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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 22 Jan 1963

Vol. 199 No. 1

Private Members' Business. - Local Government (Planning and Development) Bill, 1962—Second Stage (Resumed)

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

Deputy Burke and other Deputies who have spoken have expressed the opinion that this Bill was very necessary. I agree with them completely that the amendment of existing legislation on this matter had become absolutely necessary. It gave inadequate powers to the local bodies concerned and inadequate protection to the man in the street. It has resulted, in my opinion, in otherwise responsible bodies such as Cork Corporation carrying out acts which were illegal, under the semblance of doing them under the Act. The very fact that the amendment of existing legislation was so necessary makes this Bill one of the most dangerous attempts to pass a measure of this sort through the House for a long time and I would appeal to the Minister—and if he fails to listen to me, I would appeal to the House—not to let the Bill pass in its present form.

It is an oppressive measure in its present form. It is one of the most determined attempts I have seen to take from the Legislature its powers, to take from local bodies their powers and, in the last analysis, to take from the ordinary private citizen his right, and to gather all these rights into the hands of one man, that is, into the hands of the Minister for Local Government. In my opinion, this is a new despotism at its zenith, tantamount almost to indecency. The bureaucrat has full and final power as to a man's fundamental rights. Anybody who looks at Section 3 will realise how wide a net has been cast in this Bill. There you read that development means "the carrying out of any works on land or the making of any material change in the use of any structures or other land."

Parliament here is asked to hand over these wide powers to the Minister, not of course in so many words. That is the sad injustice and the misleading nature of the whole thing. It can very easily mislead this House. The right to make a planning scheme is not in the hands of city or county managers. It is one of the reserved functions of the elected representatives, but when the elected representatives have gone to all the trouble to do all the things necessary in preparing a draft of a proposed development plan, we find tucked away cosily in Section 22 (3) :

The Minister may require the planning authority to vary the development plan in respect of matters and in a manner specified by him and thereupon it shall be the duty of the authority to comply with the requisition.

I do not know if the Deputies on the other side who are members of local bodies realise what they are being asked to do. I do not know if Deputy Burke, who is a member of a local authority and who made gurgling sounds of delight at this magnificent legislation, realises what he is doing. If Deputy Burke wants to pass this Bill as it is, he wants to pass Section 22 (3) which empowers somebody sitting over there as Minister for Local Government advised by his officials, to do what he likes about local planning. I appeal to the ordinary Deputies behind the Minister to bring to the attention of the Minister, either inside or outside the House, the fact that we the elected Deputies of Dáil Éireann do still occasionally think of our constituents in between elections.

The old Act was limited enough. Now this Bill is the most audacious attempt I have yet seen to invade, not alone the rights of the individual but of Deputies and of elected local representatives. Possibly it is not without some significance that the Preamble to the Bill has a sort of half-apologetic strain. It says:

An Act to make provision in the interests of the common good for the proper planning and development of cities, towns and other areas.

When a Preamble to an Act has to go to the trouble of explaining it is for the common good, it is plain to me, and it should be plain to most Deputies, that the Act is not exactly as pleasant as it might be. In addition to the provisions of Sections 3 and 23, to which I have already referred, there are other sections which go much too far—Sections 31, 32 and 33 are in similar strain.

They are broad; they look all right at first glance, but then they give the local authorities, which are subservient to the Minister, much too wide powers. The section I find most completely divorced from reality is Section 19 which, in effect, says the local authority shall prepare a plan within three years. If the House passes that section, it will be engaging in a piece of stupidity only equalled by the Transport Act, which enjoined on CIE, irrespective of the circumstances or the consequences, to do certain things by 1964. How can this House, with any sense of reality, say to a local authority: "Look, no matter what happens, you will have a plan ready by three years and even if it is not necessary to have a plan, you must have a plan because we say you must, and it does not matter how many more officials you have to employ to prepare it." I do not think the Minister should ask the House to deal with the matter in that way and set an arbitrary period in which some authority shall prepare a plan.

The Minister is aware that authorities such as Dublin Corporation, or indeed Cork Corporation, for many years have been intending to prepare a plan. He knows how far they got and the difficulties which they encountered when they got going in their attempt to plan. Above all, I would ask this House—I do not ask the Minister because I do not believe he would be ready to bring in an amendment of his own—but I ask the ordinary man in the street who sits in the back benches of the Government Party to remember that once a plan is made by a local authority, as ordered by the Minister, if the Minister so directs, that plan governs the use of all private property in the area in question. I ask them to realise the importance and significance of that. Under these circumstances, whilst like Deputy Burke, Deputy Barry and other Deputies who spoke, I agree with the necessity for the Bill, and welcome some aspects of it, I still think there are other aspects which are absolutely obnoxious and very dangerous.

Deputy Corish referred to the manner in which the Minister had prepared the ground for this Bill. He congratulated the Minister for sending around a number of lecturers to address members of local authorities. I do not know anything about the sincerity or the qualifications of the lecturers—I was at one of the lectures and it was most interesting—but this is a precedent which I for one deprecate very much. I think it was a deliberate effort to soften the ground for the Minister. It was, in essence, a propaganda effort by the Minister to prepare the ground in this House for an easy passage for the Bill. These lectures were given at public expense and I do not think the Minister is entitled to use public money for propaganda purposes for passing through this House a measure which is highly controversial.

Deputy Corish also referred to the fact, when dealing with Part IV, that the matters referred to in Sections 24 to 41, were taken outside the ambit of the elected representative. He mentioned that he felt that the average public representative should have the greatest confidence in his county and city manager and his county and city engineer. I do not agree with that. I think the public representative in the ordinary scheme of things is the natural enemy of the public servant and if it is ever otherwise, it will be a very bad thing for the ordinary man in the street who is governed by the public representative and the public servant. It is important that we should have that balance between the two sections of the legislature. For that reason, I object very much to the suggestion that this House, both on its own behalf and on behalf of local bodies, should virtually vest in the Minister the power to do anything he likes in relation to the matters I have raised, namely, the carrying out of any works on land or the making of any material change in the use of some kind of structure on the land.

It is high time that a Bill of this nature was brought in and made law. Apart from what we have seen driving through the country and through Dublin and the suburbs or in any city or townland, one hears plenty of criticism from people who like to see well-ordered development, well-designed buildings and good planning. What has happened in the past gives us no cause to be proud of the efforts that were made. Adequate planning and development is a great necessity and the Minister in introducing this Bill is doing what should have been done, in my estimation, many years ago. The 1934 Town and Country Planning Act endeavoured to do something but for one reason or another, whilst it had some good points, it never really suited the occasion. Consequently we have this Bill now.

Driving along our main roads and streets, what are we presented with? On the main roads, we have filling stations which are gradually cluttering up every corner and every vista. We have trees and hedges impeding our views and access to the seaside and lakes in fishing areas is impeded by farmers who refuse to let people cross.

Is it not high time the people were given an opportunity of seeing the beauty of this country? Is it not high time we got rid of those hedges which block our views? Is it not high time we got rid of a lot of the unsightly buildings in our towns and cities? Is it not high time we opened up our thoroughfares, not from the point of view of permitting greater speed— although there may be a case for that —but from the point of view of showing order and planning? This Bill sets out to cover every phase of planning, so far as I can see. I know that we as representatives of the people, when we give powers of this nature to a Minister, have to be very careful that there is some limiting factor and that the rights of the people are respected and preserved. There are occasions, however, when the action or inaction of one man may stop or delay orderly planning that will be beneficial to the whole community, and under these circumstances, and where measures are provided for adequate compensation, such action as this is justified.

This Bill covers a multitude of items. It covers the development and preservation of our seaside. I see, also, that it provides for the prosecution, if necessary, of people who deposit litter after their Sunday picnic. This is necessary, in my opinion. There are regulations already, but it is high time there was something more than regulations.

There are certain things in this Bill against which one would like to guard, things in relation to which one would like to know exactly what the mind of the Minister is. The Bill provides in certain cases for the acquisition of land by local authorities. One would like to guard against what has happened in England. Local authorities there compulsorily acquired lands for development. Now the lands are being offered to private enterprise builders for private development and the original owners, who could have disposed of them in the same fashion, in the first instance, are naturally aggrieved. I trust nothing like that will be allowed to happen here.

The control of transmission lines is highly necessary. We have the ESB and the Post Office slinging wires all over the country, until the whole place is festooned with wires. Again, here in this capital city, the roads and streets are covered with all kinds of standards. There is no attempt at proper planning. There is no attempt at aesthetics from the point of view of design or anything else. There is a veritable multiplicity of variety in lamp brackets. If this Bill will empower local authorities to control this kind of thing, then I welcome it.

Approaching Dublin through the suburbs can be quite a horrible experience, but it is not Dublin alone. The same thing occurs in every city, town and village in the country. There should be some local body to control these matters. Someone said the Minister had an ulterior motive in making an effort to ascertain the views of local authorities and to explain to them what it was intended to do in this Bill. It was hinted that the Minister was trying to sell the people short by sending out these propaganda merchants on his own behalf. I think that is a very unfair misconstruction of a genuine effort by the Minister to inform people properly in advance.

I approve of the time limit where plans and schemes are concerned. I think three years is a reasonable period. Once the local authorities have the powers, it will be up to them to prepare their plans. A stop will have to be put to all lop-sided development. Proper provision will have to be made for residential areas, industrial areas, parks, playing pitches and recreation grounds. There will have to be a proper road and street design. There is very little, from the point of view of design, of which we can be proud, with one or two exceptions. Is it not high time we took some pride in our cities and towns, and our country generally, and ensured that development takes place along proper lines? I have heard objections voiced by people living in residential areas because of the establishment of a factory in the area, a noisy factory or one from which noxious smells emanate. It is high time we had legislation to correct that sort of thing. People who go to live in a residential area are entitled to enjoy the amenities of the area.

Is it not time, too, to open up our town centres? Town centres can be very beautiful. At the moment they are horrible. Street planning is nonexistent. There is no variety in housing. Very often one gets the impression that only the skimpiest plan was drawn and the materials thrown together. Is it not time we introduced some orderliness and beauty into our town planning? Our housing estates leave much to be desired from the point of view of planning. Housing seems to be governed more by grant qualification than anything else. There is a monotonous regularity about our housing estates. One gets tired of the unending repetition. Is it not time some effort was made at improved architectural design and variety? Is it too much to ask the House to approve provisions aimed at improving the present position? I do not think it is. It should be possible to create something that will enhance the beauty of our country and remove something of the drabness out of life generally.

This Bill covers a wide field. It is a progressive step to bring within its scope the former building bye-laws of local authorities. It is high time that was done. We have no standard form of planning bye-laws. They change from county to county. It is time to provide ourselves with a proper standard to which we can conform and adhere, plan and build. This is vital and I welcome the measures being taken as it were out of the hands of the local authorities and put into the hands of the Minister and his Department.

The powers given to the Minister in this Bill to acquire buildings that block thoroughfares and impede ordinary development are one of the best things in it. In Dublin the ordinary development of the city centre is on many occasions impeded. A Dublin Deputy, Deputy Burke, instanced the case in Dublin where a ruined estate continued for years because somebody would not sell or dispose of his premises and there was no machinery by which he could be made to do so. We had to put up with that state of affairs despite the ardent wishes and need of the corporation to do something. It is high time legislation was brought in to see that a person owning property is adequately compensated and that progress is not retarded. This Bill will facilitate progressive development, well-designed architecturally. Haphazard building of a block here and there in a street without any great regard to intervening property heretofore tended to spoil rather than improve the city's appearance. This Bill will empower the Minister to see that planning is done for the proper ordinary development of a street so that it will add to the city's beauty. It is right and proper that the Minister should be given those powers.

One would like, if possible, to depend entirely on the good sense of people but knowing that people are as they are this legislation is necessary. If an opportunity arises through planning or otherwise for somebody to sit back and hold a town to ransom, as it were, he will do it. This arises on many occasions out of planning by county councils. It is time that type of exploitation was stopped and discouraged. If it is not done, the Minister is empowered to deal with the matter through the local authorities.

The preparation of the plan itself— I should like the Minister to note this —might tend to give rise to certain abuses. Planning around any town, village or city involves values. A certain farmer who has land in or near the town may be very anxious to have it incorporated either for industrial use or use of some other kind and feels that in this way its value will be enhanced. When the control of development in enforced and when there is restriction on darting out into the countryside here and there, this will result in the amount of land available for development, as it were, being reduced. That can have a dangerous side and I should like the Minister, when replying, to say how he proposes to stop that kind of abuse. I need hardly say that people owning land near cities and towns will be watching this Bill very carefully from the point of view of compensation in the first place if the land is ripe for development and its inclusion or exclusion in the town plan would have serious consequences.

This is a matter that needs to be carefully watched and noted. A Deputy mentioned that in regard to private unfinished estates he would like to see some form of legislation to charge on the ground in some compulsory fashion the cost of finishing-off the estate. I do not go along with that suggestion. Where a private householder has bought his house and owns the fee simple in the site and development is not complete in that road, as a heavy ratepayer, it is the responsibility of the local authority to look after it. Where the developer may be brought back, that is another matter, but to attach the liability to the site alone is, I would say, dangerous. It tends to become a form of retrospective legislation from which God protect us. I should never like to be associated with that type of legislation. Vigilance of local authorities in seeing that when planning approval is given for this type of work, the provision of bonds or securities for the adequate development of sites or, indeed, complete prohibition of any building until the main development works are done would be far more desirable.

I welcome the Bill and I must compliment the Minister on the numerous exhaustive inquiries and investigations he has made into what has happened in other countries and on examining their Bills for shortcomings and on introducing this Bill that has regard to almost all sections of our people with a view to creating an overall plan within the country. It leaves us some hope for the future to know that the Minister has these powers and will use them to ensure orderly planned development of the country. I do not envy the Minister his job in presenting such a complex Bill in many ways. It tends to extend or expand control over the people. People who would be really affected by this are people who in the normal way do not make any effort to be good citizens. They are people who, for one reason or another, in their own narrow, selfish way will not co-operate. I do not blame people for trying to get the most out of a particular piece of land but I do object to holding a town or a people to ransom knowing that there is a circumstance prevailing under which they must ultimately get what they are asking for. For these, I would pass the power over to an arbitrary body to decide on compensation. However, I should like the Minister to make provision for some saver of some description there by way of appeal or otherwise, should there be any aggrieved parties.

Along our long and beautiful coastline, you come across wide areas of beaches to which it is impossible at the moment to gain access. Alternatively, one has to pay a small fee to the landowner before getting permission to cross. I welcome the provision whereby this position will be cured and our beaches will be opened up and made available to all of our people. I welcome the fact that this charge for using a path across somebody's land will be set aside or, alternatively, that a proper path will be provided by the local authority. That is something which should have been done long ago.

One could discuss this Bill forever and still find things in it to comment upon, things to laud and even things slightly to amend. However, from whatever part of the country you may come, or wherever you may live, you will find something in this Bill to agree with.

The proper planning of roads tends to provide greater safety for road users. Slums in our towns and cities are becoming a danger in many ways and they are a blot on many beautiful towns. It is high time power were given to have them pulled down. Nobody wants to pull down anything that is beautiful. Rather, this Bill sets out to preserve that which is worth preserving, that which has an historical value, that which is artistic. Every aspect which comes within the orbit of planning, preservation or development in the country would appear to be catered for in this Bill. For these reasons, I compliment the Minister on going into the matter so thoroughly and so carefully.

The preservation of national monuments, ruins of old abbeys, round towers and other buildings, and the opening up of many of these so that visitors from overseas can see and appreciate the glories and cultural attainments we as a nation achieved a thousand years ago, is a step to be welcomed. To let these treasures fall away into decay and ruin and lost forever to the nation would be criminal.

From whatever aspect you may look at it, the Bill provides for the preservation of that which needs to be preserved, for the erection of structures which it is high time were erected and for a planned orderly scheme of development for town and country. I compliment the Minister and commend this Bill to the House.

(South Tipperary): Deputy Gallagher seems very pleased with this Bill. He mentioned that he would like provision to be made for an appeal on behalf of aggrieved persons or bodies. He did not specify what type of appeal he would like and it is a matter to which I should now like to address myself.

Under one of the earlier Town Planning Acts—the 1934 Act—the method laid down for appeal was somewhat as follows: a plan was submitted to the Minister. It was published and laid before each house of the Oireachtas for any objections either House might like to make. Finally, under Section 34 of the Act, any aggrieved person or persons might appeal to the High Court. The method adopted under the present Bill is markedly different. Now, a plan must be prepared within three years. It is a flexible, reviewable type of plan but it does not need ministerial sanction and, as far as I can gather, the officials in the Customs House may directly participate in its preparation. However, once in existence, all private property in the area to which it applies is governed by its provisions. In turn, these provisions are governed by regulations laid down by the Minister and which will apply to all development of land and retention of all unauthorised structures. The Minister himself may, as regards any appeal, go to the High Court on a question of law but here, as far as I can see, there is no appeal for any aggrieved citizen to any court of law.

What has happened between 1934 and 1962? Have the property owners of this country become less important? Have the rights of the average citizen become of lesser significance in the eyes of the Government? Why were citizens in 1934 whose property was impinged upon given the right of appeal in the High Court and why is that right being taken from them now? Any appeal that exists now is entirely to a Minister. Bureaucratic control has replaced the judiciary and, speaking as a democrat in this Assembly which has all the trappings still of democracy, that I deplore.

The second aspect of this Bill to which I wish to refer is the question of punishment under Sections 31, 32, 33, 35 and 36. Section 31, for example, deals with the development of land. Section 32 deals with the retention of structures which have been conditionally authorised but the conditions have not in the view of the local authority been fulfilled. Section 33 deals with the retention of structures unauthorised. Section 35 deals with the departure from the terms of the planning authority in respect of any development; and Section 36 deals with the removal or alteration of a structure as decided by the planning authority.

In any contravention of these sections of the Bill, when it is enacted, the authority may enter the property owner's land and may alter or abolish the property in question. Furthermore, the authority may bill the owner for the costs of this alteration or abolition and here is the crucial point: there is no court appeal. The planning authority may enter that property under the very specious phraseology: "any other material consideration". Again, when we look back to the 1934 Act, we find there was some protection for the individual. Under the 1934 Act, there was provision for appeal to the district court under Section 52. What has happened to democracy? What has happened to the rights of individuals, to the rights of property owners, between 1934 and the present day? In that time we have had plenty of experience of democratic survival on the Continent of Europe but apparently the lesson has not been learned here.

I wish to mention one other point on which I may, perhaps, be open to more criticism and which is, perhaps, a more debatable question. It is the question of advertising. There seems to be a kind of witch hunt mentality operating in this country as regards advertising and it is couched in the expression "bill posting". I appreciate that bill posting and daubing across roads and across streets can be objectionable but surely we all recognise there is a form of advertising which is not so grossly objectionable as that? Anybody reading this Bill would glean from it that all forms of advertising are reprehensible.

This Bill even goes so far as to pick out advertising as one form of activity which will not receive any compensation. Under Section 24 the Bill states that the retention of unauthorised structures after the appointed day shall be an offence unless permission has been obtained under Section 27. Seemingly, it is an offence even when a case is under appeal which may go on for years—as will likely happen by virtue of the fact that a huge number of cases will be under appeal and not alone professional advertisers but business people in general may be subjected to much annoyance by the rather extreme attitude which the Minister and his Department seem to take towards advertising activities.

I have also gathered from this Bill that no compensation is provided either for advertisers or landowners where a sign is posted and ordered for removal. A small landowner may be getting a small ground rent for some advertisement and, if I am interpreting this Bill properly, if he is compelled to remove this poster or signpost he will receive no compensation for the few pounds a year he was receiving from some advertising company for allowing them the use of his field or ditch.

Speaking about the Bill in general, it presents, if I may describe it as such, a sort of global approach to town planning. Yet when you come to read it and examine this country in relation to it, it seems to me that town planning as we understand it is in the first instance necessary for places like Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Waterford and other bigger centres. The Minister would have produced a more acceptable and better type of Bill had he proceeded in the first instance by dealing with the larger sections of population, where there is a case to be made for more elaborate town planning than in the smaller towns and villages. Not alone would it be the more prudent approach, but in that way, the Minister and his officials would get experience step by step. Furthermore, it would be more in keeping with our financial position. This measure will entail considerable financial expenditure. The Minister, however, has chosen the opposite course. He has chosen at one fell blow to introduce a measure of town and country planning, covering every centre of population from 1,000 up and setting up an inordinately large number of local planning authorities.

All town planning Bills—and this Bill is no exception — seem to have been fair imitations of similar Bills in Great Britain. Yet there is very little parallel between Great Britain and here. In one country you have a large number of people in a relatively small island, where there is considerable overcrowding and a large measure of industrial disease problems. In this country conditions are entirely different. The only places where we have any parellel conditions with those of Great Britain are the larger centres of population.

In general, this Bill has a dictatorial flavour which I completely deprecate. It was said here to-day that dictators make the best planners. Certainly, I suppose, they make the most effective planners. One may ask oneself do planners become dictators. I think the answer would be that the tendency is definitely so.

This Bill establishes a kind of political bureaucratic autocracy, by virtue of the fact that the judiciary are being largely by-passed in favour of the Minister, who is now to be the judge and jury. It cannot be denied that such a Bill will arouse in the public mind suspicions that it is a measure which lends itself beautifully to political patronage. I contend that in this Bill the rights of private property, which all should be concerned to preserve as sacrosanct as possible, are being seriously impaired. I contend that bureaucratic control under this Bill will tend to replace the rule of law. This Bill might be described as constituting, in conjunction with the County Management Act, the Magna Carta of the Custom House.

We are told that the making of a plan is a function reserved to public representatives; but anybody who has served on a public authority knows how relatively ineffectual public representatives are. The authority will, in practice, be the county manager and his assistants, working in close conjunction with the higher officials in the Custom House. There will be numerous appeals under this Bill when it comes into operation. These appeals presumably will be heard by tribunals established under the control of the Minister. There will, of necessity, be a relatively large expansion in the number of civil servants to handle such a large number of appeals. The Minister mentioned there was a large amount of work in Dublin alone with the introduction of planning legislation there. When the entire country is brought under this Bill and when each planning authority is compelled to prepare a plan, how can any Minister pretend he is able to give personal attention to the numerous appeals which will be forwarded to his Department?

As I said at the beginning, had this Bill been introduced in more piecemeal fashion, it might have been possible, or relatively more easy, to deal with appeals. I admit the Minister said that in the actual operation of the Bill, he would tend, where necessary, to proceed in stages. Why take powers before you need them? Would it be beyond a parliamentary draftsman to prepare a Bill dealing with the larger centres of population and make that Bill applicable later to smaller centres, as and when the occasion arose?

One of the gravest difficulties I see in this Bill is that every minor official up and down the country will become a small tinpot town planner in his own fashion. Every objection to any reconstruction work which a property owner may undertake will initially arise from a minor official. Once that chain of operation comes into being, it is almost impossible to stop it. Even with the best intentions in the world, no single Minister could get through all the reading that would necessarily arise with an avalanche of complaints. Of necessity, the Minister will have his attention drawn to the more difficult and complicated cases. Naturally, his attention will be drawn to cases where large financial concerns are implicated. But will his attention be drawn to the small individual, the old person living in a small shop, whose vital interests—to them just as vital as those of the more wealthy individual—are impaired by impending legislation?

Can you imagine how much sympathy a young civil servant, who is carried away by enthusiasm for a plan, would have for some poor old woman selling sweets down a side street? She will be brushed aside, while the large and powerful concern will be able to secure the necessary advice and support and fight their case. Under the Bill, framed as it is, allowing all appeals to rest with the Minister and by-passing, as it will, the courts of the country, I think the interests of the small person, the small individual will suffer. In conclusion, I think this is a wrong Bill, introduced at the wrong time, in the wrong country and in the wrong circumstances.

By the wrong people.

When we look back and see when the last Town Planning Bill was introduced—this is an amendment of the 1934 and 1939 Acts—we find that a lot of water has gone under the bridges since that time and there have been a number of changes in the world. We have seen in the past what bad planning has done. Some of the old towns have narrow, winding streets. In this day and age, when we have an idea of what we want, and with the world getting smaller so that we can see what people are doing in other countries, one would imagine that it is high time we had a new Town Planning Bill.

The value of good planning has been seen to a great extent in Australia. When they were planning a new capital in Canberra, they held a competition and asked the architects of the world to give them the best possible design for a city. From that competition, they got a design for an extremely nice city, a city which is the pride of Australia and the showpiece of the world. We cannot do that. We have to plan from the existing situation but we have seen in that new city how good planning works. We have also seen it in England in the new industrial towns which have been set up. We must be careful of industries being set up near residential areas. Very often industries are set up where they can get a site, irrespective of whether it is near a built-up or residential area, and it may in time annoy the residents of the area. It is time for us to look around and plan for the future.

I am pleased to see that the Minister is demanding that the local authorities should make out a plan in three years. That will give us an aim or a goal and we can then go on. The Minister very wisely explained at the start of the Bill that it is a flexible Bill because, as time goes on and changes occur, the planning authorities or the local authorities will be able to adapt themselves. This Bill will be flexible and adaptable to what may happen. That is something new because we hear about most Bills that they are too rigid and lay down the law either on one side or the other. Here the Minister is being big enough to be prepared to look to the future and provide for changes that may come about.

I see that the local authorities actually have leave, if necessary, to build factory buildings. I often feel that when a town is looking for a factory—and really crying for a factory —when you look into it, you rarely see anything that will entice a person there. We may take it that every town in Ireland is looking for a factory or two. Factory owners have all Ireland to look at and they have to look at every site. One thing that would entice a concern to a town is the possibility of leasing a factory in it. It costs quite an amount of money to put up a factory and a firm might not like to be stationed in one place. They might like to go nearer to a port as time goes on. If they could lease a building, that would be an enticement and would save some financial difficulties.

We have seen the results in Shannon where factory buildings have been put up. They are all occupied. Some of them have changed hands in the two years but they are all still occupied and expanding. On my visit there last May, I was certainly impressed by the buildings there. In Kilcullen, in Kildare, a Press conference was held and a factory building was offered. They offered to provide a fair-sized site as well. In the following weeks, they had quite a number of inquiries and they are still getting inquiries. I grant you that nothing has been definitely decided but they are at least getting inquiries. Many towns are getting no inquiries.

It is a very big step forward to allow a local authority to build a factory building to entice industrialists. Under the Bill the local authority would have power to develop a site for houses. I know of one case where a town lost a factory because there was not a developed site available for the housing of workers. The industrialist who was interested in establishing the industry surveyed the proposed site and inquired as to where the factory personnel and the skilled men whom they would bring with them would live. On being told they would have to build houses and provide the amenities he lost interest. Most foreign industrialists have been accustomed to having all the services laid on. If that were done here it would be of great assistance in the establishment of industries and the provision of amenities. Proper planning is absolutely essential. No one likes to live right beside a factory. The value of houses near the airport has diminished as a result of the nuisance caused by the noise of aircraft.

Under the Bill the local authority will be given three years in which to plan for the future. When the plans are prepared they will be exhibited to the public. The elected representatives and the people themselves can put forward their views. They will be able to point to defects in the plans and to suggest improvements. That will go a long way in helping to produce the best possible plans.

The needs of the pedestrian must be taken into account. There are many instances of bad paths in towns, particularly in residential areas. A good feature of the new, well planned, built-up areas is the provision of good walks with grass margins and possibly trees. It is as a result of such development that some towns are securing high marks in the tidy towns competition.

I notice that advertisement structures and advertisements will be controlled. In Italy there are large-scale advertisements over miles of main road. The same thing could happen here. In the last few years such structures have been erected on our main roads. Most of the advertisements are not too well designed. In some cases they are allowed to become dilapidated. Such structures create a bad impression and it is only right that power should be taken to control them.

I welcome also the powers being taken in regard to the creation of public rights of way. It is important that where there are beauty spots, lakes, rivers, seashore, there should be access to them. For instance, in County Meath there is a coast line of about five or six miles but there are only one or two points of access to it. It would be of great public benefit if there were at least access at every mile. Traffic jams are created at times because there are not more exits from the strand. I commend the Minister for his foresight in making provision in the Bill in regard to this matter.

I deplore the fact that some lovely views of scenery are blocked by buildings. I am glad that areas of special amenity are to be specially dealt with. Such amenities are a very important tourist attraction and should be preserved. I know of one case where such amenities were destroyed as the result of the building of houses on a certain site, which was the only reasonable site available.

There is also provision in the Bill in regard to parks. In some towns the children have no suitable playgrounds and it is difficult to keep them off the street. I am glad that local authorities are being encouraged to provide parks and playgrounds. I know from my travels abroad that in other countries playgrounds are provided with suitable slides and other equipment for children. In such parks, the children are safe from traffic danger. This is only keeping in line with other countries.

Most European towns have been planned with a view to the future and there is no reason why we should not do likewise. I have often admired the good wide main roads in Europe, often provided with paths for pedestrians. In Denmark, they had even provided a track for cyclists. The Minister might consider that in the light of the present Bill. There could be a separate track on the side of the main road for cyclists. If such a track were provided, it would enable them to cycle safely. Frequently after accidents, people say they were blinded by oncoming lights and did not see the cyclist.

The Bill also provides for the public lighting of the seashore, river banks and other places of beauty. This will give engineers and architects scope to put their ideas into practice and think for the future. It is also a good thing that the plans will be on view to the public. In this way, we shall get an exchange of ideas and develop the best possible plans. For those reasons, I particularly welcome the Bill.

No doubt after such a long period, it is necessary to bring town and country planning up to date and from that point of view, this Bill, or at least I should say, some Bill, is necessary. That does not mean that this Bill is either necessary or acceptable. It gives very wide powers to the local authorities in conjunction with the Minister. I use that phrase deliberately because if the Minister takes a certain line of policy and the officers of the local authority take the same line, then all appeals fail and they become an arbitrary power.

When this Bill becomes law, every piece of property in the State is governed by it. If we get cohesion and collusion, to use possibly unpopular words, or the same point of view from the Minister as the officials of the local authorities, then the rights of the individual have gone and with them one of the bulwarks of democracy because the rights of the individual in relation to property are one of the cornerstones of the building we call democracy. Therefore I believe this Bill goes too far, and, that in its machinery for appeal and in its manner of doing a job, it exceeds requirements so far as this type of country is concerned, and at the same time it places power in the hands of one section of the community.

Is it not true that those senior, or even junior, officials of the local authorities must work in conjunction with their counterparts in the Department of Local Government? Is it not true that the normal county manager is in consultation in the Custom House at least once a fortnight and, as it is true that he could not possibly carry on his duties and that life would become unbearable if he did not go with the stream, then it is similarly true that you will get cohesion of views which will mean that the blank wall will face anybody who finds himself on the wrong side of the fence in relation to this planning legislation.

The difference between the existing situation that I see, as apart from the question of a plan to be created, and the future situation is that there was a flaw in the planning legislation up to the present. I remember a company in which I was involved and which was building a weighbridge. Having proceeded with the weighbridge and having made application, we got a prohibition notice. Then we received a notice telling us that for every day we continued to build the weighbridge, we would be fined £5 but we were advised by our engineer that there was a flaw in the Act and to carry on. Happily, the Minister—on the other side of the House: I give him full credit for it—granted the appeal and we did not have to go any further. The situation was that there was a flaw in the Bill and all we would have suffered if the Minister had not granted the appeal would have been that if a road ever went through the weighbridge, we would receive no compensation. That was made quite clear.

Now the situation will be quite different and we may find that even in respect of unauthorised structures before the passing of the Bill, there can be a demolition order or a removal order by the local authority. Yet, I am the first to admit that there is a necessity for some planning organisation. The plan that was emphasised in the previous legislation was passed only in Dublin and, of course, because of the legal clause in the previous Act and the rulings of court, the position was that even that plan had not the full force of law. Perhaps it was rather wise that they did not make plans in the other cities and towns. Is it not terribly arbitrary if, as is suggested in the explanatory memorandum and the Bill itself, local authorities were to decide that, on the north side of a town, they were to have all the industrial development and all the residential development on the south side because that is what is required. The man who owns land on the north side has the value of it changed by a stroke of the pen and at the same time, you have people with new opportunities who had not got them before.

Dublin did not grow that way and Dublin is one of the finest cities in the world. People are not so stupid and if you leave out this question of the difference between getting a horse and cart and a modern lorry—to use one illustration—up the streets of a town, the people did not make mistakes in the past. Unless the purpose of this Bill in relation, perhaps, to street planning or the siting of industries is to look forward to the day when lorries, maybe, are as big as the Queen Mary, and so on, I do not think it will serve a great purpose.

It is quite incorrect that an industrialist coming here, who might decide that a very valuable site would be the one he would choose, would be told by the planning authority, in effect: "No. You must not go on that side of the town. You must go on the other side of the town." That position should not exist. That does not mean that I want to see building directly in front of a row of residential houses already existing which would obviously depreciate the value of those houses. However, there is a way this problem could have been attacked. There could have been specific provision for the lowering of values and specific provision for the siting of things that might lower these values or create objections near to residential areas or, indeed, the siting of one factory which might have an objectionable odour or a great amount of smoke next to a food factory, and so on.

That is not the way this Bill has attacked the problem but rather on the basis that the local authority shall make the plan, produce it and put it there for the public to look at, who will never have time to look at it because it will be a foot thick for each county or area. Having done that, you will take it or leave it and that is all there is to it. I regard that as far too arbitrary.

If I wanted to make a direct and general statement I would say that all this is synonymous with the views of the Fianna Fáil Party. That is the way they do things. If they were over here and if either the Fine Gael Party or the Labour Party were over there, neither of those two Parties would produce this Bill. I say that, just from knowing the men in each Party. I know that is as clear as clear can be. That is what would happen. That is the difference people often seek to find. That is one of the basic differences between Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Labour Party.

I had a look at the 1934 Act. The position in relation to the 1934 Act was that when a plan was produced it was laid here on the Table of the House and the House had an opportunity to seek its annulment. If the House decided by virtue of its majority that such was annulled that was that. That did not relate to the individual; it related to a majority in a democracy. Even if, perhaps, a minority could not get a plan annulled here it could make its protest publicly. It would come from people from whom you would expect it—the Opposition, who were interested and involved in these things as members of local authorities as well as being Members of Dáil Éireann. If they did not, and it went through its number of days, Section 31 of the 1934 Act provided that any person whose property would be affected could, within one month after the publication in Iris Oifigiúil of his intentions, appeal to the High Court for the annulment of the order. Here again we have the protection of the individual which in this Bill only, as I again repeat, requires the cohesion and the same point of view of the officers of the local authorities and the Minister and the Custom House and it is gone. The 1934 Act gave that provision, gave that safeguard.

The position now is that there is absolute prohibition on the carrying out of any development in this country except in accordance with the plan. Permission must be got for any of this development. If it is contrary to the plan that must be produced by every local authority within three years it will not get that permission. The Minister's general approach, naturally, must be, if he is carrying out the policy, to instruct his officers that they must throw out the appeal in a certain set of circumstances. The Parliamentary draftsman has seen to it that the flaw I outlined in the previous Act will be sealed up. No longer will it be possible anywhere for a man to say: "Here is my land. I want to develop it in a certain way. That way is not obnoxious. It is unlikely that I will be sued in common law by my neighbours. If I develop in that way then, later on, if a road goes through it, I may not receive compensation but at least I can do what I now propose." Now, he cannot do it if he does not win his appeal which is most unlikely. If, in the first instance, it is not granted then his unfortunate situation is that the officers of the local authority can enter upon his lands, can demolish any structure he has put thereon, can charge him with the cost of it and, if they cannot get the money from him, they can make an instalment order. That is a complete analogy with Section 31 of the Local Government Act, 1931, which sought to do the same thing if a landlord did not repair a house for a tenant. That has never been implemented and in my view so long as democracy exists in this State this will not happen either.

In Section 26 of the Bill, there is another situation where all-enveloping power is sought by the Minister and his Department. Land beside land to be developed may fall within the ambit of this measure. A direction may be given that such shall or shall not be done to achieve conformity. I feel that there you can get a complete conflict of ideas and plans for development between the owner of the land who is, of course, always subject to commercial and financial considerations, and the local authority. I have in mind the man in a town who, perhaps, might decide that on one site he would place a restaurant and, next to it, a bar, if he has a bar licence. If the local authority did not like the lines on which he was progressing, if they felt his two buildings were not in conformity, they could inform him, in effect: "No. If you put a restaurant there it must be such and such a size. If you put a restaurant there which is three stories high the bar must also be three stories high." That conflicts with everything the man hoped would be his opportunity. It conflicts with the freedom that we have.

I am the first to admit we do not want to see buildings that are distasteful to the eye, buildings that are not in—and I deliberately use the same word—conformity with the rest of the street. A little bit of individuality is probably the opposite to Georgian architecture which we have heard so much about but it can very often be extremely nice. I would be very doubtful, where an individual wanted to be out of line if he would get the sort of approach he should get from the engineers in the Department of Local Government. He might want to be different. He might want to be one up on his neighbours. I have never met anybody in Local Government who would perhaps sympathise with that commercial instinct.

Section 33 takes in all unauthorised structures before the Bill is enacted. I know of one such unauthorised structure. I do not know how long ago it was built but there is an Order under the Town and Country Planning Act— I presume of 1934 or the previous Act—to have it removed. The man involved is a decent man who runs a public house in the town of Drogheda. He has no capital to build a new public house. The situation is that if the planning authority decide that that is a dangerous corner, it can demolish the public house. I do not know what happens then; I have tried to puzzle it out under this Bill but I do not think it should arise because I can mention twice as dangerous a corner which was created in the construction of a new road by the county council engineers, not threequarters of a mile away. I was in a car belonging to one of them the other day and we both agreed it was an extremely dangerous corner. I do not know what the situation is in relation to the house there but it shows that county council planning is not always perfect. We have a good county council but we have not always produced the perfect situation. All those errors can be removed at the expense of the individual and the individual must fall before them.

In relation to power, the Bill is an omnibus Bill. It takes in everything. When you consider Sections 31, 32, 33, 35 and 36, you find that all these sections have the phrase "any other material considerations". Those are the empowering sections, the sections under which orders are made and under which compulsion is used. I am a member of Drogheda Corporation, a member of Louth County Council and a member of the Dáil. When the Government put through this measure I shall not have time to go through it nor will any other individual and even if I did, I would not have time to advert to all the material considerations which might result from an order under this Bill which might interfere with the rights of the individual. Once it is there and has been viewed by the public and representations made, it is law and there you are.

The question of advertising is one on which there can be very mixed views. There was a cartoon in the Irish Independent of November 17th, 1961, which showed a beach; the view of the front of the beach was blocked off by advertisements along the road and the caption is: “Will it come to this?” It is quite clear there must be regulation on advertising but if an advertisement is not obnoxious, immoral or in any way undesirable and if it does not interfere with a particular scenic view, an accepted view of great beauty, then the individual who owns the land should have the right to lease a site to company officials who want to erect an advertisement, gain the profit thereon from his property, and the company should have the right to expend their money and to gain their profit from the increase in trade.

Some people may think that is extraordinary but I do not think so. Deputy Crinion mentioned seeing advertisements on the hoardings in Italy. I went through Italy, too, and saw very beautiful advertising hoardings. They advertised Chianti wine and Compori and Strega liqueurs, which were all very cheap.

Does the Deputy really believe that? I think they are appalling.

It did not worry me at all. Looking out across the beach, I did not see them in places where there were scenic views, in places where they were obnoxious. I do not think that the area between Dunleer and Drogheda is a scenic place. I live half way between the two towns and I have six or seven fields in which I do not intend to sell advertising space to anybody but I defend my right to sell it. I could sell six spaces where all the view you would obscure would be 50 yards of grass or of wheat. Is there anything wrong with that? Why should my rights as an individual be interfered with? Why should the rights of every owner of land in the country be interfered with? If you go along a certain road in my county, you can see the Mourne mountains, the Cooley mountains and Dundalk Bay and if somebody wants to erect a huge hoarding to block out that view there is no provision in that regard in the Bill. If I want to put up a hoarding against a background of grass in my own field, advertising my own public house across the hill, I can be stopped. The Minister for Transport and Power contends it is horrible, it is outrageous. I do not see anything wrong with it.

If I have any power I will stop signs being erected every 150 yards the entire way from Dunleer to Drogheda. If I have any power or if the Government have any power, we shall see that it is stopped.

Is that a democratic viewpoint? I do not think it is.

I do not think the Minister should be able to do it but the local authority should have the right to decide whether or not it should be done.

If we are going to stop signposting along roads in every place where it does not affect driving or road safety, then the reasons why signs shall be so prohibited should be specified in this Bill.

I said "continuous signposting".

All right—why continuous signposting should be so prohibited. What is wrong with taking the advantage we have of the people who come to us from the North of Ireland? The Larne-Stranraer ferry is a most popular way for tourists to travel. They drive down along the road we have just been talking about. Would it not be great if, when they have crossed the Border, they saw advertisements for the products we produce here—advertisements that do not interfere with scenic views but are merely examples of commercialism, the thing that gives us our bread and butter, and an odd steak maybe? That is the way I feel about it. Everybody has a right to a certain view, and the Minister for Transport and Power and Deputy Corish are entitled to their views. But so long as the signs are not obnoxious and do not affect any scenic attractions, which are the property of everybody, and so long as they are permitted by the landowners, why not? I want to see all the products we make here advertised. I want to see Comhlucht Siúicre Éireann's new vegetables advertised. I want to see the new "Harp" lager advertised. Even if local authorities were to specify that they could give priority to signs advertising our own products, there would be something in that. But under this Bill the local authority—in practice, the county manager — can prohibit all signs and I regard that as quite wrong.

Deputy Crinion also mentioned Australia and said that when they wanted to re-design Canberra, they got in several experts, who did the job in a global fashion. It is a grand situation when you have only 10,000,000 people in a place like Australia. But even with our 2,250,000 people, it is not a proposition. Whatever are the strictures in this Bill — it is a Bill composed of strictures alone — you will never afford to move back the houses where the streets are too narrow. It is right that we should not continue to build extremely narrow streets and obstruct the passage of traffic, but you will never afford to change Ireland the way you want to do it.

If you are going to take away the rights of individuals, you are in grave danger—and I say this without referring to any personalities—of creating a society of demi-gods: local authority officials, Department of Local Government officials and the Minister. All we want in that situation is a close little get-together and we are all in their power. Personally, I do not want to see the Irish people in anybody's power, whether in or out of Government. It is from the Irish people we derive this power. We are their servants, not their masters. We should take that as a rule of thumb in the matter of government. While we can all have our strong views—the Minister for Transport and Power has expressed his — at the same time, unless we are sure we have a majority, we should not inflict them.

My last word is that I hope on Committee Stage we will see many amendments accepted by the Minister so as to bring a little democracy, a little flavour of man's right to live in his own property as he wishes, into this Bill. Then we may have something worthwhile. As it stands, it is gravely in need of serious amendment; and I hope that will come.

The Minister's most comprehensive survey and explanation of the provisions of the Bill leaves little to be said. Much of the comment made in the House will, therefore, refer to the form which a particular plan should take and might be more properly addressed to the particular planning authority. Comment, however, must be made. It will be the duty of public representatives to exercise the vigilance to which the Minister refers, because vigilance will be necessary if a town plan is to be realistic and long-term.

Certain developments which might seem ideal to a planning authority could, on more mature consideration, prove unsuited to the needs of the people. There are at the moment in Dublin city old parishes which are being denuded of their populations because of the inroads being made by industry. There must be incorporated into any plan for Dublin city provision for the erection of municipal flats in two very old Dublin city parishes, City Quay and Westland Row. Nothing else will satisfy public opinion in these areas and nothing else will do justice to the avowed desire of the corporation to provide a decent dwelling for every citizen.

Planning in Dublin Corporation has been and is a continuous process. The appalling legacy of bad and insufficient housing we inherited necessitated continual planning, because some order had to be brought into the business of demolition, reconditioning and building, if the city were not to degenerate into a hopeless jumble of flats and houses erected at random.

If planning is to remain a continuous process, any Act which makes planning obligatory upon a municipal authority must give the authority some power to alter a submitted plan in order to meet changing circumstances. For that reason, the sections which demand periodic reappraisal of original plans must be welcomed. The previous Act appears to have been too rigid and too uncompromising in its demands.

In the period of change and development through which the country is passing, rigidity makes only for frustration and impatience with a law which refuses to recognise a fresh need.

The Minister referred to the significance of planning in relation to our efforts to promote and expand industry. It would be well to remember that if these efforts continue to prove successful, then in addition to an expanding industry, we will have an increase in population. Such an increase is bound to cause a continuance of our housing problem. Therefore, anxious as any planning authority may be to play its part in developing industry, care must be taken to ensure that housing needs do not conflict with those of industry. It might be better to move industry to the city's outskirts rather than the people.

The Minister's expressed disapproval of huge advertisement hoardings along new frontages is welcomed. Too often these hoardings cause most irritating obstruction of what was intended to be a broad, sweeping view of a stretch of countryside gracefully developed. Occasionally, they are erected in such a way that they obstruct the visitor's view of a new and impressive example of modern Irish architecture—perhaps a school or a church. If the people who are responsible for these road advertisements lack good taste, then there is no alternative but to prohibit the erection of such advertisements except on selected sites.

The Minister also referred to the conservation of amenities. Surely one of Dublin city's greatest amenities is the grand wide boulevard of O'Connell Street. It is something in which Dubliners particularly, and every Irishman in general, can take pride, and it would be a pity to see it degenerate into a series of slot-machine shops, bellowing forth the loudest and noisiest of the latest pop tunes. Anything less dignified and less gracious it would be difficult to imagine. I submit that no one has any desire to interfere with the legitimate pastimes of the people, nor to tamper with the rights and liberties of the individual, but no one will thank us if we allow our greatest thoroughfare to develop into a succession of "honky-tonk" gambling saloons and amusement centres.

It is an irritating experience for one who holds any affection for his capital city to take a walk along O'Connell Street and be greeted by these noisy, ugly products of the 20th century. It may be said that these places are the inevitable product of an age in which people are enjoying more and more leisure and, therefore, more and more time for pleasure. Whatever may be said, and whatever may be the arguments for and against the existence of these pleasure palaces, certainly there can be no justification for allowing them to spring up ad lib. in our city centre. I submit that unless some effort is made to curb this undesirable development, then O'Connell Street will lose its attraction for ourselves and for our visitors, and if O'Connell Street loses its attraction, then the charm and dignity and order which our architects and our builders are endeavouring to bring to our city will be lost.

We cannot evict the owners of the existing saloons but we can discourage the trend and see to it that no more of these places are allowed to open in O'Connell Street. There are other parts of the city more suitable for this form of business, if we must have it at all.

That is exactly the spirit of the Bill—to stop people doing whatever they want to do because we do not agree with it. Who are we to say whether it is right or wrong?

I have an opinion to express and surely the Deputy should let me give my opinion?

The Minister interrupted me. We are not that——

We have come a long way from the bad old days when Dublin was notorious for its slums. Thanks to our efforts, and the efforts of our predecessors over the past 40 years, those slums have almost completely disappeared. It would be a tragedy if we were now to exchange the slum of the old days for a modern one. So it will be, unless we take steps to demonstrate our consciousness of beauty and our detestation of ugliness.

As Deputy Corish has already said, we in the Labour Party welcome the Bill because we believe it is long past the time when amending legislation to the 1939 Act should be introduced. We do not agree with everything the Bill contains. As a matter of fact, we disagree with the way in which many of the sections are put. I would not go so far as Deputy Donegan went, and say they are deliberately trying to prevent the citizen from exercising his right to do what he wants with his own property.

One of the things in the Bill to which we object is the fact that while the local authority is mentioned on numerous occasions and the right of the local authority to do certain things, in fact, the Bill means the county manager. Very few functions are reserved to the members of the local authority themselves. For that reason, we feel that while the managers may be people who have the interests of the area they govern—and "govern" is the right word—at heart, nevertheless, we do not think they have the local knowledge, in many cases, which is necessary in order to put the point of view of the local people of what is required. That is where I agree with Deputy Donegan. I think the interests of the local people must be taken into consideration.

Advertising hoardings were mentioned by practically every Deputy who spoke. I have mixed views about them. I remember an incident where a rather poor person had a small portion of land adjoining a main road. He had a house and he had erected a rather ugly-looking shed. He was offered quite a considerable sum by an advertising agency if he would allow them to put up what I thought was a very artistic poster between the shed and the road. The local authority said it would disfigure the area and he was refused permission. In fact, nothing could be more disfiguring than the old shed. I would not like to see it on any main road. In his wisdom, or otherwise the county manager decided that it would be wrong to put a poster on a hoarding between the shed and the road and the result is that we still have an uninterrupted view of the old shed which, I assure the House, is not improving with age.

I know that quite a number of hoardings have been erected throughout the country which are objectionable. They are not obscene or anything like that, but they impede the view of the area, or the scenery of which there should be an uninterrupted view. At the same time, certain types of hoardings have been erected in certain areas which could, in fact, improve the area, provided they are kept in good order and not allowed to become tattered and remain in a tattered and rustry condition for years. As Deputy Donegan said, they may be covering up, perhaps, a field of bad wheat or something like that. In my opinion, if advertising signs are properly designed, there is nothing wrong in putting them up. I still think it depends on the individual case and I believe the right to decide whether or not they can be erected might possibly rest with somebody who would know the area well and would know whether or not it would interfere with the amenities.

When we talk about hoardings, particularly advertisement hoardings, we should go a little further and inquire about the poles and wires which the ESB and the Post Office are erecting all over the place. Surely nobody in this House or outside will deny that there is more disfigurement of amenities by such poles and wires than there is by advertisement hoardings? At present the Post Office appear to be making an effort to lay some of their cables underground. When that is done, I hope the old poles and wires will be taken down. That will get rid of some of the disfigurement. I do not know if anyone here has ever gone along the seashore and has gone out to sea to view the land from there. The one thing that strikes one is the ugliness of the array, or disarray, of poles and wires which seem to be spread all over the place. When we speak about preventing the disfigurement of areas and the protection of scenic beauty, we should remember that more than advertising hoardings are involved.

Reference has been made to the right to zone areas and to decide whether or not the local authority has the right to say that only buildings of a certain type will be put in one area and buildings of a different type in another. I am not too sure that that is what is meant. I understood it was a recommendation rather than an actual decision that is contained in the Bill. However, I am sure that will be explained later on. Deputies who spoke here this evening seemed to think that we should have everything planned and that we should get away from the traditional type of building and should adopt more modern styles. A few Deputies who have recently visited Brasilia will remember that the planning there is of the most modern, but I do not think that any of us would like to see Dublin city developed on the same lines. The attempt which has been made in Brasilia to be ultramodern has defeated itself. Of course, as Deputy Cummins said, O'Connell Street is a lovely street and anything that disfigures it should be condemned but there are lovely streets, lovely villages and lovely towns in this country. We must be practical and remember that while O'Connell Street is supposed to be the widest street in Europe, there are very many lovely towns in this country that have streets that are not O'Connell Streets, that are, in fact, so narrow that it is impossible for two vehicles to pass each other. In such cases one of two things must be done. If possible, the street must be widened, or alternatively, the street will almost certainly be by-passed eventually. We must face up to that. Under existing legislation, there is very little provision for that situation. It is past time when the necessary powers should be taken to ensure that such cases can be dealt with.

With reference to the legislation as it stands at present, particularly the 1939 Act, those of us who are members of a local authority are aware that the legislation is mainly carried out on pure bluff, that if the public knew exactly what the local authority was entitled or not entitled to do under the Act, there would be very little action taken against the people who are doing things which the local authority say they cannot do under the law. I am aware that there was a provision made to cover the position where the local authority decided by resolution that there should be planning for a certain area. I have in mind a particular area where such planning was prepared for and quite a considerable amount of money spent in having a plan drawn up. When the plan was examined, the engineer for the area estimated the cost at approximately £20 million. This was some years ago before costs went up.

I hope when this Bill becomes law and it is mandatory on local authorities to prepare plans that we will not have any £20 million plans being prepared by people such as those who prepared the plans for Brasilia, people who have no idea of costs, who merely want to show what they would like to do if they had not to foot the bill. There is grave danger that something like that may occur. I would ask that that aspect be given grave consideration and that when we say a plan must be prepared within three years, it will not be a case of putting the pistol to the head of a local authority who then must hire somebody. The architects with the ability to prepare plans such as I imagine are required here are not so numerous that a local authority could rush out and get one tomorrow who would be prepared to go right into the job. We could finish up with some more of these £20 million or £40 million schemes which would make the entire Bill unworkable.

Reference has been made to ribbon building. I know the Department are completely against the type of ribbon building which we have had but can one blame local authorities if they are inclined to carry out ribbon building when the only hope they have of doing a job any way reasonably is by building along existing roads? If the question of adding new roads to a building scheme arises, the cost of the scheme and of the houses being built is increased considerably. For that reason, there will have to be a new approach by the Department, and I hope it can be adopted under this Bill, when it comes to the question of development in an area where extended new roads are required.

A number of Dublin Deputies this evening referred to building in Dublin but I did not hear anybody referring to something which has occurred in Dublin where schemes have been started and roads have been run a certain distance and, at a later stage, somebody decides to develop the scheme further and finds that not only will he have to make a road into the scheme which he is developing but will also have to re-make a road which was only half-made by someone else.

There is one case which I understand is under consideration at the present time where a contractor is being asked to take down a corner which is not on the property he is developing, in order to make the road safe. The corner is on a portion of road supposed to have been already developed many years ago by a predecessor of his. These are matters which should be covered in a Bill of this kind. Provision should be made to ensure that anything that is done is done properly. The local authority and the people who are going to live in the houses should have the fullest possible coverage from the Legislature so that they will not have their eyes wiped by some smart Aleck who decides to take the easy way out by gerrybuilding. Somebody suggested that we will probably see the end of gerrybuilding when this Bill is passed. I think we are a long way from seeing the end of the type of building the smart Aleck gets away with.

The question of planning and developing areas has been referred to mainly as affecting the cities and some towns but, in fact, rural Ireland must also be considered in relation to development. A number of rural areas at present, because of industries and other reasons, have recently increased their populations and as a result require many extra houses. Some local authorities have begun making provision for an increased number of houses in country villages. Two or three problems immediately arise. One is the question of acquiring the land. The second is the question of dealing with the roads to get into the new buildings before they are completed and then there is the question of public lighting. All those things should be very fully covered in a Bill of this sort.

Certain public lighting has been carried out in villages throughout the country over the years. At every estimate meeting of a local authority we find somebody has suggested that all the villages in the county should be lighted and the county engineer usually submits an estimate of the cost and, as the estimates go along, and as the people who want to keep the rates as low as possible take off a farthing here and a penny there, we eventually find that the couple of pence extra required for public lighting is deleted. Year after year it comes up and year after year it goes out. Occasionally, as a big concession for some reason or other, a half-penny or a farthing will be included in the estimate to have extra public lighting in one of the villages where someone has already been killed. I think the onus is on the Department to ensure that extra houses are built and that if an area becomes a built-up area the Department should insist that there is proper public lighting.

Last year or the year before, a revised public lighting system was suggested by the Department of Local Government and that recommendation was sent to all local authorities. No doubt if the lighting, as laid down in this recommendation, were carried out we would have a wonderful lighting system, almost as good as they have in Brasilia but the trouble is that if the local authorities were unable to find the few extra pence required or were not prepared to find them in order to have the existing type of lighting installed in the country villages where it was required, it was surely nonsense to suggest that they be asked to replace all the lighting in the area with a system costing about ten times as much.

This is something that has been glossed over in this Bill. It should be dealt with very fully and local authorities should be forced to provide proper lighting in all built-up areas under their jurisdiction. It is all right to say that amenities which are mentioned here are desirable but unless it is mandatory and unless local authorities must do these things they are not prepared in many cases to provide any amenities at all. It is all right for nonmembers of local authorities to say here that the amenities should be provided but it is another thing to be a member of a local authority and try to get the money provided for an amenity. Therefore, I believe the Department must do much more than simply say that the planning authorities would be empowered to do certain things. Finding the money to pay for what they may do is an entirely different matter.

Deputy Crinion referred to rights of way. So did one or two others. I think this must be considered not alone by the Minister but by a number of other Ministers. For years past, rights of way were required in certain places and by general usage the width of a cart has been the maximum width of most of them. It is now found with modern machinery, particularly harvest machinery, that it is almost impossible to get in and out of some farms because the existing right of way has an entrance of a certain width. I have in mind a recent case where a farmer in getting a combine into a farm which was passing through portion of a lane owned by somebody else had to take down a pier of a gate. He harvested his crop but when he was finished not only did the other farmer insist on having the pier rebuilt exactly as it was but also on getting fairly heavy damages for disturbance of the pier. He took advantage of the man trying to harvest his crop. Since I came to this House this is the first Bill in which I found any reference to rights of way and I think that it should set a lead and if a right of way is laid down it should be wide enough to allow modern machinery to go in and out and should not just be wide enough to take merely a donkey and cart which would be all right many years ago.

There is another case in which possibly the Department could help and that is where entrances to seaside places are concerned. We have a number of seaside resorts in my constituency and, unfortunately, the entrances to most of them are not what they should be. As a local authority, we have some difficulty because when we wanted to acquire one of those entrances, which is normally accepted as being a public entrance, the persons who owned the adjoining land claimed they were paying rates on that entrance and would not allow the county council to spend money on improving it, making it possible for people to go in and out. This is something I think the local authority should be empowered to do under the new Bill and I hope it is included.

This has been described as a Committee Stage Bill and I believe that is a true description of it but I hope there will be a number of amendments introduced to improve it. Unlike some speakers, I hope the Minister himself, after listening to the suggestions offered, will amend the Bill. It is very easy for a Minister to delete or improve a section, compared to having it done by somebody on the opposite side.

Let me refer again to the question of who has the right to make decisions in those cases. The Bill says "the local authority": surely, the fact that it is not the local authority but the manager who makes the decision should be clearly set out? I believe the right should lie with the local representatives. I am aware that some managers are a long way ahead of many elected representatives as regards doing progressive things but still I believe when the local authority is empowered to do something, that should mean the elected representatives.

Under existing legislation, when the local authority or the county manager refuse permission to somebody to do something and an appeal is laid before the Minister, I believe the matter is dealt with very fairly. I was rather surprised to hear somebody say tonight that if the manager makes a decision, the Minister will make the same decision. Under existing legislation, such as it is, in 99 cases out of 100, appeals to the Minister have been successful if the case is in any way reasonable at all.

Petrol pumps were mentioned and whether or not there should be some way of trying to control them. It is rather unfortunate that in the area around the city, we have petrol pumps every 50 yards of the road. In country districts, particularly villages, people who have sought permission to erect petrol pumps in perfectly safe places have been refused. This is one instance in which the Minister might be a little more lenient when appeals come before him.

Having had some experience of town planning, there is little doubt in my mind as to the necessity for a change, for revised legislation. Whether or not the Bill now before the House is likely to make the most adequate provision in the most reasonable way is something which deserves very careful and very painstaking consideration. We cannot forget that the Bill asks that a plan be made before the end of three years. Once that plan is made, every piece of private property in the area concerned is governed by its provisions.

The Bill seeks considerably extended powers for planning authorities and for the Minister. In view of our experience in the Dublin area in recent years, I believe additional powers are needed. Because this Bill seeks such extended powers for the Minister, it is a dangerous Bill. Every possible safeguard should be written into it, consistent, of course, with securing orderly and necessary planning.

The Minister pointed out that expensive road improvements could not be vitiated by allowing ribbon development along main roads, and so on. He referred specifically to petrol stations. What happened on the Naas Road? Applications for petrol stations on the Naas road were invariably turned down by the Dublin planning authority. When they were sent to the Department by way of appeal, invariably they were allowed. The decision of the planning authority was reversed.

In this Bill, we propose to give very much increased powers to the Minister. That gives an opening to a Minister to use that power for Party political purposes. It may be that appeals in the future will be so numerous that the Minister could not possibly deal with them but there will always be that number in which he may personally be interested or in which some influence will be brought to bear upon him. I refer to the petrol companies because I feel that strong influences have been brought to bear and have succeeded and that unfair advantage may be given to people in such positions over those in very much weaker positions.

There is much in this Bill to commend it. Local authorities need extra power. In Dublin, I am glad to say, we have very experienced planning officials. They are men of integrity, men with a national outlook, men who are prepared to bend over backwards, I would say, to accommodate any worthwhile development. It has always angered me when an appeal went to the Minister and, without giving any reason whatever, the decision of the local planning authority was reversed. Their decision had been arrived at with knowledge of all the local circumstances. One of the changes that should be made in the present legislation is that if we insist that the Minister has the final say, we should make sure that when the Minister gives his verdict, he will give his reasons for it. There should also be a limitation on the time taken to give the verdict. Developers, builders, are very often held up unnecessarily by delays of one sort or another.

I should like now to pass on to community planning generally. We have had a lot of difficulty in Dublin in this connection, for various reasons. One thing I have seen developing, because of lack of power with local authorities, is that a very sizeable community is built up and then it becomes extremely obvious that no sites are available for churches, schools, health centres, libraries and recreation. I agree with Deputy Tully in quite a few things he said here tonight. Local authorities should have not only the right to provide these amenities but an obligation to provide them. Planning of that sort should not be allowed to develop. Any county should disown it.

This difficulty arises much more frequently in Dublin. We have had much more experience of it than country Deputies are likely to meet with for a very long time. However, all over the place we have had this sort of thing. Children of very tender age have to travel long distances to schools. Mothers with schoolgoing children have to bring them long distances— and, where they have no help in the home, at inconvenient hours—to health centres or dispensaries of one sort or another. There should be a centre in each community in which all these essential services are provided.

We have haphazard community development all over the place. Again, very big numbers of people have been moved from the centre of the city to the fringe, some miles out, with no local opportunities for employment of any description. Not only should sites be reserved for churches, schools, health centres, and so on, but there should be, in an area where there are a lot of working-class people, sites for industry. Local authorities should have a very definite interest and take a very active part in the provision of employment opportunities, in the establishment of industries, in the provision of sites for industries and in the invitation of industrialists to come along to the local authority who should then be able to produce a plan and say: "We have sites here with all the services laid on, electricity, water and so on." We should be able to give industrialists a complete picture of the possibilities in any given area. This is something we have not been doing. One of the things that militates against that effort is discrimination in regard to grants but that is a matter I may not go into on the measure before us now.

In regard to the development of estates generally the powers given up to the present have been insufficient. In County Dublin there are unfinished estates and we seem to have totally inadequate power to make the developer complete the work he originally agreed to carry out. In many cases people have bought their houses in a hurry. They are often inexperienced people, people who are about to get married, who just want a house at any price and will take practically the first house that is offered. If they know and like the area they will not consider all the snags that may arise afterwards and they will not have regard to the fact that there is no power available to them to get reasonable surroundings and reasonable amenities adjacent to their house afterwards.

As I understand Section 35 of the Bill, it gives such power and I should like to be assured by the Minister that this power has retrospective application, which is not clear to me from reading the Bill. Furthermore, the developer is not the only person who should be tied down in this Bill. The obligations of the local authorities should be clearly stated. In many cases local authorities have been unreasonable with developers. This works both ways. When an estate is being developed it should not only be possible but it should be obligatory for a local authority to take that estate in charge road by road. That has not been done in the past and I have known up to 12 years to elapse before people were given the normal services they were entitled to expect because the estate had not been taken in charge. From the developer's point of view perhaps he on many occasions had a new estate fully developed and prepared for takeover but it would not be taken over because he could not hand over the total estate. There should be a clear indication as to the obligations of both sides and this should apply not only to roads and houses but to open spaces.

It should also be clearly stated what should be the open space a local authority is entitled to require a developer to provide. This has been described from time to time as a lung. It is very difficult for a member of a local authority to understand what exactly is a lung. Is an open space all the space that is not built on or is it the space that can provide recreation ground? Does it include roads? I never could get any sort of clear indication of what "open space" meant.

Another drawback affecting this type of community development is that the people are not consulted sufficiently. Therefore, they have no interest and do not help to bring the community into being. There is no encouragement for local development associations and no sense of belonging to the new community. Before there is any definite planning decision with regard to new areas every effort should be made to consult the people, to tell them about the planning arrangements the local authority has in mind and get their opinion and their suggestions. It is only in this way you will get the co-operation that is absolutely essential if newly developed areas are to be respected and if the people are to feel they are members of that community. We should be anxious to form something along the lines of the old villages where there was almost complete social integration and where individuality and privacy were preserved while at the same time the people felt this was their area and that they had a hand in the planning of it. At present the estate is just dumped there and people get the impression that this is something that has been foisted upon them.

Dublin is a special region as far as planning is concerned and this Bill has very little concern with most other parts of the country. The Minister and the officers of his Department who have prepared this Bill are fortunate in having considerable experience available to them from the much more advanced planning in other countries. If there is one thing more than another that has called for planning it is the motor car. It seems to be the motor car that has given rise to so many difficulties in other countries. In New York, for instance, there is one car for every three people. We can imagine what this country would be like if the same ratio obtained here, and I believe we are advancing very rapidly to that point.

Debate adjourned.