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Seanad Éireann debate -
Thursday, 7 Jul 1949

Vol. 36 No. 17

Local Authorities (Works) Bill, 1949—Second Stage (Resumed).

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

There is general agreement that this Bill is one which should be welcomed and the passage of which should be facilitated. Members of county councils everywhere are anxious for its speedy passage as it contains provisions for doing many things that require to be done. It is a step which might have been taken long ago and now that it is being taken it should be welcomed from every side of the House by everybody who wants to see constructive work done. It is welcome also because it gives responsibility and authority to county councils to do useful work within their own domain. I agree with Senator McGee that some of the statements made would make one feel that members of county councils are a lot of irresponsibles who would instruct engineers to do extravagant things on their neighbours' property. There is no cause for fear on that score. Some damage may accrue as a result of certain works being carried out but when that is measured against what would take place otherwise time will justify the action taken.

I hope that in the administration of the measure a wide and tolerant view will be taken of proposals put forward by local authorities. Even with the present wording we will come up against instances where local authorities or county engineers or their staffs will not be able to determine accurately whether a work may or may not be done. In every instance the prejudice should be in favour of doing the work. Here is a small problem which has been brought to my notice and I mention it as it is of a type which may arise and it is difficult to have a clear view upon it. I know a mountain stream which rushes down the mountainside with a fair amount of erosion as a consequence. It sweeps down to a bridge and after every successive flood it is coming nearer to the point where the bridge is closing up. While the bridge is still carrying the water, there is still flooding on the land beyond the bridge and there is silting up at the bridge itself. This is carrying water on to farmland and is playing havoc with several farmers' land. A farmer finds his cattle ill and the veterinary surgeons cannot determine the cause of the trouble. I do not know if any post-mortems have been held but the farmer's viewpoint is that the cattle have been feeding on grass which, year after year, contains a certain amount of sand or grit washed down from the mountainside. A day will come when this silting up will be so great on the upper side of the bridge that something will have to be done. It seems to me that some defences are necessary up the stream to contain all the gravel and grit which is being hurled down. I wonder if that will come within the ambit of this measure, as it is the kind of thing that will arise.

Naturally farmers are concerned with the problem of flooding in small areas where only a few people are affected. To these few the flooding is a grave economic problem and it does not matter whether it is 100 or ten who are affected—each one suffers from the damage. In one district there is a considerable flooding of a road. There is a drain which could be opened to relieve that flood but on the drain there is a mill and there are water rights.

In a case like that I hope it may be possible to relieve the flooding on the road by buying out the rights of the mill owner but that is not clear in the Bill.

We must do our best here to improve this Bill so that it will give the facilities it is intended to give and give them in a flexible way which will enable the particular works to be done in a smooth and satisfactory manner. In the long run it does not matter who gets the credit for the passage of a measure like this. If the people who introduce it are supported by the people who wish the country well and make progress, we will all share in the credit and the advantages which come from constructive work of this nature.

This is a commonsense Bill. I might say that it is on a par with all the work done by the late Minister for Local Government during his time. He framed this and I think it is going to be a great service to the country. It will be a service to the people living in towns because they will be able to travel with more confidence on the roads; it will be of benefit to the ratepayers because when roads are flooded the surface is taken off and it costs a considerable amount of money to put them in proper repair again; it will be of the greatest benefit to farmers who will have a good measure of their land free from flooding. I live near the historic and ancient town of Ballyboughal and for a number of years, after a day's heavy rain, I had to take a circuitous route of about four or five miles to get to my home. Four or five years ago the county engineer asked me for permission to straighten the bend in a little stream which passes that ancient town and, of course, I gave permission. They straightened the bend and there was not a great deal of expense as it was only 500 or 600 yards, and levelled the bank of the river. Since then, everybody can travel with perfect security on the roads, while five or six years ago, nine or ten times in the year, I had to go five or six miles to get to my own home. That is the sort of advantage that will be given by this Bill. When I hear Fianna Fáil saying how anxious they are that farmers' rights should be protected, I cannot help throwing my mind back to the Land Bill I introduced here some years ago.

Somebody has to look after the farmers.

That Bill only proposed that farmers should get the market value for their land, but Fianna Fáil used physical force to pull their members in to vote against that Bill that wanted to give justice to farmers. To hear them talking would make anybody smile, but I am not going to dwell on that.

What do you mean by physical force?

This Bill is an improvement and as this is the time to have that type of work carried out, I hope that the Bill will pass and be put into operation immediately.

All I need to say on this Bill is that I welcome it very sincerely. When this Bill was first mooted and talked about I was surprised that something of a similar nature had not been introduced during the years when we were dealing with relief schemes of all kinds, trying to find employment to do a bad job on a boreen here and there and spending money in a useless fashion. This Bill will surely do good to a number of people. It will relieve county council expenditure, as has been said by many Senators, with regard to roads and cottages which would have to be repaired after flooding. It should be a great help to the ratepayers and to rural Ireland. A great deal of useful work could be done. I never heard of a Bill to which so many impediments were created as were created to this one since it was first mooted.

Many people said how frightened they were that this one or the other would get hurt or that this damage or the other might be done which could not be repaired and that county councils would suffer terrible losses. I may mention that I would not be surprised if a little damage were caused and that compensation might have to be paid, but I am completely satisfied to accept that because I believe the Bill is a good one and no matter what injury it does, it is going to do a 100 times more good if all of us, regardless of how we look at politics or feel about them, help to make it a success. As I said at an earlier stage, however, I am sceptical about the whole thing because there has not been co-operation and it appears to me that any amount of impediments have been put in the path of the Bill. We all admit and agree, after long and weary talk—there was no necessity to do half the talking— that the Bill is a good one, and let us all hope that everybody in the county councils as well as in Dublin will make the Bill a success. The biggest problem I see at the moment is to get men unless the road men are put to work on the scheme if they have no work to do on the roads, and indeed, whether they have or not this is more important. I hope they will be put to work on this scheme because otherwise no men will be found to do the job, at least that is my experience in County Tipperary over a long period. We cannot find men for work that must be done at the moment and everybody has been looking for men over a number of months. They will go out to work on the roads but not on the bog even if they get a £1 a day. At the moment, 50 or 60 men are wanted in my area. The scheme will be useless if we cannot find men. If, however, we all co-operate, if we do not throw cold water on the scheme by telling people that the work is too hard and that they would be better off in the workhouse than in doing this job, the scheme will be a success.

The only thing I regret is that the Parliamentary Secretary has been kept so long from concluding this debate but I suppose it was not the fault of those participating in it. We all try to get down all the amendments we can and which we think necessary to safeguard the interests of every man in the community. If we look back on the whole history of legislation in this country we will find that few actions have ever been taken by the county councils or by anybody against the county councils in matters of this sort. The Parliamentary Secretary should see that the works provided for under this Bill are put into operation at the earliest possible moment.

I do not accuse the leaders of Fianna Fáil for it but there appears to have been propaganda throughout the country which, to say the least of it, is most unfair. Recently a farmer told me that a neighbouring farmer had asked him if he was sacking his workers and when he was asked why he should do that he replied: "Because if we all sack our men we will put the Government out immediately." That happened less than 12 months ago and I hope that mentality does not exist throughout the country. This Bill is the first attempt made to do, in a small way, a lot of good work through the county councils and I hope that every effort will be made to get that work done as soon as possible.

As a member of a county council and of a public body I am, like the last speaker, keenly disappointed at the delay in passing this progressive Bill which enables public bodies in the country to carry out work of a useful kind. The county councils, the farmers and the workers are also disappointed at the delay occasioned in putting this Bill on the Statute Book. To my mind this Bill, which has now been almost four months before the Oireachtas, could have been passed in less than four weeks. It is a Bill to have useful work carried out backed by a guarantee of 100 per cent. of the cost of the works. My council received the Bill with enthusiasm and when we received a circular from the Department concerning the matter the council considered that circular at a meeting the following week. It then decided on the formation of committees in the four electoral areas and issued advertisements inviting farmers and others concerned in the works to a special meeting which was held by all the council heads including the manager. At that meeting a large part of the area was surveyed and we submitted schemes to the Department as early, I think, as April 14th last to the extent of something over £100,000. We did not look for conger eels or red herrings to throw into the Bill, but we wanted to take full advantage of it and we did so. In the hope of getting going as soon as possible with the schemes, we had employed on road works between 200 and 300 more men in the first two months of this year than were employed in the same period last year or in 1947. We did that because we decided we would get all the road work finished so that we would leave ourselves free to get on with these other useful works under the Bill.

In my particular part of the County Wicklow we have a river and its tributaries which cause considerable flooding of lands at certain times of the year. We made plans in connection with that and we called a meeting in the cinema to discuss it and to which we invited the Minister. Senator Baxter travelled all the way from Cavan for that meeting at which films we had prepared of the district covered by the river were shown. We also made a survey of thousands of acres which are affected by periodical flooding of the river. Lest in view of yesterday's discussion on another matter there may be some comments on the holding of the meeting in the cinema I would at this stage point out that no charge was made for the use of the cinema or the facilities provided, including light and heat.

We had the Minister there and the whole matter was discussed in detail. One of the matters then raised—and I am glad the Minister is taking power to deal with it—was that if any counties adjoining a river which runs through another county are not prepared to do their work the council which is also affected and is prepared to do it can go into that other county and carry out works there. The particular river in our county enters the Slaney at Kildangan, County Carlow, and skirts two counties and I am glad that the Minister is taking power to enable one public authority to do the work if the other county council fails to do so in its district. In our case Carlow and Wexford are involved as the river skirts these counties and if they are not prepared to co-operate in the work that we are doing in Wicklow I can assure the Parliamentary Secretary that we will be marching from the north down to those counties to do the work for them. I welcome the Bill and my only regret is that it has taken such a long time to get it through.

Ní raibh sé de rún agam labhairt ar an mBille seo, ach spreag an Seanadóir Mac Craith mé focal nó dhó a rá mar fhreagra ar an méid a dúirt sé. An príomh-rud a bhí i gceist aige, is dóigh liom, an mhoill atá ann an Bille seo a chur tríd an Oireachtas agus dlí a dhéanamh de. Ba chóir go mbeadh fhios ag an Seanadóir cén fáth a bhí leis an moill agus ba chóir dó é bheith—bhí mé ag dul a rá cneasta—de mhisneach aige a mhéar a leagan ar an gcúis a bhí leis an moill. Is ar an Rialtas féin atá an milleán nach raibh an Bille seo os ár gcóir i bhfad ó shoin agus nár ritheadh an Bille i bhfad roimhe seo. Tarraingeadh siar cuid de na deontais a bhí le fáil le haghaidh na mbóithre. Tarraingeadh siar suas agus anuas le dhá mhilliún go leith punt a bhí á chaitheamh ar na bóithre. Nílim chun tada a rá mar gheall ar sin—labhair mé air nuair a bhí an Bille Airgeadais os ár gcóir—ach shílfeá, an Rialtas a shocródh an t-airgead sin a tharraingt siar agus na mílte daoine a bhriseadh as obair, go mbeadh rud éigin ullamh acu in am leis na daoine sin a chur ag obair. Níl sa Bhille seo ach sop in áit na scéime a bhí ann i gcóir na mbóithre. Má bhí an scéim oibrithe amach in am tráth ag an Rialtas, shílfeá go mbeadh an Bille seo ullamh acu i bhfad roimhe seo agus go mbeadh sé réidh, rite ionas go bhféadfaí na daoine a briseadh as obair a chur ag obair ar na scéimeanna seo.

Tá cúis eile leis an moill agus ní ar Fhianna Fáil, ná ar an bhfreasúra sa Dáil ach oiread, ná ar an bhfreasúra sa Teach seo—sa mhéid agus atá freasúra anseo—atá an milleán. Cé mhéad uair a tugadh an Dáil le chéile agus gan aon rud le déanamh acu? Nach bhféadfaí an Dáil a thabhairt le chéile go rialta agus an Bille seo a chur os a gcóir? Níl sé ceart, go mór-mhór sa tSeanad, do dhuine éirí suas agus a leithéid sin de leithscéal a chur ar Fhianna Fáil nó ar an bhfreasúra faoin moill atá ar an mBille seo. Ní amháin sin ach más fíor é gur chuir an freasúra sa Dáil moill ar an mBille, níl aon leithscéal le déanamh orthu. Sin ceann de na rudaí ba thábhachtaí a phléigh an freasúra sa Dáil, an bhearna a bhí sa mBille faoi ceart agus saoirse cathrathóirí nó saoránaigh na tíre a chosaint.

Nuair a tháinig an Bille isteach sa Dáil, ba gheall le Bille deachtóireachta é. Cé mhéad uair a mb'éigin dúinn sa tSeanad éisteacht leis an bhfreasúra sna blianta atá caite ag caint ar thíorántacht agus ar dheachtóireacht an Rialtais a bhí ann roimhe seo, ach nuair a tháinig an Bille seo isteach, bhí sé d'údarás ag an Aire gan fógra a thabhairt d'aon duine faoi céard a bheadh beartaithe aige faoin scéim, agus ní amháin sin, ach fós níl an locht sin ar an mBille leigheasaithe. Má bhreathnaímid ar Alt (4) (6), chífimid go bhfuil fós an cumhacht ag an Aire dul isteach gan fógra a thabhairt do dhuine ar bith agus dul i mbun oibreacha áirithe. Níor mhiste, nuair bheas an Rúnaí Pairliminte ag tabhairt freagra dúinn, go dtabharfadh sé léargas éigin dúinn faoi céard a chiallaíos an téarma "urgent works." Ba mhaith linn fhios a bheith againn céard tá i gceist anseo mar mura bhfuilimid sásta leis an miniú beimid ag iarraidh go gcuirfí ceart an ghnáthshaoránaigh in áirithe díreach mar cuireadh in áit eile sa mBille é.

Thairis sin, níl aon locht agam ar an mBille agus an méid atá ráite agam, ní mar locht ar an mBille é ach ar chuid de na daoine a bhí ag labhairt agus nárbh fhéidir leo labhairt ar an mBille ach iad a bheith ag iarraidh sáiteoga a thabhairt do dhaoine nár thuill sáiteog, beag ná mór. A mhéid a dhéanann an Bille maitheas don tír, agus a mhéid a thugann sé seans do dhaoine a briseadh as obair, daoine a bhfuil obair ag teastáil uathu go géar, tá fáilte agam agus ag mo chomrádaithe ar an taobh seo den Teach roimh an mBille. Tá daoine in aimhreas an mbeidh an chabhair le fáil, an mbeidh an saothar le fáil le go leor den obair ba mhaith linn faoin mBille a dhéanamh. Tá sórt imní orm i dtaobh na ceiste chomh maith. Mura bhfuil an chabhair le fáil, cuirfidh na daoine an milleán san áit cheart. Tá le bliain go leith 40,000 duine imithe as an tír. Tá na mílte fear óga imithe glan as an tír agus imithe amach mar gheall ar gur briseadh iad as obair fhónta a bhí acu cheana agus imithe amach le droch-mhisneach agus éadóchas. Má tá milleán tuilte ag éinne, cuirtear an milleán ar na daoine a thuilleann go gcuirfí an milleán orthu. Tá súil agam go dtiocfaidh na daoine sin ar ais arís. D'iarr mise, ar nós daoine eile, orthu gan dul amach agus tá súil agam nach dteipfidh ar an scéim seo ná aon scéim eile cheal na bhfear atá riachtanach leis an scéim seo a chur i gcrích.

I should like to say a few words on this Bill because it means so much to the women of the country. Hardly anybody has experienced so tragically the miseries of flooding as have the women, and anything that relieves that is bound to be welcomed. I remember when the Arterial Drainage Bill was passing through the House, as Senator O'Reilly reminded us, an amendment was put forward by Senator O'Dea, which has been enlarged on in this Bill, to empower county councils to undertake urgent works which would prevent more extensive flooding. There might be a small break-down, and, if this work I speak of could be put in hands immediately, it might have the effect of preventing greater evils. I supported that amendment, but it was then pointed out, and, as Senator O'Reilly reminded us, we ought all to bear in mind that the whole question of drainage is a very big one and the schemes proposed in this Bill go far beyond any sort of emergency powers such as were asked for in that amendment. They contemplate works undertaken and planned by county councils, and so it goes beyond anything suggested in that amendment.

I have no criticism to make of that, but we have to remember that we have, first, the Arterial Drainage Board, which contemplates the whole country, the relief of flooding all through the country on a scientific basis, and, in addition, we have now whatever works are contemplated by this Bill, together with the land reclamation scheme which has also a good deal to do with drainage. We should like to get an assurance that, in relation to these schemes, there will be some consultation with the Arterial Drainage Board, so that we may be sure that, whatever works these councils undertake and whatever drainage works are undertaken under the land reclamation scheme, they will not produce conditions which would interfere with the big drainage scheme. I do not know if there is any point in the suggestion I make, and, if there is not, the Parliamentary Secretary will forgive me, but I think it would be useful if there were some consultation, because there are at present three Departments dealing with this matter. The Arterial Drainage Act is administered by the Board of Works. The land reclamation scheme, which also includes drainage, is under the control of the Minister for Agriculture and now we have the Minister for Industry and Commerce in this other matter. I should like to be assured that there will be some consultation between these three Departments. I do not think there is any great difficulty about it, but it would ease our minds to get the assurance.

First, I should like to say what a welcome surprise it was to me to hear the speeches of welcome and of approval which were made from all sides of the House. I do not want to attempt to talk about emigration or whether or not men are willing or unwilling to work. I merely recommend this measure to the Seanad because it is a Bill which will enable local authorities to do good work and work which may be productive and also because it is a Bill which will provide employment for many people—many of whom, I have no hesitation in saying, need it at present and have needed it not alone this year but for a long time past.

This measure has not been introduced, as some Senators would have us believe, as a relief scheme or as a measure which is in substitution for the cut which was made in the road grants. I do not intend to dwell upon the question of the road grants except to point out that grants were made available from the Road Fund to local authorities, for the repair, maintenance and the making of roads, on a generous scale during the last four or five years —as long as the money which accumulated during the war years was there. Apart from that, I do not intend to say any more except that the grants are being made available for roads to the local authorities on the same basis. In other words, the moneys which are collected into the Road Fund are still entirely devoted to the repair, maintenance and the making of roads.

Some Senators expressed fears as to the effect this Bill might have on the finances of the local authorities. I think Senator O'Reilly made that point too. He talked about the further responsibility that was being placed on the local authority. I should like to stress that this Bill does not put any responsibility or any obligation on a local authority to do anything or to incur any debt whatsoever. This is an enabling Bill. This is a Bill which allows local authorities to do certain works to protect their own property, to relieve it from such things as flooding, landslide and subsidence, and it allows them to do similar types of work in respect of property which is not their own if and when they consider that it is in the public interest to do so. On this point it might be well for me to say that in my opinion this is a Bill which will, in effect, be the property of the local authorities themselves.

This is a Bill which they may or may not operate and it is a Bill of which I think anybody, if he or she glances at it, can say that it contains the minimum amount of red tape. We have heard a lot about red tape lately but I think most of us agree that there must be a certain amount of it. I think I am safe in saying that safeguards are usually referred to as red tape. This is a simple Bill of six sections, and I think no local authority will be reluctant to carry out any works under the terms of this Bill. Many times in the past we have had examples of legislation enabling local authorities to carry out certain works, but unfortunately, when the local authorities got the actual measure into their hands they discovered that they would have to go through such complicated and lengthy procedure that they did not think it worth their while if it would take one year or two years or three years before they could actually put a spade into the ground, or put one brick upon another.

As evidence of the fact that this is a simple Bill and one that can be given effect to immediately, I would point out that in the last three or four months local authorities have been collecting certain works or schemes which they may do under this particular Bill and which they will put into operation immediately this Bill becomes law. I think we have even travelled a little further than, perhaps, in other circumstances, either of the two Houses would allow us. We have had consultations with the county engineers of the different county councils. We have had very frequent contact with the officials and, I might say, with the elected representatives on the local authorities and the indications are that the schemes which they have prepared can be put into operation immediately this Bill becomes law. Therefore, I do not think that Senator Hawkins—I think he was the first to raise the matter—need have any fears in that respect. Most of the schemes which the local authorities have prepared can be put into operation as soon as this particular Bill is put on the Statute Book.

I think it might be no harm to point out that schemes approved by the Minister for Local Government will be given a 100 per cent. grant for the actual execution of the works. That is not at all ungenerous, especially when one remembers that a deputation from the General Council of County Councils approached the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance asking for certain help to carry out works which are specifically mentioned in Section 2 of the Bill. In asking the Minister for help and for powers to carry out such works they merely asked for State assistance to the extent, I think, of about 60 per cent. of the cost of the actual execution of the works. The Minister for Local Government has gone further and has promised the local authorities a 100 per cent. grant which, as I say, is not ungenerous. Therefore, I do not think a great case can be made for asking for the full amount of the compensation as well. In respect of practically all the schemes that have been received in the Department of Local Government, there is an extremely small percentage in which the local authorities contemplate any compensation whatsoever. I do not think it is unreasonable to expect that local authorities should have some little financial responsibility in the carrying out of schemes under this particular Bill but, apart from that, inasmuch as the Bill is intended to do good—inasmuch as the Bill is intended to do good for the ratepayers generally in a county and inasmuch as it is intended, in another respect, to do good for farmers and for landowners—I do not imagine that there will be the great number of claims for compensation that many Senators and other people think there may be. This is a Bill which, I believe, will be worked entirely on a basis of co-operation between the landowners and the local authority and, if you like, the officials of the local authority. Where the local authority intends to do good I do not think there will be such a tremendous amount of claims for compensation.

Whilst there may be some questions to be answered on particular points, I think the members of the Seanad are agreed that there are adequate safeguards in this Bill for the ordinary individual and for the public generally. Certain questions were raised by individual Senators and if I do not refer to each one specifically I am sure that I will be pardoned. Senator Stanford, in dealing with Section 5—the compensation section—rightly mentioned that that particular section had been amended in Dáil Éireann. The original section read:—

"Where any land sustains damage..."

This section, on amendment, provides that:—

"Any person who suffers damage by reason of any interference... with any land owned or occupied by him or any easement, profit-a-prendre or other right belonging to him shall... be entitled to be paid compensation..."

I do not think that similar sections which provide for compensation in other Acts of Parliament are any wider than that. That particular section covers practically any type of damage or loss that an individual may suffer.

In this particular Bill, "land" need not have a definition, as it is defined quite adequately in the Interpretation Act of 1937, as follows:—

"The word ‘land' includes messuages, tenements, and hereditaments, houses and buildings, of any tenure."

Senator Stanford also asked about compensation for injury to persons or live stock. In respect to such damage, such a person or owner of live stock can proceed by way of ordinary civil action.

Senator Séamus O'Farrell raised the question of non-co-operation by a local authority or a number of local authorities. The evidence is to the contrary. Local authorities, officials and public representatives, have welcomed this Bill and by their sending up of schemes from every single county have shown that they are prepared to co-operate to the fullest. We have been in touch with the local authorities by way of circular and have advised the county manager in each case to consult always the elected representatives as to the best type of schemes to send to the Department for approval. We have every reason to believe that this procedure is being adopted and we have every evidence that all local authorities are co-operating to the fullest extent. Senator O'Farrell also asked about rates on flooded land, but I do not think he expected me to engage in any discussion on that, as it is a matter which might very suitably be discussed on the Valuation Acts.

I referred to a case where there is no outfall at present because of the choking of a river, as in the case of the Barrow.

Senator Professor O'Brien referred to urgent works and took some objection to the fact that, under this Bill, the local authorities were being constituted as judges in their own case. I have very definite views about the type of bodies that local authorities are, and to ascertain what urgent works are, no better judges could be found than the ordinary representatives themselves. In effect, they are the local governors, the custodians of the public interest and it should be left to them and to their discretion to decide whether they should act immediately in certain cases to relieve flooding as, for instance, where there may be unusual rain. There is an example in my own county which I may be permitted to mention. In about six hours, due to flooding by a tidal backwash and excessive rainfall, a certain group of houses, numbering about 20, is liable to be flooded to about eight feet. If somebody else had to decide whether that local authority should move in there to try to relieve that flooding or wait for a day or two, the power given to local authorities under this Bill would be completely ineffective.

We ought to trust the local authorities in this matter. I repeat, as I repeated in Dáil Éireann, that the people who elect the members of corporations and of county councils are the very same people who placed their trust in the members of Dáil Éireann, who subsequently elect Ministers of State and elect the Taoiseach. They are the very same type of people and I am sure they exercise wisdom in selecting their local representatives as they do in selecting their representatives in Dáil Éireann. In my opinion and in the opinion of the Minister for Local Government, they are the people best fitted to judge what should or should not be done in the public interest. As far as urgent works are concerned under the terms of this particular Bill, I do not think they will do anything which would cause substantial damage to any individual or any group of individuals.

Senator O'Reilly asked how much would be spent. I am not in a position to state that exactly at present. We are awaiting replies from the local authorities, whom we have asked to submit schemes and give the approximate cost. The latest circular which went to the local authorities asked them to submit the actual programme that would be capable of completion within the financial year. They were asked to submit schemes which could be undertaken immediately and which would provide immediate employment, simple schemes which would not require elaborate surveys. They were also told that due regard should be had to the expected availability of labour in different areas at different times and that the carrying out of normal roadworks should not be prejudiced. They were told that the cost of the work and other expenses such as compensation should bear a reasonable relation to the need for the work and the extent of the benefit afforded. It is not possible at present to say the actual amount of money that will be spent in the financial year, but I can assure the House, and Senator O'Reilly in particular, that it will not be ungenerous.

Senator O'Brien raised the question as to who should decide urgent works. On that question also he raised the matter of the appeal by a particular landowner to the District Court and asked, if the decision was given against him as far as entry and execution of works was concerned, where else could he turn if he did not agree with the decision of the district justice. So far as I remember, he can appeal to the Circuit Court or higher court under the Courts of Justice Act, 1924 so I do not think Senator Professor O'Brien need have any fears in that particular respect.

Senator O'Reilly also raised a number of questions and he said that local authorities had no knowledge of the schemes which might be engaged upon under this Bill. I think they have full knowledge of the type of schemes they may submit. Away back as far as last March, as I stated before, county engineers were called to a conference in the Custom House and there conferred with the engineering officials and a month later they were called to another conference. I was present at both and I think that the county engineers have an excellent idea of the type of scheme they might engage in. Again I might refer to the numerous circulars which have gone to local authorities. I would like to say also that our engineering inspectors have called to the different local authorities and advised county engineers where they had any doubts.

Surely a county engineer is not a local authority?

Again I would refer to another circular in which county managers were asked to submit all schemes to the elected representatives and I do not know of any case where he has not referred schemes to the elected representatives.

Senator Douglas raised the question of who was to decide that works were urgent. He wondered whether it would be the local authority or the official or agent of a local authority. Urgent works will be determined by the manager of the authority by way of managerial order. Of course this will be subject to any changes that may follow a change in the County Management Act.

Senator Denis Burke raised a question on Section 5. He thought that the time during which a claimant for compensation might make his claim was too short. I do not think it is too short. The original intention was to allow a period of only 18 months from the date of the commencement of the work. That was amended subsequently in the Dáil to allow claims to be made up to a year after the completion of the work or two years after the commencement of the work whichever was the longer period. I believe that most of the schemes submitted will take merely three or four months and therefore the period that remains out of two years, 21 or 22 months, is quite an adequate period during which a person may make a claim for compensation.

I think those are the main points raised in the discussion and again I would like to thank the House for its warm reception of this measure. I conclude by appealing for the closest co-operation from the local authorities generally and from the individual members.

As far as unemployment is concerned —and again I do not want to enter into any discussion about emigration or whether men will or will not work— I believe that with this particular Bill, the schemes that have been proposed and the land reclamation scheme which is being introduced by the Minister for Agriculture, there will be quite an abundance of work for all those unemployed at present in rural Ireland.

I should like to assure Senator Mrs. Concannon that we are in constant touch with the Board of Works and the Department of Agriculture. As a matter of fact, a conference is arranged for next week where all these different questions will be raised and if dovetailing is needed it will be watched during the operation of this scheme or any scheme that may come in the future.

Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, 13th July.