Ennis Urban District Council (Dissolution) Bill, 1929— - Housing Bill, 1929—Second Stage.

Question proposed: "That the Housing Bill, 1929, be read a Second Time."

This Bill is a continuation of previous Housing Bills that we have had, except that there is a new departure introduced in this one. On the 28th November last this House had another Housing Bill before it in which powers were taken to increase the amount of money that was to be made available under the 1925 Housing Act. During the debates on that Act I said that in my opinion it was only tinkering with the problem, and the proof that the statements that were made then were correct is the fact that in a few months we have another Housing Bill introduced to provide another £200,000 in order to encourage the building of working class dwellings. In the former Acts the grants allotted to local authorities, public utility societies or private persons were for the building of five-roomed houses. I should say that there was a grant for three, four or five-roomed houses of so much per room. It is the experience of those who have practical knowledge of house building that if you build bigger houses and get a bigger subsidy that that is more economic. But, under this Bill there is a new departure, as the subsidy that is being given is to encourage local authorities, public utility societies and private speculators to build three-roomed houses. I do not say that there is no necessity for some three-roomed houses, but I say that it is a bad policy to introduce at this stage the building of three-roomed houses, because every effort was made under the Housing Acts that were passed to see that the largest families were first provided for. I speak with some knowledge of conditions in the City of Dublin when I say that you must have a large family to-day to get a house erected by a local authority. That being so, we know that a large proportion of the large families inhabiting the slum dwellings in Dublin have not yet been provided for, and I think the time is not opportune to start building three-roomed houses. It is all very well for people to say that we must begin with three-roomed houses as they are much better than one-room tenements in a slum. It must be admitted that such houses are a great improvement but, at the same time, the type of family that requires to be housed in Dublin is too large to put into a three-roomed dwelling. That is the reason that I think the time is not opportune for building three-roomed houses.

As far as I can see, under the provisions of this Bill there will be three-roomed houses and, at the outside, four-roomed houses, because the amount of the subsidy will be the same for a three-roomed house as for a five-roomed house. Under former Acts the amount of the subsidy was given according to the number of rooms. Local authorities and public utility societies got £20 per room and private builders got £15 per room. The total amount of subsidy to be given under this Bill will be £45 in the case of a private speculative builder, and £60 in the case of a local authority or a public utility society. I think it is an unwise policy to put a clause in this Bill that will in practice bring about the erection of three-roomed houses only. I noticed that when introducing the Bill the Minister went out of his way to lecture local authorities on their inefficiency, and took advantage of the opportunity to bring out the shortcomings of the people who were in control of local bodies. Of course, a good deal has been said with regard to the type of person that was on these local bodies, but the fact ought not to be lost sight of that when the people with property would not face the music a few years ago and act on these local authorities, it was the splendid men and women with no property who had to step into the gap. When the British Local Government Board was being defied it was felt better to have poor men and women who had no property on these boards. If they were not selected because of their efficiency and of their knowledge of local administration, I think it is unfair that every opportunity is taken to belittle the work that these people tried to do. Those who selected them for the local bodies are the very people who are loudest in their condemnation. The argument was used also for the purpose of bolstering up the Commissioner system. The Minister pointed out several cases where with Commissioners in charge, with efficient management, they had reduced the rates. Of course, the Minister did not tell us what methods were adopted to reduce the rates. Any public body could reduce the rates, but could they give efficient service?

When I read the Minister's statement I was thinking that the sooner a commissioner was brought into the Department of Local Government the better. It would be in the interests of efficiency to do something like that. When we hear so much talk about the economic policy with regard to the building of houses, and get down to the position where building will be economic I remember that on the 28th November last, only a few short months ago, the Oireachtas spent a considerable time, and so did the officials of the Local Government Department, and the draughtsman preparing a Housing Bill, and now on the 24th April we have another Housing Bill produced. I think there is inefficiency somewhere, and I would go so far as to say that if the cost and all the time of the officials of the Local Government Department, the Minister's time, the time of Deputies, the printing as well as the time of the members of this House had been put into the Bill in November, 1928, the saving, I think, would provide a couple of dozen houses. I think the people who are always talking about inefficiency elsewhere should look round at their own particular departments to see if everything there is as highly efficient as it ought to be.

On a Housing Bill, as usual, comment is made about wages and output of the operatives engaged in the building industry. As usual the spokesman of the building trade employers took advantage in the Dáil to attack the wages and conditions of the building operatives, and to make comparisons with the wages paid elsewhere. He wanted houses to be built that could be let at an economic rent. We all want that but, if you want the workers to pay an economic rent for the houses they are to occupy then you have got to pay them an economic wage that will enable them to do so. As far as I can see this talk about subsidising housing for the working classes is in reality subsidising employers to pay bad wages because if the employers were compelled to pay sufficient wages that would enable the workers to pay economic rents. Of course we have the usual tears shed over the poor workers who live in the slums, who never got sufficient wages to enable him to pay an economic rent. It would be more honest instead of weeping over the unfortunate workers and the slum dwellers if the people were paid sufficient to enable them to pay economic rents for houses.

Nobody can oppose this Housing Bill, because no matter what type of house is being erected the problem is so desperate that we cannot afford to oppose any measure put forward to deal with the housing shortage. There is no necessity for me to go over the ground again. We have for five or six years pointed out the policy that ought to be adopted with regard to housing. I am still convinced that from this problem arises practically the whole of the social evil from which we suffer, and that it will not be solved by these piecemeal measures, that some proper authority must be set up to deal with it. The Government will have to adopt some methods similar to those adopted with regard to the Shannon scheme, give control to responsible people, fix the responsibility upon them, and give them money, before the problem can be dealt with. There is no use talking about the workers' wages and that class of thing. That will not solve the housing problem. Some people will never be in a better position, so far as wages are concerned, until they arrive at the happy position at which the Aberdonian arrived when he wanted to build a house. As usual, the Aberdonian wanted to build in the cheapest possible way and he hit upon a brilliant idea— and I hope the Deputy in the other House, who is always referring to the wages of the workers, will never be in the same position—he rang up the Lodge and asked them to send him a few Freemasons. Under this Bill the Minister has asked for £200,000. A sum of £200,000 will not go very far in dealing with this problem, but, nevertheless, we have to support this Bill. It is going to do something, but, at the same time, I regret that only three-roomed houses will be built under the Bill. I admit that a certain number of three-roomed houses may be necessary, but, taking into consideration the type of family that is to be housed, I think the time has not yet arrived when we should start the policy of building small houses.

When the Minister is replying, perhaps he would be able to inform us of the number of houses that have been built by private enterprise under these various schemes. If the Minister could give us a summary of the figures it would be a great help to us. There has been a number of schemes and, unless one studies them closely, it is rather hard to know what is being done.

There is a matter to which I would like to draw attention which was not referred to by Senator Farren. Section 7 of the Bill provides that it shall be compulsory upon local authorities to give the stipulated rate remissions in the case of houses coming within the Bill. Under previous Acts the Minister had power to make rates remission compulsory where the local authority did not give the rates remission. I hope that he will either exercise that power where necessary, or that he will make this Bill retrospective for at least a year. I have one glaring instance. The administrative area of the County of Dublin is giving neither grants for the erection of houses nor the rates remission in respect of those houses. A number of schemes that I know of are built by private speculators, but they are doing very useful work, building good houses and decent houses, much better than anything being erected by a local authority, and they are setting the majority of those houses at the lowest rents at which one could reasonably expect them to be set. But the Dublin County Council has refused to give any grant—the Government have given the grants provided in the Act —and in addition to refusing to give a grant, the County Council refuses to give the remission of rates. That means, of course, that the tenants will have to pay higher rents, or that when the houses are sold higher prices will be obtained for them. That is going to make it very difficult to set or to sell these houses, and the result will be a slowing down if not a complete discontinuance of building by private speculators. That is the attitude that has been taken up by this beggarly County Council that surrounds this City of Dublin, where housing is such a terribly acute question. They refuse to give any encouragement, good, bad or indifferent, to the erection of houses. I do hope that the Minister will exercise his statutory powers and make this reactionary body carry out its civic duties by at least granting the remission of rates. The County Council would lose nothing by it, because every new house means more rates, although it may be only one-twentieth the first year, and it is no cost at all to them to grant this remission. I know one private speculator who was refused on the ground, as stated by one of the officials, that it made the keeping of accounts very difficult. That was the excuse that was handed out for refusing to grant the remission of rates to help what is, in my opinion, the most desirable form, apart from the local authorities, of assisting in the solution of the problem by encouraging the private speculator to build.

I want to add my protest to that of Senator Farren to the Bill placing a premium on the three-roomed cottage. It looks as if in the new order, to which we are all looking forward with such confidence, the three-roomed concrete shack is to be the basis of our urban civilisation for the future. No private speculator, no public utility society, or, for that matter, no one who wants to make a profit of building, is going of necessity to build a three-roomed house as against a four or a five-roomed house. There is an immense amount of hypocrisy in our public lives, and an immense amount of it creeps into our legislation. We will have the Committee Stage of the Censorship Bill to-morrow. One of the main provisions of that Bill is a provision prohibiting the very mention of birth-control. To have large families is to act in accordance with good citizenship, and in accordance with the best form of Christianity. But side by side with that Bill which encourages large families we have this Bill, which places a premium on the three-roomed house to house the large families.

The three-roomed cottage means two wretched rooms and a little kitchen. If you give to the parents and, say, a baby one of these rooms, you have to pack the whole of the rest of the family—there may be six or seven, or ten for that matter— into the remaining room. Fancy the condition of affairs that obtains in such a house as that when babies are being born, when secrecy and privacy and some sort of Christian decency are necessary. Unless the woman is taken away to a hospital, where she will have to pay something she is not able to pay, you have the most gross indecency and scandal taking place under those conditions. The Oireachtas should not give its imprimatur to the three-roomed basis of civilisation. It may be tolerable in country districts in the old farmhouses that have two very large rooms and a very large kitchen. In the case of those houses the kitchen would be as big as the whole of the three-roomed house we are discussing, and there are wide open spaces and fields about there. In that type of house it is easy to put up a bed in the kitchen. The conditions there are quite different from those in the crowded areas that we find in our cities and large towns.

The argument that a three-roomed house is infinitely better than a one-roomed tenement is the argument of a fool or a knave. On the very same basis it could be said that if you built only one big room, instead of the small rooms that people occupy now, it would be an improvement, and consequently justifiable. Could you not also put forward an argument in favour of a two-roomed house instead of a one-roomed tenement? That is not an argument at all. In the other House the President indicated that the difference in cost between a four-roomed house and a three-roomed house was about £20 per house. Supposing we erected a thousand of these little cottages in the City of Dublin, packed into them the poorest of the poor, people who have large families, what a fearful scar and eyesore they would be in the capital of Ireland. What would be the difference between the cost of these thousand three-roomed houses and a thousand four-roomed houses? Twenty pounds a house, or, in other words, £20,000. This State may be fairly poor, but I think it would pay it to make a present of the additional £20,000, and save the city from the scar and the eyesore it would become by erecting a thousand slum-producing cottages. When the housing shortage is less acute than it is to-day, and when it will be, I hope, much easier to get decent houses than it is to-day, these cottages will remain as an eyesore; they will have developed into slums in a very few years, and then we shall be faced with the task of rebuilding them or of clearing them out, as we are faced with the task of clearing out the tenements to-day. In my opinion, it would be far better economy, far better statesmanship even, to make a free grant of the difference for the four-roomed house than to give a grant at all for the erection of three-roomed houses that will only result in producing new slums in what should be the finest portion of our city. They are now building on decent sites and in decent surroundings, and they are ramming in these three-roomed houses that will pull down the value of decent property around them, that will destroy what should be the suburbs of our city. Instead of being an actual contribution to the housing shortage, it will make one of our principal difficulties in regard to housing and town-planning.

I have taken the trouble to look through the discussions on this Bill in the Dáil with a view to finding out what is the policy which the Government is pursuing in regard to housing. For some years now it has been urged that we should treat the housing problem of the country as a national problem that can only admit of a national solution; that it is not being tackled with energy or with a full view of the evil which it is intended to surmount. I gathered in the course of an examination of the discussions in the other House that a statement of the Government's policy can in fact be extracted from the speeches made there, and I want if I can, in the absence of any Government statement introducing this Bill, to summarise as fairly as possible what I consider to be the Government's policy with regard to housing. They tell us that since 1922, including the sum provided in this Bill, a sum of £2,050,000 in State grants has been made available for house building. The policy has been to give as generous subsidies to private builders as to local authorities and utility societies, with a view to attracting private capital into the business of house-building. Since the £1,000,000 grant of 1922, voted by the Provisional Government, which was a £2 to £1 grant to local authorities, there has been a succession of Housing Bills with grants. Certain limitations have been inserted in some recent Bills, until the Bill that is now before us appears to encourage the local authority and the public utility society rather than the private speculator, and to encourage the smaller house rather than the larger house. It has been found— and apparently it is the view of the Government—that the policy of the past having led to the revival of the building industry and having stimulated it into action, that action, having found its outlet in the main in the building of the larger houses, should now be diverted to the building of smaller houses. It is thought that the activity of the private builder will continue at the lower subsidy because of the fact that there has been a reduction in the cost of building, and that that reduction is rather more than is commensurate with the reduction in the subsidy.

We have been told that there has been a reduction in the cost of building in Dublin, for instance, of fourteen per cent. for a certain class of house, and as high as twenty-nine per cent. for a certain class of house in Cork city. It is intended, I gather, that the policy of reducing subsidies will continue until there is a complete abolition of subsidies, presumably in the near future, and I venture to guess that the reason for the delay in the introduction of this Bill was the hesitation as to whether the subsidies should not stop altogether for private enterprise houses. However, it is indicated as the definite policy of the Government to abolish subsidies in respect of what they call the ordinary working-class houses, as distinct from slum dwellings, and to rehabilitate slum dwellers, it is thought that these may be the subject of continued State grants. But in respect of what is called the normal housing of the working class in Dublin and the large towns, that problem, if it is to be solved, must needs be solved by the operation of the ratepayers alone; that if, apart from the slum workers, housing is to be assisted by a subsidy of any kind, it must be assisted by a charge on the rates. I commend that statement of policy—which I am quite prepared to have a denial of from the Minister if I am misrepresenting it, but I think I can give him quotations from the columns of the various debates which will justify what I have said—I commend that statement of policy to those who are thinking of the de-rating of either industrial buildings, or other class of business enterprises in Ireland.

It is claimed that the cost of building a house during the last seven years has come down steadily under the Government's housing policy, and it appears to be claimed that it was the deliberate intent on the part of the Government, in pursuing the policy that they have pursued, to bring down house-building costs. But it is said that further drastic reductions are necessary—"the further driving down by external circumstances, or pressure if it cannot be brought about by conference, of the cost of building." That appears in Column 1,758 of the Dáil Reports. I would like a little explanation of what is meant by "driving down by external circumstances or pressure." Now, the policy in the last eight years, including that in the present Bill, has been to build houses, as I have said, for the better-off working people and for others who are better off, and, as a result of that policy, when the programme in this Bill is completed, there will have been 21,600 houses provided, at a cost to the taxpayers of £2,050,000.

That is in respect of past policy, and when challenged as to what is the future policy, the Minister said: "It is to provide another 21,000 houses." Now, those other 21,000 houses have to be built in the main without Government subsidy. What is the problem that this policy set out to solve? The problem was to build 60,000 houses. Certain discounts have been made from that figure, but as late as 1923 it was declared by the Local Government Department that the working-class housing needs of the country were about 60,000 houses, about 10,000 being needed in rural areas, 10,000 in small urban areas, and 40,000 in the large towns and cities. It has been said that that was a rather generous estimate. Perhaps so. But in that six or seven years there has been a steady deterioration, a wearing out of houses, so that even though it was a generous estimate in 1923, or in 1919, there has been such a decline in the condition of many of the houses which were on the point of being unfit for use at that time that the owners of houses have refrained from spending upon rehabilitation or strengthening or improvement.

The problem was 60,000 houses, of which 40,000 houses were needed in the large towns and cities. How has that problem been met? I think Ministers have taken rather an undue pride in their housing efforts of the last seven years. We were told by the President, I think, on the introduction of the first Housing Bill, that in fifty years before the war no more than 10,000 working-class houses had been built in the Free State. Since 1922 how many houses have been built in the Free State? One would imagine that the effort has been a tremendously successful one. The fact is that something less than 10,000 houses in urban areas have been built in those seven years; with all these Housing Bills only 9,500 have been built by the aid of State subsidies in the towns and cities of the Free State. There were in 1913 in the city of Dublin more than 20,000 families living in one-roomed tenements. The number of one-roomed tenements in the city of Dublin is not quite so high to-day, but the number of people living in one-roomed tenements is considerably larger to-day than it was in 1913. In 1913 73,973 was the number of people living in families occupying one-roomed tenements in the city of Dublin, and in 1926 there were 78,934 persons who were members of families living in one-roomed tenements in Dublin, an increase of, say, 6,000 persons, notwithstanding the housing effort.

Would the Senator say where he got that information?

I got that information from the Report of the Unemployment Committee. It is supplied by the Secretary of the Department of Local Government. I understand that out of the 9,500 houses built in the towns of the Free State since 1922 something less than 4,000 have been built in Dublin. Four thousand houses in seven years! Something about 20,000 houses was the figure stated in 1919 as needed then in the City of Dublin, and if it takes us seven years to build 4,000 houses, how many years will it take us to build 20,000 houses, quite apart from any deterioration or depreciation of existing property? The Government's policy is to be continued, but with the deprivation of any subsidy. We are to lose the subsidy, and the additional charge, if any is needed to encourage building, is to be thrown on the rates. We are to wait for 35 or 40 years to have the housing problem solved on the present policy as stated by the Minister. By the time that process has been completed many houses, no doubt, will have to be re-built. A forty-year period for some of these houses is looked upon as a fairly satisfactory life, and when one remembers that the policy is that of tenant-purchaser—that is, selling to the tenant—and that the tenant is, in the main, a man who will not be able to afford much outlay on repairs and re-equipment, the tendency will be towards a rapid deterioration.

I have commented upon the fact that there has been undue boastfulness on the part of Ministers as to the Government's great housing efforts in these last few years in face of the problem. If all this kind of thing depends upon a comparison, what is the relative effort made in the Free State as compared with neighbouring countries which are comparable? I read that in Scotland, which has a population of five millions as against our three millions, in the last four years 60,000, houses have been built. In 1927, taking the figures for one year, more houses were built in Scotland than were built here in seven or eight years, including the scheme of this Bill. 21,660 houses were built in Scotland in 1927, and 19,799 in 1928. These figures are taken from the report of the Scottish Board of Health. But it may be said that in Scotland the problem is even worse than it is here in Dublin. I think it is not.

With regard to the houses that were built in Scotland, could Senator Johnson say how many of them were built with the aid of a subsidy, and how many by private enterprise?

In regard to Scotland, I cannot say how many were built with the aid of a subsidy and how many by private enterprise. I can give the figures for England and Wales, but that information, I presume, would not be appropriate to the quotation which I have just now been giving. But, let us take Northern Ireland, which has a population of one and a quarter millions, as against our three millions. I gather from a statement made a few months ago by the Prime Minister for Northern Ireland that, since 1923, there have been built there 16,357 houses, and that by the month of April, 1930, 20,000 houses will have been finished in Northern Ireland.

Out of a subsidy?

"By the aid of, and as a result of, the Government's generous financial assistance." Presumably that means a subsidy. What is the subsidy? There is a State subsidy of £100, and a municipal subsidy of £40. That applies to Belfast, but whether it applies to the other municipal areas in Northern Ireland I cannot say. From my information the Northern Ireland houses are not as satisfactory—they are not as good—as the houses that are being built in the Free State, and they will be slums at an earlier date than the houses here will be. The Ministers in Northern Ireland are complimenting themselves upon the prospect that within a year from now in the cities —by the cities, I presume, is meant Belfast and Derry, but taking Belfast alone, the problem as it exists there was not nearly as serious at any time as the Dublin problem— the supply of houses will be equal to the demand for houses, and that there will be no need for a further subsidy. They are offering a sum of £400,000 to be spent between March, 1929, and March, 1930, for the purpose of hurrying on the building of working class houses. We are contenting ourselves under this Bill with a sum of £200,000, though our problem is much more serious than the problem as it exists in Northern Ireland.

Now, on the question as to the provision of long term loans for housing purposes as applicable to urban districts and the smaller towns, Ministers have told us, in explanation of their policy, that they refuse to agree to the granting of long term loans while we have the present costs of building and the present rates that are being charged for money. It is said that to do so would place a burden upon the ratepayer or the taxpayer and the purchaser of houses, or the tenants of houses in future years, that would be beyond their ability to bear. Therefore, they tell us that we must wait until money terms are easier and building costs come down further before the Local Loans Fund will be made available for housing in urban districts. If I may comment upon that, there has been, if not an actual encouragement, a fairly general consent to local authorities burdening themselves excessively by borrowing from the banks for a fifteen years' repayment period, and how that can be reconciled with a refusal to burden the purchaser or the tenant or the local authority for a very much smaller sum for a longer period, I cannot see. We are told that the opinion—this is the Minister's statement on the Second Reading of the Bill in the Dáil—of the Executive Council is, that the continuance of the present scale, or even an extended scale, of subsidy would not solve the housing problem. "An extended scale or the continuance of the old scale would prevent the coming about of a drastic reduction in building costs." Further, he said, "Steadily, under the influence of the Government's policy, building costs have been coming down." I think it is a fair inference to say that the claim made by the Government in justification of their past policy has been to go slow on house building so as to force down building costs. Building costs have come down as a result of the Government's housing policy, and "we will continue to go slow, because we must bring about a further reduction in building costs."

I do not know whether that was intended by the Minister, but it is a fair and a reasonable deduction from the statements Ministers make in defence of what I might call a go-slow housing policy. Now, what justification there is for saying that an extension or an intensification of house building would raise building costs in this country I do not know. One would imagine that, in respect to building materials, this country determines prices. That surely is not so. There may be a local ring for the purpose of holding up prices occasionally, but, speaking generally, it is certainly not true to assert that the demand for building materials in Ireland determines their price in a world market. But, presumably, there is a fixed conviction in the minds of Ministers that the policy they have been pursuing, which has resulted in providing something less than 10,000 houses in the towns of the Free State in seven years, has brought down building costs, and that the erection of another 10,000 houses in the next seven years will continue to bring down building costs further. In the meantime, those 70,000 persons are going to be condemned to continue to live in one-roomed tenements in the City of Dublin.

I have said that the determination of the Ministry, presumably, is to abolish the State subsidy for house building, except possibly in respect to the re-habitation of slum dwellers. I am not sure whether I ought to make that exception, but it is the deduction I draw from certain statements made by the Minister, and I hope that he will either confirm or correct what I am saying. I want to know whether the statement of policy in regard to the future is the final decision of the Ministry which will determine their housing policy and whether they are really asking us to assume that the housing of the working classes can become within any reasonable time what is called an economic proposition? I do not think that there is any reason to believe that the price of money—of credit—is likely to come down to a pre-war level for a very long time. I do not know whether it is assumed that wages will come down to pre-war level, and I do not know whether there is any intention to adopt any other method of cheapening the cost of building working-class houses. We from these benches, and our colleagues in the Dáil and outside, have advocated and urged that the building of working-class houses should be taken up as a distinct and separate function from the ordinary building operations of the ordinary building contractor.

I want to direct attention to certain rather important facts which ought to be borne in mind by anyone who is thinking of this problem. People speak of the building contractors. One would imagine that where they are speaking of building contractors or building operatives in relation to house building, they are dealing with the largest proportion of those engaged in the industry. From inquiries that I have made I have come to the conclusion that, not more than 25 per cent. of the operatives in the building industry, are ever engaged upon house building. I take from the Census of Production Returns relating to building and construction, certain figures which go far to confirm that estimate. Out of a total gross output in 1926 of the businesses engaged in building construction, the total work done on buildings was value for £2,324,000, of which the building of working-class dwellings absorbed £475,525, or, say, 20 per cent. The output of the building contractors was, therefore, only 20 per cent. in respect to working class houses. That is an important consideration that ought to be borne in mind when one is considering this problem, either in relation to builders as employers, or the worker-builders as wage-earners.

I urge for consideration the proposition that the building of working-class houses is going to be facilitated and cheapened if there is construction on a much wider scale than anything that we have known up to now.

Somebody in the course of the discussions in the Dáil—I think it was the Minister himself—said they were encouraged to give larger subsidies to local authorities and public utility societies as against the private contractor, because of the fact that they were more likely to build in larger numbers than the private contractors, and that it was obvious that a cheaper house could be produced per house if ten were being built instead of one, or if a hundred were being built instead of ten. That was the reason, amongst others, for encouraging the public authority and the public utility society as against the private contractor. I carry that argument a considerable stage further, and urge that if instead of dealing with a hundred houses one were to think in terms of 20,000 houses over a period of years, building four or five or six thousand houses per year, one would be able to purchase ahead, to manufacture ahead, and to plan ahead, and generally to produce a cheaper house whether by mass production or by farming-out your contract to the private builder. The larger scale construction would lead to better organisation on the job, steadier employment and no tailing-off at the end of a job, with the resulting loss that that undoubtedly involves. There you would find one means of cheapening costs without having to assume that the wage level of the people engaged in the trade was to be cut for the purpose of securing that cheaper cost. You would get a lower price level per unit without anything in the nature of lower wages for the worker.

The Minister was rather insistent upon what he called facing facts and getting down to realities. There are some facts that I am going to ask the Seanad, and particularly the Minister, to take note of. One of those facts is that, as far as Dublin is concerned, the people whom you are going to ask to occupy the newly-built houses under this scheme, whether 3-roomed or 4-roomed, are in a very large proportion unskilled or semi-skilled workers with casual labour. In the Occupational Census Returns, one finds that there are round about 32,000 persons out of a total of 94,000 occupied persons who are in the class of unskilled or semi-skilled workers. It is probably within the mark to say that half of those are earning casual wages. If you think of 16,000 casual workers out of the class of unskilled or semi-skilled labour—I say that is a generous estimate, and the number is probably a great many more, but I am trying to be within the mark in everything that I am saying on this —what are you thinking of as to the fund out of which they are going to pay the rents required for these new houses when you say they are to be built no longer out of a State subsidy and are to become an economic proposition? Will anybody say that it is not too generous or too high an estimate to presume that the workers' average earnings in that period would be at the rate of 50/- a week? I think that if you were to go to a very large proportion of those casual workers and offer them 50/- a week all the year round, they would think that they were coming to affluence. But I am assuming now for the purpose of this argument that the wages of these men average 50/- a week or £130 a year. Take even a house which, after all expenses have been met, costs £300 all in. The subsidy is £60. That leaves the tenant, if he is a purchasing tenant, to pay the sum of £240 for his house.

On the basis of the present charges made by the Dublin Corporation for houses recently built, the tenant would be required to pay about 10/- per week for his house. That is a steady charge upon him. It means 20 per cent. of what I assume to be the average earnings of that man. It is based upon an earning of 50/- per week, though the probabilities are that his earnings would be much less than 50/- per week. But the 10/- per week has to be paid, nevertheless. I think in the cost of living returns that were compiled in 1922 or 1923 the sum then given as the average amount being paid out of income for rent was about 6 per cent. on incomes of £3 a week. When we speak of 20 per cent. of the income being paid in rent we are thinking in terms of 10/- per week out of earnings of the kind I have mentioned. That is the position as it affects probably one-fifth of the body of workers in the city of Dublin. In the country towns, where the average earnings are much less than 50/- per week, you will not cut down the cost of building to anything like the extent that would warrant an economic rent if the house subsidies are to be cut down.

Again, to come down to realities, what are those realities? One might say a considerable rise in the cost of materials and of administration since 1914, because that is generally the base year. A rise in the cost of material, labour and credit, and the greatest of these is credit. Take a £400 house. The State and local subsidies amount to, let us assume, £100, or half the cost of the labour going into the building of that house. That leaves £300 to be paid for in a period of 40 years. From an examination of certain tables officially provided some years ago to a Commission on which I sat, these are my deductions: A five per cent. annuity loan would cost over a forty year period for that £300 a total of £699 6s. 0d., that is to say the tenant purchaser for his £300 has to pay £699 6s. 0d. Let us assume for the moment that the original cost of £300 is to be met by 40 equal annual instalments of £7 10s. 0d. each, no interest being charged. The amount to be paid weekly in each case of the constituent elements of the house would be—half the cost of wages—the other half being paid out of a subsidy— 1/- per week (the total cost of wages, assuming that the subsidy was not paid, would be 2/- per week); materials 1/4 per week, profit and expenses of administration 7d. per week. But for the payment of the usurer, the man who provides the money, the weekly charge to be paid by the tenant is 3/10 per week.

So that assuming the whole of the wages were being paid for without any subsidy the usurer would be charging the tenant occupier as much as the whole of the building costs taken altogether. These are the main causes of the problem. That is, the service that is being paid for in this method of financing is one of the realities the Minister asks us to come down to. This problem is not going to be easily solved. It is not going to be solved by any action our Government may take, or anybody in this country, but if we could reduce the rate from 5 per cent. to 4 per cent. the tenant would be saved 1/- per week for 40 years; that is as much as if the labour costs were reduced by 25 per cent. The workers in the building industry cannot regulate the rate of interest, nor can the employers in the building industry, nor the house tenants. My point is that it is a social liability, a burden which is abnormal, and which cannot be regulated by any of the individual agents. The abnormal costs of house building due to high rates of interest should properly be borne by the whole social organisation as represented by the national Exchequer.

If it is ever to be dealt with satisfactorily, it can only be done by State action, and probably by international action, but failing any action to regulate the rate of money-lending charges, surely what is abnormal ought to be borne by the community as a whole, and not thrown upon the individual employer, the individual worker, the individual tenant or house purchaser? So that it is fundamentally a point of disagreement when the Minister comes along and says that it is his purpose and the purpose of the Government gradually to adjust their policy—the policy of State subsidies—and throw any liability that may be required to bridge the difference between the workman's ability to pay and the economic charge upon the local authorities. These are two ideas that have been talked so much about in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and are now talked about in this country. The idea of de-rating land cannot be reconciled with the idea of throwing the burden of bridging the difference of house building charges as compared with the ability of labour to pay an economic rent on the local authority. These two ideas are irreconcilable, and are not deserving of the consideration the Government appears to have given to them. I ask the Seanad and the Government to give some consideration to the effect of what I still call the "Go slow" policy with regard to housing upon the next generation of workers in the cities and overcrowded towns.

Complaints are frequently heard about the lethargy of workmen. Occasionally I have travelled in crowded boats and railway carriages at night and tried to sleep. I do not know what other people's experience might be, but the lethargy that such a crowded condition produced upon me would make it impossible for me to do any active work with any spirit if it were to be a continued experience. If we are asked to assume that for the next 20 years it shall be the normal condition of the families of the workers that they shall be reared in overcrowded conditions, then that lethargy is inevitable as a result of sleeping for seven or eight or nine hours in crowded rooms. Apart from any moral effects, the economic effect is bad, and ought to be taken into account in considering the cost of this problem to the community. I agree with my colleagues in their denunciation of this policy of three-roomed houses. I think I am right in saying that the Minister indicated it was not his intention to permit any considerable number of three-roomed houses to be built as a matter of general policy. I would like to have made quite clear what is the intention of the Government in this scheme in regard to the proportion of houses which shall be three-roomed houses, especially in Dublin. A much larger number of three-room houses than I imagined have been built already in the City of Dublin. I urge the Minister and the Seanad to give consideration to the plea that this problem of house-building for the working classes ought to be considered on a much broader level, a much broader plan, and dealt with as a national problem and not one that can be thrown upon the local authorities. The tendency to throw the solution of this problem on small local authorities throughout the country is fatal to any expectation of its being solved in respect of those districts. In regard to the City of Dublin, where the problem is probably at its worst, the proposal steadily to reduce the subsidies in the hope that you can build houses at such a price as to make it an economic proposition would mean that the workman would have to pay 15/-, 18/- or 19/- per week for a house where he now pays 9/-, 10/- or 11/- per week out of his 50/- per week. That will have no result except to make new slums by the adoption of the policy of sub-letting small rooms. I ask the Minister to take into account the problem from the point of view of the workmen. The vast proportion of the workmen who have to be catered for are casual labourers in receipt of small wages. However high they may appear to be paid from day to day or week to week, when employed on the average over the year their earnings are so small that it is impossible for the workers to pay high rents.

I have no enthusiasm for this Bill, because it appears to me to be only a tentative attempt to grapple with a great problem. It is perfectly clear that there is a great deficiency of houses throughout the country, not only in Dublin, but in all the big cities, urban areas and rural districts. This proposal to subsidise the building of small houses, and to limit the total amount of the subsidy under all the Acts to £1,200,000 is only tinkering with the question. The Minister is approaching it in much the same way as the British Government in former times approached the question of land purchase in Ireland. This Bill reminds me very much of a clause in the Act of 1881 which imposed a limit as to the total amount of money that could be advanced. If the Minister faces this problem in its entirety he will find support in unexpected quarters. Before I go into that aspect of the question, I desire to express my full approval of the condemnation that has come from the Labour Benches of the three-roomed houses, or the birth-control houses, as Senator Farren has described them. I think 500 square feet is entirely too small. When 500 square feet is mentioned the ordinary individual does not visualise how small a space it is. No room ought to be less than 16 feet by 30 feet. The total floor space is 500 square feet in a house in which a family is supposed to be brought up. I thoroughly endorse the condemnation that has come from the Labour Benches in respect to these small houses.

There has been a good deal spoken on this question. The Minister in the Dáil expressed his views, and leaders of the Labour Party have expressed their views in the Seanad. It seemed to me in listening to all that has been said that language is given to conceal thought. What is the matter in controversy between the Government on one side and those who represent the Labour Party on the other? Why do the Government talk of reducing costs, and why do the leaders of Labour avoid the question? The problem is, and it is better that we in the Seanad should understand it, that there is a certain number of operatives trained in the building of houses, masons, carpenters, and people of that description. Will they agree not to limit the output? I think if they do agree not to limit the output, and if they cooperate with the State in providing houses for the workers, the State ought to undertake this question in a larger and more generous spirit.

On a point of information, might I ask the Senator what he means by not limiting output? There is no limitation on output.

I am in favour of the provision of houses for the workers. I am, in any controversy, in favour of the workers, but I am also in favour of giving the opportunity for a comprehensive housing scheme.

Does the Senator withdraw the insinuation that there is a limitation of output on the part of the workers?

I made no such suggestion, but I make the suggestion that if you are to find a basis for assisting workers——

I take it you withdraw the statement?

I made no statement that requires withdrawal.

Cathaoirleach

The Senator must be allowed to proceed without interruptions.

There are 50,000 or 60,000 houses to be built in this country. That is the problem. The Minister ought to face it, and he can only face it by a programme of house building extended over a number of years. If he brings in a measure to provide for such a programme, I am sure he will get general support, and the advantage of that programme will be that it will enable costs to be reduced not merely in regard to materials, but in every department connected with house building. For instance, it is quite possible with the assurance that there will be a continuous demand for cement and other materials that a cement factory might be started in this country. With that assurance rugs could also be manufactured. Carpets, I think, are already manufactured in this country. I think a comprehensive scheme of house building is the only possible solution of the problem, that is a scheme which would take into account the necessities of the case and provide for the proper housing of the people. I think Senator Johnson entirely misunderstood me when I said there should be no limitation as to output. What I meant is, that all parties should approach this question in a large and generous spirit. From what Senator Johnson has said I believe he is inclined to do that, because in the course of his speech I think I discerned a hint that he is in favour of a comprehensive scheme. I think that the limitation of the amount of the advances, and the suggestion about costs is a veiled reference, on the part of the Executive to the fear they have in their minds that in case there is a large scheme of housing costs will go up, not merely of labour but also of material. I am in favour of the Bill because it is to provide workers with housing. I do not support it with any enthusiasm, because I do not think it is comprehensive enough, and I do not think it gives an indication that the Minister has in his mind a plan for dealing with the entire problem.

Prior to the Great War it was the practice that if people wanted houses and had the money, they built them. After the war, however, a great change came and people expected the State to provide everything, and that applied particularly to the building of houses. I agree with Senator Johnson when he says that this is a social problem, and that the Government should provide houses for those who cannot provide them for themselves. The experience gained from the working of the recent Acts has shown that it is necessary to have a change in policy. I am with the Government in the direction which that change of policy has taken, but I am not in favour of the policy of the three-roomed houses. Still, I take it, if Senator Farren's argument is that three-roomed houses are better than two-roomed houses, two-roomed houses are better than one-roomed houses. Is it not better with the limited money at the disposal of the Government that they should build four three-roomed houses rather than three four-roomed houses? The result of such a policy is that with the aid of a subsidy more houses will be built.

I hope the Government will take my view, that we have no right to subsidise houses larger than four-roomed ones. Let the people who want bigger houses build themselves without assistance. The Acts up to the present have produced nothing but four or five-roomed houses, and they have not helped to any extent those whom it is the State's duty to help. For that reason, I think the change of policy indicated in this Bill is to be preferred. I did not rise for the purpose of saying very much regarding this Bill, but I am interested in the position of the families who have been rendered homeless by the ravages of the sea at Greystones. People had their houses demolished by the waves, and in order to help them it is necessary that some provision should be made in this Bill. I intend to table an amendment asking for power to give in those particular cases a greater subsidy than is proposed under this Bill. Are these 3-roomed houses? Senator Comyn spoke of a large building programme, and so on. After all there is a limited number of operatives available.

There is a great scarcity of a certain type of operatives in Dublin.

Name them.

Plasterers.

If you want thirty plasterers to-morrow I will get them for you.

If you start a large building programme I think you will automatically raise the cost of building. That is my opinion. Is it not better every six months, or every year, to come along and give as much money as possible? I am not asking that the Minister should stop at £200,000 on this question of slum dwellings. I want to help those who are slum dwellers. I am not speaking on behalf of artisans with £4 or £5 a week, who can look after themselves.

What artisan has £4 or £5 a week?

Artisans living in Greystones.

It is better policy to come along every six months or every year with a Housing Bill, show the conditions that exist, and then give whatever subsidy is necessary. That is the proper policy to pursue. I am against this policy of a wholesale programme, with millions of pounds to be spent, which would take years to carry out, while the work might be just as effectively done by the system which is being pursued now. I hope that the Minister will take in what I have said about the houses in Greystones, and that he will at least do something to help these poor people. The sooner we get away from this hot-house plant idea of building the better. Every industry, and particularly the one in which I am engaged, has to fight for its living in the open market. We have to take our knocks, and building operatives and builders should do the same. Unless for the benefit of the slum dweller, I will oppose any subsidy for building in the future.

In the first place an immense amount has been made of this three-roomed house question, but I have not heard any Senators who attacked that type of construction mention a single person who was in favour of it. I have nothing to say in favour of three-roomed houses, but I do say this, that if, after consultation between the local authority concerned in the matter of putting up a scheme and our Housing Department, a certain number of three-roomed houses are involved in that scheme, it is not our proposed policy to say that three-roomed houses shall not be built, or that, if they are, a smaller grant should be given for them. The number of three-roomed houses that have been built up to the present is comparatively small. Senator Johnson suggested that a very large number of three-roomed houses had been built in Dublin. I do not think he will find that that is a fact. Only at the present moment the Dublin Commissioners are preparing to invite tenders for approximately 1,200 houses, and there is not a single three-roomed house among that 1,200; all of them will be four-roomed houses. Senator Comyn suggested that from all that he had heard about this matter language is given to conceal thought. Certainly the question of three-roomed houses has been used for filling up a tremendous amount of time in order to keep away from the actual facts of the situation.

The Bill at present before the Seanad is the Government's proposal for the building of approximately the next 3,000 houses, and it is continuing their housing policy. A comprehensive scheme is wanted by everybody. The very fact that houses are needed in so many of our urban districts, particularly in the capital, presents you with the greatest possible help to a comprehensive scheme, that is, the actual want of houses, and from that no Minister, no Seanad, no Dáil and no Commissioners can get away. The very fact that the want exists means that the want must be tackled. The people who, for one cause or another, say that you cannot get the best possible thing done until you have got your comprehensive scheme are simply refusing to face the facts at issue, and are making excuses for not getting down to the consideration of these facts. Senator Johnson summarised statements that have been made as an outline of the Government's policy, as far as references to it in the Dáil were concerned. I have not anything to quarrel with him in regard to what he said in relation to these matters. It was covered with a certain amount of comment and suggestion, which, of course, was inevitable. The Senator pointed out that certain very important factors are involved in this matter—the case of increased cost of material, the case of increased cost of labour, and the case in regard to increased cost of credit, and he said that credit was the most important factor of all.

To a certain extent I agree with him. He said that if we could get money at 5 per cent. we could have certain conditions obtaining from the point of view of meeting our housing problem by fixing rents that the people for whom the houses are being provided are able to pay, and that if we could get money at 4 per cent. instead of 5 per cent. we would have a much more improved situation. But he very truly said that we are not able to get it by simply wishing for it, or even by trying very hard to get it. While pointing out these matters he said that the solution of the problem should be borne by the National Exchequer. One of the fundamental points in the Government's attitude in regard to housing is that such financial assistance as is necessary to provide houses for those numbers of the working classes whom it should be regarded as the State's duty to help to provide houses for will not be borne by the Exchequer alone. If we are going to solve the most important factor in the matter—that is, the credit factor, the price of money—we have to make it perfectly clear that responsibility has to rest on broader shoulders than the shoulders of the Minister, the shoulders of the Executive, or the shoulders of the Exchequer.

Senator Comyn told us that five hundred feet per house is not sufficient. Five hundred feet is the minimum figure. He said that a five-roomed house is not enough, that houses should have six rooms. Our experience is that there is no end to what will not be asked for. As I say, in order to make the best solution of the matter that is possible on the credit side of the problem, one of the main planks in the Government's attitude in regard to the solution of the housing problem is that the additional cost which must be provided must fall on some broader shoulders than those of the Exchequer alone. Senator Farren suggested that I had belittled and attacked local authorities in connection with this matter. Senator O'Farrell, his own colleague, gave him a sample of what persons other than Ministers can say about local authorities. Previous Housing Bills have provided that a local authority could give the same amount of money grant to a private person or a public utility service building houses as the Government gave; in addition, could give a substantial reduction in rates, and could also give loans. What I have to say on that matter is that local authorities have not risen to their responsibilities. When Senator Johnson proceeded to consider the question of the casual labourers in the city for whom three-roomed houses were provided, he talked about the Government grant of £60 and about the rent. But there is no complaint at all about the position which he put up to us of the contribution from the city of Dublin towards providing the additional money that is necessary in order to give a house at today's price to the casual labourer with small pay.

Senator Johnson has sketched fairly elaborately my attitude with regard to the matter, but I would like to put it briefly again so that we will be quite clear about it. I am asked if it is our policy not to provide any assistance from the State towards houses for the working classes, but simply to provide assistance in the future for building houses to relieve the slums. I am no more prepared to say at what particular point in the spectrum of the problem the State should draw the line and to say that State assistance should cease and that assistance should come in some other way than I am sure Senator Johnson is able to draw the line in the spectrum of the working classes and say: "Here are the houses for which State assistance must be provided, and here are the houses for which State or any other assistance need not be provided." We are dealing with a problem that is, to a certain extent, in a nebulous form. It will only crystallise and become clear as the policy works down at it, and as I say, the policy that is enshrined in this Bill is a policy of financial assistance in respect of the next 3,000 houses. The policy that is enshrined in that is reduced State grants, based upon the fact, in the first place, that there have been reductions in the cost of building, not only in Dublin and in Cork, but substantial reductions in the smaller urban districts throughout the country. There have been substantial reductions in some of the principal building materials also. So that, having by previous efforts stimulated the building industry to the extent of making a very serious initial attack on our housing problem, in spite of what Senator Johnson suggests, there is a case for reducing the State grant now because of the reduction in building costs.

But there is also involved in this reduction the further suggestion that the Exchequer is not to be asked to bear the full cost of solving the housing problem. The local authorities must be prepared to bear their share of the cost of the erection of working-class houses in their own districts. By that means you will have a more satisfactory scrutiny of every fact with regard to assistance from public moneys for building houses for the working classes. In the first place, you will have a clearer idea as to who are the persons and the classes in any particular area for whom houses are required and in respect of the provision of which public money should be given. That aspect of the problem will be more carefully examined. You will have greater responsibility in making decisions as to what type of houses should be erected for these persons. When the question as to whether three or four-roomed houses should be built for the working classes in the area concerned is discussed, you will get a more responsible and a more critical discussion from every aspect when the local body discusses it than you would get simply by setting up a housing dictator with an exchequer. A housing dictator in a position like that, even with an exchequer, would have to set out to guard his funds and to cut his coat according to his exchequer measure, and he might easily embark upon a policy of three-roomed houses which people would be saved from by local responsibility and local consideration. You will also have greater responsibility in the safeguarding both of national and local finances in the same way as you will have greater responsibility in the carrying out of the social duty that does exist of providing houses for the working classes.

I cannot get any clear idea from what Senator Johnson said as to what he thinks ought to be done. He has implied in what he suggested that we should have a housing dictator, that we should give him an exchequer, and then that the housing demands from all over the country would come to him; that he would either set up machinery for building houses, or would give contracts to different people. That is what I infer from what Senator Johnson said. I have not been able to gather, good, bad or indifferent, from a Senator with so much connection with our labour situation, what rent he would expect the casual labourer in Dublin whom he spoke of to pay, because we are reduced to this, that assuming we are to have State assistance for housing, assuming that we are to have a contribution from the local authorities to housing, the remaining money, as well as the annual expenses, must be found from the tenant. We must be clear as to the amount of money we want to give for housing, and that anything that we cannot get from the State or from the local authority must be got from the tenant, and we might have a suggestion from the Senator as to what rent the person he spoke of in the sample he gave might be expected to pay. I do not want to labour these points, because we must all realise that we are dealing with a problem that is to a certain extent dynamic, and because it is dynamic, as Senator Wilson interpreted it rather correctly, we are prepared in the circumstances to come yearly or half-yearly to the Oireachtas and to say: "Here are our financial provisions for dealing with the next certain number of thousand houses." I think that by doing that, at any rate for the present, we are approaching the matter in a sympathetic and a careful way, and that later we might be able to introduce legislation which might be held to be comprehensive. But I see no reason why there should be any holding up in the progress of house building, why there should be any holding up in the progress of the solution of the housing situation, simply because proposals are presented in this way. No one is taken short as a result of this Bill. Everyone who had begun to build houses before 1st April will get grants under the old system, and everybody who has an idea of building a house now knows what he can expect to get.

Will they get remission of rates?

This Bill makes it compulsory on local authorities to remit rates in the case of houses built by private persons and by public utility societies.

Will it apply to houses built within the last couple of years where the Commissioners have not given the remission? I refer to Shandon Road.

I do not know any case in connection with past Housing Acts where the legislation has not been given effect to. Under the Housing Acts that have been passed the Minister has power to insist on the remission of rates. In reply to Senator O'Farrell, I would like to say, in mitigation of the charge against the Dublin County Council, that it is at present discussing the question of the remission of rates. There are, I know, certain houses——

Shandon Road, in Dublin City.

There are certain houses in rural districts in connection with which the clause dealing with the remission of rates under past Acts did not operate, and in respect of these matters I have no powers.

Under the Act to which I am referring, the Minister has powers, but he has not used those powers.

Cathaoirleach

We are discussing the present Bill, and I do not think the Senator can go outside that.

The Minister has referred to it, though.

I do know that there are houses in urban districts in respect of which I have not power to secure the remission of rates. Senator Johnson compared us with Scotland. The conditions here since 1922, if we take that alone, have been very different from the Scotch conditions, and my recollection is that if local bodies in Ireland had been able to take advantage of the 1919 Act to build houses, we would probably be paying for them at a much dearer rate than we are paying now.

I quoted Scotland for the last four years.

In quoting figures in Scotland for the last four years the Senator suggested that he was comparing them with our figures for the last seven years. But in fact, although the £1,000,000 that was provided in 1922 gave very substantial assistance to local authorities, the number of houses that had been built by local authorities up to the 31st December, 1924, was only 464, so that we are really dealing with five years. The number of houses that have been built, or are being built, in rural areas is 8,600, and in urban areas 9,500. The very fact that, although £1,000,000 was provided early in 1922 for the provision of houses by local authorities, only 464 houses were being built after two years shows the lag that there was in getting house building started. That lag continued to a certain extent, but I think that the Government can pride itself on having dealt with a situation in which there was such a very great lag in 1922 and 1923, and on having moved the wheels of the building industry at rather a rapid pace, because the reductions that have taken place in the cost of building are an indication as to the extent to which the building industry has got on its feet.

Has the Minister anything to say about Greystones?

There have been discussions between the Department and the County Wicklow Board of Health in regard to Greystones, and I think it may be possible to accept an amendment providing for the giving of grants at the old rate to houses built under certain circumstances, if the building of these houses began before the 1st July or the 1st August, and if they were completed within a certain time. This Bill applies to houses begun subsequent to the 1st April last. In special circumstances it might be possible to insert an amendment to the effect that special houses, the building of which was begun before the 1st July or the 1st August, would get the benefit of the old rates. In discussing this matter with the local body, the Department has insisted that if they are to be met to this extent, they also must do their share in making a contribution to the erection of the houses.

Will the Minister make it clear that the tenants— there may be owners and tenants— who occupied these houses will be able to get back into them at reasonable rents? Further, will he make the Bill apply to houses that were washed away three or four years ago in Greystones and that gave rise to this? I say that houses started to be washed away in Greystones four years ago, that the local authority and the Government knew all about it, and that we would know very little about those washed away recently only for the Press. Will the same conditions apply to the people who lost their property and their homes in the same circumstances and in the same place four years ago?

Cathaoirleach

Would it not be better to discuss that on the Committee Stage?

I want the Minister to have it in mind.

Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, May 1.