Local Government (Dublin) Bill, 1993: Second Stage.

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

As the short title suggests, this Bill is concerned with Dublin and specifically with local government structures in the Dublin area. One can summarise its purpose very briefly. It provides for the establishment of three new county councils — Fingal, South Dublin and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown — to replace the existing Dublin County Council, Dún Laoghaire Corporation and Deans Grange Joint Burial Board. It represents the culmination of a legislative process which began in 1985 and which is being brought to finality by way of the formal establishment by this Bill of the new structures which will come into operation on 1 January 1994.

Given the relatively simple intent of the Bill, it is perhaps surprisingly long and complicated. This is because the Bill includes a large number of consequential provisions arising from the establishment of the new authorities and adjustments to other statutory codes. It also deals with a number of related issues, such as responsibility for local authority housing in Dublin, to which I will return later. Before going into the detailed provisions of the Bill I wish to make a number of general comments.

The 1991 census showed Dublin County, which stretches from Balbriggan to Bray and westwards to the Kildare and Meath borders, to have a population of almost 547,000. At the start of the century, however, almost the entire country was essentially rural. During this century the population of Dublin, including the city, has more than doubled, with growth being especially marked — involving an increase of more than half a million over 50 years — between the 1930s and the early 1980s. For almost all of this time the reaction to these demographic changes involved the city boundaries extending outwards in pursuit of the population growth in the county area.

From the 1930s onwards a combination of factors acted to promote development and population growth in the country. On the one hand, a programme of local authority house building at suburban locations allowed for slum clearance in inner city areas. On the other, a rise in private ownership, particularly from the 1950s on, accelerated a trend for people to move outward to new suburbs and beyond to surrounding towns and villages. New industrial and commercial enterprises also began to locate in the county.

Over the years there have been many proposals for reorganisation of the local government structures in the Dublin area to adapt to changing patterns of social, economic and population distribution. In this century, there were inquiries in 1926 and 1938, a White Paper in 1971, a policy statement in 1985 and a report of an expert committee in 1991. Prior to the 1985 policy statement, the general thrust of official thinking was in favour of an overall authority for the Dublin area — a limited form of which was recommended as early as 1926 in the report of the Greater Dublin Commission of Enquiry and a full blooded version of which was recommended in 1938 by the Local Government (Dublin) Tribunal and again in the 1971 White Paper on Local Government Reorganisation.

Parallel with these structural reviews, a number of enactments to implement boundary changes were passed in the first half of the century as the city boundary was outwards. In particular, the Local Government (Dublin) Act, 1930 provided for substantial boundary alterations, together with the creation of Dún Laoghaire Borough and the introduction of the management system in Dublin. Further city extensions were made in the 1940s and 1950s. The most recent legislation affecting Dublin was the Local Government (Reorganisation) Act, 1985 and the Local Government Act, 1991.

The current reorganisation proposals owe their origin to the 1985 policy statement entitled The Reform of Local Government which marked a significant change in official thinking on the subject of local government structures in the Dublin area and made the case for establishing three new county councils in Dublin and to replace Dublin County Council and Dún Laoghaire Corporation. It also proposed the establishment of a co-ordinating Metropolitan Council composed of nominees of Dublin Corporation and the new county councils.

The Local Government (Reorganisation) Act, 1985 gave effect to some of these proposals. In particular, it revised the boundary between Dublin city and county and established three electoral counties — the forerunners of the new councils — for which councils were elected in June 1985. The combined membership of these councils — 78 persons in all — constituted the new membership of Dublin County Council pending further legislation to fully establish the three new county councils.

The Barrington Committee was established in June 1990 by the then Government and its report was published in January 1991. In so far as Dublin is concerned, its recommendations were broadly in line with those of the 1985 policy statement, in that it endorsed the view that three new councils should be established in the county area, with somewhat different boundaries in the case of the authority based on Dún Laoghaire. The city was to be retained within its existing boundary and each of the new authorities and Dublin Corporation were to have their own city or county manager. The report also recommended the establishment of statutory regional authorities to promote public service co-ordination at the regional level including, the Dublin area.

The Local Government Act, 1991, which gave effect to significant elements of the Barrington report, provided and extended statutory framework, therefore, to carry forward the reorganisation process in Dublin which commenced in 1985. In particular it required Dublin County Council to establish an area committee for each electoral county and to delegate functions to them, provided for the appointment of three area managers, required the new area managers to submit to the Minister for the Environment a reorganisation report setting out arrangements to be made in preparation for the transition to the new councils, and provided that the Minister for the Environment could, by regulations, make arrangements allowing for the making of necessary preparations.

The statutory reorganisation report, prepared following consultations by the area managers with the relevant committees, was duly published in July 1992 and outlined the general arrangements proposed for the creation of the three new county councils. Broadly speaking, the three councils would operate as autonomous local authorities each providing its own services but certain services such as sewage treatment, waste disposal and water production would continue to be provided on a Dublin area basis.

The Dublin (Preparations for Reorganisation) Regulations, 1993, made by me under the 1991 Local Government Act, required the area managers to prepare schemes in general accord with the reorganisation report, which would have effect on and from the establishment of the new councils. The Bill gives statutory effect to these. These schemes deal with the performance of functions by one authority on behalf of another, the allocation of assets and liabilities and staff assignment, etc., to the new councils.

What I have said up to now represents one way of describing what has been happening in Dublin in the lead up to the Bill. Looked at from a different perspective and on a more general level, one can say the main problems which arise in the Dublin context are connected with the twin issues of providing an elected local government system which is of relevance and meaning to local communities, while at the same time ensuring arrangements are in place for effective major service delivery and planning. Any new arrangements must aim to improve on the present system while at the same time having due regard to overall cost considerations, value for money and the quality of service to the end-user.

The reorganisation proposed in Dublin will fulfil these aims and the proposal to establish three new county councils will, in particular, ensure more relevant and accessible local government with a sharper focus on the needs of the areas served. I think it is fair to say these proposals have found general acceptance as the best way forward both with the public at large in Dublin and at the political level. The elected members in Dublin are anxious to press ahead with the reorganisation process and the Dáil and Seanad have given their assent to the principle of establishing three authorities in Dublin, in enacting the 1985 Reorganisation Act and the 1991 Local Government Act; the Dáil has also approved the present Bill. Given the degree of consensus on the matter, I do not think it is necessary to elaborate further on the justification for this approach.

This, of course, still leaves the important issue of co-ordination of major services in the Dublin area which was raised by a number of Deputies in the Dáil. Given that the proposals in the Bill will increase by one the number of Dublin local authorities, the need for co-ordination is all the more essential and must be addressed. In this context not only are important provisions included in the Bill — which I will come to in a moment — but relevant action is being taken at the regional level to ensure the desired result. An order under section 43 of the Local Government Act, 1991 for the establishment of regional authorities will be made by me very shortly.

The three new counties and the city will constitute a single Dublin region and the surrounding counties of Kildare, Meath and Wicklow will constitute the mid-east region. The purpose of regional authorities will be to promote the co-ordination of public, including local authority, services and the order establishing them will provide for a significant role in relation to the review and co-ordination of development plans. Over and above the regional authority framework, section 32 of the Bill requires the three new councils and Dublin Corporation to co-operate and to have due regard to the needs of the overall Dublin region in their policies and programmes and enjoins the managers to ensure that necessary procedures are in place to facilitate this. Under that section, the four authorities must also have regard to any strategy, study or other statement of the Dublin or mid-east regional authority or any joint statement of those bodies.

The combined effect of the provisions of section 32 and the establishment of regional authorities will be to ensure that necessary co-ordination proceeds on an ongoing basis, as regards local authority functions affecting the metropolitan interest and within the broader regional dimension. I have every confidence that this represents a reasonable and realistic framework which will encourage and facilitate co-operation and co-ordination and that the elected members will act in the best interests of the overall metropolitan area in an effective and responsible manner.

This brings us to the detailed provisions of the Bill. Part I of the Bill contains standard provisions relating to the short title, interpretation and repeals. Section 3 deals with orders and regulations and section 5 deals with the construction of enactments. Section 6 deals with the implementation of the Act by local authorities, including actions by local authorities in anticipation and provision for directions for full effect to be given to the provisions of the Bill.

I should mention here that having considered arguments put forward during the passage of the Bill through the Dáil, I introduced a number of amendments on Report Stage which were accepted by the House and had the effect of limiting the powers in Part I of the Bill concerning making regulations and giving directions by the Minister for the Environment.

Part II deals with the establishment of the proposed county councils. Section 7 provides for the establishment day. Section 8 provides for boundary alterations to the city/county boundary and between the electoral counties. Let me stress here that these boundary alterations were recommended in the reorganisation report and are outlined in the explanatory memorandum and the reorganisation report. The section also provides for minor boundary adjustments arising from section 10(2). All these adjustments will take effect on the establishment day.

Section 9 provides for the abolition of, inter alia, the administrative county of Dublin and the borough of Dún Laoghaire and for the establishment of the three new administrative counties. The Irish and English titles of the new counties are set out in section 9, as is a procedure for the alteration of the name of any of the counties. This will involve an application to the Government by the relevant council following public consultation and on the basis of a resolution adopted by more than one half of the membership of the council. The question of the names of the new counties was raised in the reorganisation report but without any resolution of the matter — hence the provision referred to which will permit changes in the future if these are deemed desirable.

Following strong representations in the Dáil on the question of the most appropriate names for the new counties, I put forward an amendment which will require each of the new councils to consider the name of its administrative county within a year of the establishment day. I think that this is the most democratic solution to adopt given, in particular, the divided and strongly held views on this matter. Section 10 provides for the preparation by the Commissioner of Valuation of maps showing the county boundaries as amended pursuant to section 8. In this context, the commissioner is empowered, at the request of the Minister for the Environment, to make minor technical adjustments to the boundaries of the proposed counties which will take effect on the establishment day.

Section 11 provides for the establishment of the new councils. Each council will consist of a cathaoirleach and councillors and will have the powers normally vested in county councils. Section 12 provides that the members of the area committees will become the members of the new councils and the chairman of each committee will become the cathaoirleach of the corresponding council. The current chairmen of the area committees will, therefore, continue as cathaoirligh of the new councils until the annual meeting of the councils due in 1994. I also put forward an amendment to section 12 in the Dáil, following representations on the matter, to the effect that the chairmen of each area committee rather than the Minister for the Environment will, subject to meeting certain time conditions, fix the day for the inaugural meetings of each of the new councils.

Section 13 makes necessary provision for the management of the new councils and section 14 is a technical measure which allows for expenditure by the new councils prior to the adoption of their estimates in 1994. Part III deals with the dissolution of Dublin County Council, Dún Laoghaire Corporation and Deansgrange Joint Burial Board and makes necessary consequential provisions.

Section 15 deals with the dissolutions and sections 16 and 17, with the Second Schedule, with consequential arrangements, including transfers of staff. I have already referred to the statutory reorganisation report prepared jointly by the area managers which sets out the arrangements to be made in preparation for the transition to the new authorities and the schemes for transfer of assets, liabilities, etc, in accordance with the reorganisation report prepared by the area managers pursuant to the Dublin (Preparations for Reorganisation) Regulations, 1993. The provisions of the Bill, together with these schemes, will provide for this aspect of the changeover to the new councils.

Part IV of the Bill provides for the consequential adjustments to a number of statutory codes, ministerial responsibility for which rests with other members of the Government. The explanatory memorandum outlines the various arrangements proposed and the codes affected.

Part V of the Bill deals with a number of miscellaneous matters relating to local authorities in the Dublin area. Section 32, to which I have already referred, places a duty on the principal authorities to consult one another and to have regard to the metropolitan interest. Section 32 was altered in the Dáil on foot of an amendment put forward by me to clarify that joint meetings of the local authorities in the Dublin area may be held for the purposes of this section. Section 33 confers power on the new councils to repair branch water pipes, a power incidentally which has been available to Dublin Corporation and Dún Laoghaire Corporation but not to Dublin County Council.

Section 34 deals with responsibility for the supply of water in parts of the counties of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown and South Dublin. Under the Dublin Corporation Waterworks Act, 1861, Dublin Corporation is responsible for the water supply network in certain areas outside the city known as "extra-municipal areas". The Bill proposes, therefore, that each of the new county councils to be established by this Act will, in common with other county councils, be responsible for the supply of water throughout their own counties and sets out a process to effect the transfer of responsibility.

Section 35 and the Third Schedule rationalise responsibility for certain dwellings and land in the Dublin area. Over the last 20 years Dublin Corporation has engaged in large scale housing construction in the county area. This has resulted in a situation where there now are almost 7,500 rented houses in the county owned by the corporation. Equally, but on a smaller scale, there are county council houses in the corporation area.

It is generally accepted that this situation is unsatisfactory and has led to particular problems ranging from deficiencies in maintenance and management to larger issues such as the undemocratic disenfranchisement of tenants of such houses, in that they do not have a vote in elections to the local authority which is responsible for the maintenance of the estates concerned. The reorganisation report highlighted this issue, together with the related issue of corporation land in the county, as matters which required attention and specifically recommended a transfer of ownership of houses to the local authority in whose area they are located.

Section 35 and the Third Schedule, therefore, should be seen against this background and represent an attempt to come to terms with a difficult problem in a way which will be seen to be fair to all the parties concerned. The explanatory memorandum sets out how these provisions will operate in practice.

Section 36 will rationalise responsibility for certain Liffey bridges and harbour walls, while section 37 is a technical amendment to section 63 of the Local Government (Dublin) Act, 1930, in relation to the form of notice served for the payment of rates. Section 38 will enable the transfer of fire staff from Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown county council to Dublin Corporation in the event that an agreement is made between the two authorities for the performance of fire authority functions by the corporation.

Section 39 contains provisions relating to the application of certain enactments in relation to the former borough area. Arising from views expressed in the Dáil, I moved an amendment to section 39 which provides in relation to the School Attendance Acts, notwithstanding section 21 of the Bill, a ready mechanism for the Minister for Education to allow for whatever arrangements may be decided for the operation of this service.

Section 40 is a new section which I put forward on Report Stage in the Dáil, arising from representations about the boundaries of the new administrative counties, which will provide a fast track procedure to facilitate any desirable changes agreed upon locally within a period of two years of the establishment day.

The First Schedule sets out repeals. The Second Schedule provides for matters consequential on the dissolutions of Dublin County Council, Dún Laoghaire Corporation and Deansgrange Joint Burial Board and the matters concerned are listed in the explanatory memorandum. Finally, the Third Schedule sets out the arrangements to give effect to the transfer of houses and land pursuant to section 35.

I have every hope and confidence that the arrangements proposed in the Bill, with the action proposed at regional level, will significantly enhance the local government system in the Dublin area, by on the one hand making it more local, democratic and accountable and on the other by ensuring that issues with metropolitan wide significance are looked at in that way, and by having structures which facilitate and encourage such an approach.

While no system is perfect, and at the end of the day must be judged on the basis of how it actually operates, I am satisfied that the arrangements and structures which we are putting in place represent a significant step forward. I appeal to the elected members in the Dublin area to use all the ideas and energies at their disposal to capitalise on the opportunities now being offered to work for the improvement of their local communities. I have every confidence that they will rise to the challenge.

I would also like to put on the record my appreciation of all those involved in the reorganisation process in the Dublin area including elected members, area managers, local authority officials and the trade unions involved who have cooperated fully in the transition process and without whose goodwill and hard work the process could not have been brought to this stage.

This is the first time this century that we have established a new local authority. The last new local authority was established in 1898. I pay tribute to the chairpersons, managers and those who served over that time in the old Dublin County Council and Dún Laoghaire Corporation. It is a time for change and I have outlined many of the reasons for that change. We look forward to the discussion in this House on this important Bill. By 1 January we will be in a position to go forward and make history for the three counties of Dublin.

I welcome the Minister to the House to discuss what, judging by the attendance — no disrespect to Senator Finneran — is mainly a Dublin issue.

I have a wide electorate.

I look forward to hearing the contributions of my Dublin colleagues, the Leader of the House, Senator Wright, and Senators McGennis, Bohan and Doyle. This is an historic occasion. We are setting up three new autonomous county councils in the Dublin area. This Bill has our support because it will make administration in the Dublin area more manageable.

I urge caution with regard to the reorganisation and related matters, particularly the establishment of the three new authorities. There will be three new area managers which I hope will not add further layers of bureaucracy. We do not merely want the existing situation multiplied by three. This reorganisation will not work unless the Minister, and his Department, realise that local authorities are currently not performing as they should and are under funded.

Since the abolition of rates in 1977, successive Governments have failed local authorities. Some of them have been operating on a shoe string budget and it is therefore futile to expect them to operate efficiently. We may have new headquarters built and the staff may be in new locations but if there is not money to paint the doors and windows of local authority houses and cut the grass along public roads the charge will not work. The Minister described the Bill as enabling legislation to aid the establishment of the three authorities. However, if the Minister does not accept that local authorities at present can barely afford to put a spare tyre on some of their machinery we will witness gradual erosion of the way local authorities operate.

Those of us who served on the 78 member county council accept that it was unwieldy. Most of the work on the development plan was done in committees. As a member from the Dún Laoghaire area, I listened to debates concerning Balbriggan, Swords and Lucan which were of little relevance. I hope this will change. In my area Dún Laoghaire Corporation will be abolished and the new Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council established.

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown is a large area which will have some difficulties due to the shortage of land for housing. This problem has to be addressed. Between the borough and the county there are currently between 1,200 and 1,500 first time applicants on the waiting list for housing. There are thousands of others on transfer lists who, unfortunately, will be told that for the foreseeable future they will not be accommodated. They will probably have to remain in damp, squalid bedsits throughout the old borough and county areas. The Minister should examine that problem.

There is another issue which will have to be addressed when we are discussing the estimates after Christmas. At present there are five types of service charges on a sliding scale in the borough. A ridiculous situation exists in that on one side of certain roads people are paying between £50 and £125 and on the other side of the road people are not paying anything. Dún Laoghaire will be in a difficult situation if, as is being mooted, the manager decides to include charges in the estimates. When the Minister is considering allocations in the Dublin area, he will have to be more realistic than some of his predecessors. The normal pattern is that when the estimates are published councillors are quick to go on a deputation to the Minister. There follows a political charade about the administration and funding of the local authorities.

I ask the Minister to examine the plight of local authority members. Some of us happen to be Members of one or other House of the Oireachtas but others who are full time councillors receive little remuneration for their work. The Minister is aware of the difficulties in some local authorities in relation to the allowances paid to members and I ask him to respond positively to deal with them. The Minister was a member of a local authority and he has many good friends who are still members of such bodies. I hope the Minister will not be found wanting at this juncture.

In recent times we in Dublin County Council have been discussing the draft development plan, which has been a statutory function of the elected members. It is a slightly unwieldy process where plans are put on display and then discussed, put on display again and further discussed. A campaign has been waged in relation to rezoning in the Dublin area. The reality is that if certain lands had not been rezoned in the past, some people who are living in various areas now would not now be living there. The development plan is a plan for the future. With possibly one or two exceptions the councillors in the various areas have got the balance reasonably right. We have had a campaign, particularly by one or two newspapers. Where the managers in areas were proposing certain things, the papers took a simplistic view, particularly trying to nail the Fíanna Fáil and Fine Gael Parties as being the villains involved——

We did our best.

——and at times conveniently omitting the Progressive Democrats and portraying the Labour Party, the Green Party and the Democratic Left as angels in the process. The same angels from time to time are the biggest scavengers when it comes to trying to spend public money. I hope that when some of these houses are built some industries are set up and jobs established, because the only jobs some of our colleagues in the Labour Party seem to have actively promoted in the last 12 months are those of certain programme managers, special advisers and so on. They have not done anything constructive in relation to providing real jobs and they have taken a very simplistic view in relation to how development should take place.

Another matter which must be looked at in relation to the whole question of financing is the question of property tax and motor tax collected in the area. A certain proportion of that should go back to the local authority in question so that at times, if certain levies are being raised, that money can go towards carrying out various projects. People can see that certain things are being done. In Dún Laoghaire Corporation we had ward schemes. Very limited money was available for them, something around £10,000 or £15,000, but the four or five members in those areas would sit down and would decide on projects to receive money from the wardship schemes. In that way it was possible to say that each year a certain amount was done in the area.

This legislation marks the end of an era and, as we come to the end of this century, a new beginning in relation to the three authorities. I hope the three authorities which will be established will be a success. I am glad that the Minister has responded to various suggestions and amendments, particularly in relation to the names of the three authorities, because nobody is totally satisfied with the names given to the new areas, particularly the members in what was Dublin Belgard and is now Dublin South. Whether that should be changed to Dublin South West or something else should be left to the members. It is difficult to get a name which covers the area. It is a long way from Castleknock to Balbriggan or Skerries. It is difficult to find a name which encompasses that area. Dún Laoghaire was one of the easier areas to name, even if some colleagues from Dundrum, Stillorgan or the mountainous areas of the new council area——

That could be interpreted as a derogatory remark in some other parts of the country.

No, it is not. Even in Dublin it is complimentary.

Roscommon is lovely, but in our new area within a mile or two one is able to travel from the sea to the mountains. That is encompassed in the new motto in relation to the authority which will be set up.

The Senator is saying that there are mountainy men in Dublin as well?

Mountainy women as well.

I re-emphasise the whole question of the financing of the areas. The Government has not fully addressed that aspect of the situation. Perhaps today's Bill is not the appropriate time, but I hope that in the application of this Bill the Government will realise that the local authorities are cash starved and that the housing situation will be very difficult, particularly in the Dún Laoghaire area. No doubt Senator Doyle will indicate some of the particular difficulties in the city. More money will have to be found. This is only a start in relation to the setting up of the three new areas.

I pay tribute to the various members who have served in the past as chairmen and ordinary members, given dedicated service with very little personal benefit to themselves. At times politicians are castigated, but it local authority members have worked sincerely and dedicatedly down the years. They deserve to be thanked. I thank the staff also, particularly those who worked with Dún Laoghaire Corporation. I hope we get the balance right in relation to the setting up of the new authorities. If there is not sufficient funding, we can talk about reintroducing local taxes; but that can only be done against a backdrop of changing the overall taxation system and we have not yet seen evidence that this will happen.

I ask the Minister to take my suggestions on board when he is looking at the three Dublin areas in relation to special cases and needs for the areas. If one area has more open space or land available then it may not have such a commercial rate base, and if an authority has a sufficiently large commercial rate base the chances are they are running out of land to provide various services. We support the Bill.

I wish to join with Senator Cosgrave in welcoming the Minister back here to the Seanad. He has been with us on many occasions recently and has served with distinction. It is an indication of the amount of legislation that the Minister is putting through both Houses of the Oireachtas. Today's Bill follows and is part of a series of legislative measures being brought forward by this Minister to effect and implement local democracy in the form of a strong independent local government. That appears to be the Minister's hallmark and I am pleased at his approach. As a former chairman of the general council of county councils, I have always believed in strong local government and local democracy and the Minister's approach is to reestablish that structure. We must look at it from a European perspective, and, to use European jargon, implement a bottom-up approach. If we have a strong local government structure then we will have a bottom-up approach and, in that case, one need not go outside the local government structures, if they are strong and effective, to set up any further structures for the implementation of European policy or for spending European moneys.

The Minister decided to streamline the local authority system in County Dublin. He is establishing three county councils to bring democracy to the people. He has also put in place regional authorities which will come into effect shortly. In the last few days the Minister announced that a new system of urban councils will be implemented in June next year. In a short time I can see a strong and definite attack on the system of local government, in so far as the Minister has decided it is time to take it by the scruff of the neck, streamline it and implement it on a local basis with local structures and democracy, thereby handing power back to the people at local level.

The existing structure in Dublin, with 78 council members, is unwieldy which could not work effectively in the interests of the general public. Government, at national or local level, has a responsibility to act on behalf of the people, and it cannot do that unless it is in contact with them.

Senator Cosgrave said I was the odd one out as everyone else seemed to be from Dublin. I remind the Senator that I worked in Dublin with the health authority many years ago, I played hurling and many other games here and I also met my wife in Dublin. I spent five years in Dublin, I was involved with local structures during that time, and I have a great interest in, and a love for, the city and county of Dublin.

This Bill is a positive and welcome step by the Minister. I have no doubt that there will be teething problems in the initial stages, that is to be expected, but in setting up new local authorities there is the advantage that there are people already in the system. There is also the advantage that the area committees are already in the Dublin structure and the Minister said that the existing chairpersons will remain in place until the inaugural meetings later in the year. The suggested date was June although that may have been amended at a later stage and some of the responsibility for selecting the date will be left to the councils.

This Bill is welcome in the interests of local democracy. It is also a realisation of the vast expansion of Dublin — there has been an increase in the population of the city of 0.5 million people in 50 years. It is important that this is dealt with in law to give effect to local democracy in the Dublin area.

It is of vital importance that local democracy affects people equally on a national basis. One objection to the existing system is how it relates to service charges. An equal response is not expected from each citizen in that respect. I would like to point out the anomalies in the present system. If one is a resident, whether a householder or a farmer, of County Roscommon or County Leitrim there is an obligation by law to make a contribution of approximately £100 for water supply, £100 for the land, whether it is ten or 100 acres — and there are few 100 acre farms in County Roscommon and County Leitrim — and £60 for refuse collection. Against that there is no public lighting in rural areas and no footpaths; the university is over 100 miles away and the regional technical college is about 60 miles away and there are no buses. These are the anomalies which upset and annoy people who ask why they should pay in their county when people who have nearly all the services do not pay anything.

We need a more streamlined system for service charges. Every citizen is entitled to be treated equally. With the establishment of the three new councils in Dublin, I hope the people of Dublin and the people of Roscommon and Leitrim — and the people of the counties adjoining Dublin, Meath, Kildare and Wicklow, who pay service charges at present — will all be treated equally. That is what democracy is about. Why should we have a system where there is a charge of £300 or £400 on one household and at the same time a third of the population is excluded from charges?

This matter needs to be looked at and I hope that responsibility for dealing with it on the basis of equal treatment will be at council level. In that way people who are elected locally will act locally and will not implement directives from the top. Directives from central Government have and will be challenged, as people are inclined to rebel against them. However, when decisions are implemented locally and it is explained to the people involved that the money collected will be put back into services in the local area, then local government is acting in a local and responsible way on behalf of the people and also taking decisions which it is elected to take. I am glad I have had the opportunity to raise this matter because we have a responsibility to treat all citizens equally.

I am also glad the Minister provides in the Bill that water and sewerage facilities will be an integral part of the three councils. It would be inappropriate to have duplication in this regard and I welcome the Minister's proposal that the regional authority will be the vehicle for these matters.

Co-operation between local authorities in rural areas is sometimes sadly lacking. For example, Roscommon County Council made an application to Ballinasloe Urban District Council to use its sewerage pipes in an area adjacent to the county. This application was refused, but is under review. The alternative is to ask the Minister and the Department to install a £1 million treatment plant half a mile from the existing plant. However, this would be a waste of money. Co-operation between local authorities is of vital importance and we should not adopt a dog in the manger attitude of not wanting someone else to develop beside us.

People want to maintain their county identity and I am sure this applies to every county. They have allegiance to a county because their father or they themselves played with a sports club and they want to be able to live in that area and identify with the parish and county from where they came. This will not happen if authorities do not co-operate. We cannot have ribbon development. People who want to build houses in a certain county will not be facilitated by the existing local authority because it cannot provide the necessary services. Therefore, they must use the services site in the adjoining county. I am opposed to this approach. The Minister should encourage local authorities to co-operate with adjoining local authorities.

Roscommon County Council and Westmeath County Council co-operated in relation to the Athlone bypass.

Your local authority, a Chathaoirligh, is across the Shannon from mine and there is always an opportunity for development.

It is a waste of money to provide a second treatment plant when an existing treatment plant is sufficient for approximately another 150 houses. It is wrong to spend money in this way. I hope the Minister will be able to encourage local authorities to co-operate.

I am glad the Minister suggested a joint approach between local authorities in relation to water, sewerage and main services. Why should we live in an insular way with regard to providing major services which cross boundaries? Each local authority should not have to provide services independently of each other. The country is not big enough for each local authority to go to the Department for capital funding when co-operation between local authorities might resolve the problem.

The Minister said it is 94 years since a new local authority was set up in this country. While there have been certain changes in that time, 1 January 1994 will be a historic day. The Minister introduced legislation which gives County Dublin a new local democratic government structure. The Minister has done excellent work in the proposals before us — which are far seeing and practical — and has allowed the new councils to implement many of the measures in the legislation. He has brought forward amendments following the debate in the other House and has taken a practical approach to this Bill and the problems which arose. It would be inappropriate to have a 78 member council because it would not work. It would not have been in the interests of local government and it would have destroyed public confidence in it if it had been allowed to continue. The Minister has taken a pragmatic and practical approach in establishing these three local authorities.

An overriding factor is the establishment of regional authorities and this umbrella structure will allow co-operation between them. This is in everyone's interest because no one wants duplication or an insular approach.

Local democracy and local government is the way to implement the bottom-up approach. We hear a lot about this in Europe and many people involved in that approach do not have the experience of implementing necessary measures related to employment, facilities or development of an area. If the structure is streamlined, it would be the basis for a bottom up approach and this could be tied in with other areas, such as farming, health or whatever. Opportunities will arise if we spend time studying how local government and local democracy can have full effect. By doing so, people will have greater confidence in local government because they will see it working effectively. People at local level only see how national Government works through the involvement of the local representative. The local structure may have a knock-on effect if it works well.

I agree with the Minister that it is the responsibility of local representatives to promote the work of the local authority. We should not ballyrag the local government system. I agree with him that we should promote the work of the local authority because of the number of people employed in it, the number of representatives and the amount of money it spends each year. Excellent work is done through the local authority system and the services provided to people through the system should not be taken lightly. Instead of being self-destructive, we should promote what is positive and what our future plans are for the provision of services in the community.

I welcome the Bill and the Minister's pragmatic approach to it. In relation to the new councils, everything may not fall into place on the first day, but their members should be patient. I wish them well and I commend the Bill to the House.

I welcome the Minister to the House, but regrettably I cannot welcome the Bill.

The Bill gives effect to a Government decision to create three new administrative counties in place of Dublin County Council and Dún Laoighaire Corporation. It contains many welcome provisions, but also includes a number of provisions, especially those contained in section 35 and the Third Schedule, which relates to the transfer of Dublin Corporation land and houses to the newly established councils, which will have a detrimental effect on Dublin Corporation, of which I have been a member for the last 14 years.

In his speech to the House this morning, the Minister said that section 35 and the Third Schedule could be viewed against a background of attempts to come to terms with a difficult problem in a way that would be seen to be fair to all parties concerned. I believe that these measures have not been fair to Dublin Corporation. Dublin Corporation has always acquired land in advance on the periphery of the county. For many years it was customary to extend the boundary so that housing estates could be built within the city. This was discontinued in the early 1950s, but the need to provide houses in the county area continued. Dublin Corporation built in excess of 11,000 houses in the county area. Of these houses, some 7,500 remain as tenancy dwellings and the remainder are in the process of being sold to the tenants.

Over 40 per cent of Dublin Corporation's rented house are in the county area. The size of the corporation estate is such that the number of vacancies in any year is a considerable help towards housing those on the waiting list. In recent years, the number of vacancies arising in the county area represents 60 to 70 per cent of the total vacancies for houses, as distinct from flats, becoming available in the entire corporation housing estate.

The number of applicants on Dublin's housing list is well over 5,000 and there are well over 7,000 on the transfer list. This is greatly in excess of the county council's needs. In Fingal there are 906 people on the waiting list; there are 870 in south Dublin and 650 in Dún Laoghaire.

If Dublin Corporation were to lose the housing lands which it owns in the county area, it would be in a position of not having sufficient land to provide the dwellings necessary for those on the waiting lists and those who will become eligible for housing in the near future. I ask the Minister to explain, when responding to this debate, where Dublin Corporation are to build their houses in the future.

It is sometimes implied that Dublin Corporation has built an excessive number of houses in the county area. The fact is that the ratio of public housing tenants to private tenants in County Dublin is less than half of that within the city boundaries.

The land acquired by Dublin Corporation, and I pay tribute to the officials who acquired this land in the early 1960s to enable Dublin Corporation to fulfil its statutory housing requirements and also to make land available to small builders, was acquired in some cases because the county council did not have the funds at the time to acquire it and in other cases land is jointly owned by Dublin Corporation and the county council. As I have stated, this land was bought into public ownership by Dublin Corporation before prices escalated. It was purchased at a time when the county council staff structure had not been strengthened to cope with the pace of the developments taking place in the county.

Dublin Corporation owns about 1,850 acres of land in County Dublin. This is equivalent to the amount of land owned by the county council itself, mainly in the new town areas of Blanchardstown, Lucan, Clondalkin and Tallaght. The major portion of such land is for housing development. The corporation has been disposing of it to improve the social mix in these areas as services become available and conditions are favourable. The industrial lands have been disposed of as demand emerges and in consultation with the IDA. In addition, there are approximately 300 acres in the joint ownership of the county council and Dublin Corporation.

The terms for the disposal and transfer to the county council will be a matter, in the last analysis, for the Minister. Under current legislation, provision is made for compensation for compulsory acquisition, at market value, to be determined by an independent arbitrator, but unfortunately, this does not appear to be applicable to this Bill.

Following the enactment of this legislation, Dublin County Council will be in a position to dispose of assets acquired at a direct cost to the corporation and its ratepayers, for the benefit of county ratepayers, as it does not appear that the lands are acquired directly for their statutory purposes, given that the county council areas have similar acres of land in their ownership for this purpose.

The current market value of Dublin Corporation's land is estimated at approximately £40 million. There is an argument to be made that the proposed legislation is arbitrary and selective in that it does not apply in every local authority area, but in this instance merely penalises Dublin Corporation.

The fact that, effectively, the measure of compensation is under the sole control of the Minister appears to be an unsatisfactory solution. It is possible that it would be open to a ratepayer, having regard to the basis of the financing, and the acquisition of the property, to challenge the right of the Minister to direct that the land be transferred outside the corporation's ownership.

It has been a feature of local government legislation for the past century that local authorities have to justify compulsory purchases of land on the basis of statutory needs and duties to a public hearing. There is an absence of any procedure under this legislation for establishing the needs of the county council, under statute or otherwise, to acquire the lands in question.

The lands which Dublin Corporation bought in the county area were financed to a large extent by way of two loans, each of £3 million, the interest and the repayment of which were charged against the ratepayers in the city of Dublin. Given that the county council appears to have a land bank which is greater than is required to meet its needs for the foreseeable future, it may be presumed that the land will would be, to a large extent, disposed of for private development.

I believe that the kernel issues in this Bill are the transfer of housing stock to the new local authorities and the transfer of land. Acknowledging this, I welcome the other measures proposed in the Bill. I accept that Dublin County Council, for a long time, has been an unwieldy area to be administered at local level.

I hope that when the new authorities are established, and when the Minister appoints the co-ordinating metropolitan council for the four local authorities, we can resolve many of the problems facing local government in the Dublin area, that we can co-ordinate our development plans and other measures and that we can work in harmony with each for the future development and prosperity of Dublin.

I welcome the Minister. It is always a pleasure to have the Minister for the Environment in the House, especially if he is bringing good news. On this occasion I am not sure if the news in entirely good.

As the Minister said, the first attempt at reorganising Dublin County Council was in 1985. The major changes at that time were to boundaries and an increase in the number of councillors to represent the county, from 36 to 78. That provided new opportunities for people who wanted to get involved at local level. I was elected to the county council at that time so I am grateful for that first phase of reform of local government. Others might not regard that as a good spin off of the changes but I welcomed it.

However, there was little real change. The 78 members met in a chamber designed for 36 members, trying to conduct their business efficiently and effectively. We then separated into area committees. In 1990 the Barrington report made various recommendations which were similar to the proposals the former Minister, Deputy Kavanagh, made in his report on local government.

Despite this, we ran in the 1991 local government elections to the entire Dublin County Council. I was representing the ratepayers in Dún Laoghaire as much as those in the Mulhuddart ward, where I stood. There was no substantial difference. As the Minister said, this is the first time a Minister has come to terms with the nuts and bolts of change.

I did not believe we would see this development. That may mean I did not have faith in the then Minister for the Environment but I would never underestimate the current office holder. The first report for reform of local government took 60 years to be implemented and I thought it would be another 60 years before there would be change in the local authorities. That has not been the case. As elected members we represent our constituents and the Minister has referred to them. We should also put on record the work of the managers who drew up the local government re-organisation report which was presented to the members. They were set a rigid timetable and adhered to it, putting in a good deal of work.

The Barrington report also recommended regional councils to which the Minister referred. This Bill does not provide for the setting up of those authorities, it says the Minister will, by order, establish them at a later date. I am confident this Minister will do so. If we are to divide into these three local authorities and also have Dublin Corporation representing the city, there must be a coordinated approach among all the authorities for the greater Dublin area. Senator Cosgrave referred to the development plan, which is vital. The National Roads Authority will ensure co-ordination in road schemes but unless there is a development plan for the four local authorities which respects their integrity we will be in a serious position. Therefore the regional authorities are necessary.

I already mentioned those who prepared the re-organisation report but it would be remiss of me to imply that the members of the Fingal, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown and Dublin South area committees, soon to be councils, did not have a substantial input into that report. I made a number of amendments and made some suggestions at the county council. They formed part of the report and the Minister has embraced some of those recommendations.

I welcome the changes of the function of the school attendance officer and the involvement of the Minister for Education. In the county council area the Garda were supposed to implement the school attendance policy. That never happened. In the 18 years I have lived in Blanchardstown I am not aware of one instance of a garda calling to a house, challenging parents as to why a child was not at school.

Having said that, it was an appalling way to administer a school attendance scheme. At the council I proposed that the Minister of Education should extend the home-school liaison scheme to ensure children attend school. This formed part of the report. That would be a much more parent and pupil oriented scheme.

I claim some credit, via the re-organisation report, for section 35 of the Bill. Senator Doyle presented the corporation viewpoint and I will give the other side of the argument. The Minister has gained in-depth knowledge of the workings of Dublin Corporation and Dublin County Council. He is under no illusion about the position of people in corporation houses and those who try to represent them. My electoral ward of Mulhuddart contains approximately 2,000 corporation houses. They are good quality dwellings with three bedrooms, bathrooms and running water — all the services those people who were moved from tenements in the city did not have.

I commend the corporation for providing good housing accommodation for their tenants. The mistake was in siting the houses in the county area. I am not critical of previous Administrations or previous councillors. It was an urgent response to an urgent need. Similarly, those who are critical of Ballymun should recognise the urgency of the need there also. Now we have some leeway because we are about to set up new institutions and we must make sure we tackle the matter properly.

Dublin Corporation owns a huge land bank in the county. Senator Doyle said the land was purchased with loans which were paid back by ratepayers. My understanding is that it was bought with money forwarded by the Department of the Environment. That is ultimately taxpayers' money but it was not necessarily the ratepayers who paid. Members of Dublin Corporation are panicking about the disposal of the land bank. Those members may not be aware that the corporation has been selling that land bank at an unbelievable rate, although members have been desperately trying to keep it to house the people they represent. The manager has been doing that over a period of years and has continued to do so up to last week.

In Blanchardstown land owned by the corporation was reserved for a regional technical college. It was offered for public tender last week by the manager of Dublin Corporation. This is a vital part of the infrastructure necessary for the satellite town of Blanchardstown. While we are enacting this legislation, the city manager is tinkering with our efforts to provide the best possible solution for the people I represent and those in the corporation area.

The development plan has received much attention, especially from the Minister. Dublin Corporation owns land in the Terenure-Templeogue section of what will be the South Dublin council area. I am not totally familiar with it but the local representatives are. They zoned it as an open space. That did not make the headlines because unless councillors take what is considered an unacceptable decision they never get publicity. Before the development plan could be confirmed the manager of Dublin Corporation applied for planning permission and disposed of that land. We cannot do what the people of the area wanted done with that land. That is not local democracy or subsidiarity, it is an appalling abuse of the powers and functions of the Dublin city manager. I do not know whether he referred the matter to his councillors but they should know what is happening.

The land in question is in Ballycreagh.

There are 2,000 good quality corporation houses in my electoral area, the first phase of which was built in 1975. That is as far as it goes. Dublin County Council provide the public lighting, the parks, the road sweeping and built the roads to service those living in that area but Dublin Corporation collects the rents. There is a fear that Dublin Corporation will lose approximately £5 million as a result of the transfer of this housing stock. Whoever is defending the claim that Dublin Corporation should receive this amount from those Dublin County Council has tried to represent has an appalling nerve. As the Minister said in his speech, these people are disenfranchised by virtue of the fact that they do not have any representatives in Dublin Corporation. I found the staff of Dublin Corporation, in the main, extremely helpful to me; but if I write a letter to it I will get a standard reply saying that maintenance may be carried out or that my constituent might be put on the housing list, and that is as far as it will go.

I referred earlier to the housing schemes in Ballymun. I want to put on record the fantastic work Dublin Corporation has done on refurbishment schemes of their housing stock in Darndale, in the inner city and in Ballymun. I thank the Minister and his predecessors for supplying the bulk of that money, but I will also put on record my personal dissatisfaction, and that of the people I represent, with the members and management of Dublin Corporation, who did not put a single halfpenny into the housing stock in Dublin County Council. We have in our area 200 courtyard houses which received huge media attention. The appalling state of the housing stock in Darndale requiring repair was shown in the middle pages of the Evening Herald.

I also wish to refer to the architects and planners, because during the course of the development plan they were referred to in godlike terms as if they could not do anything wrong. The courtyard housing schemes in my electoral ward in Darndale were award-winning schemes. However, I would invite the Minister to meet my constituents in Corduff and ask them what they think about the award winning schemes they live in and about the planning of Dublin county in certain areas? For the first time ever, north Clondalkin needed the appointment of a task force on urban crime. Is that planning? That was not because of section 4 or rezoning; that was proper planning and development of the county at its best. That was a settlement strategy for parts of Tallaght, north Clondalkin and Blanchardstown, which I represent. The disaster that this strategy meant for those I represent has to be seen.

I said at a meeting of Dublin County Council, and I will repeat it in this House, that I would be willing to stand over any of the decisions I supported on rezonings made specifically by myself, but I would say that none of those decisions would bring forth the disasters which have affected parts of north Clondalkin, Tallaght and the area I represent. I will not accept any rowing back on the handing over of the land, the housing stock and the assets of the other local authorities to the new authority.

The Minister says, in reference the Third Schedule of the Bill, that he requested the preparation of a scheme. I have submitted an amendment to that part of the Bill. If the Minister can reassure me on this matter on Committee Stage, it may be withdrawn.

I will not refer to some of the matters I wished to raise because of time constraints, but I feel passionately about the involvement of a local authority in another administrative area. I think my colleague, Senator Finneran would agree with me. Senator Finneran would not appreciate it if the adjoining local authority was tampering with his authority and he had no way of redressing it. I will refer instead to charges, as they are an emotive area. I know Dublin Corporation will not be faced with the possibility of charges because it has a huge commercial rate base. We should not fool ourselves into thinking there is a different standard of service for different people. It has a huge number of rate payer constituents and a good commercial base.

In Dublin County Council yesterday we were presented with a glimpse of what the first financial report for the Fingal area committee, which will be its own council, is likely to be. I quote from this:

The final account position for 1993 for Dublin County Council will not be known until accounts are finalised early in 1994. However, it is anticipated that the cumulative deficit on the revenue account for Dublin County Council and Dún Laoghaire Corporation will be in the order of £20 million.

The new local authorities will join our country colleagues in being absolutely strapped for cash. We will be in the same position as Senator Finneran's authority. We will have to cut back on services, as we have done, rather than introduce charges; but we also will be faced with an unpalatable choice. I thank the Minister for his assistance with some of the once-off costs associated with this issue.

In the Fingal area only 25 per cent of the valuation is commercial. Yesterday we had to grapple with charges. The Labour Party chairman did not find himself capable of saying the phrase. In January the new Fingal authority will be faced with having to cutback services seriously or introducing charges. I ask the Minister to bear that in mind when he gives the rate support grant to the new Fingal County Council and to my colleagues in the other two local authorities.

I began by saying that I was not sure if I totally welcomed the Bill. Maybe I am a pessimist, but I honestly believe that so long as Dublin Corporation is such a large local authority, it will lead to the disintegration and abolition of Dublin County Council. If nothing else, our strength was in our numbers. We had a 78 member council, which was larger than this Chamber. I fear that Dublin Corporation will become the premier authority in Dublin city and county while the other three councils will be struggling for recognition. I hope that I am wrong, but I ask the Minister to remember this when he allocates the rate support grant.

First, I want to thank the Senators who contributed to this important debate. As I indicated in my speech, the intent of the Bill is quite simple and has been approved in principle by the Dáil in the context of the Reorganisation Act, 1985.

As is usual in Second Stage contributions on matters affecting local government, the question of local authority finance is often raised. On a number of recent occasions I made it clear that the total resources available to local authorities, both in capital and in current funding, are almost £1.7 billion. On the current side the State provides £400 million, which is practically all of the capital expenditure. It would be nice if we could afford to meet all demands, but we have to take account of competing considerations in terms of the total availability of revenue from tax sources.

Approximately 1.2 million employed people pay taxes. There are as many as 2.4 million dependants for whom a sum of approximately £3.7 billion is required in the context of social welfare payments. This total comprises approximately £1,800 million for health services and £1,700 million for the environment. There is no scope for requiring the taxpayer or ratepayer to substantially lift the amounts they pay in circumstances where it is the general policy of Government, and of the other political parties as well, to reduce the tax load so that the economy can be more competitive. Therefore, the need for improving the efficiency of our actions in all services is paramount. Nonetheless, in the last two years I have succeeded, despite tight financial constraints, in getting an increase in the rate support grant. It appears that for 1993, judging by recent inflation figures, the rate support grant will be twice that of the inflation rate.

Senator Cosgrave raised the question of the allowances for councillors. I will inform the House that the new system will be in force from 1 January 1994. A central feature of the new system is the consideration given to postage and telephone allowances. I hope to complete the regulations in the next few days. It would have been done before now but for the fact that I was engaged in this House and the other House over the last couple of weeks. I have indicated that I will review those allowances after one year. We are making substantial changes and we need further experience to tease out their effects. I will respond at the end of the first year to further recommendations if they are deemed necessary.

Senator Cosgrave also raised the question of the names of the new counties. The area committees gave considerable time to this issue and none of them proposed a change in the names of the new counties, nor did Dublin County Council or Dun Laoghaire Corporation, in their formal submissions to me in relation to the reorganisation report. It is a matter entirely for the councils themselves. It is not for Parliament to intervene and impose solutions for local people because that would be a centralist approach. For the first time, a procedure involving public consultation is set out for the new county councils to promote a change in the name of the counties. This is as it should be. It is a local issue, best decided by local people. Furthermore, an amendment made in the Dáil requires each of the new authorities to consider the question of the counties' name in the first year. That is as far as I could be expected to go.

Senator Finneran raised the issue of promoting local authority co-ordination. I could not agree more with his contribution in this regard. It is important to have efficient local authorities. Local democracy should be autonomous and have the ability to make decisions in the best and most efficient way possible. From that, the question arises as to how their services relate to the areas nearest to them. The matter of the co-ordination of water supply, sewage treatment, waste management and wider questions of planning, is very important. There is no excuse for any local authority — not only in the context of this Bill — to think that it can live in its own domain. If it has extra facilities which could be adjoined to demands and needs close by, where appropriate financial arrangements can be made for that sort of provision, I would encourage it. In view of Senator Finneran's particular comments relating to one or two local authorities in the west, I will have that matter examined urgently.

Regarding co-ordination and co-operation, I have set out as a principle aim for my Department the need to outline our policies and work with local areas. We want to build partnerships with local authorities which take account of the Department's resources and the authorities' needs, and which use the voluntary organisational systems to support the communities. If that is done, we will have a proper type of partnership which uses the available resources in the best way possible so that nobody will take precedence over another. If we follow that type of course, problems such as non co-operation or insufficient co-ordination will be dealt with and eradicated.

Over the next week I will complete the regulations for the establishment of the new regional authorities. These will be effective from 1 January and the councils meeting in January will appoint 220 members, for the country as a whole. We will have a statutory basis for what I hope will be new dynamic organisations in the regions. These are particularly necessary at a time when the co-ordination of the various agencies and the review of the implementation of Structural Funds are ongoing. As a result of the establishment of the new councils, the regional authorities are even more important to Dublin. That is why I am co-ordinating the establishment of the new councils with the establishment of the regional authorities, which must have their own broader vision of how they support co-ordination and encourage local authorities. In the Bill there is a statutory requirement for the councils to meet and for the managers to develop policies on co-ordination. The combination should mean that we have the best of both worlds.

However, I find it extraordinary — and I am not condemning anyone in particular — that over the years there was tremendous debate about the way County Dublin had grown and the claim was made that it was not possible for a local authority to deal with problems from Balbriggan in the north to Bray in the south and westwards beyond Tallaght. It was considered too unwieldy. When we proposed to break up that council and have a more focused, meaningful and responsible local authority, the strength of the old system was immediately praised.

I always had reservations.

We must realise that we can, through the greater local focus in the establishment of the new councils, provide the best type of local autonomy. Through co-ordination between the local authorities and the establishment of the regional authorities, the widest overview will also be provided so that we can have the best of both worlds. We will face the future with the confidence that this is the best way, considering that many independent groups, established by successive Governments, pointed to this as the way forward. We are now proceeding to establish the necessary legal basis for that to take place.

Senator Doyle raised the argument about land and housing owned by the corporation. In pre-famine times, there were almost eight million people in the country. Agriculture was the main activity and there was little industrial development. Due to the lack of opportunity for industrial employment, people with large families divided up their holdings, which gradually became smaller. As land was required for hay, tillage or perhaps fallow, it meant that each portion of land had again to be subdivided. Out of all of that came the rights of way. It was fine when there were just brothers involved, but not as good when it was first cousins and no good at all when it was others.

Every sensible person says "this is my land and this is your land". We establish first that we manage within the geographic domain. That is the first priority but that does not take away from the difficulties that decision imposes on Dublin Corporation in terms of its housing needs. I do not believe I have heard the argument that the solution to the corporation's problems is to continue with the old policy. If I heard such an argument, I could not support it. Although I come from County Tipperary and I do not know much about Dublin, as Minister for the Environment I could not agree with a rent collector collecting at house A and a rent collector collecting at house B being employed by two different councils or the people living in those houses electing members on to a council which does not represent them. Discussions to solve these problems should be conducted in a business-like way and I expect that they will.

It may be necessary for the new councils to provide houses for the corporation, but they will collect rent from them and own, manage and maintain these houses. Last year Dublin Corporation said it would not be possible to build an allocation of houses in the city area. However, the corporation has since found land on which to build. If I walk 500 yards from this House in any direction, I will find vacant space. I may not find green space but I will find vacant space. In terms of urban renewal, we must utilise the resources we have, such as in-fill schemes, the upper floors of shops, etc. in a sensible way. I will work diligently with the local authorities to provide houses because that is important. It is essential to find a broad mix of solutions which do not place undue pressure on a local authority.

I am aware of the number of people on the corporation's housing list and accept we must deal with that problem. If I listened to the argument that the corporation must go to the county, I would abandon my proposals for the Custom House Dock, Sheriff Street and Gardiner Street. People buy up new housing accommodation as soon as it is built. That should give us food for thought. There is a new way to develop the city and county, one which is not in conflict with the resources available. I look forward to the efforts by all local authorities to find sensible solutions.

Senator McGennis referred to land which is being sold. I will be seeking a full report in relation to these proposals. I said on many occasions in this House and in the Dáil that I will never again sanction large green field single class housing estates. I want to see shared ownership and voluntary, private and local authority housing built so as to create a synchronised social mix. The problems in Clondalkin, caused by major green field single class housing estates without amenities, such as shopping, ecclesiastical services, etc. should not recur.

There is a surplus of land and authorities should do good business by selling it to the private market. I will not say whether this is a good or a bad policy because I am not familiar with the proposals, but it is good business to seek to dispose of assets to the private market. The proceeds should then be used intelligently to build houses on in-fill schemes. However, I would not like to see changes in the law being anticipated and a mad rush to capitalise on assets which would be ultimately required by the people of Dublin, rather than the new councils. I do not care about councils in terms of what they should get. We serve the needs of the people of Dublin and the county, not the wish of an individual, an elected representative or a member of——

I hope the Minister includes the city in that statement.

This is my capital city and I hope to prove that schemes such as the urban renewal scheme, the civic trust scheme, major road schemes, in-fill schemes and amenity schemes will do much for this city in terms of the policies developed in my Department.

Senator Finneran referred to service charges. It would not be wise for the Minister for the Environment to become involved in this matter. His contribution was trenchant because he represents a region which must commit itself to heavy service charges and, therefore, I must briefly respond to him. It is a matter for each local authority to decide whether to levy charges. No country in Europe can afford to provide services based only on the taxation system without asking the public to pay for the services they enjoy. If one does not adopt policies close to that, one is saying that someone who does not enjoy those services must pay for them to the same degree as those who do.

Senator McGennis referred to the £21 million deficit. There is a deficit of £21 million or £22 million, but the same amount is due to the authorities.

I left that sentence out.

I know, but it is my business to find out the overall position. If one owes as much as one is owed, one's financial position is not as precarious as it seems. Even if it is, are we saying that Roscommon, Mayo and Tipperary, counties which have service charges and a debt, should contribute to a deficit which was created in counties where there were no service charges. I do not want to become further involved in a debate on that issue. However, if it is a question of where I should find resources, then they must come from the country. It is a matter which must be resolved, but that is the window I would look through to see where I should go in that regard.

I tried to cover the main issues raised and to give some idea about what the future holds. I look forward to the meetings which will take place over the next year to resolve some of the outstanding problems. Until now there has been cooperation and tough decisions were made by management, elected members, trade unions and so on. We appreciate that we have been able to reach this stage without any real bottlenecks. When they occurred, they were dealt with in a capable way.

Question put and agreed to.
Agreed to take remaining Stages today.