The Seanad amendments to this Bill were considered in Committee. The report of the Committee is before the Dáil. Are there any amendments to the report?
LOCAL GOVERNMENT BILL, 1924—FROM THE SEANAD—REPORT.
I move:—"That the Dáil do not agree with the amendment passed in Committee to the Seanad's amendment No. 90, sub-section 1 (a)."
The proposal with regard to amendment No. 90 will preclude discussion on anything up to that amendment. I want that to be understood.
The amendment which was carried in Committee deleted the figures "1920" and "1927," and substituted therefor the figures "1925" and "1930." I do not know whether all the Deputies were in possession of all the facts in connection with this particular amendment. In the first place, one Deputy, I think, in dealing with this amendment, made what was called a parallel in the case of sugar beet. I do not understand how a parallel would be drawn. I think it was stated that if the Government were disposed to subsidise the growing of sugar beet in the year 1925, and that persons had been growing sugar beet from 1920 until 1925, those persons would claim the subsidy from 1920 until 1925. If that were a parallel there was really no parallel. The case would be a parallel if it had been quoted in this connection—that if it were proposed to subsidise the growing of sugar beet in the County of Leix and that there were farmers in the County of Dublin who had been growing beet from 1920 to 1925, such farmers in Dublin would now claim to get the advantage which it was proposed to give to the farmers in Leix. That would be a parallel. In this case, if this amendment of the Seanad be accepted, you will reward any person who under the Shaw or Wood-Renton Commission has been awarded a sum for rebuilding, and who did not draw the sum and who did not rebuild, but put his 5 per cent. in his pocket during the last two or three years and is now rewarded for not being businesslike.
That is the position. During a period of stress, when Deputies on the opposite side were talking to us about employment and unemployment, and when other people were asking us what we were going to do to stimulate business, the persons who sat tight are now going to get a reward for doing so, and for refusing to be impressed with the case we made for stimulating business during these years, while others will be deprived of the advantages we are now going to give to the people who sat tight.
Talk to that side of the House. Deputies there voted against you.
We have the majority this time.
We are all right on this side.
Supposing for a moment that a man had sufficient sense of citizenship in 1923 to start re-building a house before the award was issued by the court, and had completed it, he gets no advantage, but the man who said: "I will wait until I see what the court is going to do," and who has not started yet, is going to be made right, up to the year 1923. I cannot understand how persons capable of understanding municipal finance can imagine for a moment that you can get back from the rates money that has been paid. Once money is paid in rates it cannot be returned. No return is proposed in the amendment made by the Seanad. It only seeks to place in the same position persons who have constructed or reconstructed dwellings during the last three or five years, when, as was admitted, the cost of building was exceptionally high, as those who, perhaps, were more farseeing, who kept their money, and who now propose to reap the advantages provided by the amendment. That is as far as the first section is concerned.
In connection with one county it was put to us here that the amount involved, if this amendment were passed, would be £13,750 on the annual valuation. I may be wrong as regards the hundreds, but I am right as regards the thousands. I have had the rateable valuation of that county examined for the present year, as compared with the year 1920, and the result is that, in Co. Mayo, the actual increase in valuation over that of 1920 is £2,820. It may be that during these five years extraordinary damage was done in that county. If that is so, it is also the case that there were public-spirited citizens in that county who re-built and gave employment during that bad period, and who laid out their money when there was no great return to be expected. On the other hand, there are people whose property was destroyed who have not yet re-built, and whom the amendment will reward if what was done in Committee is accepted. That is as regards the change of date from 1920 to 1925. As regards the change from 1927 to 1930, I dwelt at some length, on the last occasion this matter was being discussed, on the usefulness and the advisability of seeing activity in building. It is an industry that strikes the eye, and one observes activity if there is activity. There is a sense of confidence, a sense of security, a sense of hopefulness in seeing activity in building. If 1930 is inserted you are going to alter that sense of hopefulness. During the next five years we will be questioned from the far side of the House about the pressure that is going to be put on persons who have decrees and have not re-built; if they are putting their decision to do so on the long finger with a view to either a reduction in wages or the cost of materials. In my view that is not good business.
Would the President say if the amendment from the Seanad is confined to rebuilding under decrees?
No, it is not. It is unconfined in both directions. It means that it would embrace all buildings save those excluded by a portion of the amendment. I suppose I need not recite them for the Deputy. The case made against this is that it is going to benefit certain institutions, certain industries, and certain buildings that have been put up by banks. If it were thought that was unfair it is open to anyone to move an amendment in that connection. Personally I might have given very careful consideration to such a proposal. In my view the amount involved which any bank would save by reason of the passing of the amendment as it came from the Seanad, would be inconsiderable. There is an attractiveness about this which appears to me to be very businesslike. It indicates to persons who have had courage during the last couple of years, that there is consideration for those who had sufficient energy and foresight to have started building during that bad period. It is due to them, having invested considerable sums of money during that period, that they should not be placed in a worse position than those who waited until they saw whether or not the foundations of the State were firmly laid before they spent their money.
A new section was inserted in the Bill in the Seanad. That new section was considered in Committee, and an amendment was carried to the new section. The new section, as amended, is before Deputies in type. The proposal is now: "In sub-section (1), paragraph (a), to delete the figures 1925 and 1930, and to insert the figures 1920 and 1927, respectively.” That amendment is before the Dáil. We are not in Committee, and, therefore, Deputies have only a right to speak once.
If there is one thing that I have learned in the couple of years in which I have been in the Cabinet it is that there is no real, substantial difference between remission of taxation and a grant. Time and again, I have heard the Minister for Finance emphasise that—that to remit taxation or to hold out, as an inducement, a remission of taxation, is the same thing as putting your hand down in the National Exchequer and handing out cash. Therefore, we are dealing with a grant—and a very substantial grant —not, it is true, out of the National Exchequer, but out of the revenue of the local authorities and out of the pockets of the ratepayers. It is with that well in mind that I would like Deputies to consider this amendment, in so far as the retrospective aspect which is sought to be introduced is concerned. We are dealing with a grant from the revenue of local authorities and from the pockets of the ratepayers. Now, vicarious generosity may seem an admirable thing, but we should approach this matter in just as hardheaded a spirit as if we were dealing with a grant out of the National Ex-chequer—out of the funds of the Government. I want to know what the consideration is for this very substantial grant. It is claimed that it is a good, a wise, and a proper thing to stimulate the building industry. I agree. It is claimed that it is a highly desirable thing that, within the next two or three years, there should be the maximum of activity in that trade. I agree. It is pointed out that increased housing is an urgent social need. That, I think, is appreciated on all sides. But where does that come in, when you come to consider the retrospective aspect of this amendment? The proposal is to give to people who have built within the last five years a very substantial windfall out of the pockets of the ratepayers, who are complaining clamorously that they are already overburdened with rates. I stress the windfall aspect of the question. These people have built. Therefore, all that side of the argument which points to the desirability of increased activity in the building trade does not apply. This is a windfall for those who have already built, who built without any reason to hope that they would receive a substantial bonus of this kind.
The President queries my analogy about beet. I said, in Committee, that this year the Government proposes to subsidise, through the county committees of agriculture, the growing of a certain acreage of beet. I do not think any Deputy would stand for the proposal that, because of that, we are under any obligation to subsidise those who grew beet last year, or the year before, or any time over any period in the past. It is simply a decision taken for good and sufficient reason, to be applied as from date. It would not be a sound proposition, and would not, I think, meet with the approval of Deputies, if it were proposed that because it was desirable in the future to have a certain amount of beet grown in the country experimentally, that we should feel ourselves bound in any way to those who had so grown in the past.
I am not convinced of the soundness of this retrospection with regard to this particular proposal, and I doubt very much if it would be put before the Dáil if the money had to come from taxation or from national revenue. It is an easy thing to be generous at the expense of the local authorities. It is an easy thing to be generous at the expense of the ratepayers, and to say: "Let us reward the patriotic and philanthropic people who built for the last five years," although they built with no hope or expectation of any such reward. I did not think this proposal would come before the Dáil, backed by any Minister— certainly, I would not visualise it being backed by the Minister for Finance—if it were a question of substantial subtraction from the national revenue.
The housing need is there. It is highly desirable to stimulate the building trade and the defence of this proposal, as it stands, is that a special bait or inducement is necessary. If it were not necessary, I take it we would not be so foolish as to give it. But we think it is necessary, and, therefore, we give it. How does that apply to houses already built? It does not apply, and the only argument for that is to stray away into realms of abstract justice and say: "It would be a bad thing to have differentiation between the man who built last year or the year before or the year before that and the man who will build this year." That principle would lead very far indeed. It would lead you to this point, that if for any time or any reason the Government or the Oireachtas found it necessary to offer an inducement to people to take a particular course, they should turn around to see who took that course in the past and mete out, on this high plane of abstract justice, with equal hands. I do not agree with that. Retrospective legislation is bad, whether you are seeking to impose penalties or to confer favours. It is because I heard no reply to the criticisms put forward against that aspect of the amendments in Committee Stage that I voted for Deputy Johnson's amendment, deleting the retrospective character and aspect of the Seanad amendment.
There is one matter on which I am inclined to agree with the President. He says, looking to the future, that to spread the thing out to 1930 might be diffusing and watering down the full effect—that you would only get the best and fullest effect by confining it to a short period of two or three years. As between 1927 and 1928, which Deputy Johnson is anxious to insert, I do not think there is very much difference. But extending the date to 1930 would be, perhaps, leaving too long a period and diffusing the full effect of this subsidy or inducement. But nothing that was said in Committee, and nothing that has been said to-day, convinces me that it is a right or sound or proper course for us to put our hand deep down in the pocket of the ratepayer and pay out money—because, as I pointed out, this remission of rates is equivalent to a grant—to those who built last year, the year before, and every year back to 1920, with no reason to hope that they would receive any such windfall. It is not, I believe, a sound thing to do. It is not a hardheaded thing to do. I do not believe we would do it if we were dealing with national revenue—if we were dealing with Government funds—and if we would not do it when dealing with Government funds, we should not do it just because we are dealing instead with the rates of the local authorities and with the money of the ratepayers.
On the occasion of the last debate on this question, there were a few points about which Deputies did not appear to be at all clear. First of all, they did not seem to be clear that an incentive was necessary to encourage people to build. Let me say, as one that knows something of the building industry, that such an incentive is necessary. The reason is that building costs in the Saorstát at present are exceedingly high—too high. That is largely due to the fact that building wages in the Saorstát are the highest paid in Europe. I will just give one example of that, and I should like my friends on the Labour benches to give some attention to this aspect of the question, because it is a very important aspect. A bricklayer in Dublin to-day receives £4 2s. 6d. weekly. His brother bricklayer in Manchester and Glasgow receives £3 13s. 4d. weekly. I am not satisfied that for this large addition in wages we get any additional output. In fact, the data that is constantly compiled leads one to think that we receive a lesser output for the larger wage than is given for the smaller wage in other places. That being so, there is a well-founded impression abroad that building costs in the Saorstát are too inflated, and that that inflated figure cannot be maintained. As long as that view is abroad, people who have money to put into building naturally come to the conclusion that they will be able to build more cheaply in the future. The consequence is that an incentive is necessary to induce people to embark on building at the present time.
Having established that point, I would like to reply to a few aspects of the question put very fairly before us by the Minister for Justice. He states —and states truly—that a remission of rates is really a grant-in-aid. There is no necessity to argue that. We concede that right off. He says then, "You are burthening the local authority, and where is the return to come from?" Let us consider that point, with the other point before our minds, that an incentive is necessary to get people to build. That incentive is given by way of remission of rates. The Minister says: "What return do we get for that?" We get a national return for it. We get an immediate reduction in the amount that we are paying—and it is a very high figure— by way of unemployment grants.
Will the Deputy say how that applies in the case of houses built as between 1920 and the present day, because I quite grant all the virtue of the argument with regard to future building?
I am glad we have got the Minister for Justice that length.
I was that length all the time.
I did not understand that. I am glad that the Minister recognises that this remission of rates will mean a national reduction in the amount of the grant for unemployment. Therefore, in return for that remission we have a substantial reduction in unemployment grants. Let us come to the question the Minister has just mentioned—where do we gain by making this Act retrospective? The President cleared up one point this afternoon that it was very essential should be cleared up—that is, that once rates are paid no claim can be made for a refund. No rates will be refunded. Now, where is any benefit conferred on those who have built, by making this Act retrospective? Recollect that up to the present the only benefit under this Act is a remission of rates. Those rates have been paid by those who had their buildings completed. There can be no refund of those rates. Where is any benefit conferred on those people by making this Bill retrospective?
The benefit is this that if you do not make the section retrospective they get no money back that they have paid up to the present. After the passing of this Bill they get no benefit by the fact that it was made retrospective. But they do get benefit in the future, and it is only in the future that they do get benefit. They could not be included at all under this Bill if it had not been made retrospective. It is only that they may get an equivalent benefit to these others who come in under this Bill that the section is made retrospective. Now, may I make that point clear, because it may not be clear to the Deputies? A man builds. I will not take a house as an example. I will take an ordinary factory. I am afraid that amongst the items about which there is an amount of ambiguity in connection with this Bill is the question of its application to house-building. Now, there are very few houses to which this Bill will apply at all. I am glad that the President dealt with the question that was raised by the Deputy about the effect on the rates on the buildings that had been erected in the West. I am quite sure that the Deputy was discussing that from a want of knowledge of this Bill. There are very few houses, as one may see by reference to this amendment; at all events, very few dwelling-houses, which will derive any benefit at all or come under this particular amendment. Therefore, I say let us take the case of a building that was erected in 1921 here in our City, one of the many large buildings which give a considerable amount of employment in the City. That building was finished, say, in the year 1922, or in the year 1923, and it paid rates in accordance with the valuation, each year up to the present. Now, in making this Bill retrospective, and making its application retrospective, so as to apply to this building, it does not confer any retrospective benefit on this building. That is the point I want to make quite clear. Those rates have been paid and no refund can be claimed. Consequently from the retrospective proposal they cannot get anything. What they can get is that the burden will be reduced from the full quota of taxes or rates to one-third. Under this amendment they rank in the same position with the building started in this year. Now, that is only fair.
I think everybody will agree that those people who built, as I said on a previous occasion, when there was not at all the same encouragement to build as there is to-day, are deserving of some encouragement. These people had to incur an amount of liability that those building to-day will not have to incur. I am quite satisfied that in the case of these people who took their courage in both hands and spent large sums of money, when the situation looked very much darker than to-day, the Dáil will not place them at any disadvantage as compared with the person who starts to-day. The person who built to-day can have his building erected at 25 per cent. less than the man who built in 1921. If you take as an example a building costing £20,000 in 1921, that same building can be erected to-day for £15,000. Consequently the business that is carried on in that building erected in 1921 has to carry a burden of capital and pay on that burden to the extent of 25 per cent. over that erected to-day. If, on top of that, you were to give a remission of rates to the man who erects his building to-day, and who carries a burden 25 per cent. less than the man who erected his building in 1921—if you were to give him this remission in rates and not give it to the man who erected the building in 1921—you would confer an enormous advantage on the man who was erecting his building to-day. Under this Bill he would be only paying 33 per cent. of the rates paid by the man who put up his building in 1921. Now, I ask you is that fair? This clause being made retrospective enables that man to come in and claim that remission from to-day, and puts him in that respect on a level with the man who erects the building to-day. He gets no remission of any monies paid in the past by reason of this amendment being made retrospective.
What is the consideration?
Reduced rates from now onwards for a house built two years ago.
Is that the consideration he is to get?
Will you guarantee that?
Deputy Good has made it clear.
The Minister has further pointed out that it is very easy for us to be generous at other people's expense, meaning thereby that we are passing a Bill which will reduce the income of the local authorities. I do not know whether I am right in taking what he said to mean that. I gather that that is what was in the Minister's mind. Is that really so? Are we taking from the local authorities something that they really had? Let me illustrate this particular point by one of our tobacco factories. We were all delighted to see those factories rising up in our city, and to see large numbers of our young people finding in them excellent employment.
One of these factories that I have in my mind—and it is true of more than one of them—was erected on a cabbage field. What rates did the local authority derive from that agricultural holding on which that tobacco factory was erected? I am sure they were very nominal. To-day a factory is erected there which cost a quarter of a million of money. I have no idea at all what the valuation of that factory would be, but it will run into some thousands, and the local authority will receive 33 per cent. of the rates on that valuation under this amendment. I am sure that 33 per cent. would represent a great many times the rates paid by that agricultural holding. The local authority in that particular case, and I can speak of two of them, has been under no additional expense whatever in connection with the factory. It receives even under the amendment a large increase by way of rates. Now that is not the only advantage that the local authority will receive. In addition to paying these rates, this factory will take a very considerable amount of electric current. That means revenue for the local authority. That factory will, in addition, take a considerable amount of water from the local authority. That means revenue for the local authority. I would ask the Minister, in view of these facts, to tell us where we are taking something under this amendment from the local authority. I am quite satisfied that in the instances I have mentioned—and I hope they are fair instances—we are taking nothing from the local authority.
You are taking 67 per cent. of the rate.
You are taking two-thirds of what they would get.
They have not got it at all.
They have estimated to get it.
And they are entitled to it, unless we deprive them of it.
They would not get it if the buildings were not put up.
That would apply to any house.
I want to be quite fair. I was dealing with the point the Minister has raised. I said the interpretation I put on that was that you are taking something from the local authority. I hold that under this amendment you are giving something to the local authority, because if you offer this inducement you will get other people to do as those who have built have done. That, I hold, even under this amendment whereby local authorities would only get one-third of the rates, is a benefit to the local authorities. I challenge the statement of any Deputy who will say that that is not a fact.
Why not take it all?
Quite a good argument may be raised, that the local authority would get more benefit if there was no such amendment passed. They certainly will from buildings already erected. But that argument cannot be used in connection with buildings which might be erected, but which there is no incentive to erect. Let us be fair about this matter. Every building erected is a benefit from many points of view. It is a national benefit from the point of view of reducing unemployment. It is a benefit to the local authority from the point of view that it means an accession of income. So I am satisfied, from whatever point of view this matter is looked at, that you can only arrive at one conclusion, that it is a proposal that ought to be supported, and I hope it will meet with the approval of the Dáil.
Listening to Deputy Good on matters affecting the building trade is illuminating and informative. It is generally admitted that there is no Deputy who knows so much about the building trade, its conditions and its prospects as Deputy Good. Consequently, I am tempted to exclaim after his speech, in the words of a familiar pantomime song: "The whole discovery now found out!""The building trade needs an incentive": that is the summary of the purpose and spirit that inspires this amendment. It is in the interest of encouraging the building trade that it is recommended to the Dáil. The building trade needs incentive? True. Why not provide it with the very natural incentive—get down the cost of building? For Deputy Good, true to the instincts of his class, there is only one method of reducing the cost of building, and that is to get down the workmen's wages. What about the contractors' profits? What about the cost of materials? Let us operate upon these first, and automatically wages will come down when the cost of living has been reduced. Meanwhile, because the contractors and the vendors of materials are inexorable, must the ratepayers pay for it? Let the ratepayers come to the relief, let the local authority dispense with two-thirds of the local rate in order that there may be more enterprise, more money, put into building, and more big contracts for the big contractors. I think we have now got down to bedrock in that: we are to subsidise the building contractor—that is what it comes to—subsidise the building trade, not out of the national revenues but out of the local authorities' takings.
Deputy Good has managed to confuse and, with all respect to the President, I think he, too, has occasionally contrived to confuse, the retrospective reference and the future reduction. It is quite obvious that if rates are remitted in regard to future buildings it will undoubtedly stimulate the investment of capital in buildings, in factories, places of industry, and the rest. That is unquestionable. But how is this to operate where it is the case of remission on buildings already put up? Deputy Good's method was the method of the advocate: to excite sentiment, various emotions, in regard to things already done, so as to make us believe that it would be a generous thing, be a fine gesture to say: "Remit the rates with regard to these commitments." No doubt it would be a delightful thing, a source of joy, comfort, and satisfaction to those who built in 1920 and 1921 suddenly to find that their annual overhead charges are to be reduced in this substantial fashion. I may drop into poetry again, a poetical quotation this time from an American writer, whose name, unfortunately, is unknown:
Upon this bald old earth of sin,
There's naught can make one holler, Like finding in a last year's vest
A last year's unspent dollar.
To find that one's possessions are greater than one calculated, that one comes out with a plus in an unexpected fashion is highly gratifying to everyone, not merely to the Wilkins Micawbers of the earth but to men in business on a large scale.
Now I repeat the point I made when this was debated a few days ago. Let us be clear in our minds as regards buildings already erected. They come under two categories. They were built at a time when building was very expensive, when things were not so stabilised as they have now become, when the risk to capital was exceedingly grave, and when it required great courage and great confidence in one's business capacity to invest more capital and to commit one's self to an extension of business. Now some of those conceivably did not meet with the business reward that their enterprise and courage merited. Others of them unquestionably did.
Tell us some of them.
Well, Deputy Nagle was good enough to come to my assistance on the last occasion, and quoted the eulogies pronounced by one factory director at a shareholders' meeting with regard to the fine buildings that had been put up and the satisfactory character of them, and then proceeded to dilate upon the excellent dividends that were about to be distributed.
A single swallow.
What about the losses?
I will deal first with the President's argument. If there were losses we should have heard about them. That is a subject upon which everyone is eloquent who otherwise is speechless.
I can give the Deputy one.
And I will give him another.
I am sure I could retort equally that one case is no proof. I have put the case that there are two categories, presumably. Now the President would give me a list. So much the better. If he introduces a motion into this House to come to the relief of those people who seek relief because they were doing a national benefit as well as conferring a private gain upon themselves, though they failed to a measurable extent, I will vote for it. I will vote for every subsidy that the State proposes to tide business over a difficult moment, and to enable it to get secure on its feet again, but I repeat, that case is not put up on the present occasion. There are all sorts of other things put up. Deputy Good and the President both tell us that we will encourage people to put money into building. How? If they find that those who put money into building will be rewarded. Why should they be rewarded any more than any other man who embarks upon an enterprise in the hope of gain? It was not for philanthropy; it was not through patriotism, but it was because they saw a good opening and believed that they could carry their enterprise through.
I am willing to admit that there were some, although I have not heard of them, who were inspired not merely by their business knowledge and their business capacity, but who thought that it would be a good thing, even if they did incur loss, to keep things going, to provide employment and to show their confidence in the future of the State. There may have been such men, but they have not come asking relief, and yet on the assumption that there are such men who took advantage—I am not using the word "advantage" in the favourable sense—of the openings that they thought they saw, plunged in and got through they are now to be rewarded. In England they have a better method of rewarding things of that kind. There is the O.B.E. for the managing director or for the chairman of the Board, but as we are an agricultural country, and if the Constitution would allow it, we might confer the Order of the Good Egg instead of the Order of the Bad Egg on those who had brought things through to a successful accomplishment.
Deputy Good put up the only argument that has even the character of speciousness about it on behalf of this. He points out what, of course, is obvious, that on buildings already put up rates have been paid, and that there can be no refund of those rates. Rates once paid are like water that flows under the bridge. The only aid, therefore, he says can be to give an equivalent benefit in future, that is setting out from the passing of this Act. That is a specious case—to put them level, as from this date, with others who only begin to build at a period later than themselves. But that, again, postulates that they are entitled to relief. That is the flaw in Deputy Good's argument which obviously he was not aware of or he would not have pressed it upon us as a sound argument. Let us assume that those people are entitled to relief. Then, unquestionably, the relief should begin for them as from the passing of this Act, but what has got to be shown, and has not been shown, is that relief of this type should be extended to them at all. The argument is childish, therefore, when examined. The Minister for Justice put the right name on this thing when he spoke of abstract justice. It is an effort to do equity, and it is confusing two very different things, the function of the charitable individual and the function of a Government. The individual may give alms, the individual may be generous with his own money, but it certainly is not the function of Government, on behalf of the State, to give doles to successful business men and that precisely at the moment when doles to the helpless have to be reduced in the name of national economy.
There is one productive class in the community which I contend is the only productive class when all is said and done, and that is the teacher. We have been obliged to reduce the remuneration of the teachers in the primary schools and to count the sixpences as regards the remuneration and grants-in-aid of teachers in the secondary schools. These great successful businesses with huge capital invested in them, would be factories with great prospects for the future; they are to be relieved of paying rates. Deputy Good says that a tobacco factory that he has in his mind was set up in a cabbage field. Of course he did not mean to suggest that the cabbage leaf was to come to the assistance of the tobacco leaf, as it sometimes does in the making of so-called Havanas, but he was pointing out that had the cabbage field remained in the possession of the market gardener, the rate yield on it would have been considerably less than when it is turned instead into a site for a tobacco factory. He argues from that, that now the local authority has benefited by the erection of the factory. It was not necessary to tell us that. It is very obvious. He says, therefore, that the local authority, being benefited by the greater yield of rates in this respect, will suffer no loss if the greater yield of rates is reduced. In other words, if one-third of the rates upon the factory are greater than the total undiminished rate payable out of the cabbage field, then the local authority is no worse. The answer to that is very obvious. It is true that the local authority is so much the better if the rate yielded by the one-third payable on the factory is greater than what it would have been on the ordinary yield had it not been built. What Deputy Good asks us to forget is what would be the yield if the two-thirds were not deducted but the three-thirds were paid. That is what he conveniently overlooks and expects us under the blandishments of his arguments and his authority as a building specialist to forget.
By all means give an incentive to enterprise. But that is no argument whatsoever because it never even touches, although it professes to touch, the retrospective element, and it is to that retrospective element that we object. I do not understand at all, though of course that is no reason why it should not be true, how Deputy Good arrives at the statement that building is 25 per cent. less than what it was. I am a very diligent reader of the "Irish Times," and particularly of its fortnightly supplement in regard to building. Last Thursday there was very admirable reading in regard to this point in the "Irish Times." It showed that in the last month the cost of building had gone up with a bound very considerably in England, and I presume it is not coming down consequently in Ireland.
In 1921 the wages in England were 2/4 for bricklayers; the same wages to-day are 1/8.
That is true, but it is altogether irrelevant——
May I remind the Deputy that the cost of building what is called an artisan's dwelling in 1922, which was slightly lower than in 1920, was £750. If the Deputy looks at last year's Building Facilities Act he will find that the price specified was somewhere about £600, a reduction of exactly 20 per cent.
I am quite aware of all that. I have studied all these matters very diligently, and in the last fortnight I have restudied them, being personally interested in them, and that does not interfere with the authority that I quoted. It is not as if in my own person I launched it out as a statement of my own invention. I have given the authority and it can be consulted. It is an argument which is more or less beside the point. With regard to the cost of building, arising out of wages, that is a case in which Deputy Good misses the point. He says bricklayers' wages in Dublin are £4 2s. 6d., and in Manchester £3 13s. 6d. Very good. What is the cost of living in Manchester? And what is the cost of living in Dublin? Surely we are not to leave the consideration of important factors like that out of account. Usually the device of the advocate is to isolate one particular aspect from the total. We are dealing not with Manchester; we are dealing with an Irish town and the conditions that prevail there. It was in that connection that I quoted the "Irish Times," showing how the cost of building is going up in England, which is favourably circumstanced. I do not know what the facts are in regard to last month in Ireland, but we should be entitled to infer that they did not go down in Ireland.
I think if, with the permission of the Ceann Comhairle I may repeat what I said, we have quite enough to do with the moneys raised either by local rates or national taxation without beginning to follow ideals of noble generosity. We cannot afford it. It might be magnificent, but it is not politics, and it certainly is not business. When we have got the various institutions set up, and perfected, that are necessary for the future betterment of the country, we may begin to repair inequalities in this fashion, but the hour has not yet come for that.