DAIL IN COMMITTEE. RAILWAYS BILL, 1924. - LOCAL GOVERNMENT BILL, 1924.—SECOND STAGE.

I beg to move the Second Reading of the Local Government Bill, 1924. At the outset I wish to state that the Bill is not intended to be the last word in local government reform. It is not intended as a codification of local government law. It is a step in that direction, but we will not achieve that result for some time. There are some principles in the Bill which I consider vital and there are other matters on which I am by no means taking up a cast-iron position. I expect that Deputies of every Party will be able to contribute a great deal towards the improvement of the Bill in its passage through the Dáil. This Bill is to a great extent the legislative outcome of two remarkable developments of our modern civilisation. First of all, the development of motor transport and, secondly of the preventative, as distinct from the curative side of the science of health. Both these developments have made it necessary that we should change our whole attitude with regard to local government.

The first section I intend to deal with is that dealing with roads. The road is one of those great fundamental institutions familiarity with which is likely, on the part of some of us, to breed a certain amount of contempt, with the result that we do not always attach to it the importance it deserves. It is, as a matter of fact, an institution which has an important bearing on practically every activity of our national life. One of the most striking characteristics of the road is its durability. It survives for centuries.

Mr. O'CONNELL

Some roads.

To this day the traces of the five great roads of pre-Christian Ireland may be still traced without difficulty. This quality of durability has its disadvantages as well as its advantages, for the road that may suit the requirements of one century may be totally unsuited to another. But when the path is once struck it is extremely difficult to change either its direction or character. Yet, change it we must if we are to keep pace with the industrial development of other countries. We have reached the turning point in the history of the road. New instruments of locomotion, greater weight in loads, vastly increased rapidity of transit—all these are factors which make a change in our attitude with regard to the road a matter of necessity. This change in our transport system above all demands a change in our attitude with regard to the road. The parochial point of view is no longer tenable. We must now look at the road from the standpoint of the nation.

At the time when Rural District Councils were first established roads were not by any means of the same national importance that they are at the present time. When they were established the railroads were at the peak point of development, and the development of the road had practically ceased since the time of the mail-coach. The functions of Rural District Councils with regard to roads were originally the functions of the Baronial Presentment Sessions, which were in force prior to the passing of the Local Government Act of 1898. They were devised to meet the circumstances of that particular period, and for causes which are no longer considered desirable. At that time the roads were regarded mainly as the concern of the various districts through which they passed, and, as the standard of road construction and road maintenance was at that time considerably lower than it is at present, the burden of their upkeep was easily borne by the various districts charged with their maintenance. That fact is to a great extent responsible for our present "parish-pump" attitude with regard to the roads. The parochial attitude is responsible for hampering any comprehensive scheme of road organisation and for the continued maintenance of unimportant and unnecessary roads, with the result that Ireland at the present time has a greater number and a lower standard of maintenance of roads than any country in Europe.

Now, the great age of the roads, that I referred to at the beginning, has not only placed in our way the practical difficulty of adapting obsolete ways to modern invention, but has also left its trace on the law relating to road administration. The present law, determining the powers and functions of the various authorities and the areas to be charged with the expense of carrying out various works, is so confused and so complicated that even its discovery is impossible for anyone except an expert, and when its provisions are eventually hacked out of the various laws, orders, rules and regulations in which they are concealed, the greatest legal skill is required to interpret them. It follows then from what I have said, first of all, that this obsolete code must be replaced by one more simple that the ordinary citizen and ratepayer can understand. Secondly, that the initiation of policy with regard to roads at present in the hands of District Councils must be placed under the control of the higher authority, the County Council, otherwise we will not be able to get away from this parochial attitude. Thirdly, that district charges with regard to roads should be abandoned.

The Bill provides a new division of roads, first of all, into main roads, which will be decided by the Ministry; secondly, into urban roads (that is, all roads in Urban Districts), and, thirdly, county roads (that is, all roads other than main roads not in Urban Districts). The Urban Council will be the authority for all the roads in its area, and the County Council will be responsible for all other roads in its county. The main roads will be paid for by the county-at-large; urban roads will be paid for by the Urban District, and county roads will be paid for by the county-at-large, exclusive of the Urban District.

At the present time a very cumbersome procedure is laid down by, I think, Article 25 (a) of the Procedure of Councils Act before the Minister can approve of a direct labour scheme, and when it is approved it has to remain in force for three years. It is intended to make those provisions more elastic in the Bill, as the direct labour system of maintaining roads has been found to give great satisfaction in numerous cases, particularly where the roads are being maintained on a comprehensive scale. The powers of the local authority for acquiring road material, and for draining roads have been amplified, and various regulations with regard to signs and signals are also being introduced. The new powers of local authorities for the compulsory seizing of land are to apply to land acquired for the purpose of a road.

With regard to the public health portion of the Bill, that part of it repeals the Ministry of Health Act of 1919, whose application to Ireland was rather illusory, and applies the main provisions of that Act to Saorstát Eireann. This portion of the Bill is mainly concerned with the co-ordinating and centralising of the various health services, with a view to uniformity and greater efficiency. What are generally known as the public health services of each county, and the local administration of these services, at the present time, are divided up between different authorities—county councils, district councils, urban and rural, and committees of county borough councils. The curative side of the public health services is administered mainly by the board of guardians and the county borough councils, while the preventative side is administered by rural district councils. The Temporary Provisions Act took power to do away with boards of guardians. Most of them have since disappeared, and boards of health have been established in their place. This Bill will give power to do away with rural district councils which have hitherto been the sanitary units for their area, and will transfer their sanitary functions, relating both to the curative and preventative side of health, to the county council, which will, in future, be the sanitary unit, except in the case of very large counties. The public health services of the county council will be carried out, in cases where county schemes have been adopted, by boards of health set up under the Act, and they will be known as Boards of Health and Public Assistance for each County District. The result of the proposals of the Bill will be that the administration of all health services of the county, both curative and preventative, will be under the control of one body—the County Council. As I mentioned before, power is given to the Minister, in the case of the larger counties, to divide the county into two or more health districts, for each of which a public board of health will be established. This will apply both in the case of the curative and the preventative side of public health. For the purpose of administering the Bill a county medical officer will be appointed for each county. This officer will be a whole-time officer, independent of private practice. It would otherwise be impossible to get efficient service. He will have to be an expert in matters relating to the public health, and possess the D.P.H. diploma of public health or sanitary science. This officer will be responsible for supervising, under the County Board of Health, all the health services in his county, such as maternity, child welfare, medical inspection of schools, inspection of midwives, tuberculosis, and the welfare of the blind. A veterinary surgeon will also be appointed for each county to administer the Dairies and Cowsheds Order, and for the inspection of meat, and by arrangement with the Ministry of Agriculture, for the performance of certain duties in connection with the Diseases of Animals Acts. The Bill makes the following Acts, which were formerly permissive, mandatory: the Infectious Diseases Notification Act, 1889; Infectious Diseases Prevention Act, 1890; Public Health (Aniendment) Act, 1890, Part III.; Public Health (Amendment) Act, 1907, Part IV.; Tuberculosis Prevention Act, 1908, Part I. The effect will be to make tuberculosis and the more serious infectious diseases compulsorily notifiable, and to apply certain sanitary provisions and measures for preventing the spread of infection, which are now operative in certain parts, to the whole of the Saorstát. Provision is also made for the establishment of Consultative Councils for advising and assisting the Minister.

Some of the criticisms of this Bill in the Press made it appear as if these Consultative Councils were to be set up in connection with every local authority. They are only to be set up to help and advise the Minister in matters relating to public health and in such matters as formulating a definite scheme of State medical service, and for matters of that kind, which may concern us later on.

With regard to superannuation, the present law dealing with superannuation is very obscure and complicated, and in one case at all events is grossly unfair to the ratepayers and employers. This state of affairs is largely the result of the introduction of amendments in various enactments to cover specific instances, without taking sufficient care or precaution to secure co-ordination of methods. At a later date it may be advisable for us to introduce a measure of contributory superannuation similar to the Lunatic Asylums Act of 1909, but at present it would be impossible to introduce such a scheme. The present Bill takes the initial step of codifying the law with regard to superannuation, and removing some of its more glaring defects. The general effect of these proposals is: first of all, the code is to apply generally to all officers of local authorities, with the exception of officers of Committees of District Lunatic Asylums, who come under the provisions of the Lunatic Asylums Act of 1909. Compensation is only to be granted for whole-time officers and to medical officers.

At present medical officers carry on private practice, as well as attending to their public duties. Notwithstanding this fact they are allowed pensions and it is considered advisable to continue that practice.

May I ask, on a point of explanation, whom does the Minister designate as officer?

That is a legal term.

It is very hard to get at it, I think.

Does it mean employees?

They are employees, I should say. It is a wide term.

Is it a restrictive term? Is the term also, in your meaning of it, restricted to a certain class of employees, that is to say, salaried officers?

Yes. In order to facilitate the transfer of officers from one local authority to another, officers are to be allowed to reckon for compensation purposes continuous service under the different local authorities. It is considered that it will be a considerable benefit to the public administration if experienced and capable officers can complete for positions under different local authorities without losing their pensionable rights. When an allowance is granted by reason of incapacity, provision is made that where the incapacity ceases the officer may be reinstated and the allowance discontinued. In the case of non-compulsory retirement, compensation can only be granted in the way of allowance, and the maximum amount is as many sixtieths of the yearly salary and emoluments as the officer has years of service. In the case of compulsory retirement a gratuity or lump sum may be given where the officer has less than 10 years' service. Where he has more than 10 years' service, he has to get an allowance which shall not be more than two-thirds of his yearly salary and emoluments. In any case where an officer is dissatisfied with the compensation given he has six months to appeal to the Minister who may grant what he considers fair. The main provision of the miscellaneous portion of the Bill is that the Minister shall have power to declare vacant the seat of any member of a local authority who shall become disqualified or who forfeits his seat through absence, and if such a person acts as a member after he has been disqualified he is liable to a fine of £20. It is proposed to throw on the secretary or chief executive officer of each local authority the responsibility for objecting to any act which may result in unnecessary, illegal, or extravagant payments.

In such a case the names of the persons who voted for or against the measure: that is under discussion, or who abstained from voting, are to be recorded on the minutes, and the auditor, in the case of such neglect or such misconduct, will surcharge not as heretofore the person accounting, but any member or officer that is present. With regard to surcharges, when a member is surcharged, after the passage of this Bill, he will be disqualified from acting as a member until he has paid his surcharge, or until the next election, and in case of appeal the disqualification is to date from two weeks after the order determining such appeal.

The principal Committees set up under the Bill are, as I have mentioned, Boards of Health, District Committees or Joint Committees of Lunatic Asylums. The members of those committees will also be members of the county council. If the duties of those bodies are to be carried out efficiently, it will mean that those members will have to attend very constantly. This will entail considerable expense on those members, and it is accordingly proposed to pay the expenses of such members where they have attended three-fourths of the meetings of those bodies, the amount of payment for expenses to be computed according to the distance that each member lives from the county council or local authority. A simplified procedure is laid down in the case of the compulsory acquisition of land for the purposes of public health or local government, mainly in connection with land acquired for the purposes of sewerage, and waterworks, and of roads. At the present time the procedure is very tedious, involving a Provisional Order, which has afterwards to be confirmed by a Private Bill. No person can hold an office of profit under a local authority who is also a member of any local authority in the same county. The temporary provisions which are in force at the present time enabling a Minister to hold an inquiry and to dissolve a council and to have its powers and property transferred, are made permanent under the Bill. Power is also given to reorganise various districts where the councils are not efficiently performing their duties, or where the councils themselves so desire.

The question of the officers of councils whose duties have been transferred has received special attention. They are to be treated as if they had been originally officers of the county council, and for the purposes of compensation, in the case of any of them who have been dismissed, their service under the previous local authorities is to be taken into consideration. During the conflict with the British authorities here in Ireland, as part of the policy of making British law impossible in the country, certain local authorities got orders to surrender the leases and tenancies under which certain courthouses were held. That was intended to be purely a temporary measure. But since then difficulty has been found in some cases in getting those courthouses back for the local authorities. And this Bill, accordingly, provides that such local authorities may acquire those courthouses under the same conditions under which they were formely held, except in cases where those courthouses had been purchased in the meanwhile bona fide for valuable consideration.

Now, in the Bill I have not said very much about the abolition of rural district councils, mainly because their abolition is really conditional and consequential on the vital provisions of the Bill. If the main provisions of this Bill are accepted the functions of rural district councils really disappear. There is no further use for them. And if they are to be kept on, and if the main provisions of the Bill are to be accepted, those local bodies will serve no other purpose save that of ornament. The cost of electing rural district councils throughout the country is something like £65,000, and the cost of their staffs amounts to £85,000 per annum; and we consider this is rather a high price to have to pay for rural district councils, if we are only to keep them as ornaments. As a matter of fact, it is a clear choice between the reform of local administration, between the more efficient and more economic operation of local administration, and the rural councils. You cannot make omelettes without breaking eggs; and if you are going to reform local government you will have to do away with rural district councils.

I am prepared to move the adjournment of the Debate at the present time, or I am prepared to go on.

The Dáil adjourned at 6.35 p.m., and resumed at 7.20 p.m.,

I waited long and very patiently for the introduction of this Bill. Eighteen months have elapsed since I introduced a discussion on the subject of the necessity for an improvement in the public health. I desire at once to congratulate the Minister on the fact that he has taken his courage in his hands and introduced a Bill which will be of far-reaching beneficial effects to the community. I have not the slightest doubt about that, and I am going, therefore, to give my heartiest support to the second reading of the Bill, subject to certain modifications which necessarily will be made during the Committee Stage. I am, of course, sorry that we have not a Minister of Health. It is no disparagement to the Minister for Local Government to say that he knows nothing about public health any more than it would be disparaging if he told me that I know nothing about legal procedure, which would be the truth.

I regret he did not see his way to inaugurate a State medical service. Such a service was recommended by various commissions and at various meetings of delegates of medical men. That, perhaps, will come in a short time, and will probably make for still more efficiency than probably this measure will tend to make for. I sincerely hope that for the sake of efficiency this State medical service will not be thrown into the background altogether.

I want to deal with a little matter just before I discuss the provisions of the measure. At the present moment the Ministry of Health in Great Britain is extremely interested in the conditions under which food is produced in this country. I say that a statement of fact; it is not anything that arises from my imagination. So interested is the Ministry of Health in Great Britain in the production of such articles as butter, that there is a serious risk, if better public health conditions are not observed in the production of food here, that there may be prohibition against the introduction of that class of food, and I say quite deliberately, as far as the creameries are concerned, that there will require to be a very great improvement in the conditions under which they are worked. I hope all that will be set at rest when we have the officer who is to be appointed under this Bill, namely, the County Medical Officer of Health.

With regard to the Bill, there are four main proposals in it in which I am particularly interested. The proposals with regard to public health are that for the future the county councils are to be the local authority for all matters relating to public health. I am extremely pleased that the sanitary functions have been taken from the urban councils and placed in the much larger and wider body, the county councils. The second point of interest is the formation of consultative councils to advise the Minister. He referred this afternoon to the fact that certain of the public Press have taken up the idea that this meant that in each county there was to be a consultative council formed to give advice. But these consultative councils are to be formed to advise the Minister himself. I shall refer to that later. The third point is the formation of the county boards of health which will be the controlling factors of all public health activities and organisations. The fourth is the appointment of the county medical officer of health, who will be independent of private practice, who will be specially qualified for this work, and who will, I hope, have practical experience as well in the work that he is undertaking to do.

I need not force this point too strongly, but it has been obvious for the last 25 or 30 years that the medical officer of health who was in private practice and whose patients were his masters, could not interfere in discouraging nuisances and other things, because if he did he would lose his patients. Under this new scheme the medical officer of health will be absolutely independent of private practice, and I say this, that the more perfectly this man will do his work and the better officer he is, the less likely is he to be persona grata with the people in the county with whom he is finding fault. I shall make use of that in advocating something later on. Now the Ministry of Health Act of 1919, as the Minister points out, is to be repealed. There is only one section of that Act referring to Ireland, and there are only two parts in this section. The first part dealt with matters that were to be handed over or transferred to the Minister for Health, and pointed out all the duties that he had to perform. The second part of this section dealt with the formation of Consultative Councils. The class of people who were to be put upon the Consultative Councils were specified very particularly. One of the objections that I have to the section dealing with this matter in the present Bill, is that the matter is left very much too loose.

The Minister gave the medical profession a shock a short time ago when he replaced a very efficient officer or official in connection with the Midwifery Board by a man who knew nothing whatever about the Midwifery Board or anything connected with it. Now I am afraid in his attempt to form this council, without knowledge, he may put on it a specialist for throat and nose diseases who would know nothing with regard to midwifery. That is one of the reasons why I object to this clause, and I would rather he specified the definite class of people he intends to put on the council. Because, as I said before— and I must apologise for saying it—the Minister knows nothing about public health, and unless he is able to get advice from independent men who know their business the public health conditions will not improve.

Now I come to another matter which is engaging the attention of several of the Deputies. There is no mention whatsoever made in the Bill with regard to the medical inspection of school children. That was not one of the duties that was imposed by the Ministry of Health Act, 1919, upon the Minister for Health. The words of the 1919 Act have been transferred verbatim into this Bill, and the inspection of school children was not mentioned in the 1919 Act.

It is not mentioned in the present Bill, and the reason is that there is no suggestion that this Act should be repealed—that is, the Public Health and the Medical Treatment of Children Act. It never was put into force in this country. But the Act is still there, and I am quite sure that my reading of the circumstances will agree with what the Minister will be able to state with regard to them, namely, that this Act is in abeyance for the present, and that as soon as the County Boards of Health are established and County Medical Officers of Health appointed, the provisions of this Act, which are still in force, will be put into working order. If it were not so, if I did not think that that was a proper reading of the Bill, I should urge very strongly the insertion of some words relating to the medical inspection of school children.

There are certain suggestions that have been made to me, and certain suggestions that have occurred to myself, that I should like to make with regard to improving the Bill, and probably amendments will be brought forward at a later Stage with regard to this. The first proposal that I have to make, I have no doubt, will receive support from a certain section of the Dáil. The proposal in the Bill is, "the entire health service shall be paid for by the county council out of the poor rate levied upon the county." My proposal is that only half the health service should be paid out of the local rates, and the other half should be paid out of the Central Fund. That was a suggestion that was made by the Irish Public Health Council when issuing their report in 1920. I have already alluded to the Advisory Board, and I think that it would be better if the Consultative Councils were turned into one Advisory Board with larger powers, and have it specified more definitely what class of people should be put upon this Board.

A great many people have spoken to me with regard to the fact, that there is nothing in the Bill with regard to the qualifications required for these county medical officers. The Minister explained very fully that the chief medical officer would be required to have a diploma in Public Health, and I hope certain other qualifications will be required showing that he has a practical training in this matter.

The superannuation clauses are left to the local bodies to do what they please; in other words, a local body may grant a superannuation to a retiring officer at the age of sixty-five years. This country has been cursed with Acts that allow people to do what they like. There are two other Acts which are made mandatory now—the Notification of Diseases Act and the Prevention of Diseases Act, alluded to by the Minister. These two Acts have been running since 1889 and 1890, and one rural council as sanitary authority could adopt these if it wished, whereas in the adjacent rural district these Acts might not be adopted, and the greatest amount of hugger-mugger went on with regard to it. Now, these, I am glad to say, are made mandatory, and I should like to have it made mandatory upon the local bodies to give superannuation where superannuation should be given. Where an official has given good service and is entitled to superannuation, I would not allow any question to be raised as to whether it should be given or not, and I would ask the Minister to substitute the word "shall" for the word "may" in the three or four clauses in, I think, Section 29. I would like the Minister to have mentioned also the fact that in certain large areas it might be necessary to appoint an assistant medical officer of health. Of course that may come in under the rules and regulations, which are going to contain a great deal of material. There is one other point that I am rather surprised has not been touched at all in the Bill, and that is the adoption of a county nursing scheme. To my mind, and to the minds of a great many other people, too, the nursing in the county and in the districts is of equal importance with the medical treatment and the medical inspection, and I should be greatly disturbed if I thought that we were not going, as soon as this Bill comes into force, to appoint a nurse in each district. There may be some controversy as to whether the nurse should undertake all the duties, but at all events there will be sufficient duties to occupy the nurse, with the Tuberculosis Scheme, the Child Welfare Scheme, and the Maternity Scheme, and the looking after sick children. Let me say that as far as this contribution being divided between the local rate and the Central Fund is concerned, at least four of these schemes are worked upon that basis at present. The Tuberculosis Scheme, the Venereal Diseases Scheme, and the Child Welfare Scheme are worked on the basis of a half-contribution from the State, and the other half from the local rates. I hope that the Minister will not leave out of his mind this question of the nurses. I am half afraid that it might not be possible to introduce it in connection with the rules and regulations, or that if he left it to the public health boards of the various counties that they might overlook it, and not appoint the necessary nurses. I do not propose to detain the Dáil any longer at present, except again to offer my sincere thanks to the Minister for the efforts he has made to do what, for the last thirty or forty years, the medical profession has been endeavouring to get from another Government, without success, and I will say now that I shall give him the most hearty support as far as the Bill goes, and I hope at the same time that he will see his way to introduce certain amendments.

Sílim gur anthabhach an Bille seo agus is maith liom go bhfuil an t-Aire, comhairle daoine go bhfuil baint aca le gnothaí Rialtais Áitiúla, do thóghaint.

I think that next to the Constitution this is the most important measure that has come before us. Administration is, I think, almost more important than legislation because administration touches everybody in the community, and everybody feels the results of bad administration. I am pleased to hear from the Minister that this Bill is only an outline or a framework and that he is prepared to give the utmost latitude during its passage through the Dáil to enable it to be made to serve the best requirements of the country with the best advice that can be given by those here who are conversant with Local Government affairs. I hope that the Minister will, at the same time, make adequate provision of time to allow amendments to be considered. The Bill seems to accept largely the old system of Local Government; it does not strike out on new lines, and as far as I can see, the old system of Local Government, as Sir Henry Robinson, the Vice-President of the Local Government Board stated, was largely a tussle between the central authority and the local authority; it was a continual struggle or a sort of war that went on between them all the time. He stated that he and his authorities could not allow Local Government to march but had to compel it to shamble. That has been the state of affairs under the old system. I think the same state of affairs continues.

And that it is a struggle still as between the centralised authority and local desire, and I think that it is only shambling still. Be that as it may, we have here the assistance of three Ministers, each of whom has or should have an expert knowledge of Local Government. We have the President, who has been connected with Local Government; we have the Minister for Finance, and we have the present Minister for Local Government. Each of these in his turn has had experience that should be valuable to the Dáil and to the Government in endeavouring to secure a system of Local Government that will be what the country needs, and that is to put the administration of local affairs upon a basis that would be sound and safe and a credit to the country instead of what it is at present. There are proposals in the Bill which I feel will be very unpopular, and one I would deal with, is the proposal to abolish district councils. That will be a very unpopular proposal. I cannot say exactly whether it is absolutely essential in order to secure efficient and economical administration or whether it is that we cannot do anything else. I would require to hear very strong arguments to justify me in concluding that it is essential that these councils should be scrapped and that the district authority should not have some voice in administration. As regards these councils it ought to be known and I am sure it is understood that the district councils were the real authorities as regards roads; the county council only had a sanctioning or a confirmatory authority. The initiation of all proposals for roads lay with the district council and nothing could be done by the county council until that was done. Then they had to go back again, and with these various ramifications and interminable delays and difficulties with surveyors, the result is that we have no proper road service, and that has been, I suppose, one of the difficulties that the proposal to abolish district councils is concerned with. However, some other method might be, and I think could be, found to get over that difficulty. The next proposal in the Bill is with regard to county councils, to increase the number of members. I think that we make such a body a most unwieldy one. I think the difficulty in all the local bodies is that there are too many members and that it is impossible to get the business of the county done with the large number of members there are on these bodies, where every man has everything to say on every subject, and where it is nothing but a talking machine, with no business done. I think that instead of increasing the number the aim should be to try and reduce it, If there were half the number they would be more efficient and would give better service to the ratepayers. Besides, they could represent districts larger than they represent at present, and I think the service would be a great deal better.

I think also that there should be some qualifications required for members of a county council. I do not think you can take them indiscriminately from the community and put them in to manage the affairs of a county council without their having some qualifications, because a county council has very important business to transact. If you take an ordinary man, what would he do?

How would you manage the nation?

The nation is on much the same basis. We are dealing with legislation here. Administration is still more important, and touches on the immediate lives of the people. If you have a big business to be managed, you do not put in any person as a director; you must have experts in it. This is a bigger thing than any business concern. I am not making it a strong reservation, but I am throwing out a hint that some sort of qualification should be required to ensure good administration, and to give the counties some sort of reasonable service. There is another proposal with regard to roads authorised to be put out of commission. That is a very serious proposal, because, after all, those roads are a service to a great many people in certain districts, and it is likely that those districts are going to be affected. I understand, however, that, although those roads are to be out of commission, at the same time it will be in compliance with the Bill to have some expenditure on them at intervals. That would solve to some extent that difficulty. It might have been wiser to approach the question of local government more drastically. This is largely temporising with the business. I think it is only a sort of patchwork scheme to try to cover over the blots on the present system. I think if it were more drastic it would be better. I think if it had been based on schemes such as those in operation in Germany, France, and in many parts of America, it would have been better. Those things are well thought out in those countries, and are brought to a standard of efficiency there. If local government was studied and worked on that basis it would make for a much more sensible system.

Another thing is that the Minister evidently proposes to train the local bodies to do their work rather than teach them. I do not know whether that training will be successful. I am afraid a tutor is necessary as well as a trainer, and I do not know whether we shall have an efficient system unless some tutorship is imported as well as training. Officialism should be strictly supervised by some sort of capable supervising authority, and that is an important part of the Bill that should be looked to. Officials, though they may be good and anxious to do their work, still may develop a form of laxity, and it is impossible for county councils, in the small amount of time at their disposal, to see if those officials are doing the work as they should do it. I think there should be some form of supervision to see that the work is done in a proper way. I believe this Bill is capable of amendment, but it will be impossible to give popular satisfaction and workable efficiency. It will not be done by the present Government. They are not strong enough at the present time, and I do not believe they have at their disposal all the facts that will enable them to do it, much as they should like it to be done. I am glad to find that roads will be a national concern.

Where is it?

In the Bill. Main or trunk roads are to be maintained as national concerns.

On a point of order, is that the intention of the Bill?

I did not say, as Deputy Gorey surmises, that the charge was to be a national one. The roads would be a national concern, and it is on a national basis in that way. District concerns, after all, are governed, more or less, by the amount of parochial energy that can be imported into the thing, and some parts will suffer and other parts will be fairly well attended to, but, as a national charge, they will all be in a better condition than they are now under the old system. As the Minister says, we have the lowest standard of roads in Europe. That is not much of a tribute to the old system. Whatever system this Bill introduces, it will be some improvement on the past, in any case, and the confusions of law the Minister refers to, and the experts that were employed to interpret it, will be all done away with under this Bill.

Now, as to direct labour versus the contract system. Direct labour, the Minister asserts, is the best system. I fully agree with him in that. I am throughly satisfied that direct labour will be the best system in the interests of efficiency and of the ratepayers, and that it will give the best value as a return for expenditure. I believe direct labour will be a guarantee of that, if it is properly controlled and managed.

If you can supply all those "ifs" you will be all right.

I am showing where the Bill requires amendment and where it may not. I hope it will be properly amended in the Dáil to bring it into conformity with requirements. I do not know what the value of those consultative councils is. I want to know more before I can express an opinion. I am struck by the proposal for contributory superannuation. If contributory superannuation can be arranged on a proper basis, it will be satisfactory to the officials and the ratepayers. I think it will be a guarantee to both sides, and will solve many of the problems we have at present on this question. I think it is one of the most valuable parts of the Bill, and it will have my support. I am putting down some amendments, and I am glad to find that the Minister in charge of the Bill is giving an opportunity for their being considered.

The Deputy who has just sat down thinks the Bill is capable of amendment. I do not know whether that is intended to be an expression of opinion that the Bill ought to be given a Second Reading or not. It is capable of amendment, no doubt, but whether, in its present form, it will be worth the trouble of amending is a question I am not able to gather has been answered by Deputy McGoldrick. He said there had been some statement made by Sir Henry Robinson to the effect that local government in Ireland had been a constant tussle between the central authority and the local authority in Ireland.

I believe that we have to make up our minds before going very far with this Bill as to what the desire of the Dáil is in respect to that question. Is it desirable that Local Government should be conducted from Merrion Street, and that local responsibility for local affairs should be obliterated, or is it desirable to encourage local authorities to develop that sense of local responsibility, and gradually to minimise the extent of centralised supervision? It seems to me that we have got to make up our answer to that question before we go far with this Bill, because the Bill in every section of it is a movement towards greater centralisation and the deprivation, in the case of local authorities, of responsibility for the administration of their areas. Of course, it is distinctly in accord with the policy of the department as at present conducted. The Ministry of Local Government is quite clearly bent upon centralising administration and on depriving local authorities of the powers which they have hitherto held, and on reversing the principle that has so often been expressed from the Government side of the House that the people have no right to do wrong.

The Minister in this Bill is bringing into concrete legislation the idea that a local authority, the people in a district, have no right to do wrong, while nationally the Government are professing to be fighting against that conception. In actual practice, in administration and in this legislation, they are endeavouring to strengthen the hold of bureaucracy in governing every part of the country from a central government and relieving the local people of their responsibility for local administration; in a general way, reversing the process that government has been following and which I think is desirable that it should continue to follow, that is to say, to devolve upon local authorities the control and the power and the responsibility for the administration of their areas. I say that we have to make up our minds whether we want a centralised administration, or whether we are to encourage local authorities to bear responsibility and take an interest in the good government of their own neighbourhood. If you are satisfied that greater centralisation, continuously increased centralisation, should be abolished, then support this Bill, but if you are against that policy, if you think that there should be a steady increase in local responsibility for local administration, then I say that this Bill ought not to be passed in its present form, and that the discussion of it should be deferred, and the whole question should be reconsidered in the light of devolution rather than of centralisation.

Deputy Sir James Craig has congratulated the Minister upon the sections of the Bill dealing with the public health services. Well I think, his congratulations were cheaply bought. Some of the things in the Bill, of course, are tending towards improvement and to the embodiment in legislation of the recommendations of the public health council, but most of the recommendations of any value are omitted and are not embodied in the Bill, but are carefully left aside. The report of that public health council amongest other things, recommended the unification of local administration, of medical treatment of insured persons and of those unable to pay, and the medical inspection and treatment of school children. The Bill does not carry out those recommendations. There is no linking up of the dispensary medical system with the Health Insurance system. That was recommended, but it is not embodied in the Bill. As Deputy Sir James Craig said, the Bill does not establish a State medical service which was also recommended in this report. Neither does it embody the recommendation regarding the subvention by the State of half the cost of the medical service, and it does not set up a health council. This consultative body by no means fulfills or supplants the recommendation to have a public health council. That public health council was to be entrusted with the general direction of policy in regard to the administration of health services, and of medical services subject, of course, to the Minister. But this proposal of a consultative council to be called in ad hoc to prescribe for any special questions that might be under consideration, does not by any means meet the requirements of this report. I say that the Bill fails to do most of the things of value that were recommended by that report.

The Minister dealt with the Bill first, in regard to its treatment of road administration, and secondly, regarding health. I think there is much to be said in favour of the Minister's view regarding the change in the responsibility for road administration, road care and government. This Bill, does not alter the responsibility for what might be called national roads, which are obviously, in view of the modern developments of locomotion which the Minister spoke of, not a county responsibility but a national responsibility, and if the Minister's contention as a justification for the change suggested in the Bill is true it calls for much more radical treatment than the Bill proposes. All that the Bill proposes to do is to transfer responsibility for roads within a county from the rural district council to the county council. How, I ask, is that going to meet the requirements that the Minister himself says the new methods of locomotion have brought into view? Trunk roads are not local. They are obviously matters that should be administered and cared for under a national authority, and though you may devolve upon the county surveyor certain duties in regard to these trunk roads the change that is required is to set up a national road authority and not to do what the Bill proposes, namely, to change the responsibility for the local roads from the district council to the county council.

There is the extraordinary position of certain main roads running across one corner of a county, leaving part of another county high and dry, for which there is no responsibility and nobody cares, such as in a certain corner of Offaly, running into Westmeath. I am wrong in saying there is no responsibility. There is responsibility, but inasmuch as another county gets the benefit, or loses the advantage of a certain road, the county in whose area this main road lies will take no responsibility for it because they do not benefit. It is the other county that it affects. That is just a little illustration of the necessity for national responsibility for roads in view of the development of locomotion which the Minister himself has put forward as a justification for the changes in this Bill. But the proposition that the rural district councils should be abolished because it is proposed to transfer responsibility for local roads to the county councils is to me a great surprise. One would imagine that the rural district councils have not any other responsibility than that of the maintenance of roads. Let us assume that it is satisfactory to transfer the responsibility for the maintenance of the local roads to the county councils. Are you going to leave anyone in the locality responsible for matters of sanitation, or for public libraries, or for any other of the many local matters that there should be a local authority responsible for? You are not proposing in this Bill to set up any new authority to be responsible for local matters. I say that is a blot which will be very damaging to the idea of local government.

You are going to try to centralise in the county councils all responsibility for all local matters. You are not going to do that effectively. It is not going to be the efficient administration that is suggested by Deputy McGoldrick. The county council is not going to change except by the addition of two or three people. Is it contended, after all that we have heard from the Minister, and all that has happened in the office of the Minister, that the county councils are perfectly satisfactory in administration? He will not claim it, because he has all too often said the other thing; but then the county councils, about which so many complaints have been made, are going to be responsible now for every local matter and for all the smaller matters of primary importance to people in the localities. If there had been in this Bill a proposal to set up councils to cover the smaller areas, or the parish areas, if you like, I could then understand the principle of why the Minister wants to make changes, but he is proposing first to abolish the smaller local councils and to transfer their authority to the county councils, and then to require that everything done by the county councils shall be subject to his veto and to his approval even more than it has been in the past. I say that is retrogressive. It is a movement towards centralisation and, shall I say, if it were to be justified at all it could only be justified if you were sure of having a central administration which was generally sympathetic, generally liberal in its views, and generally willing to meet local needs and local demands. But, unfortunately, recent experience has shown that you cannot rely upon that kind of centralised administration. Unfortunately, we have proved that it is possible to have in national government an administration which is harder, more rigid and more difficult to deal with than any centralised administration that the country has hitherto had experience of.

Now as to the Health Council, or the Health Board, that is spoken of. What is to be its position? It is to be set up by the county councils. It is to be composed of members of the county council, not necessarily representatives of any districts. Districts may or may not be represented on the Health Board, but once it is set up it is a separate statutory body not responsible to the county council. The local officer of Health is not appointed by the county council. The local Health body will put in its claim to the county council for money, but the county council has no further control over its proceedings. Even regulations as to procedure are to be prescribed by the Minister, not by the county council. The Board of Health may appoint committees, but it does not impose upon the committees that they shall appoint members of the county council who are not already on the Board of Health.

It may include outsiders who are not members of the Board. The effect of this is to create a new local public health authority practically independent of the county council, the county council in reality acting as an Electoral College and finding the money Again, we have to decide in which direction we are moving. Do we intend to maintain the position, that the electorate will elect by direct election these administrative bodies, or is it intended that we should move in the other direction and that there should be elected bodies, who will then appoint other bodies to do the work at second hand, supervised finally, cabined and confined by orders from the Minister? I say that it is desirable that we should know where we are going and have a clear view. This, I suggest, is another illustration of the departure—the rather important departure—from the tendency of imposing upon the citizens direct responsibility for the administration and government of their areas. Bear in mind this Bill is intended to deal with normal periods. It is not an emergency Bill. We are presumed to be getting back to "normalcy," as President Harding would have said. If we are to get back to that stage, when people will realise responsibility, I say that we ought rather to increase that responsibility and make it more direct—if possibly personal—and the more direct the better. But we are going away from that. We are saying: "Remove responsibility. Let it be indirect. Let it be through the county council, which may be far away. They will only come before you once in three years and they may do what they like in the meantime subject only to the pressure or the veto of the Minister." There is to be no veto by the citizens. There is to be no responsibility except at the end of three years. There is not even the necessity for public meeting or publication of the proceedings under the Bill. In every respect the tendency is to move away from local responsibility towards centralised government.

There is not in the Bill any mandatory provision which requires a county council, for instance, to set up any other committee except this board of health. There is no necessity under the Bill to set up a local roads committee, responsible for the maintenance of roads for which the county council is to be held responsible. There is no general scheme in the Bill providing that the county council shall do its work through Committees made responsible for administrative work. One very serious defect, which I mentioned a moment ago, is that the Bill does not provide that every locality shall be represented even upon the Board of Health. This County Board of Health is to take over the functions of the old Guardians under both the Poor Law and the Medical Charities Act. It deals with the treatment of the sick and preventive medicine generally, as stated by Deputy Sir James Craig. But it is not confined to that. It is responsible for the education of children, inmates of workhouses, but it has no contact with any of the other education committees. It is to deal with the education of pauper children, but it does not touch, and has no responsibility for, technical instruction committees or school attendance committees. It is responsible for the relief of the able-bodies poor, but it has no connection with any relief works that might have to be set up at some time. It has charge of the aged poor, but it is not in direct touch with any of the pensions committees under the Old Age Pensions Act. It is not designed to co-ordinate those functions, and there it fails to do work which a new Local Government Bill might have been expected to deal with.

I have said that the tendency of the Ministry is to interfere unduly with administrative work, to centralise administration to the very minutest detail. It is to issue regulations respecting this, that, and the other thing. Everything is to be done subject to the Minister, subject to his veto, and, in most respects, subject to his sanction. To give an illustration of the state of mind of the Ministry regarding the class of centralisation that they think is necessary, there was recently issued to the Board of Health a General Regulations Order. It is dated the 4th March of this year. Rules and regulations have been issued under the old regime somewhat similar, at least, dealing with the same matter, but apparently the new Department, like the old, still thinks that a medical officer or a nurse, or a workhouse master or matron is incapable of initiating any ideas at all, or carrying out work as responsible persons. For instance, the Order details such things as these:—

Duties of the Clerk to the Guardians; duties of the Secretary of the Board of Health. No. 3, to peruse and conduct the correspondence of the Board of Guardians or Board of Health according to their directions, to preserve the same and all orders of the Minister; letters received, together with copies of all letters sent by direction of the Guardians.

The old Order of the British Local Government regarding matrons read as follows:—

"To visit all the wards of the females and children every night before 9 o'clock; to ascertain that all the paupers in such wards are in bed, and all the fires and lights therein extinguished."

That is fairly general. The new Ministry says:—

"To visit the sleeping wards of the inmates at 11 o'clock in the forenoon,

not five minutes before eleven or five minutes after eleven, but precisely at eleven

every day and see that such wards have been all duly cleansed and properly ventilated. To visit all the sleeping wards every night at or before nine o'clock, and to see that all the inmates are in bed and that all fires and lights are extinguished; to pay particular attention to the moral conduct and orderly behaviour of the females and children and to see that they are clean and decent in their dress and persons.

This to the matron of the hospital, as though a matron of an hospital would be appointed——

Is this in order?

It would more properly arise on the Estimates.

I may have to raise it on the Estimates, but I beg to submit that it is quite germane to this Bill, inasmuch as it is showing the mind of the Ministry which proposes to centralise administration to an extent even greater than was done hitherto. As the Leas-Cheann Comhairle has suggested that these matters should be, perhaps, dealt with on the Estimates, I will refrain from going further into them at this stage. From what I have quoted we get an insight into the spirit of the administration which seeks to obtain greater powers and greater centralisation under this Bill than it has hitherto had. I do not think the Bill is big enough to be worth the trouble that apparently has been taken. I am rather inclined to suspect that, if we had seen the Bill as it was originally drafted, say three months ago, it would probably contain very much more than it does to-day. Considering how much has been expected to come out of this Bill, one is rather surprised at the steps that have been taken in respect to a reconstitution or reformation of local government in Ireland. If the Bill is to be proceeded with, it will require, as Deputy McGoldrick said, very great amendment in all stages. I think it is a pity that the Dáil should be asked, within four or five weeks of the Recess, to consider this Bill. It is quite impossible to do what apparently is intended—to discuss this Bill, to examine it carefully, to amend it as it should be amended, and to deal with legislation of a more urgent character at the same time. I think the Bill is not all bad. I will give the Minister credit for that. There are quite a number of things in it that ought to be in any local government reform Bill, but I do not say they are so urgent as would necessitate even a Second Reading for this Bill. There is too much bad in the Bill to allow it to have a Second Reading, and I would suggest to the Dáil it would be better, instead of accepting this motion, that we should adopt a motion to postpone consideration of it for, say, four months, in order to allow other legislation, which is more urgent, to be dealt with. It would also give the Ministry time for second thoughts and an opportunity to bring in a Bill which will not deprive local authorities of the responsibility which they have been exercising, but would co-ordinate their functions and rather extend their responsibility in respect to local affairs, even to smaller bodies than rural district councils. It is quite wrong to deal with local government in this country on the assumption that the period we have just gone through is to be taken as the basis of any change, and that the experience of local authorities, and the conduct of local authorities, during the last three or four years is to be a criterion of what local authorities can do.

Nobody would have said, four years ago, that the local councils were unfit to carry out their functions, and to do their work. On the other hand, everybody said that the experience of local government had proved a valuable education in civic responsibility, and was becoming more valuable year by year. Then the Government Party, before it was a Government Party, took up the running and introduced political questions of a national character, and decided that those national questions were of more importance, as no doubt they were, than local administration. As a consequence, and what might have been a foreseen consequence of the action at that time, there has been defective local government, and in many cases there have been defective local authorities. People in many cases have not done the work during the last three or four years as satisfactorily as they were doing it before, though in some cases they have been very much more satisfactory, but you have no right to consider legislation having regard only to the experience of the last four years in local government, and then come to the conclusion that the local authorities must be deprived of their responsibilities, and that administration must be centralised. I think it is quite necessary for the Dáil to make itself heard on this question, whether it is desirable, whether it is the will of the Dáil, that local government shall be more and more centralised, or whether we should leave the responsibility with the local authorities, and make it even more direct and personal, than it has ever been in the past. I would, therefore, ask you to accept the motion, that consideration of the Bill be postponed till this day four months.

Are you proposing the amendment?

Would Deputy Johnson mind holding over the amendment for some time, as there are others who wish to speak on the motion?

If you rule that way, certainly, sir.

If Deputy Johnson sends in his amendment now I will second it.

I cannot refuse the amendment if Deputy Johnson insists on pressing it at this stage.

I suggest that it will not alter the direction of the discussion in any way. It will not necessarily mean, if it is passed, refusing approval to certain sections of the Bill, but will rather be a definite direction that the matter be postponed, inasmuch as it would be impossible to go much further with it and carry on other legislation.

On a point of order, the motion before the Dáil is that this Bill be read a second time. You cannot propose an amendment to this, as it is not an ordinary resolution. It is the Second Stage of the Bill.

I submit any motion is subject to amendment, and if I move to delete all after the words that are put in and to substitute that consideration of the Bill be postponed for four months, it is quite in order.

Has no notice whatever to be given of an important motion of this kind? I suggest it is very unfair to the Dáil.

It is an absolutely new procedure, and an absolute divergence from anything provided for in the Standing Orders.

It is open to the Deputy to propose an amendment of this sort on the Second Reading of any Bill, and the amendment would be in order if Deputy Johnson presses it; but, if the amendment is before the Dáil, discussion must be on the amendment instead of the main motion.

Is it your ruling that, no matter what your opinion is, the Dáil and you must accept this amendment, and that you have no discretion whatsoever in the matter?

I do not see that I have any power to refuse the amendment.

I suggest that you should consider the Standing Orders. A definite stage of the Bill has been gone through. The Bill has gone through its First Reading, and has to go through its Second Reading.

DEPUTIES

Chair.

I am moving a point of order, which I am entitled to do, and those who are so anxious for order ought to be in love with order.

Order. Deputy Magennis must not address other members of the Dáil.

Pardon me, sir. I was not aware that I was doing so, and if I have done so I apologise. I am pointing out to you this is the Second Reading of the Bill. A motion for that is set down in the Orders of the Day, and it is an unheard-of procedure that an amendment to that should be moved, let me call it for convenience, on the spur of the moment at an advanced stage of the debate on the Second Reading. I suggest you are not entitled to accept an amendment in that form in this connection.

I submit, on the contrary, that it is quite an ordinary procedure; that on a motion that the Bill be read a second time it is quite in order that an amendment deferring consideration of the Bill for a specified period should be accepted.

I submit if you accept this amendment, that the only thing we can discuss, if we are to keep to the Order, is the postponement of the Bill, and nothing else.

I shall read to you Standing Order 79. "When a Bill shall have passed its First Stage, and have been circulated, notice of motion shall be given for its Second Reading, the debate on which shall be confined to the general principle of the Bill." Is not that final? The debate upon it shall be confined to the general principle of the Bill. The amendment to postpone consideration is not a debate on the general principle nor a contribution to the debate on the general principle.

On a point of order, Deputy Magennis has quoted Standing Order 79, the title for which is "Second Stage." It is preceded by Standing Order 78, which is entitled "First Stage." Standing Order 78 reads: "This motion shall be decided without amendments, that is, a motion for the First Stage." In dealing with the Second Stage these words are omitted, and obviously, therefore, by the construction of Standing Orders 78 and 79 together, the Second Stage does admit amendment, and the First Stage does not.

On the same principle the Second of the Ten Commandments would obliterate the First. And because there is no reference to the worship of God in the Fourth Commandment, the command to honour your father and your mother that you may live long in the land is irrespective and exclusive of there being a God.

On a point of order, the Standing Orders, I think, are not as definite as the Ten Commandments.

(At this stageAN CEANN COMHAIRLE resumed the Chair.)

I second the proposal of Deputy Johnson, and I do so for the reason that this Bill should be justly described as a major Bill. Now, I contend that, in any of the Parliaments that we have known, a Bill of this description would, to do it justice, occupy a whole Session. Only one of those major Bills has been put through in any of the Parliaments that we are acquainted with in any particular Session. And I do not think that it is possible that this Bill can get the care and attention that it deserves when it is wedged in here amongst 38 or 39 Bills, and when we are only allowed up to the 4th July to decide all these Bills, or as many of them as we can get through, a number of them being of considerable importance. Now, I think it is quite plain to the Ministry that if justice is to be done to this Bill it could not be done in that time, and I think the Ministry should adopt the suggestion that Deputy Johnson makes about a Bill of this importance, a Bill that is going to regulate our local administration for years. And local administration is as important, and perhaps more important, than your central State administration here. It cuts more into the life of the country; it makes a bigger demand on its finances, and to the people of the country it is in every way of as much, if not more, importance than your Government. If this Bill is going to be put through in this Session it is going to be rushed through, and you might as well say so candidly. It can only be put through by rushing it through. Now, with regard to the Bill itself, can I only speak to the question of adjourning its consideration for four months, or can I go into the provisions of the Bill? I want to know that at the outset.

Go ahead.

Deputy Davin should not say go ahead when the Deputy asks for a ruling from the Chair.

An Ceann Comhairle suggested that we could only deal with the question of adjournment without touching the main provisions of the Bill at all.

The question is that the Bill be now read a second time. An amendment has been accepted to delete all words after "that" and to substitute for them "the consideration of the Bill be postponed for four months." The question is that the consideration of the Bill be postponed for four months, and the arguments are to be directed towards that question.

And to the postponement only?

Would it be in order to give reasons against giving the Bill a second reading, those reasons being directed to the postponement of the Bill because of the merits of the Bill?

I submit that it is the main motion.

Deputy Johnson is in perfect agreement with me.

One of the reasons for adjourning this Bill for four months seems to me to be that the people of the country have not had an opportunity of making up their minds on this Bill; and certainly this Bill is a matter of considerable importance to the people of the country. They have heard reports and rumours about its provisions, and they have had the Bill before them for the first time within the last week.

The second time.

It is sufficient for me to know that this Bill is before them for the first time. I am not going to enter into an argument with Deputy Magennis as to whether it is the first or the second time. Now the question whether our local representatives are to be known as district councillors or county councillors does not affect me in the least. Whether we call them district councillors or county councillors, they are equally representative of the people; and the argument that a county councillor does not represent the people does not cut ice as far as I am concerned. They are equally representative with the district councillors; and that suggestion does not appeal to me. It seems to me that it would only duplicate representation. My sole idea in supporting the local bodies known at present as district councils is to fit them into the present scheme. As regards the Home Health Committees and the other Committees established by county councils, the people have not had time to consider them or offer suggestions in connection with this Bill; and I think if they had that time you would get valuable suggestions from the local elected bodies, and I think you ought to be able to fit in all these local committees in connection with County Councils, Home Health Committees and all the rest. I suggest that these locally elected bodies would be more valuable, certainly more representative, than nominated bodies. Some of those members who are at present administering Home Health are representative, having been elected in the first instance as county councillors, and afterwards nominated by the county council to the Board of Health; but a considerable number of them are not elected at all; they are not representative, but are strictly nominated and nothing else.

They are to be done away with.

By whom are they to be replaced? Where are the committees to be found? Does the Minister suggest that the work of all these committees is to be done by the county councillors? If that is the contention of the Minister I am not surprised that he is introducing the question of defraying their travelling expenses. It means that it will be a whole-time job for some of these county councillors if the work is to be done well. I have served on a committee of Home Health, and I know the work that is entailed if it is to be done anything like well. Some men on these county boards have given more time, certainly almost as much time as some of the Ministers have given to their jobs—I am not speaking of the last few months.

Is it in order to attack Ministers on this Bill? I would like a ruling on that.

I am afraid that, in the nature of things, it is nearly always in order to attack Ministers; but Deputy Gorey is wandering away from the argument for the postponement of the consideration of the Bill.

I bow to your ruling, Sir. When I am debarred from dealing with the main Bill I have only to say that it would be desirable that the Minister should take into consideration the suggestions that have come from Deputy Johnson, and that he should also take into consideration the time that we have at our disposal. I know that he is anxious that justice should be done to the Bill. It is going to affect very largely our local life; it is our big thing, perhaps, for a generation; and I do suggest that more time be given for the consideration of this Bill, not alone to the Deputies in the Dáil, but to the people outside to whom its Deputies are responsible. And no matter what you say here you cannot afford to ignore the people outside. They are our masters, or they ought to be; and the sooner we recognise that the better. Having regard to the importance of this Bill and the time at our disposal, the Minister should give favourable consideration to the suggestions made here to-night.

I may say that I am against the amendment proposed by Deputy Johnson and seconded by Deputy Gorey, not because I am in disagreement with all they say about the Bill, but because I think the amendment would defeat the very object that they had in view in proposing the amendment.

That is, to give us and to give the country an opportunity of discussing the general principles of the Bill, which are most important. I think that this Bill is one of the most important that have come before the Dáil so far. I, for one, would like to discuss its general principles, but I am afraid that I am excluded from doing so by this amendment. I agree that the Bill is not satisfactory from the point of view of introducing badly-needed reform in the country. It does not alter by one iota the system already in vogue in matters of local government.

I fear that this is straying a good deal from the amendment, and I may have to raise a point of order.

Deputies should leave the order of the Dáil to me.

I think in the interests of the Government and the people, before this Bill is postponed, if it is to be postponed, the Dáil and the country should have an opportunity of discussing the question of Local Government which is, in a way, as important as central government in all its moods and tenses and from all aspects. A few moments ago I said that the system of Local Government in existence for the past twenty, thirty or a hundred years, has not been altered, at least in so far as its general principles are concerned, by this Bill. I think most of us are agreed that the system in vogue for the last few years has been responsible, more than anything else, for the condition of affairs in the various areas ruled by the local councils and corporations. For instance, I believe the members of the Dublin Corporation were the victims of this system, rather than that the people they ruled were the victims of their misdemeanours.

Is that an argument against the amendment?

I leave that to your ruling.

I fear it is not.

Then I withdraw. I do not know if there is any use in arguing on general matters of principle. I argue against the amendment in the hope that I will get an opportunity of discussing the general principles of the Bill.

Deputy McCabe has touched upon a point with which I am in absolute agreement. I had not intended to state so until the end of the debate, but, owing to Deputy Johnson's amendment, it is necessary for me to state it now. I have no intention of proceeding further with this Bill beyond this stage. After a considerable amount of discussion, we decided to give this Bill a second reading in order to elicit the views of various Deputies in a general way. That would give us a better opportunity and more time to amend the Bill during the Recess. I had arranged to have the third Stage after the Recess. Meanwhile, we have started the second reading, a number of Deputies have spoken, and a considerable amount of time has been spent. Now, if Deputy Johnson's amendment is accepted at this stage we will have to start the same process all over again, and we will have to recommence the second reading in the next session.

I am quite prepared to leave the Bill by after the second reading, and give every Deputy an opportunity to prepare amendments and consider the Bill in all its aspects. That will necessarily require a postponement of the elections.

Mr. O'CONNELL

I think the statement which the Minister has made makes the reason all the more why an amendment such as Deputy Johnson has proposed should be accepted, if not at this stage, at least towards the end of the debate. If the motion to carry the Second Reading of this Bill is passed now, it means that the Dáil is committed to the general principles of the Bill. In view of what the Minister has said as to the necessity for giving the Bill much more consideration than an ordinary Bill would require, I think that is all the more reason why he should not ask the Dáil to commit itself at this time to the general principles of the Bill.

The Bill is very wide in its scope, and it will permit of amendments of almost every kind being introduced on the Committee Stage.

It seems to me the Bill does admit of almost any amendment dealing with local government being put forward.

If I may intervene, I would like to mention that I deliberately stated I did not want to ask the Dáil to decide now against the Second Reading, and that is why I suggested postponing it for further consideration. That will really mean postponing taking a decision. This debate in itself will, so to speak, throw the Bill upon the waters for discussion; but if you ask the Dáil to come to a decision as to whether we approve of the principles contained in the Bill, it practically amounts to saying that, notwithstanding the necessity for hearing what the country has to say, we are committed to those principles. While it is true the Bill admits of amendments in almost every line, if we adopt the Second Reading we are being more or less asked to vote for or against, and I want to avoid that necessity so as to allow the whole matter to be discussed in public.

Deputy Johnson from the beginning has displayed himself a past master in Parliamentary strategy. He delivered a long speech of acute and unmeasured criticism upon the Bill and, having delivered himself exhaustively on all that he had to say on every detail, whether trivial or important, he proceeds to burk discussion on it by moving an amendment which limits us to discuss, not the general principles of the Bill, but whether the Bill should be postponed for four months or taken now. Yet, a moment after, he assures you that his whole purpose is to secure the fullest measure of information and understanding on the part of the public, who are most affected by the intended measure. He prevents one half of the Dáil from uttering its mind upon this Bill, either in favour of it or against it, by this device, and then takes credit to himself that in the interests of the public he has burked the discussion. That may be very clever tactics, but it is hardly intelligible from the angle of view that looks for consistency.

That is not correct either.

If I am incorrect, I am very sorry, and I would withdraw whatever I have said that was erroneous, or misrepresented what was said. But I do submit to you that I have given a fair account of what took place. There was a discussion here and Deputy Johnson made by far the longest speech as his contribution to that discussion, a very valuable contribution, no doubt, and helpful in many respects. If I had been allowed to continue the debate I would have paid him a tribute to its value. But having delivered himself of all he had to say bearing upon the proposed measure, he then moved an amendment which he was well aware, being so proficient in the rules of debate, would limit all subsequent speakers to a discussion on the mere point of whether it was an urgent measure or one that could be postponed.

May I say, on a point of explanation, that I quite clearly indicated that my desire was that the discussion should be on the Bill, and that this motion was put forward for the purpose of avoiding a definite decision. It was only Deputy Magennis's interpretation of my meaning, and not my interpretation of my meaning.

I guided myself in arriving at an interpretation of Deputy Johnson's mind in this matter as one usually does by what Deputy Johnson says. The fact is, he spoke as anyone might have spoken under a proposal for a Second Reading, and when he was sitting down he was invited by your predecessor in the Chair by the question: "Do you move an amendment?" Presented with the temptation, Deputy Johnson fell a victim to that temptation and moved an amendment. Now, I refuse to believe that Deputy Johnson was not fully aware at the time of what the effect of moving an amendment in these terms would be.

If I tell Deputy Magennis, will he then believe me, that I deliberately intended that the discussion should be as wide as possible?

I quite believe that; but, then, Deputy Johnson is not the Chairman, neither is Deputy Johnson's interpretation of what he wishes to be our procedure to supplant there and then ipso facto the Standing Orders by which we are bound. The debate is limited now to the urgency of this measure. I submit to you that we should not delay the consideration of it for four months. If there were nothing else in the Bill, but this portion of it under the section dealing with the Public Health, it would deserve instant consideration. There are two great features in the Bill from that point of view, to wit, the provision of county medical officers, and this very valuable thing in Schedule 4 which applies to our Saorstát all these Acts—the Infectious Diseases Notification Act, the Prevention of Diseases Act, the Public Health (Amendment) Act, and Tuberculosis Prevention (Ireland) Act.

Now Deputy Johnson is very much interested in the welfare of the poor throughout the whole of Ireland, and here is a measure that has been long looked forward to—the application of the Bill to the entire country. Instead of its being optional with the local authorities, this Bill makes it imperative. Why, if it were more or less a short Bill, with some such title as the Local Government (Amendment) Bill, it would find ready acceptance here and would be passed immediately. I am not going to raise the question here that has been already decided, but it does seem to anyone who is acquainted with public procedure that Deputy Gorey spoke as he ought to have spoken on the First Reading. If Deputy Gorey believes that this was a Bill so complex, so far-reaching, that it requires the fullest discussion on the part of the country before the stage was advanced to consider amendments and receive information from constituencies, why did he not inform the Dáil to that effect on the First Reading?

Mr. O'CONNELL

We had not seen the Bill.

I suggested nothing of the sort, and with all due respect to Deputy Magennis and his knowledge of procedure, I do not believe that on the First Reading of any Bill a speech could be made from any part of the Dáil.

That is not so.

That is another matter.

I did not make a speech upon the general principles of the Bill. I intended to make a fairly long speech, but what I tried to deal with was the amendment proposed by Deputy Johnson. It is wrong to say that I dealt with the question from a Second Reading point of view.

I meant to say First Reading. I suggest that Deputy Gorey's speech was nothing in character but a speech which he ought to have delivered on the First Reading. If I said Second Reading I was wrong, and I used a word that I did not intend to use. The fact is that this Bill is really three, and therefore it requires a greater amount of attention and consideration than certain Deputies—I will not name them now, otherwise they would be hopping up and asking questions for the decision of the Chairman—are willing to give. There are a great many items in this Bill——

On a point of order, I think it would simplify matters if Deputy Johnson would agree to withdraw his amendment at this stage and move it later. If he wants a free discussion on the Bill he will do that. The present position of affairs precludes, I think, that discussion. I think if he will agree to withdraw his amendment he will be in a better position to carry out the idea he has in his mind, and it would be more satisfactory.

That is not a point of order. Deputy Magennis may conclude.

At all events if it is not a point of order it is an Act of Contrition.

It was not meant as an Act of Contrition.

I realise that if I were to continue the speech I would be giving the Ceann Comhairle additional exercise in rising in the Chair.

This Bill was introduced on the 20th May, and was circulated on the 21st and the second reading was fixed for the 29th May. It has, therefore, been in the hands of Deputies for at least 8 days. Now, that much notice was given of the motion that the Bill be read a second time. I received no amendment to the motion. But an amendment is proposed now during the debate, and in manuscript. If the amendment does not carry out the wishes of the Deputy who proposed the amendment that is an unfortunate state of things. We might probably be able to remedy that now. I was simply asked to rule upon the meaning of the words which I had before me and of which I had no notice whatever. If you are going to postpone consideration you cannot be considering the Bill now. If the purpose that Deputy Johnson had in mind was to have a discussion on the Bill such as would occur normally on the second reading, and have no decision taken, if we had some time to consider that, we might have, perhaps, found a method consistent with our procedure to do that. But at the moment we are confined, apparently against the general wish and the wish of the mover, to the question as to whether it ought or ought not to be postponed.

I am afraid that after what took place this afternoon on the Railway Bill a suspicion has entered the minds of some of the Deputies that we have some Machiavelian motive to burk discussion on the Bill. It was the last thought in my mind. But for the promptings of Deputy Magennis the matter would have been avoided and this little trouble would not arise. I did not desire to burk discussion, and I do not desire to burk discussion, and I honestly believed that within the terms of this amendment the merits of the Bill could be discussed and I still believe that that is the case, but I bow to your ruling.

If it is possible to withdraw the amendment now and move it at a later stage to avoid the necessity for taking a decision I am quite satisfied. But, unfortunately, to move the amendment at that stage might involve a further discussion, and I wanted to have the motion and the amendment discussed as a whole. If the ruling is that the general discussion cannot be dealt with while the amendment is before us, I am quite prepared to withdraw the amendment till a later stage, if that will satisfy the Dáil.

I cannot say if it will satisfy the Dáil, but it certainly will not satisfy me that an amendment of this kind should be proposed without notice, withdrawn, and then again proposed later. I am sorry if Deputy Johnson does not agree with what seems to me to be the plain implication of the words. It certainly would only be getting us into a more muddled condition to withdraw the amendment now and take it again at a later stage. We have had five speeches and two from Deputy Johnson on this amendment already. If we have it withdrawn now and proposed again I am afraid my ingenuity will be very considerably taxed.

I was going to suggest that you put the amendment. If the amendment were defeated, then you would have an opportunity of discussing the motion.

I think there is very little between the Minister and Deputy Johnson. If I might make a suggestion, it would be this: Both are anxious to get a full debate on the principles of this Bill. Both in that, I think, are perfectly right. It is a most important Bill, and it is very urgent and important that it should be spread throughout the country in order that it might be considered during the Recess. I do not think the Minister wants to secure more than that. It would be a very important preclude to that to have a full discussion here. The only difference is whether it is necessary in order to secure that object that a division be taken on the Second Reading at this stage. I suggest to the Minister that he would gain his purpose if he would continue the discussion and not ask for a division on the Second Reading at this stage. All that it will cost will be another day at the commencement of another session, when time will be less important. He will gain his purpose. The Deputies will be able to make up their minds more fully after discussion with their constituents and everybody will have a much better idea as to how the Bill is likely to work out. I think the whole thing could be got over at once if that plan were agreed to.

The difficulty about agreeing to that plan is, if we adjourn this discussion in an intermediary stage like this after discussing the Second Reading for a certain length of time, we will have to begin the Second Reading all over again.

Not necessarily.

It might lead to that. Any Deputy may discuss the question when we take the Second Reading again.

Deputies who have spoken already cannot speak again.

The Standing Order says a Bill may be taken up at any stage.

May I refer you to the particular Standing Order (89), which reads: "Any Bill not disposed of within the Session then current may, upon Resolution of the Dáil be carried over in any completed Stage to the next Session."

May I point out that any of these points do not give us liberty to discuss the Bill. This is the precise point the Ceann Comhairle ruled on some time ago.

I do not think we are serving any useful purpose by prolonging the discussion. We have spent an hour discussing whether or not Deputy Johnson's amendment should be put or whether we should discuss the principles of the Bill. I think the proper thing to do, in order not to be making a precedent, is to put the amendment handed in by Deputy Johnson. The Minister has stated that he is willing that the Bill should be postponed, after the Second Reading is taken, until the Autumn Session. Surely with the ingenuity of Deputies they will have plenty of time to prepare amendments that can make the Bill absolutely new if they so desire. I think we should proceed at once and not be wasting valuable time chopping logic. I move that the question be now put.

It might meet the matter if the Minister would agree not to take a decision on the Bill and if Deputy Johnson would agree to have the amendment negatived.

Am I in order in moving that the question be now put?

That is the closure, is it not?

Mr. O'CONNELL

That is a precedent, too.

I will take the motion that the amendment be now put, failing any agreement to dispose of the matter. I was allowing a certain amount of discussion to see if we could come to any agreement on the question, as a great many people seem to desire the same thing.

Does the Minister insist that a division on the Second Reading motion should be taken tonight?

Not necessarily tonight.

Or taken?

Motion: "That the amendment be now put"—put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 44; Níl, 19.

  • Earnán Altún.
  • Séamus Breathnach.
  • Seoirse de Bhulbh.
  • Próinsias Bulfin.
  • Séamus de Burca.
  • Sir James Craig.
  • Máighréad Ní Choileáin Bean Uí
  • Dhrisceóil.
  • Patrick J. Egan.
  • Osmond Grattan Esmonde.
  • Desmond Fitzgerald.
  • John Hennigan.
  • William Hewat.
  • Alasdair Mac Cába.
  • Domhnall Mac Cárthaigh.
  • Liam T. Mac Cosgair.
  • Maolmhuire Mac Eochadha.
  • Pádraig Mac Fadáin.
  • Pádraig Mac Giollagáin.
  • Liam Mac Sioghaird.
  • Liam Mag Aonghusa.
  • Seosamh Mag Craith.
  • Pádraig S. Mag Ualghairg.
  • Patrick McKenna.
  • Patrick J. Mulvany.
  • Martin M. Nally.
  • Peadar O hAodha.
  • Mícheál O hAonghusa.
  • Criostóir O Broin.
  • Seán O Bruadair.
  • Aodh Ua Cinnéidigh.
  • Partholán O Conchubhair.
  • Séamus O Dóláin.
  • Peadar S. O Dubhghaill.
  • Pádraig O Dubhthaigh.
  • Eamon S. O Dúgáin.
  • Aindriú O Láimhín.
  • Fionán O Loingsigh.
  • Pádraig O Máille.
  • Séamus O Murchadha.
  • Risteárd O Maolchatha.
  • Patrick K. Hogan (Luimneach).
  • Seán M. O Súilleabháin.
  • Patrick W. Shaw.
  • Liam Thrift.

Níl

  • Pádraig F. Baxter.
  • Seán Buitléir.
  • John Conlan.
  • John Daly.
  • Seán de Faoite.
  • Darrell Figgis.
  • David Hall.
  • Connor Hogan.
  • Séamus Mac Cosgair.
  • Tomás Mac Eoin.
  • Risteárd Mac Fheorais.
  • Tomás de Nógla.
  • Tomás O Conaill.
  • Liam O Daimhín.
  • Eamon O Dubhghaill.
  • Donchadh S. O Guaire.
  • Domhnall O Muirgheasa.
  • Tadhg O Murchadha.
  • Pádraig O hOgáin (An Clár).
Motion declared carried.
Amendment—"That consideration of the Bill be postponed for four months"—put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 20; Níl, 43.

  • Pádraig F. Baxter.
  • Seán Buitléir.
  • John Conlan.
  • John Daly.
  • Seán de Faoite.
  • Darrell Figgis.
  • David Hall.
  • Connor Hogan.
  • Séamus Mac Cosgair.
  • Tomás Mac Eoin.
  • Risteárd Mac Fheorais.
  • Tomás de Nógla.
  • Tomás O Conaill.
  • Liam O Daimhín.
  • Eamon O Dubhghaill.
  • Donchadh S. O Guaire.
  • Domhnall O Muirgheasa.
  • Tadhg O Murchadha.
  • Pádraig O hOgáin (An Clár).
  • Liam Thrift.

Níl

  • Earnán Altún.
  • Séamus Breathnach.
  • Seoirse de Bhulbh.
  • Próinsias Bulfin.
  • Séamus de Burca.
  • Sir James Craig.
  • Máighréad Ní Choileáin Bean Uí
  • Dhrisceóil.
  • Patrick J. Egan.
  • Osmond Grattan Esmonde.
  • Desmond Fitzgerald.
  • John Hennigan.
  • William Hewat.
  • Alasdair Mac Cába.
  • Domhnall Mac Cárthaigh.
  • Liam T. Mac Cosgair.
  • Maolmhuire Mac Eochadha.
  • Pádraig Mac Fadáin.
  • Pádraig Mac Giollagáin.
  • Liam Mac Sioghaird.
  • Liam Mag Aonghusa.
  • Seosamh Mag Craith.
  • Pádraig S. Mag Ualghairg.
  • Patrick McKenna.
  • Patrick J. Mulvany.
  • Martin M. Nally.
  • Peadar O hAodha.
  • Mícheál O hAonghusa.
  • Criostóir O Broin.
  • Seán O Bruadair.
  • Aodh Ua Cinnéidigh.
  • Partholán O Conchubhair.
  • Séamus O Dóláin.
  • Peadar S. O Dubhghaill.
  • Pádraig O Dubhthaigh.
  • Eamon S. O Dúgáin.
  • Aindriú O Láimhín.
  • Fionán O Loingsigh.
  • Pádraig O Máille.
  • Risteárd O Maolchatha.
  • Séamus O Murchadha.
  • Patrick K. Hogan (Luimneach).
  • Seán M. O Súilleabháin.
  • Patrick W. Shaw.
Amendment declared lost.

The main question—"That the Local Government Bill be now read a second time"—is again before the Dáil.

I have not had the advantage of listening to most of the speeches made in connection with the measure before the Dáil. It is a very important measure, perhaps one of the most important that has come before the Dáil, and the consideration which a measure of this sort should get and the construction of a measure of this kind, necessitates most careful examination of the problem. I think that while this measure aims at a marked improvement and advancement in connection with local government generally, it is open to this charge that it has been formulated and considered more by experts in matters of local government than by any open examination of the problem as such. To that extent, I think, there is a case for having a public examination of this subject of local government, such an examination as would embrace the entire subject, take into consideration several matters affecting local government, the question of representation on local bodies, their powers, duties, if necessary, the incidents of rating and the general position of the country at the present moment.

I think it will be admitted by a number of people in business that there is very little inducement to business men to make extensions in their premises by reason of the almost certain enormous increase in the rates that they would have to pay when these extensions were made. Somewhere about the year 1916, when a considerable portion of the city of Dublin was burned, amelioration in that connection was allowed for some years. I expect a measure of the same sort will probably come before us in respect of Cork city. If there was a case for some relief in the matter of rating in these two cases, why should there not be where a man, by reason of his enterprise and industry, and so on, gallantly faces enormous cost in extending his premises?

This is more or less an economic question, but it is one of the matters that ought to be considered. Then you have two cities like the capital and Cork where, I think, there is an idea that something more perfect than the present machinery for management could be thought out, and could be fashioned, but we have a peculiar people here. Their psychology is such that there is objection, and there is a pulling against any expert advice on those matters, unless it be got by some method of agreement. I think these matters could reasonably be discussed and examined by a Commission which ought to be possible for the Minister to call into existence, with terms of reference which would enable us to see how best local government could be conducted; how we could get the best advantage for the amount of money collected— and the amount is very considerable, and has increased in recent years out of proportion, very much out of proportion in certain places, as compared with others. I have been looking over the assessments made in certain counties, and I find in one county the rate is increased from something like 100 to 130 per cent., and in another from 100 to 250 per cent. There must be some justification, or at least there must be some extravagance to explain an increase like that.

The amalgamation of unions!

The facts do not support that contention, but if it be alleged as a reason for it, the amount of money involved in the matter of the administration of the poor law could not possibly go to such an extent as that. If it were the case with regard to the county that the Deputy has in mind, why should it not be the case in the instance that I have mentioned, where the rates have increased only by 30 per cent.? It is very easy to make allegations against modern improvements, and very easy to allege all sorts of complaints against one's neighbour. It is easy to see the mote in your brother's eye, but when your own is examined it may not, perhaps, be very much smaller than that of your brother's. As regards the case I have mentioned of increase in the cost of local government, I have been informed that in one asylum the cost per head is £40, as against £70 in another asylum. According to what I read of the Minister's statement, it would appear that there is very little work left for Rural District Councils to do. It ought to be remembered that the cost of elections for Rural District Councils runs up to about £60,000.

I would suggest to the Dáil that a conditional Second Reading be given to this Bill. It is a Bill upon which we could spend a very considerable amount of time. I noticed that Deputies have been taking notes during the course of the debate, and I also know that many Deputies have a very considerable knowledge of local government affairs. What I suggest is that a conditional Second Reading should be given to this Bill, that the County Council elections should take place either in July or October, or whatever time is suggested, and that the Rural District Council elections should be postponed until after the report of this Commission is received, and that the elections in the City of Dublin and in the City of Cork should also be postponed until after the report to the Minister comes in. To that extent, this Bill would not reach the Committee Stage until after the report of the Commission had come in, and the Commission ought to report by the 1st January next. I am fairly satisfied, when that report is in, that some alterations will have to be made in this Bill. What I was suggesting was that the Commission should inquire into the question of local government, the Commission to consist say, of six, eight, ten or twelve persons. I think it is possible to get that number of persons who have some knowledge of local government. I would not say that the members of the Commission should be appointed from the Dáil. I think Deputies will want a holiday by the time they have finished up the work that is to be done here, and I am sure they would not relish taking part in a Commission of this sort. Anyway, I think that those outside are more immediately in touch now with matters of local government. If that suggestion were agreed to, and if the Minister were agreeable, I think that the Dáil might give this Bill a conditional Second Reading, and that I would be able to announce to the Dáil within a month the names of the Commission, the date of its first sitting, and its terms of reference.

The President was not here when we had a most interesting discussion on an amendment to postpone the consideration of the Bill. Does he propose that the discussion should be continued or does he propose that the Second Reading should be taken this evening?

I put it to the House that we could discuss this matter for weeks and we would get no further. I put it that a conditional Second Reading could be given, and that then within a month the Minister could submit the names of the Commissioners, and the Terms of Reference, and that the Bill could be submitted for Committee Stage when the Commission had furnished its report.

Does the President move as an amendment that conditions should be attached to the Second Reading?

It is not an amendment, but if the Minister accepts it as such, the House would be in a position to deal with the matter when he brings in the report of the Commission.

I do think it is a pity the President was not in the Chamber and did not make the speech he has just made now on the debate on Deputy Johnson's amendment. I think if he had done so, and if he had removed the Whips, the majority would have been on the other side. I am as much alive to the importance of this Bill and to the necessity for local government reforms as any Deputy here. But while the Bill is a voluminous document, it certainly does not do what is required to be done for the reform of local government in this country. I quite agree with Deputy Sir James Craig in welcoming the new departure so far as public health is concerned, but I do think that the Ministry responsible for the Bill should have paid a little more attention to the sanitary laws that prevail in this country— or, rather, that they should have paid attention to the necessity for better sanitary laws. So far as I know, the sanitary laws, as they apply in urban districts at any rate, prevent councils from doing what is absolutely necessary in the interest of public health. The machinery is very cumbersome and requires a long time to set in motion. Irreparable damage is oftentimes done before councils are in a position to deal with what is sometimes a very serious menace to public health. It has been pointed out by the various Deputies who spoke in support of the Bill that this is an important measure, and, therefore, warrants a great deal of attention. The reason Deputy Johnson moved his amendment—he made it perfectly clear—was because he realised it was an important measure, and required a great deal of attention. It ought to be patent to anybody that the attention it demands cannot be given it between now and the 4th July, when it is proposed to adjourn, in view of the fact that there are 28 other very important Bills to be considered within that time.

It is because of the anxiety of members on this side of the House—both the Farmers' Party and the Labour Party—that local government in the country should receive drastic reform, that we put forward the suggestion that the Bill be postponed. So far as the setting up of a Public Health Authority is concerned, I understand that the suggestion contained in the Bill is—I have not read the Bill through, but I know that an Order has been issued to the various Co. Councils in connection with the matter—that the Public Health Board should consist of 10 members. Those 10 members will be elected or selected by the Co. Council—in the case of Wexford Co. Council, numbering 29 members. It follows as night the day that the majority of those 29 members will be representatives of rural areas. There is nothing in the Bill to secure that any of those 10 members who will form the Public Health Board will be representatives of urban areas, although the Board will function on behalf of the urban areas, so far as outdoor relief or home help is concerned. I think that some provision should be made in the Bill to secure that at least one-third of the Board should be representatives of urban areas. Urban areas should get special consideration in this connection, because there is more congestion in the urban areas and there is a greater demand for home help. Unless there is some direct representation of urban areas on the County Board of Health, the hardships to the poor in those areas where there is so much congestion will be very severe.

Again, it is absolutely necessary that formal application should be made to the County Board of Health by a person before he can secure home help. As it is customary for these Boards to meet once a month, I do think that some other medium ought to be set up to enable those people to get home help in a shorter space of time. I am wondering if the Superintendent has power to give provisional relief in the meantime, such as the outdoor relief officer exercised in the past. It is absolutely necessary that such power should be given, because if a person in absolute poverty has to wait a month before he can get home help it will be a great hardship.

There is one section in the Bill which I want to deal with especially—Section 37. That section has to do with the superannuation of officers. I agree with the Deputies who have said that there should be a tightening up, so far as this is concerned, and that the regulations, so far as superannuation is concerned, should be made plainer. The ratepayers should have some relief in this direction. Whilst I say that the ratepayers should have some relief and that public representatives should not be so extravagant when superannuating certain officials, I also think the Ministry should go a little further and consider others than officials for pensions. I do not see any reason in the world why an ordinary worker— say, a man who has swept the streets in an urban area, and who has given service for perhaps 40 or 50 years— should not be entitled to superannuation as much as an official—a clerk, a doctor, or any other person of that class who has had a pretty decent salary during his life, and who, one would think, would have put by a certain amount of money. I do not see why the Minister should not make some provision or ask the local authorities to make some provision for superannuating the ordinary workman, who has as much right to be superannuated as any officer in any position in the State. I ask the Minister to give this matter consideration. If he gives it the consideration it deserves, I think he will secure that local authorities will, in addition to superannuating their officers, superannuate the ordinary workman, who has as much right in the matter as anybody else.

For the Deputy's information, I may say that that matter was brought before the General Council of County Councils by me, and was definitely turned down there. If the Deputy stands for democratic government, that is the most democratic institution in local government and, perhaps, the most democratic institution in the country.

I am prepared to give the President credit for doing that; I know he did it. But the fact that the General Council of County Councils turned it down, does not prove that that attitude is right. So far as the abolition of Rural Councils is concerned, no reason, to my mind, has been submitted here by the Minister why they should be abolished. The only reason he did put forward was that the roads would be better looked after if we had no District Councils, because certain works had to be initiated by the Rural Councils and then brought before the County Councils, which was a roundabout method. He urged that effective work could not be done by keeping these councils in existence. The Minister, I think, will agree that Rural District Councils deal with a great many things besides roads and sanitation. There is such a thing as housing to be looked after. That is very important and has engaged the attention of the Dáil for long periods on different occasions. Water supplies and other questions also arise. The urgency of the housing problem in some rural areas is as great as it is in urban areas, and is of sufficient importance to warrant keeping the District Councils in existence. We hear a lot about the voice of the people, but I do not think this Government has any mandate to silence the voice of the people, which is what this proposal really means. I believe the County Councils have already too much work to do. I am a member of a County Council myself, and I know what happens at the meetings. The first two or three items on the agenda generally take up the whole day, and the remaining business is postponed for a fortnight or a month. Matters do not get the attention they deserve. It is going to be infinitely worse in the future in view of legislation passed recently and the legislation we are promised, most of which filters through the various local councils. At this period, I believe it would be a great mistake to abolish Rural District Councils, as the County Councils have more work to do than they had before. I think the abolition of the District Councils should, at least, be postponed for a considerable time. The Minister should think seriously before taking such a step, as, I think, I am right in saying it is against the wishes of the majority of the people.

I am at a loss to understand what the President means by asking the Dáil to give this Bill conditional sanction. To my mind that will come into conflict with some of the Standing Orders. If we gave the Bill a Second Reading, I take it, we would be committed to the principles in it. The Bill will require a great deal of careful consideration. As to the Commission that the President proposes to set up, he stated that, in his opinion, it should not be composed of members of the Dáil, but of people outside. To my mind, that will mean that we will have a repetition of what he himself condemned. We will have local government experts again. I believe it is possible to get from the different parties in the Dáil representatives who could approach this matter from an absolutely impartial point of view, imbued with the idea of getting the best results possible out of local government in this country. It is a very important function, in some ways more important than the national assembly. What the Government should aim at is, to try and create a certain amount of civic pride and civic responsibility in the various parts of the country. The Minister should keep away, as far as possible, from the appointment of Commissioners. I am prepared to admit that during the past four or five years certain things were done by public bodies that would not bear careful examination. But these things were done by direction of the Government then in power. The public boards were told to do things that they did not always agree with, and having got into a certain groove, it is very hard to get out of it. In the abnormal circumstances that prevailed, I think, the councils were trying to do their best. They served a very useful purpose during a period when this country was in a death struggle with England, and it is not right for any Minister to come in now and base a Bill for local government on a review of the work of that period. I think that has been done in this instance. In my opinion, that is not a period on which to base a review of local government.

I welcome the suggestion of the President that a Commission should be set up, but I contend that the members of that Commission should be selected from the Dáil. If people outside are selected it would be the official mind that would prevail again. We will get better results, I think, by having the personnel of the Commission selected from members of the Dáil.

What Deputy Corish proposes, under the plea of supporting the recommendation of the President, is that instead of setting up a Commission of Inquiry such as the President outlines, this Bill, without undergoing a Second Reading, should be formally committed to a Committee of the whole Dáil, or rather a Special Committee. Now there is no reason why Deputy Corish's idea, in an amended form, should not be adopted, provided always that we have the Second Reading of the Bill secured. Then, instead of the ordinary procedure of debate in the Dáil, it could be referred to a Select Committee, and that Select Committee could call before it witnesses and receive testimony and information from those outside persons, that the President had in contemplation. In that way, I suggest, examination of such a huge and complex measure as this is would be satisfied. Personally, if the President will permit me to say so, I do not like the idea of committing to a body of men who are not elected representatives of the people, a task and an office, which properly belongs to the representatives of the people. It is really on that principle that I approve of the central idea put forward by Deputy Corish. There is only one thing I would like to stress, and that is, if the whole question of local government, in all its bearings, such as is set out in the present measure, be gone into, it would take a very long time to probe into the recesses of it and arrive at anything like an enlightened and final decision.

Meanwhile the very important question of local government, to which the President made passing reference, will have been neglected and ignored. The President spoke of the cases of the City of Dublin and the City of Cork. In the brevity and conciseness of his statement he put the two together in a way that might mislead the casual hearer into the belief that he looked upon the two cities as being under exactly the same position of disability as regards their boundaries. Of course, as everything in life is comparative, so as between these two cities, the question of the boundaries and the improved administration of the City of Dublin is a far more pressing matter, a matter requiring more instant consideration than the other; in fact, out of my ignorance let me admit that I should say that the other question does not properly arise at the moment. Now, it would be a great pity if such an important thing as the position of the City of Dublin and the extension of its boundaries and an improved system of administration for an extended and greater City of Dublin were to be postponed, when the investigation could be carried on pari passu with this other, and I was hoping, perhaps, that the President would on second thoughts be willing to approve of setting up a special Commission, or, if not, give a special direction to the Committee investigating the question of local government in toto to take this into account.

Anyone who considers the facts of the moment will realise why peculiar urgency applies to this. What I might call the swan song of the late Corporation of unhappy memory was an effort to promote a measure for the extension of the city boundaries to what in equity they ought to be. Those of us who read the newspapers, if we have no other source of information, are aware that a measure is being promoted for the amalgamation of Dun Laoghaire, Blackrock and Dalkey, the outlying townships, to create a new and rival city to the older city of Dublin, and provided with a great harbour at Dun Laoghaire, and with freedom from the old and accumulated debts and disabilities which burden the older city; also, the Council of Dun Laoghaire, as I learn from the Press, is pressing forward a scheme for its own electricity work. All these things mean prejudicing the final solution of the whole question, and if the measure be not viewed at present in connection with this question of Dublin, later on it will become necessary to do, in fact, what is always difficult, namely, to undo what has been settled.

It is true the present Bill does not deal with Urban Councils, but indirectly it does as regards the City of Dublin, because there is provision made for a new and enlarged County Council of Dublin, and if that area which ought to be included in Greater Dublin be included in it, there would be a very small portion, indeed, of the County of Dublin left for administration at the hands of this enlarged County Council, so that if one sees a little way ahead there is no reason why a complication should be deliberately brought about. That, I put on the forefront, because I have my eye on the clock, and I wish to present that aspect of the Bill for the consideration of the Dáil, whatever else goes by the board. If I were allowed to move the adjournment of the debate I might, perhaps, be disposed to weary the Dáil with some criticism of the measure itself, but, on the other hand, I realise that public business has become enormous in its extent, and that, unfortunately, public time is in inverse ratio, and that it might be just as well if I did not move the adjournment of the debate, so I leave myself in the hands of the President.

Move the adjournment.

If the President would give an undertaking that the particular question of Greater Dublin would get that consideration that it deserves, then I should forego any remarks further on other items of the Bill.

My suggestion was not accepted by the Dáil, so I am precluded from giving an undertaking.

If the Deputy moves the adjournment he can resume or not, as he chooses, to-morrow.

I accept your suggestion and move the adjournment till to-morrow.

Debate adjourned accordingly, till to-morrow.