Housing (Amendment) Bill, 1950—Committee and Final Stages.

Sections 1 to 5, inclusive, put and agreed to.
SECTION 6.
Question proposed: "That Section 6 stand part of the Bill."

I should like once more to put forward the point of view I expressed on the Second Reading and that is, if it were within our power, I should like to see this section amended. The section provides that grants will be paid for the erection of houses commenced on or after the 1st day of November, 1947, and completed on or before 1st day of April, 1952. When we come to examine what is proposed to be achieved by this section, I am afraid we must come to the conclusion that very little can be done between this and April, 1952.

The purpose of this section is to make available to persons purchasing a newly-erected house or persons who would be the first occupiers of a house erected after 1st November, 1947, a grant in relation to the accommodation in the house. The house, however, must be completed before 1st April, 1952. In other words, the purpose of this section is to encourage the private speculator who is a builder to provide houses for persons on the look-out for homes. If we examine the problem, we will find that this is something which cannot be accomplished in a very short period. If the section is to achieve anything, the builder must first procure a site, the site must then be developed and the houses erected and after that an opportunity must be given to the intending purchaser to make his or her choice. Therefore, I would again appeal to the Minister, as the only person who can do it, to extend the period to 1st April, 1955. I think I pointed out on the Second Reading the futility of having short-term legislation for a problem of this kind. If we are going to make any real progress, if we are going to encourage that type of person who is referred to as the speculative builder to make his contribution to the solution of the housing problem, we must at least be in a position to assure the builder that this policy is a long-term policy. We must be able to assure him that if he purchases a site or sites, and carries out development work on them, there will, within a reasonable number of years—say five or ten years—be available to the prospective purchasers of such houses a grant of a particular size. There is no use in saying that a grant will be made available over the next 18 or 20 months which period is all that this section covers.

We are all only too well aware of the limited number of houses which can be erected in such a short period of time, particularly when we take into consideration all the work which is entailed—the acquisition of sites, development and so forth. Therefore, I would press, at this stage, that the Minister would introduce an amendment to extend the period to 1955 in place of 1952. I am afraid that much good or, indeed, any good that may be in this Bill will be undone if the period is not so extended.

In connection with what Senator Hawkins has just said, might I ask the Minister to deal now with another point, namely, (1) (c) of this section which reads: "the house when purchased is occupied by the purchaser." I am not quite sure as to the exact meaning of that sub-paragraph. It could mean, to my mind, a person who would purchase the house at any time—not necessarily the first or the second purchaser. If that is so, it would largely meet the point I propose to make in connection with my amendment to Section 11.

As I explained on the Second Reading, the question of terminal dates has been a feature of all the Housing Bills as far back as 1924. The main intention is to give the Oireachtas an opportunity of reviewing the position from time to time. It has never been a deterrent, as far as we can see. Judging the present position—in the light of the terminal date, 1st April, 1952—the figures for housing are continuing to be encouraging, and there seems to be no deterrent as far as the building programme is concerned. I think that our citizens appreciate that building is not going to cease on 1st April, 1952. I may say that we will keep the position under very careful review, arising from the operation of Section 6 of this Bill. If there is any fear of a lag in the matter we shall take the very earliest steps to have a reassurance given in that connection. This has been considered a necessary feature in regard to housing right from the start, and I think the citizens of this country recognise it as such. So far, there has not been a decrease on these grounds in the number of applications coming forward. We feel that, because of this Bill, a greater number than ever will now be coming forward. As I say, if any sort of lag should become apparent we shall take early steps to remedy the matter.

Would the Minister now answer the question I asked, namely, the exact meaning of (1) (c) of this section—"the house when purchased is occupied by the purchaser"?

It is essential that the house be occupied by the purchaser. Occupation is essential; it is the vital factor. "The house when purchased is occupied by the purchaser"— namely, the first purchaser occupier. Both are essential to give effect to the point that is intended.

Does that mean the actual person whose name is in the deed? Could a son buy a house and put his mother in it? Would he qualify if he lived in it for a week? The section could be read in an extremely narrow way and, again, it could be read in a wider sense. I think that that is Senator Hearne's point.

I think very few cases would arise which might have to be dealt with. I must say that I should be entirely in sympathy with leaving the matter in the Minister's hands but I can foresee that certain hardships might be imposed if a certain meaning were to be taken out of that clause. For that reason I think that it might be well to have an amendment inserted in that regard. As Senator Douglas says, the clause could be interpreted very narrowly. I should like the Minister to indicate the position.

The intention is that the house will be purchased and occupied and that the occupier is entitled to get the grant. The Department can check, by the deed, who the actual purchaser is. Provision for succession is contained in Section 11, which reads as follows:—

"To remove doubts, it is hereby declared that where the applicant for a grant under Section 16 of the Act of 1948 or under any section of this Act dies before the grant is paid, the grant may be paid to his successor in title if the latter occupies the house when completed."

The occupier has to be there all the time. It will be governed by the deed and the fact of occupation. If he wants to get out of it again he will not have an opportunity of getting a second grant as he will get only one.

Section 11 provides for certain contingencies in the event of the death of the applicant for a grant. But Section 11 does not provide for other circumstances whereby, other than by death, the applicant would not be the person who would first occupy the house.

In the event of the death of the applicant, Section 11, which I have just read, makes the resulting position clear. It passes on to his successor.

I do not know whether I should discuss the matter now or wait until we come to Section 11.

Now is the time to clear it up.

Indeed, it might shorten business if I were to deal with the matter now and thus be clear on the point when we come to Section 11. Under existing legislation a person, in order to qualify for a grant, must enter into a contract with a builder. I must say that I did not like that provision in existing legislation. I am associated with the building trade and while I because of my experience, might be able to assess the value of plans, the ordinary person who wants to purchase a house and who inspects plans might not have as clear an idea of the house as if he were able to inspect it, when completed. I think that, under the provisions of this Bill, it will not be necessary to enter into a contract—that the prospective purchaser of a house can go and inspect the house and if he decides to purchase it he will become entitled to the grant. I must say that I think that that is entirely commendable.

We all have sympathy with the obvious case, namely, that of a person entering into a contract under existing legislation for the erection of a house to qualify for the grant. Before that house is completed, let us say, and before he can occupy it, the applicant dies. Very definitely there is a void in the existing legislation because, no matter to whom he or she might will that house, the grant could not be paid to the successor. Of course, that position is now guarded against in the event of the original applicant dying, because Section 11 makes provision for the payment of the grant to the successor in title.

There are some other circumstances— very few, I admit—which would warrant, in justice and fair play, the payment of the grant to the person who has already entered into a contract for the erection of a house, or his or her successor, in the event of that person, for reasons outside his or her control, being unable to occupy the house. I have in mind the case of an employee in my home town. This man was in a very good job; he was a compositor, and, as we all know, a compositor can get a job in any part of Ireland because of the scarcity of such skilled men. He applied in the ordinary way for a grant and the usual certificate came. In addition, he applied for a loan, and the local authority, under the Small Dwellings (Acquisition) Act, as he was in a good job and there was no question of his not being able to make repayment, granted the loan.

Before the house was completed, and before the final portion of the grant was paid—before he could actually occupy the house—the proprietor of the works where he was employed died. The result was that the widow decided to circumscribe the activities of the printing works and, amongst others, this man was given notice of the termination of his employment. In the ordinary course he would not be annoyed, because he could get a job anywhere in Ireland. He did, as a matter of fact, apply for a job elsewhere and got it. He transferred his interest in the house to another person and the local authority agreed to the transfer of the loan to that person, but, because the original applicant did not occupy the house, the final instalment of the grant could not be paid.

There was a very great hardship imposed on the original applicant. Ignorant of the law as it was then, he entered into an agreement to the effect that the balance of the grant would be paid to the builder, and, if it was not, he would be liable. Portion of the grant was paid to that person, but, because he did not occupy the house and was not able to occupy it for reasons entirely outside his control, he found himself liable to pay £100 to the person to whom he transferred his interest in the house.

The provisions in Section 11 would meet that case if the original applicant were to die but, because he did not die, those provisions will not now apply. There would be very few such cases, but I suggest the hardship imposed on people such as the man whom I have mentioned should be guarded against. We should ensure that where, for reasons entirely beyond the control of the original applicant, he is unable to occupy the house, he should be put in the same position in relation to the grant as the original applicant who would die.

Is there any legal definition with regard to occupation? For instance, would a week's occupation in the type of case mentioned by Senator Hearne have got over the difficulty? We all agree with the principle that the grant should be given to the person who will live in the house and it would be unfortunate if, because of a technicality, the person who would become the first occupier should get caught. I do not suppose anyone wants to hold the Bill up, and it may have to go as it is. I am sure that nobody wants, on purely technical grounds, to impose a hardship on people. I can think of one or two other cases where a person could not be the occupier although he did not die.

There will be hazard cases and it would be difficult to legislate for the hazard or chance case; we have to legislate along general lines. In the case of the man who enters into a contract and he dies, there is provision made so that the building can pass to his successor, if that successor wants to occupy the house. It would be unreasonable that it should pass to the successor if that successor did not want to occupy the house.

It would be very unfair to expect that the Minister should determine in each particular case whether or not the actual occupation was outside the control of a particular individual. We shall have to have something firm and flat there. If the party to the contract does not want to go on with that contract, the position now is that the builder can sell to anybody. Anybody can get the grant if the successor in title does not feel like going on. The builder is free to sell; no longer has he his hands tied. The first occupier will get the grant. The position is quite clear. As I have said, there will always be a hazard case and you can scarcely cover all types of cases in advance.

The section will be interpreted liberally and in as common-sense a way as possible, but you could not cater in advance for every type of hard lines case. With a fair and broad-minded interpretation of the section by the Department, I think there will not be much fear of any hardship. We are removing very many hardships that already exist and I believe any that remain will be removed by the operation of this measure.

As long as the Minister is correct, that the first occupier will get the grant, I am satisfied. I had fears that the first purchaser might fail to get it on account of some technicality.

So far as I understand the provisions of this section, there are two categories of people involved. The first is the person who enters into a contract to have a house erected under the 1948 Act and he is thereby entitled to a grant when the house is completed. I take it that should that person die, or for other reasons will not occupy the house, the grant will be paid to his successor, or whatever portion of the grant will be outstanding, because part of it may have been paid.

I have in mind at least one or two cases where houses were erected by contract, under that contract system, and, for various reasons in each case, the original applicant was not in a position to occupy the house and it passed on to another person. There is provision for the passing on of the grant in cases of that kind.

We come now to deal with the intending purchaser. The only difficulty I see is to define what occupation is and for what term it would be necessary to occupy the house. Senator Douglas mentioned that you could have some evasion under this section. A person could purchase a house, having arranged for the grant, whatever it would be in relation to the size of the house, whether it would be a four-roomed or five-roomed house, and he could occupy it until he received the full grant and then he could put the house up for sale and leave the area. That may be necessary in the case of a particular person, but steps should be taken to ensure that a racket does not grow up. It might not be widespread at the start, but if this Bill is to do what we hope it will do—that is, encourage the speculative builder to go back once more and make the contribution made in the past and have houses readily available for purchase and occupation—there is the danger that some people would do what I have suggested.

There are bound to be exceptional cases, as Senator Hawkins has pointed out, but that always occurs and if you start legislating for exceptional cases you will make bad law as, in trying to close one loophole, you will open half a dozen others. The Bill makes it clear that the grant will be made only to the person who purchases a house for his own occupation. As to what "occupation" consists of, it is possible that a man might live there for a month and then leave it, but if you want to make that illegal under the Bill you will create new cases of hardship. A man might die before the transaction was completed, another might die after a week and it might be necessary for his widow to sell the house. The Bill contains all the safeguards necessary. Anyone buying a house and ordering it to be built, in order to qualify to receive one of the existing grants, went to the builder and contracted in order to comply with the existing legislation and could get a grant.

The purpose of this Bill is to encourage the speculative builder, the man who has not got an order to put up houses, but who builds them and then gets people to come and examine them. They see what different builders have built and select the house they like the best. The buyer has not to put down any money until the house is complete. The house will be completed before he pays his deposit and there is no likelihood that having paid the deposit there will be any long time between that and getting into the house. The very fact that the speculative builder will be encouraged by this Bill to put up houses will rule out the chance of causing injustice. If one wants a house at present, one must make a contract and it may take six or nine months before the grant is paid. They never get the grant; it goes to the builder.

When the last Housing Act was passing through this House, I pointed out that defect. I said that under the Bill then, the grant would not go to the purchaser but would be tacked on to the price of the house. I am convinced that a great many builders increased the price of the houses by the amount of the grant. If a man was able to put down a deposit of £150 or £200, he had to pay that as deposit and got no advantage from the Government grant, so his position was not improved. In fact, he was getting no benefit at all. That has happened in innumerable cases, to my own knowledge. I have seen houses priced and half built before that Act was passed, and within a couple of weeks I saw those houses increased in price by £275, for no earthly reason. They had been completed, except for the hanging of knockers on the doors and the putting in of letter boxes, but the price went up and the purchaser got no advantage. In this case, the purchaser will get the advantage, as the houses will be built before he makes the bargain and it will be the purchaser who will get the grant, after he has gone into occupation, I presume, because of what it says in paragraph (c)—"the house when purchased is occupied by the purchaser".

In sub-section (6) (a), dealing with the stamp duty, it says:

"...a grant under this section may be made to the purchaser when the house is occupied by him...."

Therefore, the house will be built, the transaction will be complete, at least on paper, the price will be fixed, and the man will go into occupation, and then whatever grant is to be got will be paid to the occupier who is the purchaser. I do not think there is any danger of great injustices, as the Bill is drafted, but if we try to provide for every possible contingency we will only open new loopholes and create opportunities for a racket, the very thing that Senators on this side of the House who have spoken are afraid will happen.

On a point of explanation regarding what Senator O'Farrell has said, and in case there may be any misunderstanding as to the suggestion that, as a result of the terms of the 1948 Act, making provision for the payment of a grant of £285 or £235, certain builders increased the price, if any increase in price took place at any particular time after the passing of the Bill, it could not have been as a result of the Bill, since, in order to obtain the grant, you had to produce the contract entered into before the house was started. Therefore, the price could not be increased in that way.

There were certain builders who were putting up 800 houses of the same type, 400 on the same site, and they were continuing to build those houses, and they continued to build new ones of exactly the same type at £285 more than they built them for in the previous six months.

If a man buys a house and for some reason or other does not feel able to occupy it, he can resell it and the grant will go to the man who buys it and occupies it, to the occupier. If someone occupies a house for a month, he gets the grant and no one else can get it. We cannot specify a period of time they must be in occupation. It would be difficult to do that. We have the safeguard that the man who goes into occupation gets the grant and no one else is entitled to it. If he goes to sell the house, he will be selling minus the benefit to the newcomer. We only insist that he be in occupation at the time the grant is paid. We could not go beyond that and state a specific period.

The Minister's statement completely meets the point I intended to raise on Section 11, so I will not move my amendment then. It is clear that the person who first occupies the house, whether by contract or first purchase, or transfer or sale, is the person who will get the grant.

Is it so that that person can never get a grant again? You have certain clever people who would shift around. If a person is getting the grant as being first occupier, he would for all time be debarred from getting a further grant?

Sub-section (3) makes that perfectly clear:—

"The Minister shall not make more than one grant under this section to any person."

If that person built a dozen houses and occupied them all successively, he could get only one grant.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 7.
Question proposed: "That Section 7 stand part of the Bill."

I would like some more information from the Minister. I take it that the purpose of the section is to enable local authorities to make a grant to certain persons erecting houses or purchasing houses, where the Minister has already made a grant. Sub-section (2) of this section lays it down:—

"For the purposes of this section a housing authority shall have the like powers of borrowing as are conferred on such authority for the purposes of the Housing of the Working Classes Acts or the Labourers Acts."

I want to know if the local authorities will get the same facilities for the borrowing of money for the purposes of making grants in this connection as they would in the ordinary way for general housing purposes.

They will.

The position is the same.

I would like to know if this grant will apply to a person who wishes to rent a house. I take it that at some time in the future houses will again appear for rent. As soon as it becomes an economic proposition to rent houses, houses to rent will appear. I do not know how far this section applies only to a person who presumably intends to purchase a house and live in it. Perhaps the Minister would let us know if there is in contemplation the position whereunder a builder might find that it suited him better to revert to the system in operation some years ago when he built houses for rent. Perhaps the Minister would tell us if a house erected under this particular section and eligible for a grant could be let for rent.

As far as I understand the position, provision is made in the 1948 Act not alone for a grant of £275 but for something in the nature of £400 for the purpose for which Senator Dockrell has mentioned—that is for persons prepared to build houses for renting.

The section says:—

"A housing authority may, in accordance with a scheme approved by the Minister, make, to a person erecting or purchasing a house in respect of which a grant is made under Section 16 of the Act of 1948 or Section 6 of this Act, a grant not exceeding the amount of the grant under such section."

That is where local authorities may already give an advance. It is, of course, optional. We have had evidence where in some cases they were inclined to make that advance equal to the amount already given by the State, but not more than that. As I have already pointed out "a housing authority shall have the like powers of borrowing as are conferred on such authority for the purposes of the Housing of the Working Classes Acts or the Labourers Acts." That gives an extension to local authorities to make grants. They used to do that at one time but the power was withdrawn. It is now being restored. It must be left optional as to whether or not they will give the grant. It might be very advantageous for them to encourage local enterprise to get going with the building of houses, and it might thereby prevent further expenditure at a later date when obsolescence has taken place or houses have fallen into dilapidation. It might be an economic proposition for them to make these advances.

Does the Minister say that a person who wanted to rent a house to another would not be debarred? Is that the position? These grants can be made where the houses are being reconstructed or put up for letting.

I think the intention is that they must be for occupation.

Quite so, but would the other be debarred?

He is debarred under Section 6. He must occupy it himself. He cannot build it to rent it to someone else.

There is provision made already under the 1948 Act for persons who are erecting houses to rent.

It must be for their own occupation in this case. There would be grave danger of abuse if these advances for letting were given to all and sundry. As far as it goes at the moment it is for occupation by the person getting the grant from the local authority as well as from the State, and not for letting.

In other words there is no provision for letting under this section.

No, but might I point out that the provisions of the 1948 Act——

Section 19 of that Act.

——are not abrogated by this 1950 Act? The sections dealing with letting in the Act of 1948 are still in operation and will remain operative when this Act becomes law. I think that meets the point raised by Senator Dockrell.

That is correct.

Question agreed to.

SECTION 8.

Question proposed: "That Section 8 stand part of the Bill."

Will a reconstruction grant be available under this section where houses will be let in flats? The Minister is aware that, bad as is the housing situation at present, it would be infinitely worse were it not for the fact that a number of people have altered their houses and converted them into flats. I think that as a certain type of house falls out of use for the purpose for which it was originally built it will become available for alteration into flats. That could be done much more cheaply if a grant were available for the purpose and I want to ask the Minister if he can see his way to making such a grant available because the alteration of houses into flats does tend to alleviate the housing shortage.

May I point out to Senator Dockrell that the provisions of this section debar the Minister from making any grant for reconstruction where under sub-section (3) (b) the rateable valuation of any land or buildings occupied by the applicant exceeds £12? I cannot visualise any house either in the City of Dublin or in any urban area with a rateable valuation of £12 capable of reconstruction into two or more flats.

Would the valuation not be split up over the flat dwellers when the alterations are completed?

The sub-section does not say that. It says the rateable valuation, or the aggregate of the rateable valuation, of any land or buildings occupied by the applicant. I have had experience of attempts to evade the £35 poor law valuation in respect of reconstruction where a particular individual in a rural area occupied more than one holding and the valuation of one holding only was put in as being the poor law valuation. In actual fact the poor law valuation of all the holding combined occupied by the particular person exceeded the maximum and, if that valuation were put down, it would automatically debar the occupier from getting a reconstruction grant. The same principle applies here and the same provision is contained here. It is the aggregate valuation of the lands or buildings held by the person that will be the guide as to whether or not he is eligible for a grant.

Is not the phrasing of this section rather wide? It says "where a person, occupying a house, applies"—it does not say that the person must own the house. Could it be held that because a man merely occupied a house he can apply for a grant? I think the wording might be tidied up a little.

Here, again, I would like to impress upon the Minister the desirability of raising the ceiling from £12 to £15 or £16. In a city like Galway, where we have had a very drastic revaluation carried out recently, £12 will remove outside the scope of this section almost all the houses that would come under the section in the ordinary way.

At the present time a valuation limit of £12 is very low. With regard to the point raised by Senator Mrs. Concannon, the Minister, I suggest, might be able to meet it under the regulations to be made by him under the section. Taking Sections 7 and 8 together, while they give power to local authorities to make grants, in certain cases, for the purchase or reconstruction of houses, I can visualise very few local authorities availing of either section. Therefore, I do not suppose there is very much that we need worry about because the fact is that local authorities are engaged on other housing activities at the moment. In view, however, of the fact that the Minister has promised to bring in a new Bill in the future, I should like to avail of this opportunity to suggest to him that he should bear in mind the points which have been put forward, especially in regard to raising the valuations to a higher limit than £12. He might consider raising them to £16 or £17.

We think that the valuation figure of £12, which is more or less an experiment, is fairly good, especially in the case of houses in small towns and villages. In fact, it is not an inconsiderable valuation in the case of small towns and villages. We think that it will cover the type of house that we have in mind. That valuation figure was deliberately decided on, bearing in mind that it was the occupant rather than the owner that we were thinking of. We think that the advance to a £12 valuation is a fairly good one. The remarks made by Senators on the section may have been influenced by the fact that they were thinking of houses in cities.

As I have said, I visualise, in the main, houses which are situate in small towns and rural villages where previously we had not been able to do much in this way. People living in those areas who could not be said to be engaged in agriculture were deprived of this type of reconstruction grant in the past. I think that what we are proposing to do in this section is reasonable. If, in practice, this valuation basis is found to be too restrictive, well, it can be reviewed, but at the present time we regard it as a fairly good advance. It will mean that people who were not entitled to those grants in the past can now qualify for them provided they come within the terms laid down.

Take the case of rented houses. Would it be necessary for an occupier, in order to get a grant to carry out certain reconstruction works, to get the permission of the owner, or will the owner, as a result of reconstruction or improvements carried out to a house, be in a position to raise the rent, in view of the fact that the occupier has got certain grants from the local authority or even the Department itself for the execution of improvements?

That is a matter that will be covered by the regulations. Of course, the occupier himself will be a contributor to the cost of the reconstruction works carried out.

What I want to guard against is that the landlord will not be able to cash in on improvements carried out by the occupier—improvements which the landlord himself should have carried out on his own property. I take it that the landlord will not be able to do that.

He will not.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 9.
Question proposed: "That Section 9 stand part of the Bill."

I welcome this section, but there are just one or two points that I would like to make on it. The section provides that where a grant has already been paid, either for reconstruction or for the erection of a house, that it will now be possible to receive an additional grant after a period of at least 15 years has elapsed since the first grant was made. In the case of many new houses, the family may have become larger, and so it may be necessary to add an additional room or to carry out improvements in order to preserve the life of the house. It is a good thing that a grant may be made in a case like that. I think, however, that the Minister should reconsider reducing the period of 15 years to 12 years for the payment of the second grant. It seems to me that 15 years is a rather long period to set down in the section. The second grant cannot be paid until that period has elapsed. Sub-section (2) provides that the grant may be made only in respect of the construction of a new roof or the provision of additional accommodation which involves an increase in the total floor area of the house. Let us assume that a person has already received a reconstruction grant for the purpose of putting on a new roof or adding additional accommodation. Am I to understand that, if it is now necessary for the occupier to put in new doors or new floors, his application for a second grant will not be considered? While, as I say, I welcome the section, I do want to put it to the Minister that I am afraid sub-section (2) curtails the benefits which it is proposed to confer to a very considerable extent. In view of the fact that before a grant is sanctioned the house will have to be inspected by an engineer, and that he will have to certify whether it is one that it is worth while reconstructing, I think the Minister might agree to delete sub-section (2). After all, the first thing an engineer would do would be to look at the roof. If he found that it was not sound, and felt that it was not worth while carrying out reconstruction work on the house, he would not recommend the payment of a grant. Where a person is carrying out ordinary reconstruction work, such as the putting in of new windows, doors or floors, I think he should be entitled to the grant, and that the matter should be covered by regulations and by the deletion of sub-section (2).

It is essential that there should be some differentiation made between reconstruction and repairs. Some sort of a line has got to be drawn in these cases. In this case, a new roof, or additional accommodation, is the governing factor. The object there is to assist families who require additional accommodation by, for example, the provision of an additional room. When the Bill was in the Dáil I accepted an amendment from one of the Deputies to include the provision of sanitary facilities as part of the proposal for additional accommodation. The section, as introduced, has been extended in that respect. We get applications in the Department for grants for all kinds of repairs which the applicants hold to be reconstruction work such as putting a floor in the parlour or putting a little bit of partition in the kitchen and things of that sort. Some distinction has to be made between reconstruction and repairs. Windows will be included as reconstruction work if one has to be put in the gable of the house or in the front of it. The fundamental idea behind the section is that the grants should apply to the putting on of a new roof or the provision of additional accommodation to help people with big families.

I am anxious to know what reconstruction covers. In the case of some of the roofs on the houses in the locality where I live, I am afraid that none of them would qualify for a grant. These houses were put up a few months before the period specified for grants. The houses were built after the war period. They were roofed with tiles which were laid flat on the beams with no lining of any sort underneath. In the severe weather each winter, the tiles get pushed back, because, when they were originally put on, there was no lining underneath them. The people occupying those houses would, I think, be entitled to a reconstruction grant. In the first place, the houses were never properly built. As I have said, when a high wind comes, the tiles are removed. I should like to know whether they would be entitled to a reconstruction grant. The tiles should have been originally lined underneath with felt. Whoever the officials were who were supposed to supervise the erection of these houses, they did not seem to think that it was necessary to do anything except to put up the structure. The drainage was also defective. That is a case where reroofing is very desirable. Would cases of that kind come under this Bill? They never got a grant from anybody. All these tiles would require to be removed, and some time they will have to be reroofed. Only about every fourth row is nailed.

The Senator states they never got a grant?

Mr. O'Farrell

No.

Then they would be perfectly entitled to a grant now for reconstruction.

Mr. O'Farrell

Then you will get shoals of applications.

Question agreed to.

Section 10 agreed to.
SECTION 11.

We anticipated discussion on amendment No. 1 to this section, in the discussion on Section 6, and as the Minister has met the point dealt with in the amendment, I do not think there is any necessity to move it.

Amendment No. 1 not moved.
Sections 11 and 12 agreed to.
SECTION 13.

I move amendment No. 2:—

To add a new sub-section as follows:—

Where a grant or loan had already been made in respect of the erection or reconstruction of a house and it has been proved to the satisfaction of the Minister that the rate of wages or conditions of labour set out in this section have not been paid or observed, the Minister may sue for a refund of any moneys paid by way of loan or grant.

This section provides, speaking generally, that what are ordinarily regarded as trades union rates of wages must be observed in the building or the reconstruction of a house before a grant can be paid. There is nothing new in that principle. Possibly, owing to a misapprehension, it was stated on the Second Stage that this was something new. It is not.

Section 8 of the Housing (Financial and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1932, the principal Housing Act, provides in much the same terms for the payment of trades union rates of wages and the observance of trades union conditions of labour as are set out here. This section goes on to provide that the rates of wages and the conditions of labour generally recognised by trades unions will be observed on such reconstruction as will take place in rural areas. My amendment is designed to ensure that, so far as possible, the intentions of the section will not be evaded. I would far prefer that this section should not be passed at all rather than that we should have the wholesale evasions of which I myself had experience under the section of the 1932 Act. The section provides:—

"The Minister shall not make a grant under any enactment, or a contribution to annual loan charges under Section 6 of the Act of 1932, in respect of the erection or reconstruction of a house where it is shown to his satisfaction that, through out the erection or reconstruction, rates of wages, etc."

That is, "throughout the erection or reconstruction," until the house is completed. My amendment seeks to provide that, even after the house has been completed, after the Minister has paid the grant or has agreed to a contribution to the annual loan charge, if it is proved to his satisfaction, even after all these things have been done, that the rates of wages and the conditions of employment were not as they should have been, the Minister will be empowered to sue for the return of any moneys that the State may have paid to the recipients of such grants.

So far as I read the section the position is that if I apply for a grant for the erection of a house, so long as no objection is made, and so long as the Minister knows nothing about the conditions, the grant will be paid to me when the house is completed, but after the house is completed, even if the Minister is satisfied that I did not observe the conditions laid down, the Minister has no redress. That is my reading of the section; I hope I am wrong, but if my reading is correct, I have put down the amendment to ensure that the Minister will have certain rights against the person to whom the grant has been paid, even after it has been paid.

I think it is perfectly clear from the reading of the section—"where it is shown to his satisfaction that, throughout the erection or reconstruction, rates of wages have not been paid or conditions of labour observed"—that it is during the time the work is being carried on that representations must be made to the Minister. If the Minister has paid the grant or agreed to a contribution to the loan charges, I think he has no redress as the section stands. I merely want to ensure that if information is subsequently brought to the Minister that the conditions that he desires, and that we all desire, where assistance is provided out of State Funds—and very substantial grants are being paid in respect of the reconstruction and building of new houses—have not been observed, he should not be confined to the period before final payment is made to take action against the persons who have not observed these conditions. In other words, the Minister should have redress at a later stage to get a refund of the moneys paid by the State if the conditions specified have not been observed.

I am not at all familiar with the machinery of the Housing Acts but one would imagine that the ordinary vigilance of trade unionists would prevent the evasion of the conditions in regard to wages and conditions of labour. In any event, surely the person who gets the grant must certify that these conditions have been observed? Has he not to fill up a form or a certificate stating that these conditions have been observed? If he has and if he states he has observed them when in fact he has not observed them, surely there is a legal remedy against him just as good as there would be under the amendment. If I obtain money on the ground that I have carried out certain conditions, and I certify wrongly that I have carried them out, the person who gives me that money has a legal remedy. There is no doubt about that, although I do not profess to be a legal authority. It is quite clear that if I build a house and receive a grant from the State to enable me to do so on condition that I shall observe certain rates of wages and conditions of labour, if it can be proved that I did not observe these conditions it is clear that I have got the money under false pretences and there must be a legal remedy against that.

I freely admit that it was with a certain amount of diffidence I put down the amendment. It was put down merely to clarify the position because I knew of my own knowledge what often happens in rural areas. An applicant will sign anything; he will sign that the conditions specified have been observed although they may not have been observed. There is nothing to prevent collusion between such a person and a person who would be working for him. It is to avoid, if you like, that contempt for law and regulations, the bringing of the regulations into disrepute, that this amendment is put down. It might be regarded as a pious expression of opinion. Even if the Minister accepted it, it is unlikely that it would ever be operated to the extent that the Minister would sue for the return of the money, but I have seen so much evasion of the section of the 1932 Act that I think we have reached the stage when we had better either drop what is contained in Section 13 or show, so far as we can, that we are in earnest and that it is going to be enforced.

The amendment only gives the Minister the right to sue, but if a person has certified that he has done a particular thing when, in fact, he has not done it, then the Minister has the right to sue which the amendment purports to give him; the person has made a false declaration. On the general question, it would be very difficult from the practical point of view to be reaping up things after the grant had been paid and I think that the proper line is that the trade unions themselves should take steps to see that proper conditions are observed and to draw attention to the matter while the house is being built before the grant is paid. It would appear to me that if a person applies for a grant and says that certain conditions have been observed and does that falsely, there is a legal remedy. Whether it is any use——

The certifying officer in this case is the officer of the local authority. Senator Hayes is very much behind the times. I was relating to him how some of these people evade their obligations. A certain speculative builder in County Dublin erected houses and did not give trade union rates or conditions. He did not even employ competent tradesmen but, as it was the time when houses were scarce, he got purchasers. Portion of the plans he lodged meant the development of the land and the making of a road. In other words, the houses would not be complete until a road had been made in front of them. The gentleman got a grant from the Local Government Department but he never put in the road. The local authority cannot take over unless they have a certain type of road, and the 18 unfortunate residents are left with no road and they have no public lighting because, as far as we in the county council are concerned, it is private property. The gentleman who did that got a grant and the houses were certified and yet, although they are within four miles of the City of Dublin, they have no road and in winter time the residents are up to their knees in muck.

I would like to tell Senator Hayes that the trade unions are not so powerful as he suggests they might be.

"Vigilant" is the word I used.

They cannot prevent evasion any more than the Government which should be more powerful than the trade unions. I think that the Minister would be well advised to accept the amendment as, at any rate, it would be a deterrent, particularly as the grant is given not alone for building but for reconstruction. We all know the type of individual, the "handy man", who is plumber, carpenter and jack of all trades. The trade unions are not in a position to supervise everywhere. Collusion was mentioned and we had a case 20 or 25 years ago of a certain builder in the City of Dublin who was alleged to pay his builder 1/- per hour when the rate was 1/3 and that was done in collusion with the men themselves. The trade unions are not in a position to prevent that sort of thing. I appreciate that it is not very easy for the Minister, having paid the grant, to sue for it, but if the amendment is included in the section, it will, I think, act as a deterrent and ensure that even if the grant is paid the Minister has the power to sue for it subsequently. Under existing Acts it is not done but I suggest that it should be done because it is not fair to decent employers who pays the proper rates if certain individuals are allowed to get away with evasion. We cannot fool ourselves that even in this country, which has the reputation of being an island of saints and scholars, we have not some bad people among us who would be prepared to evade this if they could. No matter how watertight you make the section, you will get people who will attempt to evade it, but this is an opportunity for the Minister to put something in which, even if it is never used will, I believe, act as a deterrent to the type of individual who is prepared to evade his obligations whenever possible.

I think that Senator Hayes has covered the real point raised by Senator Hearne's amendment. When he gets the section as it is and with other existing powers I think that the Minister will have all the powers required to penalise anybody who commits an offence just as effectively as if the amendment were in. The amendment is really superfluous and adds nothing whatever. I think, to the strength of the Minister's powers.

Senator Tunney makes a case which is, I think, outside this altogether.

We had Senator Tunney's interpretation and Senator Colgan added his point of view to that, but all the bad people are not contractors.

An odd one is a farmer.

There are efforts at evasion of the law in every grade of society and in every walk of life. You may have a handy man down the country on whom in a gentle way Senator Colgan poured ridicule, but I would far rather have a lot of handy men with no trade union cards at all, and contractors would rather have them, than the sons of carpenters.

Provided they are paid decent rates of wages, yes.

That is the difficulty with which the Minister is faced. The difficulty I see down the country, if I may say so, is that if we had not the handy men down the country we could not build a house at all.

The Senator is opening a wide field of discussion, and I am sorely tempted to follow him.

We had better wait for Senator Counihan's motion.

It would not be a bad thing, in my opinion, to have the whole thing fully discussed. I appreciate Senator Hearne's approach. If he and I are contracting side by side and I can pay a lower rate than he pays his workmen, when the time comes to sell I can ask a lower price than Senator Hearne and obviously he has cause to protest, but I think that the Senator's point has been completely met by the case which Senator Hayes has made. If there are people in the building trade in this country—I do not know; I have not as much experience as Senators Hearne and Colgan—who are prepared to make false declarations for the purpose of getting a grant, I do not think they will get very far. When that is discovered, their reputations will be so tarnished and sullied that if they have not sold the houses, they will have great difficulty in selling them. I do not think there is any necessity to add this in view of the powers which the Minister will have, and I think that Senator Hearne sees that. If we want to penalise people, I would much prefer to make the other approach and, instead of stopping the grant, follow people into the court for making a declaration to the Government which was false for the purpose of getting a grant. If you did that once, you would never have to do it again, and I suggest that, from Senator Hearne's point of view, the protection of the honourable contractors whom we have in the country, that is the most forceful way of protecting them.

I am afraid that Senator Baxter misunderstands my point. I am putting forward a case here, in the presence of the Minister and his officials, of a certain builder who got the grant and who did not pay the trade union rate of wages. That, however, was not as bad as the fact that he did not finish the houses and sold them under false pretences because he said that the plans for the roads had been lodged and that he would provide these roads. The tenants went into the houses, but no roads have since been provided. The local authority cannot provide these roads.

Have the tenants not got some redress?

I am trying to find out from the Minister what redress these people have.

I am entirely against the amendment. The Minister will have difficulty enough without making it possible for somebody who is disgruntled when a housing scheme has been completed to bring forward all kinds of frivolous complaints. Men in public life get all kinds of complaints, and, when they go to the appropriate Department to make inquiries, they find that most of them are very frivolous. There is a much more close watch over speculative builders now than there was and they cannot do anything very terrible without somebody getting after them or reporting them.

The angle from which I look at this matter is that, in rural Ireland, in the bogs and hilly country, there are, from the purely percentage point of view, nearly as many slums as there are in Dublin. You may have a family who will reconstruct or build a house with the help of relations who may be plumbers, masons or carpenters, and, if this provision were inserted in the Bill, you might bring about a position in which some person would be given a chance to come back to the Minister with a complaint about wages which he has not got. There is at the moment too much work for labourers and tradesmen in my part of the country, and, if trade union wages must be paid, some of these houses would never be completed. The people who get a £75 reconstruction grant in most cases have not got £20 of their own, and it is with the help of friends or relatives that they construct a house, and, as Senator Baxter has said, do a better job generally than is done where trade union labour is employed and big wages paid. I do not want to decry trade unions. I should like to see trade unions doing a good job everywhere, but I hold that it would be very bad for rural Ireland if this amendment were adopted, because it could give rise to rows between families and friends about certain people not having got certain amounts, when the house was finished. Labour and tradesmen generally are so scarce at the moment that this provision ought not to be inserted. If the Minister finds later on that the regulations are not being observed, he can bring in a short amending Bill; but I do not think there is any necessity for such a hidebound proposal as this.

I was thinking on somewhat the same lines. The proposed sub-section envisages only houses erected by paid labour. In the case of a man reconstructing or building his own house with the help of his sons, the question of wages would not come in, but would it be held that the conditions of employment such as are insisted upon by the trade unions would be necessary to qualify them for the grant? A man and his sons may work from morning to night, far beyond the ordinary trade union limits, and the question is what would be the impact of this sub-section in such cases. I am not quite in order in referring to the section, but the sub-section is so bound up with it that I think it is a question the Minister ought to consider.

I merely want to say that this particular provision has been incorporated in every Housing Bill that has passed through the House since as far back as 1932.

Mr. Hayes

Since 1922—from the very beginning.

It has appeared in every type of legislation which gives power to any board, semi-State board or local authority. As to whether it would be right to go further and insist on this provision being complied with, giving the Minister power to take proceedings to take back a grant which has been given, my view is that he already has that power and that the amendment is not necessary. I assume that, when a person makes an application and fills up the usual form, the ordinary conditions are attached. Amongst these conditions are that Irish materials must be used, trade union rates of wages and conditions observed and the plans and specifications adhered to. If a man makes an application for a grant in respect of a house, the plan of which shows that he proposes to build a three or four-roomed house of a particular type, and if part of the grant is paid and the man then finds that he is not in a position to finish the house, the Minister has power to recover the amount paid because the conditions have not been fulfilled. I think the same would apply in this connection.

There is a feeling that has grown up throughout the country and I think it originated in our universities. Young engineers who come into the building industry seem to regard contractors as some great evil whose sole purpose in life is to deceive and cheat every person with whom they come in contact. That is not so. If all we hear about the activities of contractors is even half true, they must be the wealthiest people in the country, but we know that there are just as many bankruptcies and failures in the building industry as in any other.

The highest percentage of the whole lot is in the building industry.

The majority of contractors are anxious to leave a good job of work behind them, to uphold the craftsmanship and workmanship of the various tradesmen they employ and to give every satisfaction, because it is not a business in which you can do a job to-day and run away from it to-morrow. If you wish to continue in the business, you must give satisfaction. It is not fair to suggest that contractors are out to rook the people, particularly in relation to this housing drive.

Senator Tunney drew attention to a matter which had little or no relation to the section. He complained that a certain contractor or builder had received housing grants and, having received the grants, had left the land undeveloped. That could not possibly have taken place. For quite a number of years back no builder was in a position to receive a grant. No builder can receive a grant under this Bill. It is the person for whom the house is built who receives the grant, or the person who is the first occupier of a house. There is no provision in this Bill or any Bill passed for a considerable time to enable a builder to get any grant. I drew attention to something similar which happened in Galway, but that was not as a result of the Government giving the grant, but of the laxity of the local authority's engineers who passed the particular scheme.

I will deal with the point raised by Senator Tunney first. I can visualise the case made by the Senator. While the local authority are deprived by law of the right to put in the road, they are not deprived of the right to prosecute the contractor. They are entitled to prosecute the contractor for having defaulted in finishing the contract. I know of cases in recent times where applicants for a grant got a builder to build houses and arranged with him to put in the necessary road and do the necessary development work and, having finished the houses, he cleared out without doing that work. Such a person can be sued by the local authority.

I should like to assure Senator Hearne that this amendment is unnecessary in the case of grants paid to a local authority as there is ample power at present to retain, reduce or recover these grants at any time. In the case of houses subsidised by way of contributions to loan charges, payments are normally made on account in the early years of the scheme, and over payments and adjustments are, from time to time, a normal feature of administration. In the case of grants to private persons under the Bill, the new regulations will provide inter alia for the insertion in the form of application of an undertaking to be signed by the applicant to the effect that the requirements of Section 13 have been complied with. Furthermore, I would point out that final payments of these grants are not made until the house is complete and occupied. Before this stage, the house would have been inspected by one of my officers, and it is normal to expect that any difficulties in regard to rates of wages or conditions of labour would have come to his notice before he issued his final certificate for payment. I think the Senator may rest assured that complaints of this nature would arise normally only during the course of construction and would thus be fully investigated before the question of final payment would arise. I would prefer to have it that way rather than be waiting for the day after the fair. I would prefer the Department officials to see to it that these regulations are carried out and that payments are not made if they are not carried out rather than to be chasing after somebody the day after the fair, because, if it became known subsequently that the conditions had not been observed, the purchaser would be eventually getting it in the neck, as we might have to go after him for the grant. I would prefer to utilise the powers we have and try to prevent this thing happening rather than to be chasing after people at a later stage for defaulting. I can assure the Senator that we have all the powers necessary both in regard to public and private building, and that they will be rigorously used to see that the conditions are carried out. We can do that quite easily without the assistance of this amendment.

I am rather in a cleft stick as a result of the Minister's statement. The Minister says:—

"I have adequate powers in this way, that the final certificate will not issue if I am satisfied that these conditions are not complied with."

On the other hand, I am very anxious that the payments of these grants should be made as expenditiously as possible. I do not want any long delay between the job being finished and the payment of the grant. I know that there must be certain inquiries and that the officers must be satisfied. But so far as the conditions of labour set out in the section are concerned, I can visualise an officer being rather hesitant about finally certifying if he heard the slightest rumour. The one thing I was trying to avoid was any long delay between the finishing of the job and the payment of the balance of the grant. In view of what the Minister says, I must lean to his side. The way in which he proposes to deal with the matter, if it arises, is probably better than mine. But there are extraneous matters brought into the section in regard to which I have my own views. There is a new policy in the section itself, namely, that the conditions now apply to reconstruction to which formerly they did not apply. Any person who is reconstructing a house in rural Ireland must show to the satisfaction of the Minister that the conditions as to the rates of wages and the labour conditions are observed and, where they are not observed, the person will not get the grant for reconstruction. That is something new, which it will take all the Minister's time to enforce. I would sooner see a section of this kind not enacted if there were going to be wholesale evasions of it or if it would be difficult of enforcement. I agree that the fact that a man is the possessor of a trade union card is no guarantee that he is a good tradesman. During Senator Baxter's speech I interjected that he was opening up a very wide field. I am not usually very vocal, but I could take until 12 o'clock to-night dealing with this section.

There is no change. Reconstruction has been in every Act since 1932. We are not changing it, but we are extending it.

I should like the Minister to give us some idea of what sort of declaration will have to be made in connection with qualifying for a grant. What will happen if a person does the work himself with the assistance of his son?

I assume that the father and the son will be tradesmen.

If it is family labour, there is no trade union regulation so tightly drawn as to go into a circle of that kind. The inspector would have to make sure that the people were competent to do the work in a tradesman-like manner. Nobody can regulate the trade union conditions governing a family. All we are concerned with is to see that they do a tradesman-like job and are competent to do what they undertook to do; that if they have to procure window sashes and doors, they will get them from a proper joinery shop. As to the conditions, they would have to regulate these themselves. They would hardly impose unfair conditions on themselves. They would have to be governed by the standard of the job they are doing.

Very often people go to technical schools and learn many things. The boys would be a help to their fathers. Trade union conditions, I think, make a difficulty there if that is a part of the conditions. I think the section should be reconsidered.

Is the senator pressing the amendment?

The amendment was merely put down for the purpose of discussion. I am satisfied when the Minister states that the powers I proposed to give him, if he accepted this amendment, would add nothing to the powers which he already has. That is the position, I gather from the Minister. Therefore, there is no point in pressing the amendment. It has evoked a very useful discussion on the position. If the purpose of my amendment had been the deletion of the section, I would, apparently, have got more support.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 13 put and agreed to.
SECTION 14.

I move amendment No.3:—

In line 47, to add, at the end, the words: "The computation of floor area shall not include any internal walls built wholly or mainly of masonry."

This amendment arises out of the regulations made in connection with the computation of the floor area of houses. From the very beginning the floor area of a house was deemed to be "the sum of the areas of every floor, together with any porch or open space within the lines of the containing walls of the house which increases the bulk thereof" and "the area of any floor shall be measured within the external or containing walls of the house, and shall include any portion of such floor which is occupied by staircases, landings, interior walls, chimney breasts, bay windows and similar spaces or structures." I quote from paragraph 12 of Statutory Rules and Orders, No. 80 of 1932—The Housing (New Houses) Order, 1932. Briefly, that Order has remained in force, with certain exceptions, and applied to urban areas: I think that the staircase or landing or hall in an urban area was excluded in 1936. It is clear, from that, that the manner of construction of the outer walls of, say, a farmer's house is immaterial. Whether they are built of 8-inch concrete or 18-inch or 20-inch masonry walls, the floor area remains exactly the same. Where, however, the interior walls are built of stone, the minimum that these walls will be must, of necessity, be 18 inches as compared with, say, concrete of may be six inches to eight inches. There is a corresponding reduction in the floor area of each room as a result of building the internal walls in masonry. It may seem a small thing, but, mark you, you could reach a point when a person would be deprived of the grant because the floor area might exceed the 1,400 feet, the maximum set out under the Act. Let me give an example. Take the position as it applies in rural Ireland. It is not uncommon to find a two-storey house having, as internal measurements, 47 feet by 15 feet. Ordinarily, the floor area of that house would be 1,410 square feet, the total for the two floors. Even the Minister has not power to give the grant if the area exceeds 1,400 square feet. The internal walls, which must be, as I say, at least 18 inches wide in the case of masonry, will go to 90 square feet. If they were deducted, the floor area would be down to 1,320 square feet and, as far as floor area goes, he would qualify for the grant.

There are parts of Ireland where stone is available readily. Personally, I have a liking for a masonry wall. I think it is very satisfactory for the internal walls of a house, far more so than concrete. I think that the ordinary person, when he thinks of building, has at the back of his mind the idea that concrete blocks and walls are very easy to make and build. That is true. But good concrete walls are extremely difficult to build, that is, concrete walls which will be good for the purpose of keeping the house weather-proof and which will, at the same time, ensure that there will not be excessive condensation on the inner leaf of the wall. Therefore, we should encourage as far as possible, where the stone is freely and readily available, the building of farmhouses and cottages in stone. As an inducement to people who would be willing to go to the little extra trouble and bother involved in building the external walls in stone, I would exclude the two internal walls— containing, say, the staircase, if these were built in masonry—in computing the floor area. There are a number of reasons why that would be good for the house itself and I believe that you would have a better house. I have seen three external walls of a room built in masonry and the internal wall, that is, the one containing the chimney breast, built of concrete and, because of condensation on the concrete wall, I saw distemper and decoration being destroyed on that wall while the other three walls remained perfectly good.

A further reason is that in building in stone you require only sand and lime —both, in most parts of the country, fairly easily obtainable. You would, therefore, avoid something which at the moment I think all of us should try to avoid: we should try to avoid, as much as possible, the use of cement in our building. Our two cement factories are not capable of meeting the enormously increased demands for cement. The result is that, in order to keep essential works going, we have to import huge quantities at a much dearer price and, so that Irish, Belgian or British cement sold in the Republic will be sold at the one price, there has to be a surcharge of 15/- on every ton of cement produced by Irish Cement, Limited. For that reason alone, I think it is very desirable that we should encourage the building of our farmhouses and our labourers' cottages in masonry as far as we can possibly do so. I feel that it would result in a better house and I feel that, from the point of view of the national economy at the present moment, it is something that we should all strive for. Therefore, I ask the Minister seriously to accept the amendment which I have moved.

In anticipation of what the Minister may say, let me explain that it would not be necessary for the Minister to accept the amendment as it is drafted on the amendment sheet. If the Minister agrees with the principle I have set out here, he is authorised to make regulations under this Bill, when it becomes an Act. I have quoted from an Order which was made and he can do exactly the same thing under this Bill, when enacted. I would strongly impress upon him, therefore, if he cannot accept this amendment, to ensure that the regulations will so provide for what I am asking. I believe strongly in it. I am convinced that it is in the best interests of the occupant of the house and in the national interest that we should encourage the building of our houses in masonry rather than in concrete.

I am not disposed to accept this amendment. I think we have made a very definite advance of 150 feet, having regard to the existing regulations, upon the former maximum of 1,250; we have gone up to 1,400. I do not feel like accepting an amendment making a further unspecified extension of the rooms, taking into consideration the internal walls.

I have a certain sympathy with masonry, but I wonder if this is the best way in which to preserve and encourage the craft. The point made by the Senator with reference to farm houses is somewhat original, but I think it would be unfair to attempt to coerce people to use masonry as against studded or plaster partitions or any of the other types specified by the Department.

At the moment people have to submit specifications and, in order that these may be approved by the Department, they must be up to a required standard. Possibly a case could be made in relation to farmhouses, but in the general scheme I do not think masonry would be very suitable for internal partitions. At the moment I am governed by the 1,400 figure and I do not intend to go beyond that. No matter how far one may go, one could get pushed further along that road.

I think the figure of 1,400 is a good advance, because then you are getting up to the luxury standard. I must say I am rather intrigued by the amendment and I promise the Senator that I shall look into the point he has raised. I could not, however, see my way to accept the amendment. I believe it would be of very limited application. It would apply, possibly, only to farmhouses.

Would it not be worth it?

Not very much. Even in the case of labourers' cottages, I do not think it would be very suitable. It would be limited even in the case of farmhouses. You could have the outer walls, by all means, but even there it would be limited in its application. The figure of 1,400 is a very reasonable advance on anything we have had up to now. Until quite recently we were building houses up to 500 or 600 feet. Anything further than what we now propose would be approaching the luxury class and we would be getting over the border.

I am sorry the Minister has seen fit to approach it in this way. He pointed out that 1,250 was the maximum floor area and they are increasing it to 1,400. That is not entirely the whole story. While 1,250 was the maximum, as far back as 1936 the Order I quoted was amended, so far as urban areas are concerned, to exclude certain things from the computation of the floor area. It says:—

"No portion of such floor which is occupied by a hall, staircase or landing shall be included."

That is a regulation?

Yes, a regulation determining the floor area in urban areas on which the grant will be obtained. Anyone with a knowledge of building can see that you can easily have 200 square feet in a hall, staircase or landing and that will bring the floor area not to 1,250 but to 1,450. There is nothing revolutionary in what I propose. It was suggested to the Minister that he should exceed even 1,400, but the fact is that, under the existing law, in urban areas you could exceed 1,400 and still get the grant.

The main purpose of my amendment is to encourage masonry. No man will be penalised who decides to build the internal walls of stud partitions or of six-inch concrete or anything like that. But, if a person has stone readily available and has one or two masons on the job, I suggest he should be allowed to build the internal walls of masonry, knowing he has to build an 18-inch instead of an eight-inch wall, and knowing that he is not taking ten inches off the parlour or the kitchen.

I presume Senator Hearne is not pressing this to a division?

It would be a mistake if the Minister thought that nobody except Senator Hearne approaches this matter as he does. I approach it as he does. I am thinking—I have always thought about it since housing Acts were introduced during my lifetime— of the position of a farmer building a house in his field. He is in a position somewhat different from the position of people purchasing land in a town or a city or on the edge of a town, developing sites and so on. There every sod is precious. Out in the country one feels that there are often cases of what can only be regarded as a most undesirable development—what would appear to be mean little houses where farmers have plenty of space. One feels that from the æsthetic point of view there is something lacking in many of the houses people are building in the country. So far as the farmer's family is concerned, it is unfortunate there is not the possibility of an extension of the floor space. This is not something that people in one political group or another believe in; it is a problem common to all of us. We approach it, having in mind the conditions in which we live and the districts where we were brought up.

I agree with Senator Hearne that, to a great extent, the skill of previous generations, as displayed in the masonry they left behind them, is a type of thing we could very quickly lose, and I would be prepared to go a very considerable distance to ensure that that type of craftsmanship would not be lost. We have the material in the country. I know it is still available, but I am also aware that the costs related to it are high. As Senator Hearne has pointed out, you would have to have an 18-inch instead of the eight- or nine-inch wall which you could construct with concrete.

In so far as farmhouses are concerned, I think the Minister will lose nothing. Some farmers may have money, but the great majority are not wealthy. You are not going into the luxury type of house when you are giving the farmer a little more space. It will simply mean that his wife will have a little more space in the kitchen, and that is a vital thing in any farm house.

It is the tragedy of this scheme of regulation into which we have got our minds that we have to regulate the floor space for the wife in the kitchen. That is very undesirable. In so far as it is possible, the Minister should make or alter regulations to give the people who are building houses in the country on their own land more turning ground, as it is something that is not only desirable but absolutely essential. The Minister ought to look into that point. I know he has made a considerable concession, and has moved in the right direction. There are not so many people ready to build luxury houses. That day is past. There has been such a redistribution of whatever luxury we had that the people for whom my colleague Senator Colgan would speak could as easily be amongst the luxury classes to-day as those who belonged to the luxury classes 30 or 40 years ago. I support Senator Hearne, in so far as that is any contribution to the point of view he has put forward.

The concession the Minister has given in Section 14, by increasing the floor space from 1,250 to 1,400 square feet, while it is there on paper, does not really mean a concession that costs anything to the Exchequer or the taxpayer. In the long run, it will be a source of revenue to the local authority, since the larger the house the higher the valuation and the more return in rates. It is a good thing, from one point of view, that we should encourage large houses. I agree thoroughly with the points made by Senator Hearne and Senator Baxter. It is not the building of houses we are dealing with now, but the building of homes. This is not for people who have houses to rent or let, but for people who are taking on the responsibility of building their homes. If people throughout the country are anxious to have a large country kitchen, with good sized bedrooms and accommodation of every kind, we should encourage them.

Some Government at some time will have to make provision to help those people to reconstruct or to add additional rooms. Already to-day we have passed sections of this Bill enabling grants to be made for additional rooms. That probably would not be required had encouragement and facilities been given to those persons at the outset to erect larger houses. We should take steps to prevent a recurrence of the necessity to make additions. We should encourage people to build ample accommodation for themselves and their families.

Senator Hearne and Senator Baxter have put forward the point of view on behalf of persons anxious to have large houses. I want to put another case, that of the person who cannot have a large house and who is putting all his energy and resources into building a house of 500 or 600 square feet. His idea is to do the job as well as he can, in accordance with his resources. In Connemara, if persons propose to erect homes with the assistance of State grants, they naturally turn to the material at hand and build the houses in stone. If the Minister sees fit to make the concession suggested by Senator Hearne, it means that, while not increasing the size of the house and while building external and internal walls of stone and providing for fireplaces, their rooms can be from nine inches to ten inches larger all round than under present circumstances.

We are first helping a man who is building the larger type of house, but in making this concession we are giving a larger accommodational space inside to the man building the smaller house. There is everything to recommend this amendment to the Minister. It is not necessary that he should accept the amendment in order to do this, since it can be governed by regulation as in the past.

Mr. O'Farrell

Through this amendment, Senator Hearne has widened the scope of the discussion, with great advantage to the country and to the House itself. We know the amendment will not be pressed and that, even if it were, it would not be accepted. The Senator has put forward a very good proposal, in suggesting that something should be done to encourage the use of masonry. While he proposes to give the concession for the mere purpose of putting in more masonry internally, it will not make the houses better if you still build the outer walls of cement blocks. I would like something to be done—it cannot be done under this Bill, but the Minister at some time in his Department might consider it—to revive the art of building with stone. The whole country is a mass of stone, in every county and under every farm. If you go through Ireland and have not too fast a car, you will see that every county has its own particular sort of stone and its own style of building to comply with that stone. In no two counties have they built stone walls or boundary ditches in the same way, as the stone dictates the type in each county.

We have throughout the country the remains of very fine houses built with local stone, sand and lime. Now we are depending on outside sources for almost everything in the building line. Houses are built to a great extent with imported cement, our roofs and walls are made of imported cement. Have we anything even to compare with some of the old buildings of native stone? The neglected ruins, the round towers, the churches, Cormac's chapel, built of local stone with local labour, show what can be done. The whole craft has gone, because someone, somewhere else, wanted stone but had to use cement, and we are always following foreign fashions. I do not think that in a thousand years' time there will be any special excursions to see the cement buildings we put up— not even the ex-Córas Iompair Éireann building, for all the praise lavished on it. No one will go to see the ruins of that building. I think that the cement buildings will go in a much shorter time than those of stone.

Although we cannot do anything about it in this Bill, the Senator has widened the discussion and has enabled us to talk about stone walls. I hope the Minister will do something to encourage the use of local stone and native skill in building. I know it is more costly than cement. No matter what some of the building contractors and ratepayers say about the great care exercised by builders, any couple of handymen with two boards and a couple of buckets could build a wall with cement, and some have built houses. There is very little skill in putting up some of the cement walls I have seen. I am glad someone made reference to the use of stone and I think the country would survive even if we used stone for making our roads to a greater extent and relied less on cement and gravel.

As I have already stated, I am impressed by the case made by Senator Hearne in connection with the masonry but, at the same time, I do not think I should meet it by accepting the amendment. The regulations quoted by the Senator are different from those under which I am working at present. I think the Senator's are older than mine. This is the 1948 regulation:—

"The area of any floor shall be measured within the external or containing walls of the house and shall include any portion of such floor which is occupied by staircases, landings, interior walls, chimney breasts, bay windows and similar spaces or structures."

I certainly will bear in mind the case made by Senator Hearne when we come to make alterations in the regulations.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 14 put and agreed to.
Sections 15 and 16 agreed to.
SECTION 17.

I move amendment No. 4:—

To insert a new sub-section before sub-section (2) as follows:—

Where a housing authority acquires land compulsorily under this section the housing authority shall pay to the owner of such land the market value thereof.

This is one of the most important sections in this Bill since it is a completely new section. It does not exactly give new powers to local authorities, but it is a section at the same time to which we should give very careful consideration. The 1932 Act provided that local authorities might acquire land and make available by the grant of land sites to public utility societies erecting houses to let at an economic rent. I do not know if that section was availed of to any great degree by local authorities. We are making a further advance in this Bill since we now propose to enable local authorities to acquire land for the purpose of erecting houses for persons other than those who come under the definition of working classes. I take the present provision to cover that type of person commonly referred to as the white-collar worker. But the section may go much further than that since it also enables local authorities to acquire land for building purposes and to transfer such land to individuals who are prepared to erect houses for their own occupation.

In every case where we give power to local authorities to do certain things we give them power to take something away from other people. For a number of years we have given them power to acquire land either by agreement or compulsorily for the housing of the working classes under the Labourers Acts. In 1932 we went further. We gave them power to acquire land and pass it on to public utility societies. We now propose to give them power to acquire land and pass it on to private individuals, and there is grave danger that we shall thereby hand over to the State, and from the State to the local authorities, a power over the liberty of the individual.

This section goes very far. It enables the local authority to acquire land compulsorily and hand it over to private individuals. We can visualise the case of a man who owns a small parcel of land—it may be a garden or a cow plot—and who, for one reason or another, is not anxious or does not desire to part with that particular piece of land. But a particular individual or a number of individuals combined fix their eyes on that particular plot and they approach the local authority; the local authority then takes the necessary proceedings and the land is acquired and handed over to the individual or individuals who first became interested in it. The land is taken from that man and little or no consideration is paid to his objections. Because he is a ratepayer he has already contributed in no small measure to the housing programme in general and to the financial provisions necessary for the purpose of providing houses for the working classes.

Some few months ago we were discussing the Land Bill here. Under that Bill it was proposed to take land from landowners for the relief of congestion. I think we all agreed that the relief of congestion was sound national policy but we also agreed that, if land were taken for that purpose, the person from whom the land was taken should receive the full market value. I put this amendment down to-day in order that some precautions may be taken against possible abuses under this section. I am not to be taken for one moment as suggesting that our local authorities can be influenced but even if there is only a danger of one case of victimisation occurring it is our duty to guard against such an occurrence in advance. At the present time there is difficulty in most urban areas in procuring sites. The people who have land are not anxious to sell even at a good price to intending purchasers. Under this Bill intending purchasers can now go to the local authority and have the land acquired for them.

I do not know the conditions under which the local authority will pass on land so acquired to private individuals. I do not know whether it will be sold to them at the same price at which the local authority acquired it or whether the local authority will be entitled to make a profit or charge for the expenses incurred in acquiring the land. I think it is only right that steps should be taken to ensure that when land is so acquired by a local authority or a Department of State the person from whom it is taken will receive the full market value.

I welcome any provision which will enable local authorities to proceed with the housing of persons other than the working classes. At the same time I do not see much progress being made under this section until the housing of the slum dwellers has been achieved. There are two main points for consideration. Firstly, we have to consider the person from whom the land is taken and the price to be paid for it—that is the market value. Secondly, the local authority is now empowered to acquire land and erect houses for persons other than the working classes; for that purpose they are, of course, entitled also to borrow money.

I would like to know from the Minister whether any contribution will be made by the central authority as regards repayment of loan charges. We know that, in the case of houses provided for displaced persons from slum areas, 66? per cent. of the loan charge is met by the central authority, and to the extent of 33? per cent. in the case of houses for other persons. Will the 33? per cent. be available to local authorities in respect of housing under this section? I should like to point out that this is not the first time local authorities have engaged in building houses for persons other than the working classes. Many years ago the Galway Urban Council erected some very fine houses which they afterwards sold to the tenants on a purchase basis. I think that would be a very good system to continue. If local authorities should propose to provide houses for that type of person, the Minister, I think, should encourage them. The local authority might then either sell the houses directly to the purchasers or let them on an annuity basis. I think a system of that sort would provide a better opportunity for planning and development than if the local authority were, say, to acquire one site here and another site there for intending purchasers of houses.

I ask the Minister to accept the amendment. By doing so, I think he will be doing justice to the persons from whom land is taken, and he will be creating the feeling amongst them that they are getting what they deem to be justice to themselves.

It is important that we should have a very clear statement from the Minister on this point. I want to be clear on it myself. Will the Minister tell me what compensation is guaranteed to a person whose land is acquired under this section? We are dealing with two things, first, acquisition and, secondly, compensation. This section gives power to acquire almost any plot of land, but apparently it does not seem to give any protection in the way of getting a right price for the person from whom the land is acquired. Unless the Minister can point out that protection is given somewhere in the Bill—for myself I cannot find it—I think that Senator Hawkins' amendment deserves support. To put my point again: what compensation is guaranteed to a man if his land is acquired under Section 17, and where is the guarantee?

While Senator Hawkins was speaking, I was trying to disentangle for myself what result the passing of this amendment would have on the Bill. I do not know whether the Senator thinks that, because some of us had a point of view about "market value" on one Bill, we have tied ourselves up for all time in that phrase in the case of every other Bill in which the term appears. Although this is a very valuable section, I suggest it is going to be rather narrow in its application. What I mean by that is that the number of people for whom local authorities will have to acquire sites on which to build houses will be very small, indeed, when considered in relation to the number of people for whom houses are built by a local authority.

This section deals with the provision of houses for persons not of the working classes. Senator Hawkins, Senator Hearne and all of us who have contact with local authorities, know what the procedure is in regard to the acquisition of sites by local authorities for the erection of houses for the working classes. We know, too, the method of valuing land which is compulsorily acquired for that purpose. To-day, houses are being erected for agricultural workers in every country. In a good many cases the land has to be compulsorily acquired. Speaking from experience in my own county, I would say there is very little difficulty about that. What I want to suggest to Senator Hawkins is that, if there is to be one procedure by a local authority for the acquisition of land for the erection of houses for the working classes, and another procedure in respect of land taken for the erection of houses for people other than the working classes, I do not know how that is going to work.

Let us suppose that a local authority is going to acquire sites for the building of houses for people other than agricultural workers, for, say, a home assistance officer who comes from a distant part of a rural district. He has not got a house. He will apply to the local authority to get a site on which to erect a house for him. The local authority may take a field from B for the erection of labourers' cottages. What happens? The local authority appoints an arbitrator. He will go to B's farm and discuss with the owner the value of the land. He will get from the owner an estimate of what he thinks he ought to receive for the land. The arbitrator, or perhaps I should say the assessor—generally he is an auctioneer—will make an award. The owner may or may not accept the award. If he does not accept it, he can appeal. Imagine the position you would be confronted with there. On one portion of that man's field you are going to erect labourers' cottages, and on another portion of it you are going to acquire a site on which to erect a house for the home assistance officer. As regards the plot for the latter, the owner is to get market value for it, but in regard to the other portion of the field an assessor is to be brought in who will make an award in regard to it. I just cannot see how that would work.

I live a short distance from a town. The land that I have, from the point of view of price when I came into possession of it a good many years ago, was £100 an acre. If the Senator's amendment were accepted, the position would be that market value would be paid for that portion of my land taken over for the purposes of this section. I think there would be greater protection and justice for me if an assessor, who knew the facts, were to determine what was just and fair for the land than there would be under the method suggested by the Senator. It would mean very great difficulty for a local authority if it had to adopt one method for putting a value on land under this section, and another method for valuing land required for other purposes. It would be quite impossible for any local authority to administer two methods. I do not think the amendment would give an owner any greater protection than he has at present.

When we spoke about "market value" on the Land Bill we were speaking of market value in relation to the use of land for agricultural purposes. Does the Senator, when he uses "market value" in his amendment, mean market value for the land taken for agricultural purposes, or market value for land taken to erect houses on just because that land happens to be in close proximity to a town or city? I think it would be impossible to determine what market value should be in the latter case. No local authority could, I think, administer two methods in regard to the procedure to be followed for valuing land, one method to be applied to one portion of a field and another method to the remainder of it. I do not think you would have either equity or satisfaction.

I should like to intervene at this stage to state that the powers envisaged in Section 17 of this Bill for the compulsory purchase of land are those which are available to local authorities at the present time for operations under the Housing of the Working Classes Acts, namely, the powers under the Acts of 1931 and 1932. The rights of owners of property to be acquired under the Compulsory Purchase Order procedure are fully protected at present and they will continue to be protected in operations under Section 17. With regard to assessment of compensation, the present system of assessment will likewise continue and the full market value will be paid. In any case of dispute, the market value is decided by an independent arbitrator appointed in the usual way. The only exception would arise in connection with the acquisition of clearance sites. In such cases, they will get the market value less the cost of clearance. Exactly the same conditions will operate in these cases as operate at present. In answer to Senator Hawkins as to the amount that will be paid, there will be no loan subsidy in connection with these houses. The grant will be similar to that paid to private individuals—no loan subsidy will be paid—and there will be no loss to the local authority.

The Minister has more or less anticipated what I was going to say. So far as my knowledge goes, there has never been any complaint about the price given by the local authorities in these cases. If any of us thought for a moment that there was any danger that the local authority would acquire land at a figure that was not fair, we would be against it. We have had a lot of public agitation in regard to this point of the acquisition of land and the mere fact that we have had no complaints, so far as local bodies are concerned, shows that they have given a fair price for any land they took.

As a landowner who has had some experience of some of his land being compulsorily acquired, I wish to say that I should like to have the same rules applied in future as applied in the past. I do not think there can be any improvement on the appeal to an arbitrator. It would be much better to have a system of that kind than to have to rely on any provision as to market value. Most people would be more satisfied to leave it to an arbitrator than to adopt the method proposed in this amendment. Market value as regulated by the Land Commission and as regulated under the Public Authority Acts are two different and distinct things. I never heard of anyone whose land was compulsorily acquired by a local authority who was dissatisfied with the price fixed by an arbitrator. I think it would be as well if Senator Hawkins left the matter as it is.

May a simple Dublin man be put on record as expressing the sense of shock with which, for the first time in his life, he heard that there are farmers who are satisfied with something? I never heard of it before.

The Minister has given me some information for which I am very grateful. There is just one point on which I should like to be clear. When the local authority acquires land and a certain amount of expense is attached to that proceeding, the local authority will be compelled to add such expense in passing on the land to the applicant.

That is so.

The local authority will not be at any loss and will receive no financial assistance from the Central Fund in operating this section.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Question proposed: "That Section 17 stand part of the Bill."

This section gives very wide powers to local authorities to acquire land either compulsorily or by agreement for re-sale to people for the purposes of building houses thereon. I said it is very wide, and I wonder would the Minister relate the powers given in the section to the very wide powers that local authorities have under the Local Government Act of 1946, Section 82, which reads as follows:—

"A local authority may, with the consent of and subject to any conditions imposed by the Minister, acquire by agreement, whether by way of purchase, lease or exchange, any land, whether situate within or outside their functional area, which in their opinion they will require in the future for the purposes of their powers and duties notwithstanding that they have not determined the manner in which or the purpose for which they will use the land."

We must have been asleep when we allowed that to pass.

I think that if the Senator will look the matter up he will see that I did raise a question as to what was meant by it. Sub-section (4) of that section is very important because it deals with the limitations which may be read into that sub-section. Sub-section (4) says:—

"Subject to sub-section (5) of this section...."

Sub-section (5) refers to Section 8 of the Unemployment (Relief Works) Act, 1940. In that Act local authorities were given very wide powers to carry out road works. Even before any agreement as to price, you could enter on the land and proceed with the road work. Subject to that sub-section.

"a power conferred on a local authority by any Act, whether passed before or after this Act, to acquire land for a particular purpose shall be deemed to include a power to acquire land which the local authority do not require immediately for that purpose, but which in their opinion they will require for that purpose in future."

Again it is "in their opinion."

Those powers are by agreement.

I come to that very point. I have heard two contrary opinions by senior counsels as to what are the exact legal implications of Section 82. I thought myself that there seemed little doubt that it meant by agreement and that the whole thing was subject to the acquisition of the land being as a result of agreement between the local authority and the landowner, but certain doubt has arisen because of sub-section (4)—not doubt in my mind, but in the opinion of senior counsel. I think it is most undesirable that we should pass legislation of that type. Where a local authority—and I am a member of a local authority for a great many years and have great admiration for the work done by local authorities—is empowered to acquire land or infringe on the rights of the individual we should be very careful and know exactly what we are doing when we are passing such legislation as Section 82 of the 1946 Act, or Section 17 of this one. Because this is the only opportunity I will have to raise the matter for a very considerable time as the House adjourns this evening, I would like the Minister to state in how far Section 17 affects the powers given to local authorities under Section 82 in view of the fact that on trying to apply Section 82 to a particular case I have heard two entirely contrary opinions from very eminent senior counsels, one of whom was a member of this House for some time. It is very difficult for me as an ordinary layman to know what is meant by this section or that section if two men trained in law have contrary opinions as to what exactly is the meaning of either of these sections.

The provisions of the 1946 Act referred to by the Senator were intended to enable local authorities to exercise their functions in dealing with road widening and things like that and they had to have them to enable them to carry out their functions correctly. This Bill extends those powers for another purpose: to build houses for the people outside the categories which were included up to now, and I think it is generally agreed that it is a very desirable addition to give them such powers as will enable them to build houses for these people who are outside these categories. To do that it is necessary to give the local authorities powers of compulsory acquisition. They would sooner do it by agreement but they must have the power to acquire compulsorily if they are to build houses. As I pointed out in the other House the local authorities will be very sparing and cautious in using those powers. They will not use them further than there is need for them in their locality. I cannot see local authorities going haywire and buying sites all over the country if they do not need them and I think that the difficulty will be for the residents to push the local authorities into taking them at all. As I pointed out to Senator Hawkins there will be no loss about it. If they acquire land they will develop it for people who are in urgent need. They are given the powers necessary to acquire land to build the necessary houses. There is protection in all the Acts for landowners; they are getting the full market value and if they want a dispute rectified the arbitrators are there. I do not feel that there will be any abuse by local authorities of the powers vested in them in the particular section to carry out their functions.

I entirely agree with the Minister. Like him, I have no doubt in my mind that if the power is given to the local authorities it will not be abused to any extent, but at the same time I think it is well that it should be said here that if there is any attempt on the part of the local authorities, or even of one local authority, to abuse the powers vested in them by Section 17 there are many people in this House who will not be silent. I speak as a member of a local authority for a great many years when I say that. It is only when the very best interests of the State are involved that the rights of the State should transcend the fundamental rights of the individual to his own property.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 18.
Question proposed: "That Section 18 stand part of the Bill."

Section 18 enables local authorities to proceed with the erection of houses which are to be reserved for a particular class. I take it that this is the section to encourage local authorities to erect houses for the class of people who have come to be known as "newly-weds" and it is proposed that these houses will have limited accommodation. I do not want to be taken as opposing encouragement to our young people to become newly-weds or the provision of houses for them, but I do not approve under any circumstances of the State, a local authority or an individual erecting houses with two or three rooms. I think it is a complete waste of public funds. Take the case of newly-weds. When they succeed in acquiring a house, their great ambition is to settle down and build up a home. Owing to circumstances of work or something else, it may not be possible for them to remain in one house for a life-time, but we must take it that, having acquired a reasonable house, the newly married couple will wish to set about building up a home and furnishing it and bringing up a family. The proposal to erect a house of limited accommodation and after a short period to remove such people from the house to another one and to keep moving them according as their family increases is, I think, a bad suggestion. The very least the State should aim at is to build houses with no less than four rooms. I would suggest to the Minister that we reverse the idea and instead of providing homes of this kind for newly married couples we should provide limited accommodation for old age pensioners or bachelors living alone for whom two or three rooms would be sufficient. The idea of putting a newly married couple into one or two rooms and then transferring them, with the result that they can never settle down to build up a home, is nationally wrong.

I rise to support Senator Hawkins to a certain extent but I am afraid that I have to disagree with his last remarks. I have experience as a member of the Dublin Corporation of visiting people in flats which were built obviously for people with limited families or with none at all. I visited a man and his wife who were living with nine children in a living room and one bedroom. The man told me seriously that he had to get up and walk about at night so as to leave room for his wife and children to sleep. I am all in favour of giving newly married couples a house because it is a scandal in a Christian country to have people getting married and the man has to go to live with his mother while the girl has to go to live with her mother. They get no opportunity of living together as they should. The unfortunate part is that they are being mulcted by landladies and others who insist, in many cases, before allowing them in on getting a guarantee that they will have no children. That is a common practice in the City of Dublin. I know that the call for housing by all classes is very clamant, but we should make some effort to meet the needs of the newly-married people. These people are ambitious to build a home and they should get every encouragement to do so.

I agree with Senator Hawkins that we should provide for at least a four-roomed house or cottage. I have not got much use for bachelors as such. They are not doing their duty to the community, I believe, but circumstances make them bachelors, and, when they come to old age, they realise the mistake they have made. If you build two- or three-roomed houses for bachelors or old couples, do not forget that these bachelors and old couples are not going to remain there for ever. These houses will be eventually occupied by people with large families, as has happened in the City of Dublin. There are houses in this city built 50 or 60 years ago for small families of the type of people Senator Hawkins mentioned which are now occupied by large families and these people would be better off in a single room in one of the old tenement houses than living in the conditions in which they have to live. If you build small houses, you will eventually be in a worse position than your first position.

If you build these houses for bachelors or for single people living on their own, you will find after a while that these houses will be to let and people with large families will eventually get into them and thereby create another problem. We should aim at building houses with no fewer than four rooms for newly-married people and all other types. Bachelors and old people generally live with somebody else, and, if you build special houses for them, you are building houses for large families in the future. I think it would be a great mistake to depart from the principle of the four-roomed house.

The fears expressed by both Senator Colgan and Senator Hawkins are unnecessary, because Section 14 provides that no house shall be less than 500 square feet. That should cover the situation, even if we make provision for certain classes. Neither in this section nor anywhere else in the Bill do I see any mention of newly-weds or bachelors. It may be that special provision will have to be made——

A particular class.

But it does not say that provision must be made for a particular class by providing them with a particularly small and objectionable type of house. I do not think that Senator Colgan, with all his dislike for bachelors—and I am sure he felt embarrassed having to make such remarks to the Chair——

I had not the Chair in mind at all. The full implication of what I said has only now come home to me.

That is the unkindest cut of all—no one thought of it until the Senator mentioned it.

If a bachelor gets 500 square feet of floor area, he will have room to throw himself about.

I wonder whether any consideration could be given to the provision of some type of building in which business girls could have rooms, with a central kitchen and laundry. That is something which Senator Miss Butler might secure consideration for in the corporation. All over Dublin and in the large cities, there are girls working in offices and shops and in various other forms of activity for whom there might be provided some sort of block of buildings where they could have nice comfortable rooms and make homes for themselves, with laundry and kitchen facilities. Something like that has been done in Vienna where there was a Mayor who devoted a great deal of attention to housing matters, and I throw out the suggestion as something on which the corporation might act at some time.

The idea here is that local authorities shall have the right to build small type houses for newly-weds and old couples. There is a regulation limit below which they cannot go under which it is possible to provide houses which are quite suitable for newly-weds and old couples. In the event of their circumstances changing, the newly-weds can be removed to a bigger house on the scheme. It is not a question of being shifted around every five minutes—only one change is visualised by the scheme. There are big houses and smaller houses on these schemes, and it will be found that on these schemes there is the big house with four or five rooms in which the old couple live. They do not require this big house and, as the newly-weds and others are moved up to a bigger house, these old couples will be found to be prepared to step down to the smaller house. It makes for economy and saving in building costs.

There is only a very limited number being built by any of the authorities and it is left to their own discretion. The biggest percentage visualised is about 10 per cent. and that figure has not been reached in any place yet. We have had appeals from certain local authorities for permission to get on with the job. This arrangement was limited to cities and towns with a population of 12,000 and it is now being extended. It has been found to be a good economy for the occupants and for the building business itself to have these houses interspersed here and there through a scheme. We do not want a complete set of non-variety houses—we must have big and small houses. In the main, they are fairly big, but the small type of house has justified itself to the limited extent to which it is being provided. It is only being provided to a limited extent, but there is a certain purpose which it can serve.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 19 to 26, inclusive, agreed to.
Business suspended at 6 p.m. and resumed at 7 p.m.
SECTION 27.

In calling on Senator Counihan to move amendment No. 5, I must apologise to him for ruling out any reference to parish halls last week which may or may not be covered by the word "amenities" in the section.

I move amendment No. 5:—

To add a new sub-section as follows:—

Section 40 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1931 (No. 50 of 1931) is hereby amended by the insertion after the word "buildings" of the words and brackets "(including parish halls)".

Anyone who has any knowledge of rural life or knows anything about the conditions of life in the country must realise the great boon which parish halls are to people in rural districts. The necessity for such halls has been recognised by every Government. Even the British Government provided facilities for the building of parish halls or libraries. The rural councils had the option of assessing the ratepayers to create a fund for that purpose. The same thing was carried on under the Cosgrave Government and, when the rural councils were abolished, the county councils had the same option. The same thing happened under the Government of Deputy de Valera. There have been more facilities granted by the present Government than by any other Government. That is the reason why I am making an appeal on this matter to the Minister as I think he would be more sympathetic than Ministers of previous Governments to whom I appealed. I am confident that he will give encouragement and a little push to the county managers in regard to this matter, because I feel that there should be a parish hall in every village where there is a church, a school, a post office, and, I suppose, some people will think I should include a public-house.

Anyone driving through a country village at any time will see that the farmers and their sons and the workers and their sons who come into the village from miles around have no place to go to except to stand up against the wall of a public-house and of course the temptation will be there to go into the public-house. If there was a parish hall they could amuse themselves with innocent games such as cards, draughts, rings, etc., and have a reading room where they could read the local papers and books. Parish halls in villages, however, are very rare all over the country. Most of them were built out of funds provided by that great philanthropist, the late Mr. Andrew Carnegie. Where these were not available, the county councils did not do very much in the direction of providing halls or libraries. For that reason, as they have all the necessary powers, I think they have fallen down on their job in connection with what should be a most essential part of their work.

In several places—I know of it even in my own village—the Department of Agriculture send out experts and lecturers to give lectures on what growing, grassland improvement and different other matters connected with agriculture. These people have no place to go to except to the school. Though the school manager always gives the school, the teachers have a great objection and they are justified in their objection. When the youngsters come into the school the following morning, the whole place is filled with smoke, cigarette stumps and everything objectionable of that description which could be avoided if there were a parish hall. They have no chance. People do not attend the lecture because it is so distressing to go in the winter time—which is when most of the lectures are held—into a cold school and destroy the whole business of the school and have the grousing and just complaints of the teacher in respect of the holding of these lectures there. When farmers go into the school after having walked along a muddy road, their boots will soil the floor and the whole place looks very untidy when the youngsters come into school the following morning. Not alone is it most upsetting but I think that it is not very hygienic, either, for the youngsters. All these things could be avoided if there were a parish hall. It would be a great incentive from the point of view of temperance and I think that different crusaders would welcome the hall. It would be a loss to the public-house if there were any other place to go to rather than standing up against the corner of a pub. Generally, they must go in if it starts to rain whereas, if the hall were available, they could go there and enjoy themselves.

If the Minister would instruct the county manager to give some sort of a gee-up in respect of the building of these parish halls, without exercising any compulsion on him, I think it would have the desired effect. For that reason I implore the Minister to exercise his good influence with the county managers to have parish halls built wherever he can induce them to build them.

I should like to support Senator Counihan's amendment in this matter, with certain reservations, of course. I know that the arguments the Senator put before the House are very strong. It is only in places that are still without the amenities provided by a parish hall that the want of them can fully be appreciated. As the Senator has truly pointed out, the uses of such a hall are many and varied. Legislation at the present time has a bias towards preventing the flight from the land. I know of no greater help to preventing that flight than the brightening of life in the rural areas and I know of no greater help towards achieving that end than the provision in those areas of a centre where the young people can enjoy themselves and participate in cultural movements for their own betterment and for the betterment of the people in the district. At the present time there is in various parts of the country a craze, if I may put it that way—and it is a very desirable craze—for amateur theatricals. The lure of the cinema in many country areas is not what it was. All we have to do is to read the results of the many drama festivals that have been held throughout the country to find out that quite a large number of the competitors at these festivals come from rural areas and that not a few of them walk away with good prizes. I hold that, from that point of view alone, the provision of a parish hall is an absolute necessity for any parish in which such a hall does not already exist.

As Senator Counihan also pointed out, from time to time, different Departments—mostly the Department of Agriculture—send out lecturers to talk to the farmers in the different areas about crops, fertilisers and so forth and to give them up-to-date instruction in matters that would be of benefit to them in their work. In many cases people are deprived of the benefit of these lectures—and they are of considerable benefit—owing to the fact that there is no centre at which a representative of the Department of Agriculture or such official may talk to the people on the matters of vital interest to them. Where the national school is available, it is generally given by the managers, but, as Senator Counihan has pointed out, these schools are not at all suitable for such purposes—and for very good reasons.

I take it that Senator Counihan does not mean that these halls should be built as a direct charge on the rates— I would not stand for that. I think that what he is looking for—and he is the best judge of that himself—is that encouragement should be given to representative committees in parishes to put, by local effort, a certain sum of money together towards the building of such a hall and that a committee, representative of clergy and laity, would be formed which would be eligible to get grants in aid of building as a result of this new Housing Bill. That is my view of Senator Counihan's amendment—that if such properly constituted bodies were eligible for grants there would be an incentive to them to put their heads together and endeavour to collect money in their respective localities.

The question of the administration of such a hall, when built, might present some little difficulty but it could be vested in local trustees who would be responsible for its administration and for seeing that no abuses would be tolerated in so far as its use would be concerned. I happen to come from a district where the people had such a hall erected by local effort. I could not speak strongly enough in favour of the great benefit that that hall has proved to be to the people of the district. It is a source of entertainment for young and old. The people in areas without halls are deprived of entertainment, intellectual and otherwise, that can be derived from the use of such a hall if it is properly managed. I trust that the Minister will see his way to accept this amendment. I feel it introduces a matter that is of vital interest for rural areas, especially the areas that are not yet provided with parish halls.

I would be very anxious to support this amendment if I knew exactly Senator Counihan's purpose in moving it—what he proposes to achieve by it. We all agree with the principle of providing parish halls, because we realise the great benefits they confer and the various uses to which they can be put. The point is, how are they to be provided? Senator Counihan's only solution, in advocating his amendment, was to ask the Minister to give a spurt to the county manager with the object of erecting parish halls. That is a view with which I would not agree. The county manager could not undertake the work. Even if it were within the Minister's power, or within the functions of the county manager, to carry out a worthy project of this kind, I would still object.

Under existing legislation the county council may assist in the erection of a parish hall where approved persons come together, with the approval of the county council, in a desire to erect a hall locally. It is the county council and not the county manager who must decide. They must approve of the group of persons who propose to take charge of the hall and then they can assist in its erection. It is a worthy thing to provide halls in various parishes, because these halls can be utilised for a variety of purposes. Senator Counihan and Senator Ruane have indicated some of the uses to which the halls could be put.

The main difficulty is to get a group of people in a parish who will be generally approved as a suitable committee. It has been suggested that this is an easy matter, that you could have the parish priest, the local teacher and other responsible persons like that. I suggest there would be serious objection to a committee of that kind in many parts of the country. Probably the best system might be to elect a parish council or committee. The first thing is that the committee must come together and then, through a general local effort, approach the county council and convince that body that they are responsible persons and that they will conduct the parish hall in a manner worthy of the support of the people. The main thing is to encourage local bodies to assist in matters of that kind. Merely to suggest that the Minister should give a spurt to the county manager is an entirely wrong approach.

So far as parish halls are concerned, I have found that in many parts of the country the parish or parochial hall serves a very useful purpose but, for some unknown reason—probably it arises out of past history—there is a very serious objection to the method of letting halls by the committees in charge—the letting, for instance, of accommodation for meetings of political Parties. I think there is a completely wrong approach in that connection. We hear complaints made by people who never made any contribution to the life of the nation. They complain about too much politics in Ireland. I believe there is not half enough of politics and not half enough of our people take an active interest in the political life of the country. An example should be set by those people who are closing parochial halls to political gatherings. I do not suggest that one political Party should get an advantage over another, but where there is a parish hall it should be open for the purpose of allowing people to meet, because such meetings would help to stimulate interest in national affairs.

It would be a good thing if accommodation were made available in these halls for the representatives of every political Party. They could meet there for the purpose of holding discussions, and I believe there would be less political bitterness if we could discuss political problems in an atmosphere of that kind. That is one of the difficulties I see in relation to the promotion of parish halls. I do not wish to go any further in this connection, but I was anxious to avail of the opportunity to point out that I think it would be well if everybody interested in this problem would approach it from that direction, and it would be well if these people in charge of parish or parochial halls were wise enough to see that they are doing a disservice to the nation in having resolutions on their books excluding political Parties from using the halls.

I must congratulate Senator Hawkins for having brought this matter to the notice of the public. I do not know how far Senator Counihan's amendment will go to help in the provision of halls, but if it only raises a discussion on the subject it will have served a good purpose.

Senator Ruane dealt with some of the advantages of a parish hall. I think nearly every Senator is aware that there are very few villages of any size where there is such a building. In view of all the talk about the flight from the land and the falling away of the rural population, anything that can be done to brighten country life ought to be done. One of the most essential factors in that connection is the provision of a parish hall. In most villages there is no place where the people can have entertainment. The point is that the erection of a hall is beyond the capacity of the funds at the disposal of the people.

There are such bodies as Muintir na Tíre that have done some excellent work in this direction. In my own county, for instance, two halls have been provided through that organisation. There is a village near my own place and arrangements are being made through Muintir na Tíre for the erection of another hall. I do not know if that project will materialise, mainly because the funds may be beyond the capacity of the organisation and the local people. If there could be some arrangement by which assistance other than through local contributions could be given towards the building of halls in villages and small towns, it would be all to the good.

I do not want to delay the House in putting forward the advantages to be derived from a parish hall. There are 101 objects that could be achieved. If, as Senator Hawkins said, various political Parties were allowed to use these halls, without any hindrance from one side or the other, that would be all to the good. There are many other ways in which these halls could be utilised. We might provide opportunity for some of the learned professors to teach us not to grumble. One Senator said he was very glad agriculturists were pleased about something. We would be more pleased if we had a decent place in most of the villages to have professorial lectures every few months. Then the farmers and professors would get on very well together and understand each other's difficulties.

I am glad Senator Counihan proposed this amendment, to give us an opportunity to discuss the question of parish halls. Adult education is badly needed and can be organised only through parish halls. We might despair at Irish life at the moment, as we seem to have lost many of our own virtues and habits of work. It is good to find that Muintir na Tíre, the Irish Countrywomen's Association and the Gaelic League are bringing education to the people. To implement their programmes, parish halls are necessary. Many such movements could be fostered. When great thinkers like Thomas Davis and the men of '48 were planning for the regeneration of the country, reading-rooms were a strong feature in their programme. Parish halls could be reading-rooms and centres of local activity. They could include the dramatic movement, to assist the people, to bring decision to their actions and clarity to their speech and to develop their personalities.

One could write a long lecture on the advantages of parish halls. They would improve the health of the people. Those who live in Donegal in lonely places tell of young men who fall into consumption, as the only place they could meet was along the country roads in the rain and wet and they did not change their clothes when they went home. People have not very much idea about preserving health and think that a womanish kind of thing, and as a result strong men have been getting tuberculosis. That could largely be avoided if they had suitable meeting places, where there could be health lectures also. Our people are receptive and ready to lap up ideas. I welcome Senator Counihan's suggestion, but whether it could be fitted into the present Bill or not I do not know. It should be kept before all thinkers and I hope that eventually some movement will start for the provision of parish halls. It would be a spontaneous movement in which the parishes would take the initiative themselves by forming committees. Some people attend on committees but never take an active interest in the work. They get their names on committees but that is not enough. They must prove their worth and do the necessary spade work for the provision of the parish halls. That would bring out many good qualities which are hidden at present. I am sure Senator O'Farrell and others can tell what Muintir na Tíre has done and I just wish to give my personal approval to the suggestion.

I presume that everyone here this evening and everyone in the country of national and progressive thought will agree with Senator Counihan in the principle underlying the amendment. The mechanics of it, however, is a different proposition. I am equally keen about the provision of parish halls, but this amendment is inappropriate to the Bill we are discussing. Section 73 of the Local Government Act, 1941, enables the county councils at present to provide parish halls. If they have not availed of that fully, it is a different matter. They have the powers there and they can function under that section.

Quite recently, a deputation was received by my Parliamenary Secretary from a society called Foras Eireann to discuss the general question of the provision of parish halls in rural areas. They put forward certain suggestions, including the amendment of the 1941 Act, which is the relevant Act, and those suggestions—some of which might be desirable and some of which may not even be practicable—are being considered at the moment. I do not suggest that this Housing Bill is a suitable place to consider this. If we are making any alteration or increase in the powers of local authorities in the building of parish halls, it should come under an amendment to the Act of 1941. There is another Local Government Bill to be dealt with next session, which perhaps may give a more suitable opportunity.

I do not want to be taken as in any way derogatory or ill-disposed to the points made by Senator Counihan, but I suggest that this is not the place for the proposal. This Housing Bill enables local authorities to provide certain amenities in connection with housing schemes—playgrounds, and sites for schools, churches, etc.—but those are peculiar to the particular scheme and are not in the wider character of the parish hall.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 27 agreed to.
SECTION 28.
Question proposed: "That Section 28 stand part of the Bill."

I am a little worried about the section and would appeal to the Minister to enlighten me on it. We may be deceived by the word "demesne" in the section:—

"The scheme shall avoid all interference with the demesne and amenity of residence...."

We may think this is simply a matter of the large landlord with wide acres and plenty to spare, but where are we going to draw the line? Suppose a man has a few acres, or even half an acre of garden and pleasure ground, around his house, is it to be stripped under this Bill, without legal redress? I know the Minister has gone into this in the Dáil and that he said something about it in his introductory remarks here. I have studied both with the greatest care and would like some further clarification. He stated that:—

"Existing procedure for the compulsory acquisition of land already contains adequate safeguards for the protection of the rights of property owners."

He says that these are being withdrawn. "No case now exists for the continuance of this type of privilege afforded under the 1883 Act." Now in withdrawing that privilege, as he describes it, has he left adequate protection for the man with two, three or four acres? Can his few acres be taken over without his having any legal redress? The Minister stated in the Dáil that there was legal redress. I will quote his own words. At column 2178 of the Official Report of 18th July, 1950, the Minister said:—

"The owner of the demesne land may confidently take his place with other landowners who rely on the sympathetic consideration given by the Minister to all cases of hardship.... He can rely in addition on his right to appeal to the courts."

He did not repeat that phrase in his opening speech in this House. Here he seemed to imply that the final word rests with the Minister and he is now taking out the one clause, namely, this "demesne" and "amenity" clause, as I understand the position, under which a landowner is empowered to appeal to the courts. Can the Minister assure us at this stage that there is a right to appeal to the courts? If he does that, I shall be quite satisfied. If he cannot give that assurance, I shall be thoroughly dissatisfied.

This is not a question of the big landowner. It is a question of the small landowner with two or three acres who may find himself squeezed out under this Act. The Minister has assured us of the good intentions of himself, of his Department and of the local authorities. We are satisfied with that but, at the same time, we have to remind ourselves that legislation can never be based on good intentions only. Local authorities will change. The head of the Department will change in time. We must be very sure that our legislation is sufficiently watertight to nullify even ill-intentions on the part of the Department or on the part of local authorities. Would the Minister tell me what is the right of appeal to the courts in this instance?

Since the introduction of this Bill a good deal has been said about demesne lands. Now Senator Stanford has raised the question of the man with two, three or four acres. In all the history of our State nobody has ever interfered with two, three or four acres of land. Nobody has ever encroached so far upon a man's land that he is denuded of all privacy. There is hardly any danger that there will be a change in that respect unless by some ill-chance we become a Communist State. I hope we shall not change for the worse. We may change for the better. There was a time when one was prohibited by law from building a cottage within a certain distance of certain houses. I do not know if the law has changed in that respect, but I do know that we have very many people waiting to be housed.

The Minister will not interfere with the owner of two, three or four acres. I do not think there is the slightest danger of that unless we become a Communist State and that does not appear very likely. I think the Minister has taken all reasonable steps to ensure that local authorities will not be hampered in their efforts to house our people.

I think it was quite obvious in the development of housing and in the powers given to local authorities that part of this section at any rate would have to be introduced. There was a difficulty in relation to demesne lands. The question now arises whether we have gone just a little bit too far, particularly in the latter part of the section—"the lands immediately adjoining and customarily occupied with such residence." I think the point Senator Stanford wishes to make is that he agrees the local authority should have power to go in on these demesne lands just as they could go in on the lands commonly in the occupation of a farmer. But where you have a residence and lands immediately adjoining that residence, it is now proposed to give power to local authorities to go in on these lands and erect houses on them for the working-classes or for whatever section of the community for which they are empowered to erect houses under this Act. Local authorities are, in the main, reasonable bodies; so are their employees. Before we pass this Bill, however, we must be careful that we do not leave a loophole for what might be described as the "victimisation" of any individual. The private individual must have some right to privacy and we must guarantee that those rights are not infringed. If the Minister cannot see his way at this stage to delete the latter portion of the section, will he at least give us an assurance that, when drafting the regulations, he will pay due regard to the considerations put before him here and in the other House to ensure that "victimisation" will not take place? None of us would like to see the local authority come along and relieve us of a small piece of land and surround us with a different type of house and people from that to which we are accustomed. The local authorities when implementing their powers under this measure should ensure that such powers will be very carefully exercised.

I think we can rely on the Minister, his successor, and his Department to administer this Act with both common sense and consider-action. I think the Minister will do that. We must also realise that this is a repetition of a section in an Act passed 67 years ago when this country had not self-government and was shown no consideration by the Government of the time. Surely that section stands in need of repeal after 67 years. The preservation and the sanctity of demesne lands has continued even since we got power to govern ourselves. I am all for the sanctity of human rights and private property but I think that the rights of the common people must supersede privileges that were conferred 100 years ago. Senator Stanford is afraid that we will go in and take the half-acre garden or the two-acre garden. I do not think any Minister or any Department would contemplate doing that.

There are huge estates in this country still, and there are demesnes even in this country still which run down to the towns and villages, and in these villages the people cannot get a house built because the land adjoining them is demesne land. There is an example of that in the village of Bansha where you have a few ramshackle houses, while all around that village you have demense land. A house cannot be built there because all the surrounding land is demesne land. Surely, the rights of the people of Bansha are as sacred and are as well worth preserving as the rights of somebody who lives in a house in the centre of a big field. He will not be very much worse off if a small fringe of his land in front of the house is taken off him. At present, its only use may be to afford shelter to the bullocks in the field. He will be left his house and all the amenities surrounding it, so that he is not going to be very much worse off if a half-acre is taken off the field.

I mention the case of Bansha. There must be hundreds of similar cases that I do not know of. Even if the Minister were prepared to delete this clause, or to modify it, I would ask him not to do so. I think that the clause that is in the Bill is very necessary and that the legislation that is enshrined in the Bill is long overdue. I think that the rights of the Irish people as a whole, and of the poorer section of the Irish people in particular, should supersede and should be considered of far more importance than the privileges enshrined in British Acts of Parliament which were passed 100 or more years ago and which we have maintained up to now. It surely is time that they should be modified or altered. No injustice will be done to anybody by passing the section as it stands, but an injustice would continue to be done to the Irish people by deleting the clause.

I believe that if a case of hardship arose, such as that mentioned by Senator Stanford, it would probably be held to be unconstitutional. There is a very great difference between taking five acres of land from a man who has 500 acres and taking five acres from a man who has only five acres. To do that, I suggest, would be to interfere with his constitutional rights. I think that if a case of that sort arose and were to go to the courts, such action would be held to be repugnant to the Constitution.

I think there is such a thing as throwing the baby out with the bath water. Here we are throwing out some rather dirty bath water.

And some dirty babies.

The important baby in the bath is the right of a man to have a house, a garden and a bit of land round it. What I want to make sure is that, in taking away the bath water, we are not going to throw away the baby, namely, the right of every citizen to have a small parcel of land around his house. I want to make it quite clear that I fear the word "demesne" is misleading us here. We are not thinking in terms of demesnes at all. We are thinking in terms of perhaps half an acre of land.

Let me take one example. Suppose there is a very fine site, and that right in the centre of it there is a man who owns a house and half an acre of land. The Department decide that they must get that site. Very well. They acquire every inch of land around the house and leave the house high and dry in the centre. The house is useless to him. The man has been squeezed out, and that is the end of his home. We may say that is ridiculous. But that actually happened in a valley in the County Dublin where small farmers were turned out of their ancestral homes because Dublin wanted a bigger water supply. Reservoirs were built there and their old homes were engulfed in the waters. I simply reaffirm that I would be entirely satisfied if the Minister would tell us that an owner will have the right of appeal to the courts if we delete this clause. If he is not able to do that, then I think we should not agree to this amendment of the existing law.

I always respect Senator Séamus O'Farrell for his logic and his point of view, but does it follow that, simply because a clause was put in by the British Government 100 years ago, it is ipso facto wrong? Occasionally, the British Government may have done right by mistake. They may even have done right deliberately, and this may be one of the clauses in which they happened to be right.

And it may not.

Senator Stanford seems to be thinking all the time of half acres. The position is that we cannot get land for cottages in the County Tipperary. We still have demesnes there, but yet we cannot get land for the cottages. The Senator seems to think that we should not touch demesne land, but that we should go elsewhere for land if we want to build cottages for the people. I cannot understand why the Senator should be talking so much about taking half acres of land off anybody. I do not know what happens about Dublin, but in the country, where we have this demesne land, we ought to be able to get some of it on which to build houses for the people.

I should like to point out, in the first instance, that property owners can appeal to the Minister. When they do that, he is obliged to direct the holding of a local public inquiry at which the objector can be represented. He can make his case there. If, as a result of the inquiry, the Minister should decide to take the land, the owner has the further right of appeal to the courts.

If this clause goes through will the owner still retain that right?

He will. That right is continued to him under the Housing Acts. The only thing which the section proposes to do is to remove the privilege extended to the owners of demesne land under the Act of 1883. Under that Act, a local authority was not entitled, compulsorily, to acquire demesne land. The purpose of this clause is to remedy that, and make it possible for a local authority compulsorily to acquire demesne lands. But as I have said the owner of that land will still retain the right of appeal to the Minister, and the further right of appeal to the courts.

As regards the point made by Senator Stanford about land surrounding a suburban residence, such land is not affected by this clause because it was not protected by the clause dealing with demesnes which we are now removing. I do not think anyone with common sense would think of acquiring portion of land around a suburban residence for the purpose of building houses on it. I do not think a proposal to do that could possibly be justified.

As I said earlier, here and in the Dáil, we do depend to a very large extent on the common sense of the elected representatives on local boards as regards the administration of this section. They will not go round looking for land except where it is necessary to get it in order to carry out their building programme. We can take it that they will act in a reasonable way and will see that all necessary precautions are taken. I feel they will not interfere in any unreasonable way with the rights of citizens.

We have known of cases in recent times where the owners of land were unreasonable in meeting local authorities to enable them to proceed with their housing programme. In consequence, their work was held up. In this section, we are removing any unreasonable barriers that were there which prevented local authorities from going ahead with the housing drive with the enthusiasm which they have shown in many parts of the country. In regard to demense land, I do not believe there will be any desire on the part of local authorities to go one inch further than is necessary for them. They will work in conjunction with the town planners, with the inspectors of my Department and with their own engineers, and I feel that they will take the minimum amount of land that is required to do a decent job in connection with the housing schemes they undertake and will not spoil the amenities of any locality.

Perhaps I ought to confess that I have been talking to lawyers about this. They have assured me that the one clause on which a man might fight acquisition was this clause which is being deleted. I accept the Minister's assurance that an owner will have legal redress but I think that the case of the small landowner will be weakened by the deletion of this provision. The Minister referred, either here or in the Dáil, to unnecessary legal wranglings over the meaning of "demesne." It may be that he had some justification in making that statement but I do hope again that we are not weakening the rights to property of the small landowner by taking away this clause.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 27 to 31, inclusive, agreed to.
SECTION 32.

I move amendment No. 6:—

In paragraph (a), line 29, after the word "tenement" to insert the words "or ground rent which may be charged".

The section provides that the market value of a house for the purposes of Section 1 of the Act of 1899 shall be

"(a) in the case of a house occupied or to be occupied for the first time, the amount which, in the opinion of the local authority, represents the reasonable cost of building the house, including so much, if any, of the legal and other expenses incidental thereto or to the acquisition of the tenement upon which the house is built or to be built, as the local authority may consider proper but not including any fine, premium or other consideration for the acquisition of the leasehold interest in such tenement."

I propose to add after the word "tenement", "or ground rent which may be charged." Because of the growing evil—it is the only way it can be described—of the ground rent problem, particularly in the City of Dublin, it is very proper that for the purpose of assessing the value of any tenement any fine or premium should be excluded. For instance, I might be asked to pay a fine or premium of £100 and there would be a ground rent of possibly only £10 on that house. If, however, this section goes through in its present form, it is possible that instead of a fine or premium of £100, a nominal fine of £1 would be charged and the ground rent would be increased to £15 or £25. I think that that is something that should not be encouraged by any legislation passed by the Oireachtas.

A further point is that we should be very careful about the possibility of doing anything to create new excessive ground rents. We all know that this problem of ground rents is one of the most complex that every faced this State. In considering what to do about it, I confess that after many years' consideration I can only throw up my hands in despair. There are vested interests and there are people with very small incomes dependent upon these rents. They are not landlords by any means in the sense that most people use the word "landlord". The whole thing is so interlocked that it will take a very long time and very careful consideration to deal with it. All the Governments that we have had so far in this country, one after another, have funked the problem.

Do you blame them?

I am not blaming them, I am merely stating the facts. When it comes to a question of apportioning blame, I do not want to do it. I mention the facts and faced with these facts, I think it is absolutely essential that we should be very careful, in passing legislation through this House, that we should not open the door any further to the creation of excessive ground rents. I do not know whether this amendment will meet the particular problem I envisage but I think it is a necessary corrective. A fine or premium is excluded from consideration in arriving at the market value of a house for the purposes of this section but a purely nominal fine may be substituted and the ground rent so increased that the capital sum represented by the increased ground rent would be equivalent to a very substantial fine. I think we should be very careful, before we pass legislation of this kind, to make it clear that if what I envisage becomes any very big factor in the price of houses, legislation will be introduced if necessary to correct such a position.

I want to make a point on this section quite different from the amendment. I do not want in any way to quarrel with the wording of the section but I should like to point out to the Minister that all the people who are dependent on the margin, in deciding whether they can put through a purchase, are vitally interested in getting a valuation as favourable as possible. I do not suggest that a house should be over-valued but at the same time I think that in the past some very pessimistic views have been taken on the value of houses in Dublin considering the state of the housing market. I merely want to mention that to the Minister so that he might realise that it is a very important question for the purchaser when he has only a very small margin to get the full value of the house advanced.

I support everything that Senator Hearne has said in condemnation of ground rents but, unlike him, I condemn each of our Governments for their cowardice in not facing this problem. I do not think that the present Minister is going to accept the amendment but I wonder whether the section, as drafted, might not be interpreted as covering the point the Senator wants to bring in—"but not including any fine, premium or other consideration for the acquisition of the leasehold interest in such tenement". Before I can obtain a leasehold interest in any house, whether I pay cash or not, I must undertake to pay a ground rent. I think the clause as it stands could be interpreted—and if I were Minister or Attorney-General I would interpret it —as meaning that I can take it over without giving any compensation for the ground rent, and that is what I would be inclined to do. I have some knowledge of the ground rent problem, or scandal, if you like, because many years ago some of us who were interested in it were trying to get a Private Bill through the Dáil and we approached a very learned barrister in this city to get him to draft the Bill and we paid him £40 for it. The Bill was introduced and did not get a Second Reading as the Government of the time—I will not say what Government—thought it would make very bad law, but the Government since thought that the same barrister would make a good judge of the High Court, which shows how laws differ and how Governments differ. We thought we had a very good case.

We all know the excuse that if you take away the ground rents you are robbing poor widows and orphans. There are a lot of people sheltering behind poor widows and orphans and I have no pity for poor widows and orphans when their revenue from ground rents is millions of pounds a year. They may be widows and orphans but they are not nearly so poor as the people who pay the ground rents.

There is a racket in ground rents changing hands from day to day. A man buys it and resells it at a higher price so that the builder cannot get a plot of ground to build on without paying a high ground rent and the unfortunate tenant or purchaser pays all things; he pays the ground rent and a little more because the builder makes his rake-off as well. Although the purchaser has scrimped and saved in order to put down a deposit and buy a house and although the Government realises that people must scrimp and save to put down a deposit and gives them a grant, a subsidy to help them, when the house is bought there is a ground rent of £10, £15 or £20 on it. You have the right to live in that house for 99 years so long as you continue to pay the ground rent. You may fail in anything else but if you fail in the ground rent for one year the ground landlord has the right without any bother at all to come in and dispossess you. He can take over the house from roof to basement and the court must give him a decree if you are one year in arrears. There is no use in saying that you will pay by instalments. We have Acts to protect the tenant from rapacious landlords but there is no legislation to protect the tenant from the ground landlord.

Something will have to be done. Although the amendment will not be accepted and although if it were accepted in its present form it would not be an effective remedy, I think it was necessary to put down the amendment so as to enable us to discuss these matters which would not be touched upon in a Bill like this. Some time some Government will have to take its courage in its hands and tackle the question of ground rents. If a man in a rural area buys a farm freehold the Government and all the finances of this country are behind him to make sure that the land is his and that he pays a tribute to nobody else and I do not see why a dweller in a city or a town who buys a house has not the right to say: "I am buying the small plot of ground on which the house stands."

Senator Stanford raised the question of a man with a small plot of ground around his house and whether the legislation we are passing here to-day enables somebody to dispossess him of that plot of ground. The Minister assured him that it will not be done and cannot be done without process of law. Without any process of law except the machinery which is there, if for any reason I fail to pay ground rent for one year the house becomes the property of the ground landlord. He can come in and tell me what I should do.

The Senator has said enough about ground rents.

It is the amendment.

If I talked about anything else I thought I would be out of order. However I will be very brief. The ground landlord can not alone threaten to take over the house but he can tell you what you may plant in the garden. He can tell you whether you can plant a hedge or a tree and he can tell you whether you may keep a hen, a cat or a dog. The law of this country defends his rights as against the rights of the tenant or the purchaser.

I agree with most of what the previous speaker has said and while I also agree that this is a Housing Bill and that the ground rent question is such a big national question that we cannot remedy matters of this kind in this Bill, I would like to see provision in it to discourage ground rents in general. Where a person purchases a site to build a house I think that the purchase should be outright. It would be an inducement if a lower grant were given for a house built on a site where ground rent was charged than for a house on a site purchased outright. After all, as Senator O'Farrell has pointed out, if for one reason or another a tenant finds that he is not in a position to meet the ground rent for one year or probably two the property falls to the ground landlord. It is certainly a national problem that must be tackled at some time in some way but if we are prepared to tackle it in a big way we ought when we get an opportunity like this to make inroads on it as far as we can.

There are one or two points in the section on which I should like clarification and we might take the sections from 32 to 37 together because they are more or less related.

We can hardly take them all together.

The purpose of Section 32 is to make money available to a person to purchase or erect a house and in accordance with the conditions laid down in the Small Dwellings Acts these moneys must be secured from the local authority. To get back to the basis of the whole thing we should devote a few moments to consideration of the function of the local authority in this regard. Before the applicant can get money from the local authority, of course the local authority has to find the money. That means that the local authority has to go into the market and borrow. If the local authority can secure the money from the Local Loans Fund at 2½ per cent. which is the rate of interest provided for local authority housing purposes the local authority will be in a position to let the borrower have the money at a cheaper rate.

It has been suggested that it would be better to dispose of the amendment and go on to the section.

Might I suggest that if we dispose of the amendment, Sections 32, 33, 34, 35, 36 are all linked together and that in order to have a reasonable discussion we should discuss all these sections together?

The House agrees?

You cannot make the discussion much wider than has been permitted up to the present.

I can assure the Seanad that the object aimed at by the Senator is already fully achieved in the section without the amendment. I have consulted the legal section of my Department on this amendment to know if it is necessary and I was advised that there was no need for it whatever; it is amply covered in the section. The sub-section as drafted excludes, for the purposes of assessing the amount of the advance, any fine, premium, or other consideration paid for the acquisition of the leasehold interest in the tenement. This would clearly exclude a fine or premium paid for the acquisition of a site which would be held subject to a ground rent. The ground rent itself is not a capital charge. It is an annual revenue outgoing and as such there would be no question of an advance being made under the Small Dwellings Acts in respect of this item.

The point you want to get in is definitely covered, and, as the matter of ground rents has got a good deal of discussion, I might say that I think that while Senator Hawkins stated we cannot tackle this directly we ought to make such inroads as we can so as to secure equity. Perhaps I will be pardoned if I say that this little Bill in itself is a fairly good effort to reduce some of the evils in that local authorities can acquire ground in fee simple for the citizens and that, in itself, is one very direct corrective of the abuse of the excessively high ground rents about which we hear complaint. That is one of the things we have in mind and which we are trying to combat, and I believe that the local authorities, by a wise operation of this measure, will do a good job in that direction.

Senator Dockrell spoke about pessimistic valuations and the Senator's point is exactly what it is sought to cover in this remedy we are providing. A local authority may assess the valuation on the reasonable cost of construction as against the market value based upon the selling price obtaining at present and we are optimistic that that will act as a corrective in that regard. We had consultations with various authorities—including, I think, the Senator—and this is the best remedy we can offer, the remedy of market value based on construction and that based, in turn, on the knowledge of some competent quantity surveyor. We hope to get a more realistic valuation than we got formerly. I hope the provision will operate as we expect and I assure Senator Hearne that his point is fully covered in the section.

I had considerable doubt myself as to whether the words "or other consideration" did not cover what I wanted. We have the assurance now of the Department's legal advisers that the point, about which I feel very strongly, is covered, and that satisfies me, small and all as it is.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Question proposed: "That Section 32 stand part of the Bill."

Perhaps the House would agree to discuss Sections 32 to 36 together?

It would be better if we discussed them together, because they deal with the same matter.

Agreed.

I was making the point earlier that the provisions of these sections were valuable to the extent that they give an opportunity to the applicant to secure a larger loan. I do not want to go into that again because I referred to it on Second Reading when I pointed out that, while that is advisable to some extent, there are also grave dangers attaching to it. If the Bill is to achieve anything, if it is to help the type of person for whom provision is made in these sections, it will be necessary to make available to local authorities the necessary moneys which are to be given out in various loans. There will be very little use in passing the Bill with these provisions if the local authorities have difficulty in finding the money, because it is only where an applicant is dealing with a local authority under the Small Dwellings (Acquisition) Act that the benefits of these sections can be of any use. They will be of no use at all to persons dealing with building societies or other lending societies except that they will be entitled to the grant in the ordinary way.

In regard to giving an increased value, in order that applicants may have to provide only 5 per cent. of the total market value, the local authorities must have the money. Prior to the emergency, from 1932 to 1938, many of our local authorities put into operation the Small Dwellings (Acquisition) Act and a considerable amount of money was spent, in Galway in particular, and in Limerick and other counties, but from time to time difficulties arose in connection with the getting of the money from the Local Loans Fund or the various insurance societies, and on many occasions councils were compelled to seek aid by approaching their local trustees for money to tide them over the period between the sanctioning of the work and the applicants requiring the money. Various difficulties were created by reason of the local authorities not having the money readily available to pay out. We had a position in Dublin for some time in which there were more applicants than could be catered for out of the money available, and there was considerable delay before arrangements could be made to put the money at the disposal of the corporation.

These are bottle-necks which can give rise to great difficulties for the applicants and for the builders, because, when certificates are issued, there is often a hold-up, with the result that the builders get into serious difficulties, so that, if there is to be any advantage from the passing of these sections, the first essential is to make arrangements for putting at the disposal of local authorities the necessary finance at as low a rate of interest as possible, so that they can release it in the form of loans and so that there will be no hold-up by reason of a local authority's failure to secure the necessary finance.

The words uttered by Senator Hawkins constitute a truism, because, if the financial provision were not made available, all our efforts in relation to this Bill would be fruitless. I can only repeat the assurances given by the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance at a conference with representatives of the Dublin Corporation, which had some difficulty with regard to getting money. The Taoiseach has stated as vehemently and as eloquently as possible, standing four-square behind this measure, that, so far as the financial resources of the State are concerned, nothing will be allowed to stand in the way of the onward drive. Obviously, we will try to secure the money at as low a rate as possible and the Taoiseach has pledged the authority of the State in the matter of the necessary finance to carry on the housing drive. The Lord Mayor of Dublin and Deputies who are members of the corporation were very worried and annoyed about what had happened in the previous year, but they left that conference very satisfied with the Taoiseach's assurance. I now repeat that assurance on behalf of the Government, that, so far as the resources of the State can go, nothing will be allowed to stand in the way of a successful prosecution of the housing drive upon which we are engaged.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 33 to 37, inclusive, First and Second Schedules and Title agreed to.
Agreed to take remaining stages to-day.
Bill reported without amendment and received for final consideration.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

We have often heard complaints of friction between the Local Government Department and local authorities. I have time and again heard the view expressed by members of local authorities at various conferences that the Department was a hindrance rather than a help. I can only speak as one member of a local authority for a good many years and as chairman of the local authority in the town in which I was born and bred, but, from my experience of the people in charge of housing in the Local Government Department, I can say that that is not so. I can pay this tribute to the officials who are in charge of housing, in which I take a particular interest, that they were not only helpful so far as their powers under legislation enabled them to be helpful, but even went further and, so far as they possibly could, pointed out certain ways by which greater use might be made of existing legislation and the powers of local authorities than actually was being made. An example was quoted this evening. The Minister very properly pointed out, in reply to something which Senator Counihan said that the Senator like a great many other people overlooked the fact that under the 1941 Act the power to erect local halls came into the hands of local authorities. If local authorities have not exercised that power in the past nine years, there is nothing that Dáil Eireann or Seanad Eireann can do about it. I quote that as an example of the powers local authorities have so far as housing is concerned. So far as my own urban authority is concerned, I can say in connection with speeding up schemes that within a very short time sanction was received to what I think will be a scheme that will end for our time anyway the housing problem in my native town.

I also want to pay a tribute to the technical staff of the Local Government Department, because in my town we would not have been able to go ahead with the scheme which is at present proceeding but for the able assistance given to us by the town planning consultant who is now associated with that Department. I want to make it clear that any local authority which finds itself in difficulties so far as housing is concerned, if it goes to the technical officers of the Local Government Department in charge of housing, will get every help and encouragement to end the housing problem in this country.

With other Senators, I feel that on this very limited measure we have had a very valuable discussion. In the very limited way that this Bill permits, there is a great field for discussion of this question of housing. I only wish to draw the Minister's attention to one very important aspect of it, namely, that if we are to solve this problem within any reasonable time his Department in particular must keep a very watchful eye on housing development and ensure that there will be a continuous flow of sites and development work so that our skilled tradesmen will be kept continuously employed. We have heard some comments that the tradesmen of to-day are not prepared to give the same output as formerly and that we have not as many of them. One of the ways to attract more young people into the various trades and to get from them the best that they can give is to create the feeling that there will be work for them for years to come. That feeling will not be created if, having completed one scheme of houses, there is a hold up until the site development or other works are carried out and they are compelled to go from one district to another. That can lead to a great many difficulties. In that regard, I should like to see the responsible officers of the Minister's Department, when plans or proposals from local authorities come before them for part of a scheme, immediately inquire into and ensure that the development of the other portion of the scheme will be proceeding in such a manner that the workers will be ensured continuous employment.

Under the 1932 Housing Act we had a housing board. Some people considered that that board did not contribute very much to solving the problem. During the emergency years when house building was more or less at a standstill the board was abolished. I consider that that board did very valuable work. In Dublin at present we have a director of housing and an advisory council which is doing very valuable work. I think that something of the same kind is required if the rural problem is to be tackled properly. I have in mind one town where a big housing scheme is being carried out. A big acreage of land was taken over. Part of it was developed and 40 or 50 houses were erected. When they were completed, sanction was sought to proceed with 50 or 60 more. At that rate of progress the problem will not be solved for years. When money is expended on development work, I cannot see why local authorities should not be encouraged to complete the scheme as early as possible. Of course, members of local authorities are rather chary about placing an undue burden on the ratepayers. We should try to remove such a feeling from their minds and point out to them that the more houses they build, even though the rates contribute something to them, the more ratepayers they are creating and that they are also probably saving money in other ways, such as on medical services, so that in one way or another the losses are offset. I, therefore, suggest to the Minister that the introduction of his next Bill might be an opportune time to consider setting up a national housing board.

Suggestions have been made during the discussion that the Minister should be empowered to purchase materials and to enter into the building industry as a whole. The Minister already has these powers. He also has power to have an inquiry held if, in his opinion, there is any overcharging for materials. These are matters which I think have been exaggerated. I do not believe that there is a ring amongst the merchants, any more than I believe some of the statements made about contractors. These statements are not very helpful.

Then there is the question of finance. The State is contributing quite a considerable sum towards the provision of houses. I have given expression in this House more than once to the view that I cannot see the sense of the Central Fund providing money for local authorities to build houses and having the power to let these houses. After all, the State is the largest contributor. I have suggested more than once that we should have a national housing board with power to purchase in bulk, to organise labour in a proper way and, if necessary, to go into the building of houses for local authorities. Then, where a local authority feels that a certain number of these houses should be taken over for people who are not in a position to pay an economic rent they should take them over. It is a big problem which we cannot go into now, but it is one to which the Minister should give some attention between this and the introduction of the next Bill. I would suggest to the Minister and the Department that the next Bill should be a comprehensive Bill and that we should not be keeping on sections and deleting sections and giving so much trouble to people in that respect. You have to go back to I do not know how many Acts if you want to know what the present Act is about.

With Senator Hearne I should like to pay a tribute to the officials of the Department associated with housing. On many occasions I have had much contact with their work. I know it from every angle. I have grown up in the trade and I am interested in the matter in more ways than one. I have always found the Department very helpful and I feel that much of the criticism we hear from time to time is unwarranted. I should like to avail of this opportunity to congratulate everybody associated with the work in connection with this Bill.

On this, the last stage of the Bill, and before we proceed to a rather lengthy adjournment, I feel we should congratulate the Minister on this Bill and on the facilities it provides for housing. He is following in the footsteps of his predecessor and following a very good precedent with regard to the provision of houses. We began this day's proceedings with the Local Government (Repeal of Enactments) Bill, which had been discussed at a considerable number of committee meetings by a Special Committee of the Seanad, presided over by a member of the Opposition. It was said to-day that it was a good example of what the Seanad could do. I think the discussion of this Bill and the discussion to-day of the Committee and Final Stages is also an excellent example of the kind of work this House can do and can do well. Everybody showed, I think, a very genuine desire to solve this problem of housing, without any consideration at all for political or Party matters. We had an excellent discussion to-day, both well-informed and co-operative, on this question of housing, from people as members of local bodies and with many other qualifications who knew every side of this problem inside out.

I think that the Minister should be grateful, and I am sure he is, to the House and to all sections of the House for the consideration which was given to this Bill and for the helpful manner in which it has been discussed. We are entitled to congratulate the Minister and to say that this discussion is an example of the kind of work the Second House can usefully do.

I wish to avail of this opportunity to express my very deep gratitude to the Seanad for the very kindly reception and helpful discussion which was given to my Bill on all stages, and particularly for the remarks of Senator Hearne and Senator Hawkins about myself and particularly about my staff. I am very grateful for these remarks. The staff have worked very hard and very sincerely in trying to produce this measure, working, as they have been working, on the shortcomings which we found in existing legislation. A great deal of effort has been put into this work, to try and meet the point of view of all the citizens and to do it to their best advantage. We are happy for the cooperation of the local authorities and we felt that no legislative barriers, that could reasonably by removed, should be allowed to stand. It is very heartening to come to this House with this Bill and to receive such a reception as it has received. I am very grateful to both sides of the House for the helpful discussions and for some very useful suggestions which have been tabled for further consideration and discussion. I trust that the Bill will be productive of the good results which we hope to get from it. I thank the House very much for the reception it has received.

Question put and agreed to.
The Seanad adjournedsine die at 8.45 p.m.