This is a short Bill which calls for short speeches. It recommends itself not only to every party but to every Deputy. One of the major concerns of Deputies, as public representatives, is the housing of our people. All of us know that there is at the moment a real and a great demand for houses. I want to pay tribute to the work which has been undertaken by the National Building Agency. I have seen some of its work. I have seen and inspected that design of the houses which it constructed. I should like to place on record my appreciation of the design, layout and finish of houses erected by the NBA.
I suppose it is easy for us to find fault if we want to find fault, but the only fault I can find with this Bill is the question of whether it provides sufficient money to do the job properly. We know this is only a step towards the completion of the housing of industrial workers and State servants and many others who will be calling on the NBA for assistance. All of us who are members of local authorities know that it is becoming increasingly difficult for local authorities to respond to all the demands for housing made on them. The setting up of this body in 1960 was a step in the right direction. When we look back on nine years of work we find that roughly only 126 or 127 houses per year were built by the NBA. The Minister said:
By the 30th September, 1969, a total of 751 houses for industry had been completed by the agency, 109 were then under construction and 378 were being planned.
We cannot count houses which are being planned as erected or constructed and, therefore, we can say that in the nine years since the agency was estabgratulat lished 751 houses were provided for industry and 109 are under construction, I presume also for industry. I wonder has the NBA carried out any survey because, if we are to plan for the future, we should have a target and, therefore, a survey should be carried out. If State servants are to be housed in houses provided by the NBA, and others who will not come within the scope of being provided with houses by the local authorities, the NBA will have a very difficult task to perform in the years ahead.
I should like to direct the attention of the Minister to the fact that in every district where we have a Garda station a house should be provided by the NBA for every married member of the Garda. There is nothing more humiliating than for a garda to have to occupy a third-rate or fourth-rate flat in a town. Many of these flats have not got the facilities which young married people would expect. As a matter of fact, I expressed surprise before that the Garda Representative Body have not made a more determined effort to secure more support for members of the Garda in relation to housing.
We have also in this country a large number of people known as foresters who are working in our various State forests. They do not come within the scope of local authority housing but they most certainly are State servants. I would certainly recommend that the NBA, in consultation with the Department of Lands, should undertake a survey of the housing needs of our foresters and the officials and officers of the Forestry Division and see that those houses are erected in towns where there are educational facilities and which are at the same time convenient to the various State forests.
We are embarking upon an era of expanded education and the great difficulty being experienced by many vocational education committees and secondary school authorities is that where we now have large schools the local authority is not in a position to expedite housing to accommodate the various teachers that are now required in our vocational and secondary schools. There are many towns, particularly in my own constituency, where there are first-rate vocational and secondary schools, and the big handicap is the lack of housing accommodation for teachers. Therefore, I would respectfully suggest to the Minister for Local Government that in consultation with the directors of the NBA, a national survey should be made at the earliest possible date in relation to the housing needs of all State officers and servants who require the assistance of the NBA.
In my own constituency the NBA have provided what I consider to be the best type of houses that I have ever seen erected, in record time and to a plan and a design second to none. I feel the NBA are entitled to that tribute. Unless we provide accommodation for key workers, industry cannot be run efficiently. We have an obligation to provide houses for those key workers through the National Building Agency, and we also have a responsibility to the promoters and proprietors of our secondary schools and to vocational education committees who are at their wits' end in regard to housing accommodation for teachers.
Let us hope that the rate of industrial expansion will continue. I should like, without going unduly outside the scope of the Bill, to make reference to the Buchanan Report. There does not appear to be any scope for industrial expansion from Wexford, Kilkenny, Carlow, Laois-Offaly, you might say from the coast of Wexford right up to the town of Athlone. I hope the NBA is not going to study the pages of the Buchanan Report in order to ascertain where houses are to be built for industrial expansion. I have always held the view that the State should have as one of its primary responsibilities the provision of houses for all our people. I am glad to see that in the NBA we have one State-sponsored body that is prepared to tackle this problem energetically and enthusiastically.
If there is to be greater progress by the NBA I would suggest that the agency consider the establishment of three sections in that organisation: one section to deal with the city areas, and we have heard glowing tributes from Deputy Moore and others as to the progress which was made in Ballymun and other areas in the city; there should also be a section to deal with newly established industrial estates and the areas where industrial estates are about to be established; and there should be a third section to deal with the rural areas where there are no extensive industrial activities but, nevertheless, where housing accommodation must be provided for gardaí, teachers, foresters and the other sections of the community to whom I have referred and who do not come within the scope of local authority housing.
If a survey was taken of the housing requirements, say, over the next five years in relation to people who cannot be housed by local authorities, the amount of money being provided in this Bill would pale into insignificance in comparison to the amount that would be required. However, it is a step in the right direction and I presume the NBA, now nine years old, is only a little over the use of reason. Agencies of this kind usually suffer from teething troubles, but I hope the NBA are beyond that stage and that within the next nine years, between now and 1978 they will be able to show a significant improvement in the output of houses. As the Minister has outlined to us here, in nine years they have provided 751 houses plus 109. We do not take into consideration the houses that are being planned because Government offices throughout the length and breadth of this city are crammed with plans many of which are on the shelves of the various new offices covered with dust and surrounded by cobwebs. Therefore, we shall not take into consideration what is planned but only what has been erected, what has provided a roof over a family. That is the right test of progress.
I would respectfully suggest that there should be a greater measure of co-operation between the NBA and the local authorities. At one time an urban area council known as the town commissioners was a housing authority. Under legislation town commissioners are no longer housing authorities. The housing authorities are the county councils and the urban district councils. Due to the demand by people to be housed by county councils and urban district councils, there are many areas where there are town commissioners and where the rate of progress does not seem to be very significant. For that reason I was wondering if at some future date the NBA might undertake, in co-operation with the town commissioners, the erection of houses in various townships which are urbanised but still not housing authorities. For many years to come, with people marrying younger and with the steady increase, however slow it is, in employment, there will be a great demand for houses in this country. No matter how quickly or efficiently we proceed with housing we shall never find it possible to reach the day when we can say our ambitions in relation to housing have been achieved.
The job before the NBA is a very great one. In the past nine years they have built approximately 126 houses per year. This is not very significant progress for a national building agency. Nevertheless, it is as significant as the money, which was voted by this House, allowed, especially when one realises that building materials are soaring and that building workers are likely to be making increased demands for a proper wage in order to meet higher living costs. When one takes into account all these increased costs one realises that the amount of money being sought by the Minister under this Bill is not very great. I would have preferred to have seen a far greater State investment in the NBA.
With these few words I most certainly endorse what has been said by other Deputies in relation to the NBA but I should like to hear from the Minister what his opinion is of the future needs, not alone for key workers in industrial employment, but for the other sections of the community who look upon it as the duty of the State to provide housing for them.
Whenever the Minister for Local Government comes into the House with legislation seeking money to provide houses for our people I always feel he will be met by Deputies who realise the necessity of providing houses for our people. In the past the provision of houses has not brought much credit to the State. It has been handled in a very patch-like manner. Nevertheless, the NBA as a result of this increased money is about to make greater strides and greater progress. We hope and trust that their efforts will be crowned with the success they deserve. It is the desire of all Deputies in this House to see that the housing needs of this country are satisfied.