Committee on Finance. - Vote 10—Employment and Emergency Schemes.

I move:—

That a sum not exceeding £550,090 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1962, for Employment and Emergency Schemes (including Relief of Distress).

The Vote for Employment and Emergency Schemes makes provision for the annual programme of employment schemes to give work to men in receipt of unemployment assistance in both urban and rural areas, including towns with a population of 200 and over, and for other services not directly concerned with U.A. recipients, such as bog development schemes, rural improvements schemes and miscellaneous schemes, including minor marine works and archaeological excavations. Provision is also made in the Vote for the salaries, travelling and other incidental expenses of the staff of the Special Employment Schemes Office, who are responsible for the administration of the Vote.

As I said last year in my introductory statement, it has been the practice for a number of years in dealing with this Vote to give a résumé of the work done in the preceding financial year. The Estimate figures for 1961/62 are, as Deputies will see from page 48 of the Estimates Volume, for all practical purposes the same as 1960/61, so I propose to do the same this year, which in fact, should give a very clear idea of what it is proposed to do with this year's money. The gross estimate last year was £861,080. In addition, there was, however, a sum of £16,728—being the unexpended balances of previous years' allocations from the National Development Fund —available for expenditure, bringing the gross total to £877,808. The expenditure in the year just closed is estimated at £853,865, which is 97% of the gross provision. Last year, I estimated the 1959/60 expenditure at £859,120—98% of the available money. The actual audited figure amounted that year to £852,104, which was 97% of available money. I hope my expenditure estimate for 1960/61 will be equally accurate.

To give a comparative picture of the operations of the Special Employment Schemes Office in recent years, I have made available to Deputies a tabular statement giving particulars of the expenditure under the various subheads of the Vote for the four years 1956/57, 1957/58, 1958/59 and 1959/60, the estimated expenditure for 1960/61, as well as the provision proposed for these services for 1961/62. These figures include payments from the National Development Fund in addition to the Vote up to 1960/61. Deputies will recall that in my introductory statement last year I said that I had a balance of about £16,000 then left in the National Development Fund to meet charges against the Urban Employment Schemes Subhead. The provision in the Vote last year was £227,000 but I am anticipating an expenditure of almost £246,250 on these schemes, which will wipe out all the balances of the National Development Fund in so far as the Special Employment Schemes Office is concerned.

Deputies will see that in common with other Government Departments the format of the Estimate at page 48 has been somewhat simplified as compared with preceding years. In previous years, travelling expenses, incidental expenses, and telegrams, telephones and postage, were shown in three separate subheads, making a total of ten subheads of expenditure. This year, the three items are bulked together under one subhead, described as "travelling and incidental expenses" reducing the expenditure subheads from ten to eight. The details of the incidental expenses will be found at page 49 of the Estimates Volume. The Appropriations-in-Aid (or receipts) subhead is, of course, still continued.

Before dealing with salaries, travelling and incidental expenses, I propose to make some general comments on the unemployment figures. Grants for Urban, Rural and Minor Employment Schemes are related to the number of unemployment assistance recipients in each area. A census is taken annually by the Special Employment Schemes Office in the third week of January of the number of these men, as well as the number of men in receipt of unemployment insurance benefit, in each of the 60 urban areas, the 477 non-urbanised towns with a population of 200 and over, and the 2,874 rural electoral divisions in the country. This particular week is selected as it approximates the peak period of unemployment, by which date, it is anticipated, persons who have received only seasonal work around the Christmas period have returned to the Unemployment Register. This census includes, in addition to the men drawing unemployment assistance or unemployment insurance benefit, any men who formerly drew these payments but who were working on schemes financed by the Special Employment Schemes Office during that particular week.

The January, 1961, census gives a total of 24,704 men in receipt of unemployment assistance compared with 30,521 in 1960—a reduction of 19 per cent. The reduction was greatest in town areas, the figures for urban areas being 6,712 in 1961 compared with 9,357 in 1960—a reduction of 28¼ per cent. For towns with a population of 200 and over, the figures were 1,000 in 1961, and 1,418 in 1960, a reduction of 29.5 per cent. The rural areas figures were 16,992 in 1961 and 19,746 in 1960, a reduction of 14 per cent., which should be compared with the over-all reduction figure of 19 per cent. Comparing 1961 with 1957, the over-all U.A. figures were 35,116 in 1957 compared with 24,704 in 1961, a reduction of 29½ per cent. The percentage reductions were 38 per cent for urban areas, 14.3 per cent. for towns with a population of 200 and over and 26.5 per cent. for rural areas.

The figures I have just given relate only to men in receipt of unemployment assistance. Including men in receipt of unemployment insurance benefit in addition to U.A. men, the combined figures were 55,439 in 1961, 66,363 in 1960, 74,929 in 1959, 76,962 in 1958 and 84,098 in 1957. Comparing 1961 with 1960, the reduction in U.A. and U.I.B. combined was 16.5 per cent., compared with the 19 per cent. reduction for U.A. alone. The reduction was greatest in the town areas also, the figures being 22 per cent. in urban areas, 19.4 per cent. for towns with a population of 200 and over and 13.1 per cent for rural areas, against the over-all figure of 16.5 per cent. Comparing 1961 with 1957, the reduction in U.A. and U.I.B. combined was 34.1 per cent. against 29½ per cent for U.A. alone, and the reduction again was greatest in urban areas, the figures being 44 per cent. for urban areas, 26½ per cent. for towns with a population of 200 and over and 28.6 per cent. for rural areas, against the over-all reduction of 34.1 per cent. It will be seen, therefore, that although there is no reduction in the provision for this Vote, the U.A. figures are down by 19 per cent. compared with last year and 29½ per cent. compared with 1957, and the combined U.A. and U.I.B. figures are down by 16.5 per cent. compared with last year and 34.1 per cent. compared with 1957.

The number of registered men employed on works financed by the Vote in the census week ended the 21st January, 1961 was 2,563, of whom 1,947 were formerly in receipt of unemployment assistance and 616 were persons formerly in receipt of unemployment benefit. The corresponding figures for the census week in January, 1960 was 2,498—1,942 U.A. and 556 U.I.B. As Deputies are aware, the bulk of the employment given under this Vote is in the winter period and the number employed varies considerably during the different seasons of the year. The peak period in the last financial year was week ended the 17th December, 1960, when 5,306 men were employed—873 in urban areas, 542 in towns with a population of 200 and over and 3,891 in rural areas. The lowest number was during the week ended 24th September, 1960, when only 640 men were employed, of whom 132 were in urban areas and 508 in rural areas.

Subheads A and B provide for salaries, travelling and office expenses of the Special Employment Schemes Office. There is, as will be seen from the Estimates Volume, a small decrease in the number of the staff. The expenditure last year was something more than £76,440. The figure of £78,600 in the Estimate will provide for the normal increments as the staff become a year older. The small increase in Subhead B is due to a revision in the scale of subsistence allowances as well as payments to certain outdoor officers for the use of part of their private residences for office work.

Subhead C: Urban Employment Schemes provide for works in the four County Boroughs of Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford, the Borough of Dún Laoghaire and the 55 other urban districts. The grants are administered through the Department of Local Government and are conditional on the local authorities submitting suitable work schemes for approval by the Special Employment Schemes Office and making contributions towards their cost. The local contributions vary in the different urban areas. It is 20 per cent in the case of Dublin and Dún Laoghaire, i.e., one-fifth; it is one-sixth (16.7 per cent) in Cork and Limerick; one-seventh (14.3 per cent) in Waterford and it averaged 12 per cent in the 55 other urban areas, varying from as low as 5 per cent. to as high as 16.7 per cent in other towns. A sum of £227,000 was provided in the Vote last year for those urban schemes and was allocated for new works as follows:—

£

Dublin

115,000

Cork

17,500

Limerick

16,500

Waterford

8,000

Dún Laoghaire

5,000

55 other urban districts

65,000

Including local contributions, the State grant of £227,000 represented works costing in all £274,115. The State grant expenditure last year is estimated at £246,245, being £19,245 more than the Vote provision, of which £118,840 was for Dublin, £21,270 for Cork, £15,035 for Limerick, £10,225 for Waterford, £7,700 for Dún Laoghaire and £73,175 for the 55 other urban districts. These figures, in effect, mean that we are undertaking the arrears of payments in Dublin, Cork, Waterford, Dún Laoghaire and the smaller urban areas.

Employment schemes in urban areas are ordinarily concentrated in the winter period but the Dublin schemes are proceeded with the whole year round —each U.A. man getting a 12-weeks' spell of employment. The unemployment assistance recipients census figure for Dublin was 3,258 in January, 1961, compared with 4,712 in January, 1960, 6,480 in January, 1959 and 5,889 in January, 1957. Almost half the U.A. recipients in urban areas (48.5 per cent) are still concentrated in the Dublin Borough area. The Dublin Corporation were notified on 16th August, 1960 that a State grant of £115,000 was available for new works costing £143,750, subject to a contribution of £28,750.

Schemes to absorb the full amount were duly approved during the year, of which £64,775 was for road works, including re-surfacing and improvements at Cabra, Crumlin, North Wall, Kimmage and Rathdown Park, Bow Street, Poplar Row, Donnycarney, Malahide, Fairview, etc.; £4,850 was for the improvement of sundry lanes in all parts of the city, and the balance, £45,375, was for amenity schemes, including a play centre at Gloucester Place (£5,890); the improvement of parks at Stella Gardens, Irishtown (£3,580) and Donnycarney (£7,500); the culverting of the Naniken River which runs through St. Anne's Park, Clontarf (£21,680) and of the Claremont stream, Finglas (£3,420), as well as the cleaning and embanking of the lake in St. Anne's Park, Clontarf, at an estimated cost of £4,140, of which £3,312 is State grant.

Included in the road works totalling £64,775 is a grant of £17,955 towards the cost of the reconstruction of the carriageway at Fairview between Annesley Bridge and Merville Avenue, near Fairview School. This work will cost £22,445 and is being done by contract instead of by direct labour. The work is in the nature of an experiment to ascertain whether it is possible to employ U.A. labour on these employment schemes in Dublin under the contract system. Apart from these new works, which absorbed the allocation of £115,000 for Dublin, employment was given during the year on the completion of schemes sanctioned in previous years, including the Bushy Park development scheme costing £36,400 approximately, which was completed last June, further development work at St. Anne's Park, Clontarf costing £24,000, and the improvement of the junction of Fortfield Road and Templeogue Road, costing £10,700.

The average number of men employed weekly on the schemes last year in Dublin was 131, of whom 90 were U.A. recipients. The number varied during the financial year from 229 to 80, of whom 177 and 48 respectively were U.A. recipients. As the U.A. personnel of the gangs are changed at the end of a twelve-week period of employment, some 360 Dublin fathers of families each get a twelve-week spell of employment in the year, in addition to more than 40 who have employment the whole year round. The amount which will be allocated to the Dublin County Borough area in 1961-62 has, of course, not yet been determined at this early date but, notwithstanding the substantial reduction in the number of U.A. recipients, it should be possible to allow something more than £100,000 for new works in Dublin in 1961-62.

The Cork Corporation were notified on 16th August, 1960, of a State grant of £17,500 for new schemes, subject to a contribution of £3,500—one-sixth of the total £21,000. Schemes to absorb the full allocation were duly approved, of which £15,132 was for road work at Ballymacthomas, Blackpool Bridge, Fairhill and Pouladuff and for footpaths in various parts of the city; and the balance, £2,368, was for amenity schemes, including the demolition of Glenryan House and the clearance of the site, and the levelling and grading of an open space at Valley Drive Road. Substantial progress has been made in the year in clearing outstanding payments in respect of schemes sanctioned prior to the 31st March, 1960.

The payments made by the Department of Local Government to the Cork Corporation during the year amounted to £21,270 (allocation £17,500). The full allocation of £16,500 for the Limerick County Borough area was also taken up, which, with the local contribution of £3,300, made £19,800 available for new works. Of the £16,500, £8,960 was authorised for road work at Rosbrien, Meelick, Cathedral Place, etc., and the balance, £7,540, was for amenity schemes in various parts of the city, including the widening of the Shannon Embankment path, the draining of the playing pitch at Shelbourne Park, the improvement of the bus stop at Russell Park, and the levelling of an area in Garryowen, etc.

Schemes to absorb the full allocation for Waterford were also approved. Adding the local contribution of £1,335 to the State grant of £8,000 made a sum of £9,335 available for expenditure. The works included the improvement of the roadways at Bridge Street junction, High Street, Passage Road, The Glen, the Cork Road, and footpaths at Ozanam Street, Barrack Street, etc. The year before, Waterford Corporation was slow in submitting suitable schemes and the first proposals were not approved until January, 1960. There was, therefore, a time lag in the payments of the grants authorised in that year and the cost of some of the 1959/60 schemes had to be met in 1961. It is in these circumstances that while new works equivalent to a State grant of £8,000 were approved last year, the payments made to the Corporation by the Department of Local Government amounted to £10,225. The Dún Laoghaire allocation last year was £5,000 State grant but the expenditure has amounted to £7,700. This occurred owing to the late date, near the end of March, 1960, on which the Sandycove Harbour improvements scheme was approved out of the 1959/60 allocation. The 1960/61 allocation was allotted to the laying out of Dunedin Park for playing fields, including the demolition of Dunedin House. Some further development work was also undertaken during the year on the Neighbourhood Park at Williamstown.

The allocations for the remaining 55 other urban districts for 1960/61, amounted to £65,000 and, including the local contributions, permitted of a gross expenditure of £73,980, or £74,000 in round figures. The grants varied between £250 in towns with not more than 6 U.A. recipients in each, such as Bundoran, Castlebar, Carrick-macross and Templemore (which with the local contribution of £20 to £40 would provide for only a few weeks' work for U.A. men) to as high as £4,900 in Drogheda, £4,500 in Dundalk, £4,300 in Tralee, £3,750 in Wexford, £3,350 in Galway, £3,250 in Kilkenny and Sligo, £2,400 in Clonmel and £2,000 in Bray, in the larger urban areas. In urban areas other than Dublin, the maximum number of weeks' employment which may be given to an individual U.A. recipient is eight weeks. In Dublin, as already stated, 12 weeks are allowed.

The full allocation of £65,000 in the 55 other urban districts was duly absorbed and the work schemes approved included £36,500 for road works, £18,200 for footpaths. The remaining £10,300 was utilised for various amenity schemes, such as the clearance of derelict sites, the development of parks and town walks, the laying of tennis courts, the levelling of parking places, as well as, in one case, the continuation of a sea wall at Dungarvan.

The distribution of the available money for the new financial year in the county boroughs and other urban areas has not yet been determined. As I said earlier, the number of U.A. recipients has fallen from 9,357 in January, 1960 to 6,712 in January, 1961, a reduction of 28¼ per cent. The "nest egg" of £16,000 balances from the National Development Fund is no longer available so that in allocating money for new works in 1961/62 an eye must be kept on the debts due on the uncompleted works as at the 1st April, 1961 and the total sum of £227,000 available for expenditure on these urban schemes in the year 1961/62.

The provision in the next subhead, Rural Employment Schemes, is £35,000, the same as in each of the last four years. The works are confined to non-urbanised towns with a population of 200 and over and the grants are made available to the County Councils concerned, who are required to contribute one-quarter of the cost, so that a total of £46,665 is available for expenditure on the schemes. One hundred and fifty-two of the 477 towns qualified for grants last year under this scheme, in which 4,000 (1,163 U.A. plus 2,837 U.I.B.) of the 4,919 unemployed, according to the January, 1960 census, were resident. No grants were given for the other 325 towns, containing 919 unemployed—255 U.A. plus 664 U.I.B. The schemes were almost exclusively carried out in the weeks before Christmas and the allocation for the great bulk of the towns was between £200 and £300 in each case.

The towns which got more than £300 were: Kilkee, £450; Cork south city suburbs, £550; Passage West, £350; Balbriggan, £500; Dublin south city suburbs and Dún Laoghaire suburbs, £400 each; Tuam, £500; Newcastle West, £400; Edenderry, £400; and Mullingar, £400. The various county councils were notified on 12th August of the amounts of the grants and the town areas to which they were applicable. The approved works consisted mainly of footpaths in the towns or environs, and minor road works in the vicinity of towns, including the removal of hedges and the easing of bends. The clearance of derelict sites and parking spaces was also undertaken. The number of unemployed in these non-urbanised towns, according to the January, 1961, census is down to 3,965—1,000 U.A. and 2,965 U.I.B., compared with 4,919 in 1960—a reduction of 19½ per cent. The distribution of the £35,000 available for the new year has not yet been determined but it will, as in previous years, be related to the unemployment position in each town area.

Minor Employment Schemes are carried out in the period November to March, and are intended to give employment to persons in receipt of unemployment assistance in rural areas. £130,000 has been provided for these schemes in each of the last four years and the same provision is proposed for 1961/62. The works consist of the repair and reconstruction of accommodation roads to farmers' houses, lands and bogs, and they are done only in areas in which there are substantial numbers of unemployment assistance recipients. The unit of distribution is the electoral division, of which there are 2,874 in the whole country. This unit, which is well known locally, was selected, as it is an area of approximately 9 square miles on average, and work in any part of it is, therefore, usually within walking distance from the homes of the U.A. men for whom it is intended to cater. Deputies have sometimes complained that a particular townland has got no sanctioned work. When I mention that there are no less than 60,462 townlands in the country, it will be appreciated that it would be quite impracticable to divide an allocation of £130,000 on a townland basis.

The Minor Employment Schemes full-cost grants are given only in parts of 12 of the Twenty-Six Counties, where there are sufficient U.A. men resident to ensure a gang of suitable workers. Last year, grants were given in 11 of the 90 electoral divisions of Cavan, on the borders of Leitrim and Longford; 11 of the 149 electoral divisions in Clare, all on the sea coast; 7 of the 92 electoral divisions in West Cork, mostly in the Castletown area, bordering Kerry; 91 of the 145 electoral divisions in Donegal, most of which are in the western half of the county; 34 of the 213 electoral divisions in County Galway, all west of a line going north and south through Galway city; 43 of the 162 electoral divisions in County Kerry, mostly on the sea coast and a few bordering County Limerick; 34 of the 78 electoral divisions in County Leitrim, some in each of the 5 rural districts; 6 of the 134 electoral divisions in Limerick, 5 of which are on the Kerry border; 10 of the 52 electoral divisions in Longford, in the salient between Counties Leitrim and Cavan; 87 of the 150 electoral divisions in County Mayo, on the sea coast and bordering the rural district of Castlerea and the Sligo border; 11 of the 110 electoral divisions in County Roscommon, in the Castlerea rural district and bordering Counties Mayo and Sligo; and 29 of the 79 electoral divisions in County Sligo, either on the sea coast or on the borders of County Mayo and the rural district of Castlerea in Roscommon.

This makes a total of 374 areas of the 1,454 electoral divisions in these 12 counties or about one-eighth of all the 2,874 electoral divisions in the country. It may be of interest to Deputies to know that, of the 19,746 U.A. in rural areas in January, 1960, 15,797 were concentrated in these 374 electoral divisions, leaving the other 3,949 U.A. scattered among 2,500 electoral divisions.

As the schemes are carried out only in the winter period, road works only are done as Minor Employment Schemes. Drainage works are unsuitable and there are, therefore, no funds at my disposal out of which full-cost grants can be given for land drains. I want to emphasise again that only U.A. men can be employed on these schemes. The farmers whose houses or lands are served by the road work are not eligible for employment on the schemes unless they are themselves in receipt of the highest scales of U.A. payments in the immediate, adjacent area. 859 schemes were approved last year to absorb the £130,000 available for expenditure and some 16,984 families were served by these works to their houses, land and bogs. The number of U.A. men in rural areas has fallen from 19,746 in January, 1960, to 16,992 in January, 1961, and, while the 1961/62 winter programme will not be drawn up until next October, it is unlikely that there will be very much change in the areas in which the allocations for this year's £130,000 will fall.

£160,000 is available in the Bog Development Schemes subhead—the same provision as in each of the past four years. This subhead makes provision for drainage works in bogs in all parts of the country, which are carried out in the summer period; and for road works in those parts of the country in which Minor Employment Schemes grants are not authorised and which are sanctioned for execution in the winter period. Some 1,265 schemes were approved last year, of which 555, representing an expenditure of £61,170, were drainage works and 710, representing an expenditure of £98,830, were road works. Some 37,551 families in all were facilitated, 13,814 by drainage works and 23,737 by road works. Although these Bog Development Schemes are not primarily to give employment in rural areas, priority in recruiting gangs of workers is given to U.A. recipients or to persons in receipt of unemployment benefit in the areas concerned.

With the exception of a few roads and drains in privately owned bogs in which the rent income from annual lettings is substantial and where, in consequence, it would not be unreasonable to expect these bog owners to make a contribution, all grants under this bog development subhead are full-cost grants. The amounts of the grants in these bog development cases are not related in any way to the unemployment position. The funds are distributed having regard to the number of families served, the amount of turf produced and the cost of the relevant development works. In cases where expensive development works are required for a small number of families and for which a full cost grant could not be justified the contributory Rural Improvements Scheme is available as an alternative.

The Rural Improvements Scheme makes provision for grants towards the cost of carrying out works to benefit the lands of two or more farmers, such as small drainage schemes, bridges and the repair or reconstruction of accommodation roads to farmers' houses, lands and bogs. It is not an employment scheme, and it applies to all parts of the country. It is the only scheme available for the improvement of farmers' roads outside the congested districts and for the smaller types of land drains all over the country, other than field drains on individual farms, which, of course, are a matter for the Department of Agriculture and not for the Special Employment Schemes Office.

Road schemes can be, and are, also done in the congested districts under the Rural Improvements Scheme in any cases where the benefiting farmers are prepared to make the necessary contribution towards the cost. Unlike the Minor Employment and Bog Development Schemes, where the function of the Special Employment Schemes Office is to pick the best job undone in the electoral division area, i.e., of the greatest utility in relation to its cost, each Rural Improvements Scheme is considered specially on its own merits.

There may be four, five or six other roads in the same electoral division area needing attention, each of which serves a greater number of families and which would, therefore, have priority as a Minor Employment or Bog Development Scheme, but if the farmers on the road which is No. 7 on the list are prepared to contribute under the Rural Improvements Scheme, that seventh road is the one which is done under the contributory scheme. Works of a better and more durable standard are done under this scheme than are possible under the Minor Employment Schemes, where, in many instances, the small number of U.A. recipients limits the amount of money that can be made available.

Deputies will recall that this scheme was largely suspended in 1956-57. The issue of new offers of grants was stopped in August, 1956. The receipt of new applications was suspended in September, 1956; and it was not until the 20th July, 1957, after the increased provision for this scheme and the introduction of the new terms, that the scheme was again really under way. Some 798 schemes costing £215,000 were approved in 1957-58. 771 schemes costing £199,988 were approved in 1958-59; 719 schemes costing £196,800 in 1959-60—a short fall of £200—and the contributions received in the year just closed permitted only of 650 schemes costing £169,302 being sanctioned in 1960-61. Of these, 195 schemes costing £37,289 were drainage works, and 455 costing £132,013 were road works. The expenditure under the Scheme, as will be seen from the table that I have made available to Deputies, was £238,639 in 1956-57, £194,654 in 1957-78, £169,088 in 1958-59, £194,649 in 1959-60 and it is expected will approximate £177,000 in 1960-61. Contributions, as will be seen, have been falling off in the last eighteen months. Some 1,165 offers of grant were issued during the year, but lodgments were made only in 655 cases, 553 for new schemes and 102 for supplementary or part grants. Only about half the offers made were, in fact, accepted.

This Rural Improvements Scheme has actually been in operation since 1943, and for the first seven years the contribution was on a flat rate of 75 per cent. State grant, 25 per cent. farmers' contribution, with more favourable terms for link and other roads used by persons other than those whose houses and lands were directly served thereby. The schemes sanctioned in that seven year period amounted to £723,596, of which £565,790 or 78 per cent. was State grant, and £157,806 or 22 per cent. was farmers' contributions. A sliding scale was introduced in June, 1950, varying the contributions from as low as 5 per cent. in the case of farmers whose average land valuation was less than £6, to 25 per cent. contribution in the case of farmers with an average land valuation of £18 and over, and this scale was in operation until 1957. During that seven year period, the sanctions amounted to £1,476,420, of which £1,295,192 or 87.7 per cent. was State grant, and £181,228 or 12.3 per cent. was farmers' contributions. Finance was not provided for this scale; and, as already explained, the scheme was suspended in August/September, 1956. Some two years arrears of applications were on hands, in fact, in 1957.

A new scale was introduced on 20th July, 1957, with a minimum of 10 per cent. contribution in the case of farmers with an average land valuation below £6, and ranging upwards to as high as 50 per cent. in the case of farmers with a land valuation of £100 and over. The amended scale has now been in operation for four years, and in that period the work sanctioned amounted to £781,092, of which £646,619 or 82.8 per cent. was State grant, and £134,473 or 17.2 per cent was farmers' contributions. The terms of this scale have been recently under review, and it has been decided to make the terms somewhat more generous. The minimum contribution will in future be 10 per cent. of the cost for farmers with an average valuation below £7; 12½ per cent. for valuations between £7 and £10; 15 per cent. between £10 and £15; 20 per cent. between £15 and £25; 25 per cent or one-quarter between £25 and £50; 33? per cent or one-third between £50 and £100; and 50 per cent. or half the cost in the case of farmers with a valuation of £100 and over.

I propose also to introduce a special scale of 90 per cent. grant with 10 per cent. contribution in the case of bog schemes which cannot be done on a full cost grant basis under the Bog Development subhead. For the convenience of Deputies I am circulating a statement giving particulars of the scale in operation from June, 1950 to July, 1957, the existing rates from the 20th July, 1957, which have now been in operation for almost four years, as well as the new scale proposed. I consider the amended scale as generous as can be justified and I have little doubt that the full provision of £200,000 in the Vote for the current year will be fully taken up.

The provision for Miscellaneous Schemes was £15,000 in the last four years, and the same provision has been repeated in 1961/62. The expenditure in 1959/60 was £14,514, and the estimated expenditure in 1960/61 is around the £14,000 figure. This subhead is intended to meet expenditure on minor marine works, towards the cost of which County Councils are required to contribute one quarter and which they are required to maintain on completion. It also finances archaeological excavations and other miscellaneous schemes. About £2,450 of a provisional allocation of £2,500 was spent last year on archaeological excavations, of which £620 was expended in Templekieran, Loughaun in County Offaly; £545 in Ballyneety, Limerick; £455 in Creewood, Slane, Meath; £410 in Reenascreena South, Carberry, Cork; £270 in Glendalough, Wicklow, and £150 in Townley Hall, Louth.

Schemes approved under this subhead during 1960/61 totalled £18,600, of which, apart from archaeological excavations, the principal items were £4,950 for additional works at the Wicklow foreshore; £4,360 for road access to a coal mine in County Leitrim; £365 for additional work on the Ulster Canal, and £6,400 for minor marine works, including £2,100 at Seafield, Quilty, County Clare, £1,950 at Lahanebeg, Castletownbere, Cork and £900 at Crookhaven, Cork; £975 at Rosbeg, Donegal, £315 in Kilcummin, Mayo, as well as small grants of less than £100 each for Scattery Island, Clare and Ervallagh Pier, Roundstone, Galway. There is, therefore, little prospect of any new miscellaneous schemes being sanctioned in 1961/61 and, if it is possible to meet expenditure against the commitments already made from the £15,000 in this year's subhead, it is as much as we can hope to do.

The Appropriations-in-Aid subhead is made up almost entirely of the contributions in respect of the Rural Improvements Scheme, which amounted only to £29,320 in 1960/61. I have already referred to the drop in the contributions. It also includes receipts in respect of development works in privately owned bogs, the county councils' contributions towards the cost of minor marine works, and the sale of surplus stores. The figure in the Estimate for 1961/62 is £35,000, the same as in recent years.

In addition to the works financed from Vote 10, the Special Employment Schemes Office also acts as the agent of the Minister for Transport and Power in respect of the carrying out of development works to facilitate the output of turf for the four hand-won turf generating stations at Caherciveen, Kerry, Miltown Malbay, Clare, Screeb, Galway and Gweedore, Donegal. These schemes are financed from a National Development Fund allocation of £80,000 at the disposal of the Minister for Transport and Power. New works costing £20,205 were approved last year, of which £7,225 approximately was authorised in Donegal, £650 in Galway, £5,580 in Clare and £6,750 in Kerry. The commitments entered into to date out of the £80,000 available amount to £55,080, leaving a balance of £24,820 still available for new schemes. The expenditure on these schemes last year amounted to £17,000 and the total expenditure was £39,000 up to the 31st March, 1961.

The Special Employment Schemes Office also acts as agent for the Minister for the Gaeltacht in respect of the carrying out of accommodation road works in Gaeltacht areas financed from the Vote of that Department. New works costing £32,710 were authorised in 1960/61, of which £12,220 was in Galway, £7,800 in Donegal, £6,135 in Mayo, £4,375 in Kerry and £2,180 in Cork. The expenditure on these Gaeltacht schemes is estimated at £28,780 approximately, of which £10,400 was in Galway, £7,720 in Donegal, £5,700 in Mayo, £3,060 in Kerry and £1,900 in Cork. The expenditure on the Gaeltacht schemes and on the works for the benefit of the turf-fired generating stations will be accounted for by the Minister for the Gaeltacht and the Minister for Transport and Power respectively, and not by the Special Employment Schemes Office.

With this detailed statement of the various works of public utility which have been undertaken last year under this Vote, in Dublin, in other urban areas, in some of the non-urbanised towns and in rural areas, I propose to conclude by making some general comments on the Vote as a whole. These schemes are not, nor were they ever intended to be, the answer to the unemployment problem. As I said last year, they do, however, provide very real benefits as an adjunct to the system of direct social welfare payments, by giving spells of manual work at normal rates of wages to men with the highest number of dependants who, in most cases, have been unemployed for a considerable time.

All Deputies would, no doubt, like to see more money provided for the different schemes being operated by the Special Employment Schemes Office. Apart from the labour value, the schemes are now recognised, particularly in rural Ireland, for their contribution to agricultural and fuel production; and, indeed, it can be justifiably argued that they are indispensable in so far as they keep open the ancillary arteries of communication. But in clamouring for more funds for these works, we must keep in mind the various calls that are made upon the general pool by other important incentives and subsidies to production. The eradication of bovine T.B., subsidisation of fertilisers, farm buildings, water schemes, erection and repair of dwellings, etc., as well as the full-cost grants to arterial drainage are among the things which have what we may regard as priority in the demand for allocations from the Exchequer; and, in this perspective, Deputies will agree that the funds we are spending on minor roads and drains and other amenity schemes is providing a very useful adjunct to the general pattern of better standards for our people, and it is only reasonable to expect that as time goes on the demand for funds for this work will be increasingly progressive.

That is a fairly detailed statement of the working of the Special Employment Schemes Office and Deputies should not require much further information. At the same time, I am prepared to facilitate them as far as I can if they want more information.

I thank the Parliamentary Secretary for his kind offer to give more information. I was wondering if he was going to say that Deputies should not have some criticism to offer of his office in the last 12 months. However, we shall leave that until another time.

It has often occurred to me that the Parliamentary Secretary's office, including Public Works and Buildings and the various employment and emergency schemes which he administers, has reached the stature of a Ministry. I would not oppose but, on the contrary, would welcome the raising of the Office of Public Works to a separate Ministry. The office handles a very considerable amount of money. That office and the Forestry Branch of the Department of Agriculture are doing some of the best and most remunerative work for the expenditure incurred in the whole range of Government. The Office of Public Works make a first class job of any work they tackle and it is only once in a blue moon that complaints are heard about the quality of the work done.

It must be realised from the table that the Parliamentary Secretary has been kind enough to circulate to us that the paralysing hand of Fianna Fáil has fallen on this Office as it seems to fall on everything pertaining to rural life. The comparative figures given in the table surprised me greatly. For instance, in regard to urban employment schemes the expenditure in 1956-57—the last year that we were in office—was £284,840, while the Vote provision this year is down to £227,000, a decrease of £60,000. In regard to rural employment schemes, the expenditure in 1956-57 was £28,587; and the Vote provision this year is £35,000. In regard to minor employment schemes the expenditure in 1956-57 was £136,074, against a Vote provision this year of £130,000.

It must be remembered that in the last five years wages have increased, the cost of material has risen and yet there is a reduction of £6,074 in the Vote provision this year as against actual expenditure in 1956-57. In regard to bog development schemes, the Vote provision is £160,000 as against estimated expenditure last year of £162,000, a decrease of £2,000. In regard to rural improvement schemes, in the last year that we were in office we spent £238,639 and the Vote provision this year is £200,000.

The Deputy is taking a very dangerous year.

I am taking the Parliamentary Secretary's own figures.

You suspended the scheme in that last year.

How could it be suspended when it cost £238,000—the highest figure?

I shall tell you in a moment.

I should like to have the elucidation that the Parliamentary Secretary has so kindly promised us.

I am taking the figures contained in the table that the Parliamentary Secretary has circulated. I did not know that these were the figures until he revealed them. In 1956-57 we spent £238,639 on the rural improvements scheme as against an estimated expenditure last year of £177,000. In every county wages have gone up and the number of persons employed must be taken into consideration.

The Parliamentary Secretary has also provided a table showing a proposed change of rates of local contributions. The first year that the rural improvements scheme was introduced was the first year that I came into the Dáil, 1943. There was an all-round contribution demanded then, regardless of valuation or circumstances, of 25 per cent. That was the Fianna Fáil method from 1943 until 1950. The first inter-Party Government changed it and introduced a sliding scale, a method which was very beneficial to those who wanted work done and had not the money to pay the 25 per cent. We brought it down to £6 or less, the rate of contribution being five per cent. of the total cost of the scheme.

On the 20th July, 1957, a few months after the present Government took office, they altered the scheme. They raised the contribution straight away, in the case of small farmers below £6, to ten per cent. That meant that for a job costing £300 the farmers would have to find £30. That might not seem much in the Parliamentary Secretary's eyes but to the small farmers who have to watch every penny and who have to work minor miracles in order to live at all, £30 is untold wealth in some cases.

One farmer would not have to pay the £30.

No, but in many cases the contribution might be spread over only two or three. Divide it as you will, it is a heavy burden for them to meet. It would be very interesting if the Parliamentary Secretary would give us the number of schemes that have fallen through because somebody said he could not meet the contributions.

I have read out those figures for the House.

It is heartbreaking— and I am sure Deputies particularly in the western counties have experienced this as I have—to go to a lot of trouble getting schemes formulated, getting signatures, copying signatures from demand notes as accurately as possible and getting matters up to the point where the Special Employment Schemes Office states the contribution required and then to find that the whole thing drops because of complete failure to get the necessary contribution.

I should like, if the Parliamentary Secretary would not mind my being wearisome, to ask the number of failures to get contributions if such a record is kept, the number of schemes that fell through because tenants could not pay the contribution when the sliding scale from June 1950 to the 20th July 1957 was changed as compared with the last four years.

I could give the Deputy the number of schemes that were not accepted but I could not say why they were not accepted. There are various reasons contributions are not lodged. Sometimes the people concerned do not agree. Sometimes the contribution comes in after a matter of two years.

I agree fully with that. There are two types of person who may explode a scheme that has reached the contribution stage. One is the person who has not got the money and the other is the crank——

We have them even in the Dáil.

It may be a man who happens to have a house so near the main road that the improvement is of little value to him. Sometimes you come up against a man who cannot bear to see his neighbours better themselves and who would rather live up to his knees in filth every day of the year provided his neighbours were going through the same hardship. That may happen every now and then, that you get people of that mentality, but in most cases benefiting tenants make up the crank's contribution, or the poor person's contribution, and the scheme goes ahead.

Under the new scheme, the Parliamentary Secretary has raised the contribution where the valuation is between £10 and £15. He has fixed the contribution at 15 per cent., which is a very high rate. Most people in western counties who would be availing of the rural improvements scheme would come within that range. In fact, 15 per cent, is completely beyond their capacity to pay in most cases. I advise the Parliamentary Secretary to go back to the old sliding scale which existed from 1950 to 1957. That was very fair and it gave the smallholder whose income was low a chance to meet the contribution. The new scheme which the Parliamentary Secretary proposes now has no advantage over the scheme in existence for the past four years. In my opinion, it appears to show that the Parliamentary Secretary and the Government have little or no conception of the times the small farmers are passing through.

When a small farmer has some money the first thing he does is to put it into some improvement about his own place, into making a better access road for example. At present, these farmers have gone through two or three very bad years. There was no sale for either sheep or cattle. Last year sheep were absolutely disastrous. While that has improved somewhat cattle were unsaleable all through the year up to the month of March. Since May, and in the present month, prices have dropped and as a result farmers have gone to fair after fair and have had to bring home their stock again unsold. That has very serious repercussions for them because they had to rear and feed the stock up to that stage and now, when it is ready for sale, there is no market. The small farmers have not got the money that the Parliamentary Secretary thinks they have.

About half our population live along by-roads. That is a rough and ready guess of mine, but I think it is not far wrong. They find that the more fortunate half have either a county road or a steamrolled road passing by their doors. A good deal of the reluctance of young people to stay on the land at present is due to the fact that they have to trudge in and out a boreen every time they want to go to the shop, to market, to Mass or to school or any other place. Bad access roads to villages are one of the principal causes of disgust among the rising generation. When no roads were steamrolled or tarred, and boreens and county roads were all much the same, it did not make much difference. Now, that has been changed and the contrast between the farmer living beside the tarred road and the man who has to trudge the boreen is too great. The result is that most of the farmers who have raised families cannot get a son to stay on the land. Personally, I cannot blame them. I think in proposing this new scheme—this applies also to the scheme proposed before he took office—to increase the contributions under the rural improvement scheme the Parliamentary Secretary is merely stepping backwards. Apart from that, it shows no conception of the condition of the people in the country at present.

I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to give greater latitude in the case of bog drainage. Sometimes we hear excuses that the Land Commission drained a bog and that these drains have now gone into disuse. Of course they have. In most cases the Land Commission opened drains in virgin bog and when people got plots in the bog and came in to cut turf, over the years the level of the bog was lowered to a point lower than the drains made by the Land Commission. The bog level is constantly being lowered and it is the duty of some Government Department to continue deepening the drains so that the adjoining roads can be used.

In the subhead covering urban improvement schemes I think the Parliamentary Secretary should be a little more liberal to towns that are already overburdened with rates. In some cases streets and roads through these towns are in a deplorable condition. County rates, as far as I understand, make little or no contribution towards them. To put the streets in proper repair would be beyond the capacity of the townspeople. I know of several towns where the streets are in a desperate condition. I think the Parliamentary Secretary should deal with that by making better provision for them. The rates in most towns, as I have said, have reached a level now where it is only a fool who will own a house, or at least a big business premises. The rates are so high that in many cases the owners already have all they can do to meet them.

There are a few local matters in which I am deeply interested. There is one matter about which recently I received a letter from the Parliamentary Secretary's Department, regarding an application for the cleaning of the upper portions of the River Lung which flows through Roscommon. I am interested in the upper regions where damage is being caused to the land of about 500 farmers. The communication stated that this was a job beyond the capacity of the Special Employment Schemes Office. Might I submit that I do not think so. The portion I am speaking of can scarcely be described as a river; it might be described as a very large drain. It has three forks which branch close to the town of Ballyhaunis. Between land, bogs and houses 500 farmers are vitally affected and I think the Parliamentary Secretary should have another look at it to see if it is at all possible to do it.

The Lung River does not come under arterial drainage as the Special Employment Schemes Office say that the job is too big. What that means is that the position must remain as it is and the farmers will find their land being flooded increasingly according as the drains become choked more and more each year. It is a shame and a scandal that that position should be allowed to continue. If there were only a few farmers involved, I would not be so perturbed, but there are 500 involved in Mayo and across the border of Roscommon. Some of the best land they have is flooded and potatoes have been ruined and hay crops have been under water. I submit that the job is not beyond the capacity of the Special Employment Schemes Office. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to see if outside machinery could be employed for this work. I am not asking him to take machinery off arterial drainage work but to experiment if necessary with the employment of a privately owned machine. There are many such machines for hire and their owners would be glad to get the employment.

Another matter in which I am interested is the drainage of the huge area of 150 acres of the best arable land outside the village of Irishtown. I am sure the officials in the Board of Works are familiar with my representations in that regard. These are two areas where damage is being caused by flooding. In the case of the Lung River, if the job is not done by some Government Department, and I respectfully submit that the Parliamentary Secretary's Office is the correct one, it will mean the banishment of a couple of hundred farmers from their holdings because nobody can make a living there and meanwhile the rents and rates have to be kept going.

Reverting to the rural improvement scheme, the Parliamentary Secretary said that it was suspended the last year we were in office, in 1956/57. I should like to know how over £238,000 was spent that year if it was suspended and how, when Fianna Fáil came into office, they spent some £194,000 the first year and £169,000 the second year, £194,000 the third year and £177,000 the last year.

There was no money to operate the scheme from about Autumn of 1956 until we came back in 1957.

Just to take the thing logically, how was over £238,000 spent in two or three months? If that was done it was prodigious. I think the Parliamentary Secretary has got his figures all wrong.

I have the Book of Estimates for 1957/58 before me and the figures for 1956/57 and I have the current volume. Will the Deputy accept those?

I will. Am I to accept the table which the Parliamentary Secretary circulated? Is that correct?

It is taken from these volumes.

Let us agree for the time being that these schemes were suspended in August, 1956, that was roughly seven months before we went out of office. How then could over £238,000 be spent in that year? I presume that when the scheme was suspended there was a big backlog of work to be undertaken. I am not making politics of this but it does seem to be something of a Chinese puzzle as to how, if it was suspended, over £238,000 could be spent in one year and, when Fianna Fáil came into office, they spent £194,000 the first year and £169,000 the second year. That was after slicing £9,000,000 off food subsidies, a sum which we never had. I should like the explanation for that, whatever it is.

The Parliamentary Secretary and his office are to be congratulated on the very fine statement issued this morning. At the same time I feel, and perhaps I shall be the only one who has this feeling, that it is high time that both minor employment schemes and rural improvement schemes should be inquired into to see if we are reaching the target we hope to reach some day. In general the schemes operated by that office, especially for the poorer areas, have an allocation of £50, £60 and upwards, approximately to £100. That generally is what is allocated for each little job. To my mind if that goes on from year to year we can never reach a target where our roads will be up to a proper standard.

I feel the Office of Public Works should co-operate with the local authorities in the different counties where the money is being spent and increase that allocation for a road, say double or treble that amount, and ask the local authorities if they would consent to taking over the particular road and the Board of Works would finish with it there and then. It would be a better way of doing business and in future years you would have the majority of those roads at such a standard that you could bring a car or a lorry into the different villages. Until that is done the situation will not improve. It may be all right to spend a few pounds on a number of roads which will be effective for a few months but if you take the ordinary farmer living in these places driving a tractor-load or a lorry-load of goods over these roads the inadequacy of the works carried out will be obvious.

The Parliamentary Secretary said in his opening statement that the third week in January is usually the week taken in which to say whether a particular electoral division is to qualify for grants under the relevant subhead. To my mind—and I daresay other Deputies in my constituency are of the same opinion; I see Deputy Lindsay sitting here—January is not a very suitable time because there is a great deal of temporary migration in the beet season. Therefore there would be several villages that would qualify for minor employment schemes but which cannot avail of it for that reason.

One thing I would like to see abolished as quickly as possible is the consent form in connection with roads. It is the greatest possible waste of time having a ganger or a supervisor asking people if they are willing to allow road construction or repairs to go ahead. That may be all right in connection with a new road but where a road has been done time and time again it is not desirable. If one fellow in the village has a quarrel with his neighbour and wants to be awkward he will not sign and for that reason the officers of the Parliamentary Secretary will not carry out the work. That is hard on that man's neighbours. That provision should go as quickly as possible.

The Parliamentary Secretary stated that a certain number of rural improvement schemes have been turned down for different reasons. I should like, when he is replying, that he should give those reasons. I know of a number of schemes, details of which I will give to the Parliamentary Secretary when the debate is over, which have been turned down for reasons which are not right. The information which has been given to the officers is wrong.

In regard to bog development, I believe the western part of County Galway is not getting its share. In a list supplied by the Parliamentary Secretary only a few days ago to Deputies in general, something like five schemes are envisaged for the whole west. That is very low. There is a huge area of bog west of Galway City. A lot of it will have to be drained and opened up. There is a power station in the area and there should be more bog drainage schemes there in order to facilitate the people who make a livelihood by cutting turf and supplying it to the station.

Let me say at once that with the budgetary proposals within which they have to work and allocate the various moneys, this office of minor employment and rural improvement schemes does the best it can. However, I do think they make use, possibly as a matter of policy, of the stereotyped kind of reply to which reference has been made here by several people, namely, that the work proposed or contemplated by the proposers is outside the scope of work initiated or undertaken by the Office itself. On the other hand, in the words of the last speaker, they take too much notice of this consent form. Nothing will convince me but that, on receipt of news from the local inspector that he has failed to get the requisite number of signatures, there is more jubilation in the Office at not having to spend the money in that year than there would be in conferring the benefit which the spending of it would be bound to give.

This whole system of minor employment and rural improvement is outmoded. It is high time that stock were taken and that the whole system were changed in some way. The bye-roads have been mentioned and some speaker or other has said that any target that might be in view would never be reached under the present system. I do not think there is any target or that it was ever contemplated that there would be a target. This whole system, outmoded as it is, is designed to keep people quiet in one place this year or in another place next year by throwing a few shovelfuls of gravel and stones into potholes so that no one will walk or cycle into them saying: "There you are. The Government are doing a great job for you." There is a great deal in what Deputy Blowick says and in the view I have already expressed on the earlier Vote today, that the failure to provide amenities such as good roads and drainage that does not come within the scope of arterial drainage in respect of the more backward areas of rural Ireland is, apart altogether from economic pressure, a vital factor in the flight from the land which we all deplore.

People are not content any more to put up with the couple of shovelfuls of gravel and sand or the few bits of stones thrown into the potholes in order to make their lives reasonably livable in such areas. We are not satisfied with that now and, until something is done to change the whole outlook, the people simply will not remain there. Maybe that is the idea behind all this policy of having a static Vote of this kind year after year, to break the morale of the people in these areas so that it will not become necessary as the years go by to vote any moneys at all for these areas.

I deplore it now, as I did before when the increase was made some years ago, and I do not think this change in the rate of contribution for rural improvement schemes will make the situation any better. While there is a great deal to be said for the principle that dear money is better than no money, if it is so dear that it is put beyond the capacity of the people to pay, then it is worthless and will not achieve the objective for which it has been made available.

It is quite obvious from looking at the lists from year to year that that is the policy: do it here this year and maybe in five years' time you can come back and you see the sort of telling addendum "supplemental to the Vote of 1954-55" appearing in 1961-62. That is extremely bad and will not impress the people.

I was not here to hear the Parliamentary Secretary say what Deputy Blowick tells us he said; that all these things were suspended in August, 1956. If that is so, it is extremely interesting that in the financial year 1956-57 we, as a Government, spent over the four succeeding years about £60,000 more than this Government spent and about £38,500 more than this Government intend to spend in this financial year. The money was spent whenever it was spent. I do not think it would be any argument for the Parliamentary Secretary to say —certainly it would not be a successful one—that the figure of £238,639 was brought to that level in the 11 days they had the Government from, say, 20th March, 1957, until the end of the financial year. These moneys were spent and that is all about it. It was said by the Parliamentary Secretary that these moneys were never intended as a relief of unemployment. Quite obviously not, because, if they were, they would be grossly inadequate. If they were intended to confer any real benefits, they are still grossly inadequate.

In my opinion, this is the kind of Vote to keep people quiet for the time being—nothing more and nothing less. The Parliamentary Secretary makes some point of the great reduction there is in the numbers of unemployment benefit and unemployment assistance recipients, particularly in the urban areas and the non-urbanised towns. He knows where they have gone, and he knows the reason for that. Surely that should not be a sufficient reason for reducing the amount by anything in order to deprive the people who have been brave enough to remain in these areas?

When we subtract the £93,090 devoted to salaries, travelling and other incidental expenses, we get a figure of £767,000 in all for this Vote to cover portions of 12 counties. That, in itself, shows a lack of any attempt either to relieve unemployment or confer any real benefit. There is slightly less than £750,000 to assist by way of partial employment or by way of conferring of benefits on the people living in the backward areas of 12 of our counties, when at the same time we can pay £2 million for a jet airplane. The whole thing is topsy-turvy and cannot be regarded as likely to ensure the confidence of the people or to show that the Government are earnest in their regard.

I get a list every year through the courtesty of the Parliamentary Secretary. I asked for it when I came here originally and I must say it is sent to me with great promptitude. I received it this year and I still have it. I would venture to say there are numbers of Deputies who have cut it up into little bits and posted them to the various parts of their constituencies to try and give the impression that it was they who secured the particular £50, £70 or £100 to be spent. That, in itself, coupled with the inadequacy of the sum, is not helpful to the morale of our people.

I have the strongest objection to officers of this Office in rural Ireland taking with them public men, selected public men, to inspect proposed bog road, bog development or rural employment schemes, thereby giving the impression that this whole interest is centred in one person. The people in this Office are doing a wonderful job in distributing the little bit of money here and there. By and large—there is no case known to me to be the exception—these men try to put the money where it should be and to get the best they can out of it. But their best efforts are set at nought by reason of the inadequacy of the sum and the great area to be covered.

The Parliamentary Secretary had a long brief covering almost ten very closely typed pages. This is an election manifesto and is intended to be such. When you think that it takes ten closely typed pages to introduce a Vote of less than £750,000 for the people of the backward areas of rural Ireland, you then think of the Minister for Transport and Power coming in here with four pages of double spaced typescript —in which, incidentally, for the first time the word "dynamic" did not occur—looking for £3½ million for Aer Lingus, Aerlínte and the building of hotels. Are the Government serious about preserving rural Ireland and giving to the small farmer the amenities to make his life reasonably livable—I shall not say either happy or comfortable—in these violently backward areas?

As I said at the beginning, the whole amount is inadequate and no amount of typescript is going to put a gloss on it. The money for rural improvements is too dear and the money for minor employment is too little. I do not think that, despite all the efforts of the Parliamentary Secretary, he is going to get many votes out of it.

Possibly we had so little debate because of the fullness of the brief. The last speaker said it was a fairly full brief, but it was full of facts. It did not propose, assume or prophesy. It merely set down the facts and gave the detailed working of the Office. I think that was a very useful thing to put on record. I said at the end of my brief that I supposed if the money in this Vote were trebled, some Deputies would say they would like to see more. This is something that has a parochial effect and is very beneficial for some areas. The activities of Deputies in submitting proposals and pressing them on this Office have a certain effect, and no doubt certain kudos is expected. For that reason, money for this purpose is always welcome. However, we must always ensure that it is being spent to good purpose.

I said at the end of my speech that a certain amount of money was being spent out of the general pool towards the improvement of roads in the areas which Deputy Lindsay has just referred to as being violently backward. You have grants and incentives for many other things. I suppose it is a question of what direction we should take. My ambition each year is to get as much as I can for my own Office, always bearing in mind the responsibility of ensuring the money is being put to really good use.

I do not quarrel with those who say that the pattern in regard to the Special Employment Schemes Office has been entirely changed. Originally, the Office was set up for the purpose of relieving unemployment. It dealt with the matter of accommodation roads. Previously no provision had been made for these except in the case of the Land Commission constructing bog roads. When I was young it was simply a case of the people turning out on a few days in the week with carts and spades and doing the necessary improvements to the roads. That is being done now by way of grant. It is being done mainly through the rural improvement schemes. As I say, the work of the Office has gone on for a number of years and we have now reached the stage at which everybody agrees that the work would be done even though there was not a single unemployed man in the country tomorrow. Someone would have to do these roads. The people who came together and did the work voluntarily in the past are no longer prepared to do that. They expect to get these grants and I am afraid they will have to get them. That is what it amounts to.

The rural improvement scheme was an excellent scheme because there was a local contribution involved and that ensured that only essential works were put forward. If the people really wanted something done, they were prepared to pay a contribution towards its cost. That is why the scheme was so successful in the first instance. I gave the history of the scheme in my introductory statement and the history describing how the scheme was brought down to as low as five per cent. I pointed out that sufficient funds were not available to operate that generous scale. That is something we have to watch. Deputy Blowick suggested the proposed amended scale will not be of much use. I believe it will give very considerable relief. It confers considerable benefits in respect of levels of valuation averages.

The new scale is calculated to consume the amount of money in the Vote. I have been watching the situation over the past few years and, while activity under the rural improvements scheme was very creditable, we did not expend the full amount voted in the last two years. The amended scale is calculated to ensure that the full amount will be spent. We always keep an eye on the operation of the scheme in order to see whether adjustments may not be necessary in any particular direction. I would not care for a return to a very low scale because such a scale encourages people to apply for a scheme merely for the sake of the employment it provides rather than the benefit it confers. While the number of acceptances are reasonably good, the amended scale— it is a considerable easement of the existing scale—is calculated to consume the full £200,000 in the Vote.

Deputy Blowick pretended he could not see why the schemes were suspended in 1956 when the generous scale then in existence would have required twice the amount of money to operate. The amount provided in that year was considerably less than the amount provided this year. Deputy Blowick pretended to know nothing about the National Development Fund, a Fund which was used in that particular year to the extent of £41,000 for rural improvement schemes. The amount of money provided this year for these schemes is much more than was provided in 1956/57.

What about expenditure in 1956/57?

That is exactly what I am explaining to the Deputy. The Deputy raided the National Development Fund, a Fund which we very kindly placed at his disposal, to the extent of £41,000.

It was spent anyway.

Of course it was, and very quickly. Then, when it was spent, there was nothing more.

But it was still more than the Parliamentary Secretary will spend this year.

The Deputy had not a halfpenny to give anybody from August, 1956. That is on the records. I explained the position in my introductory statement. I do not think we should go back to the old scale unless we are prepared to support it with money. I suggest we should carefully watch the operation of the scale we have introduced and, if it proves inadequate to consume the money available or if we desire at some stage to concentrate on rural improvement schemes as against M.I.S. or bog development schemes, we could put a little more money into it and expand a little more. Let us avoid extremes, the extreme of having a rather high contribution and a lot of money, which will inevitably mean surrendering a balance each year, and the extreme which existed in 1956/57 of a generous scale of contributions and not enough money to support that scale. We must keep a balance between the two.

Any Parliamentary Secretary who keeps an eye on the number of acceptances in proportion to the number of proposals will easily see what adjustment is required from time to time. The fact that people are prepared to put up the money and do the job has the advantage that the work is essential. Their willingness to put up the money is the acid test. Great numbers are still operating the scheme and that proves that it is a scheme in the right direction. I have often thought we should concentrate on that particular type of scheme rather than on some of the full-scale grant schemes that we are operating. But that is a different matter.

Deputy Lindsay pointed out our grants were small and the amount of money was hardly sufficient. That is true. We could spend more if we raised our standards. We are, at least, keeping these lines of communication open. They do not bear a great deal of traffic. They are merely connecting links between major roads and towns. We keep them open.

The bog development scheme has contributed towards the increased production of fuel. I do not know if the productive capacity of these schemes is always appreciated. Deputy Donnellan spoke about the needs of Galway. Galway as a whole does exceptionally well in these bog development schemes. The allocations are based on production. There is no allocation so thoroughly examined as are the moneys distributed by the Special Employment Schemes Office. I do not think it is necessary for me to go into detail again in relation to matters falling within the scope of the Special Employment Schemes Office. I again emphasise that we are sufficiently aware of the fact that the Office is not really related any longer to unemployment. If there were not one unemployed man in the country tomorrow, the work being carried out by the Office would have to be done, either by that Office or by somebody else. The number of registered unemployed is still the basis on which many of the grants are allocated. As compared with what was done in 1956/57, in relation to the register of unemployed, which is our basis of allocation, the amount of money we are giving now is considerably better.

Consider all those who have gone—200,000.

As to the number of people registered as unemployed, when I was speaking on the opposite side of the House in 1956——

It was a different tune.

—I pointed out that people had gone. The figure for emigration in that year, which the Deputy chooses to ignore, was one of the worst in history.

Not at all.

Unquestionably and proven. The fact remains that there is a shrinking register of unemployed now.

A shrinking population.

They are gone— 200,000.

There is the same allocation as there was over the past number of years and a better allocation than in 1956-57.

But you are going to spend £38,000 less.

Despite the fact you raided the National Development Fund for these small schemes, we are still doing better for fewer unemployed.

Fewer people to be had to be unemployed.

I should like to pay tribute to the officers in charge. The standard of work is creditable and good and is of general benefit.

I do not think any other points arose that require further elaboration. I trust that the amended scale which we have introduced for the rural improvements scheme will ensure that the entire amount of money is expended.

It will damn it.

The Deputy does not even know what we are talking about.

I was there before you were there. You have damned it in your own way as a Donegal Deputy.

I think it is a considerable improvement and is bound to produce benefits as time goes on.

Vote put and agreed to.