Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 1 Apr 1937

Vol. 66 No. 2

Committee on Finance. - Vote 10—Office of Public Works.


Go ndeontar suim ná raghaidh thar £78,306 chun slánuithe na suime is gá chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1938, chun Tuarastail agus Costaisí Oifig na nOibreacha Puiblí. (1 agus 2 Will. 4, c. 33, a. 5 agus 6; 5 agus 6 Vict., c. 89, a. 1 agus 2; 9 agus 10 Vict., c. 86, a. 2, 7 agus 9, etc.).

There are two Votes, 10 and 11, and it is customary to take them together. One is concerned with the expenses of the staff doing the works, and the other with the expenses of the works themselves. We can divide afterwards on the separate Votes if it is desired to do so.

May I ask if the discussion does not also extend to the Employment Vote?

No, that is a separate Vote.

I will deal with that, because I want the House to be in agreement about the process.

I understood that last year we had a discussion on all the Votes at the one time.

No. The arrangement last year was to take No. 69 as a separate Vote. There is a slight difficulty in the matter. There is included in Vote 10 a sum of £18,000 for the expenses of the staff of the special division which looks after these particular works, but there is a payment in (a) which is credited to that from Vote 69 to pay the whole of the expenses. I mean, that £18,000 merely appears there for convenience, and that we would be in an awkward position if we were to discuss that because we could only discuss the staff. All these matters will come up on Vote 69, and an assurance is given that there will be a free discussion of all elements of the Vote. There is, in addition, another Estimate, No. 27, which has generally been taken separately, but as far as I am concerned I see no objection to the three Votes being discussed together if the House so desires.

I ask that the Votes be taken separately.

Very well; we will keep them separate, and Deputy Corry can make his speech now. On Vote No. 10 in 1937-38 a net sum of £117,006 is provided, being an increase of £4,065 on the provision for 1936-37. The increase this year is due to the following causes: (a) an increase in the sanctioned personnel is reflected in an increase of £19,955 in the provision for salaries, which also makes provision for a rise in the cost-of-living bonus; the additional staff is necessary to deal with the extended activities of the commissioners; (b) a consequential increase of £1,750 in the provision for travelling expenses and £ 150 for incidental expenses, telegrams and telephones. Against these increases must be off-set an additional £17,780 to be recovered as Appropriation-in-Aid. This increase is largely due to the intention to recover from Vote 69 the cost of the administration expenses of employment schemes. That refers to the salaries and expenses of the staff. Vote 11 refers to the works themselves. The provision in 1936-37 was £832,400 and the provision for this year is £977,536 showing a net increase of £145,136. This increase is largely covered by the larger provision that is made under sub-head B for new works, alterations and additions. On this sub-head alone there is an increase of £179,342 on the amount provided last year. As Deputies are aware a large variety of works is provided for under the sub-head and naturally the works to be done vary from year to year. This year a sum of £150,000 is provided for work on the Shannon Airport and £70,000 at Collinstown. Otherwise the variations under sub-head B are more or less normal. Under sub-head F, Fuel, Light, Water and Cleaning, there is an increased provision of £4,450 which is due partly to the increased price of turf in Dublin, and the increased price of anthracite coal. Under sub-head J (4) there is an increase of £3,250. The object of the sub-head was to provide funds for the Barrow Drainage Board to carry out works of maintenance during the first year in which the district will be in their charge. It was hoped that the final award would have been issued before the 31st March, 1937, but, as it was not possible to do this, there will be no expenditure this year under this sub-head.

Under sub-head A, Purchase of Sites and Buildings, there is a decrease of £13,230, which is really casual, as the expenditure to be met under this sub-head must necessarily vary from year to year in accordance with State requirements.

Under sub-head C there is a reduction of £14,569, which is largely due to the fact that fewer buildings, for the maintenance of which the Commissioners are responsible, fall due for painting in 1937-38, and also it is expected that fewer works of special maintenance will arise.

Under sub-head J (2), Arterial Drainage, there is a reduction of £9,923. Deputies will appreciate that the provision under this sub-head must necessarily vary from year to year in accordance with the rate at which schemes under investigation mature for execution. This year the reduction is accounted for by the fact that it is expected that a lesser amount of money can be spent during the coming year, as a lesser quantity of work can be carried out on matured schemes.

There is a reduction of £6,990 under sub-head J (3), Barrow Drainage, where only a token provision of £10 is made. This token provision was made in anticipation of the fact that the final award would have been issued before the 31st March, 1937; as this was not, in fact, done, there will probably be excess expenditure under this sub-head, which will no doubt be met from savings on other portions of the Vote.

Under sub-head L, Appropriations-in Aid, there is a decrease of £6,835. These are made up of various sums received in respect of rents, fines, harbour dues, sales of old materials, hire of excavators to drainage districts, hire of dredgers, sales of farm and garden produce, etc., etc. The decrease this year is largely due to a reduction in the anticipated contribution from the Vote for property losses compensation. As I have already told Deputies, provision is made for administrative expenses in connection with employment schemes. The actual position is that all expenditure on administrative expenses is borne primarily on this Vote, but is later recovered from Vote 69, Employment Schemes.

I do not intend to discuss this Vote in general, but there is one particular matter to which I should like to draw the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary. I think he is probably fully acquainted with the details already. It is in connection with arterial drainage. I gather that it was the intention of the Parliamentary Secretary to set up a commission to investigate the whole problem of drainage, arterial drainage particularly.

That is correct.

I will just indicate the extreme urgency of that particular matter. My remarks are directed towards convincing the Parliamentary Secretary of the urgency of this matter and to help him administratively in connection with this particular sub-head.

If I were to tell the Deputy that the commission is in process of being set up, would that save him any time?

I am afraid not. I think I made it quite clear at the beginning that I did not assume that the Parliamentary Secretary was at all ignorant of the particular cases that I might bring forward in support of the urgency. I gathered from his various answers and the different replies sent from his Office to various bodies in the country, that already this question had been elaborately, or shall I say, fully considered by the Inter-Departmental Committee. I understand that the Inter-Departmental Committee was appointed to consider useful work, and I consider that one of the works was drainage.

Strange to think that the county councils have been advised to the opposite—that this whole question of drainage was put before the Inter-Departmental Committee who were most anxious to find useful works that would benefit the country and give employment. I used to be under the impression that there were two particular classes of work that would give employment with correspondingly little expense in anything else except labour. These were roads and arterial and other drainage. The Parliamentary Secretary will remember that I had occasion to bring under his notice and also under the notice of his Department the case of two drainage schemes in my native county. I give these as illustrations. I fear that one particular case may be an illustration of what occurred elsewhere and so I should recommend it to the earnest attention of the Parliamentary Secretary because I am convinced that an entirely impossible position has been created there. If that is in any way typical of drainage schemes that have been carried out by his Department, I hold strongly that the Department should look into the matter. I am not now advocating legislation—I am not allowed to do so by the rules of the House. I am asking the Minister to get this case examined and if portion of his departmental work is the setting up of this committee, I am putting it to him that first of all the matter is extremely urgent and secondly, most useful and valuable evidence could be got from this and similar cases if there are any other such cases. One particular case I have in mind is that of the Akeragh Lough drainage. The scheme was actually undertaken and carried out by the Board of Works. There was the usual contribution from the State and the usual contribution from the local authority. Then there was the repayment of the balance by way of an annuity charge. Now I am sorry to say that I have not the figures with me at the moment but quoting from memory, which I think is fairly accurate, it was estimated in that particular case that the annual improvement to the lands amounted to £332; leaving out of account altogether the amount contributed by the State, and the amount contributed by the county council, the annuity charge on the farmers whose lands were supposed to be benefited to that extent amounted to £232. So far everything seemed plain sailing. Considering the condition of Akeragh Lough district at the moment I had, perhaps, better avoid metaphors of that kind. There was in 1934 what looked like a large charge for maintenance, especially for the first year, of £54. The next year, 1935, the maintenance charge plus the annuity charge brought the whole sum that had to be made up by the farmers to over £510, although the estimated benefit to their lands at the very beginning was only £332 a year. Now two things follow; first that it is extremely unreasonable and very unjust to expect any body of farmers to pay, with patience, over £500, a sum largely in excess of even the estimated improvements. I say that that is an intolerable position, but that is one of the results; secondly, I think that these figures do show this: that if in the second year the maintenance charge was £278, sufficient, therefore, to bring the charge on the unfortunate farmers to nearly £200 over the estimated benefit, it is obvious that in the second year in which the county council had charge of the scheme, the scheme had already hopelessly broken down. That gives a great deal of colour, indeed it completely substantiates the complaint of the farmers that they have got very little, if any, benefit out of it.

Personally, I think what occurred was this. Possibly some of the people in the higher lands of that drainage district do continue to get a certain amount of benefit—though very slight. I think for those in the lower lands the benefit has already ceased. The drainage district, so far as the lower portion of the district is concerned, has, in fact, reverted to the position that it was in before the work was done. Therefore, instead of getting an annual benefit of £332, as they were led to believe, the farmers of the whole district will be very lucky indeed if even at this early stage in its history they get an annual benefit of £50 out of the scheme. In return for that they are asked to foot a bill in one year over £500 and in the next year £418. I am not now speaking of the first year, where the figure was somewhere slightly short of the alleged improvement.

It is quite obvious there is something radically wrong there. The Parliamentary Secretary may reply to me that once the Board of Works said they had done the work and handed it over to the county council, its functions were finished. I am quite aware I am not allowed here to advocate a change of the law, but surely it must be obvious to the Parliamentary Secretary that either the scheme has completely broken down or that the character of what is called maintenance work is really not maintenance work in the proper sense at all, but is a re-conditioning, a re-making of the scheme—it cannot be ordinary maintenance work.

I know perfectly well the difficulty of dealing with schemes where the tide is concerned, and I know the difficulty of making an estimate. I do not want to make any ex parte case whatsoever; I want to put the plain facts forward, and endeavour to show the absolutely intolerable position that is there created for those people who are asked to meet a rate sometimes over £500 and sometimes close on £500 annually. They are asked to meet that year after year, and will be asked to meet it apparently for the next 35 years for a work that they are convinced, and it seems to me properly convinced, gives them no satisfactory return, indeed, hardly any return at all. That is not a reasonable position.

Again, commissions are well-known methods of delaying dealing with urgent matters, and even if a commission is on the brink of being set up, it must take some time to investigate. Even when commissions do investigate, governments take some time to consider what they will do with reports of that kind. Then possibly legislation will be necessary, and I cannot see anything in the way of relief coming to this particular body of men for the next five or six years, if they have to await the report of a commission. I do not know how many other cases there are of that particular kind in Ireland. I mean cases in which the maintenance charge, plus the annuity, amounts to more annually than the alleged benefit. Whether there are any other cases or not, I think that the Board of Works could accede to the request of the local councils to examine such districts. I know of no law preventing them from doing so. It does not require legislation surely to enable the Board of Works to oblige a council, especially when you are dealing with an intolerable case of that kind.

I have suggested that, in the case of the Akeragh Lough district, what is included under the head of maintenance possibly is not what is generally looked upon as maintenance by the engineers of the Board of Works. It was probably something not contemplated as maintenance by the engineers when they were forming their estimate and when they handed over that scheme. It is something in the nature of new work, re-conditioning, pretty much the same as has been undertaken year after year by the Board of Works, when, for instance, old schemes not properly looked after for years are being brought up to date. There you had practically the old scheme dealt with to a certain extent as if it was a fresh scheme.

In the case of old schemes, that is understandable enough. They were neglected year after year. But here there is no question of neglect. With the best will in the world the county council could not neglect it, and the amount they have expended shows there was no tendency to neglect. The scheme has broken down—and thoroughly broken down—and it would be most unreasonable to expect these men to face that charge without any hope of alleviation for the next five or six years. Is it reasonable even to ask them to pay the charges already assessed?

Two steps would seem to me to be possible for the Parliamentary Secretary to take. The first is to get the scheme immediately investigated, to see why it is that in the year 1936 it took £300 to maintain that scheme, or something close to that amount; and the second is to regard this and possibly other schemes —if there are any such that in the same way inflict intolerable burdens on the people, schemes that are, in their eyes, manifestly unjust—as exceptional cases and come to their help, as the Parliamentary Secretary in another capacity can come to their help: let him meet it out of the Vote for relief works. I do not know, as the law stands, of any other way in which he can help at the moment —perhaps some other Department can.

You have a position in which the farmers feel they are most unjustly treated. I know that the engineers were perfectly open and that they tried to give the best estimate they could. I know the difficulties of estimating in cases of rivers of that kind.

But the fact remains that the farmers are told that the alleged benefit will be £332 and that that benefit will be a real benefit. Then they find in the lower portions that the flooding is as bad as ever, and when they find this heavy maintenance charge has to be met they naturally feel that they were, in voting for that scheme—unintentionally no doubt— seriously misled. There may be the feeling that they were misled, that they were not misled in the sense that anybody wanted to mislead them, but that they were misled in the sense that the prophecy, the estimate given to them, proved completely wrong. That is one case and I am afraid there may be other cases in the Saorstát like that. I know that particular case very well and I have suggested two methods by which the Parliamentary Secretary and his Department could come to the relief of the people.

The other case I have in mind is in a neighbouring district. Possibly the Parliamentary Secretary will say that what I have said about the Akeragh district will make him a bit chary about the next district I will mention. However, remember, I do not know whether it is the purpose of the Department to make up its mind definitely that nothing can be done in this particular case or whether they are merely bent on leaving us in doubt whether anything will be done—a habit that the Government has adopted and made its own even in larger matters of public policy when we try to get a plain answer to a simple question.

Another matter to which, then, I should like to refer is in connection with the Brick and Cashen district. At the present moment, although there is no such place scheduled in our geography as a lake, there is a lake there now, and I feel sure that the Parliamentary Secretary, if he cares to look for it, can find a most extensive lake there. This is not a question of what one might call an occasional flood. There is a permanency in regard to floods in that district, and I understand, further, that you have a situation where quite a number of people are paying the Land Commission for what might be called submarine estates, spread out over hundreds of acres, and almost permanently under water. About two months ago I put a question to the Parliamentary Secretary on this particular matter, and I gathered—in fact, I was particularly dashed when I heard it—that the Board of Works had the matter under their very serious consideration. The reason I felt dashed was that they have had it under consideration for many years past, as the Parliamentary Secretary knows.

I am sure that it is more than 11 years ago since a petition was sent in to the Board of Works in connection with that matter. Of course, there was a certain amount of the usual and unavoidable delay in the sending down of an engineer from the Board of Works to examine this particular scheme. Then a preliminary report came in, and then there was a further report. Afterwards, there was an estimate of the cost, and the cost was very considerable. I think it was in 1931 that the Minister for Finance —fully six years ago—gave a pledge that the Government were quite prepared to go on with that particular scheme and to give the highest grant that the peculiar grant they have allows—and that is 50 per cent.—on certain conditions. These conditions were that the county council would make a certain grant and that the balance would be met by the beneficiaries. There was a certain amount of delay in that connection caused by a certain gap. The county council, I think, was prepared to contribute, say, about 30 per cent., but finally agreed to bring it up to 37 per cent. At that time, I think, the commissioner was Mr. O'Dwyer. Although the actual benefit to the farmer was estimated at about six per cent., the fact is that the land on which the farmers were living is for the most part of the year under water, so that it is not exactly a working proposition where they are concerned, and the farmers were willing to meet the cost of 12 per cent. or 13 per cent. and the county council to meet the rest. However, an agreement was then made between the county council, the Government, and the proposed beneficiaries, and the scheme arrived at as a result of that agreement was accepted by the Government.

That matter came up before the Government, and I think the Parliamentary Secretary said that his heart was bleeding for the people there— anyhow, that he was convinced of the genuineness of the demand of the people there for that particular scheme. Then, I think it was the then Minister for Lands and Fisheries who, in dealing with the general matter of drainage, spoke of the inter-departmental committee investigating this whole matter, and said that one of the principal difficulties that the Government had was not in finding money to spend, but in finding ways to spend the money. I see that the Parliamentary Secretary fully agrees with that dictum of the then Minister.

With the proper labour content.

With the proper labour content? Anyhow, do not make the objection that the scheme is not economic. Is the cutting of roads economic? Is the cutting of "scraws" from the side of the road economic? I have grave doubts whether it is either safe or economic, and I would suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary—I cannot suggest it to the former Minister for Lands, though possibly he might remember his interest in this matter—that this is a very useful way, even though it might not be entirely an "economic" way, to spend money. However, although an engineer was sent down about four years ago, I think, and reported once more about four years ago on the matter, there the thing has rested, and from that day to this the drainage scheme has, I cannot exactly say, hung fire, but certainly has been rather sluggish. I remember dealing with a sluggish river in the County of Cork. I wondered how such a thing as a sluggish river got there or how, having got there, it ever stayed there. However, it did get there and it was ultimately dealt with, the Awbeg; but here is a scheme which has been before the Board of Works for almost 12 years. I admit that it was necessary for a few years to make preliminary inquiries, but although the preliminary inquiries have been made, and although an agreement on the sharing of expenses had been reached, no real advance has been reached in all those years.

I think the Parliamentary Secretary will agree with me that, for the last three years, not an inch has been advanced except by the floods, and I think he will certainly agree that the floods have advanced. Again, I say that this is a case that may be taken as typical of cases in the country where, the longer the delay is, the more work will have to be done eventually. This is not a question of a new district. It is an ancient drainage district where considerable work has been done a long time ago. I know there is a difficulty caused by the tide there, and I can understand the chariness of the Board of Works in touching such matters where the tide has to be considered, but if anything is to be done, and if the tides are the worst offenders, one must regard the tides as things that one cannot afford to disregard.

But it has to be paid for.

I know that it has to be paid for, and I know that one cannot calculate it, but I say that if it has to be paid for, the Government should pay for it. When dealing with another Estimate yesterday I made the suggestion to the Minister concerned with that particular Estimate that there was one excuse I was not willing to accept from any member of the present Government, and that was the excuse that is framed in the question: Where is the money to come from? If the present Government has demonstrated anything, nothwithstanding the fact that some years ago this country was held by them to have gone far beyond its taxable capacity, it has demonstrated that that particular reply will not hold. Therefore, I suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that, if money has been found, and found in large quantities, for much more questionable purposes than the one I am now advocating, I am not prepared to accept that answer—the cost —as having any validity at the present moment. I say that the Government can find the money, and, therefore, I really want to direct the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary to this question of drainage—and to this district particularly. I am not so sure that ultimately it might not be a sounder national policy for the Government simply to undertake and pay for these schemes altogether. I am not so sure that in the long run they will be any worse off financially. Mind you, I am not saying that the annuities are not due. The fact is that the people dislike to have to pay annuities no matter to whom they are due. But in the case I have mentioned—the Akeragh Lough district—it seems absurd and unjust to ask them to pay, because I do not think it can be pretended that the people I have mentioned have benefited. I think in the long run it might be good policy, and even from the financial point of view it might be no loss, if all the considerable arterial drainage scheme were simply carried through by the Government irrespective of any local charge, at least of any annuity. The annuity, as the Parliamentary Secretary knows, very often means very little. Take the annuity in the case of the Aubeg. Does anybody pretend that in that case it is more than a mere symbol? I think about 98 per cent. was paid by the Government and the county council in that particular case. I have a vague idea—I was not at the Board of Works at the time—but I think something about 2 per cent. was paid by the annuitants. They may have to foot the maintenance charge. There is no tidal water there, of course. I think in that case the 2 per cent. annuity was a mere symbol, as far as the beneficiaries are concerned. I have not the slightest doubt that as time goes on the county councils will find it extremely difficult to collect these annuities, and it might be a much better bargain even from the Government point of view boldly to face the question: is it worth while going in for arterial drainage? If it is, let the Government undertake it. It has other advantages than the mere economic ones; it would not be a pure question of profit or loss, of mere material economy. There are several imponderable values to the countryside to be got from drainage, and I should be very much surprised that a Fianna Fáil Government should find any difficulty in giving proper weight, if I might make a "bull," to imponderables. They are quite good at that when it comes to more important matters, and I suggest they could take account of them here. That is the main question I want to discuss on this particular Vote. I have taken the two cases I referred to because I have had a personal interest in them for a number of years. I take them as illustrating the policy of the Department as it is and for the purpose of pointing out what I think should be the policy of the Department in this particular matter of arterial drainage.

I should like to support the plea put forward by Deputy O'Sullivan that the question of drainage should be taken over generally by some Government Department such as the Board of Works. The county councils have not the machinery or the resources for undertaking work of this kind. There is no question about that. As the Deputy has pointed out, there are various districts in which the land is under water for six months, or at least three months, of the year. The people who own this land are called upon to pay annuities and charges during the time that the land is under water, just as if the land were available for the ordinary purposes for which a farmer requires land. I agree with Deputy O'Sullivan that the proper way to approach the matter would be for the Board of Works to have the whole question examined as it affects the whole country, and that they should undertake to carry out these drainage schemes. Let them make a levy on the county councils if they like, or on the local ratepayers, but certainly they are the proper Department to undertake these works. They have the machinery and the experience of doing work of this kind.

I should like to take this opportunity to ask the Parliamentary Secretary what stage has been reached in connection with the examination by his Department of the scheme for the improvement of Wexford Harbour. That is a scheme which has been before the Board of Works for the past two years, and it is about time that some definite indication should be given by the Board of Works as to whether they consider the scheme submitted suitable, whether it would permit of adequate facilities for legitimate shipping. The Wexford County Council, the Wexford Corporation and the Wexford Harbour Board all have expressed their willingness to support the scheme financially. It is unfair to them that the scheme should be held up any further. The amount of money that the harbour board, the corporation and the county council have agreed to pay in order to subsidise the necessary loan totals £4,000 annually. That shows that they believe in the scheme, and I think it is time that something definite should be done in connection with the matter. If it is the case that the Board of Works have made up their mind that the scheme is not suitable, they should be in a position to suggest some alternative. The scheme, as submitted, has been prepared by eminent engineers, and it has cost the Wexford Harbour Commissioners a considerable sum of money. The Parliamentary Secretary himself is, I know, a person who has a good deal of experience of matters of this kind, and I would ask him to have something done to save one of the oldest and best-known ports of the country. As I have said before, some sort of interim reply has come through from which one would infer that the scheme is not altogether acceptable to the Board of Works. I do not think I would be asking too much, in view of the fact that the harbour commissioners have spent so much money in having the scheme prepared, that the Board of Works should, if they cannot accept the scheme put forward by the harbour commissioners, suggest some kind of scheme which will prevent Wexford Harbour from shoaling up altogether. It is one of the oldest ports in the country, a port at which there was always a large amount of shipping. As a matter of fact, we learned in our geographies when we were going to school that Wexford was noted for its shipping, and we should not like it to lose that reputation altogether. I would request the Parliamentary Secretary to get the Board of Works to move in this matter. We know they have many responsibilities, but we should like them to put some scheme before us so that we shall be able to deal with it.

I understand that some complaints have been made to this Department— if the complaints have not arrived yet they will arrive in the very near future —by a representative committee which has been set up in Rosslare in regard to coast erosion. Rosslare strand is a very important watering-place and the foreshore is rapidly disappearing year after year. During the past two months a great deal of damage has been done there and certain representations have been made to his Department, or will be made in the near future, with a view to having something done in the matter. Here again a certain amount was expended by the Wexford County Council in recent years on the advice of the Department of Industry and Commerce or of the Board of Works—I cannot remember which—and an exhaustive inquiry was held in order to try and find out what was the cause of the encroachment there. A very eminent engineer was brought over from England who had some experience of coast erosion on the East Coast of England. A very elaborate report was prepared by him and was submitted to the Board of Works. The county council asked the Board of Works to do certain things but evidently a deaf ear has been turned to their request. I suggest that the Board of Works ought to interest itself in matters of this kind, so that places like Rosslare and other watering places in the country would not be irretrievably ruined. I do not know whether we are entitled to discuss minor relief schemes on this Vote?

No. We are leaving those over for discussion under Vote 69, which we hope to take next week.

This is a rather large Vote, and I think we are entitled to a certain amount of information on it. The total amount of the Vote is £977,000. I have endeavoured to segregate the Vote as well as I could, and I find that of that £977,000 the sum of £700,000 is being spent in the City of Dublin, leaving £200,000 odd for the rest of the country.

That does not leave much for Cork.

Cork has the plague as far as Government Votes are concerned. I think we are entitled to some information with regard to the expenditure of this money. In the first place, I should like to know from the Parliamentary Secretary what particular responsibility the national Exchequer has for keeping up public parks here in Dublin. My recollection in regard to public parks as far as Cork City is concerned—the Fitzgerald Park and others—is that they have to be kept up out of corporation funds. I am sure that as far as any little park in any town throughout the country is concerned the same thing applies. But here we have £17,000 for Phoenix Park and £4,265 for Stephen's Green. In addition, we have a proposal to erect a new gateway in Parkgate Street for the Phoenix Park at a cost of £4,200. I wonder what kind of gateway that is going to be. With all due respects to the Parliamentary Secretary, I think that the money would be better spent on the proposal put up by Deputy Professor O'Sullivan about the drainage of land in the country than on making some kind of gateway to the Phoenix Park at a cost of £4,200.

We have then a whole long line of Civic Guard barracks and God knows what at £4,000 or £5,000 each. When we consider the position of housing right through the country, I personally consider that that £4,200 for the Phoenix Park gateway would be better spent in building houses that are needed for the poor of the country. I should also like to know what particular service to the nation Dun Laoghaire harbour is giving, seeing that the Central Fund has to contribute £14,075 this year and £14,725 last year. I think Dublin seems to be the dickens of a happy place, seeing all the money that is pouring into it from all parts of the country.

You still have 27,000 unemployed in Dublin.

I would not be at all surprised what Deputy Morrissey's figures would be. Then we have some kind of harbour in Howth which costs us £1,150 in addition to that. Those are matters on which the taxpayers in general are entitled to some information. Then we come to the airports; we find £7,000 for an airport in Dublin and £150,000 for one on the Shannon somewhere. Again I wonder if Cork has got the plague, seeing that whenever there is any money to be spent every Government Department seems to shy all around it and steer clear. On this Vote, I want information on those particular points, in regard to the Phoenix Park, Dun Laoghaire harbour and the airports. I want to know why the port of Cork, which is the first port in Ireland, not to mind in the Free State, is ignored. We have to spend £15,000 on an old harbour here to shovel sand out of it, while the port of Cork has been neglected in regard to airport services. If there is money to be spent we are entitled to our share of it. I also want to know how it is that out of £977,000 the sum of £700,000 is being spent in the City of Dublin. That money is being contributed by the taxpayers in general over the Twenty-Six Counties. Those are the few points I want to make on this Vote. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will have his mind made up to be a little more generous when we come to the discussion of the next Vote.

There are a few matters to which I should like to direct the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary. For instance, he told us that the increase in the Estimate was due to certain increases which were necessary for the purpose of the carrying out of the employment works, and that there was a sum coming over from that particular Vote to the extent of £17,000. On looking into the matter, it is very hard to convince oneself that the Parliamentary Secretary is exactly correct in that matter, because if you look at page 33 of the Estimates and take the special works division—that is. I understand, the division which deals with Vote 69, the Employment Vote, as it is called this year; it is a new Vote—we find that the increase under that particular heading amounts to only something like £4,760. It does appear to me, therefore, that under this particular Vote—as I am afraid under every Estimate we have —there is an alarming increase in the permanent officials of the Civil Service. If my contention in this matter is right—and I think the figures prove that it is perfectly correct—the Parliamentary Secretary and the Government must have come to the conclusion that we are always going to have an unemployment problem; that we are always going to have the necessity for a permanent staff to an enormous extent to deal with that particular work.

Of course it does not end there by any manner of means, because I personally know that the staffs of the local authorities are very seriously hampered in endeavouring to assist the officers of the Board of Works in carrying out those particular works down the country. After all, the local authorities' officers are whole-time officers, and I do not know that we were ever really satisfied that our officers were 100 per cent. able to look after the main work which they had to look after in the counties. Now they are taxed to this extent, and in addition we have a new permanent crowd brought on to deal with this matter, which is supposed to be a passing phase. I am afraid that the Parliamentary Secretary and the Government have gone very far away from the famous plan they had for the curing of unemployment. Even the InterDepartmental Committee, over which the Parliamentary Secretary presided, does not seem to have evolved anything which will deal effectively with this matter. If the nation has got to set up a new Civil Service of this type to deal with this matter, then we must be convinced that it is going to remain with us.

Deputy Corry does not seem to be satisfied to have certain monuments in the public parks in the City of Dublin maintained out of the public purse. Would the Parliamentary Secretary say if any decision has been come to by the Government with regard to the ex-Viceregal Lodge in the Phoenix Park? The sum of practically £4,000 is set apart for it in the Estimates. We would be interested to know what the intentions of the Government are with regard to that building. Are we maintaining it for the purpose of putting in there the first citizen of the State, or whatever kind of an ornament we are going to have, under the new Constitution? I would like to be told why we are spending public money on this building. On the Estimate last year I asked what was going to be done in connection with a national monument which we have in the County Roscommon. It is the old Abbey which contains the remains of King Phelim O'Connor. The Abbey is notable for some beautiful stonework, but at present it is in a dreadfully neglected condition. Last year the Parliamentary Secretary promised that the matter would get attention. If the position is that the law does not permit the Board of Works to take over and care this national monument, one of the best that we have in the west of Ireland, the Parliamentary Secretary should take steps to remove whatever legal difficulties are in the way. The Abbey is going into neglect and ruin and something should be done immediately to preserve it.

Mr. Hogan

There are a couple of matters that I am anxious to get the Parliamentary Secretary interested in if I can. The question of arterial drainage has been referred to by Deputy O'Sullivan. In my county a considerable amount of hardship is entailed by beneficiaries under certain schemes. I know one or two schemes where, for instance, the annuity would be £9 or £10 or perhaps less, but the sum demanded this year is four times that amount. That occurs, I believe, because the final certificate for the scheme has not been furnished by the Board of Works. At all events the scheme is not finished in such a way that it can be taken over.

I know some schemes in my county —there is, for instance, the scheme at Tiermaclane, where some of the beneficiaries under it are this year expected to pay three and four times the amount of what the annuity would be. A demand for £36 has been made on some of them, while if the scheme were completed and handed over, the annual payment would not be more than £8 or £9. I understand that there are other schemes not finished.

They are left there in an unfinished state. That leads me on to this, that the county council requested a number of us to make representations to the Parliamentary Secretary. I think this is probably the best way to make representations to him. My suggestion is that he should make a survey of the various schemes in the county which are not finished. There are several such schemes, and I suggest to him that an immediate investigation of those schemes should be made so that an unnecessary burden would not continue to be placed on the beneficiaries.

I would be glad if the Deputy, having raised the question here, would give me the names of those schemes in writing.

Mr. Hogan

The suggestion was made to another Deputy and myself to go and see the Parliamentary Secretary. I suggested that we should be furnished by the county surveyor or the county secretary with the names and all details of those schemes—that we were not going to ask the Parliamentary Secretary to do certain things unless we were able to produce complete data to him. I cannot say if the county council have furnished the Parliamentary Secretary with that information.

There is also the question of the Fergus. That has been done on several occasions by the Board of Works, and done so effectively that there are scores of acres of land around Doora that are flooded. All that land is worthless for any purpose whatever. I do not know what the Parliamentary Secretary proposes to do about it. There is a considerable amount of unemployment in the area. The farmers who are expected to pay annuities and rates on all that submerged land are suffering the greatest hardship. In connection with the Fergus, representations have been made to the Parliamentary Secretary repeatedly, both by individuals and by public bodies. I am sure that on every occasion on which he has made a protracted stay in the county, he has had representations made to him by public men and by the people affected in that area with reference to this matter. I think it is time that something was done in connection with it. The county council will not undertake any responsibility in connection with the Fergus drainage scheme until it is put in such a way that the council can be certain that it will not have to put the ratepayers in such a position that they will not be able to meet the expenditure involved.

Deputy Corish raised a matter in connection with Rosslare. There is a little holiday resort in our county, at Lahinch, which has been almost wiped away. Considerable expenditure has been incurred by the county council and by the people locally at Lahinch. I do not know whether any extensive national funds have gone into it, but the position has now been reached when neither the local people nor the county council can cope with the danger that has arisen to the town. Lahinch is in a district which gets little in the way of expenditure from Government sources. The people there make their living largely out of whatever the holiday season brings them. If those people are to meet their responsibilities locally and nationally, something will have to be done to maintain this little seaside resort in Clare as an attraction for tourists. If the Parliamentary Secretary wants to have an excellent game of golf, I dare say he knows that the links at Lahinch is one of the most famous in the country. I suggest to him that he should do something to preserve the town for the amenities which it affords not only to the people of Ireland but to those in a great part of Europe and possibly America.

A great deal of damage was done by a movement of bog mould at Ballinruan. Acres of land were covered with debris. Three-quarters of the land of some of the local farmers was covered with this bog mould which had come down from the mountain side. I understand that the suggestion was put forward by the Board of Works to the owners of the land that they should remove the bog mould off the lands themselves. Where, I ask, were they to remove it to? It had reached a height of three or four feet, and in some cases was spread over seven or eight acres of land. Where was the farmer to remove it to? Was he to put it in on his neighbour's land? The suggestion, I understand, was made to give £30 or £40 to those people if they removed the stuff off their land. I suggest that the Parliamentary Secretary has not given the attention to this matter that it deserves. It is very serious in view of the fact that the land of those people has been put out of commission. If that land is to come back into commission again, as these people are expected to meet local and national demands in the shape of annuities and rates and such things, some attempt ought to be made to help them.

I was very interested to hear Deputy Corry talk about the proposed airport at Cork. We have the doubtful blessing of an airport at Rynanna. I dare say the Parliamentary Secretary heard about that; at least some of us made a desperate effort to get the information across to him that there is an airport being erected at Rynanna and erected under conditions that are not at all satisfactory. I do not know whether Deputy Corry is misinformed or not—I hope he is not—when he says that there is not going to be an airport at Cork, because I understand there was a conference in Cork which the Parliamentary Secretary attended and at which he suggested that £22,000 be spent on an airport at Cork. The most peculiar portion of the whole thing was that he suggested that 53/- a week should be paid to the workers to be employed in the erection of the airport at Cork. Of course, Cork elects the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Finance and the workers in that particular district have votes for the Parliamentary Secretary, but, unfortunately, in Clare the workers who were offered only 27/- per week can elect only common or garden T.D.s.

Since this debate has been given a local tinge——

Might I suggest that it would be advisable if we avoided the local tinge? For a couple of years past we have succeeded in avoiding the local tinge and got down to facts.

I do not think that that would be entirely fair to those of us who have not yet spoken, because the advantage has already been given to previous speakers.

You cannot be denied the right.

Except we speak on local matters it would be hard to find something to speak about. There are a few things affecting my constituency which I should like to speak about. Deputy O'Sullivan has already referred to the Brick and Cashen drainage scheme. We have discussed that several times before and I welcome at this stage the intervention of Deputy O'Sullivan. I am sure he put forward a good case, but if the same case had been put forward seven or eight years ago perhaps the scheme would have been carried out by now. At any rate, it is about time that we should know from the Parliamentary Secretary and from his Department what is the attitude towards the carrying out of this scheme. Time and again I have written to and visited the Office of Public Works with a view to finding out exactly how far they have gone towards preparing the way for the carrying out of that scheme. On the last occasion I visited the office, I am afraid I noticed an attitude of despair there as regards the carrying out of this scheme.

Are you in favour of the £4,200 for the Phoenix Park gateway?

I do not represent Dublin. I happen to represent Kerry. I do not see that that makes any difference as far as that is concerned. Even though it might be said that a good deal of this money is to be spent in Dublin, you must remember that Dublin is the capital of the country, and it is only natural that we should want to have the capital as well looked after as possible, because we are all interested in the capital of our country. What I am interested in is drainage and such schemes, which I hoped, and still hope, will be carried out in my constituency. I was told that it would cost about £100,000 to carry out this Brick and Cashen drainage scheme. I do not know whether that estimate is too high or not.

That is the figure which is in the air at the moment.

Of course, it is a very large sum.

I am afraid it is a very indefinite sum—that is the worst of it.

Whether it is £100,000 or £50,000, it would be well that we should come to some decision as to whether it is going to be carried out or not. I have a definite reason for saying that because there are many minor drainage schemes around it that could be carried out if this thing were out of the way altogether. But, when application is made for the drainage of such-and-such a canal, we repeatedly get the reply that that is part and parcel of the more comprehensive Brick and Cashen drainage scheme and cannot be touched until such time as the whole scheme is prepared and the Commissioners of Public Works have made up their minds whether it can be carried out or not, or whether it is feasible or not. At any rate, I hope that what I have suggested will bear fruit and that within a reasonable time we will get a definite reply from the Office of Public Works as to whether the scheme is going to be carried out or not.

In that connection I should say that on the last occasion I visited the Office of Public Works I could elicit, as I said, no definite information, as to the exact position; but I was given to understand that if I wrote to the secretary in the ordinary way I would get the information desired. Thereupon I wrote to the secretary, but from that time until now I have not got a reply. It is always necessary for us who represent people to be in a position to explain whether the thing is to be carried out or not or what attitude has been taken up by the Department. I hope that in the near future I shall find out from the Parliamentary Secretary himself, if necessary, whether this scheme is to be carried out or not.

Of course, I am not so foolish as not to see the difficulties that must attend the carrying out of this scheme. It is an enormous scheme, but it must be remembered it covers a very large area in North Kerry and happens to cover the best part of the land in that district —land which could be converted to the growing of wheat, beet, and barley, which cannot be said of a good many other parts of Kerry. Having regard to the fertility of the land and the area of land covered for the greater part of the year, it is a scheme well worth considering, even though the cost is enormous. I know also that we should not confine ourselves to considering the initial expenditure, that we should consider the maintenance costs afterwards as well.

I would make a suggestion, and I am sure it will be considered very carefully by the Parliamentary Secretary. I should say first that it seems to me to be the attitude of the engineers in the Parliamentary Secretary's Department not to attempt to go ahead until they can make sure that the scheme will be a 100 per cent. success.

Why not make an experiment with part of the money, say £10,000? If it could not be made under the Drainage Acts it might be made by way of a minor relief scheme, or, I should say, an aggregate of minor relief schemes. I am sure the people of the district would be willing to forego whatever relief claims they would otherwise be entitled to make. I hope my suggestion will be considered by the Parliamentary Secretary. As Deputy Corish and Deputy Hogan mentioned, it would be well if the Parliamentary Secretary stated what was the attitude generally towards coast erosion. Is it the intention to deal with it? Deputy Hogan mentioned the position in Lahinch which is a famous sea-side resort. I desire to call attention to places in my constituency which are seriously imperilled by the ravages of the sea. At Ballybunion the famous golf links are being undermined year after year, and if some steps are not taken I am afraid serious damage will be done there. The position is the same at a place called Ballyheigue where erosion is much more rapid. It would be well if the whole question of coast erosion was considered by the Department.

I am going to take up a different line with regard to this Vote. I have no drainage schemes to call attention to, but I am going to raise the question of the cost of administration of the board. I expected to hear Deputy Corry making some reference to the allowances paid to members of the board. In the past it was stated by those who are now on the Government Benches that no one in this country was worth more than £500 a year. Deputy Corry smiles. I am sure he agrees with that statement. During the past year a gentleman was appointed as chairman of the board at a salary of £1,500 a year. I do not know if the position is pensionable. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary will inform the House when he is replying. The greatest qualification that gentleman had, was his statement on one occasion that if it took a 100 years to build up the cattle trade it would not take a 100 years to destroy it.

Deputies may object to the expenditure on any Department, but it is an abuse of the privileges of this House to attack a civil servant or other person who has no opportunity of replying.

If I cannot raise the question in this House and in this way, in what way am I to raise it?

The Deputy is running counter to all precedent in attacking persons who have no redress.

I have here a speech which was made by the present Minister for Education in 1928, when in opposition, and I believe it justifies me in raising this question now. The speech appears in Volume 26 of the Official Debates, page 34, when, as he then was, Deputy Derrig spoke on Vote No. 10. This is what he said:—

"There is also the question of the higher staff of the Board of Works. There is a chairman and two commissioners. I understand that one of the commissioners has died. If these offices are essential, well and good, but we would like to know if they are essential. Is it absolutely necessary for us to have these three commissioners, as well as having a Parliamentary Secretary in charge of the Department? If the three offices could be abolished, even if we had to pay full pensions, it is estimated that a saving of nearly £2,000 could be effected."

I should like to know if the Parliamentary Secretary went into that question, and if he considered the statement that was made by a member of the Executive Council now before this appointment was made. Will Deputy Corry say that the gentleman who has been appointed is worth £1,500 a year? The Ceann Comhairle points out that I am not justified in attacking a civil servant. What was his previous record in connection with another industry?

The Chair will not hear the Deputy further.

If the Ceann Comhairle rules me out, I do not see the good of carrying on, and therefore I will sit down. I will discuss it at the crossroads.

I want to draw the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary to the question of drainage in the County Mayo. I would like to know the cause of the delay in dealing with the Gweston, Pollock and Yellow rivers, which are tributaries of the Moy. A scheme was prepared in 1927 to which Mayo County Council agreed, and it was understood that work would commence shortly afterwards. The matter has hung fire since. Within the last year Mayo County Council on three or four occasions sent resolutions to the Commissioners of Public Works asking them to proceed with the preparation of a scheme for the drainage of these rivers. Some years ago when a deputation was sent to the Commissioners with regard to the drainage of these rivers, a question arose as to whether the drainage might not mean flooding on the lower regions of the Moy. The engineers at the time gave an assurance to the deputation that the drainage would not interfere in any way with the lower regions, as these were not quick moving streams. I should like to know if it is the intention of the Board to proceed with the drainage. There is also the question of dealing with another river in South Mayo, the Dalgan Clare river in the Ballyhaunis area. Deputations were sent forward on several occasions about this river, and the county council are anxious that a scheme should be prepared to deal with it. I wish to congratulate the Parliamentary Secretary on the excellent work that has been done on the River Robe in South Mayo. The drainage of that river was undertaken within the last few months, and splendid work has been done there. I appeal to the Parliamentary Secretary to consider the possibility of continuing the drainage from the side of the road where work is now going on to the source, as that would relieve considerable flooding higher up. As it will take two or three years before the work is completed, it would be of great benefit to the people in areas further on if another part of the river was drained and obstructions removed, or if a partial scheme was proceeded with. The work done in the Robe up to the present has given excellent results from Claremorris on to Ballinrobe.

I wish to ask the Parliamentary Secretary for information about the old question of the Nenagh river, with which he is conversant. To a large extent the trouble with regard to the Nenagh is similar to that of other rivers. But there is this difference, which in my opinion makes it even a more urgent matter —that the question of the new sewerage system for the town of Nenagh is unfortunately mixed up with the question of the drainage of the river. What I want to know from the Parliamentary Secretary is this: whether the matter has been dropped so far as his Department is concerned, or whether they are taking a vote giving all the farmers interested as such as word in the matter. Are we to take it that the whole question of the drainage of that river has been shelved? The Parliamentary Secretary may know that the Nenagh Urban Council are anxious to proceed with the sewerage scheme for the town. They are being urged to do it by the Department of Local Government and Public Health. I understand that the sewerage scheme can be carried out independently of the drainage of the river, but only at considerably greater cost. I know it is felt also that any scheme of sewerage carried out ignoring, so far as it is possible to ignore, the flooding of the rivers, will ultimately not be so successful as if the scheme were preceded by the drainage of the river.

This drainage is necessary for many good reasons. The first reason I have already given; (2) a very great area of land is flooded, and flooded for a considerable period of the year, owing to this want of drainage; and (3) there is a considerable amount of unemployment in Nenagh and district. A number of schemes have been carried out recently, including the hospital, house building, and so on, and these gave a great deal of employment. These schemes are now finished, there is no employment available, and, so far as I can see, there is no prospect of employment being made available. The drainage of this river would, in itself, give a very considerable amount of employment. It would lead, as I suggest, to still further employment by leading on to the new sewerage scheme for the town. I do not want to go over that matter any further. It has been discussed here and elsewhere fully. The Parliamentary Secretary is as conversant with the details of this scheme as I am. It has been under discussion for a long number of years. I want to know from him now whether it is completely shelved, whether the Department is prepared to re-open the matter, and whether, in fact, there is any possible scheme going ahead, and if so when? I will leave the matter at that.

There are a few details in connection with Estimate 11, page 46. The first is number 92, new headquarters, Kildare Street, for the Department of Industry and Commerce. This project has been in one form or another before this House for a number of years. One would imagine that there was no unemployment in the City of Dublin and that men were not available to carry out the work. I do not know how many years it is since this matter was first brought before the House. We have now arrived at this position that this building which is to cost £140,000 had, last year, a sum of £25,000 voted for it and the estimated expenditure up to the 31st March, that is yesterday, was £3,000. I suggest there is something wrong in that matter. There is a delay and I suggest an avoidable delay somewhere. Surely it is not going to be contended that it was going to take three or four years to get the preliminary plans ready for a building costing even £140,000. May I suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that another evil which is going to flow from this delay is that he will have again to revise his Estimate of £140,000, in view of the increase in building materials? The point with which I am concerned at the moment is this: the Government say they are anxious to find schemes of work for those unemployed. If this is the rate of progression towards putting these schemes going, somebody will have to get behind the Department to speed them up.

Another item here is the Thurles post office. It is a good many years ago since I first heard of that Estimate, but nothing, so far, has been spent and nothing has been started. I would like to know from the Parliamentary Secretary what is the meaning of putting these things into the Estimate and asking the House to vote money which the Department is not ready to spend. Apparently they have no intention of spending this year the money they are asking us to vote. Without these items the book of Estimates is cumbrous enough. It is loaded down with details without putting into it unnecessary details and items with which there is no intention of proceeding. The next item is the Shannon Airport. The Vote asked for the years 1937-38 is £150,000. The sum of £20,000 was voted in 1936-37 and the estimated total expenditure up to yesterday was £20,000. I would like to compliment the Parliamentary Secretary on the close estimation in that item. How much of the £150,000 does he estimate to spend this year? By how much will that particular sum have to be increased if he proposes to pay a decent wage to the people employed on the scheme? I see an item of £4,320 for the Kilmastulla drainage scheme. Last year the House was asked to vote that sum, but not a single penny of it has since been spent. I think we are entitled to some explanation as to why that is so. Again, the House is asked to vote moneys which the Department apparently are not in a position to spend. I hope some explanation will be forthcoming on that point. These are perhaps wearisome details, but they very properly arise on the Estimate under consideration.

I should like an explanation of an item on page 58, Vote No. 11, in connection with "forestry hands" at a salary or wages from 15/- to 30/- inclusive. There is no asterisk or query behind that, so apparently the 15/- is 15/- without any perquisites. Would the Parliamentary Secretary tell us if these men work a full week for 15/- or are they merely part-time men? Was it from paying men 15/- a week that the Parliamentary Secretary got his idea for the rotation of work that he is spreading through the country? I cannot conceive that any Government Department would pay a wage of 15/- a week to any employee. Further down in the same page there is an item "garden labourers," 18/- to 57/5 per week. It seems to me that there is a very wide difference there, and the perquisites would have to be fairly valuable that would bridge that gap between 18/- and 57/5. Those are matters of detail, but they are matters of a certain importance and I would be glad if the Parliamentary Secretary could see his way to include them in his reply. The question of the building to be erected, some time I hope, in Kildare Street is not so much a detail; it is rather an important matter.

I have already urged the Parliamentary Secretary to consider the question of an extension of summer drainage works in South Kerry districts. I should like to mention that in the case of last year's programme, the works carried out under the authority of the Office of Public Works, following out the recommendations of the Parliamentary Secretary, were a great success. The results speak for themselves. As a matter of fact, it was proved that £100 spent during the summer on drainage was as productive as £200 expended at other periods of the year. I would strongly urge an extension of that scheme, particularly in so far as South Kerry is concerned.

There is scarcely any need for stressing the fact that in the South Kerry area we cannot benefit as other areas benefit. For instance, the Land Commission cannot operate to any extent, because there is no land to be divided and there are no works which would qualify under the ordinary administration of the Land Commission. Neither can we benefit under the wheat and beet schemes, and the only alternative is some such scheme as I have suggested in the way of summer drainage. I must say that the Parliamentary Secretary has always met us in a just and fair way, and we appreciate every effort that has been made by him in that regard. The areas that I have mentioned would qualify in so far as the number of unemployed are concerned. The number remaining on the register in these areas should qualify for an allocation of grants in so far as the works I have suggested are concerned.

On a point of order. The Deputy is now touching on a matter which would more appropriately come under Vote 69. If he is allowed to deal with that matter it will naturally lead to others doing so.

I am sorry if I have gone into too much detail. The fact is that I am trying to show that as far as these areas in South Kerry are concerned the only hope of the unemployed at this period of the year would be through summer drainage work. Another matter upon which I would like to touch is the question of erosion which is taking place along the Rosbeigh area. A couple of years ago the Board of Works carried out a very useful scheme there which prevented erosion of the coast line. Perhaps there could be an extension of that scheme so as to prevent further erosion taking place. It is not a question of asking for sympathy here for the people of South Kerry; it is a matter of finding some alternative to schemes that we cannot avail of there. I submit very respectfully to the Parliamentary Secretary that there might be some co-operation between the various Departments so that where parts of the country cannot obtain benefits under the schemes operated by one Department they might be able to benefit under schemes operated by the other Department.

I desire to urge the Parliamentary Secretary to substitute drainage schemes under his relief programme for road works in some counties. I know there is a great need and there is a great demand for drainage schemes in the County Cavan.

I am afraid I must again raise the point of order. In so far as other Deputies have restrained themselves from dealing with particular matters which do not concern this Vote, I think the Deputy might act similarly.

The matter Deputy McGovern desires to raise can be more properly brought up on Vote 69.

I would like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary if it is the intention to complete this year the adaptation of the building taken over in Cecil Street in Limerick for the purpose of an employment exchange. I am not quite clear from the showing of the figures in the book of Estimates if it is the intention soon to complete that work which this year and last year was left in an unfinished state. The building is not by any means suitable or attractive in the condition in which it is left.

It is essential in the interests of the general public and the staff that the work of adaptation be proceeded with at the earliest possible moment. I see where a sum of £1,700 was provided last year, and I am not quite clear whether it is the intention to use that money in the present season. It is absolutely essential that the work should be put in hands as soon as possible. I want to refer briefly to the old question of the rotational schemes if I would be in order in doing so.

The Deputy could do so next week probably, but not now.

We will all have a lot to say about it when we get the opportunity. It is a deferred pleasure.

I have little else to comment upon except that point about the employment exchange.

Sir, in case the members of the Dáil should get away with the idea that the only places where drainage is required are Kerry and the Barrow and so on, I should like to say something with regard to the Dromore drainage, in Monaghan and Cavan. I admit that something has been done there, but the rate of progress has been very slow. The need for drainage there was not so apparent up to recent years, but the abnormally wet summer last year destroyed a lot of crops and left a lot of the land unworkable, and I may say that some of us, public representatives, are being continually besieged by the occupiers of land there to know why the work is not being got on with faster. I do not suggest for a moment that the Parliamentary Secretary has nothing else to do except to take care of this particular scheme, but I should not like him to forget that we have that little difficulty there in the North just as in other parts of the country, and we should like the drainage scheme there to be proceeded with more rapidly, because this is a matter that affects not only the land, and the arable land in that vicinity, but the towns in the neighbourhood also, and I should like to remind the Parliamentary Secretary of that fact in order to see if it might not be possible to get a move on.

It has been almost a pleasure, Sir, to take part in this discussion. The discussion began with an extremely pleasant speech, delivered in an extremely pleasant manner, by Deputy O'Sullivan, and, if I may say so, I think that a good deal more work could be done in a debate of this kind, if the case were put with the good humour and the good feeling that was exhibited, not only in that speech, but that was, I think, expressed in the intentions of all those who have taken part in the debate up to the present. Deputy O'Sullivan raised the question of the Brick and Cashen rivers, and the Akeragh. These are typical cases of the necessity and the desirability of the setting up of a commission to inquire into the whole present position of drainage. On the facts as stated in connection with Akeragh one would say that something radically wrong had happened. I am very much afraid that, if I were to give way to the pressure put upon me by Deputies on both sides of the House in relation to the Brick and Cashen, I might find myself having delivered to Kerry something of the kind Deputy O'Sullivan referred to.

It must be remembered that you are dealing in this matter with tidal rivers and tidal estuaries which are likely to shift under conditions of storm, and so on, and that it is not in the power of man to prophesy what will happen in connection with such tidal waters. Even the experience of a couple of years of maintenance will not give you the information you want. For instance, you may have, as in the case of many harbours in Ireland, just one storm—even a storm of a couple of hours' duration, but a storm with a particular direction— and you can have that storm undoing the whole work of years in a night. Where you are dealing with tidal estuaries or tidal rivers of this kind, with contours of the character we have to deal with in those cases, you may have in a particular year a maintenance that is equal to five years, and nothing can prevent it, whereas you may have for the following five years quite a good maintenance, except, possibly, for the expense of keeping one or two men. I regard the Brick and Cashen and the Akeragh as typical examples on which experience is needed, and sound professional administrative advice has to be given in the form of a report to the Government. There would be no delay as far as I and the Department are concerned, in setting up that commission and getting it to work. A good deal of preliminary work has already been done. The whole of the preliminary work of the Board of Works, which proved to be more comprehensive and extensive than we had anticipated, has already been examined. A good deal of the preliminary work, which we anticipated would still have to be done, has been done, and, while I am not going to say for one single moment that this commission is going to report in a few months, or that it should be expected to do so, or that the results of an examination would really be valuable, I am prepared to say that everything that is possible to be produced would be produced by a commission which would be set up for the specific purpose of dealing with difficulties which are hampering us every day and of the realities of which we are, probably, more conscious than any member of the House.

The figure of £100,000, which has been given in connection with the Brick and Cashen, is an estimate, and our opinion is that there are indefinite things in that calculation, and that, even when we have examined them, a doubtful element will be left. It is the easiest thing to give a definite answer of "Yes" or "No" to Deputies in reference to such matters, but if the idea is that we say that we shall do all that is possible to see whether an economic scheme can be devised to deal with such problems, then delay will have to be accepted as an actual fact. In that connection I might just call the attention of the House to figures that have already been given, because there is a sort of general tendency to say that, if you drain this or that river, an incalculable amount of good will be done. That is a very common expression—the word "incalculable." It generally means, in the mind of the person using it, "enormous," but very often the correct interpretation of the word "incalculable" would be found to be "very small." In fact, very often, the latter might be more accurate. I am taking the Brick and Cashen case as a case to be strongly and genuinely advocated, and it has been said that this affects the best area and the best land in Kerry. On this basis of £100,000, the figures are that the Government shall provide 50 per cent., that the local authority shall provide 37½ per cent.—that is, 87½ per cent.— and that the beneficiaries shall provide 12 per cent. from an ascertained improved value of 6 per cent. Now, the best case that is put forward for this scheme, as supposed to be dealing with the best land, is that, of £100 spent on it, £6 will be represented by improved value in the land. I think that Deputies should keep that particular case and those figures in mind when they feel that there has been delay and possibly a lack of consideration in forcing forward drainage schemes.

I, personally, in going over the records of the Board of Works and the schemes which have been passed, have been astonished at the generosity —if I am not using too complimentary a term—of the State and local authorities in contributions to schemes. Schemes have been passed, in which the ascertained improved value of the land as a result of the total money spent, has been a very negligible proportion of the amount spent.

Deputy O'Sullivan and others raised the question of the difficulty of collecting these annuities. The argument is that the whole of the drainage work should be what is called a national charge. Everything is supposed to be a national charge. I am afraid people are under the impression that in calling a thing a national charge they escape paying for it. Calling a thing a national charge simply means collecting the same money from the same people in, possibly, different proportions but in many cases people who are demanding things as a national charge, in relation to particular works, will find, if they analyse the matter, that if that demand is granted they will in fact be paying more than they would pay under the present system. The real objection to things being a local charge is that people know that they are paying for them. That is what people object to. They think that if the expenditure is paid out of the national Exchequer, well, they are not as conscious of it, but I think it is very desirable that, in relation to a great many things that are now being paid out of the national Exchequer, local authorities and local people ought to pay that amount, at any rate, of the total charge which will make them fully conscious that the expenses of these works are being met by them and not by some amorphous authority called the State.

Deputy Corish suggests that the Board of Works should do all drainage, great and small. We had the 1928 Act under which the local authority did carry out works up to £1,200. We are of opinion ourselves that if drainage works of that kind should be carried out, the figure at which the Board of Works would operate might be a larger figure, but there are types of work which undoubtedly can be carried out by the local authorities, where the local engineering staff is competent and experienced in drainage work, cheaper than we could do them. In these cases it would be very undesirable that a central organisation like the Board of Works should carry out work which could be done by the local authority. That is one of the things which will come before the commission. They will probably be asked to advise us what is the nature of the works that should be carried out by the central authority, what type of work should be carried out by the local authority and what should be the line of delimitation between the two.

Deputy Corish has asked me about Wexford Harbour. I do not need to tell Deputy Corish or anybody in Wexford that I am quite as interested in their harbour as anybody could be. I have very old and very intimate associations with Wexford, and I know its harbour very well, but the position of the Board of Works in this matter is that of technical adviser to the Minister for Industry and Commerce and the Minister for Finance. Our function has been performed. We have examined that case and we have reported on that case. Our work is finished. We are prepared, we have been prepared in the past and we shall be prepared in future, to the limit of our legal powers, to help. We have exceeded them on certain occasions, and not with the pleasantest consequences to ourselves, in the attempt to help Wexford Harbour. Our function in the matter is exhausted. It is now for the Deputy to deal with those Ministers whom we have technically advised.

That is the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Industry and Commerce?

The Minister for Industry and Commerce and the Minister for Finance. Again, in advising these Ministers we do not want to take the risk of putting upon Wexford, under the impression that they are getting something very beneficial, something that may not be beneficial. Rosslare Strand erosion, and later the question of Lahinch erosion, have been raised. There was a commission appointed in relation to that in 1929. It did report, and I shall only just give you the first of its unsatisfactory decisions. It reads somewhat as follows—in other words I am not quoting the document: The Saorstát Government should not assume, in general practice, responsibility for the defence of the coast. It might give assistance in special cases, on special conditions. That is all they did report. The Department which that concerned is not the Board of Works. Again, the Minister for Industry and Commerce took power, as a result, I should say, of a commission of this kind, a power which he is exercising at the moment, to prevent people doing damage by removing part of the foreshore, as they were doing even at the most critical points, for the purposes of road-making.

Deputy Corry says that of the £900,000, £700,000 is spent in Dublin. I am going to interest myself in finding out what proportion of the total actually is spent in Dublin. There are certain reasons why it should be spent here. It is the centre of Government and it pays a very large proportion of the total funds that are spent here. There is no means of preventing that, but still it would be worth while knowing. Deputy Corry says that Dun Laoghaire Harbour is very expensive, but it is actually a profit. It pays for itself. I think Deputy Corry is aware of the difficulties in relation to the airport in Cork. Some of them reside in Cork. Every effort will be made at this end, at any rate, to help on anyone in Cork who desires effectively to contribute to the carrying out of that enterprise.

What are we contributing to Dublin?

Fifty per cent. to an aerodrome which already existed.

And in Clare?

In Clare the whole lot. Deputy Brennan calls attention to the increase of staff in the special works division, which I think was probably the only comment which would be in order on that particular portion of the Estimate. Well, last year we administered a fund of £500,000. This year we have administered a fund of £2,500,000, and have laid down the works; the whole of that £2,500,000 has practically been absorbed on works which have been arranged.

Do we take it from that that the whole of this £2,500,000 has been expended?

Would the Parliamentary Secretary say how much of it?

I will give you all that information later. I am dealing now only with the mere net point. I am very anxious not to go further than anybody else would have been entitled to go.

I should like to get it; just that little bit.

I am complimenting Deputy Brennan on having said the only orderly thing which could have been said on this. He commented on the increase of staff. The only answer to that is that the work has increased. I am perfectly satisfied that there is no Department in the whole State in which the men are working harder and more effectively than in that Department. I am perfectly satisfied to invite any inquiry of any sort, kind or description, into that matter. My only feeling is that I am perhaps working some of my men harder than I am entitled to do.

I do not think Deputy Brennan suggested that they were not working hard.

No, but I should like the Dáil to understand that if they want that work done, then the staff will have to be provided for it.

Hear, hear.

The question has been raised that the local authorities staff has been hampered in doing this work, but I think we had better leave that over until another occasion. The Viceregal Lodge has been arranged to be a museum. No information has been given to me, at any rate, that it is to be used for any other purpose, nor do I believe that there is an intention to use it for any other purpose. The intention is to convert it into a folklore museum. Plans and estimates are out for that, and I think that contracts are actually in process of consideration. In regard to the Roscommon Abbey, I remember going into that matter at the time, and my impression is that we are up against a legal difficulty. At any rate I will look into the matter and communicate with Deputy Brennan in regard to it.

Deputy Hogan of Clare wants to know what is going to happen to the Fergus. I wish I knew. The Fergus has been a very unfortunate case. After a considerable amount of work had been done her banks broke down. Those banks were repaired again, and in a new place that old bank gave away. There is reason to believe that the whole of the bank which has been pierced on more than one occasion is structurally unsound. It goes back for a very long time; it is not due to the structure of the bank, but to the nature of the ground upon which that bank has been built. We have had to try back from that bank to find further in—at the price of sacrificing certain of the land which is now flooded—a basis upon which we could build a solid bank. Now, that would seem all right, but we are not satisfied that if we do that we are at the end of the trouble in relation to existing banks. It is a very serious question as to whether or not we should spend more money on that enterprise, or whether we should not recognise that just as an army retreats to get into a sounder position we may have to accept a new line on the Fergus as a line which we can defend from the mixture of tidal action, wind action and flood action. That is a matter for the Department of Industry and Commerce. The bog-slide is a matter on which we did, under another Vote, give certain assistance to the people whose property had been damaged there, but apart from that it is a matter for the Land Commission and not for us.

Deputy Kissane raised the question of Brick and Cashen. He made the rather extraordinary suggestion that in a scheme of £100,000 we should try an experiment of £10,000. Now, I am all for experiment. I believe that in ordinary cases it is best to do something somewhere and see what happens, but this is one of the cases in which I think experiment is completely ruled out. I cannot see that an experiment would give us any information of value in relation to the Brick and Cashen. In relation to arterial drainage, broadly speaking I do not know any portion of that arterial drainage in which experiments would give valuable information. If for instance it was a question of getting to know the nature and quality of an embankment that would stand up in certain circumstances, I would have no hesitation in saying that an experiment of that kind would be useful, or if it was a question of whether you could, by making models of an estuary, discover what would happen in the matter of silting or anything of that kind, that would be a perfectly legitimate experiment and well worth the money, but that would be the investigating of the effect of a continuous process of some kind, as, for instance, how much silt was going to be carried down under the bar of a certain river for a certain period of years under certain circumstances. The difficulty we are up against in regard to the Brick and Cashen, Rosslare Harbour, Wexford Harbour, Arklow Harbour and other places, is what would happen in the sudden unpredictable action of natural forces in the way of tide, wind or storm, and I do not see how a £10,000 experiment in that matter would be of assistance.

Somebody raised the question of the cost of administration. All that I am concerned with is that I was asked whether the salary of the chairman was pensionable. It is. Deputy Nally referred to the question of the Gweston, Pollock and Yellow Rivers. A valuation and survey have been made in those cases. The question of resultant flooding is being looked into, and the scheme is being considered, but in addition to the question of resultant flooding it has to be remembered that the scheme will require free grants of 92 per cent. at least. In other words, the very best estimate is an 8 per cent. deficiency—a very good example of the phrase which I used in regard to the incalculable value of a drainage scheme of this character. In regard to the Robe, he asked whether an extension could be made on that. A major extension of the scheme is not permissible, as the Act does not allow of land not included in the scheme being assessed for benefit. It is open to those interested to proceed by way of separate petition if the scheme is considered large enough.

Deputy Morrissey is well aware of the difficulties in relation to the Nenagh scheme. Once it is turned down by the nominal beneficiaries, as it has been in this particular case, our function is exhausted in the matter. We can do no more. That scheme, as far as I remember, is about 30 per cent. economic, and, curiously enough, it is the schemes which are fairly economic which are turned down by farmers.

Fifty per cent. and 17 per cent. from the county council.

That is 67 per cent. It is 33 per cent. economic, but they have turned it down, and we can do nothing in the matter. It may be a matter for the drainage commission. It is certainly a question which they would consider, whether there are any circumstances in which a government and a local authority would carry out a drainage scheme over the heads of a hostile vote of those who are supposed to benefit.

When the Parliamentary Secretary uses the expression, "a hostile vote." I think it is only fair to say that even after the 67 per cent.—that is, the 50 per cent. plus the 17 per cent. from the county council—the drainage rate on the lands benefited varied from, I think, 2/6 per acre to 26/- per acre.

That is exactly the point which I want the Deputy to understand. It was rejected by the people who were asked to pay that rate. It was rejected by people who were told that their land had been improved by £3 an acre. It was rejected by people who were told that their land had been improved by 2/6 an acre. If those figures are reduced, then it simply means that the thing is going to be less economic. In other words, this was rejected because it was a scheme in which there was a very considerable calculable benefit to the land as a result of it. Again, I want to say to the Deputy that in this matter we can do nothing. The local people can come forward again with a petition, but they will have to be prepared to accept as a fact that they will vote for a scheme and for a contribution by the local benefited landowners on the estimated value of that benefit.

We come back to the other question with regard to the commission: whether there are any circumstances under which a government will insist on carrying out a drainage scheme against the will of those who are going to benefit by it. Again, that is a question on which we do not know what the advice of the commission will be, but it is one of those questions which the commission might well consider. Take a case like Brick and Cashen in which it is estimated there is going to be a six per cent. improvement. Having regard to all the delays, all the expenses of the commissions, and inquiries and everything else that had to be carried out in relation to that scheme, because people are going to be asked to contribute even six per cent., there is the idea in the minds of some people that, where the total benefit is below a certain amount, it would pay the State probably better to do the whole work themselves than attempt to collect annuities of that kind over the period over which they would have to be collected. That is an open question. It is one of the questions which will be considered by the commission.

With regard to the new headquarters in Kildare Street, at the start I got together my technical and administrative officers and asked them to lay down a schedule of the time it would take to build from the time that we agreed to advertise for plans and specifications. I was astonished myself as a non-professional man in relation to that particular matter at the time. We checked over those time schedules. A very considerable period is required. Take the plans sent in—the plans that won the prize. They are not the plans on which you work. They have to be redrafted. Quantity surveyors have to be let loose on them. Then there is the giving of the contracts. The time schedule that we laid down before we started is not being exceeded. As a matter of curiosity, I would be perfectly willing to let the Deputy look at the originals. He will have to accept it that all those things are being done under the highest possible professional and administrative advice. There is no delay which could be avoided taking place in regard to the new headquarters at Kildare Street.

Surely it does not take four years.

It is going to take four years from the time it is started until it is finished. With regard to the Thurles post office, in this case the Board of Works is not to blame. We build things for other Departments and they have to be satisfied. We have succeeded in getting over the lawyers, but we still have to build the house in a way in which the people who are going to live in it like. The Deputy is interested in Kilmastulla river. My recollection of this river is that it is one which has a very high and very steep catchment area. The water comes down in wild floods and washes everything out. The engineering difficulties are considerable, and the estimates and plans had to be revised several times in the light of experience that we have had in other places. It will cost somewhere about £11,500. A grant of 50 per cent. from the Government has been sanctioned. The county council will probably contribute the balance. This looks to be a 100 per cent. uneconomic scheme. It is probable that the delay will be less than usual if the county council are going to contribute half and the Government the other half. We do not anticipate much delay.

The Parliamentary Secretary would not be so optimistic if he had a more intimate knowledge of the present financial capacity of the county council.

Here is a scheme which is 100 per cent. uneconomic. The evidence is that if the county council are prepared to find 50 per cent., the Government is prepared to find its percentage. It does not look as if anybody is holding up drainage schemes in this country on the ground of money. Deputy Flynn of Kerry is interested in some drainage work which I hope to discuss with him on another occasion.

Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary would deal with the other points I raised.

Yes. I think the other case was a question of wages in forestry—15/- and so on. As the Deputy remarked, there is a very wide discrepancy. At the moment, I cannot naturally identify every one of these, but I will look into the matter and let him know. I think it will probably be found to be boys, or something of that kind. Deputy Keyes wants to know whether any further work is to be done at the Limerick Labour Exchange. It is not intended to do any further work there at present. Maintenance work will be done as it is required by the Department responsible.

When is it proposed to erect the new waiting room at the entrance to Leinster House?

That is a matter which would be much more appropriately put to the Ceann Comhairle, I think. We can only give advice and arrange plans, etc.

There is a question as to the procedure for asking the Ceann Comhairle.

It is a difficult architectural problem. I want any Deputy to go out and just envisage for himself any building he would put there. I have seen half a dozen plans.

The matter is having attention anyway?


Did the Parliamentary Secretary say that they do not intend to do anything more to the Limerick Labour Exchange?

There is nothing further going to be done this year unless we have a demand from those who are responsible.

The work has been left incomplete. There is no question of that.

That is a matter of opinion.

I should like to know when you are going to remove the scarecrow in front of the entrance to Leinster House?

Calling it a scarecrow will not help in its removal. If we treat it as an obstruction or a monument or something of that kind, it might be easier to remove it. That is my intention anyway.

As we are on the question of the approach to Leinster House, I should like to raise the question of the lighting. I do not mean the interior lighting, but the exterior lighting of the approach from Kildare Street.

Through the actual grounds?

You think it would require attention?

Most Deputies will agree that it is not adequately lighted.

I shall look into that and make suggestions to the Ceann Comhairle.

I have heard Deputies and visitors comment on the fact that it is almost in darkness.

That is a very proper suggestion and I shall look into it and make suggestions to the Ceann Comhairle.

There are two schemes I should like to bring to the notice of the Parliamentary Secretary. One is the River Suir drainage scheme, and the other is the Drish drainage scheme. I see no provision made in the Estimates for either of these, and these rivers are doing a lot of damage.

If the Deputy will excuse me, I will hold that debate with him in my office. It will avoid a whole new debate here.

Vote put and agreed to.