During the adjournment, I had the opportunity of verifying the section I was trying earlier to trace. Under this Bill, power is given in Section 4 to a sanitary authority to make advances to a person who provides a private water supply and private sewerage facilities. There is no provision in that section stating that the sanitary authority can make such an advance to the owner of a vested cottage, a cottage which has been bought under the Labourers Act. I ask the Minister for an assurance that notwithstanding the omission of such reference, the owner of a vested cottage can obtain such an advance.
My anxiety in that respect was emphasised by the provisions of Section 10, subsection (2), clause (b) of the Housing (Loans and Grants) Bill which we are to discuss shortly. The clause in that Bill states:
Repayment of a loan under this section in respect of a cottage that has been purchased under the Labourers Acts may be secured at any time in the manner specified in paragraph (a) of this subsection.
But, as I say, in this Bill there is no such saving provision and in the circumstances, it would appear that there is at least the possibility that the overriding provisions of the Labourers Act, 1936, that a tenant purchaser of a vested cottage cannot charge his holding while the annuity remains, would prevent such a person obtaining an advance under Section 4 of this Bill. Unless there is something in some other part of the Bill which I am unable to trace at the moment, it would appear that there is this omission, an omission which I suggest very strongly should be rectified on Committee Stage.
In addition to that, at the time of the adjournment of the debate, I was mentioning the fact, as it is a fact, that subsection (11) of Section 7 appears to go too far. Under it, it is an offence, as I understand it, for a person to water his garden with an ordinary hose pipe as is done in every city and town in the country. To water the roses, or the lawn in front of a terrace of houses in any part of Dublin or elsewhere will, as I read subsection (11), be prohibited in future. That, surely, is taking things far too far.
The offending clause is clause (c). A motor car cannot be washed by means of connecting an ordinary piece of plastic hose pipe to a tap. You have to get a bucket, fill it in the house, take the bucket of water out and throw it over the car. As often as you walk back and forth to the house for the bucket of water, you are in order, but as long as you use a bit of plastic hose, you will be acting contrary to the regulations and in breach of the provisions of this Bill. If that is what the Bill means, it appears to me to be bureaucracy gone mad. It appears to me to be ludicrous that the ordinary amenities which have been available to any person owning a small town or city garden or owning a motor car should no longer be available under the provisions of this Bill.
I said in the beginning that in relation to the whole of this Bill, I am speaking entirely subject to correction because the Minister has neglected to furnish an explanatory memorandum. It is a technical Bill and even for those of us who are accustomed to reading Bills, it is one that requires considerable study before one can understand all its implications. We have not had an opportunity really to study the Bill because it was not furnished to Deputies as early as it should have been.
It seems to me to be nonsense to provide that a person living in Dublin who has a small, trifling garden, whether it is the garden in front of one of the houses in Crumlin through which I drive up and down each day, or a garden in Ballsbridge, should not be able to deal with the matter in a common sense way and that it should be necessary for him to cart buckets of water to and from the kitchen in the manner suggested. Obviously, that is a section that will have to be considered carefully on Committee Stage.
Section 8 of the Bill purports to deal with the problem which admittedly causes great anxiety and difficulty to local authorities. I know of cases in my own area of Kildare where the county council has, at considerable expense, put in a water and sewerage scheme for a village and where the people in that area have refused to connect. I can understand, therefore, the Minister feeling it necessary to bring in compulsory powers to enforce connection such as are provided in Section 8. But, at the same time, while such compulsory powers are necessary, I think the other side of the picture must also be considered.
A person who has a small house in a village such as Leixlip, Celbridge or Maynooth may not have the money to enable him to instal a water and sewerage scheme and to connect to the local authority supply. On that aspect of the question, am I correct in thinking that the old distinction between an area where a public supply is likely to be provided and where there is not such a likelihood is now being abandoned, or is it still continued? Is there still the consideration that there used to be in the regulation that 30 feet, as I think it was, is the requisite distance? There is, under existing regulations, a distinction that if the individual has to pipe his water more than that distance, he qualifies as a person who is entitled to get the grant. I am not sure whether that distance is 30 feet and I should like some clarification on that point.
Though it is desirable and, perhaps, essential, not merely in the interests of the individual himself but in the interest of public health in a village or town, that he must take adequate advantage of the facilities provided, the fact does unfortunately remain that owners of some property may not have the money to carry out the work involved. There should, therefore, be attached to Section 8 a provision whereby, on consideration of the appeal to the district court, to which reference is made in subsection (4) of the section, the court would have authority to say to the sanitary authority: "We will give you the authority to enforce this connection but we will only give it to you conditionally upon the sanitary authority making available by way of grants the amount necessary to carry out the work." If a person on such an appeal can satisfy the district court that he has not the money to do the work, the district court can give the order but it must be accompanied by an advance or loan to the person concerned of the necessary funds.
Without that provision, Section 8 will create hardship in certain cases, particularly having regard to the limitations of the Rent Restrictions Act. There are many landlords of premises which are controlled by the Rent Restrictions Act who are in far worse circumstances financially than the tenants for whose protection the Act was introduced. I can visualise owners of such property not having the money to carry out what is required under Section 8 and therefore it should be provided that where there is the necessity for such financing, the financing must be done by the local authority as the continuation of the local authority's power to force connection.
I will admit frankly that though I have read Section 9 many times, I have failed to understand what it means. I cannot appreciate what the pipes are required for, for instance. It is a section which in its wording is clear enough but in its purpose is obscure to a very great degree. Again, I suggest that is another instance in which the shortcomings of the Minister in neglecting to provide a White Paper are so clearly shown up.
Most of us will agree it is desirable, stating it as a general principle, to do something to prevent undue pollution of the atmosphere. All of us have had experience of it in one way or another —sometimes driving behind a very dirty lorry when one's view is so obstructed by smoke and fumes that one cannot see clearly. On warm days when we have to keep our car windows down, we become almost choked by the fumes coming through the windows from such vehicles. How much worse then must it be for those who have to live in areas which are polluted in that way?
At the same time, while accepting the principle that pollution must be avoided as far as it possibly can, we must realise that the powers being taken by the Minister in Section 10 of this Bill are very wide and sweeping. I might say they are perhaps something of an experiment because as far as I know, this has never been tried before. These sweeping powers the Minister is taking to himself in Section 10 may very well close a factory, render it quite impossible for people to carry on their ordinary industrial work and certainly, in the beginning of this experimental field, the Minister should reverse the procedure he has suggested in this section and provide that the regulations to be introduced shall be brought to this House for positive approval rather than that there should be the mere negative power of annulment provided in the following section.
I can visualise the importance of the dissemination of public knowledge through a discussion in this House of an individual regulation. That publicity would probably do more than anything else to assist in the prevention of pollution; it would do a lot more than the bringing out of the big stick, in which case any discussion in the House would be only of an ex post facto nature as far as the effects of a regulation already made would be felt by an individual factory. The effects of these regulations could well mean that a particular industry would have to cease, that the employment it had been giving would be subject to interruption, that the industry might have to move to another area, and where the powers are as sweeping and as wide, it is surely desirable there should be something more than a mere administrative Order, subject to annulment. I suggest we should first have the positive approval of the House.
As I said at the beginning, all of us agree with the desirability of improving conditions of living in rural Ireland by the provision of proper water and sanitary arrangements. All of us agree it is desirable to avoid unnecessary pollution of the atmosphere. This Bill is, however, a somewhat complex way in certain respects of dealing with these problems. As far as the Bill itself is concerned, I think many people will be disappointed there does not appear to be in it any indication, as there is not in the following Housing Bill, of increased grants to meet the increased costs which it will involve.