Since speaking yesterday evening I had some time to look over the Parliamentary Secretary's speech and I must again congratulate him on the way he has distributed the money at his disposal. I see that a sum of £368,000 is being provided for works for the Department of Justice, mainly for the erection of new Garda stations. That is a generous sum. I noticed that there is only about £1,000 for married quarters for the Garda Síochána but we must be fair to the Parliamentary Secretary. He must bide his time until he gets money.
The Parliamentary Secretary said that expenditure on the building and improvement of primary schools last year was approximately £6,600,000 which represented an average expenditure of approximately £550,000 per month. When we find a Parliamentary Secretary spending well over half a million pounds per month he is doing very well. No matter where it is being spent it is being spent for the betterment of our schools and our children. He also said:
The amount included for school building and improvement in the estimate for the current period of nine months is £5,030,000 and this will enable the monthly expenditure rate of last year to be maintained. A large proportion of the money will again be spent on the erection of schools in newly developing areas of towns and cities.
That is very encouraging. While in some areas we may be a little discouraged by the slow progress that is being made we must remember that it takes time to get around to all improvements. They cannot all be carried out at the one time.
The Parliamentary Secretary also said:
The provision of special schools for physically and mentally handicapped children is continuing. Works were completed last year on six new schools. Works are at present in progress in 14 such schools and 11 projects are at various stages of preparation.
Again the Government must be proud of such an achievement. This is one thing for which we have been asking. The schools for handicapped children are ones we are particularly anxious to see provided because it is very discouraging to have people who have a young boy or girl who is handicapped and are most anxious to get him or her placed in a school, coming to one seeking help in this regard. In one year alone the Parliamentary Secretary can say that six new schools were built and that there are 14 projects on hands. That is very encouraging. Our people will have no need to worry about progress if we can continue on those lines.
The Parliamentary Secretary said:
In addition to the works covered by the Estimate, the Office of Public Works will carry out for the Department of Posts and Telegraphs works in conjunction with the telephone services estimated to cost about £1,200,000, which will be met from the telephone capital account.
That is something else that will be very much welcomed by the people because we often have chaos in the country because of telephones. When we have to use the telephone we become very annoyed at the long delays we experience. Most people are in a hurry nowadays and they use telephones frequently. We should certainly be able to make progress in providing a better telephone service with the expenditure of £1,200,000. Most Deputies get requests from their constituents about the provision of telephones. We now hope that many of them will be provided with them in the very near future.
I hope the Board of Works can allocate increased expenditure for the improvement of some of our schools. If water and sewerage were laid on it would make a great difference to existing schools while they are waiting for new schools to be built. When a new school is planned it takes a few years before it is provided. I know of a case where a school was in very poor condition and the parents were worried about the conditions their children had to work in. There were bad feelings between the parents and the school manager. A small temporary job costing £700 sorted out the problem in that school and it was used for a further four years. The Board of Works should ensure that many more old schools are repaired on a temporary basis.
I had a deputation yesterday in relation to a school where the contribution cannot be collected. The Board of Works cannot begin erection of a new school until the Department of Education state the allocation they will give. Before this can be done the local people have to provide their allocation but this very often takes time. The delay caused by the contribution question in the school I mention will cost up to £10,000 over a period of four years on a £40,000 building. If a quick decision were given it would save thousands of pounds on the erection of many of those schools.
I should like to mention tourism. I put a few proposals to the Board of Works in relation to tourism and asked if a small grant could be allocated for the erection of a road from Dromahair to Sligo which would give access to Lough Gill. This would bring extra tourists to the area during the summer months. So far nothing has been done about this. I have been asked by many of my constituents why this access road to Lough Gill has not been provided. I would like the Parliamentary Secretary to do something about it.
The cost of fuel has increased considerably in recent years. Many homes have central heating but the vast majority of them still have to burn coal, timber and turf. A cwt. of coal today costs £2. This is a very great burden on many people. Wages and transport costs are increasing so naturally the price of coal will go up further. We have an amount of good bogland in this country and we often ask about having it drained and having access roads provided. Some years ago we had bog development schemes and minor employment schemes. When Deputy J. Gibbons was Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance he stated he was getting rid of the bog development schemes and the minor employment schemes. I said at that time it was a sad day when no money was allocated for the development of bog roads. When you leave it to the public to maintain and repair those roads the work is not done.