CEISTEANNA—QUESTIONS. ORAL ANSWERS. - ALLEGED DESTRUCTION OF BOOKS.

asked the Minister for Local Government and Public Health if he can state (1) the actual facts as to the alleged burning of books of a library in County Galway; (2) the names of the books burned; and (3) whether he intends to take any steps to prevent similar destruction of property elsewhere.

I have no information. The administration of the Libraries Acts is a matter for the local Libraries Committee who are appointed by the Galway County Council.

To whom do such books belong?

The Minister has not answered sub-section (3) of my question. Is the Minister satisfied with the position?

I have no information that any destruction of property has taken place. If any Deputy will supply me with any information that will lead me to believe that there has been destruction of property, then I will take steps to inquire into the matter.

Would the Minister be in a position to take steps with reference to such action as is alleged to have taken place in this case?

I will be in a position to see, on the facts, whether I have any power or not. The fact is that neither the Minister for Local Government and Public Health nor any other Minister has power to supervise in a detailed way the actions of any Library Committee.

Will the Minister for Local Government study the report in the "Connacht Tribune" a fortnight ago and the discussion which took place at the County Library Committee in which a former Deputy of this Dáil, Mr. Lynch, took an active part?

I repudiate any responsibility for having to study the local press or even the daily press.

Will the Minister say what powers, if any, he has and, if he has any powers, whether he proposes to exercise them in connection with this matter?

What matter?

The matter contained in the question.

I have no facts with regard to the matter before the House at all. The position of the Minister for Local Government and Public Health in respect of Library Committees is that if the local body cares to strike a rate for library purposes the Minister for Local Government is responsible for seeing that the rate struck is not outside the statutory limit. In the same way, he is responsible, through his auditors, for seeing that a rate struck for library purposes is not used for any other purposes.

Such as making bonfires?

As far as the supervision of the detailed carrying out of the work of any local Library Committee is concerned, I have no responsibility. If in any particular case illegal destruction or loss of property takes place arising out of the neglect of or any action on the part of a Committee, it is a question for the auditors. As to how far a deliberate act carried out after due consideration by a Library Committee would be an entirely proper one for them to take in the case of the removal or destruction of a book, I am not in a position at the moment to say.

In view of the attitude of the Government with regard to the Evil Literature Bill, would the Minister consider proceeding in this matter with those concerned under the Public Safety Act?

I should like to know who is responsible for the preservation of the books of a library committee which, presumably, are the property of the ratepayers?

We are discussing an entirely hypothetical question. If there has been destruction, and if that destruction is brought to my notice, I will see whether it is destruction that it is within my province to try and stop, or we may get down to seeing how far a library committee is authorised to destroy books which it thinks ought not to be on its shelves. But do not let us discuss the matter as a hypothetical question.