Bill to be returned to the Dáil without amendment.
Local Authorities Works Bill, 1949—Report and Fifth Stages.
At this stage we are somewhat disappointed that the Parliamentary Secretary has not seen fit to meet some of the points put up yesterday, particularly that in relation to the issue of a certificate of urgency by the local authority on entering into land. However, as has been pointed out by many speakers in this and the other House, it is important that the Bill should get a speedy passage and we do not therefore wish to hold it up any longer except to say that the Bill in its final form is a great improvement on it as it was first introduced. It was first introduced to meet the situation arising from the withdrawal of the road grants, to find employment for the people disemployed as a result. A long time has passed from February to practically the middle of July to give effect to the Bill. If serious consideration had been given to drafting the Bill and having it passed into law before the grants were withdrawn it would have been the most efficient way of dealing with the position from the point of view of finding employment.
This Bill, following in the steps of almost all the legislation passed through this and the other House in recent months, places the burden on the ratepayers, first to provide the staff to implement it and, second, to find the compensation that may arise out of damages caused by the works. It may be a small amount, but when each and every Senator here and the ratepayers throughout the country examine their demand notes for the current year they will find a steep rise in the rates. I take this opportunity to put our wishes before the Parliamentary Secretary that he may convey them to the Minister responsible so that serious consideration shall be given to the matter before further burdens are transferred from the Central Fund to the local bodies the result of which must naturally be a large increase in the rates. That increase is being placed on people who in the main are not in a very good position to meet it. If we are going to substitute some scheme for another in order to take from the shoulders of the Central Fund responsibility which it has been prepared to carry up to now and place it on the county councils and consequently upon the ratepayers we must give serious consideration to the matter.
I want your ruling, Sir, on a point of order before another debate. The motion "that the Bill do now pass" has been put to the House and carried and the motion now is that the Bill be returned to the Dáil. I understand that is the motion.
The Bill is being returned to the Dáil without amendment. It is a message to the Dáil, not a motion.
Was not the motion "that the Bill do now pass" carried?
I understood so.
I did not like to interrupt Senator Hawkins as he had got up.
Senator Hawkins was permitted, with the approval of the House apparently, to make one or two comments and I would like to make one or two comments also. If there has been the delay to which Senator Hawkins referred in the passage of the Bill, if it has not been available to local authorities to operate, who has been responsible? Where has been the delay? The Bill was introduced by the Government and for months it was held up in the other House by futile debate and discussion and the moving of amendments that were unacceptable. The changes made in the Bill are of such a trifling character that I do not know that they have made any difference whatever. With regard to the point the Senator makes about the increase on the local authorities and the employment of staffs, we hope that they are not going to employ additional staff and that they will not pay their staffs any more than they are being paid at the moment so on that point I do not think the Senator has anything to fear. I do not know why he is so afraid that compensation will have to be paid under this Bill that he must hark back to it all the time. One gets the feeling that he is afraid that no compensation will be paid. I think that the Bill is of value and Senator Hawkins should address himself to another aspect of it. He should recognise the motive behind the Bill. It is not to give an opportunity for work that disappeared because of the withdrawal of the grant. This work which is going to be done now was there to be done during all the years the Senator's Party was in office. Apparently you were spending more or giving greater grants and yet this work could not be done. I believe this work will be much more fruitful than many of the works we have been engaged in in the past and that every local authority in the country will welcome the passage of this measure.