Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Local Improvements Grant Scheme.


asked the Minister for the Environment if he will reconsider his decision to terminate the local improvements grant scheme.

The local improvements scheme has not been terminated. A sum of £2.15 million is available in 1984 for grants under the scheme in respect of farm road projects eligible for aid under the EC western package. I do not propose to amend these arrangements.

Apart from the 12 western counties is any money being provided for the local improvements scheme in other counties?

Is the scheme being terminated in those other counties?

My reply was that the scheme under the western package is not being terminated but that no funds are being made available for other counties.

Is the scheme being terminated or are moneys to be provided for it next year?

The scheme as it exists, is not being terminated.

Is the Minister aware that since the Government accepted EC financial support for the operation of the local improvements scheme, there has been a requirement that in all cases a minimum payment of 10 per cent be made by way of local contribution? Is he aware that this requirment prevents people in some rural areas from benefiting under the scheme because they are poor and are not in a position to meet the 10 per cent payment? These people would probably have waited a number of years for an offer of a grant. In some cases the cost of a job could be up to £25,000 so that the amount that would have to be collected locally would be £2,500, whereas previously if a person's valuation was less than £5 he would not be required to make a contribution. Is the Minister aware that the requirement is causing serious hardship?

I am not so aware but I shall have the matter looked into with a view to ascertaining whether anything can be done about the 10 per cent requirement.

Is the Minister not aware that this matter was raised with Deputy Quinn when he was in the Minister's position as Minister of State, that he examined it, but that no action was taken?

That is not relevant to the question we are dealing with.

I do not see any reference to that here. I am not aware of any correspondence that may have taken place with my predecessor.

I accept that to a certain extent the Minister, being new to the Department, would not be aware of what had transpired but if we were to let him have details of cases would he be prepared to consider changing the requirement of a 10 per cent contribution in all cases?

I will have a look at it. I am not aware of the circumstances and background but I will look at any case the Deputy brings to my notice.

Is the Minister aware that applications were made under the scheme for approximately 160 roadways in County Wexford? Is he aware that some applications have been made since 1960?

That is a general question.

I know that. Will the Minister reconsider his decision and make moneys available because there has been such a demand for the scheme?

I do not propose to amend the arrangements that exist at present.

The remaining Questions will appear on tomorrow's Order Paper.

I wish to raise on the Adjournment the question of two young newly-weds, one of whom is in a wheelchair and is unemployed. He has had his mobility and invalidity allowance withdrawn as a penalty for getting married.

I will communicate with the Deputy.

I wish to raise on the Adjournment the reason why the balance of the grant voted by this House for Comhaltas Ceolteoirí Éireann in the last Dáil session has not been paid to that organisation.

I will communicate with the Deputy.

Mr. Cowen

I wish to raise on the Adjournment a matter which is of urgent importance in my area in connection with the underhand way in which the Department of Forestry and Fisheries and the Department of Justice have collaborated in closing——

The Deputy cannot make a controversial statement.

Mr. Cowen

I am trying to impress on the Chair——

If the Deputy makes a request I will deal with it.

He is a new Deputy.

Mr. Cowen

The Chair used to be a Minister with responsibility for this area. I am trying to impress on him the urgency of this matter and of allowing me to bring to the floor of the House the massive rejection of this proposal.

I will communicate with the Deputy.

I wish to raise on the Adjournment the question of grant aid for the installation of solid fuel boilers for the glasshouse industry because of escalating costs.

I will communicate with the Deputy. I know it is not necessary to remind the House that there are between ten and 15 items requested for the Adjournment this evening and it is not possible to accommodate everyone.