Committee on Finance. - Vote 26 — Local Government (Resumed).

Debate resumed on the following motion:
That the vote be referred back for reconsideration.
— (Deputy T.J. Fitzpatrick(Cavan).)

Last evening I confined my remarks generally to the situation in the Dublin area. I am sure Deputies will accept that in doing so, I did not wish in any way to suggest that everything was satisfactory in other cities or towns and in the rural areas throughout the country, from the point of view of housing. I have no doubt that Deputies who are aware of the immediate problems in the constituencies they represent will take this opportunity to deal with those problems on this Estimate.

I referred yesterday to the type of dwellings and I should like to go back to that point because it appears to me that on this ground, too, there has been very little research. It is true to some extent that newer materials were used in these dwellings in one or two cases. In the Ballymun project, a system of industrialised building was introduced. There has been some benefit from its introduction and from the point of view of the construction process, there has been more rapid production of dwellings. Even so, there were a few major faults, possibly due to the fact that we took over a system operating in a different country, a system of construction the suitability of which we could not measure.

We found that even though flats and houses — flats in particular — could be erected rapidly in France, between the original designers, the National Building Agency and the technical advisers, some glaring mistakes were made from the point of view of the flats. The final aim of any building is to provide suitable accommodation for family life. Either that is the aim or it is purely a question of putting up buildings, and fitting families arbitrarily within the confines of so many walls, and letting the families adjust themselves.

As I say, there were faults. In the tower block, it was found that one-sixth of the flats had kitchens with no direct access to air or light, and in the case of the houses, it was found that serious mistakes had been made also. These houses were meant for reasonably large families and it was found that the kitchenettes were completely inadequate in size. Whatever else local representatives should have to do, they should not be put in the situation of having to point out faults in design. A number of the faults were corrected. Some have not yet been corrected and possibly never can be corrected because the houses are up.

Having regard to this fact, the design of the local authority dwellings in the city and throughout the country, and the design of the SDA houses, it appears that little progress is being made. It is true that the designs submitted by private architects and local authority architects, especially the latter, go to the Department for investigation. We have had a number of commissions set up in recent years. We have had experts studying the traffic problems; we have had experts studying the water problems; we have had experts studying this problem and that problem; but the problems of human family living do not appear to have received any real attention, having regard to the dwellings that continue to be constructed with substantial aid from public money.

It is time a survey was made — and a survey at the grassroots. With due respect to the Minister, Members of the House, and the architects who draw lines on paper and who take courses to achieve the ability to do so, they are not always the best judges of the type of accommodation required by families. I sympathise with the technical people when they are offered an area with a maximum of 1,000 square feet and told to produce five family dwellings with three bedrooms, two living rooms and a kitchenette. They start in on their drawing but they are handicapped by the size of the area on which they are operating.

Has any attempt been made to find out from the people who are basically concerned with this matter, the housewives, whether the type of dwelling they are living in is suitable, and as convenient as possible for themselves and their families? The person most qualified to express an opinion as to the suitability of the type of dwelling being erected is the person who, by the nature of things, spends most time in the dwelling in rearing and feeding a family.

On a previous occasion I had to complain about the type of kitchenette provided in the houses in Ballvmun. The type plan that, to my mind, speaking purely from observation, appeared most suitable was type C. That was dropped. Type A. which was adopted, provided for a kitchenette that had doors at oblique corners, with the result that a woman who had to spend a great deal of time in that kitchenette was exposed in cold or wet weather to continuous draught. I would ask the Minister if he would consider having a survey carried out in order to ascertain from the people living in these dwellings as to whether or not they consider that the dwellings at present being constructed are of a type that meet their family needs.

The Minister has responsibility other than for housing. The question of roads comes within his jurisdiction. At this time of the year motorists who have to drive anywhere through the country, but particularly through the towns and cities, are faced all the time with serious danger arising from the reflection of lights from the black, wet surface. In any street with a black tarmacadam finish, whether it is raining or after rain, the road is wet and the reflection of the lights overhead and the lights of cars calls for a very high degree of alertness on the part of motorists. It places the pedestrian in increasing danger. I do not know whether there is any answer to this problem or not. It is a problem that occurs in other countries. I do not know whether any research has been made to secure a remedy for this problem. The position is not so bad on some country roads where material other than black in colour is used. These roads are much more restful, glare and reflection are reduced.

The Minister has responsibility in regard to the question of speed limits. With some reluctance, special speed limits have been introduced on the dual carriageway at Naas. Do we not think it is time to tackle this problem of speed, not merely on that carriageway but on every main road? Is there any justification for not having a speed limit on the main road to Cork, apart from the portion at Naas? Is there any justification for not having a speed limit on roads on which there are junctions?

The total time gained in travelling at a very high speed from Dublin to Cork may amount to 15 to 20 minutes or half an hour. What does one do with that half hour? How often does a motorist driving at that speed expose himself or his passengers or other road users to very serious risk? It is not necessary to mention the distance in which a car travelling at 50 to 60 miles an hour can be pulled up. There are graphs available on that subject which I am sure are in the possession of the Minister. Firms manufacturing or assembling cars include in their advertisements as a desirable feature the speed at which the car can travel. One car may have a capacity of 80 miles an hour and the car beside it, which has a capacity of 85 or 90 miles an hour can be sold more readily. Capacity is used as a selling point in the case of ordinary saloon cars.

It has been proved conclusively, and unfortunately as a result of tragedy, that high speed, even on a dual carriageway, is most dangerous. In this country there are no motorways. Even on the motorways of Britain it has been found necessary to impose a speed limit. On the motorways on the Continent and in the United States of America speed limits are in operation. Although we have no motorways, we have a road problem comparable with that in other countries but we do not impose a speed limit and the toll of death and injury is increasing. It is quite true to say that the imposition of a speed limit does not necessarily eliminate the carnage on the road but there have been beneficial results where a speed limit has been imposed.

After all, the total length of the country from the extreme north to the extreme south is only 300 miles and from east to west it is only 150 miles, possibly a bit more if one includes Achill. Is it necessary that a bus travelling from Dublin to Galway should do the journey in two hours? I cannot think of a single instance in which travelling at that speed is justified in a country the size of ours, whatever justification there may be for high speed travelling on a continent that is 3,000 miles across. In a small country like ours, in thinking about speed, surely we should first of all think in terms of the needs that exist. A great deal of money is being spent, possibly justifiably, on main roads, but the expenditure can be justified only if those roads are constructed with the object of carrying traffic more easily and more safely. There is no value in spending thousands upon thousands on main roads to carry a greater density of traffic more easily if, at the same time, those roads are not constructed in such a manner as to enable them to carry that traffic more safely. Sad to relate, the reverse seems to be the case.

There is another problem, a problem that exists mainly in cities and built-up areas. I refer to the tardy installation of traffic lights, either automatic or pedestrian controlled. We know this is a function of the Commissioner of the Garda Síochána, but there appears to be a peculiar lack of liaison between the Department of Local Government, the local authorities who carry out building programmes, and the Garda Síochána. Large estates to be occupied by thousands of families are built. The plans initially are submitted to the Department by the local authorities and approved. Work goes ahead. Road patterns are laid out. The houses are built. Two or three years afterwards representations are made to us and we have to address questions to the Minister pointing out the need for having traffic lights or pedestrian controlled lights at certain points.

I understand there is a body called Foras Forbartha which is supposed to have some standing in the Department of Local Government. I understand, too, that the Garda Síochána are supposed to be able to make projections with regard to both vehicular traffic and pedestrian traffic. Why is it necessary then to have to wait until estates are built to make representations for the installation of traffic lights, pedestrian controlled or otherwise? There is a function called a traffic study.

Let me give a few illustrations now of what happens. For the last few years, in my constituency, between the Black Banks at Raheny and Sutton Cross there has been housing development on the left hand side of the road. There has been very substantial development on Kilbarrack road, with a road coming out on to the main Dublin-Howth road. There has been development further on on the Wates Estate. There is development at Sutton Park; there are some hundreds of dwellings there. Children in these areas coming out to get a bus to travel into town have to cross the main road. Any authority with anything to do with this development should have been aware that there would be a problem here of children crossing a main road. Children who alight from a bus at the side next to the sea have to cross the road. From Sutton Cross all the way to Black Banks there is not a single traffic island or any pedestrian controlled traffic light.

Motorists, unfortunately, when they get behind the wheel of a car shed a great deal of their humanity. That includes many of us here in this House. One of the diseases we motorists appear to suffer from is an anxiety not to be held up by traffic lights and to keep on the tail of the car in front, irrespective of who is approaching from either side. Now this should be known to the authorities concerned, but no traffic lights are erected until someone is killed. A human life is taken and at that stage it is decided that some protection must be given by the erection of traffic lights of some kind. I do not know whether there have been any fatalities as yet on this stretch of road and I certainly hope that there will be none before some protection is afforded to pedestrian users of the road. It is almost a two-mile stretch without any protection of any kind for pedestrians.

The responsibilities of the Minister are many and varied. Not so very long ago the Minister indicated to the local authority that he is prepared to approve of the temporary closing of the Grand Canal to permit the local authority to provide a main sewer and a surface water drain in the body of the canal. Many people are becoming increasingly concerned about the situation. A member of the Minister's own Party declared on Telefís Éireann last week-end that he was satisfied that the expression "temporary closing" had no meaning and that he was satisfied that once it was closed the canal would remain closed.

There are a number of factors that should be taken into account. One of two major problems is in regard to access to the river Shannon through the canal. This is disturbing the minds of many people who feel that the canal could be used for greater recreational facilities, a feeling which is growing since the decision was taken across the water to clean up many canals that had been disused. The present use of the canal for this purpose is minimal, to say the least. Whether the closing of the canal between Ringsend and the Seventh Lock, temporarily or otherwise, would interfere with that depends on whether the craft could be transported from Ringsend to the Seventh Lock without undue cost or inconvenience. This is an important aspect of the problem because we should always be careful to avoid throwing away amenities which now exist but which could not be replaced once they have been materially interfered with.

The second important aspect, from the point of view of Dublin residents, is the continuation of that body of water courses in a city like ours. Many cities in the world would feel that they had a valuable amenity if they had not only a river running through the city but a stretch of water like the canal which could be cleaned up and made attractive. It provides a reasonably quiet backwater for the enjoyment of the citizens. Of course, these things are not considered so important to people who are mainly interested in the construction of concrete jungles of supermarkets and office blocks. However, Dublin is an old city and we should try to preserve what is valuable in it and keep what has a tremendous amenity value. I am not now suggesting that all the houses of alleged Georgian beauty must be preserved because of some questionable artistic merit. Many of them have artistic merit and many of them should be preserved, but we should try to have a balanced judgment in the matter.

For instance, a couple of years ago a number of public-spirited people, including some prominent architects, some of them associated with the Department of Local Government, appeared on Telefís Éireann in a programme dealing with the need to preserve Georgian Dublin. They took one unfortunate example to justify their case. They showed a slide of Gardiner Street and pointed to it as a beautiful example of Georgian structures, rising up five storeys, and they said that the local authority had ruined it by erecting a modern block of flats in the middle. If anybody walks up Gardiner Street and looks at the reconditioned dwellings and thinks that they are beautiful merely because of their lines not alone would he want to return to an art school but possibly to primary school. There never was anything beautiful in Gardiner Street. The houses there were rotten for years and people were compelled to toil up to the top of those high dwellings to live in attics while others had to live in the basements. They were completely unsuitable for modern living. The serious mistake which was made, and which was not rectified, was that they reconditioned them on the same basic structure as had existed previously. Consequently of all the dwellings provided for human habitation in the last 40 years the worst examples are those reconditioned dwellings in Gardiner Street, Summerhill and Seán MacDermott Street. They are structurally sound but that is all that can be said for them. They may have been all right at one time when the people living in them had handsome incomes and lived on the drawing-room and parlour-room floors, while their footmen and maids and butlers lived in the attics.

However, returning to the Grand Canal, it is essential to retain it in the general interests of the community. From time to time reference is made to a child being drowned in the canal. This is a tragedy for the family and the community. Perhaps the child would not have been exposed to that position if the authorities had provided children with the means to learn swimming at an early age. Not only have we the situation of children being drowned but we also have older children who try to save them also being drowned. There are precautions that can and should be taken, areas of danger that should be guarded, but children have been killed on the roads and I have yet to hear it suggested that the roads should be ploughed up because a fatality has occurred.

The alternative proposed for the canal, I think, would present a much greater risk for children in the area than the canal could ever be. The alternative proposed is the laying of a sewer in the canal and finally turning the canal into a six-lane highway. This is the point I want to make. The Minister's responsibility is to be clear and open with the House. Answering a question put down by Deputy Mullen the other day the Minister resorted to the old tactic of dealing purely with the words in the question and not dealing, as one would expect a responsible Minister to do, with the underlying question which could reasonably have been answered about the number of dwellings in South Dublin and whether or not it would be possible to construct dwellings in South Dublin unless the sewerage scheme went ahead. The reference was clearly to the south of the city and not to an area confined absolutely within the city boundaries. The Minister was aware of this but resorted to the old device of having the question put down again.

The Minister indicated that he was prepared to agree to the temporary closing of the canal. The traffic consultant for Dublin has submitted proposals which envisage a ring road incorporating the canal and going up through a tunnel under the Phoenix Park forming a complete ring. An essential part of that proposal is to have a six-lane highway on the canal. I, and I am sure, Deputies and the public would like to know whether this temporary closing means the same thing that was meant in the case of buildings erected at places like Crooksling that have been there for 30 years and temporary buildings in many parts of the country that go up and remain.

The problem of providing water and sewerage schemes for a city of this size and the surrounding area and any area in the country is obviously one to which the Department should have been giving attention. We presume that is the case. The problem of an area like Dublin city and its growth over the years is scarcely one that should have been left to 1963 or 1964 or 1965. It is a problem involving the increased discharge of sewage, the effluent from domestic dwellings and factories which is ever growing in volume. Has there been any investigation of alternative methods of treating such sewage? The system proposed is that which has operated for the past 100 years or more in Dublin. It is a system of discharging effluent both solid and liquid at a central point into treating beds and, after treatment, discharging the liquid that remains and taking out the solid and dumping it in the bay. A few years ago another sewerage system was completed in Dublin, the North Dublin Drainage Scheme, in which there is no treatment involved but solid and liquid sewage is pumped out under pressure to the nose of Howth. Has any research been made in regard to alternative methods? There are various ways of treating sewage effluent in Britain, on the continent, in the US and elsewhere. Has there been any attempt to see if any of these systems would prove more suitable to our needs from the point of view of preventing the constant build-up of pollution and also from the point of view of the economics involved?

I understand that a simple way in the case of Dublin, which is situated so that the land slopes into the river and out to the bay, would be to have the sewage put in pipes sloping down gradually and then discharging it at the river mouth without even the necessity of pumping. I do not know if any tests have been made as to whether there is a cumulative effect from the discharge of liquid effluent around Dublin beaches or whether tests have been made in regard to the effects of the discharge of liquid and solid effluent on North Dublin beaches. These things are important and should be investigated. We have had experts from outside coming in and telling us how to plan our cities and towns and how to deal with our traffic and surely it would be no harm to investigate these matters. As far as I know, no such investigation has taken place.

The local authority have approved the project on the basis that investigation may go ahead and subject to the Minister's communication to them that he would be prepared to agree to a temporary closing of the canal. There is this question of whether this word "temporary" means what it says or means the same as it meant in so many other situations, that once closed it will never be reopened.

The question of finance possibly enters into this matter. It might be possible, even if it were essential to continue the proposed system, to devise a method of discharging the sewage other than through the Grand Canal, but that would be dearer. I submit that if the Minister for Local Government, Industry and Commerce and Finance were a bit more active in preventing the exploitation of the community by individuals, the incurring of somewhat greater expenditure would not be too high a price to pay for the continuation of an amenity such as the Grand Canal.

There is no doubt whatsoever that speculators in land, whether they were people who had the land for a period or whether they got in on an inspired guess or with inspired anticipation, have been robbing this community right, left and centre for years, and have been robbing the ordinary members of the community for years. It is the ordinary members of the community on whom falls the burden of providing the sewerage and water services, planning development and everything else, who make this land, which was undrained, valuable. Public money has gone a great way towards making this land valuable, but there has been no effort whatsoever by any Minister for Local Government to protect the public. Consequently local authorities have been forced to pay £2,000 or £3,000 an acre for land which a few years ago was just a swamp. The sacrifices of the public have turned this land into a goldmine for a few individuals and a number of development companies. People who are anxious to establish their own homes, whether with the assistance of public money or the assistance of building societies and other such organisations have to pay through the nose for site fines and ground rents. They have already made their contribution as citizens through taxation and, if motorists, through taxation on petrol, road tax, and everything else. Why should they be permitted to be robbed?

One of the things that the individuals in this community who stand to gain by this type of operation object to very strongly is any suggestion that the land should be taken over in the name of the public. It is amazing how the divine right of the individual can be invoked when somebody sees a nice fat profit which he can make with no effort whatsoever on his own part, and when it is liable to be lost to him because of public action to protect the community. Then we hear the howls. Then we hear the pleas that people are entitled to engage in trade, to engage in the buying and selling of land for profit.

Literally thousands of people living on the perimeter of the city are paying far more than they should because of the failure of this Government and previous Governments to deal with this outrageous situation. Of course, local authorities, under planning legislation, can acquire land in advance of their requirements. At least they can in theory. Last year one local authority found themselves in the position that they were unable to conclude deals because they had not the money. The Minister for Local Government made an advance of £100,000 to help in the matter. However, if a number of land-owners who are affected by the efforts of the authorities to acquire land pressed for the money to which they would be entitled under the Act, it would be found in some cases that the deal would have fallen through and private speculators would have got a grip on the land.

It must be remembered that it is only in the last year that this was done in a small way, and it is only effective if the money is provided for the local authorities to acquire land. If the Minister for Finance were to accept a recommendation from the Minister that a penal tax should be imposed on anyone making profits from this type of speculation, it might very well close it down a little bit more quickly. It is one thing to have legitimate commercial operations; it is another thing to have commercial operations that are to the detriment of the community. It is time we in this country started to divorce one from the other and to apply a corrective.

I have endeavoured to deal with a number of points which I regard as of some importance to those I represent and on whose behalf I speak. I am aware of certain slight adjustments in the housing legislation of 1966. I am also aware of the small help that the Minister has announced, that loans will be advanced at the same rate of seven per cent. When Marie Antoinette was told the people were looking for bread, she said: "Let them eat cake". Certainly, when local authorities are looking for effective financial assistance, this is not even giving them the bit of brown that appears in the crust of dry bread.

I would like the Minister to clarify a matter of some concern at the moment. It is the question of the main drainage and the Grand Canal. I would like him to say whether a member of his Party was giving the Government's view when he said that in his opinion if the canal was closed temporarily it would never reopen. Every Dublin Deputy, even many who do not come from Dublin, would be concerned to see that no major obstacle would be left in the way of providing homes for the people in the city. If the only alternative is that proposed, with a clear and definite undertaking to restore the canal as an amenity, I do not think there would be too much disagreement. We know that in the population of more than half a million in Dublin there is not a high percentage of families who come from Dublin itself. Therefore, Deputies from outside the city have some understanding of the problems of the families who came to the city from their respective counties. They would not like to see the position continued whereby Irish families, no matter what part of the country they come from, are deprived of proper accommodation. The Minister should make a categorical statement on this matter and indicate whether any investigation has taken place in depth on this whole question of the methods of dealing with effluent, whether domestic or industrial. The Minister when replying may tell me about the wonderful progress——

Do not be talking nonsense. Were you not sent in to make sure I do not reply?

With all due respect to the Minister, I was not sent in for any such purpose.

(Cavan): Apparently, the Minister objects to criticism.

He is asking me to reply and, at the same time, it has been arranged between the Opposition that I do not reply.

(Cavan): There has been no arrangement.

I will reply next year.

With all due respect, I was not sent in for any such purpose.

Everything you said you have already said four or five times.

Nobody in this House is more guilty of repetition when it suits them than the Fianna Fáil Party, whether in Government or Opposition. I did not refer to the canal until a few minutes ago. I am repeating, only for the second time, my request to the Minister to indicate whether there has been any investigation in depth into the sewerage problem and alternative methods. Is the Minister suggesting I should not stress the necessity for that? Ministers of this Government, including the Minister for Local Government, at times give information at Fianna Fáil dinners and various other dinners which could better be given in this House, affording Deputies an opportunity of commenting on it. Yet the Minister gets annoyed when a Deputy wants to refer to a matter of urgent importance.

As a result of statements made by a member of the Minister's own Party, I want to get from the Minister a clear and definite statement as to what he meant when he said temporary closing. I am concerned with this matter. If necessary, I will repeat it 20 or even 100 times. People with some regard for the city of Dublin, even if the Minister has none, are asking: if the canal is closed, will it remain closed? I do not know if the Minister is in a position to give a categorical answer or whether he has information through his Department or from the officials of the local authority on this question. If he has, this is the place and the time to give it.

You are making sure it will not be given because you were told to.

At this stage I think the Deputy has made his point.

(Cavan): I came back up the slippery roads from Cavan to hear the Minister reply.

Deputy Larkin is ensuring that the question he pretends he wants answered will not be answered, because that is the arrangement between the two Opposition Parties.

(Cavan): There is no arrangement whatever.

You arranged I would not reply.

(Cavan): I made no arrangement whatever.

Deputy Larkin pretends he wants an answer to a question, but he is ensuring he will not get it.

(Cavan): The Minister is wasting time by interrupting Deputy Larkin to make sure he will not have to reply.

Is the cross-talk finished? I gladly take the point made by the Leas-Cheann Comhairle. But I think you will agree, Sir, that I am one of the reasonably orderly Members of this House. The Minister's statement that I came in here to drag out the discussion has no foundation in fact.

Of course, it has.

I made a statement and I want the Minister to accept it. Deputies are required to accept a statement from a Minister. I have made a statement that I did not come into the House under any instructions to drag out my contribution, or to drag out the business on this Estimate, or to affect the Minister in any way. I want the Minister to indicate clearly that he accepts this statement.

When the Deputy makes this statement and gives this assurance to the House I am sure the Minister accepts it.

I will speak when my time to speak comes.

Does the Minister accept my statement, because if he does not I will start all over again?

Good. That is your privilege. Standing Orders will allow repetition?

I am not in the habit of making statements in this House that I know to be false. I am making the statement that I did not get any instruction or make any arrangement to talk the business out. Perhaps the Minister will think about that. Very well. During the discussion yesterday I said that we should look at this problem from a fresh point of view. The problem I was talking about was the problem of housing our people. The situation is that, up to now, too often we have considered the question of housing from a financial point of view.

I am sure the Deputy is not going to be repetitive as he knows the rules of order.

The Minister unjustifiably accused me of being repetitive. I am entitled to put the different aspects of the problem before us. Out of respect for your office, Sir, I am prepared to accept your suggestion and give way to allow other Members to speak. I am doing this out of respect for your office.

The Deputy appreciates that repetition is out of order.

I will close my contribution by mentioning one aspect with which I was dealing when the Minister interrupted me. I was in the course of saying that when the Minister is replying he will no doubt tell us that everything in the garden is lovely, that more money is being spent on housing, and more houses are under construction. That is the line he took in the course of the television discussion. He will be in a position to say that during the 1966 period there was a greater hand over of dwellings in Dublin than there had been for a considerable time. I hope the Minister will not gloss over the fact that when the discussions about the Ballymun project were under way, when the representatives of the local authority met his predecessor on the question of the future housing programme, an assurance was given that this project would be supplemental to the programme of the local authority in their normal operations.

This has not eventuated because more houses were under construction by the local authority in their operations, apart from Ballymun, in 1965 than there were last year or this year. To a considerable extent the Ballymun project has proved not to be supplemental to the corporation's activities but supplementary. We do not know what the future will be. The Minister should be honest enough to accept that that was the official position of his predecessor, that the dwellings would be in addition to those produced by the ordinary methods. This has not materialised and, consequently, in the years that lie ahead, as the Ballymun scheme comes to a conclusion, the danger is that there will be a downward turn in the graph unless positive efforts are made to correct it. I will now close my contribution out of respect for your office, Sir, and your intervention.

I notice that every Deputy starts his contribution to this debate with the subject of housing. I wish to start, too, on housing because I consider it the biggest problem we have in the West and in my constituency. Housing and housing grants occupy a considerable amount of the time of public representatives. No problem gives us as much work to do as the problems of housing grants, and contacting the Department and the Minister. I know from experience that people do not like to be always contacting people in public life. They wait patiently for perhaps three, four or six months and then they make representations to their public representative who goes to the Department and discovers that an inspector will be sent out.

People who carry out all the preliminary formalities of getting application forms and submitting them to the local authority and all the rest have very good reason to feel disappointed when the application is held up in the Department — I will not say always — but very often, for a period of six months before anything is done about it. Seeing that people are eager to avail of grants, the Minister should expedite sanction. When one makes representations for the third time, perhaps, one is told that the matter has been referred to the inspector or that the file is going out immediately. Progress is impeded.

I should like to say that in Sligo-Leitrim the section 5 housing scheme has been availed of to a great extent and has been very successful. In the case of persons living in small holdings the section 5 scheme was just the answer to the problem of prolonging the life of houses. People feel very secure in their houses now and are grateful for the scheme.

At this stage the section 5 housing scheme is becoming rather a burden on the ratepayers for the reason that ordinary reconstruction grants have not been increased for, I think it is, 14 years. Today, a farmer is expected to reconstruct his home with a grant of £200 in the case of a three-roomed house, £240 in the case of a four-Leitri roomed house and £280 in the case of a five-roomed house. It is because of that that people are availing to such a large extent of the section 5 grants. Now that the scheme has become such a burden on the ratepayers in these counties the Minister would be well advised to increase the grant so as to encourage people who otherwise would be forced to use section 5 grants to avail of the ordinary reconstruction grants. They cannot do so unless these grants are improved, having regard to cost of materials, wages and everything else connected with reconstruction.

People who are liable to transfer are not concerned with providing houses for themselves. This applies to civil servants, gardaí, teachers and members of the Defence Forces. Many of these people and people of lesser means find themselves living under very poor conditions. This applies particularly to workingclass people who cannot afford to rent a house or a good flat.

In the town of Sligo, which has a population of 14,000 to 15,000, there are people who have been on the housing waiting list for three or four years. They may have three or four children. Their health is undermined and they are in and out of hospitals and their children are chesty and in bad form because of their living conditions. The sooner the housing problem is tackled the better for these people and for the country in general. From the national point of view, lack of proper housing is becoming a very expensive matter. The Minister for Health has to bear the burden when it comes to hospitalisation of persons who are badly housed.

The provision of houses is a crying need in towns such as Sligo and Manorhamilton and even in smaller centres. Officials may tell public representatives that there is no housing need, that if houses were erected there would be no tenants for them. The proof of the demand for houses is provided when a house becomes vacant. There is a clamour for the house and the person who gets it is regarded as extremely lucky.

The position of persons on a wage of £8 to £11 a week, maintaining a family in a third or fourth storey flat and having to drag prams, children and all their household requirements up long stairways to these flats, is becoming desperate. The health of a family living in these conditions cannot be good.

Young persons who have attempted to erect new houses for themselves came up against planning regulations. Some of them who had gone so far as to prepare plots discovered, when half the work was done, that the local authority refused permission for the erection of a house on the plot. Young men on the point of getting married who were anxious to erect a house so as not to be on a long waiting list or to have to live in a flat discovered that under the new county development plan they were not entitled to build a house where they would like to build it. Even in cases where persons have succeeded in obtaining planning permission, it takes a very long time. A compulsory purchase order has to be put through. In the first case it has to go to the Department, where it will remain, perhaps, three or five months until somebody makes representations in the matter. If the Minister were to expedite these matters and have the backlog of work cleared, people could live more contentedly.

There are local authority houses that were vested some time ago lying idle because the tenants went to England while others are living under desperately unhealthy conditions. There is a law now in force whereby the council can recover those houses. The period during which these people may come back is rather long. People should make up their minds when they are leaving as to whether or not they are coming back and when. That would mean that houses would not stand idle for five years before the local authority can step in an relet them. Some of these people never come back. Some have to be removed to county homes before the letting reaches finality. A little speeding-up would be very useful.

Money invested in housing is safe money because the tenants of these houses pay rent and rates. The money comes back. There are council workers hoping from month to month for some information about a house. Some are in England waiting to come back when houses are put into proper repair. All this requires careful and immediate consideration by the Minister.

Before the local elections there were bannerlines in the provincial papers about the county development plan. There were a few meetings and the Government agreed to give a certain amount of money to even the poorest county in the West. I believe the day has gone when the people can be fooled with figures like £3 million and £4 million printed in bannerlines across the top of the provincial newspapers. In Sligo it was to be £4 million, in Leitrim £3,400,000 over a period of ten years. People would far prefer to have their present needs supplied immediately. There was mention of swimming pools, parks, carparks, water and sewerage schemes, recreation centres.

I do not want to interrupt the Deputy, but I think these matters do not fall to be dealt with on the Minister's Estimate. They would be more relevant on the Estimate for the Minister for Finance.

(Cavan): I think the Deputy was really dealing with planning under the 1953 Act.

That may be so, but development in the western regions is not a matter for the Minister. It is one for the Minister for Finance.

With regard to planning, in Tullaghan, a man is anxious to erect two petrol pumps on his own land. He was prepared to go back to the very limit of the plot he had bought. He was refused permission on the grounds that the erection of petrol pumps would spoil the scenery. I made representations to the Minister and he was turned down by the Minister. I shall make representations again. This man would be living in the country for the 12 months of every year and, from that point of view, he would be an asset, a bigger asset than the people who come in for a fortnight or a month in the summer.

With regard to water schemes, there is considerable delay. In one area a scheme has been quite a long time going through the local authority. It is now six months in the Department of Local Government. It is a small extension scheme. There is another scheme held up for Glenade in Leitrim. Another in Grangecon, Sligo, has been held up for a considerable length of time. It would make a great difference to the people concerned if they had water. Small farmers could benefit by the employment these schemes would offer. Apparently time does not count with some people but it counts with the farmer. These are the things that should be speeded up. Many are held up in their housing grants because these schemes have not been approved. In Grangecon, the people were told on the eve of the election that there was good news for them and they could be satisfied that everything was going to be all right; the water supply scheme would be implemented. They accepted that as the truth. Today there is no water and no sign of it.

With regard to group schemes, these have become a headache to local people who have co-operated for the purpose of having such schemes. I know groups who brought such schemes to their final stages and they are now so browned off that they say that, even if a gallon of water is brought into the area, they will not touch it. It took such a long time to get the money paid by the Department that they were worn out trying to keep face with the builders' suppliers. Even when lawyers' letters had gone out from the builders' suppliers it still took months to get the thing finalised. That is hard on people who work in the interests of local people. There was a scheme at Cloonaquinn which was held up for a long time. At first it was to cost £30 or £40 and then it reached £70. The people do not know where they are. In an area where the water is convenient the Department should decide on a sum of money which would meet the wishes of the people, or go a long way towards that, and then the Department should put up the rest. The scheme would pay for itself in the long run.

Again, group schemes in other areas cannot be put forward until money is made available to pay for the engineering work. It is like the county development planning. Only a few years ago we were told that millions of pounds would be spent on a regional scheme in this county. Water was to be provided wherever homes existed. Water will not be supplied without people contributing towards the cost of the engineering. Every house must contribute and if the scheme does not succeed the cost of the engineering work is stopped from the money contributed. That should not be the case. The Department should send out their engineering staff and if the job is not successful then that would be that. To make the people pay for the engineering work and then contribute towards the grants is going too far particularly in view, as I said, of what we were told about the millions which were to be spent.

My county suffered severely last year because of the reduction in road grants. This was felt particularly in regard to employment. Men employed by the local authority have been laid off for some time. Some of them are working now for the few weeks before Christmas but there is a danger that they will be laid off until the beginning of April because money will not be available. This is because the allocation has been reduced. We have a very high mileage in Sligo-Leitrim of by-roads, otherwise known as county roads, which have still to be rolled and tarred. I have often wondered if the Minister could not increase the road grants for these roads, even if it was only for one year, and the money could be devoted to the by-roads. The cost of tarring one of these roads is nothing like what it was 10 years ago and to have such roads tarred would be a great enticement to people to stay in the areas, apart from increasing the saleability of their properties. I should like the Minister to have this work speeded up.

I was always a great believer in the rural improvement scheme and I always encouraged people to avail of it as I regarded it as the best scheme ever introduced. However, for the last few years I have been rather disappointed in it. Application forms were not sent out and the backlog was being cleared up. However, even after two years, we find those schemes still held up because of money. I hope that the allocation for this scheme will be increased because trojan work was done in those counties under the scheme, roads which were almost impassable were brought up to a good standard, rivers were improved and lands benefited as a result. Even early in November people who were prepared to contribute towards a scheme which had been sanctioned were told there was no money available. People who were looking towards this for employment were told it would be held back to the 1st April, a time at which people are not in a position to go out and do such a scheme. I would appeal to the Minister to increase the money for these schemes because it goes directly into the pockets of the small farmers through the provision of employment.

I hope that the minor improvement schemes are not being shelved completely because if they are the bog roads will never be done. The people are not going to pay out money for bog roads and, therefore, I would appeal to the Minister to retain the minor schemes, even in a small way. I know that not so many people are using the bog and mountain roads as in the past but nothing will ever be done if the scheme is shelved.

Derating was hailed by many as something that would be of great benefit to them and certainly it has left many very happy but we know that only a short distance away there are others who are carrying the burden taken off the shoulders of one section and put on the other. Those are the people who are coming to us today and cannot understand why rates have increased so much in so short a time.

I have found on going into the Minister's office that the staff have always been very helpful and courteous and they do their best on behalf of Deputies seeking information or seeking to get schemes put through. I can understand that these things cannot be pushed on too freely; otherwise there would be no money to cover them. A housing inspector down the country could cover half the area with schemes but if the money is not there to get the schemes going and the houses already sanctioned built, all he can do is to bide his time. Generally, I have found those in the Rural Improvements Schemes Office and the local government offices very helpful but I should like the Minister, even at the expense of employing more inspectors, to get them to call more frequently on people anxious to proceed with group schemes. I have known of an official on holidays for three or four weeks and he did not get down the country after coming back for another three or four weeks while people were anxiously awaiting him and did not know where they were. It meant eight weeks delay.

With the increased traffic, the more warnings that can be given the better. From my own experience of driving I think pedestrians should be particularly warned of the danger if they are out at night. The pedestrian who finds himself between two cars coming in one direction and one car coming in another direction is on dangerous ground and takes a great chance if wearing dark clothes and walking on the left hand side of the road. He might possibly see something with the lights of the first car but when the second comes almost immediately he may be in front of it.

While there is much heavier traffic on main roads leading to seaside resorts and main centres, one often sees somebody driving at perhaps 60 miles an hour through a small village where the children are just as dear to their parents as children in large centres. An accident can happen just as quickly in the village as on the main road. In most areas I think there should be speed limits and even though a village may be remote it may be on a route to a larger centre to which motorists are hurrying and in such cases I think limits should be imposed. Recently, in a village quite near Bundoran I saw cars going through at 60 miles an hour. I ask the Minister to check on the points I have mentioned and see if more speed limits would not help to safeguard the people.

This Vote covers a very wide field and while I do not intend to detain the House there are a few points I want to mention, matters that have caused me much annoyance for a long time. One is the question of the poor law valuation of the country which I believe is archaic. It has been often said that it is almost impossible to change this but I do not believe that.

As most Deputies know, our valuation now is based on the Griffith valuation introduced about 1860 and, I think, completed in 1865. Having regard to the equipment available at the time these people did a reasonably good job but science has come a long way since then and soil testing, for instance, has been so perfected, that we should apply the knowledge we now have in this direction and give the country a more equitable poor law valuation system.

It appears that the basis of the valuation was defined in section 11 of the 1852 Act which lays down that the valuation in regard to land should be made on an estimate of the net value thereof with reference to the average price of specified articles of agricultural produce representing the general averages of 40 market towns in Ireland during the years 1849, 1850 and 1851. The commodities which were mentioned were wheat, oats, barley, flax, butter, beef, mutton and pork. Naturally, things have changed since then but at that time wheat fetched 7/6d per cwt.; oats 4/10d; barley 5/-; flax, the dearest of all, 49/-per cwt. Butter fetched 65/4d per cwt.; beef 35/6d and mutton—it is well to note that mutton was used more extensively than beef then—was 49/- per cwt. Pork was 32/- per cwt.

An awful lot of water has gone under the bridge since those figures were presented, and they should be changed. I cannot see any sound or logical reason why this whole thing would not be changed. We hear a great deal now about going into the EEC. If and when we get into Europe we shall definitely have to adjust our PLV system. This is an archaic system. I mention it in particular because Galway happens to be a county with a very high valuation. I mention it also because near the river Shannon and the Suck—I do not have to tell the House because, indeed, many Deputies from the West have pointed out on several occasions the hazards created by flooding near the Shannon—we have the highest valued land in the county. This cannot be justified and while it may be said: "There is nothing you can do about it until the whole country is revalued", this is a defeatist attitude and one to which we should not subscribe, not even for 24 hours. We should take some action to remedy this matter as soon as possible. There is no time like the present, but we should not let next year pass anyway without bringing about some change in this direction.

It is quite possible that in some of the richer counties like Meath and Kildare this system works all right, that they have no cribs about it there, because, possibly, the land is only valued for about £1 an acre. However, some of the land about which I am speaking is valued at much more than £1 an acre. That is bad enough, but it is flooded for at least six months of the year. It is very easy to understand why there is such a high emigration rate from that area, having regard to those circumstances. They have not enough land to make a living on and they are asked to pay too much rates in respect of the land they have. Seeing that we have come such a long way scientifically in the field of soil testing, we should devise some new method of revaluing the land of the country and bring it into line with modern values. It is not too much to ask an Irish Government to do this. I know there are big problems inherent in it but they will have to be got over if we are to make progress.

As I said already, the rates in Galway are very high, I suppose they are about the highest of any county in Ireland. In my capacity as a TD I have often met people who told me they were not in a position to pay all their rates together. I would strongly recommend that legislation be introduced to enable rates to be collected in instalments. If you can pay for a motor car or for a signboard by instalments it should also be possible to pay rates in that way. There would be no money lost as a result of this at all.

I was amused yesterday evening and this morning to hear some of the people on the opposite side of the House criticising our housing drives. This is laughable in the extreme when one thinks of the record which the inter-Party Government had in this connection. I do not wish to be critical of them, because it is quite possible that because none of their national loans was a success they could not get sufficient money to pay the grants for houses. However, when the inter-Party Government were in office very little progress was made in regard to housing. It is true that they started off with the very best intentions. I remember one night, as a very small boy, hearing the then Taoiseach on the radio appealing to people in Britain to come home, pointing out that Ireland was building houses and hospitals and that Irish people could be employed at home. However, only a very short time elapsed when many of these people who came home had to return to Britain.

I have heard people here complaining about delays in the payment of housing grants, but at that time it was nothing new for the housing inspector to look at a house and if the windows were even a quarter of an inch out he would reject it and say: "This must be done again if you are to be paid your money." This was really the system during that period, and that is not the system now. Our record in the field of housing is quite good and is one of which we in the Fianna Fáil Party can be justly proud.

When people come home from America, from Australia or any other country, the first thing they notice is the changed face of our housing. This is attributable to the vision of different Ministers of the Fianna Fáil Party. They have done a great deal to provide the Irish people with new houses, because they realised at all times that if the people were to enjoy good health it was absolutely essential that they be housed in the best possible manner. The grant of £900 which is given to a person who is under £25 valuation is quite good. Nobody can complain about this. It is true that a five-roomed house which would qualify for a grant like that costs in the region of £2,200 or possibly £2,500. However, when you can claim £900 by way of grant from the Department of Local Government and from the county council you are going a long way; because as well as that it has been decided by the Government to pay a loan of £500 to farmers who are paying rent to the Land Commission. The maximum loan is £500, and if you add £500 to £900 you get £1,400. That is not a bad start when you are thinking of building a house. The people who allege that we on this side are not doing enough for housing are not being honest with themselves or with the people.

We have achieved a lot. If anything is to be desired, it is in the field of reconstruction. Having regard to present-day costs the present reconstruction grant is slightly unrealistic. The most one can get to reconstruct a house is about £240. As most people know, that is not a lot of good now, having regard to the cost of building materials and the equipment used. I would ask the Minister to look into the possibility of increasing these grants in due course. If we are to think of the health of our people, it is absolutely essential that they be properly housed. Bad housing and good health are not compatible. I would ask the Minister to have a further look into that aspect.

I am perturbed at the carnage on our roads at present. The various people conducting road safety campaigns are doing their best and are to be complimented. But there is an obligation on all of us to try to reduce this carnage, and all efforts in that direction are to be highly commended. Many speakers have referred to the dark patch between cars at night. Most people believe it is in this patch that most of the fatal accidents take place. I am inclined to agree. It often struck me, however, that we could do something about this at very little cost, if cyclists were required to wear small white luminous armbands. These would show up at night and I am satisfied they would lead to a reduction in the number of accidents. They have not been experimented with here yet, as far as I am aware, and the Minister should encourage their use as soon as possible. I sincerely hope that before the next year is out we will see them used. If such a simple matter could lead to a reduction in the number of accidents, it is something well worth trying.

I want to refer now to speed limits. On my way down to Galway I often have to reduce speed from 50 mph to 30 mph coming into a town. But in certain places I think the speed limits are slightly unrealistic and 30 mph slightly slow. If you have a speed limit for which people have no respect the natural thing for them to do is to disobey it altogether. This happens far too often. It is all right to say that radar cars can check those driving in excess of 30 mph in speed limit areas. But these cars are not as effective as the Gardaí think. I know many people who have small electronic appliances in their cars to detect the radar beam of the Garda car. They can be bought for very little. Indeed, if I had time I could build one myself, and it would not take a genius to do it either. I would appeal to the Minister to at least ensure that speed limits are realistic. Sometimes 30 mph is absolutely too slow in certain built-up areas. It could be put a bit higher and nobody would be any worse off.

Over the past 1½ years I have been approached by many people who have failed their driving tests. I cannot understand what test is applied in these cases. I have known some of those people for many years and can vouch for the fact they had plenty of driving experience. Indeed, some of them had been driving for many years and had experience of all types of vehicles. Yet, when it came to getting a driving licence, they were turned down. They had to have at least four tests before they were successful. Apparently, the pendulum is swinging from one extreme to the other. At one time all you had to have to get a driving licence was a pound note and an application form. Now I do not know exactly what you have to have, but I am satisfied the pendulum has swung to the other extreme altogether.

Some action should be taken by the Minister in relation to this matter. At the moment people have all sorts of erroneous feelings about it. Some people feel that if you have not got pull you cannot get a driving licence. I know this is not so but, at the same time, something should be done about the matter. I know many expert drivers who failed on the first occasion, and I could not understand why. Possibly the people who did the job of testing them had reasons for turning them down, but I could not understand it at all, especially having regard to the fact that up to a short time before this, all you wanted was a £ note and an application form. I appeal to the Minister to look into this matter very fully as soon as possible.

Another thing which matters to us in Galway is the rural improvement schemes. As we know, the Office of Public Works are no longer responsible for these schemes. They are now the responsibility of the Department of Local Government. I appeal to the Minister to ensure that as much will be spent on these schemes next year as was spent in previous years, because very good work was done under the RIS, as we used to call them. We had a system in Galway whereby if people came together and put a road into a reasonable state of repair, the county council would take it over and accept responsibility for its maintenance afterwards. I hope that under the new system this will also be possible, because a road is a natural right. Few people will disagree with me when I say that. There is an onus on the Department not to spare any effort in this direction.

As I already said, the rates in our county are very high. If we had good roads, paying the rates would not be such a terrible burden. Paying rates for roads which are by no means good is certainly something that the people of my constituency do not like doing. I know I can confidently appeal to the Minister. He is a man who understands the problems of rural Ireland very well. I am not saying this to butter him up in any way. I have known the Minister for a long time, and I know he is very conversant with the problems of the western part of the country. If he puts the experience he has gained into practical effect he will be doing a good job for the country, and a good job for the people in the western part of the country.

Listening to or reading the Minister's speech one would not realise for one moment that there was a serious crisis in existence in Dublin in connection with housing. The Minister's speech did not convey to me any real suggestion as to how this existing crisis will be overcome.

I was intrigued by Deputy Foley's contribution which bore out my views on this situation. He admonished Deputy M.P. Murphy for some reference he made to the Minister's conduct of his office. In saying this, Deputy Foley proceeded to explain how the Minister and what he described as the senior Deputy Burke and he worked together as a team in their constituency. He said it was wrong to state otherwise. It is obvious to me that there is no teamwork at all. During the course of Deputy Foley's speech he made reference to something which clearly highlighted the fact that he was not in consultation with the Minister, and that the Minister did not keep him aware of the changes taking place. For example, he referred to the extension of the housing grant which applies to Dublin city and county and advocated that this matter should be attended to, whereas it is being attended to by the city and county councils. People who, through no fault of their own, have to live outside the city confines and set out to buy a house can now get a supplementary grant. It appears that Deputy Foley was not aware of this. So much for the teamwork he talked about. The Minister referred to this in the course of his speech.

He also referred to the building programme and indicated that he has invited the local authorities to submit their programmes by 31st March next, and that he found it necessary to extend it to that date because of the fact that some local authorities had not conformed with what he asked them to do. We appreciate the Minister's desire in this regard. I would be anxious to ascertain from the Minister can Dublin Corporation be assured that in relation to their programme they will get the £3 million they are setting out to obtain.

The Minister also referred to the price of land, and rightly so. There has been a good deal of agitation about the price of land, particularly in the city, but up to the present nothing positive has been done to ensure that the price of land will be controlled, and that people who set out to use land for development purposes will no longer be allowed to exploit the people. The Minister said that his Department were working out economies in building costs. That is long overdue. Is it possible for the Minister to use his powers of persuasion on some of his colleagues who are involved in development projects to have regard to the importance of keeping down costs, and to make some sort of sacrifice to meet this very grave situation?

This calls for a national effort and for some sacrifice to be made by way of profits. Very often it is found that one side only is blamed in the matter of costs. Seldom do we find any business firm setting out to show that they are making a serious effort to keep down profits, or forgoing their profits for a period of time in order to make a contribution to the situation. There is need for houses at a reasonable price.

Deputy Gallagher also talked about this matter. He found it necessary to admonish the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union for having offices. He went on to talk about office building. Surely, it is reasonable and fair to ask people such as Deputy Gallagher to make a contribution in this regard, to ask his colleagues and various business interests to make a contribution, to curtail profits, to freeze profits for a while? I have yet to hear of any business organisation indicating their preparedness to lend money to a local authority or the Government free of interest in order to meet the housing situation. For the trade union movement I can say that they have done this. The Irish Transport and General Workers' Union at one time gave £50,000 free of interest to the then Fianna Fáil Government in order to help the building of houses for the people. They did this in the hope that the employing classes would follow their good example. Not a single one of them has done so. Every day we see in the newspapers that more development companies are being formed. No indication has been given by any one of them that they intend to come to the assistance of the people by lending money free of interest for the production of houses or flats at reasonable prices.

In the Minister's constituency, near where I live, there are houses being built and offered at £8,000 and £10,000. What chance has a workingman of getting one of these? There is a problem facing people who have to try to house themselves because of the inability of the local authority to provide accommodation for them. The local authority is unable to provide that accommodation because of scarcity of accommodation and absence of money. Despite the fact that we have been told consistently that there is no shortage of money for building purposes, there is a growing waiting list in Dublin Corporation.

It is true to say that an effort was made to break the back of the waiting list by the Ballymun scheme. At page 17 of his speech the Minister sets out the causes for the delay in completing the Ballymun scheme. Whom does he take on in this case? He indicates that there were some trade disputes there and because of that there was a hold up in production. It is very wrong of the Minister to be so one-sided about a project of this kind. The Minister knows full well that before there was a single house built in Ballymun over 18 months had elapsed. There was no trade dispute. There was a foundation problem, a sewerage problem, or what have you. The ironical feature about that situation is that when the Ballymun scheme was announced it was said that it would be completed by a certain date. No allowance was made for the fault that was found. In all schemes allowance is made for inclement weather and other factors. My understanding is that people who engage in development schemes allow for reasonable delay when fixing the completion date. It is wrong of the Minister to say or to imply that the delay in the Ballymun scheme was due in particular to the actions of trade unionists. This knocking of people in employment is unfair, unreasonable and unwise. The Minister also said that one of the causes of delay was failure in the lift system. He did not have the impudence to ascribe that to the workers. I am sure he is still searching to find out who exactly was responsible for that situation.

Having regard to the Minister's reference to the Ballymun project, I would be interested to know if it was worth while and profitable for the consortium that was established for this purpose. I maintain that it was, that the profits are very handsome. It would be interesting to ascertain how profitable it was for the subsidiary suppliers to the scheme. They were all paid very well. There has been no indication that they were operating with a view to ensuring that costs would be kept at a minimum. The composition of these suppliers is rather remarkable. There is clear indication as to how Fianna Fáil look after their pals.

I wonder when the real truth will be told to the people as to the cause of the housing situation in this city. When will it be spelled out that it is the absence of money, the inability or failure of the Government to take control of the situation? There is great need to declare an emergency in this matter of housing. It is time that the Minister arranged to restore to Dublin Corporation the power they held in relation to the demolition of houses. There is where half the difficulty lies. People who want to make a harvest out of property in the city and to take control of it and to knock it down do not have to get permission from Dublin Corporation. This matter has become so serious that Deputy Moore has put down a question in relation to it. That type of thing is not good enough. Formerly, Dublin Corporation had power to prevent the demolition of sound buildings. They have not that power now. The Minister is neglectful in allowing that type of thing to continue.

I should like the Minister to face up to the fact that insufficient money has been spent by Dublin Corporation on acquisition for building purposes in the past few years. This is mainly due to two things, the absence of money and the absence of power. It is imperative that the Minister would give the Corporation the necessary authority. There is no point at all in trying to make the Dublin Corporation the fall guy. This is a purely Ministerial responsibility; and that goes for every part of our city.

Recently we had a situation in Mountjoy Square highlighted on television. We had a developer stating quite clearly that he had no interest; that these tenants were just people and that the property was his. He has just taken over the place and he is now setting out to uproot people who have been living there for years, and their fathers and mothers before them. That is the type of thing to which this Fianna Fáil Government are lending themselves. It is a public scandal to allow such a situation to continue. It does not exist on the north side of the city only. It exists also on the south side.

It is time we got control over these landgrabbers, for that is what they are. This situation would be almost farcical, were it not for the poignancy of it, in the light of history. We talk about our past history and we take pride in those who went before us. Do we ever stop to think for a moment on the words of the great Irish socialist, Fintan Lalor?

Ireland her own from the centre to the sea, to have and to hold, from God who gave it. The soil of Ireland for the people of Ireland, without faith or fealty, rent or render, to any power under Heaven.

There are many of us who are asking ourselves now who owns Ireland today. It is gradually being taken over. We talk about having got a foreign power out of our country. We talk about the heroism of our forefathers. Today we see the whole of Ireland being taken back again from us, and some of our people are in cahoots with the new conquerors, and some of the new conquerors are supporters of the present Government.

I should like to say a few words now in relation to housing design and the facilities given in corporation houses and flats. There is a great deal to be said for some of the points advanced by Deputy Foley on this subject. We have a situation in relation to housing in which ordinary housewives know more about what they want than do these elevated architects. Where they get their fanciful ideas from is beyond me. The Minister did not mention one of the causes of the holdup in the Ballymun scheme. It was not brought about by trade union action. It was brought about by failure on the part of those designing the flats to provide adequate ventilation in one section of every flat. Not a word has been said about that at all and nobody has apparently been taken to task, nobody brought to book. I believe that is wrong.

Almost all our people are house-proud and, when they get possession of a corporation house or flat, they look after it. Again, however, they are bound up in red tape. Officialdom interferes. They must conform. They may use only a certain colour if they paint their houses. They must leave the door in exactly the position in which is was originally put. They may not make any adjustments irrespective of how important those adjustments may be to the comfort of the occupants. If they transfer to another area the house must be put back into the condition in which it was originally, even if that condition was not a good one. That is an archaic way of operating.

There are a great many people on the waiting list. No later than last Monday night I got this information from the City Manager at the Council meeting: at 30th September, 1967, the number of families on the approved waiting list for corporation dwellings was 445 cases of one person; 225 cases of two persons; 1,240 cases of three persons; 1,497 cases of four persons; 720 cases of five person; 626 cases of six persons and over. That makes a grand total of 4,752 people on the approved waiting list and that is not taken as the full waiting list. The City Manager also said that it is not expected that it will be possible to house all these by December, 1968; between December, 1967, and December, 1968, it is estimated that a total of 676 dwellings will be handed over in the Coolock-Kylemore area and 1,324 dwellings in the Ballymun project. Not only is the situation bad but there is serious overcrowding in many corporation houses because either a son or a daughter, who got married, failed to find accommodation and is now living with his or her parents. Quite recently these tenants were told that they may not take in subtenants and anyone found doing so will be liable to a fine not exceeding £100 or to one month in prison. That will be the penalty for helping a married son or daughter to solve a housing problem. That is not a situation over which one could gloat, but it clearly shows what the position is.

There is a very useful organ in circulation at the moment. It is a monthly journal entitledWaterside News. It is for the consumption of anyone who wishes to buy it. The men working in the Port of Dublin and in the adjoining area have found it necessary to highlight the housing scandal. They point out very forcibly the absence of money, the need for more accommodation, and the failure of the Government to do something about it.

The Minister himself is responsible for creating a good deal of difficulty for many corporation tenants. Harsh treatment is being meted out to succession tenants, that is to a son or daughter who succeeds to a corporation tenancy. There is a regulation that the succession tenant must have lived for at least four years in the house before the parent died. A son or daughter who left the house on marriage may not succeed. Up to April of this year sons or daughters who succeeded continued automatically on flat rents if the houses to which they succeeded were flat rented. The situation now is that they are taken off the flat rent and put on a differential rent. They are given no option.

This regulation was also applied, in accordance with Ministerial regulation, to widows who succeeded to the tenancy. If a man died his widow would have to seek the tenancy of the house. She could be on a flat rate but immediately she became the tenant she was put on a differential rent. This was contested and appeals were made to the Minister in regard to it. I had questions raised in the House and eventually the Minister said that it was wrong, that a widow should be allowed succeed to the tenancy and left with the option of being on a flat rent or a differential rent.

The manner in which the Minister made his decision was most peculiar and the manner in which he gave it to me was worse because one of his colleagues who had made no representations received the information before me. I got the information late. Of course, there was an election on at the time. We got over the difficulty of widows. The argument at the time was that a widow might be afraid to tell the corporation, or did not know that she should tell the corporation that she wanted the tenancy transferred, for fear she would be put out. This was the belief among some people and showed their lack of knowledge of corporation procedure. The position has been rectified but now it applies to sons and daughters. There are sons and daughters whose parents died some years ago and who neglected to tell the corporation that the father or mother, whoever was the tenant, had died. Perhaps the neglect was deliberate because they were afraid they would not get the tenancy although they were entitled to it and they did not bother about it, or they may not have known what the procedure was. However, the regulation is that in such cases, whether they knew or not, or whether or not they were afraid, once they apply for tenancy after April of this year they must go on as differential rate tenants. Surely this is extremely unfair.

I had occasion to bring this matter, by way of motion, before the Dublin Corporation in order to have it put right. We had the usual filibustering on the part of the Fianna Fáil members and one smart alec suggested that it be referred to the housing committee. The rest of his colleagues agreed and to the shame of the other members of the city council, the Ratepayers and Fine Gael members, they supported it. The city manager intervened and said: "Yes, let it go to the housing committee because I want to discuss this and that is the best place to discuss it." The Labour Party opposed this but they were beaten. It was brought to the housing committee and what happened? The assistant city manager said: "This is a managerial function and no matter what you say it will not be changed." The managerial function was in accordance with the Ministerial order. What I am trying to highlight is the meanness of the action. The amount of money involved is infinitesimal but it is extremely wrong to have a situation in which a person who fails to meet a deadline through ignorance or through fear is required to put his hand in his pocket and pay more rent. I would entreat the Parliamentary Secretary to look into this matter and to put it right because this is the sort of thing that separates the people from the local authorities. It builds up the bogey that there is an ogre in the local authority and this is not what we should be doing. It is high time that we put matters of this kind right.

There are other instances which I could mention. As a member of Dublin Corporation, I have come across people who were in houses for newly-weds and who overstayed their time, not through their own fault but because of the corporation's inability to house them because of lack of accommodation. Such people were obliged to pay increased rent. I know of a case involving two people living alongside each other in houses for newly-weds. Both were made an offer at the same time and both accepted the offer of a transfer to another corporation house. What happened? One man was almost automatically transferred but the second man had to wait because there was something very seriously the matter with the house to which he was to be transferred. By the time it was ready the new rent increase came in and he was caught but his friend who had been transferred was not caught. This man cannot understand it and, in fact, nobody can understand it. When you seek information you are told that these are the regulations and that is the way in which they must be carried out. Surely that is wrong. We do not or should not seek to persecute people. Certainly one thing we must not do is to have people feel that they are being persecuted and being got at. This is something which is serious enough and genuine enough for the Minister to look into and to put right.

I can also mention the great confusion brought about by the Minister's own action at the time of the last rent increase. When this increase was mooted in Dublin there was a tremendous outcry. The Tenants' Association met and decided to have demonstrations. They consulted with various political Parties and eventually there was a consultation with the Dublin City Manager. As a result of all the activity, to which the Dublin Council of Trade Unions lent their support, the proposed scheme was reduced a little. The people paid the rent increase in April but in July every corporation tenant received a request for a further increase which was referred to as "rates".

The people believed that the deal made in respect of rents prior to April was the end of the matter and that in future they would not be required to pay any further increases except in accordance with rate increases. But they had a second increase. It was more than a coincidence that this request was made in July and that the local election had taken place in June. It clearly showed the Fianna Fáil hand. I can safely say that had news of the second increase been circulated to the people before the election, very few Fianna Fáil candidates would have been returned. This is the type of trickery indulged in and this is how the people are treated and they are expected to do nothing but forget about it.

At the last meeting of the City Council, I asked what was the position of corporation tenants so far as the future was concerned. Would there be any more increase in rents? Could we say that there would be no further increases except those due to rate increases and that if there was a reduction in the rates, rents would be reduced? The City Manager said he could not give that guarantee but that rents would be reviewed. That was in accordance with Ministerial instructions. It is about time that occupants of corporation houses and flats knew where they stand. They are entitled to know that. We know that the majority of them are caught in the differential scheme and that everytime they get an increase in wages, sixpence goes on to the rent. That is bad enough, and they also have to pay increases in rates when these occur, without expecting them to go on without knowing what they are entitled to know. The time is long overdue when we should reconsider differential rents and how they are assessed. First, we should stop taking into consideration overtime earnings. Many industries require overtime and different Ministers are advocating more production, and yet we have this system of deterring workers from working overtime. Not only is their overtime payment cut by taxation but it is also being taken into consideration in differential rents. Something should be done about this.

The Minister should also consider allowances for people who live a long distance from their employment, people who must involve themselves in expense in using public transport and so on. It is not their fault that they cannot get a house or flat near their employment and the corporation cannot build beside everybody's job and so this allowance should be made.

Another matter crying out for attention is the service afforded to tenants in maintenance of their houses. There was a time when a good deal of maintenance was done on Corporation houses and flats. Now it has to be a very big job before the corporation will take it on. Yet, people say corporation tenants get everything.

There is quite an amount of confusion regarding the introduction of the Dublin Corporation tenant purchase scheme. While every corporation tenant was circularised and asked whether he or she wished to buy the house and while examples were given of what it would mean if they decided to buy, the information was by no means positive because agreement has not yet been reached in the City Council itself on this scheme. That is because many things must be cleared up before people should be asked or required to buy their houses.

For example, allowances should be made in respect of the length of time the tenant is in the house. In the proposed scheme, the suggested maximum allowance is 30 per cent of the price charged to the person buying the house. That is not good enough when one considers the type of house and the absence of modern amenities. Nor is it good enough when you consider that some of these houses were built for less than £500 and we are now talking of selling them at their present market value. All these things must be examined before people are codded into buying their houses.

There is another aspect of this: how far do we go in selling these houses? What control will we have over them when we sell them? What opportunities will be afforded to smart-alec developers to buy them and do something else with them? These are very important points on which we must be well satisfied before the Labour Party will consider a tenant purchase scheme. We must also find out to what limit we can go in selling these houses, whether we shall sell three-quarters, half or one-quarter of them. All this means to me that we can forget about a tenant purchase scheme until we clarify the situation.

We must also consider the situation confronting those who are not corporation tenants and want accommodation. I have already adverted to the situation in connection with the waiting list and those on that list. I am now thinking of people who have become so desperate to get accommodation as a result of the information they have got that the corporation is not likely to house them for a very long time— which means years, not months—that they have set out to buy their own houses.

One of the serious things in that connection is the amount of the grant which is overdue for review. Another is the amount of the deposit they are required to pay. I have already said here and in Dublin Corporation that you might as well ask such people to produce £5,000, £6,000 or £7,000 as to ask them to produce £500, £600, or £700 as a deposit on a house. Such people, if forced by necessity to do so, get loans with which to pay the deposit and they are then in the position that they must face repaying the loan on the deposit, the loan they get to buy the house and they also have the problem of furnishing the house. The ordinary man, with from £16 to £20, or a little more, cannot afford this and if you go into his home, if he is forced into this situation, you find abject poverty. Some of them are very badly off. They put up a front. There are curtains on the front windows but inside there is little or nothing. That is because of the charges they have to meet due to these demands for high deposits by the builders who are allowed to continue to do this—these charges for houses, repayments of loans, having to buy money at such high interest. The people benefiting by these transactions are living in Shangri-La and nothing is being done about it, except the Minister will say now and then: "It is bad. The prices are very high. We are going to try and do something about it."

There is only one thing to do about it, that is, control it, control the price of houses, investigate the builders, and also control the activities of the people who lend out money, such as the building societies. I often wonder about these building societies who complain they need money to do this, that and the other. They are deceiving the people, and I do not know how they get away with it, with their expensive buildings and their expensive advertising in newspapers and on television. How long more will this exploitation continue? There is a need for some of these organisations to start to make sacrifices. We have had a demonstration of that made by the Irish Transport and General Workers Union when they gave the Government £50,000 free of interest for building purposes. If we had a demonstration of that kind from various developers, builders and so on, it would rid from our people's minds the thought that everywhere they turn they are being exploited.

I should like to advert to a problem which has been touched on in the course of this debate. Deputy Millar referred to it today and advocated that arrangements should be made for people to pay rates by instalments. I do not know what happens outside Dublin—I have enough to do to look after my own area—but arrangements are in existence in Dublin Corporation which permit people to pay their rates by instalments. Now there is a good deal of agitation to have a differential rating system just as there is a differential renting system. Surely the time has come for something to be done about that? Having regard to the predicament I described in relation to tenant purchasers, it is a bit much that a fellow who has been struggling to keep a house going should be paying exactly the same rates as a company director who is doing very well. I should like to know through the medium of this debate if the Minister has given any thought to this matter and, if he has, whether he intends to do anything about it.

Another matter affecting the tenant purchase house which I must mention is that of the repair grant. It is a commendable thing to encourage people to avail of these grants for the purpose of improving their homes. Bearing in mind present-day costs, I hold there is a need to increase the amount of the grant. Not only that, but when a person improves his home in this way, it should not be followed by increased rates, because that means it is not a grant at all; it is a loan of money which he must pay for the rest of his life through increased rates in respect of that improvement.

I do not know what is the cause of a happening to which I am going to refer, but there appears to be a development in parts of Dublin, in residential areas anyhow, to transform private houses into factories and workshops. Recently a case of this kind was brought to my notice by a constituent of mine living in a place called Shandon Gardens in Phibsboro'. The residents there found one of the occupants of a house there storing oils and fats in barrels and bringing lorries in the small hours of the morning and all times of the night for delivery of the products

All the residents got together, and their association complained about this. They could get nowhere with it; they were simply told by Dublin Corporation that if he was doing this for some time before the change in the Planning Act "there is nothing we can do about it". Surely this is wrong? If we make progressive changes, it is not done for this kind of thing. I should like to hear from the Minister if anything can be done about a matter of this kind. It is undoubtedly causing a nuisance to the people concerned. It reduces the value of their property, and these people are paying full rates.

I was disappointed that the Minister was not more contrite about the Grand Canal and all that is going on about it. I should like some responsible Minister to deal with this, and it behoves the Minister for Local Government to state clearly and distinctly what will be done or what should be done in connection with the closure of this canal, the period of its closure, the necessity to close it and matters of that kind. Recently I asked a question of the Minister which had a little to do with this matter. The information I got was inconclusive. Apparently he did not have the necessary information. The following is the question I asked last Tuesday:

To ask the Minister for Local Government the location and the amount of undeveloped land on the south side of Dublin city that could be utilised for the purpose of building houses and flats for working class families if proper sewerage facilities were available.

The main reason we have been given for the closure of the canal by Dublin Corporation is the absence of proper sewerage facilities. The Minister answered the question by saying.

I am informed that generally speaking all the undeveloped land in the south side of Dublin city could, subject to planning requirements, be utilised for the provision of dwellings. Sewerage is not an obstacle.

It is imperative that the lines be cleared in this connection. On the one hand, Dublin Corporation say the main reason for closing the canal is to enable houses to be built on the south side of the city, which, because of the absence of sewerage facilities, cannot be built at present. On the other hand, the Minister says sewerage is not an obstacle. There is another important aspect of this matter. Steps should be taken to see that nobody is allowed to cash in on this development. The Minister, no matter what embarrassment it may cause, should watch the actions of such people, or for that matters the corporation should be given back their power and let move in to do the job.

Some Deputies have spoken about water supplies down the country. They may be surprised to know that in many parts of Dublin the water supply is extremely bad. It is atrocious in parts of my constituency around the Navan Road, Cabra West and Finglas. Representations have been made in connection with it, but the excuse for delay in improving it is absence of finance. The same excuse is given for failure to repair roads and footpaths in housing areas and to take in charge laneways at the back of houses. It is not unusual for the residents in a block of houses to be required to look after their own laneways.

Another matter causing a headache in Dublin is the public lighting. It is diabolical. Again the cause is absence of money. There has been a little improvement in different parts. Now and then we are told it is because of vandalism that the lighting is bad. But then you are told unbreakable bulbs have been put in, so in that case you cannot blame the vandals. Yet the lighting remains bad. If the lighting is bad in the city of Dublin, it must be "heaven help the places outside it." Will a special allocation be given to the City Council to deal with this problem?

I want to deal now with road safety. This week in my area there was a very commendable venture when the Ballymun Youth Club inaugurated a road safety week, which I believe the Minister is to close this coming Sunday. These people, realising the importance of road safety, have come together, encouraged by the Minister's Department, the Garda and other interests. While their action is very laudable indeed, there are a number of other things we ourselves could be doing. I cannot understand why we do not make it clear to everybody entering the city, particularly people from outside and tourists as well, that once they are in the city, there is a general speed limit of 30 mph. Of course, in parts of the city now there is a limit of 40 mph. In any event, the absence of signs saying there is a speed limit of 30 mph or 40 mph inside the city is to be deplored. There is no use taking it for granted that people know there is a 30 mph limit. Why this cannot be highlighted is something beyond me. I remember raising it some years ago and being told that there was a limit of 30 mph in every part of the city. Every part is not 30 mph now. You can go for long stretches without seeing any sign.

There is also the question of stop signs and no entry signs. They should be lighted up, or perhaps we should use different colours on them. Perhaps the obvious thing to do is to make them more luminous. It is easy for people to turn off the main streets in Dublin into a no-entry street because of the type of signs we are using. These signs should be clearer.

The other evening at a meeting of Dublin Corporation a member of the Minister's own Party advocated that the Garda pointsmen should be on duty in the centre of the city up to 12 midnight for the purpose of avoiding accidents. It was not of course suggested that the same pointsmen should work all hours of the day and night, but that the points should be covered up to 12 midnight. Another member of the Minister's Party suggested that this duty should be given to older men. This is not a job for old men but for young men. We have been promised traffic lights for the past 12 or 18 months and why they are not there yet is beyond me. Again the only reason is the absence of money. We should be told this so that we would know where we stand. There is nothing to be gained by making political capital out of matters like that.

I am also concerned about the position of pedestrians in the main streets of Dublin. At some points in the city, because the traffic is so heavy, people take their lives in their hands when attempting to cross the road. You often see a pedestrian starting to cross the road but the pointsman waves the traffic on, believing that every pedestrian has speed in his legs. But some pedestrians are old or incapacitated and have not such speed. I marvel at the fact that we have not had a spate of accidents in this regard, and we should not have to wait for it either. I invite the Minister to look at what is happening at both sides of O'Connell Bridge, at the Parnell Monument and the lower end of Grafton Street and then he will know what I am referring to. I do not think it is right. There appears to be greater concern for motorists than for pedestrians. Sometimes we see gardaí helping the pointsman by standing at the side and guiding people across. This is mostly around Christmas when more gardaí are available. Perhaps the reason is a shortage of gardaí. It would be more important to have them looking after pedestrians than spending their day putting £1 fine notices on motor cars. That is a terrible job to give any man.

There is an unfair situation in regard to traffic wardens in the city. They are under the control of the Safety First Association which receives funds from Dublin Corporation. The representatives of the wardens have for some time been trying to get the Association to agree to pay the wardens at their various points outside the schools, but there has been a refusal to do this. The result is that the wardens are obliged to travel many miles in order to collect their pay. To do this they have to go by bus, or even walk. They have to spend money going by bus. Sometimes they have to take two buses. This is for no good reason at all. Why cannot they be facilitated?

I ask the Minister to do the right thing. This is a small point, but traffic wardens are mostly elderly people. Picture them on a bad day, a wet day, a snowy day, having to trudge through the streets once a week making their way to Morehampton Road in order to be paid. Why could they not be paid at the schools, or by the inspector who goes around in a car to see they are on duty. The only explanation given is that they have to go there to make sure they are on the job. That does not guarantee anything, but it is the excuse given. During the last bus strike, it was found possible to facilitate these people. They were paid by cheque.

The Minister also dealt with the fire brigade. I am particularly concerned about the part-time fire brigade men, their conditions and their rates of pay. The trade union responsible is still awaiting a decision on recommendations they made. I know the Minister is interested in this matter. Would he explore the possibility of the local authorities making arrangements to have the most modern equipment made available to part-time fire brigade men? Could some classes be instituted at which they would be able to familiarise themselves with this modern equipment? While they are at these classes they should be regarded as being on duty.

I have been trying to get information from the Minister and from Dublin Corporation about the Finglas river. It is about time the people concerned were told when this job will be completed. Dublin Corporation have been seeking sanction for some time. What is the deadline? There have also been complaints about the Tolka and the Finglas so far as pollution is concerned. A number of people put money and hard work into the Tolka so that they could indulge in fishing on that river. All their efforts have been negatived by effluent being allowed to be discharged into the Tolka. The Minister has indicated that there will be a sewerage scheme to deal with this matter. These matters should be made known to the public-spirited people who put their own money and their own time into keeping the river clean and supplying the fish. The people I refer to are in an anglers' association and they made representations to the Minister's Department, so the Minister's officials are familiar with the problem. Such people will not continue to make efforts of this kind if their efforts are to come to naught.

If I say, "at last", I am sure you will know what I mean. I will not be very long but I should like to make a number of observations. I should like to begin by referring to the controversy about the Grand Canal and its closing. A group of people have organised to prevent the closure of the Grand Canal and they have been called a pressure group. I do not agree with that description of this group. These people have come together to express an opinion as to why the Grand Canal should not be closed. You can either accept or reject the opinion of that group. I reject in part and I accept in part their point of view. What I do not accept is that the Grand Canal must not be closed to provide sewerage and services for houses or for industrial estates. I agree with the group that the canal should be re-opened after the sewerage pipes have been laid down. I should like to emphasise it.

This is an amenity. It is a first-class amenity. Anyone who suggests that the walk from Baggot Street Bridge to Leeson Street Bridge is not one of the most beautiful amenities, does not really know what an amenity is. Equally from the touristic point of view, we must have the canal open from the basin to the Shannon. We have not realised the full potential of the Grand Canal as a boating canal. We must compare this with the way the British have dealt with their canals. They are a magnificent amenity for the British people who like boating. They also encourage these as a tourist amenity as well as an amenity for their own people. I should like to stress that I accept that the Grand Canal must be closed temporarily and, having been closed temporarily, it must be re-opened and reinstated in its original condition.

Some time ago I received an interdepartmental document on rating. There was one matter which worried me considerably. It applies particularly to the constituency I represent. It is the chapter dealing with the rates remission for new house-owners. I reject out of hand any suggestion that this remission should be abolished. It should stay. It is one-tenth the first year, two-tenths the second year, three-tenths the third year, and so on. People need to be encouraged to get married and to buy a new house. In the first years of marriage, as we all know, people find it difficult enough to survive, people in the middle income group particularly. I will deal with the lower income group further on in my contribution.

I say: hands off the rates remission. I should like to hear the Minister's point of view on this. Does he agree with the interdepartmental committee about this, and if so why? As I say, it is encouragement young people need, not obstruction at the beginning of their lives together. The people who sat on this interdepartmental committee or commission are out of touch with the realities of life in suburbia. It has been said that the rating system is iniquitous and unfair and people have stopped at that. If a person says that something is wrong, he should say why it is wrong and should produce an alternative. I agree that the rating system in the city and county of Dublin is a very difficult and complex matter. Differential rating should be introduced and people should be asked to pay according to their means. This is just a suggestion.

The idea has also been propounded that there should be a system of local taxation. Here again I find it difficult to see how such a system could operate. Are people just saying that and stopping there? Can they produce an alternative?

The question of housing is a matter that arises on the Estimate for Local Government. It is right that Deputies should deal particularly with their constituencies. They are elected to represent what they believe to be the best interests of their constituents and should not make any apology for doing that. In my visits to my constituency on Saturday afternoons I find that there are many young people in the lower income group living in very poor conditions in flats in houses with one toilet, where there are six or seven families, for which they pay £3, £4 and £5 a week to what I would call speculators in human misery. Not all landlords in the constituency that I represent are that type of "Christian gentlemen". I would say that 98 per cent of the landlords in Dún Laoghaire are decent people but there are the other two per cent. Let us remember that there are these speculators in human misery still with us in our community, people who represent themselves as Christians but who have no Christian principles.

The answer is the provision of more houses. I am glad to see that the Minister has sanctioned a scheme of 800 housing units in the Ballybrack-Loughlinstown area of my constituency. This will be an allevation of the position. At the moment there is a waiting list of 600 in urgent need of rehousing in Dún Laoghaire. I do not wish to paint too black a picture but the situation which exists must be brought to the notice of the Dáil and of the Department of Local Government.

There is in the area a society called the South County Dublin Housing Co-operative Society representing a group of young persons who are prepared to build their own houses if land is made available to them. If the Minister and the Dún Laoghaire Borough Corporation were to make a small parcel of land available for this scheme, these people would build their own houses at their own expense with the usual State grants. That would save the State a considerable amount of money. These people would have immediate ownership of their own houses. The South County Dublin Housing Co-Operative Society should be given every encouragement and that can best be done by making available to them a parcel of land in the Ballybrack-Loughlinstown area.

Many charges have been made against speculators in land. In my constituency, about four months ago, a price of £8,000 was paid for an acre of land. This is immoral. The builder has to pay for the land and the eventual owner of the house built on the land has to pay the builder, and the viscious spiral continues. I would ask the Minister seriously to consider placing a limit on the price of land. Speculators should be made to pay heavily for the services laid on by the local authority. The nearer the land is to these services, the higher the price.

I have raised on many occasions the question of underdeveloped estates and will continue to do so until the matter is resolved. Dún Laoghaire and Rathdown is a mushrooming constituency. Some estates there for ten or 15 years have not been taken over. Therefore, I must continue to refer to this matter. The estates stretch from Killiney, Foxrock, Cabinteely, Stillorgan, down to Milltown. The Belvue Estate may be mentioned in particular and the excellent residents association which caters for the residents of this estate. May I also mention the condition of Rochestown Avenue? Here, of course, the great deception goes on. The residents association, the local councillors, the TDs, have been contacting the Minister for Local Government, the county council, the borough corporation. Letters have been going between one and the other over the last two and a half years. Still the condition of Rochestown Avenue remains as criminally dangerous to the residents as ever. The problem is that nobody knows whether the developer has dedicated the land to the county council or is negotiating a price with the county council. Again, I would appeal to the Minister to bring the saga to a conclusion, to ensure that adults and school-going children are not killed or injured on this avenue. My information is that there has been a number of serious accidents on Rochestown Avenue and my belief is, and it is shared by many, that somebody will be killed unless the matter is dealt with as one of urgency. It is now over to the county council and the developer. Is it dedicated or will it be dedicated or are there negotiations on price proceeding between the developer and the county council?

I now come to Carysfort Avenue, another dangerous roadway in my constituency. At present there is a public local inquiry in relation to this avenue. This inquiry has been called for over the years and I am glad that it is now commencing. Of course, there are many objectors coming forward to give reasons why certain areas of the avenue should not be handed over to the local authority. These objectors should be ashamed of themselves. In connection with one of the narrowest and most dangerous avenues in the city and county of Dublin people are prepared to look for their pound of flesh, despite the possibility and, indeed, the probability of schoolgoing children being either killed or injured. It is a very narrow thoroughfare. On wet days, walking on the footpath, it is not unusual to get a drenching from passing cars.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.