The motion is that this Bill be read a second time.
DUBLIN RECONSTRUCTION (EMERGENCY PROVISIONS) BILL, 1924—SECOND STAGE.
I should like that the Minister would be here to explain particularly one question in connection with this Bill. The Bill gives certain powers to the Dublin Corporation, and I should like to know if those powers now devolve on the Commissioners who have been appointed to supplant the suppressed Corporation. Will all the powers and duties conferred by this Bill on the Corporation devolve on the new body, or will it be necessary, before any progress can be made, to have a new Corporation elected, and functioning in the ordinary way? With the general principle of this Bill I presume there will be no quarrel. I think the pity is that it was not introduced earlier. If the passing of the Bill is necessary to start the work, I wonder could the Government exercise any influence on people responsible for starting the work, particularly in O'Connell Street, with a view to getting them to commence? We have seen statements in the Press regarding the decoration of Dublin streets with regard to the Tailteann Games, but I think that any attempt made at decorating in this way would render us grotesque unless some serious attempt is made to remove the highly objectionable and far from picturesque ruins in O'Connell Street. They have not even the saving grace of being picturesque, otherwise we might point them out with a certain amount of pride to visitors to our city. They are an objectionable eyesore, and to the man in the street there is no reason why that part of the work of clearing the ruins should not have been started long ago. I hardly think that it was necessary to wait for the passing of this Bill to enable that work to be started. I know that the Corporation will probably find it necessary to assert certain powers with regard to the alignment of buildings, but I do not think that any persons will be prejudiced in their rights by clearing away the ruins. There is a large amount of employment involved there which is very badly needed in the city.
Section 6 gives the Corporation powers to sell any sites upon which building has not been started, or having been started has been discontinued within á period of two years after the passing of the Bill. I believe that that period should be shorter. It is an extraordinary length of time—two years from now, or four years from the period in which the buildings were destroyed. Any prospective builder who has not started within the next six or eight months must have extraordinary reasons for not starting, and I think that these reasons should be sufficient to enable the Corporation to take over the site and sell it to somebody who is prepared to build on it. It is deplorable, especially when you consider what has been done in other cities. We have read about the burning of San Francisco, Baltimore and other cities, and we are filled with admiration when we see these cities rise phoenix-like after their destruction. In London, after the destruction of part of the East End as the result of an ammunition explosion, the stones were hardly cold when re-building started. Where the community has compensated people for destruction done to their property, and where public money has been voted and decreed by the courts as compensation, I think it is only reasonable that these people should be asked not to waste further time in expending that money for the purposes for which it has been voted. I hope that the Government will exercise its influence in seeing that the money is spent at once, and that the delay in re-building shall not be a day longer than is necessary.
With much of the last speaker's remarks, I think, we are all in agreement. I look upon that part of O'Connell Street which is in ruins rather feelingly, as I am concerned with reference to the expedition of the re-building. I seriously tell Senator O'Farrell that if he and those with him who are interested give an assurance that there will be no labour disputes that will not be submitted to arbitration, it will make a great many of us hurry up in the re-building without any Enactment or Order.
We are prepared to give guarantees that there will be no stoppage of work or strikes if the employers agree not to attempt further reductions in the standard of living.
I would like to ask the Minister if it is not correct that money has been received for the re-building of the Post Office from the British Government and what is the reason of this long delay in doing anything in the matter?
No money is being received from the British Government for the rebuilding of the Post Office.
Is it not to be received?
I hope it may. There are many matters of claim under dispute and I do not want to say anything about any of them.
Some points may have been raised at the opening of the debate when I was not here.
I think, substantially, the point was that it would be vital in the interests of the city that some urgent steps should be taken, at least, to make the ruins less objectionable to the public gaze than they are at present.
I expect we will be starting the clearing of the sites pretty soon. With regard to Section 6 we must all agree that it is a very revolutionary clause and, to some extent, it strikes at private property. We have to be very cautious as to how we extend any legislation along those lines. Two years would be considered in America, say, an exceptionally long time, but when you take into consideration the state of unrest and the uncertainty with regard to business I think it is only rational that we should allow two years in a matter of this kind.