Committee on Finance. - Vote 8—Office of Public Works (Resumed).

Debate resumed on the following motion: "That the Estimate be referred back for reconsideration."— (Mr. T. Lynch.)

I was referring last evening to the number of schools which were built in a specific period compared with the number built since the foundation of the State. The number of new school buildings which the Minister for Education envisaged in his statement to the House recently was, I think, 67. The Parliamentary Secretary has started well this year, and in the first couple of months, the money expended was a goodly sum. I take it that refers to the buildings completed within the recent past. We should do everything possible to accelerate the school building programme, bearing in mind the children who are affected by present conditions which we do not wish to see perpetuated. I admit that every endeavour is being made to get on with that programme. For that reason, I am glad there is an increase in the technical staffs.

I wish there were some way by which this work could be expedited. From the time it is decided to build a school, there is a long time lag before building starts. That is inevitable. When it is decided that a school should be built in a particular area, immediately, without waiting for the various preliminaries which must be concluded, the planning of the actual building itself should be commenced. I understand that one of the factors which delays the programme in that respect is that when the actual building has been planned, the assembling of the various bills of quantities and so on takes time. The Parliamentary Secretary will admit, therefore, that it is not uncommon sometimes to find that three years or more elapse before building operations commence.

I mentioned previously that we should not be so conservative in regard to the numbers we build for. We build schools to accommodate the averages which pertain in the locality at the time. It is a well-known fact that generally the school-going population trend is as much affected by the proposed location of the school as by anything else. Anything like an industry contiguous to the area will increase the school-going population, or even the possibility of an industry coming to the area. We ought to err rather on the side of allowing extra space in the schools than on building them exactly to the agreed number of square feet per pupil for the existing population so that we will not later on be compelled to alter the buildings to provide extra rooms.

There are a few minor points in regard to schools to which I should like to draw the Minister's attention. The two-teacher school is pretty widespread throughout the country. In a school like that there are bound to be days on which the second teacher may not be there. At the moment no provision is made in planning for a communicating door between the two classrooms and it is extremely difficult for the remaining teacher to supervise properly and adequately the pupils in the second classroom. He is under obligation to supervise and ensure their safety at all times. I suggest that, in all future planning, provision should be made for a communicating door. That would make for convenience and safety.

The outsides of most schools at the moment are finished with heavy casting. From the point of view of the safety of the children this is not the best finish. There is danger of injury if children, through natural exuberance, fall against the wall. Children's faces could be injured. Even if it is necessary to use rough casting, surely the lower portion of the walls could be finished in smooth plaster. At the moment the new schools look beautiful but, as time goes on, they will lose their freshness and, if a smooth finish is used, I think it would be much easier then to give them a face lift. Probably the Parliamentary Secretary has a good answer to justify the type of finish that is being used at the moment.

Recently I noticed link fencing around part of the boundary of some new schools and, on the inside, white thorn is planted. I do not think that is wise from the point of view of the safety of the children. The interiors are excellent and the scheme of decoration is very effective. The blackboard arrangement, however, leaves something to be desired. At the moment the blackboard is placed on both sides of the fireplace and it is also continued across the top of the fireplace. Perhaps the idea is that that portion should be used as a notice board. I think that, as well as having a blackboard, there should also be maps provided. These are a most essential part of the equipment of any school. In conjunction with the Department of Education, I suggest steps should be taken by the Board of Works to have a map case fixed permanently for display purposes.

In the infant schools there is need of a timber rail, or some kind of rail, on which to display pictures. Pictures form a very important part of the teaching equipment in infant schools. I suggest the Board of Works should in future provide such a rail. I know it is easy to mention these matters. Action is something else. I suggest that there should be a supervisory staff so that, as building progresses, essential details can be added. The supervisory staff should be out through the country wherever building is going on. In the long run that suggestion, if implemented, could save money. It would also save time and the necessity later for remedying defects long after the building has been completed.

There is provision for a great deal of building in relation to other Departments. There has been for some years now a pretty extensive building programme for the Department of Agriculture. Remembering the important part agriculture plays in the economy of the country it is both essential and desirable that such building should be undertaken to improve conditions generally. The building of research and experimental stations is very much to be desired.

I was taken aback to discover that it is contemplated moving the Department of Social Welfare and the Department of Health to a new site. At the moment the Department of Social Welfare is housed in Aras Mhic Dhiarmada. That is one of the most modern buildings we have. Córas Iompair Éireann must have a good deal of accommodation all over the city. I admit that the Department of Health may find itself cramped in the Custom House. References have been made here from time to time to the fact that Aras Mhic Dhiarmada is rented. Is that building now fully completed? In the recent past I know it was not. I cannot understand why the Department of Social Welfare should enter the picture just at the moment. There are other projects which are more essential in my opinion.

As far as the Department of Justice is concerned, quite a number of Garda stations throughout the country are not in a desirable state of either repair or maintenance. It would be more desirable to deal with some of these and to accelerate some of the other works for which the Office of Public Works is responsible rather than indulge in the completely new step of housing the staffs of the Department of Health and Social Welfare. I quite agree that Staffs must be properly housed and it is not so very long ago since we had a Bill in this House dealing with office conditions. Nobody can say that the offices in Aras Mhic Dhiarmada are anything but ultra modern.

In regard to arterial drainage, I notice that the Parliamentary Secretary refers in his statement to its continued expansion. He says it continues to expand and progress is satisfactory. I think everybody is in agreement with that fact. Arterial drainage has been expanding as the Office of Public Works has been expanding the necessary machinery and equipment to deal with these problems. We ought to try to accelerate the programme. The Parliamentary Secretary refers to a programme that might be completed in 15 years or so. It is the "or so" rather than the 15 years that I am afraid of.

In my constituency we very eagerly await the programme, first, in regard to the operation on the Deale. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary, when concluding, would give us the up-to-date information as to the progress of that scheme. I know from local contacts that it has reached the advanced stage and for that the people of West Limerick are very grateful indeed. Last year the people in the valley of the Deale had the unfortunate experience of flooding during the summer period when their crops were completely destroyed. It is not so long ago since the Land Commission had for offer in one of those areas a holding which they were letting by auction for some time. The farmers of that area sought gardens on that holding to enable them to grow root crops—a thing which they have not been able to do satisfactorily for years.

Anybody can testify to the fact that about five times during the past seven or eight years their crops have been swept away by disastrous flooding in that area. Besides, there are in County Limerick large areas of land which cannot even be adequately drained. They cannot obtain the benefit of drainage schemes. That is a very serious drawback to the agricultural economy of those areas. If the Parliamentary Secretary can do anything to expedite this programme or even bring it forward by three months, it would be very much appreciated.

The same thing applies to the Maigue. I know that the survey of the Maigue has commenced. It is a vast area and it extends into the heart of the Golden Vale, touching even the County Tipperary. Again, I certainly would not be in any way critical of any expansion of staff which would give us an acceleration of the drainage scheme programme. We would add considerably to the economy of the country if we were able to bring this land into productive capacity sooner than it can by our present rate of progress.

In that respect, indeed, the agricultural community who live along the banks of the rivers for which it is intended that the Board of Works will be responsible are anxiously looking forward to the operations of that section of the Office of Public Works. Early this year the Parliamentary Secretary received a deputation from the Limerick and Tipperary area in regard to a flooding problem. Unfortunately, the Parliamentary Secretary could not do anything for them because the programme of arterial drainage made it incumbent upon him to leave that problem aside inasmuch as it could not be classed even as an intermediate drainage. The Shannon is a tidal river. We are certainly not very far from the sea. Rivers like the Maigue and the Deale are tributaries of the river Shannon. To think that the areas I have mentioned will have to wait a very long period would be a great source of uneasiness to the people who live in these regions.

I know that the Office of Public Works has a very large responsibility in regard to the building programmes under the various Departments of State. They are passed from the various Departments for execution to this Department. Any of the Departments may at that stage say: "Well, we have passed the particular project. We have done all we can about it. It is now a matter for the Office of Public Works." The problem is then left with the Office of Public Works and that Office is responsible for projects emanating from the Department of Justice, the Department of Education, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of External Affairs, the Department of Industry and Commerce and so on.

At the same time it has a rather stinted allocation of moneys for the purposes with which it is to deal. I do not know whether this would be an example in reverse of centralisation towards getting the desired effect. Each of these Departments, I suggest, might have their own planning section to deal with their problems. Having planned them, they could hand them for execution to the Office of Public Works. That might contribute something to the expedition which everybody desires.

This Estimate is a most important one. The work that is being done under the auspices of this Office is a permanent record of our interest and our efficiency in regard to the various State projects where we are trying to replace deficits which exist over so many years in the past. Everybody wishes the Parliamentary Secretary and his staff well in that respect. The only fault which anybody might have with the programme is that it is too slow. It is very much to be desired that the Parliamentary Secretary would bring to that office a sense of greater urgency in regard to the programme which has to be completed.

I should like to make a few general remarks arising out of the Estimate before the House. On Votes 8 and 9 it will be appropriate to refer to items such as coastal erosion and other matters. The Parliamentary Secretary in his statement indicated that a substantial part of the increase of £39,150 in the Estimate was due to the provision for the recruitment of extra architectural and engineering staff required to undertake some large building and harbour construction projects which will be commenced during the year.

I am glad the Parliamentary Secretary has been able to get additional technical staff to cope with the work that will arise as a result of these major operations. The progress over the past few years in speeding up planning of projects under the control of the Board of Works has been deplorably slow. Appeals have been made from all sides of the House during debates on Estimates to have these planning operations expedited.

The Office of Public Works is the most extensive organisation under the control of the State. The type of work it undertakes necessitates slowness in planning and great care and attention to detail. A private person who engages an architect to plan a business or private premises knows that it takes several months to get even a very minor plan brought to finality. It is not to be wondered at, therefore, that the major operations carried out by the Office of Public Works take a great deal of time. However, the time taken in regard to many projects is far too long and if it is due to lack of staff or office accommodation, that matter should be put right once and for all. This cause of complaint has existed for many years and the improvement is not very noticeable. It is exasperating that when local clearance is obtained in regard to new schools or other projects, it takes months and even years, apart from the question of title, to get plans and specifications brought to the stage at which the contract may be advertised and the work put in hands.

I inquired into this matter some years ago. I have a good deal of sympathy with the Parliamentary Secretary and with the staff of the Office of Public Works, particularly the technical staff who are responsible for these matters. The fact that they have not an entirely free hand in major or minor planning causes a certain amount of slowing down. A private architect is responsible only to the person who engages him and can speed up plans to a much greater extent. The staff of the Office of Public Works are responsible through the Parliamentary Secretary to the House and are open to criticism for any false steps or imperfect work that may be brought to light. In those circumstances, naturally, they take very great care that all details are examined and that any work they carry out is as nearly perfect as it can be. I understand that position very well but I do think that their work could be speeded up a little more. There has been some improvement, as I have been told by persons who have had experience in this matter, but there is room for a great deal more. If the Parliamentary Secretary did nothing else but to show an appreciable speeding up of the work during his period of office, he would have done a good deal.

I should like to avail of this opportunity, through the Parliamentary Secretary, to thank the staff, particularly the technical staff associated with planning, and the architectural staff, for the very large volume of work they have successfully carried out during the past 12 years. The year under review is a record year and the present position augurs very well for the future.

The Parliamentary Secretary made a casual reference to minor drainage, or it appeared to me that he had something of that nature in mind, when he said that under the arrangements introduced about a year ago for intermediate river drainage, work will be started on four of the smaller catchment areas this year. There is a great and very pressing need in many areas for attention to these minor drainage works. Part of the problem was dealt with some years ago through the Local Authorities (Works) Act. I am one of those who feel that the money spent under that Act was badly spent and I am entirely happy that the grants were withdrawn. I do think, however, that there should be some organisation in the Office of Public Works to deal with the more important part of the minor drainage problem arising from work in connection with the Land project and from major arterial drainage operations.

At the moment there is no satisfactory provision whereby such work can be undertaken on a communal basis, for the benefit of the community. I know that it takes some time to evolve a practicable plan to deal with a problem of this kind but in the interim, provisional measures should be available to the community for undertaking urgent minor drainage, where problems arise. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will be able to direct his attention to that aspect in the very near future and indicate to the people in what way he may be able to help them.

There is another problem which is probably more urgent, namely, coast erosion. In my constituency and in a number of coastal areas, erosion is becoming an acute problem. The damage caused in certain areas is very serious and the indications are that it will become more serious. Representations have been made to the Office of the Parliamentary Secretary on a number of occasions over the past couple of years and the matter has also been raised by way of Parliamentary Question. The present position is that local authorities have no funds available to them to relieve the problem. The situation is becoming worse and in some years time will have reached the stage at which it will not be possible to do anything if the problem is not tackled immediately.

I understand that the work necessary to correct damage due to coast erosion is more or less in the experimental stages in certain parts of the country up to this. Obviously, the value of such experimental work must be tested before it can be generally applied but, even so, I think that if an attempt is made and fails it is probably better than making no attempt at all. No doubt the coast erosion problem is one for State attention, initially at any rate; no local authority could possibly cope with the expenditure that would be involved and until some settled basis is reached the State should come into the picture.

I suggest that the most urgent problems should be attacked without delay. Board of Works staff have reported on most of the areas from which complaints emanate and it should be possible to devise some scheme of work to provide the necessary defence against further erosion in these areas. I appeal very specially to the Parliamentary Secretary to give this matter his urgent attention and indeed, if he has not already done so, bring it to the notice of the Government at the earliest opportunity. The summer period is usually a suitable time to carry out such work and I should like full advantage to be taken of that period, so that if we are to have something done, the work would be in hands and completed as far as possible before winter sets in.

There are two or three districts in my constituency about which I have already made representations to the Parliamentary Secretary as regards the necessity for urgent action to protect amenities and different types of property adjoining points where the sea is causing damage. I hope he will be able to do something for those areas of the coast in the North Kerry district. I appeal again to the Parliamentary Secretary to tackle these problems and relieve a good deal of mental anxiety, apart from physical damage, existing in the area.

This is a very important Estimate because the Board of Works is responsible for the erection of new buildings and the reconstruction or improvement of old buildings for all Departments of State. It is a sort of clearing house for all Departments. It does other valuable work also and, as Deputy Moloney spoke principally of coast erosion in his constituency, I might as well remind the Minister of the problem in that regard facing us in South Kerry. I understand that coast erosion comes under the Department of Transport and Power but I presume that when any work has to be done in connection with it the job is handed over to the Board of Works. I do not know if that is correct.

Dealing with coast erosion is a very difficult problem and prevention of damage would cost immense sums of money. It is believed that while there is coast erosion in one place, in other areas new land is being created so that I may assume that the area of the country is the same as it was hundreds of years ago. In South Kerry we have very serious erosion at Waterville and along the coast between Waterville and Ballinskelligs. In fact, unless something is done to protect the village of Waterville, it will disappear in 20 or 40 years.

Arterial drainage, which is also of great importance, is carried out by the Board of Works. At present the River Maine is being drained and good progress has been made but there are some complaints in connection with the completion of the work. As the Parliamentary Secretary knows— because there have been deputations to him on two occasions— the complaints have arisen in connection with the drainage of one of the main tributaries, the Brown Flesk. I should like to know if any progress has been made towards easing the serious flooding that takes place and not only damages land but also houses which are in danger of being wrecked and having their foundations undermined.

At one place on the bank of that river there is a cemetery and river erosion is taking place at that point. It is very important that something should be done in regard to the drainage of that tributary. It is appreciated that it is a very difficult problem because of the winding of the river. The danger is, now that the work is near completion, that unless something is done about this tributary, it will also flood the main road from Killarney to Tralee. That has already happened once. We also have the serious flooding that takes place in the valley of Glenflesk and deputations have also been to see the Parliamentary Secretary from that area because of the serious flooding there three or four times a year. We are told that it is part of the Laune catchment area but there is no flooding anywhere along that river except in the one portion. The excuse has been given that the flooding cannot be relieved until a new bridge is built at Flesk between Muckross and Killarney but that work will be carried out in the near future and so there should be no excuse for not relieving the serious flooding in the Glenflesk area.

I saw it the other day.

I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will tell us what he thinks of it. It is a pity he did not see it when it was flooded and see the difficulty of people trying to get their animals up the hillside to prevent their being swept away by the floods, see how their crops were destroyed and their houses flooded.

It was terrible.

The Deputy did not do very much about it when he was Parliamentary Secretary.

Did I not do as much as the present Parliamentary Secretary?

The Deputy did something for some portion of Galway. I may refer to the maintenance of rivers drained under arterial drainage schemes. Kerry County Council, for instance, has been presented during the past few years, since the work was completed, with the task of providing £17,000 per annum for the maintenance of the River Feale. That must be raised by rates. Now we shall have the River Maine which perhaps will require a further £17,000 or maybe more, for maintenance.

It was a pity you got them at all.

Well, you did not have to get them, either.

I got the first one.

That is North Kerry and has nothing to do with me. I wonder, Sir, which of us is speaking?

It is hardly fair to ask the ratepayers of the county to pay for the maintenance of these drainage works, because there are hundreds of thousands of people in Kerry who did not benefit at all from the drainage of the Feale or the Maine. The Department of Finance should be responsible for the main portion of the maintenance and farmers and people who benefit by the drainage should also pay something, and perhaps there could be something then in a general way from the rates. It is not fair that people who derive no benefit from the drainage should be asked to pay for the maintenance of these works.

There is a large sum here for the development of certain harbours. There are five, one of them being Cahirciveen. I am sure the people in that area are pleased that that is so. Prior to the report of the body which dealt with the development of these harbours, the Deputies from South Kerry had asked that Cahirciveen be included in the development and we are glad that it has been. In regard to Dingle, I understand it will now be in the constituency of South Kerry so we shall have to look after it as well as the portion we had already. It would have been much easier if they had left it in North Kerry, even though some Deputies might regret its severance from that portion of Kerry. But Dingle harbour does not come under this development. I think it is one of the principal fishing harbours in the country and it should be regarded as more important than a place called Greencastle which is one of the five for development.

I feel the decision would lie with the Minister for Lands.

Yes, but it is the Board of Works who carry out the work.

On the instructions of the Department.

But is it not the Board of Works who carry out the instructions of all Departments?

But all Departments cannot be discussed on this Estimate.

I understand that, but it comes under the heading of the development of harbours——

There is a sum of money allocated——

The Parliamentary Secretary is responsible for the actual carrying out of the works but the decision to improve any harbour——

Comes under the Department of Lands?

I shall pass on from the matter. There is not very much more I have to say because even though it is an important Estimate, other Deputies have referred to the many points that could be raised. With regard to schools, there are many new schools yet to be built and many old schools which could be reconstructed even in a temporary way until new schools are built. I do not know if the Board of Works have anything to do with the selection of sites for schools. I take it one of their engineers carries out a survey of the sites offered but in this age it is a pity that the sites are so small. Sites should be selected which are large enough to provide room for the children to play games, such as football and hurling or other games, while the girls could play tennis or hockey and other games. In all cases, the sites are miserably small and uneven and they are left that way. That was the case in the old schools and one wonders how they were built among rocks. Very often the teacher had the obligation of levelling the ground in order to save the children from injury. I notice that schools which were built 10 or 12 years ago are now in a very bad state of repair. I suppose the Board of Works are not responsible for that but the contractors who do the work do not always do it in a satisfactory manner. Perhaps that is because of lack of proper supervision.

In regard to the erection of Garda stations or their improvement or reconstruction, I notice a sum of money voted for a station down at Lauragh near Kenmare. It would be no harm if the Board of Works consulted the Department of Justice in regard to that because I understand that station is either closed or to be closed and the Guards moved elsewhere.

In conclusion, I can say that the statement made by the Parliamentary Secretary is notable for the absence of any reference to work that requires to be done rather than work that is being done. It is a statement the Parliamentary Secretary could make at a chapel gate in connection with an election. It looks good and there are many promises in it and I only hope they will be carried out as expeditiously as possible, if not by the present Parliamentary Secretary, at least by his successor.

I wonder did anyone ever say a good word for the Office of Public Works? It seldom, if ever, happens. One chairman of the Board of Works said to me on one occasion: "We are the `skivvies' for every Department and Government". To listen to the previous speaker, one would imagine that they were responsible for moving part of Kerry into another part. I have very little to say on this Estimate but it is necessary that I should say a few things.

In regard to arterial drainage, you never find trouble in a scheme until it is being wound up. Then, engineers, knowing the things they do, find that for a small expense they could cut out or add in a small portion which would do a lot of good. So far as the officials of the Office of Public Works are concerned in regard to arterial drainage, I think the work they are doing is a credit to them. It is work which the people in the rural areas never expected to see done. The only fault is that it is rather slow. At the moment only the Brosna, the Glyde and Dee and one scheme in Kerry have been completed and one might say the Corrib is nearly completed.

There are only two large schemes, the Moy and the Kerry No. 2 scheme. Those works that are finished are excellent but much needs to be done in my area. There were many small portions in the scheme which were taken out. Of course, the Board of Works is legally entitled to do that, but with a small effort and very little expense, additional work of great benefit could be done. In the Dunmore area the extension of operations would not cost much money. I have made several appeals to the Office about it but apparently the engineers think otherwise. It would give back roughly 50 or 60 acres of land to very small tenants in the area and the expenditure would not run into more than £400 or £500. That was in the original scheme. I am not saying it was cut out deliberately for political reasons or anything like that because I know the Board of Works never consider things of that description. Anyway, over the past two years, the people there and I have been appealing to have something done for this area.

Again, right beside this area, there is a huge lake, the Glenamaddy lake, which was originally in the scheme. I put down a few questions in that regard and Deputies of the then North Galway constituency, Deputy Killilea and I, met the people—Deputy Kitt did not turn up at the meetings—and discussed this problem. About two years ago, the Office of Public Works put machinery in there where there was a huge swallow-hole which was taking the water. The result was that this huge lake that used to dry up every summer has not dried up at all for the past two summers. In fact, it is more flooded, even in the height of summer than ever it was in the winter. I asked a few questions about it, although I am not one who likes putting down questions because I know one does not get any information from the Department concerned. However, I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to be good enough to get his officials to look after it and at least let us have a decision as to whether the work will or will not be carried out.

There are also in the Glenamaddy area a number of lakes about which investigations are going on for the past four or five years and I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to look into these matters. It is when you are finishing up in an area that you come across those difficulties.

Are there any fish left in these lakes?

They are all down in Kerry.

They are not able to catch a fish in Kerry or in Donegal, either.

Some time ago, the people around Moylough and Belclare approached me about a huge lake at Moylough. The Corrib catchment area went within 400 or 500 yards of where 200 acres of land could be dried. They were asked just to go the other 400 or 500 yards that would completely relieve this lake. The answer was that the Moylough lake was in the Suck catchment area. The same applied to certain lakes down in Williamstown and that part of the country. I made representations but to no effect. I cannot understand why a small area like that cannot be brought in when it would be of such advantage to all concerned. I fully realise that if that were to be pursued too far, the whole country would be in one catchment but when a scheme comes within 400 or 500 yards of an area where huge tracts of land could be relieved, the Parliamentary Secretary should ask the Office to overlook the Order under which they are operating.

I was on a deputation with other Deputies from Galway in relation to the Corrib-Mask drainage scheme. As the Parliamentary Secretary knows well, that was previously a part of the Corrib drainage scheme. For some reason or other which I will not go into now—I went into it well enough in the area—it was not kept in that scheme, which included such places as Belclare, Shrule and Headford. There are no people in Ireland who suffer as much as they do from flooding. When we went to the Parliamentary Secretary some nine months ago, he told us he would have a survey carried out in 1961. I am sure he is as good as his word but it is no harm for me to remind him of the fact and to ask him to ensure that that survey will be carried out.

According to the Rydell report, the Suck scheme cannot be carried out until the Shannon is done because it would flood the Shannon. I put down a question to the Parliamentary Secretary some time ago in relation to the Brosna scheme, as well as the Glyde and Dee and the Feale in Kerry. I inquired what extra flooding the Brosna had caused on the Shannon. The answer was that it did not cause any extra flooding. What is the use therefore in waiting for this Rydell report to be examined? If the Brosna did not cause any extra flooding on the Shannon, the Suck will not cause any, either.

Does the drainage of the Clare-Corrib cause any further flooding of the River Corrib? Not at all; in fact, there is no flooding there at all now. The Suck catchment area takes in a large part of my constituency. The previous Parliamentary Secretary had an interest in that and so had his predecessor. I would ask the present Parliamentary Secretary—a man as good as any of us—to look into that matter and to realise, regardless of reports or anything else, that extra flooding will not be caused. He told me himself, in reply to a Parliamentary Question, that the drainage of the Brosna caused no extra flooding on the Shannon. Then why should the drainage of the Suck do so?

I heard some Deputies complaining that the cost of maintaining drainage schemes was too great a burden on the rates and that some other method should be found. If these people had been approached at the time it was decided to carry out these schemes, would they have said: "Do not carry them out because of the cost to the rates of maintenance"? They certainly would not. The Office of Public Works are spending £3 million or £4 million on schemes which will do a lot of good for this county. The people of the county should realise they are in a privileged position in having that work done for them. The least gratitude they should show is to pay for the maintenance of the schemes. Of course, you meet some people who want their bread buttered on both sides.

I have one serious complaint. It concerns a bog at Derryglassaun, Meanlough, Ballinasloe. I approached the engineer in charge about it and he sent one of his engineers to inspect it on two or three occasions. Some time last year, in connection with the drainage of the Corrib catchment, the Office of Public Works had to cut a huge drain, in length about 600 yards, right through the end of that bog. People cut turf in that area. The result this year is that they could not get in a turf cutting machine because the Office of Public Works destroyed the right of way and have refused to have it replaced.

I have here a letter in connection with the matter signed by about 20 people: Tim Devaney, Meanlough; Tom Madden, Grallagh; John Kilgannon, Derryglassaun; Paddy Laheen, Meanlough Road; James Kelly, Meanlough; Peter Kelly, Meanlough; Pat Ruane, Meanlough; Joseph Kelly, Meanlough; Martin Potter, Meanloughbeg; Tommy Laheen, Grallagh; and Delia Kane, Derryglassaun. I am sorry Deputy Kitt is not here. He lives in that area.

Will he lose all these now?

I do not know. They never voted for him, apparently. It is a scandal that the Board of Works should cut this drain and prevent the people from getting in to cut their turf. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to look into that matter as well.

In regard to school buildings, I see Deputy Kitt made a statement about all the additional schools being built. I know that, as far as the building of schools is concerned, the Office of Public Works have not got an easy task. We hear Deputy Kitt bleating about all the extra schools being built in Galway. Yet when the Archbishop of Tuam came to my parish, Dunmore, he was worried about a school the Office had closed up. I would prefer to take the word of the Archbishop on that than the word of Deputy Kitt. But I am not blaming the Board of Works for that, either.

I have referred to arterial drainage in Galway. There are other areas in south and east Galway which had a high priority at one time, and I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will look after them as soon as he possibly can. He is a man of rural Ireland who knows rural Ireland and in his Office he has a good staff who work loyally and honestly.

When I first came into the Dáil over four years ago, I pleaded very strongly with the Board of Works and the Parliamentary Secretary to start arterial drainage work in County Cork. It is a very large county. We have some good land there which is flooded every year. In my memory, these rivers which cause the flooding have never been cleaned. A deputation was appointed from the county council to travel to Dublin to make representations on the matter but while some surveys have been carried out in the county, so far, I cannot see that any machinery has been put working to clean these rivers which are so badly in need of cleaning. I can see thousands of acres of valuable land going to waste in my own constituency in particular but also in other areas. In South Cork also, these rivers overflow their banks and swamp thousands of acres of what could otherwise be first-class arable land.

Whatever work is undertaken in this country, be it the setting up of industries or the buildings of schools, the land is the foundation of our whole economy. The more money we put into the development and protection of our land, the better for our economy. I should like to impress upon the Parliamentary Secretary the importance and the urgent necessity of putting this machinery to work on the rivers of Cork county without any further delay.

That is work which would be of tremendous value for generations to come. It would be putting money to a very useful purpose which would benefit the country in many ways, give employment, put the land into production and help to increase our exports of agricultural produce. I sincerely hope there will be no further delay in getting that work undertaken in the county, and, in particular, in my own constituency of West Cork. Two rivers have been surveyed there but that is as far as the Board of Works have gone. I want the Parliamentary Secretary to say that the machinery will be put in there forthwith, that the rivers will be cleaned, so that there will be no further flooding in that area.

Another very important and necessary work in my constituency is the improvement of the small piers around the coast, and in particular in the islands off the coast. I was on Bere Island some weeks ago. The inhabitants of that island must derive their living mainly from the fishing industry, and the landing facilities on that pier are certainly very poor.

That is not a matter for the Parliamentary Secretary. It would arise relevantly on the Estimate for Fisheries. A decision to improve the pier on the island in question does not lie with the Parliamentary Secretary, but with the Minister in charge of Fisheries.

I understand the work would be carried out by the Board of Works.

The work would be carried out by the Parliamentary Secretary, on the instructions of the Minister in charge of Fisheries.

Very well; we will have another opportunity of dealing with it and I shall leave it. Castletownbere Harbour is to be reconstructed, possibly in the near future— how near I do not know. Again, I sincerely hope that work will not be too long delayed. The people in that area also derive their living largely from the sea and the reconstruction of the pier there is an absolute necessity. There is a notice board on the pier prohibiting the people from, and warning them of the danger of, going on to that pier, but the people must go on to it, so that the reconstruction of the pier in Castletownbere is again a matter of urgent necessity. I urge the Parliamentary Secretary to have that work expedited as much as possible.

The building of schools is a very important matter which is proceeding reasonably well at the moment. All the new schools being built should have the modern facility of running water. We are advocating the installation of running water in the homes, but it is also an essential which should be provided in the schools. I know that schools were built in recent years in which running water was not provided. Certainly that is wrong and it is a bad example. I impress upon the Parliamentary Secretary the importance of running water in any school. In future, no school should be built without running water and flush lavatories.

I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will pay heed to the three major points I have put forward: drainage, Castletownbere pier and the provision of running water in schools.

Speaking generally, I think nearly everyone will welcome the proposal to provide what cannot be described as further amenities, but proper and adequate amenities, for this House. Of all the various Parliament buildings I have visited, I think I can say without any great fear of contradiction that this must be the worst. I am glad the decision has been taken to extend it and to keep Parliament in this traditional centre.

I notice under Subhead B of this Vote that a figure of something over £1,000,000 is provided for the erection of new premises for the Social Welfare Department at Haddington Road. I do not know what motive was at work when Haddington Road was selected. Why Dublin city at all? I can quite appreciate that the Parliamentary Secretary, or indeed the Minister for Finance, might not be responsible for the decision in regard to location, but I do think that an example might have been taken from our counterpart across the sea. The principal offices of the Department of Social Welfare in Great Britain are situated in Newcastle-on-Tyne. On the very vexed question of decentralisation, this is certainly one point on which decentralisation could be considered with advantage and without any inconvenience to anyone.

On the question of the building and selection of sites for national schools, I have, at various times both on this Estimate and on the Estimate for the Department of Education, complained about the size of the sites selected as being inadequate to include, if not playing fields, certainly playing grounds of a size that would make them attractive to the pupils during play-hour and a centre for the village or the school area during leisure hours. I am often appalled by the selection of sites for national schools in close proximity to main roads and busy thoroughfares. Only recently at a point somewhere between Dunshaughlin and Navan —an extremely busy and dangerous road—I saw a new national school being erected. It is quite a small school, but I was horrified to notice that it is right beside the main road, a road with heavy traffic and very dangerous for children, because being children, they always do the unpredictable, and thereby incur danger. Children should not be placed in a position in which they can incur danger by reason of the selection of school sites on main thoroughfares.

It is to be hoped that in the new Garda stations, as well as in the national schools to which I have referred, there will be running water and sanitation of the most modern kind. Deputy Wycherley has dealt with that matter very adequately, adequately enough, I think, to bring it to the notice of the people concerned.

It is pleasant to see that a number of new post offices will be built and presumably they will be adequate to deal with the business that offers. The only major work in my constituency relates to social welfare. A new employment exchange is being built at Achill. It is interesting to note that the only method of relieving unemployment in an area which used to carry such a very high population up to the past four or five years is the building of a new employment exchange.

On the question of drainage, all too frequently—I am sure this is the experience of every Deputy—we receive from the Office of Public Works a letter of regret with regard to representations made about certain streams, which do not fall within a catchment area but which are of such magnitude as to be outside ordinary drainage schemes contemplated in the small Vote provided. I do not think this Vote should be so small. In view of the turn things are taking in constituencies like mine and that of the Parliamentary Secretary, it is extremely important that this Vote should be greatly increased to help small farmers to drain streams that adversely affect their lands. All too often, in the course of these regrets, the last sentence invariably reads: "This work is not of the kind that is within the scope of the works contemplated by this Office." That is not the fault of the Office, of course; it is the fault of the people who plan the expenditure of the money. I think it is high time the drainage of these streams and rivers was given greater consideration. That kind of relief would help to stay the rush away from these small holdings which, while it is largely dictated by economic reasons, is also largely due to the absence of amenities.

The only point to which I should like to draw the Parliamentary Secretary's attention is to the drainage of the Black River from Shrule to the Corrib. That belt of country is very highly rated. The people have very small holdings and every perch of land counts. It appears that the Office of Public Works drained portion of the river from the Corrib to within about 40 perches of Ower Bridge. From that point up to Flynn's Bridge has not been done at all. Further up, from Flynn's Bridge to Shrule, drainage work is being carried out by the respective boards of the Galway and Mayo County Councils. It seems a rather extraordinary anomaly to have the Board of Works draining portion of the river to a certain point, then a stretch of river left untouched, and beyond that the drainage boards of the Mayo and Galway County Councils carrying out work further up. The undrained stretch is actually a dam between the two points. The distance is not very great but the people of three or four villages are vitally concerned. In the villages of Rosstaff and Ower, and another village further downstream, the people are very highly rated. In winter, they lose the benefit of many acres of land because of flooding by this stretch of river. Drainage work on this stretch would be of inestimable value to them.

I appeal to the Parliamentary Secretary to consider the matter to see if anything can be done to relieve flooding in this area in winter time and, if it can, I would ask him to carry out the work as quickly as possible. I have a letter from the Parliamentary Secretary stating that the river between these two points is not part of any drainage district. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to make it part of some drainage district. The necessary machinery is there at both sides, some owned by the Mayo and Galway County Councils and some by the Office of Public Works. It is a pity that this machinery is not used to complete the drainage of the entire river and relieve flooding in this locality.

The general trend of the debate does not, I think, call for a great deal of comment or further elucidation from me. Deputies are very often inclined to refer to parochial problems on this Estimate rather than to the general policy of the Office of Public Works. The expanding activities of the Office of Public Works may not always be fully appreciated. Deputies suggest quite glibly that we should expedite this, that and the other work, and it is perfectly obvious that they have not got a proper insight into the working of the Office of Public Works.

The expansion in arterial drainage alone has reached such a stage that it could keep the whole of the Office of Public Works, as constituted 15 or 20 years ago, fully occupied. Major harbour works have created an extra problem requiring extra staff. The anxiety of the Department of Justice to proceed more rapidly with the construction, repair and improvement of barracks has created a problem which has necessitated increasing activity, increasing staff, and greater attention from the Office of Public Works.

The most inaccurate and contradictory statement made during the debate was that made by Deputy Dillon—he may not have made it seriously—that the Office of Public Works was an office to which the other Departments gave money and then instructed the office not to spend it. The very opposite is true. We have been persistently pressed by every Department of State to produce results in this, that or the other project. We are moving as fast as the facilities and personnel at our disposal permit. The Minister for Lands wants harbours built hurriedly; the Minister for Justice wants barracks built without delay; the Minister for Education wants school building expedited generally; the Minister for Agriculture has schools and institutions which, in the light of the expanding activity in that Department, require immediate attention. The pressure comes from every angle. I do not think the Opposition are serious when they suggest that the Office of Public Works is given money by a Department and asked not to spend it. I wish we could spend it and carry on the work as rapidly as the various Departments would like us to do.

School building is one of the major sections in the Office of Public Works. It is one sphere of activity which comes in for most comment by Deputies— second only to arterial drainage. I should like to say something with regard to school building in general before I deal with any points raised by Deputies in connection with that matter. I do not think the position in the school building section is always appreciated. When one visualises that action is demanded on anything up to 300, 400 and 500 schools at a time, one can appreciate how difficult it is to give priority to all the people who make demands. "Under active consideration" is a very well-known phrase which is often repeated, sometimes in derision. In the school building section, there are at least 200 jobs under consideration, whether they are new schools in various courses of planning, major repairs or minor repairs. Against that background, practically every day I meet some school manager or Deputy asking that his school be given priority.

Everyone can make a good case to show that it is an urgent matter. Recently the Office decided that if we were to keep putting the priority for a particular job aside and take out another one and give it priority the next day, the result would be a complete upsetting of the entire programme. There could be nothing but chaos. I was surprised that such good results were coming in recent years from the Office, in view of the fact that they were trying to meet the demands of everybody who could make a good case for priority. It was eventually decided to have reorganisation. The matter was examined by experts and it was decided that there would have to be a queue and that the Office could not possibly work with any expedition, unless there was a priority list and that all applications should take their place in a queue with as little upset as possible.

Many Deputies outlined cases where one might have to give priority. You cannot stick rigidly to the applications just as they come in. You could even have the case of a school roof collapsing. Somebody pointed out that there was a factory built in an area which urgently required extension.

We had a school that fell down.

Those are matters in respect of which one would be justified in changing the priority but in so far as it is possible and in the interests of more orderly progress in the school building section, I am hoping— without committing myself to figures— to see marked progress this year. In the interests of that orderly progress, we refuse to take schools indiscriminately out of the priority list and put them at the top. I think that, when the matter is explained, all concerned will agree that if we are to avoid complete chaos, that is the best direction in which to move.

As I am dealing with the question of schools, I should like to deal with some of the points made. Deputy Dillon made a suggestion that has been made occasionally. In fact, I think, I made it myself on one occasion when speaking on the Estimate. The suggestion was that we should rather build a parish school and bring the children in from all around by transport and leave them back again in the evening. Naturally, that decision would be one for the Minister for Education. It is a decision that has been considered more than once so far as I know but I do not think it was anything other than the necessary amalgamation of schools where the average had dropped. It has never really been tried.

There are many points to be considered and the managers of the various schools concerned are usually the best judges. Deputy Dillon suggested that a manager be appointed who would be prepared to give the scheme a trial. By and large, at the moment, the type of school being built is satisfactory. It is reasonably convenient for all the pupils who attend and the small school sometimes can be a very homely institution where the children feel comfortable and where they get a good deal of personal attention.

No one really raised any serious point with regard to the standard of these schools. In the past, the allegation was sometimes made that these two-room or three-room schools were too elaborate but on the other hand, some people said that they were not sufficiently elaborate. We always felt that we had struck an optimum to meet the reasonable demands of everybody concerned. The notable thing today is that everybody is clamouring for better sanitary conditions, the installation of water and better sanitary arrangements in schools generally.

I think that is a tremendous thing because it is an indication of the great upsurge in the standard of living which has occurred in this country in recent years. Not many years ago, people were quite prepared to accept what would now be considered primitive sanitary arrangements in schools. We have suddenly come to agree and clamour for an immediate change in these facilities. I should like to point out that the Office of Public Works have been pressing for the installation of water in schools for years past. Certainly every new school built today is provided with the most modern sanitary facilities. Like the Minister for Education when speaking on his Estimate, I, too, hope that we will very shortly have reached the stage of which we can say that the most modern sanitary facilities have been installed in every school in the country.

Arterial drainage did not meet with much adverse criticism except from the first speaker who, admittedly, told us that he was expressing a personal opinion and who has a very poor opinion of arterial drainage because, he said, he was not quite sure whether it was a matter of development or merely of employment for vote-catching purposes.

Any man interested in the development of the land of this country must by now have realised that drainage of any sort is an indispensable factor in land improvement generally and that arterial drainage is the most efficient type known. Arterial drainage in this country was not brought about as a result of any hurried, careless or loose thinking or arrangement. It was the result of years of study and research, having regard to the best opinions available and after examination of alternative work in other countries. The legislation which set up the machinery to carry on this work was debated at great length in this House in 1945. It was then decided that maintenance would be a county at large charge on the local rate. In the debate on the Estimate each year Deputies complain that it is not fair that the cost of drainage should be a charge on the rates. In the debates on the Bill in 1945 one finds alternative suggestions, some that the Exchequer should bear the maintenance cost after completion of a scheme, others that the immediate beneficiaries, the people whose lands were immediately affected, should be charged accordingly. Both these proposals were turned down and I would say rightly so.

In the first place, it is not easy by any means to assess the improvement in the value of the land affected by a particular scheme and it would be difficult fairly to assess the proportion the owner would have to pay for that relief or improvement. Secondly, if the charge were made a Central Fund charge, there would be a tendency to apply indiscriminately for drainage work without consideration of the outcome or the ultimate cost.

When maintenance is a charge on the local rate it tends to ensure that only works of the greatest importance are undertaken. The local authority and the people concerned, realising that they will bear the maintenance charge on the local rate, will ensure that the job is worthwhile and that proposals for arterial drainage will not be submitted and pressed by people who would be reckless in regard to future costs. It is an essential brake on irresponsible applications for drainage. The county at large charge is as fair as any other charge. People may argue that a person is paying for something from which he is deriving no benefit. That could be said of every tax paid in any respect.

Deputy Dillon's reference to arterial drainage in this debate differed somewhat from his last year's contribution. He suggested that main arteries should be dealt with without dealing with the catchment as a whole. We frequently give the answer when somebody asks us to drain a river, tributary or part of a catchment, that we do not undertake drainage of any part of the catchment until the catchment as a whole is treated. When Deputy Dillon suggested doing the main artery from the outfall upstream, that is quite impossible and I do not see that there would be any point in doing it. It would only mean that the catchment was not dealt with at all, only the outfall relieved, and the machinery would have to be brought back at some future stage and the whole question of compensation and exhibition of the scheme would have to be dealt with all over again. It would be pretty well impossible except that it would do a certain amount of work which, at least, would cause no further harm.

The type of job which I meet most frequently and for which Deputies come to the office with appeals is to have part of the catchment done without treating the outfall at all. In most cases the outfall of a catchment is not the worst part of it. The important thing is the relief which can be given to the tributaries and the tributaries of tributaries throughout a hugh area, sometimes involving, as in the case of the Boyne catchment, the Six Counties. It is the fact that it enables drainage to be carried out on the smaller tributaries, which are causing the most damage, that the main outfall has to be tackled at all. To do the main outfall and the other work, for which in my experience there is the greatest demand, would not be to deal with the problem in a methodical manner. The provisions of the 1945 Act do not permit that type of thing, anyhow.

I should refer to one of Deputy Lynch's annual complaints here, that is, that the South East coast is, for some reason known only to himself, being neglected by the Office of Public Works. That is not true.

It is a matter of fact.

That is not true. If one takes the expenditure of the Office over the year in routine matters, repair, Government buildings, general repair and up-keep, the money is necessarily spread as evenly over the country as is required without reference to area. That is the only thing which dictates distribution of money. In the matter of schools, barracks and other matters to which the Office attends in the ordinary course of routine work, that part of the country to which Deputy Lynch refers gets its just and equitable share and in matters of expenditure in other directions it is not forgotten either. Deputy Lynch does not live too far from Rosslare Strand where a considerable amount of money has been spent.

That is in Wexford.

It is the South-East. The Deputy deliberately mentioned the South-East because he did not want to be too parochial. The Ballyteigue and Kilmore drainage scheme in the extreme South-East corner of the country has relieved a considerable area. There is the Suir drainage project.

It is No. 15.

It is pretty well advanced. I would not be as sceptical as the Deputy is regarding its chance of coming up. The survey of the Suir is in progress.

That is interesting.

The Bricky has been selected for treatment as one of the intermediate rivers. Passage East has been selected as one of the harbours for major development and the order in which they appear in my opening statement does not necessarily convey that they are to be attended to in that order.

Would the Parliamentary Secretary say how much will be spent in Passage East?

The Passage East estimate made by the Swedish expert is £280,000.

How much this year?

The position this year is that we are being pressed by the Department of Lands to carry on with preliminary trial borings and soil testing on those jobs. That must precede the final design of the scheme. The work at Killybegs is nearing completion.

It will never be finished.

Other tenders have been received for work by contract of a similar type on the other jobs.

Does the Parliamentary Secretary say that they are going to start on the other places?

As soon as possible.

And in Passage East therefore they will just be boring holes for the next couple of years.

No, although I am completely disappointed with the rate of progress at Killybegs, a few months rather than a few years is the time necessary for having trial borings and analyses carried out. Passage East should not prove different from any other harbour.

It seems that in the case of the other harbours with which you are going ahead you have contracts and that you have no contract ready for Passage East.

We have. Passage East is getting the same treatment as any other place.

Would the Parliamentary Secretary tell me how much is allotted for Passage East this year?

No allocation is made to any one harbour as such. If Deputies examine the Estimates they will see that a bulk sum is to be spent in connection with major harbour development. I think the figure is about £100,000 in the coming year. I mentioned it in my opening speech. I have given the Deputy pretty definite and accurate replies and I am trying to explain that his annual complaint that nothing is being done for South-East Ireland is completely inaccurate and untrue. I think what the Deputy has in mind is that arterial drainage has not been applied to County Waterford as yet. He might consider it fortunate that nature has so ordained that Waterford is not suffering as seriously as other counties such as Kerry and Galway, Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal, as a result of flooding.

I was particularly interested in the Deputy's statement that good land should be drained first. There is much to be said for that but sometimes a job in one small area would cater for three times or even 10 times the number of residents in a large area. When one is trying to ensure the greatest good for the largest number of human beings, that is also a big consideration.

The Suir catchment is over 100,000 acres.

If there were any other points raised by Deputies to which I should refer, I shall try to deal with them now, but I think I have dealt with most of them in my general summing up. Galway Deputies referred to purely local problems and Deputy Lynch suggests that Galway is not the worst-off county in regard to attention from the Office of Public Works particularly on arterial drainage. Arterial drainage had to begin somewhere and it is a tribute to the work that where the office does carry out a job it is from that area that the greatest demand comes for further work, indicating that the people see the great benefit brought about as a result.

Deputy Esmonde complained that there was no drainage in Wexford. That means that either he is not looking around his constituency or else that he is oblivious of the good work being done there.

He was appalled to find that the Slaney was No. 26.

Many Deputies referred to the building at Haddington Road. I am sure they know that the Department of Social Welfare could not go on indefinitely occupying a building originally provided for C.I.E. and which C.I.E. require so badly. In fact there was need for building in any event as C.I.E. was being so severely handicapped for space. The necessity to centralise its activities was perfectly obvious to everybody. The Government took the decision that the Department of Social Welfare should have a new office building and the Department of Health also, as well as the Stationery Office, at Haddington Road. There is a site available to the Government at Beggar's Bush and I think it is an excellent site in so far as it is in an area not congested by traffic and well provided for in respect of parking space and of easy access from all parts of the city. It is an excellent position for the building and I hope it will be a building that will do credit both to the country and to the Office of Public Works.

I believe we have passed the stage where propaganda used be made about erecting what were described as elaborate and unnecessarily palatial buildings. If we had not places like the Customs House, the G.P.O. and other such buildings to show to our visitors we would have nothing——

And the Four Courts.

When we came to consider erecting decent buildings ourselves, there was a tendency to make propaganda about squandermania. I think that has completely gone now and, judging from the trend of the debates here recently, it is obvious that everybody is agreed that when we build we should provide decent buildings which will be a credit to ourselves, to the Government, to the country and to the Office of Public Works. These buildings need not be unnecessarily expensive. The actual instructions that the Office of Public Works gets are to provide the requirements in a suitable manner. No frills are sought but architecture demands a certain dignity and it is certainly the showpiece of any country's progress and development. I believe we can count on getting that. Deputy Dillon was rather subtle in the way he tried to represent the Government as having eased off a building programme to go in for what he described as development which is productive development. He set out by saying he read something recently somewhere, and did not say where he read it, which said the Government were right to have gone off house building and building construction to invest money in productive development. There was of course no such decision to go off building. Somebody may have written an article somewhere but I have not seen it. We regard building as an essential part of the Government programme. In fact at one time, we were accused of building too much. Deputy Dillon's insinuation was that houses for the poor and hospitals must come before all other buildings. We have done pretty well in that regard but we must bring up the whole economy at the same time. You cannot be lopsided in any particular type of building. Institutions and agricultural schools such as those at Clonakilty and Athenry, and the repairs to such places, are just as essential to the poor people, and more so, because it permits their economy to expand and thereby gives a better living to those who reside in the country.

We have at the moment an excellent building programme which is directly associated with productive development. In fact, the entire activities of the Office of Public Works reflect in the greatest degree the expansion of activities in all other Departments. That accelerated programme and expansion of activities is more obvious in the Estimates before us than at any other time. Deputy Palmer said that my introductory statement was like a statement at a chapel gate. I do not quite see the point because we do not set out to talk about what we have done, and we could talk a lot about that, but we are dealing with the Estimate for the coming year which sets out what we are going to do.

If you look back over previous Estimates, you will see that the tangible results are pretty noteworthy. If we can succeed in getting the necessary technical personnel which is indispensable to the huge programme before us, I believe the Estimate next year will be even more interesting. I have no doubt the Office is capable of rising to the great heights to which it must rise in order to cope with the continuing expansion of activity in all other directions. It is quite wrong to say—in fact, the opposite is true—that any brake is being applied by any Department. I want to emphasise that again. The one thing which nettled me in the debate was when I heard Deputies say that various Departments give the Office of Public Works money and then tell them not to spend it. The direct opposite is true.

If I feel guilty of anything when I meet the Government, it is that I am not in a position to show sufficient progress and if we are not moving as fast as we would like to, it is because we have not got the necessary technical personnel at the moment. We are trying to recruit them and we have only the nucleus of a section to deal with major harbours and the same applies to barrack reconstruction. Each competition held shows better results and in that regard I should like to point out that it has frequently happened that when we have competitions for architects and engineers, we get them coming back from abroad, sometimes from as far away as Canada. We hope we will shortly have the necessary staff, particularly to deal with those three sections which definitely require additional staff, arterial drainage, with the added intermediate drainage, major harbour development and the work to which I have made no reference yet and to which, in conclusion, I want to refer, coast erosion.

Deputy Wycherley said that the Office of Public Works should deal with this and that and get on quickly, just as if a wand had only to be waved. The one thing which has prevented us is that we cannot possibly see any means of having another completely new section to deal with this huge national problem of coast erosion. Some definite measure of agreement has now been reached and proposals for legislation are being considered. I hope they will not be too long delayed but it will involve a very big undertaking. Since I went to the Office of Public Works, the Government have discussed this with me several times. It was only because we had not got the necessary personnel to deal with it that the introduction of suitable legislation was delayed. I hope it will emerge shortly and that the problem of erosion will be tackled in the same enthusiastic manner as arterial drainage has been tackled.

I do not think I should say much more, as the debate does not call for further elucidation. There are many points I did not touch on. There were some points about which I thought Deputies might have made a lot but they did not. Recently there was a controversy about a plaque that was erected on the G.P.O. It caused a good deal of controversy among people who like to write letters to newspapers. I want to say that the Board of Works placed the work in the hands of competent artists and a competent sculptor. Nothing was done without the due consideration which is given to such work by the Office. The actual wording on the plaque was arranged by the Office of the Taoiseach and examined by some very eminent Irish scholars. It was known before it was executed that there might be controversy about it.

At the time, I asked the sculptor, through the principal architect in the Office, when complaints were made regarding the format of the plaque and the subdivided words and when criticism was levelled at the general execution of the plaque, if due consideration had really been given to it in every respect. He produced such things as I have before me now. One of these is a photograph of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington which is held to be one of the most famous pieces there are in that type of sculpture. It will be seen from that that there are at least six subdivided words.

Some of the famous plaques in Rome which I also saw photographed are the same. In fact the lettering on our plaque was even nicer. Sometimes people criticise these things without having any criterion in mind, without making comparisons with what are readily accepted as top-rate work. When it comes to the question of criticising the literary side of it, I suppose it gives an outlet to people who like that kind of controversy. It sometimes gives them an opportunity, either to be helpful or merely to show that they detected something that someone else might not detect. To paraphrase the closing lines of the "Deserted Village": "They still had hopes for pride attends them still; among the swains to show their book-learned skill." People who may have motives of that kind got an opportunity in this case but, by and large, this work has been accepted by fair-minded people as being what it is supposed to be, a dignified and artistically executed work.

I merely wish to point out now that we are always grateful for co-operation. Sometimes we must write letters that are not the type we should like to get. A huge number of jobs require to be done, all needing to be carried out at the same time. If Deputies would only advise their constituents that it is not possible for all these works to be done at the same time, a great deal of disappointment would be avoided. The heads of our Offices meet Deputies courteously and deal with them very efficiently. Their pleadings are never ignored when they have a good case. The Office does not always get due praise for the efficiency of their staff or for the careful manner in which they look after property. They are very often the butt of a great deal of unnecessary and possibly ill-meant derision. The officers' responsibility is to give tangible expression to the efforts of the other Departments. With a comparatively small staff, they carry out that work in a very effective and efficient manner.

Would the Parliamentary Secretary elaborate on this change in Haddington Road? Did C.I.E. pay for the present headquarters of the Department of Social Welfare?

The present building was erected originally for C.I.E. as a bus station.

But not by C.I.E.?

No, but the intention was that C.I.E. would recoup the fund through which the building was raised.

It looks as if this is a way of subsidising C.I.E.

It is not. It is the very opposite.

Motion: "That the Estimate be referred back for reconsideration" put and declared lost.
Vote put and agreed to.