1947, which enables local authorities to provide financial assistance to harbour authorities.
In addition to enabling the four county borough corporations to assist bodies in providing such halls, the Bill gives them power to provide, operate and maintain such buildings themselves and sets out the purposes for which they may be used, for example, concerts, stage plays, operas, meetings, lectures, exhibitions and general recreation or other similar social objects. Where assistance is given by a corporation to a body providing such a building, such assistance may be conditional on an agreement between the corporation and the body as to the use and disposal of the building.
A building provided under this Bill may also be used for purposes other than those specifically mentioned in the Bill provided such use is occasional only, and a part of the building may be used continually for other purposes provided such part does not form a substantial part of the whole building. The building could thus be availed of for such purposes as election counts.
The Bill also enables approved expenditure for the purposes in question to be defrayed by way of loan from the Local Loans Fund.