The last sentence of the Minister's speech is one of the most welcome, that is, that he contemplates in the reasonably near future a consolidation of the law in relation to sanitary services. Pending such consolidation the House, in considering a Bill such as this, is considering a further addition to intricate and complex legislation having its foundations in the middle of the last century when conditions were very different from what they are to-day. We are legislating by the amendment of legislation over a century old for modern purposes which are markedly different from those of one hundred years ago. We should all welcome the consolidation of the sanitary services code into a single piece of legislation. Meanwhile, we must consider the proposals the Minister has put before us to-day.
The first thing which has to be said is that the question of the need for better services, both water and drainage, in rural areas is not in any sense a matter of Party contention. It is a matter on which there will be general agreement, and has been general agreement, amongst all Parties. We have seen in recent times a further move towards general agreement that the best approach to the provision of water in rural areas is an approach which does not depend on a single solution to the problem. There should be an approach that seeks to use regional schemes where they are appropriate, but only where they are appropriate; to use group schemes where they are appropriate, but only where they are appropriate; and to use individual schemes where these are the most appropriate solution to the problem.
This approach has been advocated in many quarters in recent years. It is a good thing we have now an unequivocal statement from the Minister that he is in agreement with this approach. The most dangerous thing that has happened in regard to this problem of rural water supplies is that many people who have talked on the subject—some of them inside the Houses of the Oireachtas but many more throughout the country—have spoken as if one single approach could solve the problem. Indeed, we have had an even worse situation where some people spoke as if one particular approach they disliked could not anywhere or under any circumstances be the appropriate solution to the problem of the provision of rural water supplies. It is good therefore that there should be general agreement that what is needed is to seek a proper combination of these three approaches —regional schemes, co-operative group schemes and individual schemes—in order to get the best overall solution.
There are a few provisions in this Bill which will enable this work to be done more expeditiously. For example, it is a good thing that under this Bill we can, as it were, use the enthusiasm of the co-operative group for the purpose of initiating a private scheme, either water or drainage. But, when that scheme is built and running, it can then be acquired under this Bill for operation and maintenance by the local authority. The local authority would not have the same initiative in providing a scheme in the locality but they are far better suited for the maintenance and operation of the scheme once it has been installed.
As to the provision which the Minister makes in regard to rural water supplies and drainage schemes, there is not very much need for prolonged discussion. But there are a few points I should like to raise at this stage. The Minister has indicated that on the question of loans or guarantees to co-operative groups it is his intention that a simple loan procedure would be carried out and that there would be no question of full mortgages in the loan procedures to co-operative groups.
I would ask the Minister to consider if there would not be a still simpler procedure for dealing with some of these problems, particularly in regard to connections. That is where the local authority would do some of the actual work. They would have the power to do so under Section 9 of the Bill. The simplest procedure by which the local authority could recover their money might be if they were empowered to make an annual or other recurring charge in respect of the work which had been done. In my reading of the Bill I do not see any section under which that could be done and I do not know if it could be done under any other Bill in the sanitary services code.
Perhaps the Minister's advisers, who know their way about this code, could tell us whether it would be possible in regard to connections and in regard to the construction of schemes under certain circumstances for the local authority to do the work and to make an annual charge rather than going through a loan procedure. From the point of view of the administration of the local authority the procedure of an annual charge would be much simpler than going through a loan procedure, however simple.
Another point which arises on this Bill refers to the acquisition of private schemes. This is under Section 6 of the Bill. Here we have another instance of something which will be done under compulsory purchase order procedure. We know that procedure is a troublesome and often complicated one. Before this House would add in any way to the domain of compulsory purchase they should scrutinise extremely carefully the way in which this will be done. Under this section the local authority can acquire a private scheme by means of compulsory purchase. In subsection (2) of the section the Minister has provided for a statutory objection which must be considered against compulsory purchase. It is a statutory defence if the work is not necessary for the purpose of safeguarding public health or improving sewerage facilities or water supplies.
I see a slight ambiguity in this as drafted. We have here, on the one hand, a sanitary authority which acts throughout a given area and, on the other hand, we have a group scheme which operates in an extremely small area in contrast to that of the local authority. I should like to ask the Minister whether the public health and the sewerage facilities and water supplies mentioned in this statutory objection apply to the area of the group scheme in respect of which the Order is being sought or whether they apply to the whole area of the sanitary authority. There is a difference between the two. There is a very great difference in seeking a compulsory purchase order to take over a group scheme in order to provide better water facilities within the area served by that group scheme.
If it can be shown there is any deficiency or that improved facilities can be provided within that limited area, it is reasonable that this can be given as a reason for compulsory acquisition of the scheme. But is it so reasonable that the sanitary authority could acquire a private undertaking for the purpose of improving its water supply facilities or drainage facilities elsewhere? Is it so reasonable that a sanitary authority should be allowed, merely for economics or convenience in the operation of its water supply throughout its whole sanitary area, to acquire something which has been initiated, something which has been constructed, something which has been paid for by a group co-operative effort? I think here the case is nothing like as compelling and I should like to ask the Minister then what exactly is his intention in this section and, having told us his intention, would he satisfy us that the legal force of the section, as drafted, corresponds with that particular intention?
There is another point in regard to this question of compulsory purchase which I should like to raise. It is a technical point. As we know, these proceedings can be awkward. They can turn on minor details. Section 6, subsection (1) (c) refers to the various things which may be construed as part of a sewerage undertaking and which can be acquired under the C.P.O. procedure.
I should like to put this point to the Minister: under this section, part of the things which can be acquired are tanks and other things, for the purpose of drainage or sewage disposal. The position is that there are today in sanitary engineering three divisions in regard to the treatment of sewage. There is drainage; there is sewage treatment; there is sewage disposal. Now, if I were ever to give evidence as an expert witness in that particular field, I would have to say that there are many tanks, and many things, which, from the point of view of the sanitary engineer, are part of a sewage undertaking but which are not for the purpose of sewage disposal but, rather, for the purpose of sewage treatment.
The question then arises whether sewage disposal as defined in this section does, in fact, include sewage treatment. In order to find a definition, I think we shall have to go back to Section 30 of the Public Health (Ireland) Act, 1878. If we go back to that section, we find a recital of what constitutes sewage disposal but, of course, the methods of sewage treatment and sewage disposal in 1878 bear very little relation to the methods of sewage treatment and sewage disposal at the present day. I raise this point because I think it is a point on which possibly a C.P.O. procedure, which everybody, both the private group and the local authority wish to go through, might fail either before the Minister's inspector or possibly, on appeal, to the circuit court judge.
Again, I think it is important that we should scrutinise the whole of this section remembering that we are adding to the compulsory purchase order code. Under subsection (5), if there is any default in interest, or on the loan or the guarantee by the local authority, the statutory objective based on the condition of the undertaking or the needs of public health in the area cannot be made. There is nothing in this Bill, as it stands, which indicates the manner in which loans are to be made, or guarantees given, in respect of these private co-operative group schemes.
The position could arise under the Bill, when it becomes law, that these schemes would not be based on joint and several liability and that actual independent loans might be given—or, indeed, more probably independent loans might be guaranteed by the local authority—and I ask the Minister is it then equitable that, if one person who is being guaranteed a loan under a group scheme defaults on his interest, all the others, except this one, who came together in order to form this group scheme, should be robbed of their right to make the statutory objection before the inspector at the public inquiry? It might be that, under the regulations made under this Bill, the Minister would ensure this would not happen. I should be glad if he would deal with this point.
Another innovation in the Bill is the streamlining of the procedure in regard to compulsory connections. This procedure is now simplified. I think this simplification is justified. There is absolutely no question that, in regard to compulsory connection to drainage schemes, the procedure should be as simple as possible. I do not think the case is quite so compelling in regard to water supplies, and I do not think that it is quite so necessary in the case where persons have a non-piped water supply, which they consider necessary, that the local authority should be able, by a streamlining procedure, to force them to connect to a public supply. However, this is a minor point. I do not wish to make anything of it except to say that I think the argument in favour of compulsory connection by means of a streamlined procedure is a far more compelling one in regard to drainage rather than in regard to water supply.
Section 9 gives power to close the gap between the public water supply and the private connection. That is something that does remedy a deficiency in previous legislation and it will be very welcome. Indeed, I know it was a problem in the neighbourhood of my own home in Cork. In Bishopstown, the problem was a very real one. I am glad that this, and similar problems, will be remedied by this provision.
In introducing the Bill, the Minister mentioned that he had two main objectives, and I should like now to deal with the section in relation to air pollution which is the second objective of the Bill. I should like to say straight away that I think it is a pity that the Minister in a single section in a Bill dealing with sanitary services saw fit to introduce this new legislation in regard to air pollution. It is a very great pity that the Minister did not introduce a separate Bill in regard to air pollution. The problem is an extremely important one and I would ask the Seanad to bear with me while I indicate the reasons why I think the problem is so important that it should be tackled in a separate measure, that the whole problem, indeed, should be tackled in a different manner from that in which the Minister has tackled it in this single section of this Sanitary Services Bill.
There is no doubt that air pollution is a serious problem. The first thing we have got to get into our minds is that it is a problem here and now in Ireland. It is not a question that it would become a problem after further industrialisation. Air pollution is already a problem in Ireland. The preliminary isolated samples that have been taken indicate that Dublin and Cork can be compared with the industrial cities of England, Scotland and Wales in regard to air pollution. Dublin and Cork show a degree of air pollution which can be compared with that in Coventry, Glasgow and Cardiff. We have got to realise then that we already have this problem of air pollution in our larger cities. We have got to realise that we have air pollution. We have got to realise the kind of atmosphere in which we are living. We have got to realise that the emission of smoke, grit, dust and noxious gases is something which has first, a permanent effect on health and, secondly, can have an epidemic effect on health.
One of the results of the industrial revolution in England during the last century was the fact that in the industrial towns many health problems arose. The disease of rickets, which is directly linked with air pollution, was known during the 19th century as "the English disease". We have in urban concentrated areas permanently higher rates of illness and incapacity from respiratory diseases. As we all know from reading of them from time to time, we can have epidemics, due to the question of air pollution, which are every bit as serious as epidemics from other causes. They have occurred all during this century.
In Glasgow, in 1909, there were 60 deaths; in Liege, in 1931, there were 64 deaths; in Donora, Pennsylvania, in 1948, in a population of 12,000—think of any town you know with a population of 12,000—there were 18 deaths within a couple of weeks, all directly attributable to air pollution. In 1952, in the London smog, there were 4,000 deaths directly attributable to air pollution. We can see in regard to this London outbreak that no worse epidemic has occurred in London since the early years of the last century than this outbreak attributable to smog other than the cholera epidemic in 1854 and the influenza epidemic of 1918 and 1919.
We need not think we are exempted here. Recently, in reading some American literature on this subject, I was rather shocked to find, among the list of cities where there was a direct connection between fog, smog and respiratory diseases, that Dublin was mentioned as one of the cities in which the link had been definitely established.
Not only has this an effect on human beings but it has also an effect in the smaller towns on animals and also on plants. Indeed the respiratory disease due to the London smog of 1952 was first diagnosed in prize cattle which were in London for the Smithfield Show.
The position is that there is a permanent effect. Indeed, even the deconcentration of factories may not avoid this problem completely. It is a problem that affects not only health but many other factors. Indeed, a commission in England has reckoned that air pollution in Britain in 1954 cost the nation £250,000,000. That was the calculated sum of the direct costs which could be directly attributed to air pollution.
The first point then is that this is a severe problem and that it is a problem that exists in this country. The second point to be remembered is that air pollution can be controlled. Dark smoke can be avoided. Indeed, dark smoke can be avoided by the proper use of fuel. Every time the emission of dark smoke is reduced, it means that fuel is being more efficiently burned. Indeed, the saving in fuel consumption, it has been found, more than repays any work done in order to prevent this dark smoke emission.
With regard to diesel smoke from which we all suffer, we have all had the experience of travelling behind a diesel lorry belching out black smoke mile after mile, very often making us anxious to take an undue risk in trying to pass out the lorry and get away from the diesel smoke. Diesel engines, if properly maintained, properly serviced and properly driven, need not emit smoke except, possibly, when starting off.
Grit and dust can be removed but only at considerable expense. That brings me to the approach which the Minister has made in the Bill. The Minister has in this section of the Bill indicated that he intends to move in regard to the control of industrial pollution. I would ask the Minister to remember that, while air pollution costs the nation money, the cost of controlling air pollution, which is apparently going to fall completely on individual industries, is itself tremendous. To reduce the emission of grit and dust, to get proper removal, involves an expenditure which may amount to 10 per cent. of the total cost of the whole industrial plant.
This is a tremendous burden for any industry to bear. It is a tremendous burden to ask any industry in times of increasing competition to add ten per cent. on to the cost of new buildings in order to ensure that there will be proper control of air pollution. The higher standards are fixed for air pollution, the higher this cost will be.
If, for example, a certain plant could remove 75 per cent. of the grit and dust and the Minister requires that to be increased to 85 per cent., to go from 75 per cent. to 85 per cent. removal will cost three times the amount of money. The plant required to go from 85 per cent. to 90 per cent. removal will cost five times as much as the plant that would give 75 per cent. removal. This would be and will be a tremendous burden upon industry.
Now I come to this point: the Minister should realise that industry is not the only offender and the preponderating offender in regard to air pollution. It is already on record in regard to such investigations as have been made of air pollution in this country that 50 per cent. of air pollution in Ireland comes from domestic chimneys. These chimneys do not emit dark smoke as villainous-looking as the smoke from industrial chimneys but they do emit it at a lower level and it can be equally dangerous. The Minister should realise that this is a problem of which the industrial part is only half.
In tackling the problem, not only must the Minister recognise this but he must also recognise that the problem is one which may be a great burden on industry. For that reason, the Minister, in regard to air pollution should take every care to have full consultation with industry. That is why I regret very much that the new legislation on air pollution, welcome as it is, should have been introduced in the way it has been introduced; that it should have been a section in a Sanitary Services Bill; that it should have been one section of a Bill with something like fifteen sections in it and that it should have been introduced by the Minister when it takes up only two paragraphs in the introductory speech he made on this Sanitary Services Bill.
The Minister would have been better advised if, before introducing any legislation, he had sought not only advice but, what is much more important than that, the active co-operation of industry. If the Minister had issued a White Paper describing the problem, what was known in regard to it in this country and then invited industry and others interested and then following this, if he had come with a separate Bill, that, I think, would have been a better start to this problem. It is only by co-operation that anything can be done in this regard. Only a public authority can enforce the law in regard to air pollution but it is only a private industry or a private householder who can abate air pollution.
Here we have the old problem as regards somebody who wants to enforce a standard and somebody else who has to pay for that standard to be enforced. I would urge the Minister, before he makes any attempt to make regulations under this Bill, to have the fullest possible consultation with industry on these points. If this co-operation is not secured, the legislation which the Minister is seeking now and the regulations which he will issue under it will be merely punitive legislation against industry.
There are some minor points in regard to the way in which the section is drafted but it is more proper to leave that for discussion on the section during the Committee Stage. The vital point is that this must be a co-operative effort, that the Minister must move not on his own but that the Minister and industry must move together. It is not enough to say the Minister will consult the Minister for Industry and Commerce. Having the goodwill of the Minister for Industry and Commerce is not enough. There must be goodwill, understanding and complete co-operation from industry which will have to pay for what is provided in this section.
For these reasons, I regret that the new legislation on air pollution which is so terribly necessary and so very welcome has come in this manner. I feel the Minister has taken a slightly false step here in the beginning and I hope he will be very quick to redress that and to have the fullest possible consultation. A great tribute should be paid to those industries in Ireland who at considerable expense have already installed plant in order to reduce air pollution in the absence of any legislation that could compel them.
I welcome this Bill for what it does in furthering the provision of water supplies and sewerage in rural areas and for the fact that it makes a start in regard to modern legislation on air pollution.