asked the Minister for Local Government the increase in the amount borrowed by local authorities between 31st March, 1956, and 31st March, 1969; and the increase in the cost of servicing this debt for the same years.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Local Authority Indebtedness.
The net indebtedness of local authorities, excluding harbour authorities, vocational education committees and committees of agriculture, increased by an estimated £111.22 million in the period from 31st March 1956, to 31st March, 1968, the latest date for which such information is available. In the same period the increase in the annual cost of repaying this debt was £10.49 million. The Deputy is no doubt aware that only about one-third of the outstanding debt of local authorities is met from rates. The remainder is met by State subsidies, rents and purchase annuities, etc.
We may take it then that we are getting deeper and deeper into debt, that the Government are running away from their responsibilities and leaving the people with this heavy burden which posterity will have to pay for?
I am glad and proud to say that as a result of the improvement in the country's economy it has been possible to make this extra investment in the provision of services for our people.
This is a new way of judging this.
This £111.22 million is a sum of money which represents the achievement of this Government in local government and which will be hung around the necks of the Deputy's Party at a later——
Next week. Hear, hear.
——at a later date.
I agree entirely with the Minister. We will have to come in and clear up the position. Will the Minister agree that more money has been borrowed in the last ten years——
That is a separate question.
——than was borrowed in the previous 30 years?
You believe that?
We certainly do. That is an inherent part of Fianna Fáil policy.
We are getting deeper and deeper——
The Deputy and his colleagues will have to answer later this year for their attitude in this matter. They will not get away with trying to have this both ways.
Deputy L'Estrange is ensuring that his Party, smaller and reduced in numbers, will be over there after the next general election.
The Minister's own Party is reduced in numbers today.