Limerick City Management Bill, 1950—Second and Subsequent Stages.

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

Section 5, sub-section (2), of the Limerick City Management Act, 1934, fixed the membership of Limerick City Council at 15, four being aldermen and the remainder councillors, and that membership can only be varied by legislation.

A unanimous request was made to me by the Limerick City Council that the membership should be increased by two, and the request was based on the fact that the total area and population of the county borough had been increased. A provisional order to extend the city boundaries was confirmed by the Oireachtas in March last. The provisional order followed a petition by the corporation for an extension of the city boundary on the ground that the amount of land available within the city was quite inadequate for city development. The extension is all round the southern boundary and includes approximately 3,000 acres, and the population in the area is estimated at about 4,700. Accurate figures will not be available until the next census. The population of the city before the extension was 42,987. The population to member ratio is thus about 2,805 persons per member.

In comparison with other county boroughs, Cork with a population of 75,631 and 21 members, has 3,588 persons per member; Dublin, population 506,635, 45 members, leaving 11,256 per member; Waterford, population 28,332, 15 members, or 1,882 per member.

There is no reason to suggest that the membership of county boroughs should be in exact ratio to population or that an extension of a boundary necessarily involves an increase in membership. Each case must be considered on its own merits having regard to the views of the local authority. In this case, the character of the extension and the housing progress made and planned in the area warrant the increase sought by the city council.

On the basis of the local government electorate, the increase of two members is exactly proportionate to the increased electorate for the new area. The new register for the old city contains 24,954 local government electors and there are 3,501 electors in the added area.

The added area was situate partly in the North Limerick rural district electoral division and partly, in the South Limerick rural district electoral division. These two district electoral divisions were altered by taking from them the townlands and parts in the added area, and those townlands were grouped to form the Limerick rural district electoral division.

The current register of electors which came into force on the 15th April last shows the Limerick rural district electoral division as being part of Limerick City and the electors will in future vote for Limerick City elections and not in the Bruff or Castleconnell county electoral areas for the county council elections.

For local government elections the city forms one local electoral area.

I consider the application of the city council a reasonable one and I commend it to the House.

I think there is very little necessity for discussion on this particular Bill since it comes as a request from the people in Limerick. It is quite obvious that a good deal needs to be done in connection with Limerick as well as in connection with other cities and provincial towns. As far as the housing problem is concerned in cities like Limerick and in provincial towns, I think we are all in favour of giving every possible facility to the local authority in order that they will be in a position to do everything possible to provide houses for the people. The only suggestion I have to make is that, in so far as the Minister has control, he should ensure that in city centres housing is not allowed to fall into what can be described as derelict sites.

In my opinion in many towns and cities considerable areas are let fall into what might be described as derelict sites. The houses are condemned but they are left standing, occupying valuable space, while at the same time the local authority goes outside the city or town, as the case may be, to acquire land and build extra houses thereon. I am not an architect; neither am I an engineer.

There is nothing about housing in this Bill. A Housing Bill is to come before the Seanad later this evening on which the matter the Senator has referred to might be discussed. This Bill only relates to an extension of the boundary of the City of Limerick.

I bow to the ruling of the Chair.

I should like to support this Bill which, I think, meets with general agreement in the City of Limerick. I think it is right to say that it was due to the Minister's immediate predecessor that this boundary question was decided on, so far as the city and county are concerned. I think great credit was due to him for that, and I feel that this Bill will meet with general approval.

I agree with the proposal to add two additional members to the Limerick City Council. I think that, since the boundary was extended to include 3,000 odd acres of the county, it is equitable that the people in the added area should have representation on the council. I should like to sympathise with the people who are to be included within the city boundary if their rates should be increased. I am glad that the Minister at least is giving them the chance of getting representation on the body which in future will control the rates they will be asked to pay.

I am grateful to the Seanad for the reception which they have given to this Bill. The point made by Senator Quirke, in connection with derelict sites, may not be germane to the Bill which the House is now discussing, but it could arise on the Housing Bill which will be before the Seanad later this evening. I can assure the Senator that the point is not being lost sight of. I am quite certain that the city council, which is to have two added members under this Bill, will be as greatly interested in that question as the 15 members who are there already. I feel perfectly satisfied about that. I can speak from long experience as a member of the Limerick City Council myself. I am satisfied, too, that the request to add two members to the city council, so as to make the membership 17 instead of 15, is a reasonable one, since it has behind it the unanimous support of all Parties.

Question put and agreed to.
Agreed, that the remaining stages of the Bill be taken now.
Bill passed through Committee, reported without amendment, received for final consideration and passed.