I have an amendment down to Section 2, but as it is consequential on amendment 10, which also stands in my name, I suggest that it be postponed until we reach amendment 10.
Housing (Gaeltacht) Bill, 1929—Committee Stage.
Amendments 2, 10 and 13 are more or less of the same nature. What is the opinion of the House upon the Senator's proposal?
If amendment 2 were defeated, could I discuss amendment 10?
No. Will the Senator agree to take a decision on the first amendment as affecting the whole three?
I think amendment 2 could well be deferred until the Report Stage.
I suggest that Senator O'Doherty does not move amendment 2 for the present. He can move it on the Report Stage if his other amendments are defeated.
If there is to be any discussion upon the particular subject-matter of the amendment, it might take place on the section itself, Section 2.
I think I will stand by my original intention. My amendment is really consequential upon amendment 10, which has reference to Section 11. If that amendment is defeated, then amendment 2 will not arise. If I have to discuss amendment 2, in order to develop my argument, I will have to refer to Section 11. On further consideration, I think it is better to postpone the amendment, as suggested by Senator O'Farrell, until the Report Stage.
I have been asked by Senator McEllin to move this amendment on his behalf. It reads:
After the word "pigs" where-ever it occurs to insert the words "or other classes of live stock."
The Bill specifies that certain allowances can be granted either as building or improvement allowances for both pigs and poultry. Now, one section deals with pigs and our argument is that this should be made to include any other animal on the ground that as the Bill stands nothing but a pig could be kept in an outhouse built under that grant. I feel that that is an unwise restriction. It might be desirable for the tenant or owner of such a house to have a cow if he could afford to have or keep one, and I cannot see any reason for the restriction purely to pigs only. The Minister may have some specific reason. It may be that he wants the Gaeltacht to be devoted solely and exclusively as far as animals are concerned to the development of pigs and poultry. I do not know. It may be that there is no feeding for cattle available to the holders of these houses in the Gaeltacht, but I think the section as it stands inflicts an unnecessary inconvenience on the owner who may get a grant under this Bill. It may be that it would be an inconvenience to prevent him from keeping cows or a donkey in that building. I cannot understand why the restriction is there. The Minister may have reasons for it. I would be glad to know what they are. In the meantime, I move this amendment and I think the House will agree with me that it is a perfectly intelligible amendment. The owner should be allowed to keep in his out-house any animal that he is able to keep there.
I wish to support Senator Connolly in this amendment. I think it is a very short sighted policy in reference to these building grants that there should be any exclusion of cattle or donkeys. These are as necessary to the welfare of the people as any other animal, if they can afford to have them. They should be put in the position of having shelter for these animals. In my opinion, it would be very nonsensical for the House and would show a very short-sighted policy not to allow house-room or shelter for cows or donkeys. It appears unwise to restrict the use of the house entirely to pigs.
I would like to support that. If the owner wants to keep a cow or calf, he should be allowed to do so. The matter should be left entirely optional to the people. So long as a man does not put into one of these houses a noxious animal that would be disagreeable to the neighbours, there should be no restriction placed on him.
I cannot really understand how Senators can read anything into the Bill that we have put any restriction whatever on anybody keeping cows or donkeys. There is no such restriction there. I do not know whether a man can drive a cow into a pigsty or if he can drive a donkey into it, but if he can, we have no objection to his doing so. There is nothing in the Bill to prevent his doing it. The only restriction we have is that we are making grants as far as the ancillary houses are concerned only for poultry and pigs because we are advised by the Department of Agriculture that for the Gaeltacht these are the types of stock most suitable and the types of stock that requires the least amount of capital. They require a certain amount of care and attention, and given care and attention they should add materially to the income of the people there. I would be as desirous as Senators Connolly or O'Connor that the people, if they can afford it, should have cattle in their little holdings in the Gaeltacht, and I would be equally anxious that proper housing should be provided for them. But in this particular Bill we are giving £250,000. That money is to be spread over a very considerable area; we hold that the most important expenditure out of that £250,000 should be, first of all, for dwelling-houses for the people. They must have dwelling-houses first of all, and then the other things must follow.
There are ways of getting loans for erecting out-houses for donkeys and so on. There are such facilities already. The Board of Works has a loan system. That fact was denied in the Dáil and I made inquiries and found that there is such a system at work; there is a system for the giving of loans for building out-houses. I stated here on the Second Reading, and I stated it in the Dáil, that when giving loans we have to watch that the persons who are applying for them will have some capacity for repaying. We want, as far as possible, to provide for persons who are anxious to build houses; but when giving these loans we want to give them to people who will be in a position to repay.
We are advised that keeping poultry and pigs will add materially to the possibility of these people being able to apply for loans, and it will put them in the position of being able to repay the loans. I am opposed to the amendment, because anything that extends the expenditure of the £250,000 provided will mean that you will have fewer dwelling-houses. I think that is the great argument against this amendment. If you extend the Bill for the purpose of building houses for cattle, it will mean fewer dwelling-houses.
Could the Minister give us any information in regard to the facilities provided at the moment for loans for the erection of cattle-houses?
I know that persons desiring loans from the Board of Works for the purpose of building these houses must have a valuation of £5. If they have that valuation, they can get loans. I do not know what the terms of the loans are.
This is a very important question. If the loans are advanced on terms that cannot be availed of by the people of the Gaeltacht, of what use is the offer of loans? During the debate in the Dáil—I am not so sure about the debate in the Seanad—the Minister said he hoped the people in the Gaeltacht would build houses under this Bill and that the old houses would be used as cattle sheds. In the same debate, he indicated that the Bill provided for the abolition of the old houses.
They can take their choice. They can have a grant for the demolition of the old house or they can retain the old house for cattle.
- Sir Edward Bellingham.
- Michael Comyn, K.C.
- Joseph Connolly.
- James Dillon.
- Michael Duffy.
- Thomas Farren.
- Dr. O. St. J. Gogarty.
- Thomas Johnson.
- Cornelius Kennedy.
- General Sir Bryan Mahon.
- Sir Walter Nugent.
- Joseph O'Connor.
- Joseph O'Doherty.
- John T. O'Farrell.
- Séumas Robinson.
- Sir Edward Coey Bigger.
- Samuel L. Brown, K.C.
- Miss Kathleen Browne.
- R.A. Butler.
- Alfred Byrne.
- Mrs. Costello.
- John C. Counihan.
- The Countess of Desart.
- James G. Douglas.
- Michael Fanning.
- Sir John Purser Griffith.
- Henry S. Guinness.
- Sir John Keane.
- Patrick W. Kenny.
- Francis MacGuinness.
- James MacKean.
- Seán Milroy.
- L. O'Neill.
- Bernard O'Rourke.
- Siobhán Bean an Phaoraigh.
- Richard Wilson.
In view of the decision on the previous amendment, and as the next amendment, No.4. is consequential on that decision, I ask leave to withdraw it.
Section 7, sub-section (2). To insert before the sub-section a new sub-section as follows:—
"(2) No building grant or improving grant shall be made under this Act to any person
(a) who is in receipt of a salary or pension other than old age pension or disability allowance exceeding £25 per annum, or
(b) whose household income exceeds £52 per annum, or
(c) the poor law valuation of whose holding exceeds £10."
The purpose of this amendment is merely to secure that the most deserving and poorest people in the area shall be provided for as far as possible. We realise there is a Vote of only £250,000 involved in this measure. It is not a large amount, and it has got to cover a fairly wide area. A good many districts appear in the Schedule, and if one tries to figure out how many homes can be built or rebuilt out of that amount one is forced to the belief that there will be very few indeed in each area. Our purpose is to secure that the most needy and most deserving cases will be attended to, particularly in view of the small amount that will be available. We realise that the State at the moment has not all the money that we would like to see devoted to the preservation of the Gaeltacht. We would like to prevent anything in the way of grants being given either under the influence of local politicians or to people who might be most likely to get influence in their areas.
We feel that if these three clauses are inserted in the measure they will ensure that, at all events, those who are getting grants, either for building or improving, will be genuinely in need. Obviously, any person who is not in receipt of a salary or pension, other than old age pension or disability allowance exceeding £25 per annum, or whose household income does not exceed £52 per annum will be a needy person. These clauses would prevent people in fairly good circumstances from getting grants, instead of people who are the very poorest element in the Gaeltacht. We know something about the way in which grants for labourers' cottages worked out, and we know that at present throughout the country there are many people in those cottages paying very small, or nominal rents, of 1s. 6d., 2s. or 2s. 6d. a week, who are better able to afford ordinary house rent than the poor people in the area. I refer to postmen and to other officials of that type. It is to prevent such abuses creeping into the Gaeltacht and to ensure that the really needy people will get the benefit of the measure that we propose to introduce these clauses into the section. They would go a long way to prevent such abuses. I therefore move the amendment.
That might be all very well if there were any way of connecting a man's income with his taste in houses. I do not think that there is the least danger at this time in our history of corruption as regards the allocation of houses. I can very well see an instance where a man with an income, either visible or concealed, might elect to live in an insanitary house, and the only way to get him out would be to put him into a new one. Many of the houses in the Gaeltacht are already medically condemned as unsuitable, but inasmuch as up to this no effort could be made to improve or replace them, it was impossible to take a tenant from an insanitary house and put him on the hillside. On that account one had to wait for a measure such as this. You must have a suitable house to put a man in before you take him from an insanitary one. If you make the allocation of grants dependent on a man's valuation or income you will ignore the condition of the house in which the man is living. It is more important to condemn the house than to condemn the possible tenant of a new one. If I thought that the amendment would achieve that, I would support it. There is no place where measures of relief of this kind are more necessary than in the Gaeltacht, but they must march with some other authority than the authority of a particular Department. A large number of other grants would be saved by the provision of houses—for instance, the utter waste of money, to the extent of £110,000, for domiciliary visits in the case of tubercular treatment. You might as well throw that money into the Liffey. The Gaeltacht is a breeding ground for tuberculosis owing to the bad conditions of housing.
The moment that those insanitary houses are removed there will, I believe, be a good deal of economy in other directions. You will not get rid of insanitary houses by saying that a man is not to get a grant, for instance, if the poor law valuation of his holding exceeds £10. The grant should be consequent on the medical condemnation of a man's house. There are things in this Bill which will have to be put under some of the Medical Acts. It is not generally known that there is practically no milk in the Gaeltacht from November to May. That is why I hold that the extension of the word "pigs" to cover "cattle" is so important, because red tape is so capable of entangling and stultifying the intentions of the measure that if a man were found with an animal other than a pig in a pigstye it might be possible to withhold the grant. These grants should be dependent on the sanitary condition of the houses and not on the income of the tenant. There is no ground for suspecting that there will be any corruption in the allocation of grants.
I do not think that there was any suggestion of corruption in the course of Senator Connolly's speech.
I did not say that there was.
I agree with a great deal which Senator Dr. Gogarty has said, and particularly his statement with regard to the £110,000 spent on tuberculosis inspection. That money is absolutely thrown away unless you go to the root of the matter and provide proper housing, because the main cause of consumption is undoubtedly these insanitary houses. I commend Senator Connolly's amendment to the Seanad for the reason that the worst houses belong to the poorer classes, speaking generally, and you can only legislate in general terms. These are the people who should be first relieved. Senator Gogarty has referred to medical certification as a preliminary to any grant. I know positively that at least 25 per cent of the houses would be condemned were it not that the medical men know that there is no way of providing alternative accommodation, so that the question of medical certification is really one of academic interest only.
I commend Senator Connolly's amendment to the consideration of the House and I believe that if the Minister realises the force of that amendment, he will not oppose it. In one sentence it means this: There are houses in a bad condition. These are the houses that should be first looked after. They belong to the poorer people, men with less than £10 valuation. Cut the gad next the neck first and then go on with the scheme for improving houses which are not so badly in need of being repaired or replaced.
I should like to ask the Senator who proposed the amendment a question in regard to sub-clause (a). Does the limitation of £25 refer to salary or pension or does it refer to old age pensions or disability allowance? As I read it, it might refer to one or the other.
I agree generally with the amendment, but I think that in regard to clause (b), it is a bit doubtful. I do not know exactly what the Senator means by "household income." Does he mean what the man concerned is able to knock out of his land? If it means the entire value of what he is able to produce and sell, then it means that to a certain extent you are penalising the hardworking, industrious man as against the careless, lazy individual. A farmer, for instance, who works throughout the winter draining and improving his land and generally making it more productive, is able to make more out of it than the man who lies up during the winter, takes very little care of his land and never tries to improve it by drainage or top-dressing. Consequently, the hardworking man would have a bigger household income and the suggestion is that that man should be penalised as against the man who lets his land go partly to waste and who is not able as a result to get the same return out of it. We have been for a long time advocating the abolition of the income qualification in the matter of old age pensions on the ground that it discourages thrift and encourages a man to be thriftless and almost penniless when he arrives at the age to get a pension. That principle has been adopted in Great Britain.
I do not like to insert a provision in the Bill which discourages a man from doing the best for his family and to knock the most out of the small, barren piece of land which he may have. I am afraid that subclause (b) would have that effect. I know, of course, that in this Bill we are merely touching the fringe of a very big problem. We can only scrape on the edge of it, as it were, and to that extent it is desirable that the very poor should be assisted first. I see great danger in this subclause (b). I think if that were dropped, we could still have an amendment which would be effective and which would achieve the object which the Senator has in mind.
I want to try to explain the point raised by Senator Guinness, and also to make an explanation which perhaps may elucidate the matter for Senator O'Farrell. Senator Guinness asked what I mean by sub-section (a), "who is in receipt of a salary or pension other than old age pension or disability allowance exceeding £25 per annum." That would mean an income other than an old age pension or a disability allowance exceeding £25 if there was income from property or any source other than an old age pension or a disability allowance exceeding that amount. I think it is perfectly clear as stated in the amendment. With regard to Senator O'Farrell's point, I appreciate fully what he says, and it might be necessary or desirable to postpone that portion of the amendment until the Report Stage. In old age pension cases and in other matters where grants are given, it has been known that the proprietor of the house or the holder of the property has passed on the property to his son so as to secure an old age pension. You might have the holder of the land without any income, but he might have two sons on Great War pensions or pensions from some other source up to £2 or £3 a week. It is to prevent abuses of that kind creeping in that the amendment is proposed. We might be able to find some means whereby we would get an agreed amendment to that effect. I do not suggest that nobody in the Gaeltacht should be allowed an income of more than £1 per week.
I wanted to prevent that sort of thing being done—the father of a family, say, who had two sons with pensions of £2 or £3 per week either as a result of the Great War or from any other source, getting a grant because he individually was not possessed of any other income. I do not know what would meet the matter so far as Senator O'Farrell is concerned, whether or not we should leave it aside to see if we can get an agreed amendment, but that is all I had in mind when I put it down.
I have great sympathy with the idea of housing for the very poor, but there is a question that has not been touched upon, and that is the size of the family. A great deal depends upon the size of the family. One family might consist of ten or even more, whereas another family might consist of only three or four, and the latter family might come in for a grant, while the large family would not come in for it.
I am in sympathy with the general purport of the amendment, but I see a real difficulty in applying it in its present form. I should like to call attention to the fact that this is a single grant, not a per annum grant. Paragraph (a) deals with a salary or pension or disability allowance exceeding £25 per annum. If you give a grant to-day and the person gets a pension tomorrow of £50, you are not effecting the end you are seeking. I do not know what amendment to suggest to achieve the end, but I am convinced that these two paragraphs (a) and (b) are only valuable as an indication of what is desired, and are not going to be very effective in the statute. The poor law valuation is something definite and easily understandable. That may go a very long way towards meeting the end sought for. I am afraid that paragraphs (a) and (b) would be difficult to utilise to secure the end without doing possible harm in directions we do not want. I am inclined to advise that the Senator should, at this stage at any rate, confine his amendment to paragraph (c).
An amendment similar to this was introduced in the Dáil and I stated there that the amendment was in complete harmony with the spirit of the Bill. If I had the slightest doubt that anything like what Senator Connolly fears might occur. I would have no hesitation in accepting the amendment or some amendment of the kind, but I have not the slightest doubt that it can occur. There are objections to paragraph (b) that Senator O'Farrell did not refer to, to which I can refer later. At any rate, I have no doubt that the provisions in the Bill as it stands are sufficient to guarantee that what the mover of the amendment is aiming at will be achieved. Section 3 states: "Where, in the opinion of the Minister, a dwelling house in the Gaeltacht is wholly unsuitable for the proper and healthy accommodation of the occupier thereof and his family," the Minister may make a grant. It is laid down that the existing house must be wholly unfit or unsuitable for the accommodation of the occupier. That is one condition governing the giving of the grant. Section 11 provides that you must have, in the first place an Irish-speaking household. That is, that first preference must be given to a household in which Irish is the ordinary language. That is a really over-riding preference. After that, there comes the condition that amongst the Irish-speaking household the one which. from the point of view of sanitation and so on, is the worst, must get the preference. You have, first of all, the Irish-speaking household. That is number 1 preference. Number 2 is that the house amongst these with the worst sanitation must get the preference. Number 3 is that the preference must be given to where the valuations are lowest. We take the valuation, I suppose, as the Senator would take it, because it is an indication of the economic position of the household. I feel that these provisions are adequate to meet what the Senator has in his mind. At any rate, in the administration of the Act, naturally these considerations will have to be borne in mind. I do not know whether there could be anything put into the regulations that would tie us down in that way. I could not say that now, because I do not know, as I have not thought of that.
As to the point that Senator O'Farrell made, with reference to a household with an income of £52 being precluded, that would involve something that would be rather objectionable if it were inserted in the Bill. It would impose on my Department a statutory obligation to hold an investigation into the incomes of households in the Gaeltacht applying for a grant. That is a kind of thing that I should not like to take on. I am certain there would be a great deal of resentment on the part of the persons concerned. In fact, I know there would be, because I had occasion to do something of the kind in one particular townland in order to see what I could do to better conditions there, and there was considerable resentment. There will have to be a certain amount of investigation, for instance, where there is an application for a loan, because there we will have to find out the capacity of the person to repay. Our principal viewpoint in the matter will be to find out, in the least objectionable way, the conditions of the household, so that we may see what we can do to improve the conditions and enable them to repay the loan. I have particulars of some cases here which were ascertained in the investigation which I had made in one townland. There is a case of a father and mother with eight children where the total income was estimated as £57. Under the Senator's amendment that family would be precluded, and they are living in an extremely bad house. These cases are in the parish of Carraroe, probably one of the worst in Connemara, or in all Ireland, in fact. Another case is that of a widow with six children living in an extremely bad house, and the total income there is £84. Nobody would suggest that a widow with six children, with a total income of £84, should be precluded from a grant under the Bill. There are various cases of that kind. For instance, there is a case where the father is 70 and the mother 50; there are ten children, and the total estimated income is £99. I could not stand over the figures in these cases owing to the way they were gathered. They are not entirely reliable. They were gathered by a lady official of the Department, whose ordinary duty is the visiting of these houses from week to week. They are as reliable as they could be in the circumstances, but this official found very considerable resentment at the inquiries she had to make even to glean this information. I am satisfied the amendment is unnecessary.
I do not know how any Minister, in administering an Act of this kind, could stand for a moment, for instance, over giving a grant to, say, a schoolmaster, or a pensioner of the R.I.C. or National Army living in the Gaeltacht. If he had a pension of any substance, first of all he would not be living in an entirely insanitary house. At any rate, the administration would take cognisance of all the facts. It would be contrary to the whole spirit of the Bill and what is behind the bringing of it forward if we were to depart from that and give grants to persons for whom the Bill was never intended. Reference was made to things which did not apply, for instance, to labourers' cottages and matters like that. First of all the labourers' cottages were built by the local authority and they were allotted by the local authorities—at present the boards of health—to certain occupiers. I quite agree with what the Senator said, that in many cases these cottages were given to people for whom they were never intended. But under this Bill the grant is given to a man to build his own house. He is in a different position from the position under the Labourers Acts.
The result is the same.
How can it be the same? The grant is given here to a man living in a wholly unsuitable and insanitary house to enable him to build a better house. Surely that is quite a different position from that in which, under a local authority, building a string of labourers cottages here and there and everywhere, and were then given out to postmen and blacksmiths and teachers and persons of that kind for whom they were never intended. As I say, I am satisfied that the provisions of this Bill under Section 3 and under Section 11, which I have quoted are sufficiently tight to prevent any abuse occurring.
I think if Senator Connolly will look at paragraph (b) of this amendment, "whose household income exceeds £52 per annum," he will realise a great deal of that, in regard to the part of the country we are legislating for, comes from America. A great deal of money comes from America regularly to the West of Ireland and I do not think that should be classed as income with a view to preventing a person getting a house.
The Minister's statement has rather convinced me that such an amendment as I have on the agenda to-day is necessary. We are at present considering the spending of £250,000; that is not a lot of money to spend in housing covering as it does a very wide area, and the object of my amendment is to secure that we ought to treat the most needy people in the area. The Minister has quoted figures here of people in Carraroe with £57 10s. income and another family with £84 income. We all admit these are very small incomes, but we all know that there are very much smaller incomes in the Gaeltacht, and my concern is that the people with very small incomes should first get the benefit. Neither the Minister nor Senator O'Farrell desires to see decent incomes in the Gaeltacht more than I do, but we must realise the facts. I know that there are families in the Gaeltacht whose total income is not more than 10/- or 11/- per week, and it is to ensure that these people will be the first to be considered that I have put down my amendment. If we figure out the amount available it will not give more than 3,000 houses, and if we take into consideration that grants for outhouses will be paid out of the sum available, it will not even give 3,000 houses. My point is that the very poorest ought to be provided for, and I think an amendment such as I am moving would be the only means of getting them provided for. It is all very well for the Minister to say that the Local Government Board did certain things, but how do we know that the Department for Lands and Fisheries will not do equally bad things. We are asked to trust the Department more than we were ever asked to trust the Local Government Board. I do not see any reason why we should leave ourselves at the mercy of this Ministry any more than at the mercy of the Local Government Board. Can he give us an assurance that the people with the least incomes will be the first to be provided for? With regard to pensioners and other people, they are still liable to come in and to get grants for houses. I am convinced that my amendment is necessary. While perhaps clause (b) is not ideal, I am willing to consider the possibility of improving it. I want to feel that those people with less than £1 a week will be the people who shall get houses. There is not going to be anything like 3,000 built under this particular grant. At any rate that is the maximum number. If that is so, we will find there are a lot of people with not more than 10/- or 11/- a week who need decent houses, and they ought to be served first.
I did not mention the Local Government Board in my speech.
Perhaps it was the Congested District Board he mentioned.
It appears to me that the fatal objection with regard to paragraph (b) of the amendment is that there might be two persons living in a house with £52 a year income. There might be a wife and ten children with £57 a year income and you would debar them from the benefits of the section. That is fatal. You cannot tie it down to a certain figure. You must trust to the administration to do the right thing. You cannot set up a hard and fast limit because what would mean a good income in one case would be a trifle in another.
I suggest to my colleague that he should ask leave to withdraw this amendment and bring it up again on the Report Stage. That would mean that the further consideration of this matter could be postponed, and that in the meantime all parties might agree on some form of amendment that might be acceptable.
I tried to point out that in my opinion the amendment is unnecessary; eventually the matter would have to be left to the administration.
That is because the Minister has absolute confidence in the Minister for Lands and Fisheries, which we have not.
Might I remark that it has hitherto been the custom to be very punctilious about definitions. Here we have a Housing Bill before us with no clause in it to tell us what a house is; in other words the Minister is not going to give us an idea what type of house or size of house it is possible to erect under this Bill.
In connection with the amendment that we are discussing I would like to know who is to be responsible for bringing forward this amendment on Report Stage. I am hoping to get Report Stage tomorrow.
I suggested the withdrawal of the amendment and the bringing up of another on Report Stage.
Sections 7, 8, 9 and 10 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
(1) The aggregate amount of the grants and loans to be made under this Act shall not exceed the sum of two hundred and fifty thousand pounds.
(2) The amount of an individual grant made under this Act shall not exceed—
(a) in the case of a building grant, the sum of eighty pounds, or
(b) in the case of an improving grant, the sum of forty pounds, or
(c) in the case of a poultry-house building grant or a piggery building grant, the sum of five pounds, or
(d) in the case of a poultry-house improving grant or a piggery improving grant, the sum of two pounds and ten shillings.
(3) In the making of building grants and improving grants the Minister shall give a preference to the occupiers of dwelling-houses in which the Irish language is habitually used as the home language of the household, and amongst occupiers of such dwelling-houses the Minister shall give a preference to the occupiers of dwelling-houses having the greater overcrowding, the worse sanitary conditions and the lower valuation under the Valuation Acts.
I move amendment 7:
Section 11, sub-section (2). To delete in line 46 the words "five pounds" and to substitute therefor the words "twenty pounds."
We do not separate the nation from its people and we are hardly going to separate the Gaeltacht from the Gaels who speak Gaelic in the Gaeltacht. This Bill is intended to better the people, not to beautify the country by improving the houses. I think the main idea is to help people to exist. My amendment would enable the people to better their conditions rather than merely to build houses by apportioning a greater amount of money to the erection of piggeries and poultry houses. It would enable the poor farmer to make a turn-over that would help him to exist. If you were to build even a delectable house you would be merely making a mockery of the man's hunger.
I think it is more important to give these people an opportunity of bettering their conditions even to the extent of producing more food. I suggest that the increasing the amount from £5 to £20 would be an improvement in the Bill. After all, the man who is able to get three meals a day would soon take care of the leakage in the roof. But if he is hungry he will not care a rap about the leakage in the roof or anywhere else. I think increasing the amount to £25 would help even the housing.
It seems to me that £5 for a piggery is something in the nature of a humbug altogether. I find now that the Minister wants to prevent the piggery from being a cowhouse. I think that Senator Robinson's amendment should be accepted and that the figure should be £20 seeing it is not to be a timber house, because, as the Minister very carefully said when he introduced this Bill—in the West of Ireland any house except one made of stone or some other heavy material is useless. You can do nothing for £5 in the way of building. A man would not even come to look after the foundations for the £5.
I must say that I think if there is going to be an increase in grants in respect to these various heads I would rather see an increase in the grant for a house. After all, this is a grant towards the cost of building, in this case, a piggery. I do not think it is to be assumed that every case of a new house or an improved house is going to be accompanied by a grant for the building of a piggery. Really, the need for houses is much greater than the need for new piggeries, and I would suggest to the Senator who moved this that the increase of £15 which he looks for to build a piggery would be much better spent if you made your housing grant £95 instead of £80. From the point of view of spending £250,000 and getting value in better health and better amenities for the country, it is really more advantageous to increase the sum for the houses rather than for the piggeries. I think it is inadvisable to ask the House to agree to this improvement until we have had a little more information regarding the cost of building houses, which I hope we shall get before this section is through.
As a matter of fact, I thought this amendment would more or less fall with the amendments dealing with the additions to live stock to the clause. We do not propose to make a full grant either for the building of the person's dwelling-house or the building of his poultry house, or the building of his piggery. That was never the intention. We go portion of the way in order to help him, and we anticipate that he will do a great deal of the work himself. That is the principle underlying the whole Bill. There is no question as to the point Senator Comyn made that he would not get a man to go to look at the foundations. We anticipate that he will look at the foundations himself, and practically put up the whole building himself, and this Bill is only to come in to enable him to roof the building and put on the door. The sum estimated for a piggery varies. In three or four counties in the Gaeltacht the sum estimated for the putting up of a piggery of the type we meant would be £9 5s. 0d. In Kerry it would be £9 16s. 0d., and in Donegal £9 19s. 0d. We propose that the grant will be something over half the total cost. We think that is entirely sufficient, and I entirely agree with Senator Johnson when he says it would be far better, if we were to change the present Bill at all, to allocate a further £15 to enable a person to build a dwelling-house than curtail the amount for a dwelling-house by adding to the amount for poultry or pigs.
Is the Minister prepared to agree to the change to £95?
I would not, but I said I would prefer, if we were to do anything of that kind to change the present allocation, to transfer £15 on to the £80 for dwelling-houses. But I believe that the £80 is entirely sufficient for the purpose.
I was more or less of the same opinion as the Minister with regard to this amendment standing in Senator Robinson's name, that it might follow the amendment on live stock, but I heard the Minister say that the Ministry had no objection to the people in the Gaeltacht utilising piggeries which they had for housing cattle during the winter months. When he said that, the need for an amendment such as this becomes almost apparent because you cannot build a house for £5 that will house cows.
Why not be honest, and say you are building it for cattle and not for pigs?
I think this amendment would go better on the Report Stage.
If you ruled that this amendment would go better on Report Stage, I would very much regret it.
I am not ruling, I am only suggesting it.
I am afraid I cannot accept the suggestion. Amendment 10 in my name governs amendments 2 and 13, and I think they should be discussed in Committee.
Amendments 2, 10 and 13 all go together.
I move amendment 10. The amendment, in my opinion, goes to the basic principle underlying the Bill. In my speech on the Second Stage, I intimated that this Bill was not to be considered a Housing Bill. It was merely put forward as a Gaeltacht Housing Bill, so as to provide proper houses in the Gaeltacht. That, I presume, was prompted by the desire on the part of certain people in the country or by pressure from certain people in the country to preserve the Gaeltacht—to hold those parts of the western seaboard where there are native speakers of Irish together— and to prevent the people going abroad by providing them with the means of subsistence at home, under conditions that would at least be Christian.
I intimated in my speech that I was not in agreement with the Schedule attached to the Bill, not because I objected to the spending of money in those areas mentioned, but because I felt that the amount of money allocated was too small to make any appreciable impression in the areas outlined. No doubt, the Minister reserved to himself in the Bill the right to curtail or extend the Schedule, but I felt that although the Bill itself is a Government Bill we must share the responsibility for its administration, and we must endeavour to visualise how it will be applied in the country and its effects generally, not merely in the Gaeltacht, but throughout the whole country. If the main purpose underlying the Bill is as was stated, I felt that we should concentrate on the relief of those in the Fíor-Ghaeltacht, that we should see that those in the areas where Irish is spoken generally should be served first at least.
I might say that my original idea in connection with the curtailment of the Schedule was a curtailment of the area, and I suggested that probably instead of district electoral divisions it should be per caput 21/- valuation. On afterthoughts I came to the conclusion that it would be advisable to retain all the areas outlined in the Schedule by the Minister, provided that the Minister extended the preference which he has given expression to in sub-section (3), Section 11. He commits himself in that sub-section to the principle embodied in my amendment. He asks the Oireachtas to pass a Bill providing for the allocation of money for building in certain areas, giving a preference to those living in those areas who utilise the Irish language habitually as the language of the household. My amendment is simply extending that preference and guaranteeing that its application shall become more rigid, and consequently more acceptable, and likely to produce the results than sub-section (3), which reads:
"In the making of building grants and improving grants the Minister shall give a preference to the occupiers of dwelling-houses in which the Irish language is habitually used as the home language of the household, and amongst occupiers of such dwelling-houses the Minister shall give a preference to the occupiers of dwelling-houses having the greater overcrowding, the worse sanitary conditions and the lower valuation under the Valuation Acts."
My amendment simply means that the Schedule attached to the Bill is analysed scientifically. In passing, I wish to say that I owe a great deal to Senator Johnson for the co-operation he gave me in analysing the Gaeltacht areas. I think on close examination it will be found that with the statistics at hand the areas outlined in the Schedule and analysed in my schedule will be correct. Column 1 contains the district electoral divisions in which according to the Census of 1926 eighty per cent. or more of the inhabitants are Irish speakers. All the areas outlined in Schedule 2 have already been mentioned in Schedule I. Column 1 contains the districts where Irish speakers are more than eighty per cent. of the inhabitants. In my opinion, that is the section of the country that should get attention in the first instance under the terms of this Bill. Column 2 contains the district electoral divisions in which according to the Census of 1926, twenty-five per cent. to eighty per cent. of the inhabitants are Irish speakers and of which the valuation averages not more than 21s. per caput. In other words, after taking the eighty per cent. Irish speakers we go to the next Irish-speaking district as far as strength is concerned —the next Irish-speaking district where some twenty-five per cent. to eighty per cent. are Irish speakers and whose valuations average not more than 21s. per caput. The needs of the districts in the first column have been attended to. We desire that those districts outlined in column 2 should have next preference and similarly with column 3. Column 3 enumerates districts which would receive attention after those in columns 1 and 2 have been attended to and those districts outlined in column 3 more or less coincide with the "pockets," to use the word of the Minister introducing the Bill, or Irish-speaking districts in the Gaeltacht. I do not think I can say any more on the amendment. I am anxious that the Seanad should place itself on record as being in favour of the allocation of the money according to the original intention of those who conceived the Bill or whose enthusiasm forced the measure into being.
I think that it would be a terrible thing if the Oireachtas committed itself to an expenditure of £250,000 —a quarter of a million pounds— over the area as outlined in the Bill, without preference being given to the Irish-speaking districts. I would ask, therefore, that the Seanad give kindly consideration to the amendment from the point of view of the preservation of the Gaeltacht, which is a much more important thing than the preservation of game.
I think it is probable that I approach this question on somewhat different lines from those of Senator O'Doherty, not very much different perhaps, but with a little change of emphasis. My way of looking at it is that I would prefer that this question had been dealt with from the point of view of human need as even superior to the need for maintaining the Gaelic tongue. But the Bill is frankly and openly a Bill for maintaining the Gaelic tongue in the Gaeltacht, and accepting that point of view, I think that the amendment is worthy of support. To begin with, it accepts the proposition that the Minister has put forward in the Bill, that the Gaeltacht consists of these 658 district electoral divisions which are in the Schedule. But the Minister has stated—I will not say admitted because that suggests it was wrung from him—frankly that he does not expect that the Bill will have any application outside the much narrower area which is included in the Second Schedule which is put forward by Senator O'Doherty; that is to say, that although he has 650 electoral divisions in the Schedule as comprising the Gaeltacht, he does not expect that the Bill will be applicable in more than 100 or 130 of these 650 divisions. He has taken as the basis of his own Schedule the Census returns of 1926, and in doing that he says that he has followed the advice of the Gaeltacht Commission, confirmed by the Executive Council.
I would point out that the Report of the Gaeltacht Commission was based on personal inquiry, as well as the figures of their enumeration, compared with the 1911 Census. But I would like to get some information from the Minister as to how this original Schedule—the Schedule in the Bill—was arrived at. It is based on the number of Irish speakers according to that census. But the census inquiry consisted of these questions: In the column headed "Irish language," the first intimation was "(1) Write ‘Irish only' opposite the name of a person who can speak only Irish. (2) Write ‘Irish and English' opposite the name of a person who is a native Irish speaker, but who can speak English; and (3) Write ‘English and Irish' opposite the name of a person who can speak both languages, but who is not a native Irish speaker." Perhaps the Minister can tell us whether, in his enumeration of the 25 per cent. Irish speakers, he means those who speak Irish only, those whose native tongue is English, but who speak Irish also, or if it comprises the three? If it does the last, and I expect it does, then it will be obvious that it is not a correct description of what has ever been known as the Gaeltacht, because many of the juniors of a family who do speak English normally but who can also speak Irish, would be included in the 25 per cent. As I said before, we have not had access to the Census figures, so that the Minister has an advantage in that respect. But as a suggestion of the additional schedule which is contained within the larger Schedule, but which really defines these areas which the Minister has indicated that he intends shall be dealt with, I think the amendment really is more honest, that the people who are likely to be interested in the Bill will be more fairly dealt with if you intimate to them in the Bill itself— not in the Minister's promises—that those who will get first preference in this matter are those who speak Irish wholly in their families and are also poor, and that those who will get second preference are those who are not to the same degree Irish speakers, but who are living in districts that are poor as well as being Irish-speaking, and that those in the third column of the Schedule are less likely to get assistance than the first two, and in effect that the remainder, to keep the Minister's assurance, are not likely to get any benefit at all by the Bill.
My chief concern in this matter is to refrain from misleading the public, and I believe that the Schedule as it stands in the Bill at present is calculated to mislead very large numbers of people, because it contains 500 district electoral divisions to which the Minister has told us he does not expect the Bill to have any application at all. The amendment, therefore, would go far to remove that possible misunderstanding and deception, and I think it is worthy of support.
Notwithstanding the very obvious earnestness of the Senator who has moved this amendment, I feel that I cannot support it. No doubt he has taken great pains and has got all the available data to compile this Schedule and to secure that essentially Irish-speaking districts, or almost exclusively Irish-speaking districts, should be put into the First Schedule, districts with a smaller percentage into the Second Schedule and so on. Incidentally I may remark that though Cork is one-eighth of the whole area of the country, there are only three areas in Cork in the Senator's schedule, whereas there are twenty-three from Donegal. Looking at the second column of the proposed schedule, I see Bealanageary, Macroom Rural District, and Bealanageary in the Dunmanway Rural District, in the third column. Anyone who knows anything at all about it knows that, if anything, the part of Bealanageary which is in Dunmanway Rural District should be in the first column.
There are two.
I know that there are two. One is in the first column, the portion of Bealanageary that is in the Macroom Rural District area. I am speaking of the part of Bealanageary that is in Dunmanway. Anyone who knows the districts knows that that district is almost exclusively an Irish-speaking district. English is spoken and understood there, but it is almost exclusively an Irish-speaking district. I hope, as I think all those who support the Bill also hope, that this is only an original measure to deal with the Gaeltacht. As I said, I welcome it, and I would suggest that probably when an extension of this Bill in a future measure is before us, a more scientific schedule might be prepared in advance. But at the moment I am opposed to this substitute Schedule.
It does seem curious that under this Schedule, which is scientifically drawn up, Cork for a wonder is not doing well, while County Clare is doing even worse. At the same time I would ask the Seanad to support this amendment. When introducing this Bill the Minister said that the object, as indeed its terms proclaim, was to do something for the Gaeltacht. There is the idea of preserving those communities that still speak the Irish language. The object was two-fold, no doubt; there is the human need that Senator Johnson referred to, and there is also the national need to preserve the Gaeltacht. I think from the Minister's speech, and from the sentiments expressed in all parts of the House, the prevailing idea in this Bill, which deals only with a quarter of a million of money, is to foster and to preserve the Irish language. If that is so, the more scientific way of dealing with the matter would be to give a special preference to those areas in which Gaelic is spoken by the great majority of the people.
The Minister has put into the Schedule a great number of townlands. Senator Johnson said there were 650 townlands, and while he was speaking I tried to enumerate them. I think they come to that number. If 650 is divided into £250,000 it will be found that there is only £400 for each district electoral division, not for each townland or group of townlands, but for each district electoral division. That is a large and expansive gesture, but it cannot be anything more than a gesture, and in including all these townlands in the Schedule, I suggest the House is holding out promises to the ear but breaking them to the hope. I would ask the House to accept the much more scientific schedule proposed by Senator O'Doherty. It does not exclude any of the townlands to which the Minister holds out his gesture, but the Minister has indicated, in the section referred to by Senator O'Doherty, that certain preferences are to be given. Senator O'Doherty, with the assistance, as he has acknowledged, of Senator Johnson, has given in a scientific way an arrangement whereby that preference can be carried into effect.
The sentiment that was in every mind during the progress of this Bill is put into language in the amendment suggested by Senator O'Doherty, and I would suggest to the Seanad, and to the Minister and his Department, that the amendment is worthy of close study and of acceptance. It is really an efficient instrument for marking out the intentions of the House and the declared intention of the Bill. In the First Schedule consisting of the really Gaelic-speaking people, there are 80 district electoral divisions, although there happen to be only three in Cork and one in Clare. When you come to see how small your cloth is, consisting of £250,000, I think the 80 district electoral divisions of the purely Irish-speaking districts, ought to absorb most of that and ought to get first preference. The amendment then goes on, when the needs of the real Gaelic speakers are provided for, to provide that any balance can go to the second class of people, who perhaps speak some Irish but whose mother tongue may be English. They will absorb a considerable portion of the amount. Then you come to the third part, which embraces all the remaining townlands to which the Minister's bounty will extend, if he has enough money, but which cannot be touched at all considering that he has only £250,000. That is the scientific and honest way of dealing with this £250,000. Let the people know what they are to get; let them know whether they have a real chance of getting anything. If you adopt Senator O'Doherty's amendment that people in 80 townlands will know that they have a fair chance of getting something, the inhabitants of the other 200 townlands will know that their chances are slender, and in regard to the great mass of the townlands enumerated in the Minister's Schedule, there is no use in raising hopes that are sure to be disappointed. I suggest that the amendment moved by Senator O'Doherty ought to be accepted, and that it is the only honest way of dealing with the matter.
The Schedule to this Bill is I think the most scientific available. It is based on the latest census returns, taking into consideration what were the Gaeltacht Commission's recommendations to the Government, which the Government adopted in their White Paper. The Gaeltacht Commission's recommendations were that 25 per cent. Irish-speaking and over should be called Breac-Ghaeltacht; from 25 to 80 per cent. were designated as Breac or speckled Ghaeltacht; and 80 per cent. or over the Fíor-Ghaeltacht or practically entirely Irish-speaking.
It is all very well to talk about the enumeration of 1925 which was made by the Gaeltacht Commission—and which in fact is not in the first place a statutory document—and in the second place, when comparing the figures resulting from that enumeration with the figures of the 1911 Census, and the figures of the 1926 Census. I believe they were very wide of the mark in many cases. The figures of the 1911 Census and the figures of the 1926 Census bear some relation to each other, but in a great number of cases the 1925 enumeration is entirely away from either the 1911 Census or the 1926 Census. I do not say that the census is the perfect way of getting at who is an Irish speaker and who is not. I believe, if people knew that such a Bill as this was coming along, that a great many persons in many electoral areas would put themselves down as Irish-speaking, and that you would have a much wider Gaeltacht than you have now. At any rate, the Census is the only satisfactory document on which I could base the Schedule as to its width. As to the raising of false hopes, I think that sufficient publicity has been given to the fact—I have stated this over and over again—that there are electoral areas mentioned in that Schedule which are there simply because the Census returns put them there. In fact, only about 100 electoral areas will probably be affected by the Bill. I think that is sufficient to prevent the raising of false hopes but even if it were not, the provisions of the Bill itself, with the over-riding clauses to which I referred on another occasion to-day, dealing with the most insanitary habitations as regards Irish-speaking households, and those again with the lowest valuations, should, I think, confine the thing sufficiently low without going any further.
Senator O'Doherty, I think, said that column 3 of his proposed schedule would cover the pockets to which I referred. I am absolutely convinced that it would not. Column 1 in the proposed schedule refers to "district electoral divisions in which, according to the Census of 1926, 80 per cent. or more of the inhabitants are Irish speakers." Column 2 in the proposed schedule deals with "district electoral divisions in which, according to the Census of 1926, 25 per cent. to 80 per cent. of the inhabitants are Irish speakers, and of which the valuation averages not more than 21s. per caput." That is simple enough, but that would deny the benefits of the Bill to any of the places that became Breac-Ghaeltacht in the Gaeltacht Commission's report unless they were included. Take column 3 of the proposed schedule. It deals with "district electoral divisions not in column 1 or 2 which, according to the Census of 1926, contain less than 80 per cent. of Irish speakers, yet are denoted in the report of the Gaeltacht Commission as "Irish-speaking Districts." If that is what the Senator was referring to in regard to Irish-speaking pockets, it is not what I had in mind. What I had in mind was that in the breac-Ghaeltacht, exclusive of the places to which the three-fifths apply under Section 11, sub-section (4), you would have places where the per caput valuation might be over 21s. That is because a big number of the valuations range just under £20, £9, £10, and so on. You might have a very small pocket of Irish-speaking households. Suppose you had only one that was a normally Irish-speaking household badly housed, that is the kind of case that I would not like to preclude from getting any help under the Bill, but I believe amendment 10 would preclude such a person from getting help. Presumably, Senators realise that if you continue this preference it would entail further amendment, that is the removal of Section 11, sub-section (4). I think that would be a corollary to the acceptance of the amendment.
What I mean is that if the Senator continues his preferences he is making a new alignment so far as Section 11, sub-section (4) is concerned. The Senator refers to first preferences in column 1, second preferences in column 2, and third preferences in column 3. Senators must take into account that three-fifths must be allocated under Section 11, sub-section (4). But Senator O'Doherty goes further, and wants to make this division. As I understand it, it would be an almost necessary corollary that Section 11, sub-section (4) should go.
It would, provided my amendment were carried. It would be pleasing to me if that were the intention.
Senator Johnson said he preferred that the economic need should be the overriding principle. The Senator, of course, admits that this is a Gaeltacht Bill, and that the whole purpose of it is to help to retain in decent comfort in the Gaeltacht the persons who are at present living in the Gaeltacht. In fact, we are frequently faced with the difficulty of holding the balance between the economic outlook and the language outlook. I feel that the method adopted in the Bill, with its overriding clauses governing the Schedule, is really the best arrangement. That is not dealing with the situation as between economic outlook and language outlook. The Irish-speaking households, as I have mentioned already, are to get the first preference. Three-fifths of the money available is to be devoted to places where the valuation, divided by population, is 21/- or under. I am just as anxious as the Senator that the Fíor-Ghaeltacht should get some special recognition, but I think any Senator who examines the matter will find that in fact the three-fifths clause will apply almost entirely to the Fíor-Ghaeltacht. As I said on the Second Reading of the Bill, there is nothing to preclude us from spending the whole of the money in the areas specified in Section 11, sub-section (4), but we are obliged to spend three-fifths of it there. I would not like to tie myself so that I would not be able to deal with any special cases in any of the district electoral areas mentioned in the Schedule which the Census of 1926 says is 25 per cent. Irish-speaking or over. We tie ourselves down to spending three-fifths of the money in the most uneconomic areas, and these happen to coincide almost entirely with the Fíor-Ghaeltacht. I am not prepared to accept the amendment. I feel that it would tend to weaken the Gaeltacht rather than help towards its enlargement.
Does the Minister, with his knowledge of the Gaeltacht and the Irish language movement, state that Drummullagh in the County Louth is part of the Gaeltacht? He said the proposed new Schedule would disentitle him to make provision for a single person, or for ten people, who may be living under bad housing conditions and who need new houses. Would any person, ordinarily speaking or writing, refer to Drummullagh, or Newcastle in County Tipperary, or one or two of those places in County Limerick, as being part of the Gaeltacht because they happened to be put into the 1926 Census? Undoubtedly, the acceptance of the amendment would confine these district electoral divisions to very doubtful utilisation of this Bill. But once you have accepted the principle of the Gaeltacht Housing Bill, that its purpose is the perservation of the language in those districts normally Irish-speaking and to encourage them by giving them better houses, would it not be more honest and fairer to the people concerned to define these areas in the Bill? The Minister has spoken of the Report of the Gaeltacht Commission as being unreliable in its enumeration. In the amending Schedule, the enumeration of the Gaeltacht Commission has been thrown aside entirely.
Reference is made in the Gaeltacht Commission's Report to the fact that there were numerous places which were called "Irish-speaking," but which had not been reported as being 80 per cent. Irish-speaking by the enumerators. If the Minister will refer to the Report of the Gaeltacht Commission, he will see that there are numerous places marked "a," which are Irish-speaking, and "b," which are partly Irish-speaking. Those two designations are not at all in accordance with the percentages, but are due to observation and general knowledge, and to comparison with the 1911 Census.
It will be found that in numerous districts marked "a," where Irish was the language normally used by the people in their households, there are less than 70 per cent., in some cases, and as low as 60 per cent., Irish-speaking, even in the enumerators' return. The point the Minister made in comparing the Gaeltacht Commission's report with the census returns falls at once when one takes account of the observations made when passing through the districts, and the general knowledge of the Gaeltacht areas, by members of the Gaeltacht Commission. Quite frankly, the Minister's claim means that you must trust the Minister and his Department absolutely in making a selection of those who shall receive benefits within this rather wide area —a much wider area than anyone has in mind when speaking of the Gaeltacht. It may be quite satisfactory to trust the administration so that you may not have any jealousies or discords created or envies aroused, but it is much easier and much more satisfactory to have the intention set out in the Bill, to accord with the intention of the Minister, and not to have it as widespread as it is, with the intimation that the great majority of the places are not going to be touched by the Bill.
I think that Senator Johnson has touched the kernel of the situation with regard to this Bill. We are anxious to define the specific area that is entitled to benefit. In my opinion, it is ridiculous for a Minister to refer to the fact that he would like to see an Irish-speaking household in any district dealt with under the Bill, for surely he cannot regard an Irish-speaking household, say in Dublin, as forming part of the Gaeltacht? I have met Gaelic-speaking households as far away as Springfield, Massachusetts. Are such places to be regarded as Irish-speaking districts? It is pretty hard to define these areas, I admit, but we have outlined the areas in accordance with the statistics placed at our disposal by the State. I regret that Bealanageary in the County Cork has been omitted, and that a comparison has been, I do not say purposely, made by Senator Dowdall between Cork and Donegal.
It is not omitted.
It is in column 3 but it should be in column 1.
It is not a poverty-stricken district in the sense defined by the Minister.
It is poor enough.
If the Minister reads the Schedule submitted by me, he will see the importance of including it in column 1, which includes areas where 80 per cent. are Irish speakers. We say that these areas should get first preference in the way of treatment. I think the Minister would be glad if in that rather restricted area where 80 per cent. are Gaelic-speaking the £250,000 should be spent, and that he could come to the Oireachtas and ask for a supplementary grant to deal with the areas in columns 2 and 3. The Minister says that he is relying absolutely on the Census of 1926, plus the consideration of the Gaeltacht Commission's report. We exclude no area included in his Schedule from consideration under the Bill. We simply ask that those in column 1 should be treated first, and then those in the second and third columns respectively, and if he has any surplus, let him treat the remaining districts outlined in his Schedule. If he has no surplus, then I would support him in any requisition for a supplementary grant in order to deal with the problem.
- Sir Edward Bellingham.
- Michael Comyn, K.C.
- Joseph Connolly.
- William Cummins.
- Michael Duffy.
- Thomas Johnson.
- Joseph O'Doherty.
- John T. O'Farrell.
- Siobhán Bean an Phaoraigh.
- Séumas Robinson.
- William Barrington.
- Sir Edward Coey Bigger.
- Samuel L. Brown, K.C.
- Miss Kathleen Browne.
- R. A. Butler.
- Alfred Byrne.
- Mrs. Costello.
- John C. Counihan.
- The Countess of Desart.
- James G. Douglas.
- J. C. Dowdall.
- Michael Fanning.
- Thomas Farren.
- Sir John Purser Griffith.
- Henry S. Guinness.
- Sir John Keane.
- Cornelius Kennedy.
- Patrick W. Kenny.
- Thomas Linehan.
- Francis MacGuinness.
- John MacLoughlin.
- Seán Milroy.
- Sir Walter Nugent.
- Joseph O'Connor.
- M. F. O'Hanlon.
- L. O'Neill.
Before proceeding any further, will the Minister give us some information as to the way he arrives at his figures?
Is the Senator speaking on Section 11?
Yes. How does the Minister arrive at the amount of the grant? He has intimated that he expects the standard house to be valued, if it were being built in the ordinary contracting course, at £275. Such a house, again in the ordinary course of trading, might be divided into 50 per cent. labour and 50 per cent. material. If we take that basis of calculation, we will assume labour at £137 10s. I do not know how much is to be paid for skilled labour, for roofing and certain other work in which skill will be required; I do not know how much is allocated for that. We are also expected to allow £137 10s. for the materials, minus such of the materials as will be obtained on or near the site—such as stones, sand, etc. There will still be required an amount of material which must be purchased. such as roofing, iron work, and other materials of one sort and another. I think we ought to have some idea as to what is in the Minister's mind. One may assume that the material to be purchased will cost £50. I do not know whether that is too much or too little, but it would leave £87 10s. as the value of the material which the man is likely to gather in his own neighbourhood—sand, stones, etc. Similarly, with regard to labour, the amount to be paid for skilled labour does not seem to be likely to be much less than £50.
If one is to assume a standard house, one can see that the person receiving a grant of £80 will be obliged to get the balance either by way of loan from the Minister, from a bank, from somebody else, or otherwise draw upon neighbours for a considerable proportion. It seems to me the probabilities are that unless we are deceived as to the resources available for these residences in the Gaeltacht, there will not be many of these standard houses, and the class of houses likely to be built will be very much poorer than the standard house the Minister has in mind. If one thinks of the £80 grant and the £80 worth of labour that is to be provided by the applicant, you have a total of £160. Is that to be the value of the house? How much of the £160 are we to assume the applicant is going to raise on his own account?
The indications are that we are going to have a number of poor houses replacing very poor houses, and that most of the money is going to be spent in improving houses that ought to be demolished. It was with this in view that I suggested it would be better to have a larger grant than £80 if we are to expect anything like a decent scheme of housing in these districts. Perhaps the Minister would assist us in coming to a right conclusion in the matter if he would tell us what is the estimate, roughly, of the amount that will be required to be spent in materials apart from such materials as can be gathered by the applicant and his friends, and what will be the cost of the skilled labour that will have to be paid for? We might then be able to arrive at some view as to the ultimate value of the houses anticipated.
I would like to know what was in the mind of the Senator when he put down this amendment as regards the class of house that is going to be built and how he hopes to get any benefit by a consultation between the Minister for Local Government and the Minister for Fisheries. It seems to me that one Minister would be just as good as another in a matter of that kind. For the information of the Senator, I might mention a little experience of mine in the matter of the class of houses that suit the people in these districts. I was engaged in the construction of light railways in the West of Ireland. They were constructed more or less as measures of relief. The work involved bringing labour from one part of the Gaeltacht to another. Some charitably-minded people came along and declared that as these poor people were being removed from one place to another it was only right to provide decent accommodation for them. These people subscribed money and built some nice little houses. Of course, they were only temporary buildings; they were what are generally known as Humphrey's houses. They were composed of a timber frame, a timber floor, a corrugated iron roof and they were supplied with good beds and a stove. The people who were to occupy them would be also supplied with coal. The labourers from the Gaeltacht were brought up and offered the use of these houses free. They refused absolutely to go into them. They said they were nasty, cold places and that they were not as comfortable as the houses they were accustomed to. They built what we call a lean-to against the Humphrey's houses. What they erected was a sort of sod cabin. They used the coal as a sort of fire on the hearth and they were far more comfortable in these, they declared, than they would be in the other houses.
What is the moral of the story?
The Senator will hear it in a moment; he must not be too impatient. No doubt the amount of money which the Minister will have available will be very small, and it would be utterly impossible for him to provide the class of house that was in the Senator's mind when he framed his amendment. I think the Minister is far more capable and knows the country better——
We are not discuss ing any amendment at the moment. We have under consideration Section 11.
Are we not discussing Senator Johnson's amendment?"
No, the debate is on the section.
I understood we were discussing Senator Johnson's amendment. In that case, I have nothing more to say.
I have something to say on this question. Senator Johnson has pointed out that there is only £80 to be advanced for the house, and that the utmost limit of the loan was £80 also. It is perfectly obvious that no house can be built for that money. The Minister, in introducing the Bill, said that he expected that the person applying for the loan and grant would get employment in the building of his own house. I presume he intended that such persons were to get some remuneration for themselves in respect of their own employment?
Then, if that is not the case there is the greatest possible danger that the Bill will be a failure, because the only person who can avail to the full of the facilities provided by this Bill will be persons who have a little money of their own. Prima facie, these are the people in the Gaeltacht with the best houses at present. Therefore, you are not dealing with the very poor at all.
Senator Comyn seems to have missed the whole point behind the Bill. The idea behind the Bill is to help the persons who are prepared to help themselves, to help them to improve their present houses or to build for themselves new houses of varying patterns. The provisions under the Bill are an £80 loan, and an £80 grant for a £180 house. These are the standard houses. That £180 excludes the material and labour to be supplied by the man who is to get this grant and loan. There is also £20 to be found somewhere by the man who goes in for such a house. We believe that in most cases, with that £80 grant and £80 loan, the £20 will not be needed in practice. The man who applies for this grant and loan will so manage his £80 grant and his £80 loan that, with his own labour and material, he will be able to put up a standard house. At any rate, the difference as far as cash is concerned is a figure of £20 and no more.
The man's labour?
As a very rough assumption, we believe that the man's labour plus the material he will be able to collect locally will amount roughly to about £95, so that in fact the standard house will be worth about £275. I do not think, myself, that it would be reasonable to expect the State, when they are giving a grant of £80 and when they are prepared to give a loan of £80, to come along further and pay the man for his help in building a house for himself.
Nobody can touch your Bill at all except the people who are already able to build houses for themselves.
The Senator has at the back of his mind all along a wrong principle. He has in mind an idea that these poor men are to employ skilled tradesmen for the whole job. The Senator ought to know and does know what is a fact, that throughout the Gaeltacht, nearly all these small holders have, from time to time, put up little outhouses for themselves. They are all handymen to a certain extent as far as the work of stone-masons is concerned. There is a certain time in the building of the house when the man who has got a loan and a grant will require the services of a handyman. The handyman is again an institution in the Gaeltacht which you do not find in other parts of the country. The man there is generally Jack-of-all-trades. He roofs, puts in windows, puts in doors and he is a bit of a carpenter.
That man's services are usually available at £2 a week, and no one can object to the utilisation of such a man under the Act, because that type of worker does not compete with the skilled tradesman. Skilled tradesmen could not get employment on jobs of that kind. The man who is building could not afford to pay them. We estimate the labour of the handyman at £50, that is £2 a week for 25 weeks. We estimate the cost of the material that has to be bought for the house, outside the local material, at £130. That makes £180, including what is paid to the handyman. That estimate of £180 is worked out in detail, and may be regarded as almost the figure. We believe that £90, which includes the cost of local material and the man's own labour, is a rough estimate. Senator Johnson suggests that this will mean nearly all improvement grants and the building of very few standard houses. It may be that not many houses of the standard type will be built, but the virtue of the Bill is its elasticity, inasmuch as a man may go in for a somewhat worse type of house than the standard type, but a type far superior to that in which he is living, and there is provision in the Bill that a grant and loan may be given for any such type of house which he is prepared to put up and which has been approved. Deputy Johnson says that it would mean that a great many houses which should be destroyed will be improved. As to the conditions of giving a grant, a great deal will depend on the administration of the measure. If a house is so bad that the particular inspector who is dealing with the application is satisfied that it is not worth improving, he can tell a man to apply for a grant for building a new house.
And borrow £80.
He borrows £80 or £60. If his grant is £60 his loan will be £60. It is our intention that no loan will be given greater than the amount of the grant, so that if a man gets a grant of £60 he can only get a loan of £60.
Can the Minister give any indication that the percentage to be charged will be 7 or lower than 7?
We are far outside the scope of the section. We are discussing the manner of expenditure, but the section does not deal with that.
May I submit that this is the section which deals with the amount of the improvement grant?
The amount of the grant but not the manner of expenditure. It does not go into the details of expenditure.
Before we decide on the amount of the grant we should know the method of expenditure.
I think that the Senator has spoken a good deal on this matter. I have allowed him a great deal of latitude in regard to this amendment, and I do not think that he can go any further upon it.
Then we will have to try amendments on the Report Stage.
Yes, you can try them.
Section 16, sub-section (1). To add at the end of the sub-section the words:—
"Provided that before making any regulation affecting the design and construction of dwelling houses the Minister shall consult with the Minister for Local Government and Public Health."
The object of the amendment is to try and secure that there will be a certain amount of collaboration between the Department responsible for public health and that responsible for the Gaeltacht. I am quite aware that by-laws, building rules, and so on, that are appropriate to the towns will not be appropriate to the Gaeltacht. Notwithstanding what Senator Barrington has said, I do not expect that you are going to have even miniature palaces built for the residents of the Gaeltacht, but I protest against any suggestion that because for generations a certain section of the population has, through one means or another, been led to accustom itself to bad houses, we should therefore not seek to improve such houses. Expression has been given to that kind of philosophy whenever any kind of suggestion for social reform or social improvement has been made by anybody anywhere, that the people prefer to remain in dirt, not to have fresh water, not to have baths, that they are accustomed to such conditions and do not want them improved.
The Senator practically suggests that because certain people whom he named or indicated preferred to occupy a lean-to rather than the house provided for them, no attempt should be made to improve their conditions. I resent any such suggestion. The proposal in my amendment is very simple, namely, that the Minister for the Gaeltacht should collaborate or consult with the Minister for Local Government and Public Health when he is issuing regulations affecting the design and the construction of dwelling-houses. I draw attention to the fact that several areas in the Schedule are abutting on town areas and—I am not speaking with any definiteness—there are already regulations and by-laws possibly applicable to those districts. If there is to be any change, that change should not be made without consultation with the Minister who is primarily responsible for public health. I have no doubt that the Minister for Lands and Fisheries will have regard to requirements from the sanitation point of view, but it is obvious that his Department is not equipped with the knowledge essential for such regulations, and I do not think that he should object to provision being made for some collaboration between the two Departments. That is the intention of my amendment, and I hope that it will have the support of the House.
The Senator who has just sat down has completely misunderstood and misinterpreted the remarks which I made. I said that it is absolutely absurd, in connection with housing which will involve the small expenditure that the Minister has available for the purpose, to be adding to the difficulties by insisting on his consultation with other Ministers. I know that the Minister in charge of the Bill has an intimate knowledge of the Gaeltacht and knows exactly what will be required there.
I cannot see the slightest object in hampering him by consultation with other people whose notions might not agree with his. I simply mentioned the class of house which I was aware people themselves had put up, not, as Senator Johnson has been kind enough to suggest, to show that they preferred dirt, but to show what line they would be likely to take in building houses. It is obvious from what the Minister has said that there will have to be a certain amount of give and take. It is obvious that the amount of the grant will be very small, that they will have to do the work themselves, and it will only result in an attempt to attain an utterly impossible standard if this amendment is adopted.
I would prefer if Departments were entirely water-tight. It may be necessary to bring in an amendment of this kind, but I might state, for the information of the Seanad, and particularly for the information of the Senator who proposed the amendment, that this Bill originated with an inter-Departmental Committee known as the Gaeltacht Economic Committee. The Committee consisted for the most part of heads of Departments. or of senior officers of Departments. It met fortnightly, under my chairmanship, to deal with all matters connected with the Gaeltacht. One of the first questions which the Committee approached was the question of housing, and one of the members of the Committee is Secretary of the Department of Local Government and Public Health. During the framing of the whole Bill, very naturally, the Department of Local Government and Public Health was in constant consultation with us, and the head of the Department was present at all these meetings in the framing of the Bill. Through all its stages this consultation has gone on, and I can see no reason why it should stop in future. The Minister for Local Government and Public Health is normally the Minister who would deal with the question of housing, apart altogether from any question of public health. It is only because this Bill refers to the Gaeltacht that I am placed in charge of it. If it were an ordinary Housing Bill, the Minister for Local Government and Public Health would be dealing with it. Naturally, that is the Department which is most intimately concerned with a measure such as this.
The Department of Agriculture, the Department of Finance, the Department of Industry and Commerce and the Board of Works Department, have also representatives on the Committee. All these representatives were present at the framing of the Bill but the sub-committee which took the liveliest interest in it was representative of the Department of Local Government and Public Health, the Department of Agriculture and my Department. If I saw any necessity for embodying such an amendment as this in legislation I would have no objection to it, but in fact that consultation goes on, and has gone on from the beginning. The Minister for Local Government had as much to do with the framing of the Bill as we had.
I would like the Minister to realise that the amendment is not proposed in any spirit of antagonism to him. The section says "The Minister may by regulation made under this Act with the consent of the Minister for Finance prescribe all or any of the following matters, that is to say (a) the design and construction of dwelling-houses or poultry houses and piggeries towards the erection of which grants are made under this Act, etc." That is to say, that the other regulations, by-laws, etc., shall not apply. I think it is generally agreed that in matters concerning public health and housing, there should not be a conflict of authority. All I want to see is something like uniformity in the legislation we are framing. While it is no doubt true that the Minister has to consult, after all this is a Bill that goes from the Oireachtas eventually and we ought to ensure, so far as we are capable of doing it, that there be this consultation with the Department primarily responsible, the Department of Local Government and Public Health. That is all that the amendment seeks to secure. This is not a Bill that is going to cease within a year. It is a Bill that will probably be carried on even after the £250,000 is spent. There will be new Ministers for Fisheries and new Ministers for Local Government, and I think that we ought to ensure that the two Departments concerned should work uniformly. That is all I seek.
I feel that the amendment is entirely unnecessary. The consultation has gone on from the time the Bill was first conceived, is going on now and will undoubtedly continue to go on, whether the amendment is inserted or not.
I wish to support Senator Johnson on principle. I am the more anxious to do so because of what the Minister has said. Two or three times in the course of this discussion, the Minister has said, "Oh, there is no necessity for putting that into the Bill because we are doing it already." That is a wrong principle. Ministers have not the power to do these things unless they get the authority of Parliament, and what the Minister has said already encroaches on the power of Parliament. This provision should be put into the Bill. It is no answer to Senator Johnson for the Minister to say, "Oh, we are doing that ourselves; there is no necessity for putting it into the Bill." There is a necessity for putting it into the Bill and it should be inserted.
I think that is absolutely ridiculous.
Will the Minister have the assistance of the Architect's Department of the Board of Works when preparing these plans for the standard houses?