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Normal View

Seanad Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 13 Nov 1940

Vol. 24 No. 27

Unemployment (Relief Works) Bill, 1940—Second Stage.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

The normal programme of housing and other public works has been maintained at a fair level during the past year, but in prevailing conditions the Government has deemed it necessary to secure wider powers for the carrying out of public works as may from time to time be deemed necessary for the relief of unemployment. The purpose of this Bill is therefore to remove as far as possible all difficulties which might prevent or delay the inception and carrying out of projects of permanent utility. Local authorities are aware of most of the needs of their localities, but before embarking on any large schemes of public works, it is essential that detailed surveys should as far as possible be made of their districts with a view to a selection of the most suitable to be carried out in the future. Several of the larger urban authorities have had planning surveys already made by experts and in these areas there will be a choice of works which can be carried out, if necessary, in advance of the making of planning schemes.

The planning surveys so far carried out would indicate that it is desirable to have extended powers for construction of road works which would be partly within a city and partly within the adjoining county. There is at present no legal way under which the making of a road which would serve both of these areas could be assigned to the body primarily interested. Such a power is considered desirable, apart from any need that may arise for undertaking essential works for the relief of unemployment. A local authority with extensive road and traffic interests should possess powers in relation to the reconstruction of main traffic arteries which constitute the approaches to its administrative area.

In Cork, Limerick and Waterford, as well as in Dublin, and, in fact, in other populous areas, there are many problems of circumscribed boundaries which might be rendered capable of easier solution if the local authority which is more directly concerned had extended powers for the carrying out of works outside their areas. This Bill will confer such powers. I trust it will also encourage the making of planning surveys. When there is a comprehensive survey made of an area, the future choice of works of public utility and amenity value would be greatly facilitated.

The provisions of the Bill will simplify the procedure for the acquisition of land necessary for the execution of public works which are undertaken for the purpose of providing employment. Sub-section (1) of Section 2 provides for the certification of works which are being undertaken wholly or partly for that purpose in a particular area, while sub-section (2) of the section will enable the Minister to act on his own initiative and after consultation with the local authority or local authorities concerned to certify that a particular work of public utility should be undertaken by the local authority designated by him for the purpose of providing employment. In this connection I am to refer to the provisions of Section 4 of the Bill regarding the transfer of powers in relation to the construction and maintenance of roads from the local authority in whose area a certified work is situate to a local authority designated as the executing authority. There will also be consultation between the Minister and the local authorities concerned before any such transfer is authorised.

The provisions of Section 4 are necessary where the road work is situate partly in one administrative area and partly in another such area, and it is desirable that the entire work should be carried out by the same local authority.

Section 3 provides that it shall be the duty of the executing authority to undertake and complete a work which is certified to be undertaken for the relief of unemployment with all reasonable speed. Sub-section (2) of that section provides a remedy in case of any wilful default. The powers taken are similar to those provided for in Section 72 (2) (b) of the Local Government Act, 1925, under which a local authority may be dissolved without holding a local inquiry if it neglects to comply with any lawful order, direction, or regulation of the Minister.

Section 5 of the Bill regulates the making of contributions by a local authority to the cost of a certified work which would facilitate the development of the area of the local authority and render less costly the performance of its functions. If there is no agreement between the authority executing the work and the benefiting authority, the Minister may by order determine the amount of the contribution. Sub-section (3) of that section is intended to cover costs other than the costs of construction, such as the annual charges for the maintenance of the certified work.

Section 6 is concerned with borrowing for certified works. It will enable a local authority which has exercised borrowing powers by the creation and issue of stock, and such stock is due for redemption within a period not exceeding five years, to enter into agreements with the holders of the stock to exchange their holdings for an amount of new stock equal in nominal value but not necessarily bearing the same rate of interest. The basis of exchange is one for arrangement between the local authority and the holders of such stock. The Urban Stock (Amendment) Regulations, 1928, regulate the borrowing from redemption funds on certain conditions, the main condition being that the amount withdrawn would be repaid to the redemption fund within the unexpired portion of the period fixed for the redemption of the stock. But the powers conferred by these regulations would not meet the case of an exchange of stock in the manner proposed in the Bill, or authorise the application of moneys in the Redemption Fund for the financing of certified works. The section in the Bill will validate an exchange of stock which the Corporation of Dublin have at present under consideration.

Section 7 of the Bill will have a limited effect. It is intended to meet the conditions at present existing in portion of the County Borough of Dublin adjoining the County Health District of Dublin and the Urban District of Howth. A new sewerage system for portion of these districts is necessary. Instead of setting up a joint board by provisional order to be confirmed by the Oireachtas, the Minister, in pursuance of the section, can make an order forming an united district, and then the provisions of the Public Health Acts will apply. The formation of a joint board to manage the united district will be postponed, and there will be conferred on the corporation as executing authority all the powers of the joint board in relation to the execution of works necessary for the drainage of the entire area, and for the apportionment of expenses as between the city and the present Urban District of Howth which will ultimately form part of the County Borough of Dublin. When that takes place the arrangements for the creation of an united district will cease. It may be mentioned that the drainage of this area will facilitate also the drainage of the Baldoyle and Portmarnock district of the County Health District of Dublin.

Section 8 to 15 introduce a new, simple and speedy manner of acquiring land by vesting order, without conveyance, for the registration of title thereto, and the payment of compensation for the land so acquired. The local authority will be able to take possession of the land with the minimum of delay, and every person to whom compensation is payable will receive interest on the amount of compensation during the period between vesting the land in the local authority and the fixing of compensation by arbitration, save where a local authority makes an unconditional written offer of compensation which is not accepted, and the compensation fixed at arbitration is not greater than the offer. In such a case it is proposed that the interest on the compensation should not be payable during any period after the date of the offer.

It is expected that under this Bill local authorities will carry out projects which are likely to be provided for in future planning schemes. If these projects are allowed to wait until planning schemes are in force the persons who would benefit from their execution would become liable under the planning schemes for the payment of betterment to the local authority. It seems only reasonable that this liability should not cease because of the necessity of carrying out these projects in advance of planning schemes. Section 16 of the Bill accordingly provides for the collection of betterment from owners of property which has increased in value by the execution of such works.

There are certain modifications of the Public Health Act, 1878, proposed in Section 19. They mainly consist of shortening the time for giving public notices in relation to the carrying out of certain public health works. The reduction is from three months to one month, which is considered reasonable in emergency conditions. The other sections of the Bill do not require any comment, as they are common to most Bills regulating the procedure governing the acquisition of land for public purposes.

The fact that this Bill was introduced by the Minister for Local Government indicates its nature. It is an Unemployment Relief Bill, and aims at the relief of unemployment by small works done by local bodies in different parts of the country. Therefore, it would not contemplate any national effort to solve a problem which was once thought by the Minister and his colleagues to be quite easy of solution in this country. Taking it for what it is, an effort to improve the machinery for the relief of unemployment by means of relief works under local bodies, it is a step forward, and I think it ought to be passed, particularly as a result of certain amendments made in the Dáil, which make the doing of that kind of work smoother and easier. It is, perhaps, at this stage, correct to say that unemployment is something which was not being solved, and which was not in process of solution before the war. It is something which the war will make more difficult to solve as it goes on, and its possible threat to the State from the economic angle, as things develop, is now greater than the threat to the State, even in the military sense. Public works are not a solution of the unemployment problem, because they cannot continue indefinitely, and I think that even the most enthusiastic advocate of tariffs is convinced now, after seven or eight years' experiment, that tariffs are not a remedy either.

In this Bill there is a burden— though not a very great burden, comparatively, upon local bodies. It purports to spend nearly £1,000,000 in all, I think it was stated, of which nearly £900,000 will be spent by the Government and the rest by local bodies. It is right to say that for the solution of this problem in this particular manner, and in other ways, very considerable burdens have already been imposed. The ratepayer and the taxpayer, about whom there is considerable talk, are, in effect, the same person. A member of a local body objects to a burden being placed upon local bodies and says that that money should come out of the Central Fund but, in effect, the contributions to the Central Fund and to the funds of local authorities are made by identically the same persons— those in gainful employment through out the country.

Our national debt has been doubled in the last seven or eight years, taxation has been increased by about 50 per cent., and I think local rates have been increased by very nearly the same amount. The person who paid £1 in rates eight or nine years ago pays 30/- now, and the person who paid £1 in taxes at that time also pays about 30/- now. Great as that burden might be, one would not object if it found a solution or even showed the way to a solution of the problem as it stands, but that is not so. From my own experience of individuals with whom I am very well acquainted, the rotational system of work is unsatisfactory from the point of view of the worker and unsatisfactory from the nature and amount of the work done, and it may prove unsatisfactory from another angle also—it may reduce output generally from normal wages.

To understand what happens to a person who loses a job in this country, I would like to give an example from my own immediate circle. I knew a man who lost his job in 1936, through his own fault: he did not commit any criminal act, but did lose his job through his own fault. He was idle for three and a half years before he was enabled to join the Army under the recent recruiting scheme. A man who is idle for three and a half years with three or four children has to live on, firstly, unemployment insurance benefit, and then on unemployment assistance, and has a very hard time, indeed. It is quite open to say that his physical condition is worse than that of a person condemned to penal servitude for a criminal offence, and it is far worse than that of a person condemned to imprisonment in Arbour Hill, where the conditions are better than those enjoyed by the unemployed.

As I have said, the problem is a very real one and it will grow. While this Bill does improve certain machinery already in operation, it does not contemplate any solution. I do not propose to offer a solution—I have not got one. It is open to us to say, on this Bill at this stage, that the matter is so grave that it merits as much attention as has been given and as is being given to defence in the military sense. In fact, the threat from this particular thing is, perhaps, greater. There is hardly any use at all in our surviving as a State or as a national community if we cannot, by our pooled wisdom or otherwise, find some solution for a matter of this kind. It is growing more serious and present circumstances are bound to make it worse. It may very well be that everybody—employers of labour and leaders of labour—will have to get rid of preconceived ideas in the matter. I know Senator Foran feels that everybody ought to change, while his ideas are so fixed and correct that they cannot be changed; but it has been said that a great many trade union leaders are more concerned with those actually working than with those seeking jobs.

We have confined ourselves very much to road work and that may be work with very great labour content. In driving long distances in this country, particularly in mid-week, I find that we have magnificent roads and very little traffic on them. When you drive down beyond Naas, you find very little traffic on the roads at all, and one wonders whether there is not another and more profitable work that could be done than that of road work. It has been suggested quite properly that, if the Minister and local bodies are confined to financing road work in places where unemployment is greatest, that may result in a considerable amount of waste, which would not be a good solution. If there are places where work is necessary and where there is no unemployment, then unemployed in other places might, under proper conditions, be drafted there. However, the Bill is one which does improve the machinery existing. It is proposed to do something, though only in a small way, to remedy the evil conditions which exist, and it is on that account that I welcome it and wish it well.

In making a comment or two, perhaps I could answer a point raised by Senator Hayes, who has said that there are magnificent roads and very little traffic on them. He meant to say that we are making magnificent roads where there is not much traffic. I am inclined to say that we do not make the roads where the traffic is. There is complaint amongst the farmers who live in the more remote regions that we are spending a great deal of money on main and trunk roads, where Senator Hayes and people like him and the Minister can travel in cars, but where farmers with horses and carts cannot travel; and we are spending very little money on the other roads where horses and carts and donkeys and carts travel, and where there is much more evidence of life than there is on the trunk roads. I know that people in the towns and cities cannot see things from that angle, but that is the fact.

I feel that if this Bill were going to fit into some national plan for the attempted solution of unemployment, one could be enthusiastic about it, but I do not think it is fitting into any plan: it is just a small effort, a sort of patchwork Bill, for the relief of unemployment here and there. It is a temporary measure which is not going to give work of a reproductive nature. If men work and can manage to live— and it is essential that men get work in order to live—and if they are prepared to do the work when they get it, we may pass on to a condition when we may find a scheme.

I wish to make a protest or two about certain things contained in the Bill. I refuse to accept that the obligation is on local authorities to find a solution or bear the cost of the relief of unemployment. I think that is neither just nor fair, and that unemployment is not going to be solved in that way. In Section 3, sub-section (2), the Minister is taking power to dissolve local authorities who refuse to carry out their duties in regard to this Bill, or who, in the opinion of the Minister, have failed to carry out those duties. I put it to the Minister: why will a local authority refuse? I must say that, as things are at present, I am not prepared to believe that any local authority will refuse, just out of cussedness, to do anything in regard to this measure. On the whole, local authorities have gone beyond the limits in regard to what they have done or are prepared to do in making their contribution for the relief of unemployment. In my view, if local authorities are not prepared to implement this Bill, or make their contribution, it will be for the very good reason that the local people feel they cannot find the money, and that it is unfair to ask those paying rates in rural districts to be saddled with further expense for the relief of unemployment. That is why local authorities may refuse, and, in that case, it is unfair of the Minister to ask for powers to dissolve a local authority because in its judgment it refuses to put a further financial burden on people who are already carrying more than they are able to bear. The Minister should not insist on such powers in that section.

In regard to Section 6, sub-section (2), where moneys borrowed by the local authorities for the purpose of carrying out certified work shall not be reckoned as part of the debt of such local authority, I fail to understand why the Minister wishes to do that. After all, any work that any local authority has to do, and any expenditure which it incurs, is a charge on the income of all the people within the area in which the local authority functions. Now, although power is being taken in this Bill to provide that the amount which a local authority may borrow for this purpose shall not be added to the sum total of its indebtedness for the purpose of borrowing, the fact remains that the local people will have to bear the cost of the money which is borrowed. Therefore, it seems to me that what the Minister is really doing is this: he is pretending, and only pretending, to lighten the debt on the local authority, because, in fact, the debt is there and will be charged on the incomes of the local people. I think myself that it would be much better to have the full debt written down against the local authority since they are being called upon to make provision to meet it. They have not only to repay the money borrowed, but also pay for the service of that money. It has to be remembered that, when you go on borrowing, you do so in the belief that the productive capacity of the people in a particular area will enable them to shoulder the burden placed on them, and to repay the debt incurred. In my view all our local authorities through the country to-day are being called upon to carry greater burdens and liabilities with regard to all sorts of schemes than they are able to carry, having regard to their present incomes. In these circumstances, I think it is unjust to expect any further contribution from them towards the relief of unemployment. I think, if the present policy is going to be pursued, that instead of relieving unemployment you may very well add to the numbers of unemployed in a particular area. You may do that by placing such a heavy burden of debt on employers, and indeed on all the people in the area, that they will not be able to carry it. I say that it would be much better to write down the debt against them. Let it be put on the debit side of their account, and let them not be put in the position of feeling that, if they borrow additional sums for some specific purpose, they do not owe £1,000 or £10,000 or whatever the sum may be, while in fact they do owe it, and as well will have to pay for the service of the debt.

In view of the burdens which local authorities have to carry at the moment, and in view also of the present income of farmers and the difficulties they have to face, I do not think they should be asked to make any further contribution towards the solution of unemployment. I recognise that the total amount which is going to be asked for is small, but in principle I do not think it is their obligation or responsibility to solve this problem. If they are willing, or if they believe they are able to make some further contribution, I think they will do it, but, on the other hand, if they feel that they are not able to do it, then I do not think the local authorities which come to that decision should be dissolved by the Minister's order. I think it is financially unsound to adopt any such policy. I think myself that, if the local authorities have to spend money, it should be debited against them for the purposes of borrowing. They should know the debt is there. Those who have had to borrow know that you can do so up to a limit, but there is a limit beyond which you cannot, with safety, go. I think it is true to say that practically all our local authorities must have reached that point to-day. If the local authorities are obliged to carry burdens and liabilities which they are unable to meet—to borrow additional moneys and pay for the service of them—and if the people are to be taxed to meet all that, then, in my opinion, a policy of that kind is going to retard production which in itself is essential for employment.

It is a fact that there is unemployment in this country. Personally, I would not blame any Government for the fact that there is a certain amount of unemployment. Some ordinary change, brought about by the passage of time in the complicated machine of our national society, will, I agree, create a situation in which certain sections of the community will find themselves unemployed. Under the most perfect form of government, due to some change of that kind, you will be bound to have some unemployment from time to time. One of the possible ways of meeting a situation of that kind would be the construction of works of public utility. I think it is degrading to human dignity to ask a man to employ that which is most intimately himself: his intelligence and his will, to labour for something that is of no use. A man should not be asked to dig holes for the purpose of filling them up again. A man fulfils his human dignity when he applies himself to something which will be useful to himself or which, because it will be useful to somebody else, he will be able to sell and get other things useful for himself—in other words, apply himself to something that will be useful for the general community. I dislike the Title of this Bill. It uses the words "public utility". It says that the object is to make

"provision for the execution by local authorities of works of public utility for the purpose of providing employment for unemployed persons and to provide for matters incidental thereto".

Now, granted there is unemployment and granted that we all agree that there should be something done about it, if there is something useful for the community which can be made as between one activity and another, I think we would be justified in saying: "This will be more beneficial to those who are unemployed and we will choose it rather than something else," or: "We will do this work now which otherwise we might not do for some months to come." But the implication in the Title to the Bill, as I read it, is this: that the words "public utility" are just dragged in when the real proposition in the Bill is to have a sort of excuse for giving money to men, of putting them on work of no public utility.

The words "work of public utility" are defined in the Bill. My definition of public utility would be this: to create something which is going to be useful to the public generally. The definition we get in the Bill is this:

"A work which is within the powers of any local authority or any two or more authorities acting jointly."

The work of digging holes in the ground or of tearing up pieces of paper is within the powers of a local authority, but that does not mean to say that the work is going to be useful to the community as a whole. It seems, therefore, to me that the definition of the words "public utility" in the Bill is fundamentally wrong, because it simply means an excuse for giving money to put people doing something which is going to be of no use to anybody. When we come to Section 2 we also find the words "public utility". Presumably, the works undertaken under that section are likely to be of public utility, and the considerations that will enter into the decision to undertake them in this particular time and place rather than in another time and place will be this: that they will enable people who are otherwise doing nothing to do work of real utility for which it will be justifiable to pay them But, as I read Section 1, it means that the first purpose of the work done is the utility of the thing created, and the secondary consideration that it will have a certain effect on unemployed people. Sub-section (1) of Section 2 says that in that case the Minister may certify for the work, the fact of course being that the real purpose of that work is exclusively to give an excuse for paying men for doing something without any relation whatever to its utility.

When I come to Section 2, I find another thing to which I object. If anybody ever takes the trouble to remember anything I have said, he may remember that on various occasions I have pointed out here that local governing bodies are actually the spenders of money in the collection of which they have no responsibility whatsoever. The central Government collects an enormous amount of taxation and hands a very large amount of that over to the local governing bodies. I rather dislike that practice because if local governing bodies are going to exist and to enjoy certain powers, those powers should be defined. If they are spending money raised partly by themselves and partly by the Government, that gives an excuse to the Government to interfere with their work, takes away the real exercise of their powers and usurps those powers, for which there is justification when the money being spent is largely provided by the Government. As I read the second section—I am subject to correction by the Minister—it means that, whereas the local governing body has to make itself very unpopular by imposing levies upon the people and taking their money from them, the Government turns round and says: "You having collected the money, we are going to decide on what it is to be spent." That is the obverse of what I protested against on other occasions. I objected to the Government collecting money and local governing bodies deciding how it should be spent. I object more strongly to local governing bodies collecting money and the Government, in absolute usurpation, coming along and telling them that this work must be done and not the other work.

Section 6 seems to be a perfectly silly section in a way. For this sort of work, the power of local governing bodies to borrow may, under this section, be extended beyond the present limit. From the way the section is worded, it seems to say that the local governing body can keep on governing, and pretend to itself that it does not owe the money. I have felt for a long time that this business of State borrowing and local government borrowing is a very dangerous system. I admit that practically every country in the world is consuming and destroying annually more than it is creating, due to the fact that there is a belligerent crisis. It is unfortunate that since this State came into existence we have never had a non-crisis condition. We had a sort of crisis arising out of the civil war. We had dozens of incidental crises. We had the emergency of the economic war, and now we have the emergency of general warlike conditions in Europe. War is an abnormal thing, and, under abnormal conditions, you do abnormal things. It is reasonable, to some extent, that when a long condition of peace is broken by a condition of war, you should spend more than you are actually producing; but we are doing that all the time, not only nationally, but local-governmentally. I think that, instead of extending the powers of local governing bodies to borrow money, these powers should be more restricted. When they borrow, they are pledging the future; the fruits of our labour are not sufficient to pay for what we want done during our own lifetime.

This national and local government borrowing means that, having inherited the good and the evil of the past, we accept that as a gift from the past; we spend the fruits of that past labour and of our own labour, and then we want to sit down and spend the fruits of the labour of those people who are possibly not yet born. That is going to have a disastrous effect. We may console ourselves by saying that posterity will have to face up to that and that we shall be relieved of the trouble. But it seems to me unjust that we should go on borrowing money to meet our own immediate, instant difficulties—not to create things that will survive through a hundred years. People of a later date will have to pay not only their own ordinary running expenses, but they will have to pay for the things we have consumed. That is a very dangerous position. What we are doing here is extending the powers of local governing bodies to borrow money to meet the immediate emergency or crisis, but an emergency or crisis seems to be almost endemic with us—a normal condition.

I know it is always easy to close your eyes to what is going to happen to-morrow and, in times of emergency, one is justified in doing that. But what was our position for years before war was declared? We were increasing the amount of our national debt. Each local governing body was increasing the amount of its debt. What happened in connection with the spending of that money? I have heard it stated, time and again, that portion of the money was spent in building hospitals in the country and I have heard of specific cases where the new hospital is able to provide only for the same number of patients as was provided for by the old hospital. A vast sum of money is spent on building a new hospital which will only serve the same purpose and the same number of cases as the old hospital did. That has one effect—the cost of maintenance and the cost of running the new hospital is much higher than it was in the case of the old hospital, but I do not want to make that point. My information regarding specific cases may be quite wrong, but very often the things on which we spend our money will not relieve the future ratepayers. We merely give them an additional burden.

Take the case of roads. Everybody loves to think we have magnificent roads. They love to hear tourists come along and tell us how splendid our roads are and what a pleasure it is to motor over them. I think that we have, per area or per population, more road length than any country comparable with ours. We have roads all over the place. I am always interested in making voyages of discovery and, in County Dublin, there are hundreds of roads which I am promising to traverse so as to see where they lead or what purpose they serve. For the condition of our country—area, population and so forth—we have far more than the average mileage of road. You cannot go growing wheat on these roads, so that they are not productive, but their maintenance is a recurrent burden. The spending of money on roads is largely overdone. One of the effects of our good roads has been to make everybody think that he ought to have a motor car. We have far too many motor cars in the country. I always explain to people that, as I am not a commercial traveller, I do not belong to the motor-owning class. Everybody assumes that a motor car is an ordinary necessity. Many millions of pounds were sunk in the creation of railways in the 19th century. Lines were laid down and all that capital was invested and the railways could still function productively if they were used sufficiently.

What did we do? We taxed the people to an enormous extent and built an enormous mileage of roads which were only a delusion to the people and which persuaded them to go careering around the country at 60 miles an hour in the latest models of motor cars. I may be exaggerating, but I mention that to illustrate my point. We poured out that capital, taken from the people's pockets, and the capital which was poured out and the lines which we laid down ceased to be productive, and nobody to-day in the railway business is very happy, except in relation to whatever ease they may get as a result of the war. The people paid more taxes for roads and they spent more money on motor cars in order to waste more time in going from nowhere to nowhere, with the result that the accumulated value of our railways is completely gone. I give that as illustrating the general tendency of what is happening to-day.

I quite recognise that there is unemployment, and I think the Government is to blame, by its action, for the degree and extent of that unemployment problem, but, independent of that, I think that, even if we were the Government, there would be some unemployment. I recognise that when a man is unemployed, the State should do something for him and a good thing to do would be to employ his labour and to put him working hard in the creation of something which would be of general utility to the community, both now and hereafter. All that has, I think, gone, but the implication of the definition and of various points in this Bill is this completely fallacious doctrine: We want to give the people work. We do not want to give the people work; we want them to enjoy what comes from the fruits of work, and you do not enjoy any fruits from digging holes in the ground and filling them up again, from tearing up pieces of paper, or from doing the 101 useless things which would easily come within the definition of a work of public utility in the Bill.

What I want, firstly, is, that the local governing body shall be responsible for the spending of the money it collects and shall make decisions in respect of it, that the Government shall decide on the spending of the money it collects, and not that one should do the job of the other or usurp the right of the other. Secondly, I should like the whole preoccupation of this Bill to be that the work which is going to assist in relieving these unemployed will eminently be directed to the creation of works which will serve the people hereafter. Whether it is due to the drafting of the Bill or whether it is due to the fact that the Minister has only one idea in mind—that a lot of people are clamouring to work because they want to enjoy what would normally be the fruits of work—his only idea is to give them something to occupy them and to let it be of the nature of relief work because the idea of relief works in this country has always been that it shall be of such a nature that the vast bulk of the money is spent in payment for labour and the lowest possible amount spent on materials. That is quite right once you accept this doctrine of relief works. I think that relief should be an element in the work here proposed, but the idea of the utility of the works to be done is not sufficiently brought out and there is revealed the idea in the Government's mind: Put them digging roads from nowhere to nowhere; put them doing anything at all, whether or not it is of any use to anybody and pay them an economic wage for it.

That is my objection to the Bill. I do not propose to vote against it because we must recognise that there is this appalling problem for which the Government is not entirely responsible and that there was, before the war came, this problem of unemployment which, in conditions of war, is not going to diminish but rather to increase. The demoralising physical hardships of the people in doing nothing is something to which we must advert and on which we must be prepared to spend money, but I do feel, and I have always felt, that to put a man directing his mind and physical energies to doing something when his mind internally affirms that all he is doing is of no use to himself or to anybody else is degrading to labour. If men are going to work, let them be able to say to themselves: "Though I am toiling in severe weather, the fruits of my labour are going to serve me, my family, my neighbours and, possibly, even the generation that comes after us."

Listening to the Minister's statement, one would get the impression that this was a somewhat innocent measure—largely a machinery measure—in order to enable work to be legally carried out in the areas of two adjacent local authorities, but I regard the principles involved in it as going much further. Admittedly, unemployment is a serious matter and, incidentally, I may remark that the growth of our unemployment is rather a sorry comment on our much vaunted self-sufficiency. I do not propose to pursue that line, but I think that if we had not adopted this rigid doctrine of economic and political self-sufficiency, our unemployment problem would be less serious, but the problem exists and we have to deal with it.

I do not suppose the Minister would say that this Bill represents the only way the Government has for dealing with unemployment. It is only a partial method, but it strikes me that a dangerous and wrong principle involved is the Minister's power to dictate to the local authorities what works they shall do. That strikes at the whole principle of local autonomy. In the early days of local government, the local bodies were supposed to be the nurseries for the training of people in the responsibilities of local administration. They were largely left unfettered, but since then the encroachments of the central authority have continued increasing, and the whole idea of a local authority being a training ground for higher political duties has completely gone. They appear now to be nothing but creatures to be dictated to by the central authority. In those early days on local authorities, we had a certain amount of power and patronage, and it was quite interesting to see how that patronage was exercised. You knew that there was an appointment to be made, and you got a large meeting, and, undoubtedly, there were cases of appointments which were not quite as good as they might have been, but that was inevitable in any system of training.

That is all done away with, and these local authorities are now mere creatures under the dictation of the central authority; but we are going very much further when, apparently without any financial contribution whatever—so far as one can judge from the Bill—the Minister has power to say: "You shall carry out any work I decree." Has the Minister the power to go outside the services usually germane to local authorities? Has he power, if he thought fit, to make them put up a recreation hall, a theatre, a cinema or opera house, or are his powers purely confined to roads, sewers, water, and all the works germane to local authorities?

There is one question which I should like to ask the Minister. To what extent does he seek to obtain the consent of the local authority to those works which he is going to hoist upon them? I do think it is very necessary indeed that the local authority, if it is going to preserve its self-respect and its sense of responsibility, should be consulted, and only in the last resort should it be ordered to carry out works of which it does not approve.

I appreciate the necessity of carrying out those joint works under adjacent authorities, works which are necessary for the good of both. You cannot, in any planning, separate the county of Dublin from the city, but in that connection I would ask the Minister what has happened to the report of the Greater Dublin Tribunal, and when are those recommendations going to be put into force? That is the logical and proper method of dealing with the difficulty in that part of the country where the problem is most acute. To my mind, that would appear to be the correct and logical way of solving the difficulty in regard to work in those adjacent areas. My objection to the Bill is that it undermines and takes away from the local authorities their sense of responsibility. Under the Bill there is power to dissolve any local authorities which do not accept the Minister's dictates. That creates antagonism between the central Government and the local authority. Looking at the thing in broad perspective, I feel we have now reached the stage when it would be better if the whole of this local government machinery were recast, and if the local services were done altogether as part of the national scheme. It would be much more logical; there would be much less friction; and I think we would not get those squabbles which are all too frequent in the proceedings of local bodies. I am quite serious about that. We are getting right away from the doctrine that the local authority is a responsible entity, which made mistakes and through the mistakes had received education. Look at that deplorable statement in the Press yesterday—perhaps it is outside the ambit of this Bill—about the Cork Street Hospital.

The matter does not appear relevant.

I am merely illustrating the stage we have reached in conflict between local authorities and the central Government. I am seriously suggesting that the time has come when the central Government should take over those services altogether. There is only a small area involved—I believe the whole thing is not much bigger than the two Ridings of Yorkshire—and there should not be those encroachments on the powers of the local authority. We are going to be told nothing whatever in this Bill about the financing of those works, and what contribution the local authorities are going to get. I think it would be far better, and certainly more efficient from the point of view of machinery and despatch, if the central authority took over all those local services.

This Bill does not profess to give us a solution of the unemployment problem, but it is useful in so far as it will help to alleviate this terrible evil to some extent. The main object of the Bill is not to carry out particular works in any area but really to endeavour to afford some employment to the unemployed men in those localities. What is the best way in which this could be done? Any work which would entail the maximum labour cost with the minimum material cost would be the ideal, and I take it that any local authority will do all that it possibly can to find out what work of that kind can be done in its locality. I do not quite agree with Senator Sir John Keane about the interfere of the Department with local bodies. It is sometimes very necessary that the Department should interfere with the local bodies, because very often the members of local bodies are keenly interested only in their own particular portions of the constituency. I think Senator Sir John Keane will agree with me when I say that at meetings of local bodies every member is endeavouring to get as much work as he possibly can carried out in his own particular district, irrespective of the cost. When you have a body of men anxious to carry out those schemes in their own particular areas there is always a danger that work will be carried out which will not be conducive to the general well being of the community as a whole. It is very necessary to have some central authority to keep a check on wasteful expenditure, and to that extent the interference of the Department serves a very useful purpose.

I think it was Senator Baxter who spoke about our main roads and our expenditure on them. To a great extent I agree with Senator Baxter. I am a motorist myself, but I can see the grievances of the rural dwellers who very often have very imperfect roads leading to their homesteads. When arguing the question out with the local authorities the officials very often say: "Well, the farmer enjoys the benefit of the main road. When he is going into the neighbouring town he uses the main road, so he gets the value of the expenditure" but they quite forget that that main road is very often destructive to the farmer. The greater number of the main roads which we are providing all over the country are absolutely unsuitable for horse traffic. They are all right for the motorist, but the moment the farmer's animal comes off the water-bound macadam on to the tarred road he very often falls and breaks a leg, so that the farmer is paying for an amenity which is destructive to himself. We spend a lot of money on roads, but I wonder could we find any other schemes which would give us what we want? We want as much labour cost as possible with the minimum cost in material.

All over the country there are isolated villages and hamlets, very often centred around a school. All of us who come from the rural areas are familiar with them, and in many of them there is absolutely no water supply whatever. The school children run very grave risks in those places. In the summer months when they want a drink of water they have to run the risk of drinking water which is absolutely dangerous. I think water schemes could be provided in many of those places at a very low cost. Such schemes would be ideal because the greater part of the expenditure would be labour cost. Very often, the water could be obtained quite close to the hamlet or school. There would be no necessity, for instance, to provide an expensive reservoir. By tapping a well at some distance from the school a very good supply could be easily obtained. The cost of the piping would not be considerable, and the labour cost would be the principal portion of the expenditure. I think such schemes as that should be encouraged, and I am sure there would be no difficulty in getting the Department and the local authorities to agree in regard to them. Senator Fitzgerald also spoke about roads, and referred to the fact that they are used by tourists who come to the country and who praise our roads. I would like Senator Fitzgerald to give us a solution of the problem he has put to us. Where does one start and where does one finish?

In a circle; in a spiral.

Reference was made to the rotational system of work. That system is not in favour with the men down the country, as far as I know. I can understand the underlying idea which is to spread the work as much as possible and prevent the workers from getting rusty, so to speak, but it is unfair in this way that there is a time lag between the time the man ceases work and the time he picks up his unemployment benefit and that time lag is very unfair. There is a period during which the man is left without any unemployment benefit after his wages have ceased and unless some way could be found for bridging that gap it will remain rather unfair to the men.

Of course, local bodies, I take it, could not touch afforestation schemes. Afforestation is another scheme that would provide the maximum of labour costs. The man who digs a hole in connection with afforestation is not digging it uselessly and the digging of such a hole and the filling of it again would be of great national benefit if applied to afforestation. Of course, I can see the difficulties. We have an efficient body at the moment looking after afforestation, but it is quite possible that smaller schemes could be undertaken by the local authorities in conjunction with the forestry branch of the Department of Lands, and it would be a very useful way of providing employment.

I do not agree with Senator Sir John Keane about the policy of self-sufficiency. I think no man in Ireland is unaware of the fact that but for self-sufficiency we would be in a parlous condition to-day. The policy of self-sufficiency has justified itself. We would be short, and very short, of some essential foods in this country to-day but for the policy of self-sufficiency, and I think on any ground the policy has been justified.

With reference to the financing of this Bill, I have nothing to say. I do not think any other solution could have been found because the local bodies, obviously, could not bear the cost of all the expenses and, on the other hand, it would be unfair to ask the State to carry the whole burden. Somebody pointed out that the individual ratepayer is a taxpayer as well, and whether the cost comes through the local rates or through the Central Fund it is the same man bears the burden.

In the first instance, if I had the good fortune or otherwise to be the Minister for Local Government, I would have termed this Bill the Unemployment Improvement Works Bill. Relief, for one reason or other, due to our past history, leaves a nasty taste in the mouth amongst the people in the country. To come to the point at issue, I do not see how anybody could have any objection to this Bill. I thought it would be received unanimously, because the one thing we have heard most about for a number of years in connection with relief is about doles. The question was asked, why are not the people made to do something for the money they are receiving? Why do not the men work for the money? It would even satisfy most of the people if—as Senator Fitzgerald suggested—they dug holes and filled them up again; but they did nothing at all. This is a very reasonable effort, I think, to remedy that very undesirable situation, because under these relief works—improvement works, I would like to call them—useful work can be done, and thus, instead of that money being given for relief, the men will now do something for the money they are receiving. It is not at all necessary, as Senator Fitzgerald says, that they should do something useless, such as digging holes and filling them up again. There is a whole lot of very useful work to be done in the country. For instance, there are various bogs where there is plenty of turbary, and they are inaccessible by reason of the very bad roads into them. At the moment I am not quite sure what class of work the Government have in mind, but I do suggest that it would be very useful work to make roads into bogs that are inaccessible at the present time. There are also many good bogs that cannot be used because of the amount of water in them. If those bogs could be drained, where that is necessary, and roads made into them, where roads are necessary, I think it would be very useful work for the country as a whole. There are many other such local works that would serve a useful purpose for many years. I think this Bill, while giving necessary employment, can certainly do great work for the country.

Some play was made that the expression "public utility" might mean anything, that it might mean tearing up papers or anything. To the ordinary lay mind, "public utility" means public usefulness.

That is not the definition in the Bill. The Bill gives a different definition.

As a very ordinary man I can draw my own conclusion as to what it means, and I think Senator Fitzgerald should be much more apt than I am in that way. His experience is much greater for interpreting the meaning of what may be in any Bill. However, we will let that go by the board. I accept "public utility" as meaning public usefulness, and I think everybody who reads this section in an ordinary way will take the same meaning out of it. I am sure much useful work can be done under this Bill. I believe that in the backward areas, what are called the boggy or mountainy areas, any amount of work can be done which will be of good service to the poor people living in those areas.

I notice reference has been made— with some amount of contempt almost —to the great services that have been given to motorists as apart from other sections of the community. I believe —and I know a little about it—that the motorists in this country are the most highly-taxed section of the whole community, quite apart from being ordinary taxpayers and ratepayers as many of them are. Furthermore, they use these vehicles only for their business purposes, to keep on the business of the country. There are very few people driving around in motor cars now just for the pleasure of the thing. I do not know a motorist who has his motor car merely for the purpose of touring around the roads. All motor cars are used now for business purposes. As I said, while motorists are ordinary taxpayers and ordinary ratepayers, they are very heavily taxed as well. I would say that the duty on petrol is about 33 or 40 per cent. of the price and there is also a big road tax. It is not really the ratepayer or taxpayer who is making roads for the motorists. The motorists are making the roads and paying for them themselves, and I think the general public should recognise that. They are a very heavily taxed section of the community, and I think it is not right for anybody to suggest, by innuendo or otherwise, that the ordinary poor people are making roads for motorists to go touring around the country. That is ridiculous. They are paying for all that service themselves and paying very dearly too. To come back to the Bill: it has my entire approval and I think it will have the entire approval of almost everybody in the country.

I was sorry that I was not in Limerick the other day. I was unavoidably absent. It would have been a great pleasure to me to be there to welcome the Minister and to congratulate him and his Department on the stupendous progress and work that has been achieved in the last six or seven years and the years preceding them. I was amazed to hear the speech of Senator Fitzgerald. I wonder has he lost touch with the rural parts, or has he any conception of the conditions under which the rural community, particularly the poorer people, the working classes, have to exist? I want to make a protest, as one of the mere creatures indicated in the speech of Senator Sir John Keane. I happen to be one of the mere creatures associated with public bodies; I am a member of a board of health.

Anyone hearing some of the speeches made here to-day—retrograde speeches, to my mind—would come to the conclusion that certain Senators seem to have lost all touch and sympathy with the duties and the responsibilities of public bodies. Our primary duty is to administer affairs equitably and to see, in the course of our administration, that due and proper regard is given to the capacity of the general ratepayer, while at the same time making essential provision for God's poor. I will ask Senators to throw their minds back a quarter of a century and recollect the legacy that we were left by a great and beneficent Empire, a legacy of ruin, devastation, filthy hovels, foul, disease-breeding places in which the noble children of our race had to exist. At that time there were large, important towns without a water supply or a proper sewerage system. The whole thing was the very antithesis of decency, progress, democracy and Christian ideals. Who can deny that that was the condition of things then?

In the town from which I come I remember that there was an outbreak of fever, largely due to the existing conditions and the want of proper services. We had not many ambulances at that time and we were obliged to use other modes of conveyance to take away those affected with the disease, many of them bread-winners. It cost the ratepayers something in the region of £4,000 or £5,000. Senator Fitzgerald has referred to the need of works beneficial to the country. What grander work can you do than has been done since the advent of our native Parliament? In later years remarkable work has been done in clearing away the dirty, disease-breeding hovels. We have not dealt with all of them yet, but great progress is being made in their removal.

We were complimented by the Minister for the great work that has been done in our county. While we fully appreciated the hardships under which the farmers are labouring, we realised at the same time that we had certain duties and responsibilities and we felt that we had a major duty in regard to the poor. In carrying out that duty it was our chief object to make the burden as light as possible on the general ratepayer. I was in a certain place last evening, as a member of an organisation whose duty it was to make a report on existing conditions. I saw a father, a mother and 11 little ones. They had scarcely room to stand in the kitchen. The rain was pouring down; it was coming through the perforated, galvanised roof. That is the type of thing we sometimes have to face. With the help and co-operation of the Government, and because of the magnanimity of public bodies, such things are rapidly disappearing. No greater work could be undertaken, and no finer appeal can be made to the ratepayers and the taxpayers than to ask them to help in the improvement of such conditions.

Senator Fitzgerald tells us that no work can be more beneficial to the community than the building of bright and cheerful homes and the removal of filthy, antediluvian hovels. The ratepayers appreciate the services that are being given to them; they appreciate the present system of administration, and no charge should be levelled against the Government, against the present Minister or his predecessors, in respect of the assistance and encouragement that they have given with the object of changing the appalling conditions that have existed in this country in the hope of making this land of ours bright, cheerful, hygienic, progressive and constructive. That has been the aim of the Minister and of the staff in the Department of Local Government. They have been very helpful to us in doing all we have done.

The Minister paid us a unique and well-deserved compliment when he said that ours was the first county in Ireland to act up to its responsibilities and to discharge its duties efficiently and well. We have built about 1,400 houses in rural areas and given each the requisite area of land, within the last year. We were assisted by a Government grant and the remainder was made up from the rates and from borrowing. We have spent something like £160,000 in order to give suitable water and sewerage services and provide roads for the accommodation of the people. That is great work and it should be encouraged. I should like to point out that the Local Government Department have often restricted our efforts when we were looking for money, and we think that they move too slowly. I do not really blame them, because their responsibility is colossal. They have to examine everything minutely in order to see that there will be no unpleasant repercussions. But they have been somewhat slow and they have often retarded our efforts, and we felt that they might have been a little more expeditious. I will, however, pay a compliment to the Minister. I had not an opportunity of being in Limerick when he visited there. I must congratulate him upon all he has done, and I trust that while he is in office he will continue his excellent work, and that the staff in his Department will continue along the same path. I say "Good Luck" to him and may God spare public bodies, because they are the local parliaments that are doing great and progressive work.

Tá mé ar aon intinn leis an Seanadóir Gúilidhe agus Seanadóirí eile, go mba cheart dúinn féachaint ar airgead do chaitheamh ar rudaí as a thiocfaidh tairbhe. Tuigim nach bhfuil ins an Bhille seo ach seift sealadach chun obair do sholáthair dos na daoine atá díomhaoin. B'fhearr liom fhéin go rachadh an Riaghaltas níos fuide ná sin agus iarracht do dhéanamh ar rudaí níos tábhachtaighe do chur i ngníomh. Ba cheart don Riaghaltas a thuille scéimeanna do cheapadh, cuir i gcás, foraoiseacht. Thiocfadh tairbhe níos fearr as an rud sin ná is féidir fhagháil as aon obair eile.

Taobh amuigh de sin, tá tiormú agus leasú an talmhan. Deirtear rí-mhinic— b'fhéidir ró-mhinic—annseo go gcaithfidh gach rud ins an tír seo teacht as an talamh—gach saidhbreas agus gach maoin. Tá sé sin fíor, ach níl sé fíor b'fhéidir ins an dóigh a luaidhtear annseo go minic. Nuair adeir daoine annseo an méid sin, is minic a bhíonn in a gceann gurb iad na feirmeóirí muinntir na tíre agus gur leo an talamh agus gach a bhfuil air agus gach a bhfuil faoi. Níl mise ar aon intinn leis sin. B'fhearr liom féin a rádh gur le muinntir na hEireann an talamh agus nach dtugtar do fheirmeóirí an talamh ach ar mhaithe leis an bpobal. Is maith leo féin go dtugtar an seilbh sin dóibh. Tá a lán de thalamh na hEireann nach bhfuil ag tabhairt an toradh ba cheart dó thabhairt toisc go bhfuil sé ró-fhliuch agus báidhte faoi uisce. Tá rudaí ag fás ann—luachra dosáin, raithneach, agus gach uile shórt luibheanna.

Ní fiú bheith ag cainnt ar an dóigh sin agus ba cheart don Riaghaltas féachaint chuige agus cuid mhór de'n droch-thalamh do thabhairt chuige féin agus é leasú agus a thiormú agus nuair a bheidh sin déanta, é do thabhairt do na daoine ar chíos mar a déantar i Danmharg. Tiocfaidh an t-airgead ar ais go dtí an pobal de bharr a saothair.

Annsin tá tuairim agam nach bhfuilimíd ag baint an tsoláthair as an iascaireacht ba cheart do bhaint as. Ba cheart féachaint faoi sin agus í do láimhseáil nó go bhféadfaoi lucht oibre obair agus teacht isteach d'fhagháil.

D'fhéadfaoi dul ar aghaidh ar na slighthe seo in ionad bheith ag caitheamh airgid ins na bailtí móra. Níl mé ag rádh nach fiú sin ach is féidir dul ró-fhada leis an scéal. Tá obair níos tábhachtaighe ag lucht oibre le déanamh agus gan a bheith díomhaoin. Tuigim agus admhuighim nach ró-mhaith an t-am é seo dul ar aghaidh le scéimeanna móra an fhaid is tá an cogadh seo ar siubhal agus nach bhfuilimíd cinnte cad a thiocfaidh as. Ach mar sin féin tá súil agam agus tá dúil agam go mbéidh orainn fanacht 'nár gcomhnuidhe ins an tír seo tar éis an chogaidh agus ba cheart féachaint cad is féidir do dhéanamh leis an talamh a leasú.

Mar adubhairt mé cheana féin, caithfimíd gach mianach d'fághail as an talamh agus ba cheart dúinn déanamh cinnte de sin.

The Bill before us this evening, I take it from the Long Title, is primarily a Bill to deal with unemployment. We do not propose to oppose the Bill but we intend to criticise it severely from the point of view that it will make very little indentation on unemployment as such in this country. The works, for the execution of which the Bill imposes an obligation on local authorities, have been applauded here this evening and the Minister has been congratulated on his efforts to start these works which unquestionably will provide some employment. If the purpose of the Bill, however, is to deal effectively with unemployment it will hopelessly fail to do that. I do not intend to spend any great length of time in dealing with this measure. I approve of what it does and what it purports to do but if it is thought by anybody in this House that this Bill will help in providing employment for unemployed persons to an extent which will have any effect on the whole problem of unemployment, then the future will show that we shall be disillusioned in that hope and desire. One important Deputy from Dublin City speaking in connection with the Bill said that it would not solve the unemployment problem we have here in the City of Dublin and while we could approve of the works which the local authorities will be obliged to carry out under this Bill we shall have to take far broader, far wider and far greater measures for the solution of the problem of unemployment. Previous speakers this evening, especially Senator Hayes, have criticised this Bill from the same standpoint but admitted that they had not a solution for unemployment. Nearly every speaker, here and elsewhere, who stands up to address himself to this problem says there is no solution for the unemployment problem. Are we to admit that we have reached a stage in human society where this problem baffles solution? In our opinion there is a solution for this problem.

Senator Hayes also said that some of the institutions of the State might be menaced in certain directions, that they were possibly menaced considerably more by the fact that no solution for this chronic problem had been evolved. The Minister for Supplies, speaking elsewhere some time ago, said that the problem of unemployment was important and that the test of this Government's success or failure was whether it could deal with the unemployment problem. Neither the Minister for Supplies, nor, I am sure, the Minister for Local Government and Public Health this evening, will suggest that the Bill before us is going to provide a solution for unemployment, although in the Long Title the Bill is described as a measure to provide a solution or, at least, relief for unemployment. Unemployment, like the poor, we have always with us. Public works, which are indicated in this Bill as the means of providing a remedy, have been tried in every civilised country in the world to aid in abating unemployment. They have failed and they will continue to fail, because in themselves they provide no solution for this problem.

How, then, are we to approach it? The sole orthodox methods applied up to the present have been through rating or through taxation. We are told that the local community is rated as highly as it possibly can be, and that taxation is equally as high as it can be. Therefore, we have reached the limit in these two methods of providing relief for unemployment. How then are we to seek more taxation and more rating for further relief without, as we are told by our economists, taking out of circulation such moneys as are necessary to carry on industry. In other words, as this problem becomes greater it calls for greater aid and assistance, calls for greater resources from the State, and, consequently, makes the problem in itself still more difficult and still more incapable of solution.

Money can be forthcoming for various other purposes. I have only to refer to the problem of unemployment in the neighbouring country. We have all read of the "black areas", the colossal destitution that took place in England after the last war and up to the outbreak of the present war. We know that these areas were left in a state of abominable destitution by the British Government. Little or no effort was made to relieve unemployment in these "black areas", which were indeed a black patch on the conscience of the British Government. But you will notice that immediately war breaks out astronomical figures in money can be provided for the purpose of destruction, whereas no money whatsoever can be provided to relieve destitution caused by unemployment. That comparison indicates that the resources of the community are capable of relieving this distress; but these resources are not being tackled in the right and proper spirit to relieve the misery which this problem entails for the people generally. The Bills which we have had here from time to time were mere patch-work. As a Dublin Deputy said, they did not even touch the fringe of the problem, and we are only humbugging ourselves if we think that we are relieving the distress in the country.

We have made suggestions to the Government from time to time with regard to this problem. While we have been told on occasions that the Government are prepared to depart from orthodox methods to relieve unemployment distress, we find that no effort has been made, orthodox or unorthodox, fundamentally to deal with this problem from the point of view of removing it from our midst. We are carrying on these palliatives from year to year while the sore is festering and growing worse and, like a canker, eating into the very vitals of the nation. If we are satisfied with that state of affairs, there is nothing more to be said. But, if we realise that it is a canker eating into the very heart and soul of the nation, then something more than the miserable effort here should be made to deal with this matter. We are told that it cannot be done. But there are ways and means by which it can be done. You have quite a considerable quantity of unemployed labour in this country and, unfortunately, a big percentage of that labour has become unemployable. Then there is the problem of the youths leaving school who have never entered into employment. You have only to inquire from the police authorities to see to what extent juvenile crime has developed as a result of our inability to provide employment for these young people. There are various social evils growing up in this country as a result of our incapacity to deal with the unemployed youths who are coming of age every year.

We are told that this is a question very largely of finance; that if we had sufficient finance we would be able to provide adequate relief. We are not interested in adequate relief as a solution—I mean, of course, monetary relief. From the point of view of the unemployed themselves and from the point of view of the nation, we would far prefer to see these people enter into employment of some kind. Senator Fitzgerald said they should be employed at creating useful goods. The reason they are unemployed is because they are not required to produce useful goods in accordance with accepted economic laws to-day. Then we arrive at this position: that in accordance with these economic laws this volume of unemployed people is thrown off from the volume of employed every year. We admit our incapacity to provide for them adequately either through taxation or rating or through a combination of them, as provided for in this Bill. We have to look at their misery staring us in the face day in and day out and admit our incapacity. In a lucid moment, Senator Hayes said that we would have to do something for these people even if we had to go outside the orthodox methods.

Why lucid moment?

It was so exceptional.

The Senator does not know me at all.

I ought to.

He ought to, but he does not apparently. I am not a Labour leader and therefore I am always lucid.

The lucidity will probably become permanent later. The inchoate thought in the Senator's mind is becoming a very general thought in the minds of great numbers of people who are giving serious thought to this problem. The methods that have been employed in our ordinary economic lives have broken down elsewhere, and they are in a rather shaky condition in most countries in the world to-day. The whole question of economics, of finance, is being examined in the light of the extraordinary events occurring in Europe and throughout the world generally, and I would suggest to the Minister and his Government that they might also examine very carefully into this problem and as to whether we may not get away from the guiding strings of so-called orthodox finance and bring together whatever idle land is available—or make a proper use of the land, even if it is not idle—to bring into a proper relationship that factor of land and of labour through the financial channels and allow these people to create goods for their self-subsistence.

Senator Fitzgerald spoke of the production of goods, but I do not know whether he had in mind the use of those goods for self-subsistence or whether he was still thinking of producing goods to find a market. The finding of a market depends upon the capacity of people to buy these goods, and unemployment is at present amongst us because people are unable to buy goods, and one depression is bringing the other depression along in its train and we seem to be sinking down instead of rising. A solution can be provided along these lines, provided the Government is prepared to strike out boldly and provide a solution, and if a solution is not provided along these lines it seems to me that the unemployed will continue to be ground between the upper millstone of economic anarchy and the nether millstone of financial archaism. We are drifting downwards all the time and no serious effort is being made to get up. We cannot get up by the methods which thrust us down, and therefore we will have to think out some new method, and the sooner it is approached the better, no matter what conservative people in finance and economics think about the solution.

Senator Sir John Keane, in his address this evening, regretted our self-sufficiency policy, and of course, so far as this Bill is concerned, I think the only thing we can do with these people who are always regretting our self-sufficiency policy is to leave them regretting it. I see nothing to object to in this Bill, but there are a few matters to which I should like to draw attention. The first is in connection with the acquisition of land for the carrying out of certified relief works. Under Section 8 a local authority may acquire land for certain purposes, either by agreement or compulsorily, and afterwards, if they do not require that land, they may sell or let it. Sub-section (3) of that section says:

"A local authority which has acquired any land... may, with the consent of the Minister, sell or let, by public auction or private treaty, in suitable lots and subject to appropriate conditions, any land so acquired."

I think that that, if I might say so, is going a bit far because, after all, if land is acquired from a person in order to carry out a specified work—and I assume it would be acquired at a proper price—then, if afterwards the land is not used for the purpose for which it was originally acquired, I think the original owner should be given the opportunity to re-acquire the land at the price given by the local authority.

The second point I should like to make is in connection with the powers of co-ordination of public authorities in carrying out particular works. While that is very useful, there are just one or two points that I should like the Minister to make clear. Take the case of an urban authority formulating a scheme in an area under the control of the county council. If the county council of that particular county did not give consent to the carrying out of the scheme, would the county council run the risk of dissolution provided for in the Bill? The thing that arises in that connection is the question of the authority for putting up a scheme. We often see local authorities putting forward a scheme which may not be the very best or the most suitable at the particular time it is put forward, and I think there should be some notice given to the public that it was the intention of the local authority concerned to carry out this work, before the work is actually undertaken, because very often in the past certain schemes, which were not really schemes of public utility, were carried out, while there were other schemes of definite public utility which could have been carried out.

Now, down the country at the present time there is an outcry about the reduction by the Department of the Road Grant. For instance, in County Galway, this year's grant has been reduced by £11,000. Would the Minister inform us whether the money retained from the local Road Grant this year will be put into relief works of other types? If that were so, it would be all right. Another matter is the rotation scheme, where men get two or three days' work in the week— three days, I think, is the usual. That may be very suitable in rural areas, but in the towns and cities it does not work out so well, and I would appeal to the Minister and the Government to see that, in cases of relief works carried out in urban areas, at least, the people employed should get a full week's work at a time. Of course, in that connection there is another question, and that is the question of pay. I think that some time in the near future we will have to consider in this country what has been done already in other countries; that is that we will have to make a family allowance. At the present time, a man receives almost as much if he is on the dole as he would receive by working. When he is receiving the dole, or unemployment assistance, he gets, as it were, a family allowance, but the day he turns into work he just gets the ordinary day's wages that another unemployed person gets, who might not have a similar family to keep. That is a thing that should receive the attention of the Government in the near future.

I think Senator Sir John Keane said that the Minister did not state what the contribution from the Government would be, and asked the Minister to give it. Anybody who is familiar with those schemes knows what the contribution of the Government is. They know that the greatest proportion— practically two-thirds of the money in all cases—is contributed by the Government. I think we all know that. There has been great controversy here this evening also about what works should be undertaken and as to what were works of public utility. I think we all agree that waterworks, sewerage and housing are important works to be carried out in all our towns. I know of a number of towns at the moment where the unemployed in each urban district could be put to work immediately if whoever has the money—I am not going to enter into that—were to go ahead with the different schemes. In most towns I think it will be found that there are sewerage, waterworks and housing schemes to be carried out, and they could be undertaken immediately. In connection with housing, I would also say that a good deal of this money could be spent in acquiring and developing sites for the erection of houses. That would afterwards have a two-fold effect: first, the effect of getting on with the work, and, secondly, it would probably involve a slight reduction in the rents.

Senator Sir John Keane convinced me of one thing: he convinced me that he is not a member of a county council. He said that public bodies now have ceased to be training grounds for people seeking higher political or statutory duties. If Senator Sir John Keane knew anything about the county councils he would know that eight out of ten county councillors are potential Senators or Deputies, and, therefore, they do not seem to be what he desires them to be.

Potential and actual are not always the same thing.

Well, possibly not. I am not very much worried about compulsion or the compulsory powers of the Minister in urging public bodies to carry out certain works. Anybody who has been connected with public life for any lengthy period will know that it is very necessary sometimes to exercise a certain amount of compulsion on public bodies in order to make them carry out works that are essential and useful from the point of view of the public and the people employed.

But the Minister, quite possibly, could find an opportunity for exercising a little compulsion nearer home. Schemes are sometimes delayed, not so much because of laxity on the part of public bodies, but because of delays in the Department. Who is going to put the urge on there? I know of many schemes that have been held up in that way. I know valuable works that could have been carried through if some of the sections in the Department exercised that expedition which this Bill seems to say is necessary. In some sections in the Department they seem to think that they cannot sanction or agree to anything in less than six months. I put that as the very minimum. While it is desirable and necessary that some compulsion should be put on public bodies I think the Minister should take a look around the Custom House to see if he could not find some means of expediting the work of some of the sections of the Department. I wish to say definitely that I have no fault to find with the majority of the sections of the Local Government Department. So far as that Department is concerned, one gets courtesy and expedition from various sections, but when dealing with public bodies, some sections certainly could do a good deal more to give greater expedition with regard to public schemes. That is a type of legislation which the Minister might consider, even if we accept this Bill as a sop in that direction, if his Department is in earnest.

Take the position with regard to compulsory acquisition orders to secure land for the erection of labourers' cottages. The Minister knows as well as I do the various formalities that have to be gone through when it is proposed to erect 20, 50 or 100 cottages. Surely the Minister might devote some attention in that direction. I can find no indication in the Bill that it would be possible to acquire land for the erection of houses quicker than has been the case in the past. Does the Minister suggest that this Bill will do that? Is not that a direction towards which the Minister might direct the energies of his Department? There are no reasonable grounds for delay in connection with compulsory acquisition orders or where valuations have to be made in connection with cottage schemes. The Minister might devote attention to such legislation to see if it could be improved. The Minister for Finance took very drastic powers regarding the Road Fund recently. I am wondering if we are to have a repetition of that decision in respect to other things. I was glad to hear the remarks of Senator Hawkins about that matter and I am anxious to see what will be done. If we are to have sweeping powers given, will there be a repetition of that decision in other directions? I hope not.

I join with Senator Hawkins in hoping that we will not have this "cat and mouse" legislation, as it has been euphemistically called, in relation to the rotation schemes. I agree with the Senator that that kind of employment does not suit any area and is not going to make for good work. If a man gets only two or three days instead of a week's work, he cannot put his best into the work, and the change over is not beneficial to the work that is done. In works under this Bill I hope the Minister will not insist on the rotation scheme. There is no good in the Minister saying, as was said in the other House, that these schemes were not introduced by his Department. It is Government policy. I hope the Minister will be the first to break away from it, by seeing that in works started under this Bill the rotational scheme will not be introduced. My main objection to the Bill is that it will be the cause of interminable disputes and friction between the Department and the local authorities. There will be discussions, correspondence, and also disputes unless the Minister takes steps to obviate delay. There will be delay.

That brings one to this point, that if anything is to be done about the unemployment problem, one must vest responsibility in somebody having a national outlook and having national resources at his disposal. I suggest that even with the best intentions on the part of the Minister to help to relieve unemployment, he will be up against scores of public bodies who will dispute his authority, and the value of this scheme and that scheme, and that there will be interminable disputes, all of them leading to delay. This Bill does not provide a solution of unemployment or attempt to do so. It is a miserable contribution, but even so, there are various points that the Minister might consider dealing with, notably in connection with the acquisition of land for the erection of houses. He should indicate what he is going to do with the funds he will acquire for other purposes before taking the very wide powers he will have for dealing with local authorities.

The problem of dealing with unemployment has aroused fierce controversies in every country, and it has baffled the wits of all modern legislators. It is very easy for anyone to get up and to tell someone who is in a position of great responsibility that this Bill makes no effort to find a solution of unemployment. After all, in a sense of fair play, I think nobody is justified in charging the powers that be with not having made a serious effort to deal with it, when those who criticise are not in a position to suggest a solution as a contribution to accompany their criticism. Accordingly, we must assume that the rather superior type of criticism levelled at the Department of Local Government is not justified. Several methods of solving unemployment are known to us. Would Senators be satisfied that German methods should be given effect to here? We were told that in that country millions of the unemployed were put to work within a few months. I have not an intimate knowledge of the methods that were availed of, but they seem to have secured results. Does anyone want such methods here? Millions of men were also put to work under another method in America, but America is a very wealthy country and could draw on its resources by raising large loans or money in various ways in order to deal with unemployment. Is that possible here?

Unemployment has not been solved in America.

It has been dealt with there in an effort to find a solution, but in this country we have not the fabulous means that America has. We must remember that it is only within the last 20 years we got self-government, and that we secured it at a time when values were tumbling, during the years 1922 and 1923, and then we had the years 1928 and 1929. We came into self-government at a time when everything was dependent on economics. If this country had had self-government 20 or 30 years before that, when there was a certain amount of buoyancy in all markets and no unemployment in any country, this country would have been able to build up sufficient reserves which would have tided us over the rainy days of the past few years. But we had not that government, and that is the root cause of the trouble. That is why we are not in a position to face the unemployment question to-day. Any effort that we make now to provide money for schemes of employment will have to be made out of taxation. We must realise that and be honest about it. We have seen the efforts of the Government over the last five or six years in, for example, the policy of self-sufficiency. Whatever criticism may be levelled against it, it has at least provided work for 70,000 or 80,000 workers, in new works, making technicians of them. If we continue that policy to its logical conclusion, it would probably put another 80,000 into work, but criticism and propaganda and Party politics have prevented a continuation being made in constructive work.

Give an instance.

We might be in a much stronger position in regard to our international difficulties and be able to look forward with more confidence if that policy had been continued. No other policy has succeeded in putting 80,000 into work. There is now need for a scheme of the same nature. Take the new construction corps, for example. If 80,000 people could be employed in that corps, it would be a solution for unemployment. I do not say that it would be economical—it may cost a lot of money, but at least it could be done. The self-sufficiency policy would be preferable, but in the construction corps there would be some prospect of stability for the future and honest efforts in that direction should not meet with criticism. Under rotational schemes, people could be given a turn of work and of pay to tide them over the present situation and the difficulties that exist.

When this Bill was first introduced in the Dáil it created a good deal of criticism which was really not deserved. By the time that it left the Dáil, Deputies understood the position and it had the practically unanimous backing of the House. The misunderstanding at first in the other House arose, I think, through Deputies thinking that this was an attempt by the Government to hand this problem over to the local bodies, the Government itself having failed to solve it. It was on these lines that criticism was made and there was talk about dictation and so on. So far as the discussion in this House to-day is concerned, I can make no complaint on that score. There is still some little criticism of the power in this Bill to abolish local bodies, on the ground that they are trying to do their best. Nothing is asked in this Bill but an amplification and a clarification of the powers given in Section 72 of the Local Government Act, 1925, where a body which did not comply with the directions of the Local Government Department could be abolished without an inquiry. If there are fears as to the operation of this Bill when it becomes an Act, they are not well founded. So far as the local bodies are concerned they will submit schemes to the Local Government Department and that Department, through the Board of Works will, if long-term borrowing is necessary, make the money available in the same way as has been done for public works over the past few years.

What is being aimed at is that local bodies will plan ahead. I am sure every Senator here is aware that, from time to time, relief works have been going on in places and in ways that are not to the best advantage of the local bodies or of the community as a whole. By planning ahead the work commenced by a local authority in one year can be continued the next year, whether it be an amenity about a town or a public park or development along a river.

The first time I took up consideration of a measure such as this was when we were faced here in Dublin with increasing unemployment and trying to get some sort of planning of work that would give the greatest labour content. We were aware that the planning experts in Dublin had certain schemes in hands for some time, amongst which was the scheme for the two Circular Roads—one of them from Bird Avenue, I think, round by Rathfarnham to Crumlin, and the other on the north side somewhat similar. These were works which would have given a great deal of employment but, if we had to take up a scheme like that and had to go a roundabout way in acquiring land, as the position was previously, and hold inquiries, it would be probably another year before we could touch the scheme at all. That is where the provisions in this Bill apply. I am afraid that Senator Hawkins has not read the Bill carefully, since he said that it would take as long now as before.

I said that the method is not quick enough.

If the Senator would read Section 12, he will see how quickly it can be done. Section 12, sub-section (1), in the last two lines it says that after the vesting order has been made the local authority may enter on and take possession of such land on a date not earlier than fourteen days after the making of the order. It was mentioned by Senator Hawkins and by some other Senator that that seems to be somewhat drastic, and that if you do not want a certain portion of land you should give it back to the former owner. If a local authority acquires a portion of land like that, they give a betterment value to adjoining land, and, therefore, I think it is only fair that the local authority which, after all, is a trustee of the ratepayers, should get any increased price or value for any surplus land it may have acquired.

As I said at the outset, it is not suggested that this measure will provide a cure for unemployment. It can, at any rate, be said that it will enable local authorities to plan and get schemes of work going without being hampered or held up by cumbersome procedure. In that way it will be of considerable assistance. Senator Baxter spoke of works of public utility. I think that the definition in the Bill of works of public utility is as wide as it possibly could be. Any work that a local authority has it within its power to carry out at present, such as housing, waterworks and sewerage schemes, the improvement of roads, the development of parks, and so on, it can do under this Bill. Therefore, I think the definition is sufficiently wide. When listening to Senator Fitzgerald, it occurred to me that what was running through his mind was works of public futility. If a local authority is to be the administering body in these matters, you cannot give it functions that it has not already. It was urged, for example, that a local authority should be allowed to expend money on the improvement of harbours and piers. But we already have in existence harbour commissioners to deal with these things. Therefore, the improvement of harbours would not be a proper function for an urban or a county council. However, I felt that in that connection there might be some amendment made in the Bill, and hence it is permissible, in the case of piers or harbours that are under the control of a local authority, such as an urban or a county council, for the local authority to carry out improvement works on them.

I must say that I am pleased with the reception which the Bill has got in the Seanad. Any criticism of it that has been made here has been fair and reasonable. The only thing that I take exception to is, that I had suggested in any way that it was going to solve the unemployment problem. Quite definitely we know that it will not. It was never suggested that it would. I certainly never suggested that the Bill was an attempt to hand over to local authorities the task of finding a solution for unemployment. What the Bill will do is this: it will make it easier for local authorities to carry out schemes of improvement in their various districts, and will enable them to do work that will be of permanent and lasting benefit.

On the general question of unemployment, may I ask the Minister whether he can tell us what amount of success the construction corps is having, and whether it is intended to extend it to other centres besides Dublin?

Does that arise on this Bill?

I am not in a position to give the information which the Senator is seeking. I am not able to say what the strength of the construction corps is at the moment. I do not think it is the intention, for the present at any rate, to extend it outside the city.

Question put and agreed to.

When is it proposed to take the next stage?

If there is no objection, perhaps I might get the next stage now. If there is any objection I will not ask for it to-day.

I certainly want to put down one amendment.

Committee Stage ordered for the next day on which the Seanad meets.