PUBLIC BUSINESS. - ELECTRICITY SUPPLY BILL, 1927—FROM THE SEANAD (IN COMMITTEE).
I propose to agree with all the amendments.
Amendment 1. Section 7, sub-section (2). Lines 13-14 deleted and the following substituted therefor:—
"(2) The accounts of the Board shall in each year be audited and be the subject of a report by duly qualified auditors appointed annually for the purpose by the Minister."
The first amendment has to be taken with No. 16, and the two taken together contain three extra provisions. The first is that in addition to the accounts of the Board being audited and the result of that audit being presented to this House, there must also be a report from the auditors on those accounts. Section 16 imposes that that report of the auditor with the accounts must be laid before both Houses. The third point occurs in the body of the first amendment that the auditors are to be appointed annually for the purpose.
Amendment put and agreed to.
Amendments 2 to 5:—
2. Section 7, sub-section (4). The word "auditor" deleted in line 29 and the word "auditors" substituted therefor.
3. Section 7, sub-section (4). The word "auditor's" deleted in line 39 and the word "auditors" substituted therefor.
4. Section 7, sub-section (4). The word "auditor" deleted in line 30 and the word "auditors" substituted therefor.
5. Section 7, sub-section (4). The word "auditor" deleted in line 34 and the word "auditors" substituted therefor.
Amendments 2 to 5 are simply designed to have the words in the plural throughout.
Amendments put and agreed to.
Amendment 6.—Section 10. After the word "contract" in line 3 the words "or any interest in such contract" inserted.
This was inserted by a Senator who believed that the words "in any company or concern with which the Board proposes to make any contract" were not sufficient, and that these words should be added, "or any interest in such contract." That is to say, or having any interest, not merely in the company or concern, but in the actual contract.
Amendment put and agreed to.
Amendment 7.—Section 12, sub-section (1). The words and figures "31st day of December, 1932" deleted in lines 34-35 and the words "appointed day" substituted therefor.
Amendment 8.—Section 12, sub-section (3). The words and figures "31st day of December, 1932" deleted in line 57 and the words "on the appointed day" substituted therefor.
Amendment 9.—Section 12. Two new sub-sections added at the end of the section as follows:—
"(7) In this section the expression the appointed day' means the 31st day of December, 1932, or such later date as the Minister, after consultation with the Board, may by order made under this section appoint.
(8) The Minister may by order made with the consent of the Minister for Finance before the 31st day of December, 1932, appoint such date subsequent to the said 31st day of December, 1932, as with the consent aforesaid he thinks proper to be the appointed day.
Every order made under this sub-section shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made and if either such House shall, within one month after the first day on which such House sits after such order is laid before it, pass a resolution annulling such order, such order shall be annulled accordingly without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder."
Amendment 10.—Section 13, sub-section (3). The words and figures "31st day of December, 1932" deleted in lines 23-24 and the words "appointed day" substituted therefor.
Amendment 11.—Section 15, sub-section (8). The words and figures "31st day of December, 1932" deleted in lines 67-68 and the words "appointed day" substituted therefor.
Amendment 12.—Section 21, sub-section (1). The words and figures "31st day of December, 1932" deleted in lines 49-50 and the words "appointed day" substituted therefor.
Amendment 13.—Section 21, sub-section (1). The words and figures "31st day of December, 1932" deleted in line 55 and the words "appointed day" substituted therefor.
Amendment 14.—Section 21, sub-section (2). The words and figures "31st day of December, 1932" deleted in lines 57-58 and the words "appointed day" substituted therefor.
Amendment 15.—Section 21. A new sub-section added at the end of the section as follows:—
"(3) In this section the expression ‘the appointed day' has the same meaning as it has in Section 12 (which relates to advances from the Central Fund to the Board) of this Act."
All those relate to the same point. That is, as one of the amendments states, that the words and figures "31st December, 1932," be deleted, but in fact the words are reinserted with an allowance for an enlargement of that date. The words are actually taken out and "the appointed day" put in, but in amendment 9 the expression "appointed day" is defined as "the 31st day of December, 1932, or such later date as the Minister, after consultation with the Board, may, by order made under this section, appoint." The order enlarging the date must come before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made, and the adverse vote of either House rejects it. So the matter is left on a sliding scale, but the 31st of December, 1932, is kept as the day towards which the Board in the first instance must work. It has been agreed in the Seanad that that should not be rigidly adhered to. That amendment was proposed here in a spirit of pessimism which I had to counter; my counter to it was to stick fast to the date. It was proposed first in that spirit. Secondly, it was proposed in a way by which no provision was made for a financial adjustment which would be necessary if the date were enlarged. I thought it necessary that that should be done; the Seanad tried to set out a method for financial adjustment, but the method adopted was found unsuitable. All this provides is that the date may be enlarged, and that would involve financial adjustment. It would be met in the ordinary way by a Vote coming before this House and brought up afterwards in the form of a Bill.
The Minister, in this case, has gone from the hard and fast date discussed by this House in the various amendments. The appointed day does not seem, as far as one can gather, from the amendment moved in the Seanad and accepted by the Minister, quite definite. It may be any day. Why the Minister is accepting so very indefinite a day, when he was so keen on the date 1932, is inexplicable to one who has been present and has taken part in the various discussions on this matter. Does the Minister fix any definite date as the appointed day in this amendment?
That is so, or any later date.
Such later date as the House will decide. I am, personally, standing by 1932. I believe the Board will make the scheme remunerative by that date, and I hope to see them do it, but there is an allowance here.
Amendments 7 to 15, inclusive, agreed to.
Amendment 16.—Section 32, sub-section (3). The sub-section deleted and a new sub-section substituted therefor as follows:—
(3) The Minister shall lay as soon as may be before each House of the Oireachtas a copy of every report made to him by the Board under this section together with a copy of the last capital account, revenue account, profit and loss account, and balance sheet of the Board and a copy of the auditors' report on such accounts and balance sheet and shall with every such report by the Board lay before each House of the Oireachtas copies of such statistics, returns, and accounts furnished to him by the Board under this Act as may be necessary for the proper understanding of such report."
This amendment imposes the obligation that the auditors' report and the accounts must come before both Houses.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment 17.—Section 37, sub-section (4). After the word "not" in line 13 the words "until the Oireachtas otherwise determine" inserted.
Amendment 17 deals with the old matter of the unauthorised undertaker who becomes a permitted undertaker under the provisions of the legislation being discussed. It was thought in the Seanad that the clause would be strengthened in the direction which I indicated was my own point of view, by the insertion of these words in the amendment. The words are placed there to strengthen the clause and to state more clearly what the agreement was with regard to the unauthorised undertaker.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment 18.—Section 37, sub-section (4). The word "applicable" deleted in line 20 and the words "as apply or may be applied" substituted therefor.
Amendment 18 is a verbal change. The words "conditions applicable under this Act" might be held to mean "applicable at the time of the passing of the Act." The Bill allows other conditions to be applied by the Board and the unauthorised undertaker having a permit should not be exempt from conditions applied to any other undertaker.
Amendment 19.—Section 39, sub-section (7). The words "every other" deleted in line 19 and the word "each" substituted therefor.
Amendment 19 is a very small matter. Sub-section (7) of Section 39 deals with certain moneys and terms and instalments, the first of which must be payable in a certain way and as the clause runs:
Every other of which shall when received by the former undertaker be paid into its general revenue account in relief of rates.
The words "every other" have made it appear that the first instalment could not be so applied. That was not the intention, and consequently the phrase is amended.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment 20. Section 39, sub-section (8). The word "Minister" deleted in line 32 and the words "High Court" substituted therefor.
20 is an important amendment. It means that for the purpose of the determination in the case of a dispute of the compensation to be paid to an authorised undertaker being a company the award shall be made by an arbitrator to be appointed not by the Minister, but by the High Court. In that single instance the arbitrator will be appointed by the High Court.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment 21.—Section 40, sub-section (3). The word "he" deleted in line 18 and the word "it" substituted therefor.
This is a verbal amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment 22. Section 45, sub-section (3). Before sub-section (3) a new sub-section inserted, as follows:—
(3) The Board shall not make a special order under this section in relation to the compulsory acquisition of a right of impounding, diverting, or abstracting water in or from any canal without previous consultation with the Minister.
Amendments 22, 24, 25, 47, 48 and 49, all have reference to protection which the users of the Shannon navigation thought they were entitled to. This amendment means that there could be no order made under the section unless there was previous consultation with the Minister.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment 23.—Section 45, sub-section (5). After the word "water" in line 15 the words "or any easement or other right over land" inserted.
Amendment 24.—Section 47, sub-section (3). Before sub-section (3) a new sub-section inserted, as follows:—
(3) A special order under this section authorising the compulsory acquisition of a right of impounding, diverting, or abstracting water in or from any canal shall not be made by the Board without previous consultation with the Minister.
Amendment 25.—Section 47, sub-section (5). After the word "water" in line 5 the words "or any easement or other right over land" inserted.
Amendments 23 and 25 deal with the same matter. They extend the reference as to interference with land or water to an casement or right over land.
Amendment 24 corresponds to amendment 22. It simply provides for previous consultation with the Minister in the matters set out.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment 26.—Section 55.—The section deleted and a new section substituted therefor as follows:—
55. The Board shall not without previous consultation with the Minister place or authorise any authorised undertaker to place any electric cable across any navigable river or navigable waterway, whether such cable is placed above or below water or under the ground.
This is a similar amendment to amendment 24. It abolishes a small section which was in the Bill, and puts in this section, which is slightly enlarged, and has pretty well the same meaning as the former section. It provides, however, that not only shall the Board not place, without previous consultation with the Minister, any electrical cable across any navigable river or waterway, but that it shall not authorise any authorised undertaker to do so.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment 27.—Section 56, sub-section (4). After the word "which" in line 21 the following words inserted "having regard to the items of cost included in the comparative rate of charge for a supply of electricity in bulk."
This amendment is of considerable importance. It refers to the cost of generation, as dealt with in Section 56. In sub-section (4) of that section "cost of generation" is defined as "all costs incurred by an undertaker which ought properly to be allocated to those parts of his undertaking engaged in the production of electricity," including various things. The portion of the sub-section I have just read is to be amended and enlarged by the insertion of the words indicated in the amendment before the House. The first portion of that sub-section would, therefore, read: "In this section the expression ‘cost of generation' means all costs incurred by an undertaker which, having regard to the items of cost included in the comparative rate of charge for a supply of electricity in bulk, ought properly to be allocated ...." It was decided in the Seanad that, in making a comparison between bulk supply cost and cost of generation locally, care should be taken that the items taken into account in arriving at one cost should be the items taken into consideration when estimating the cost in the other case. A special provision follows the quotation I have made from the sub-section that in the case of the authorised undertaker's generation cost certain items are to be included. The effect of the amendment is to insist that, in deciding on the cost, regard is to be had to the items of cost included in the comparative rate charged for supply in bulk.
Does the Minister mean that it is laid down that the same items should be included in both calculations? When the Bill was before the House, there was an amendment in my name dealing with the items which would be covered as forming the cost of generation at a station taken over. How does the present provision clear up the items of comparison as between the two? Obviously, the comparison must be at a certain point—that is, the point of the authorised undertaking that is going to be taken over. In connection with the rate that is going to be charged from the Shannon, the comparable rate will be the rate at the point at which the generation took place before. Is that correct?
No. A later portion of the sub-section which is not being changed deals, I think, with that point. We are leaving that. Sub-section (4) simply said previously that "cost of generation" means all costs incurred by an undertaker which ought properly to be allocated to those parts of his undertaking engaged in the production of electricity. Then there are two points specially referred to—"including (in the case of an undertaker who brings electricity from the generating station of such undertaker to a central station, for distribution therefrom to consumers, the costs (if any) incurred by such undertaker in bringing such electricity to such central station." That still remains. If it were Shannon power, as opposed to the locally-generated Dublin power, there would be added on to the bulk supply cost the cost of bringing that bulk supply to the point at which it would be distributed. That still remains. There is the exception that there is not to be included any capital charges which remain to be borne by an undertaker after taking a supply of electricity in bulk under the provisions of the section. That exception still holds. Making an exception of these two points—that in locally-generating cost there should not be included capital charges which remain to be borne after taking a supply of electricity in bulk, and that to the bulk supply cost there is to be added the cost of bringing the bulk supply to the point at which it will be centrally distributed by the local undertaker—the amendment simply makes it clear that, otherwise, the two charges are to be pretty well built up of the same items.
The capital charges would be eliminated in connection with the undertaking altogether when the Shannon scheme would be accounted for by compensation. The actual fact will be that the Shannon power will be delivered at the point of distribution of the original undertaker whose undertaking has been taken over.
The Deputy is making one mistake. There is no question of compensation on this amendment. It does not deal with acquisition. It deals with the supply of electricity by the Board. It is only a matter of setting bulk supply prices against the generating station cost. The capital charges to which I have referred cannot be taken into account. That was always provided for in the sub-section, and it remains. There is the extra cost imposed on bulk supply of bringing the bulk supply from the outskirts of the particular city to the point at which it will be distributed.
That is borne by the Board.
That forms an item special to the Board's selling price for bulk supply. Outside these two items, the amendment simply insists that the comparison shall be of identical items.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment 28.—Section 59, sub-section (1). All from and including the words "The Board" in line 50 down to the end of the sub-section deleted.
Amendment 29:—Section 59, sub-section (2). Before sub-section (2) a new sub-section inserted, as follows:—
"(2) The Board in making scales fixing the methods of charge and rates of charge for electricity supplied to consumers in a district served by a transformer station which is co-terminous with or includes an area which was previously the area of supply of an authorised undertaker whose undertaking has been acquired by the Board under this Act shall not include any charge in respect of liabilities assumed or payments made by the Board in consequence of the acquisition by the Board under this Act of an undertaking in a district served by any other transformer station."
Amendment 28 is a deleting provision. All except the first paragraph of Section 59 (1) disappears. Amendment 29 then inserts instead of the second paragraph what is on the paper as sub-section (2). The original sub-section (1) is broken up into two sub-sections. The first is the first paragraph of sub-section (1) as it is. The second will be the substitution for the deleted portion of sub-section (1). The difference between the deleted portion and what it is proposed to insert is that previously the second part of that sub-section was designed to allay the fear that cost from an area other than a particular acquired area might have to be borne by the consumers in that acquired area.
The prohibition of that was set out in terms, the section being amended, I think, at the end of the Report Stage, by the insertion of certain words. And those certain words were, on examination, found to make absolute nonsense of the second portion of the paragraph. So, consequently, merely as a matter of redrafting that paragraph, some improvement had to be made in it. In addition there are changes, and the main change is that previously what was spoken of as an area—that is, the area of supply of an authorised undertaker—is now spoken of as the district served by the transformer station. It should be recognised that the transformer station area can, and in the case of Dublin will, include several areas which were previously the areas of individual authorised undertakers. I have spoken of this before, and said that as a matter of general amalgamation and consolidation the keeping independent and apart of Pembroke, Rathmines and Dublin, and keeping all these present consumers apart from additional consumers in the three areas, and keeping even those further apart from the new consumers in the additional area to be served by the Dublin transformer station, was an objectionable feature of the section, and I said that I would try to have an amendment which would put an end to it. This is the amendment by which, when Dublin, Pembroke and Rathmines are acquired, the area about which charges would be made would be the district served by the transformer station. I put before the Seanad the result of 59 (1) as it stood and I phrased it in this way that the Board would have to have separate charges for the present Dublin consumers, separate charges for the present Pembroke consumers, and separate charges for the present Rathmines consumers; and three further separate charges for the new consumers in the present area of the Dublin area of supply; for the new districts in the present area of Pembroke and the new districts in the present area of Rathmines. They should have a seventh charge for the consumers in the area outside of Dublin, Pembroke and Rathmines which would be served by the transformer station.
Under this all these people can have the same charges imposed upon them. The people who are likely to lose by this are the new consumers in the area to be served by the transformer station in the area outside Dublin, Pembroke and Rathmines, which will be served by the transformer station; because they can have a network for themselves at much less cost. They will have to pay a certain part of the cost not merely of their own network but the cost of the acquisition of the network of the other three places.
There are varying charges in these three centres at the moment.
There are, in so far as the Deputy means that there are different types of customers.
No, but varying charges for the same class of current.
Yes, but that system of a varying charge will continue.
How will they continue if they are all classed as one area?
Yes, in the Dublin area at present there are varying rates, and so in the bigger area there will be varying charges. All that is now entailed is that heretofore the Dublin people, with their varying rates, had only to bear whatever liability was assumed by Dublin, and the Rathmines people had to bear whatever liability was assumed by the taking over of Rathmines, and the Pembroke people had to bear whatever liability would be assumed by the taking over of the Pembroke undertaking. In the future it will be possible to have the actual cost of the whole taken together, and assumed as a single liability to be borne by the consumer in the whole Dublin area. That is the proposal in amendment 29, which is substituted for the second portion of Section 59 (1).
How would a varied rate arise in future?
I would want to have an examination of what Deputy Good means by varying rates. There are different types of consumers, and there is an obvious difference between power and light charges.
Take the ordinary charge for lighting.
There are varying charges. There is a system in Dublin by which one can pay a certain fixed unit rate for power and lighting, or one can choose to pay a certain percentage of one's valuation, plus a lesser rate per unit. All the Board will have to see will be that the liability which we have assumed by the taking over of Dublin, Rathmines and Pembroke and the building of a new network in the area surrounding it, is met. They will have to recoup themselves for a certain number of years, having made up their minds how best to get it. That is one device to get increased consumption. They may say: "We will charge the old unit rate," or they may say: "We will make it a certain per centage of the valuation plus a lesser unit charge. That is likely to give us a bigger consumption." That is to say, the lesser unit charge plus a per centage of the valuation of the house. That type of variation will still remain.
But the person who pays is liable to get that—he will pay the same price all through that area?
At present, for lighting you have different rates in the three different areas. Under this proposal these three different areas will be supplied from the one transformer station. Consequently there will be one uniform charge over the area supplied. The variations that we have at the moment will be done away with. The local advantages will disappear.
Yes, the local advantages which Pembroke has over Rathmines may disappear, and the local advantages which Rathmines has over Dublin.
If it is an injustice to Dublin, Pembroke and Rathmines they will all claim it as an injustice.
I think it is an injustice to Dublin.
Not according to Deputy Good.
We do not always agree. We have different constituencies. This is a very far-reaching thing, and if it were carried to its logical conclusion it would mean not only dealing with the transformer area but with the whole country. In other words, this is practically a flat rate. Now, obviously, the Minister means, by variations in the rates, variations in the conditions under which the consumer takes his current, justifying him in variations of the rates as compared with his neighbour. Practically what it amounts to, as far as I understand, is that the transformer station and the transformer area now in Dublin will be taking in Dublin city as it has been developed, and Pembroke and Rathmines and the undeveloped areas outside. There will be a certain amount of injustice applied there, because we have contended that the people of Dublin, who have been responsible in the past for the building up of the Dublin station should not be deprived of the results of their work. Practically it amounts to this: that in the future outside areas that have not been developed at all will be developed. I think the Minister means that the expenses of the extension of the facilities in connection with the distribution of electricity will apply to the undeveloped areas in the same way as it applies to the developed districts. In other words, the undeveloped districts will not pay anything for developing their districts in the price they are to be charged.
By the price they are to be charged.
Do you propose to put on a rate for the wiring of the districts at present undeveloped? Take, for example, the area of Chapelizod. If that area is developed and if cables are laid for serving the district, will the consumers still be charged exactly the same rate as Dublin or will there be a different rate, because of extensions, wiring, cables and all the other necessary things that will be involved? I am not prepared to controvert the argument if it were used, but if it applies in that case it would apply equally to the whole of the country. The same argument can be used in connection with the development of rural and urban districts throughout the country.
The Deputy seems scarcely to be acquainted with his own constituency, because his constituency extends to Chapelizod, and that would be within the limits of the Dublin area.
Quite so, but the President seems to neglect to appreciate that development under the Bill is not going to be a matter for the city or for the local authorities, but for the Board. So far as constituencies are concerned, the privilege of serving that particular constituency departs from the city member altogether and becomes a matter for a Board which is non-political as far as the Minister for Industry and Commerce is able to make it non-political. Therefore the interests of that district are rather the interests of the country.
The Board's day has not come yet, and possibly neither has Deputy Hewat's. The Deputy as representing Chapelizod, has failed to do his duty by Chapelizod. If he only knew it, he is doing Chapelizod a great wrong. In future Chapelizod will pay not only for its own network but for part of the cost of the very efficient and extravagant network of Dublin. If Chapelizod were to be segregated as a new area and fed on its own, and its costs were to be apportioned only to the cost of building, wiring and constructing a network in that area, the residents there would get electricity fractionally cheaper. It would be an area in which the network could be constructed more cheaply. The Dublin network is an extravagant one, beyond the needs of the people, but it is an extremely safe network and there it has a distinct advantage. If there were a network constructed at Chapelizod it could be built much more cheaply than what is proposed here.
What is extravagant in the Dublin network? Is it that the underground mains were extravagantly constructed?
That is one part of it, and then there is the particularly solid way in which the mains were constructed. Works were constructed in a very expensive way at the beginning, and the maintenance charges remain. As regards Chapelizod, I mean there could be constructed an entirely efficient network, but there need not be so much money put into it. Of course, as regards the Dublin network, the view was once held that the different constructions should be of a particular type; but that view has gone. Chapelizod could have a network, and a good network, at a cheaper rate than what was constructed in Dublin. I used the word extravagant in relation to what might now be done corresponding with the needs of the people. I did not mean to say that money was deliberately thrown away.
One has merely to consider the map of the Dublin area and see where the Pembroke system runs into the heart of the Dublin system. One can easily visualise the anomalous and peculiar position that arises. One will see that there is no case for keeping the areas separate. Take the case of Ringsend. The mains for Dublin pass through Ringsend, and yet Ringsend cannot be fed from those mains; it must be fed from Pembroke. If there were established a tramway system on the basis of the administration areas in Dublin, one would have to get off the Dublin trams the moment one gets across the Rathmines boundary, and one would then proceed to take a Rathmines tram. Similarly at Ringsend, one would have to change into a Pembroke tram. That would mean three different sets of trams. There are a whole lot of considerations like that with which one could deal. There is one factory established here, and it is so situated that it gets two currents, one an alternating current and the other a direct current. By doing away with separate areas that type of absurdity will disappear. The consumer who is going to benefit by this arrangement will be, first, the Dublin consumer, and, secondly, the Pembroke consumer.
The Minister has made a statement to the effect that if the distribution system was to be laid down in Dublin in connection with the Shannon scheme it would be much cheaper than what was constructed in the past in Dublin. I do not think anyone would dispute that fact.
I am afraid I would dispute the fact.
At all events, it is perfectly clear that if the distribution system had to be laid down to-day it would cost a great deal more than the amount this Board is going to pay for it.
There is this satisfaction for Dublin consumers. When those mains were laid down 24 or 25 years ago, the loans in respect of the work were arranged to extend over a period of 35 or 40 years. The least part of those loans has now to be paid. The work was done at a time when the cost was not by any means as high as it is now. It was work well done at that time. It was work which, if done now, would be pretty expensive; that is, the work done to-day would be much more expensive than the work done at that time. These advantages will be very much appreciated in a short time by the citizens.
The President is bearing out what I have said all along, that in connection with this matter Dublin is not coming out on top.
It is going to sacrifice all the expenditure of the past, experimental and otherwise. Even with all the amendments that have been made to the Bill, Dublin is placed in the position that it will have to take in areas from outside, areas not as economic to work as the Dublin area, and a flat rate is going to apply to the whole lot.
One would always be glad to sacrifice expenditure.
This takes back to a certain extent the concession made when we were discussing this point previously in the Dáil.
In the future the extension costs in the outskirts of the city will be all connected with the transformer area, and any new developments connected with outside areas will be reflected in the charges throughout the district. Previously we understood the charges outside the districts of authorised undertakings were not to be borne by the authorised undertakings. Now, any extension costs within the transformer area, but outside the sphere of the authorised undertaking, will be spread over the consumers of that authorised undertaking.
No, that is where the Deputy has missed the point. There will be extension charges in addition to the liability assumed, but they will not be spread over the consumers in the various undertakings.
Yes. On paper there is what may seem to be a withdrawal, but when it is argued out, taking into consideration all that has been said with regard to the modern tendency of networks and extensions in outer areas, which, of course, will not be put up at all unless there is a sufficient number of consumers to justify them, and when one adds that number to the old number of consumers and it is cheaper then, there is certainly no hardship imposed on the people in the area of the authorised undertaker. If the Dublin consumers are going to complain that the Rathmines consumers are to get the benefit at their expense and the Pembroke consumers are going to make the same complaint against Rathmines and against Dublin——
That will not be a justification for the consumers in the district, but a justification for the whole scheme.
Do I understand the Minister to say that the rate charged over the area supplied from the transformer station for the area of the city, plus the townships, will be a flat one?
To the same class of consumer, yes.
At the moment you have in that area three consumers of the same class now in different areas, paying different rates, and I think the city is the highest of the three. What is to be the basis under the Bill for the charge there? You are not to make a higher charge in the Bill than exists in any one of these areas.
They are all different authorised undertakers, with different generating stations.
I am asking the Deputy where in the Bill is the point he is making.
The Minister made it clear to us when the Bill was under consideration here before that the rate to be charged in a particular area was not to be in excess of the rate at the moment in the area.
The Deputy is completely mistaken. I refused that amendment. I offered the Dáil its choice of Section 59 or the amendment which stated that the charges should not be higher and the Dáil accepted this. Again it was offered in the Seanad and the Seanad stood by it.
Are we to understand that the position is that the Board is not tied to supply at a rate equivalent to the rate that exists in the area at the moment?
You cannot have it both ways.
It is in actual practice bound. Commercial considerations will operate with the Board as with any other body.
Supposing in this transformer area, that is, the Dublin area, you have three different rates, what is to be the governing factor in regard to these three rates? Let us come down to hard tacks. In Pembroke at the moment there is a flat rate of 4½d. for the supply of light, and in Dublin it is 6d. What rate is to be taken as a comparative rate for that area? Is it to be Dublin or Pembroke?
There is no such thing as a comparative rate. We have left the amendment about comparative rates, which was amendment 27. This is about the bulk supply as opposed to the local generation costs.
That is, comparable rates of costs.
I was asked a question. I am answering the Deputy that there is no phrase about comparative rates of charge used in the section we are discussing.
Amendments put and agreed to.
I must object to this being rushed. We were handed this afternoon a sheet of some 50 odd amendments, and we had no opportunity of studying them. Now we are scarcely given time to discuss them. The matter is rushed through, and we are seriously handicapped in dealing with it. It is scarcely fair to us.
I have no desire to rush them through, but I ask the Deputy when he is dealing with amendment 29 to forget amendment 27, which has no relation to it.
We have had no opportunity of considering these amendments, or even of comparing them with the Bill. We only saw them when we came into the Dáil at 5 o'clock. I have not the Bill with me, because I did not know that it would be up for consideration.
If the Deputy has not a copy of the Bill with him, that is not my fault, but even walking into the Dáil at 5 o'clock one can see that amendment 27 has relation to Section 56 and amendment 29 has relation to Section 59. Any ordinary business man could see that the two sections have different meanings and that there is nothing in common between them. We have passed 27, dealing with the bulk supply offered by the Board to an undertaking that is going to remain and to distribute itself. We discussed that, and then we came to this other section, which deals with the Board's power to fix methods of charge and rates of charge for electricity, and that may happen in a variety of circumstances. It may be that the Board will settle the charges for electricity to an authorised undertaker still remaining an authorised undertaker, or it may mean that the Board, having acquired the authorised undertaking, will set out to make scales in that particular area. The second portion of the section which dealt with that, after saying that the Board has power to make rates and to fix scales, went on to say mainly this, that each area should bear its own liability. In the change made by the Seanad that area has been enlarged from the area previously served by an authorised undertaking to districts served by a transformer station. Applied to a concrete case, that means that if all the areas around Dublin were to be taken over, as the section stood it would have been necessary for the Board to keep seven distinct rates —the present consumers in the three areas, new consumers in these three areas and the rate of charge for whatever new consumers were added outside the area of Dublin, Pembroke and Rathmines. Under this amendment the Board will have power to strike a rate over the whole area served by the transformer station.
That is quite clear. The Minister is really emphasising the very considerable change that has taken place owing to the amendment made in the Seanad. In other words, as the Bill went through this House it dealt with each authorised undertaker separately. The amendment from the Seanad gives the Board power, and practically makes an order that, no matter how many authorised undertakers there may be in the district conforming to the district practice, the whole area is to be thrown into one flat rate. The main objection to that is that there is no right to do any such thing in connection with an authorised undertaker. For instance, take the area of Dublin and throw that into one until such time as legislation comes about for the amalgamation of the city and townships. Until then I maintain that authorised undertakers are individual units and can manage their own affairs within the ambit of the Bill. This amendment is so far-reaching that it anticipates legislation for the amalgamation of the townships. It says the whole transformer area is to be put on the basis of a flat rate scale. If that principle is applied to different authorised undertakers in the Dublin district, why has the Bill given authority to the various authorised undertakings to carry on the work until such time as they are taken over by the Board? Then the Board becomes supreme and does what it likes, practically. The amendment makes a very considerable alteration in the whole aspect of the Bill.
And it does away with the guarantees that were in the Bill when it left this House.
I cannot understand it otherwise.
That is not my fault. That statement should not be made, and there is no basis for it.
What are the guarantees? Show them to me.
Has the Deputy got a copy of the Bill?
No, I did not know it would be on. It is not on the Orders of the Day.
I am precluded from explaining anything to a Deputy who has not got the material in his hands. To say that all the guarantees are gone is nonsense. The whole argument put up here was that Dublin was to be made pay for unremunerative undertakings down the country. I was discussing this when Deputy Thrift called attention to the matter and elevated three points for further consideration. I said that I had no feeling in favour of keeping apart Dublin and the two townships, nor would I have any feeling in favour of keeping separate and apart some undertaking down the country, the present consumers in that area and outside consumers who might be added in the wider area, and I held there would be no injustice in that type of amalgamation. That type of amalgamation is proposed by the Greater Dublin Commission, and that type of amalgamation, if effected here, will decrease the charge for all consumers. The only person I believe who will have a right to complain under this is a future consumer, in Chapelizod or some outlying district, who can say definitely that he is being mulcted to pay for the heavy costs of the areas acquired.
I wonder would the Minister agree that this amendment changes the character of the Bill at the last moment?
Not by any means. If that is going to be a matter put up for argument, then one must always object to any amendments passed in the Seanad if they change the character of a Bill.
Amendment 30.—Section 59, sub-section (5). Before sub-section (5) two new sub-sections inserted as follows:—
"(5) Every scale made by the Board fixing the methods of charge and the rates of charge for electricity by a local authority which is an authorised undertaker shall be made and from time to time revised by the Board so that, as far as is reasonably practicable, no contribution from any rate made by such local authority will be required for the purpose of defraying any expenses which such local authority may incur whether under this Act or otherwise in respect of the authorised undertaking of such local authority.
(6) The Board shall not make any scale fixing the methods of charge and the rates of charge for electricity by a local authority which is an authorised undertaker whereby the charge for electricity used by such local authority for lighting purposes shall be fixed at a rate which is higher than the rate fixed for consumers using electricity for lighting purposes and for the like hours of supply."
Amendment agreed to.
31.—Section 61, sub-section (3). After the word "Board" in line 22 the following words inserted "which expense shall be taken into consideration in fixing the rates of charge for electricity for all areas for the benefit of which such generating station is maintained."
I move that the amendment be agreed to. This is a different matter. It was referred to in the Dáil, and I made a certain statement with regard to it. That was adverted to in the Seanad, but, arising out of the amendment, a different point emerged. If a station is taken over in the area, and is ordered by the Board to be closed, wholly or partly, and if some portion, or the whole of it, is retained by the Board, then it has to be retained at the expense of the Board. This further addition is made, "which expenses shall be taken into consideration in fixing the rates of charge for electricity for all areas for the benefit of which such generating station is maintained." Let me come back to Dublin. If the Dublin station were taken over with all its liabilities and the Board thereafter decided that it was to be used as a stand-by, the cost of maintaining the station would be spread, not over the Dublin consumers or over Dublin, Pembroke and Rathmines, but over every consumer in all the areas for which that station remained a stand-by.
Of course we agree that that is satisfactory, and is only to be expected. If the Dublin station was closed down it would be one thing, but if it is maintained and made available for use in the future that would be another question. This is, I suppose, the last time I shall have an opportunity of commenting on this matter. The Dublin station is a very valuable one, and whatever excuse or argument can be used against the city being compensated for its property, if the station ceases to exist or practically becomes scrap, there is another very serious consideration which has not been taken into account. If the station is maintained and is found to be a valuable asset, then the Board has got that valuable asset for nothing. While I congratulate the Minister on going as far as he had gone, although it is only a little in that direction, still it could not be maintained that Dublin citizens should maintain a station that was taken over as scrap.
The Dublin station is taken over as scrap, every item of charge paid on it, and every liability coming on the Board in consideration of it!
I will spare the House that argument at the eleventh hour. I will simply make the statement that anything I said in the past and anything the Minister said will remain on record.
Amendment put and agreed to.
32. Section 63, sub-section (2). The words "after consultation" deleted in line 66 and the words "by agreement" substituted therefor.
33. Section 63, sub-section (2). The words "after consultation" deleted in line 1 and the words "by agreement" substituted therefor.
I move that these amendments be agreed to. These amendments go together and deal with the making of contracts for the sale of electricity. The Board can only do that by agreement with the authorised undertaker.
Amendments put and agreed to.
34. Section 65. After the word "person" in line 42 the words "(other than the Board)" inserted in brackets.
I move that the amendment be agreed to. This is to meet a point raised by some Labour Deputies that the Board might, having acquired an undertaking, sell it to someone who is going to operate it for gain. The amendment safeguards that.
Amendment put and agreed to.
35. Section 86. The words "or on any contract or agreement for any such conveyance or transfer" added at the end of the section.
I move that the amendment be agreed to. This is purely a legal point to indicate that certain stamp duties shall not be paid on agreements or transfers.
Amendment put and agreed to.
36. Section 88, sub-section (2). The word "section" deleted in line 53 and the word "Act" substituted therefor.
37. Section 88, sub-section (3). The word "section" deleted in line 1 and the word "Act" substituted therefor.
38. Section 88, sub-section (4). The word "section" deleted in line 11 and the word "Act" substituted therefor.
39. Section 88, sub-section (5). The word "section" deleted in line 15 and the word "Act" substituted therefor.
40. Section 88, sub-section (6). The word "section" deleted in line 22 and the word "Act" substituted therefor.
I move that the amendments be agreed to. These are more or less formal amendments. A change is necessary on account of the special reference to the arbitrator being appointed by the High Court in an earlier section.
Amendments put and agreed to.
41.—Section 90. The words "by the Board" deleted in line 52 and the words "(in case of any dispute or question) in the manner hereinafter mentioned" substituted therefor.
42.—Section 90. A new sub-section added at the end of the section, as follows:—
(2) If any dispute or question arises between any person and an authorised undertaker as to the amount of such minimum annual sum as aforesaid such dispute or question shall be determined by the Board and if any such dispute or question arises between any person and the Board such dispute or question shall be determined by the Minister or, if the Minister so thinks fit, by an arbitrator appointed by him.
I move that the amendments be agreed to. These amendments go together. In this matter of a dispute arising on the point of stand-by supplies it was pointed out that the payment of the minimum annual sum was left to be determined by the Board and it was held that was unfair when the Board was a party. It has now been amended by these amendments.
Amendments put and agreed to.
43. New section. Before Section 96 a new section inserted as follows:
96. The Shannon works (including any portion thereof separately handed over to the Board by the Minister under this Act), shall, while in the exclusive possession and control of the Board, be exempt from assessment for poor rate and also from assessment for any other rate made by a local authority.
I move that the amendment be agreed to. This is an important new amendment. The question as to the liability of the Shannon works and of the property handed over to the Board for income tax and for rating was a matter about which there was some doubt. It is now clear that income tax will have to be paid by the Board until a Finance Act amends that.
The position as it is under the law is clear. The Board will have to pay income tax on its property as well as Schedule A tax and profits tax. This amendment is designed to put it beyond all doubt that the Shannon works handed over to the Board by the Minister "shall, while in the exclusive possession and control of the Board, be exempt from assessment for poor rate and also from assessment for any other rate made by a local authority." The amendment is putting the Board, in relation to the Shannon works, in the position as an authorised undertaking under municipal control. The Board is set up to give a service, to give it without profit, and to give it to the whole community, and it is submitted that the Board, in regard to an aggregation of municipalities, will be in the same position as any municipal undertaking is in relation to its own ratepayers.
In the case of municipal undertakings, the municipalities get the benefit of the generating stations, and to charge them with rates would presumably be taking money out of one pocket and putting it into another; but can the same argument be applied to the whole question of taxation? Let us take the case of Government property. In the past, I think, it was not subject to rating, but occasionally grants were made in lieu of rates. I think that was the underlying principle of taxation in the past. I am not a very good authority on local government, but I think I am right in stating that. This is an undertaking which the Minister says is for the benefit of all. The Minister has argued consistently right through the Bill that the ratepayers and the consumers were not one and the same persons.
And I still hold to that.
If that is so, what is the Minister's argument in this case in favour of this amendment? It simply means that he is going to charge the non-consumer a rate for something that he is getting no benefit for. Taking the works as a whole, distributed over the whole country, why should they be exempt from rates? I cannot follow the logic of this at all. I can see why a local authority, confined within its own area, could argue that there was no use in making a transfer entry of a sum of money in favour of the local rates from its own electricity undertaking. That argument, however, cannot be applied to this scheme in any sense, because a big portion of the country, at its inception at any rate, will not even be served with electricity. In the case of a district in which the service is maintained, a district through which the transmission lines pass, and in which valuable way-leaves may be taken, why should not the local authority be paid rates in respect of all this?
I would like to make it clear to the Deputy that my words were carefully chosen when I made the statement to which he refers. I said that I submitted to the House that it was reasonable that the Board, in relation to an aggregation of municipalities, should be in exactly the same position as a municipal undertaking now is in relation to its own ratepayers. That is not the consumer, and I am not speaking of the consumer. The Dublin electricity undertaking at the moment does not not pay rates, although the electricity consumers and the ratepayers are distinct persons. There are about 15,000 electricity consumers and about 50,000 ratepayers. That situation holds, and I am simply carrying out that situation in regard to an aggregation of municipalities all over the country that is to be served by the Board.
The Dublin municipal undertaking pays a bounty, or what is equivalent to a bounty, in lieu of rates.
I am not exactly sure what municipal undertakings do take on, but I do know what certain Government departments do. If a payment is made in lieu of rates in the case of Government buildings it is done as an act of grace. There is nothing to compel it being done, and neither is there any compulsion on the Board to do this. One can only hope that it will come.
Will the Board have power as an act of grace to do any such thing?
The main thing, at any rate, is that at this stage there is really not much use in arguing this point here. In my opinion the amendment, as it comes down to us from the Seanad, is entirely wrong, and ought to be unacceptable to the House.
In common with Deputy Hewat, I, too, must take strong exception to this amendment. It is of particular significance to my constituency, because the Shannon works are situate there. I see no reason why this wealthy Corporation should not pay rates the same as anybody else —the same, say, as a small co-operative store in the neighbourhood. There is a bad principle enshrined in this amendment, and I ask will the cost be so prohibitive to this Corporation as to render it desirable that we should assent to the proposition that the Shannon works should not pay poor rate. I fail to see how that proposition can be maintained. I did not realise that this amendment would be taken this evening, and therefore had no opportunity of looking up some figures. I am just wondering what the valuation, say, would be on the power house. Would it be £1,000? I rather think that it will be a very big sum. I should think, at all events, that the valuation on it would be as big as the valuation on some of our very large drapery concerns.
It would be about four times the valuation on any of them.
Then I may take it that the valuation might be anything up to £8,000.
I am not taking the Deputy's £1,000 valuation figure, which is fallacious and futile. I take as an example a big railway building on which the valuation might be £10,000, and the Deputy might multiply that by four.
Then I may take it that the figure might be anything from £50,000 to £80,000?
I am not giving the Deputy any figure, but if he wishes he can think of a number, double it, and all the rest.
I do not know that that is quite satisfactory. If the generating station, however, is valued at anything like £80,000—I take it the figure might be that from the Minister's suggestion—then it seems to me to be a preposterous figure.
That is what I hold, too, and want to prevent.
If we take it that the valuation is only £2,000, will the amount of rates to be paid be so large that we ought to enshrine this objectionable principle in the amendment. I do not think so, and further, I think it is an injustice to the County Clare that the Shannon works should not have poor rate levied on them just as any other building in the county has. That is not the only objectionable feature, because, as a result of this scheme, the valuation of the county is going to be reduced, not perhaps to a very large extent, but at any rate appreciably. Deputies are aware that quite a considerable area of land is being permanently taken over in connection with the Shannon works. It may be 500 acres or more. I have not the figures by me and cannot give the exact figure, but assuming that the area of land taken over is 500 acres the valuation on that land would be £500 or £600, because some of that land was highly valued. The county, therefore, is going to lose the benefit of the rates from all that land if the House assents to this proposal. So far from getting any increased revenue from these buildings the county is going to lose the amount of rates paid on what was formerly agricultural land. It may be said that the sum involved is only a few hundred pounds, but in a poor county like Clare that is something that the local authorities cannot afford to ignore. I see no reason why, under this amendment, the Government should depart from the principle of making ex gratia payments in lieu of rates.
That is not departed from.
Can I have it definitely from the Minister that ex gratia payments will be made towards the relief of the rates in the County Clare in respect to the power house?
Then the Minister is hedging.
No, but the Deputy does not understand the position. If he wants to make compulsory ex gratia payments then he cannot do that.
I quite agree it would be a contradiction in terms.
By the passing of this amendment the Shannon works will be put in the same position as any Government building.
Then I have an assurance that an ex-gratia grant will be made, that there will be no differentiation caused by the insertion of this amendment with regard to any Government buildings?
There can be no assurance, because the Deputy has no assurance with regard to any Government buildings in Clare that an ex-gratia grant will be paid next year. He has exactly the same assurance in regard to the Shannon works.
The ice has been broken, I must say. I am rather inclined to take my chance on the goodness of the Minister, but I do say it is a very objectionable principle to insert in specific terms here.
With regard to this matter, Deputy Hogan seems to think that the rates would be applicable to buildings only.
The land loses its agricultural character.
Even in regard to the land, I would like to point out that a railway company pays on its whole system, on its transmission lines. Other undertakings pay not only for the buildings, but pay rates for their whole system. Under this amendment, the position will be that this undertaking will not accept liability for an ex-gratia payment and will not be called upon to pay rates, although the curious anomaly exists that this Board is compared by the Minister to a private undertaking.
Not at all. I said that type of management would be there. That is a different thing.
Well, it is to be administered as a private undertaking. It is a bit illogical. It is so illogical, in fact, that it is hard to get at the bottom of it. At all events, on the rates question there is no justification, in my opinion, for setting up a precedent whereby a system that is going to supply portion of the people of the country—it may be a big portion or otherwise—but even on the Minister's own admission it will only supply portion of the people—is allowed to go through all districts, erect transmission lines, flood lands, and erect buildings, and yet pay nothing to local rates in the way that any local undertaking of the same sort would be called upon to pay. It may be said that an ex-gratia payment may be paid by the Board. I do not know whether it will or not. If a payment is made, well and good, but I think the principle of the amendment is unsound.
I have never seen any resemblance between the Minister for Industry and Commerce and Falstaff, but I must say that Deputy Connor Hogan might be excused for taking the line of the gentleman in Shakespeare when he said he would not accept Falstaff's bond, backed by Bardolph, because he liked not the security. Bardolph at any rate was a concrete human being, but Deputy O'Connor Hogan has only the assurance, or rather he has the Minister's lack of assurance, which is unusual, and the guarantee of a hypothetical Board that has yet to come into being. What is the reality of the situation? I am not so concerned with the transmission system, but I am concerned with the Shannon works, comprising all the buildings for the generation of electricity, together with all the lands and premises acquired by the Minister, under this Bill, as set out in Section 1. Can it be doubted that these works are not going to place some burden on the local ratepayers? The Siemens-Schuckert Company have, in the execution of these works, acquired lands and erected buildings which, under this proposed amendment, will be exempt from rates.
And are now exempt from rates because they are under the Minister at the moment or it is all Government work at the moment.
I think the Minister is breaking the law, because I saw no provision of this kind in the original Shannon Electricity Bill, but in any case we should not validate and legalise a wrong procedure because the men living in huts who are employed on these works are not exempt from illness or from accidents. They are liable to become a charge on the County Board of Health. In addition, the roads leading to the works are under a very much heavier burden of traffic than they would otherwise be. The ratepayers have to pay for that. The local authorities have to pay and also to meet certain charges for drainage, lighting, etc., and these charges will almost inevitably continue. It may be that the system of huts and barracks will be gradually discontinued and the people who are employed on this work will obtain lodgings in the district. Even if that is so, the individuals letting them lodgings will benefit, but the ratepayers as a whole, the small farmers, will not derive any great benefit from having these works in the neighbourhood. Therefore it is equitable and reasonable to ask that the Shannon Electricity Works should, like every other industry, be liable for the normal burden of rates. We do not, when a tobacco firm or a boot factory establishes itself in our midst exempt it from rates for a number of years to encourage it.
Why? Because they are profit-making concerns.
I do not know why; because perhaps the Government did not think of it in time to make it a plank in their election platform.
Because they are profit-making concerns; that is the whole difference.
So now we know. If the Minister had told us what he might at an earlier stage in the argument on the Bill, that this is a philanthropic Board, that it is not a profit-making concern and it has to be released from ordinary liabilities——
Can the Board, without being philanthropists, not operate without making profit? Are these the only alternatives the Deputy has in mind? Is the Dublin municipal undertaking a philanthropic concern and does it pay rates?
No, but the ratepayers derive benefit from its operations and the money is taken out of one pocket and put into another pocket, but the Minister is going to take money out of the pocket of the small farmer who will use electricity to a very limited extent and put it into the pocket of the big consumer. It may be the only way that we can develop this country industrially, but I have my doubts. I think it would be much wiser to have approached the matter with more deliberation and to reconcile the small farmer. The Minister has his eye all the time fixed on the electricity consumer, and is ignoring the ratepayer and every other interest—the ratepayer and the people who navigate the Shannon—in the interests of the electricity consumer. I admire his single-minded purpose, but though I do not often hanker for a speech from the Minister for Local Government I must say that I would like to be told what he thinks in regard to this particular amendment. It seems to me one of the occasions on which the swan song of an extern Minister might be heard. The Minister for Local Government might have said what the effect on local authorities would be if this amendment is passed. I am sure that it is unpopular with local authorities, but they are not my local authorities. In the absence of Deputies from the neighbourhood of the Shannon, with the exception of Deputy Hogan, I do not know that it is for me to challenge a division, but if a division is challenged by Deputy Connor Hogan I shall vote with him.
I want to make the position quite clear. The Shannon works at the moment are being carried out for the Government and are therefore exempt from rates. They are just as much exempt as any new building which the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs would erect. When Deputy Cooper gets dithyrambic about validating something that was wrong I wonder will he urge the same thing when the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs puts up a new telephone exchange or post office and applies to have it exempt from rates. It automatically applies.
He builds with local labour.
The Shannon works are being built by a big percentage of local labour. Deputy Connor Hogan is annoyed when he sees something taken from Clare in the form of lands used for agricultural purposes. That is the very reason why Government property pays bounty in lieu of rates. That there is a recognition of the fact that something has to be paid to make up for the deprivation of a local authority for land they occupy. That is done by ex-gratia payment, and it can be done here in the same way. Just as any Government building, just as a municipal undertaking which is an authorised undertaking, is exempt from rates, so the Shannon works ought to be exempt for the same reason, namely, that there is a benefit. Of course, there is a tremendous and continuing benefit to Clare and Limerick arising out of these works. Deputy Cooper has gone to the other side and says that heavy traffic is tearing the roads to pieces. The Deputy talked of the extra strain on roads just as if the extra traffic was carried backwards and forwards and no one gets the benefit. Surely there is considerable benefit in the regions adjacent to the works as a counter to the heavy traffic. The roads are not torn up without a certain profit to the district.
One person in Limerick said that there was no profit.
I heard only one individual from Limerick, and one individual alone, say that. One has only to visit Limerick to see the improvement. Deputy Cooper talks about establishing an evil precedent. This is not an evil precedent. The precedent is there, but the Deputy tries to make a distinction of the factory. Obviously Government buildings and local undertakings are exempt, and for the same reason it is proposed to exempt these works, namely that they are not profit-making concerns. One need not take Deputy Hewat's example of the railways. The circumstances are not the same, as railways pay dividends.
They find it difficult to do so.
That may not be the result of operations of the company and it may be related to other matters. Why are railways not exempt? Because ordinarily they make profits.
If the Minister had his way the Shannon scheme would make substantial profits.
It would, but it will not be allowed to do so.
Will the lands and buildings to be acquired in connection with the Shannon scheme, in an area where there is a probability of flooding, be exempt from rates?
I do not know what areas are to be flooded.
There has been a considerable percentage of lands and buildings in the area of the Shannon works, and I notice that this particular clause begins with the rather ambiguous words "The Shannon works." Will they include lands and buildings that are being purchased and will they be exempt from rates?
If the Deputy means that there are certain places where small embankments were projected and, owing to the character of the land, it is cheaper permanently to flood small portions than to build embankments, these small portions will become part of the river bed, and one does not get rates from that.
If it is thought desirable by the Board to acquire lands and buildings for any purpose, will these lands and buildings under this particular clause be exempt from rates?
The Shannon works, as so defined, will be exempt.
Will the Minister define "Shannon works"?
It is in the first section of the Bill.
Land taken over for the construction of the canal.
One recognises that the generating station and all its works will be exempt, but what about the transmission lines going through the various areas?
The Committee divided: Tá, 22; Níl 9.
- Earnán de Blaghd.
- Séamus Breathnach.
- Seoirse de Bhulbh.
- Próinsias Bulfin.
- Máighréad Ní Choileáin Bean
- Uí Dhrisceóil.
- Seosamh Mac a' Bhrighde.
- Donchadh Mac Con Uladh.
- Liam Mac Cosgair.
- Maolmhuire Mac Eochadha.
- Patrick McGilligan.
- Eoin Mac Néill.
- Michael K. Noonan.
- Peadar O hAodha.
- Seán O Bruadair.
- Máirtín O Conalláin.
- Eoghan O Dochartaigh. Séamus O Dóláin.
- Peadar O Dubhghaill.
- Eamon O Dúgáin.
- Seán O Raghallaigh.
- Seán O Súilleabháin.
- Mícheál O highearnaigh.
- John Conlan.
- Bryan R. Cooper.
- John Good.
- William Hewat.
- Connor Hogan.
- Séamus Mac Cosgair.
- Mícheál O Tighearnaigh.
- Seán O Laidhin.
- Liam Thrift.
Tellers:—Ta: Deputies Dolan and P.S. Doyle. Nil: Deputies Connor Hogan and J. Good.
Amendment declared carried.
Section 102, sub-section (1). The word "exclusive" deleted in line 18.
Section 102, sub-section (1). The word "exclusive" deleted in line 22.
I move that the amendments be agreed to. These are formal amendments.
Amendments put and agreed to.
Section 104. The section deleted and the following new section substituted therefor:—
104.—(1) The Executive Council may by order transfer from the Minister or the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland (in this section referred to as the Commissioners) respectively to the Board all or any of the functions, powers, and duties conferred or imposed by or under any statute on the Minister or the Commissioners (as the case may be) in relation to the care or conservancy of the navigation or the drainage of the River Shannon or any tributary thereof or of works constructed for the improvement of such navigation or drainage, and any such order may transfer all or any of such functions, powers, and duties in relation either to the whole or to any particular parts or part of the said river or any tributary thereof.
(2) Where by reason of the existence of the Shannon works it is impracticable for the Commissioners to exercise the functions and powers or perform the duties conferred or imposed on them by any such statute as aforesaid in accordance with the provisions of such statute the Commissioners shall exercise such functions and powers and perform such duties as nearly as may be practicable, having regard to the existence of the said works, in accordance with the provisions of such statute, and upon an order being made by the Executive Council under this section transferring all or any of such functions, powers and duties to the Board, the Board shall exercise the functions and powers and perform the duties to which such order relates as nearly as may be practicable, having regard to the existence of the said works, in accordance with the provisions of such statute.
(3) Whenever any functions. powers, or duties are transferred to the Board by an order under this section the Executive Council may by the same or any subsequent order authorise and require the Board to exercise and perform all or any of such functions, powers, and duties in relation to all or any of the canals, locks, wharves, piers, landing places, quays, or other works constructed by the Minister under the Shannon Electricity Act, 1925 (No. 26 of 1925), and upon such order being made the works to which such order relates shall be deemed to be included in the works in relation to which such functions, powers, and duties are exercisable by virtue of the statute by which the same were created and such statute (with such modifications, if any, as are specified in such order) shall be construed and have effect accordingly.
(4) Whenever any functions, powers, or duties are transferred from the Commissioners to the Board by an order under this section the Executive Council may by the same or any subsequent order transfer to and vest in the Board all or any of the locks, lock-houses, eel-weirs, or other property which immediately before the date of such order were vested in the Commissioners and were used by them either for the purpose of or in connection with the exercise or performance of the functions, powers, or duties so transferred or for the purpose of providing revenue for the exercise or performance of such functions, powers, or duties.
(5) Whenever any functions, powers, or duties are transferred from the Commissioners to the Board by an order under this section the Executive Council may by the same or any subsequent order transfer from the service of the Commissioners to the service of the Board any person employed by the Commissioners in relation to or for the purpose of the exercise or performance of such functions, powers, or duties, and every person so transferred shall thereupon become and be a servant of the Board upon the same terms as to remuneration and superannuation, pension or gratuity (if any) as those on which he was employed by the Commissioners immediately before such transfer and shall for the purpose of such superannuation, pension or gratuity (if any) be entitled to reckon his period of service with the Commissioners as service with the Board.
(6) Whenever any functions, powers, or duties are transferred from the Commissioners to the Board by an order under this section the Executive Council may by the same or any subsequent order impose on the Board the obligation to pay as from the date of such order any pension which at the date of such order is payable by the Commissioners to a person formerly employed by the Commissioners in relation to or for the purpose of the exercise or performance of such functions, powers, and duties, and thereupon the Board shall become and be liable to indemnify the Commissioners against all and every liability in respect of such pension as from the date of such order.
(7) An order made by the Executive Council under this section transferring any functions, powers or duties from the Commissioners to the Board may be expressed and if so expressed shall operate to require the Board to keep a separate account in relation to the exercise by it of the functions and powers and the performance by it of the duties to which such order relates and may be expressed and if so expressed shall operate to require that the functions, powers and duties to which such order relates be exercised and performed by officers and servants of the Board employed by it solely in relation to such functions, powers and duties.
(8) No order made under this section shall come into operation until it has been laid before each House of the Oireachtas and has been approved by resolution of each such House.
I move that the amendment be agreed to. This is a long amendment, but the changes made are not very big additions to what was previously in the Bill. Sub-section (1) is very much the same as what was previously in the Bill. Sub-section (2) is to the effect that where, owing to the existence of the Shannon works, it is impracticable for the Commissioners to exercise certain functions, they shall exercise them so far as practicable. Sub-section (3) is practically the same as the old sub-section. Sub-section (4) is to the effect that not merely are functions and duties to be assigned but also the property of the Commissioners of Public Works. Sub-sections (5) and (6) refer to the transfer of the staff and continues their existing rights as to pensions, emoluments, and everything else. Sub-section (7) indicates that any order made by the Executive Council in regard to the transfer of functions may be expressed and, if so expressed, shall operate to require the Board to keep a separate account of the property which previously belonged to the Commissioners. The last sub-section provides that no order made under the section transferring the property can become operative until approved by positive resolution of both Houses.
This amendment alters the Bill and, so far as this House is concerned, deletes Section 104 altogether. At this stage one could hardly criticise the alteration made by the Senate after full discussion. No doubt, the amendment improves the section, but, clearly in this matter, we are legislating before our time, before there is any need to legislate, and we are making provision for the care and navigation of the river on the basis of the Minister's claim that everything must be subservient to the Board in connection with the generation of electricity. How far-reaching that dictum may be it is hard, at present, to say, but there can be very little doubt that it is far-reaching, and the Minister, in deciding to force through such legislation regarding the navigation of the Shannon under the new order of things, is doing something which, I contend, is neither justified nor necessary. In so far as the amendment is considered by the other House to be an improvement on Section 104, in my judgment the responsibility for the section ought to rest with the Minister, and I do not agree with the section, either as it stands, or with the form in which it is proposed to be amended.
Amendment put and agreed to.
Amendment 47.—Section 105, sub-section (2). Before sub-section (2) a new sub-section inserted, as follows:—
(2) Where as a result of an order made by the Minister under the foregoing sub-section prohibiting navigation in or upon the River Shannon or any particular part thereof any water right, fishing right, or other right existing in respect of the River Shannon or the part thereof to which such order relates is terminated, restricted or otherwise interfered with, the termination, restriction or interference of such water right, fishing right or other right shall for the purposes of sub-section (1) of Section 4 of the Shannon Electricity Act, 1925 (No. 26 of 1925) be deemed to be authorised by that Act and the said Act shall apply accordingly.
48. Section 105, sub-section (2). The word "any" deleted in line 62 and the words "such limited" substituted therefor.
49. Section 105, sub-section (2). The words "as may be required by the Board for the purposes aforesaid" added at the end of the sub-section.
Amendments 47, 48 and 49 go together. It was pointed out that Section 105, which takes power to prohibit navigation on the Shannon, for certain purposes, might have given the Minister powers larger than what was necessary, and three changes had to be made. The first is simply to secure, as was always understood, that where as a result of an order prohibiting navigation on the Shannon any water right, fishing right, or other right is terminated, restricted, or otherwise interfered with, the termination, restriction or interference shall for the purposes of sub-section (1) of Section 4 of the Shannon Electricity Act, 1925, be deemed to be authorised by that Act, and the said Act shall apply accordingly. It means that if there is such prohibition leading to the interference stated here, compensation will be paid. The other two amendments are to limit the operation of the section somewhat. Instead of its being for any period of time it is now for such limited period of time specified in that behalf in such order as may be required by the Board for the purposes aforesaid.
Amendments agreed to.
Amendment 50.—First Schedule. Paragraph 1. After the word "two" in line 33 the words "nor more than five" inserted.
This is to make it quite clear that the two divisions between employees are made. There are those employees who have not less than two years' service and those who have five and upwards.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment 51.—First Schedule. Paragraph 3. After the word "conditions" in line 3 the words "(including where applicable the payment of reasonable expenses of moving to the locality of such employment)" inserted in brackets.
Amendment 51 is to meet the point raised here, that payment of removal expenses might be made in certain cases.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment 52.—First Schedule. Paragraph 7. The word "exceptional" deleted in line 57 and the word "special" substituted therefor.
The word "exceptional" might not have covered the case of the seven-day-a-week men, who might have to be compensated, and the conditions of this section might not be given to them.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment 53.—First Schedule. Paragraph 11. All from and including the words "to the Board or" in line 37 down to the end of the paragraph deleted and the words "to a standing arbitrator appointed by the Minister whose decision shall be final and conclusive and not subject to appeal or to review by any court" substituted therefor.
Amendment 53 imposes the necessity in regard to the type of dispute that may arise. A standing arbitrator will be appointed and that arbitrator's decision shall be final and conclusive and not subject to appeal to or review by any court.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment 54.—First Schedule. A new paragraph added at the end of the Schedule, as follows:—
13.—References in this Schedule to the duties which a person employed by an authorised undertaker or a statutory undertaker on the 31st day of March, 1927, was on that date required by such undertaker to perform and to the terms and conditions on and under which such person was so employed and the annual remuneration and emoluments of such person on that date shall in every case in which such duties or such terms and conditions of such annual remuneration and emoluments were after the 31st day of March, 1927, altered with the approval of the Board be construed as references to such duties, or such terms and conditions, or such remuneration and emoluments as so altered and this Schedule shall have effect accordingly."
The last amendment is to meet the point raised in the Seanad that previously the operative date with regard to determining conditions of service and rates of pay, etc., was the 31st March, 1927. It was pointed out that certain generating stations might not be closed down for many years after that, and the suggestion was made that the conditions of pay should be stereotyped as on the date of the acquisition order. As a counter to that it was pointed out that that might be liable to abuse and that an undertaking about to be acquired might raise salaries and improve conditions to stave off acquisition for a certain time. This, while guarding against abuse, does give the other point that the conditions shall be those in operation at the date of acquisition.
Amendment agreed to.
The Dáil went out of Committee.
Agreement with Seanad amendments reported.
Report agreed to.