Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 8 Apr 1937

Vol. 66 No. 4

Committee on Finance. - Vote 41—Local Government and Public Health (resumed).

Last night, when the Dáil adjourned, I was about to read a letter sent by the Bray Ratepayers' Association to the town clerk of the Bray Urban Council. The letter reads:

"Dear Sir,—I have been directed by the executive committee of the above association to request from you the following information, viz:—

"‘(1) What amount of money, if any, is being expended or proposed to be expended on the Wolfe Tone Square housing scheme for the purpose of carrying away roof and surface water since the completion of the contract.' The answer to that query was: ‘Estimated by the surveyor at £120.'

"‘(2) If any sum is being expended on completing the scheme, is it intended to recover the amount from the contractor who built the houses?' The answer to that is ‘No.'

"‘(3) Was a final certificate issued to the contractor in respect of the scheme and a final payment made?' The answer to that is ‘Yes.'

"‘(4) Who prepared the plans and specifications for the houses in Wolfe Tone Square?' The answer to that is: ‘Mr. E.M. Murphy, B.E.'

"‘(5) What is the all-in cost of the scheme, including purchase of land, development, salaries and bonus to officials?' The answer is: ‘According to returns submitted to members of the Council, £106,670 15s. 5d., including £120, as mentioned above.'

"Question 6 was: ‘What was the actual amount paid to the contractor?' The answer was: ‘£82,025 14/-.' Question 7 was: ‘What grants have been obtained from the Government for the houses built by the Bray Urban District Council in respect of the scheme?' The answer was: ‘£1,200 during the year 1935-6, and two-thirds of the yearly charge on £300 per house of all-in cost.'"

On the 2nd February the Bray Ratepayers' Association sent the following resolution to the Minister:—

"We call upon the Minister for Local Government and Public Health to hold a sworn inquiry into the cost of the Wolfe Tone Square housing scheme, Bray; the materials used in the construction of the houses, the general control and management of the scheme, and the present condition of the houses. We consider that this inquiry is urgently needed in view of the complaints of the great majority of the tenants, who have been moved from comparatively dry houses to these new houses which, they allege, are reeking with damp, and, in the words of Deputy The O'Mahony, who inspected the houses (Parliamentary Debates, 3rd February, 1937, col. 149), are a breeding ground of consumption. As a very large sum of ratepayers' money has been sunk in this scheme, we demand this inquiry for the purpose of fixing the blame on the responsible parties."

On the 23rd March the Department of Local Government and Public Health sent the following reply:—

"I am directed by the Minister for Local Government and Public Health to acknowledge receipt of your letter of 2nd instant on the subject and to state that the question of the condition of the houses erected by the Bray Urban District Council at Wolfe Tone Square is receiving attention."

I now understand that on the 30th of last month the Minister sent a notification to the Bray Ratepayers' Association that he would not hold a sworn inquiry into the matter, and that it was a matter for the Bray Urban District Council and their technical advisers. With regard to Question No. 1, to which I have referred, namely, the amount that was expended or that was proposed to be expended on the Wolfe Tone Square scheme for the purpose of carrying away roof and surface water since the completion of the contract, the reply of the town clerk was £120. I would like to draw the Minister's attention to the fact that when I inspected these houses it was a very wet night, and I saw down-pipes with water coming out at full force and emptying itself under the clay soil. There was no provision for carrying away the water and the state of things was truly appalling. With regard to the seventh question, as to what grants have been obtained from the Government for the houses built by the Bray Urban District Council, in respect of the scheme, the answer was £1,200 during the year 1935-36 and two-thirds of the yearly charge on £300 per house of all-in cost.

The Minister is the responsible person for the public money being spent by his Department. He has refused to hold a sworn inquiry into this question of the houses in Bray. It is impossible to get away from the fact that something went wrong. Who the culprit is I do not know, but surely the Minister is the proper person to go to. One would imagine that he would be the very first and the most anxious person to get to the root of the whole of this trouble. To my mind he is the one person who should help, but I am sorry to say that instead of trying to help he endeavours to put the onus on the local council and apparently his attitude is: "It has nothing to do with me."

Surely the Minister must appreciate what impression this is going to have on the public mind. A very large sum is being expended on a housing scheme and for some reason the houses are not what they should be. People were taken out of dry houses and put into houses which are not dry. Not only that, but they were taken out of houses where they paid a comparatively small rent and put into houses where they have to pay an increased rent. What are the public going to think? They are already asking themselves why has not the Minister taken some action. They wonder what is the good of electing Ministers unless they accept responsibility? If there is trouble the Minister should be the first person to find out the cause of the trouble.

There is another very serious point which may occur to the public and that is that if the Minister will not take any action it is because there is something to hide. The Minister is in a very responsible position and to my mind it is his duty never to allow any grounds for such a thought crossing the public mind. Supposing there is something to hide, is it not all the more the Minister's duty to bring it to light? The Minister is the responsible person and it is obvious to me— and I am very certain it will be obvious to everybody—that unless a sworn inquiry is held into this matter, the people will say that the Government dare not hold an inquiry. I do not want that to be the result. The Minister has it in his power, if he so wishes, to hold a sworn inquiry and find out who is responsible for this deplorable condition of affairs.

Now, unfortunately, those houses at Bray are not the only ones. There are other places in County Wicklow where there are also leaking houses, and I remember going along, not very far from where I live, and seeing the tiles going on to the roofs of certain houses. Very shortly afterwards, I passed that place, and the roofs were completed; but I passed again a short time afterwards, and what did I see? I saw all the roofs being taken off again. Naturally, I made inquiries, and what did I find? I found that the tiles were so porous that they were incapable of keeping out the rain, and so all the tiles were taken off, and on top of the boards on which the tiles had been placed, what did they do? They put on tarred felt, and then they put the same tiles back again. Well, I do not profess to know a great deal about building myself, but I know a certain amount about it and I can picture what is happening between that tarred felt and those tiles, especially in the summer time after anything, such as a storm of rain, comes. These, however, are the very things which should not take place.

We have heard mention about this housing board that is supposed to take an interest in such matters and to see that these sorts of things do not happen. Apparently, however, nothing is done. I gather that some very large salaries are paid to members of this particular board—again, public money. What are they doing? It should not be necessary for me to get up here in the Dáil and make these complaints to the Minister. It should be absolutely unnecessary to do so, but since it is driven in upon me to get up here in the Dáil and make these statements, I think it is up to the Minister to do everything in his power to have the matter put right. We have heard a great deal about the various housing schemes, and we have heard a great deal about the slums in Dublin. There is one matter, however, which I should like to mention. I know it affects another Department than the Minister's, but the Minister is responsible for the medical officers of health. We talk about the slums in Dublin, but I should like to ask, what about the school slums in the country? I know that some of them exist under very deplorable conditions, and I would urge the Minister to ask his medical officers of health to make reports on these schools and, as far as he is able to do so, to bring pressure to bear on the Minister responsible in this matter. I shall not say anything more with regard to that.

In conclusion, Sir, I should like to appeal to the Minister to take a firm stand on this question of housing in Bray. Those houses have been put up at very considerable expense to the ratepayers of Bray and to the public as well. This is a matter that should not be left alone. It is in the Minister's hands to clear up the whole matter, and I hope that, for the sake of the country, and for the good name of his own Department, he will do so.

I think, Sir, that Deputy The O'Mahony might have added some of the dispensaries to some of the school houses that he mentioned. I should like, for the few short minutes I shall be on my feet here, to refer to the very heavily overworked officials that exist to-day in our counties: namely, the surveyors. Large amounts of money, either voted from the Central Fund or raised through the rates or some other source, have been raised for the purpose of giving relief grants for unemployment, and it would seem that the surveyors in the counties where these grants are being administered or allotted—I am sure this applies to every county, but it certainly applies to the constituencies of which I have experience—have had their work doubled and, I might say without any exaggeration, trebled, as a result of this. There seems to be some conflict between two Government Departments. You have the Board of Works, and you have the Minister's own Department of Local Government. Now, apparently, the first thing the surveyor must do is to work out specifications for the different parts of the county where unemployment exists, and these specifications are sent on to the Department of Local Government or to the Board of Works. In the meantime, a census has got to be taken in that area of the men that are unemployed. Sometimes, the employment offices are quite far removed from the actual district affected in the county, but the surveyor seems to be the one responsible individual to gather and collect this information to the local labour exchanges. The result is that, when his specifications are passed and when the actual unemployed number is verified, that money must be spent actually within that area where the unemployed are and in connection with which the specifications are sent up. The result is that by the time the grant is passed and the specifications passed, the unemployment in that area has probably gone up by, say, from 20 to 30, with the result that with regard to the particular part of the county which is to be helped the whole plan breaks down. Then, again, it goes to the other extreme. Sometimes men are taken from a particular part of the county to go eight or nine miles away on a particular job, with the result that, when the specification is passed, the scheme comes down worked out for, say, 30 men, and there are only 20 or 15 or ten men there. There must be something wrong there. The scheme does not seem to work. My view is that it should be worked from a central point in the county; that it should have nothing to do with county councils or urban councils, or even with politicians, if that pollutes it. Let the surveyor have some elastic way of working the scheme. I am sure that if the Minister will ask for a report from his chief officials, they will be able to verify what I am speaking about and they will be able to give him details which I am incapable and incompetent of giving here, and naturally, because I have not time to go into these things here. However, that state of affairs exists, and his officials can verify it. Now, further, I think the Minister ought to have a fairly extensive inquiry into the administration of vocational education in this country. There is no doubt at all that vocational education is a very excellent thing and that, possibly, in many places it is a great success.

Would the Deputy suggest where the responsibility of the Minister for Local Government and Public Health enters there?

Well, I am sorry, Sir, if that is out of order. I shall have to postpone that until I get an opportunity which, apparently, as far as I can see, has already passed: but I may be able to squeeze it in sometime when the Chair is not so vigilant.

What a hope!

However, Sir, I should like to ask the Minister first of all to pay attention to that matter, if I am not in any way disrespectful in the few remarks I have made. Deputy Norton here yesterday made a very strong complaint about the erection of, and the progress made in the erection of, the housing schemes in County Kildare. Now, I think the Minister will agree that anything that Deputy Norton has said has not been exaggerated in any way, as far as I can see.

The time has come when some more drastic method, power or authority in supervising and dealing with the erection of artisans' houses and cottages should be rigorously invoked. It is quite obvious, as Deputy Norton said yesterday, that we have contractors going into this type of business, some of whom have no experience whatever, some of whom have no capital at all, and some of whom, apparently, have been able to get some form of surety which seems to satisfy the powers that be, local or otherwise. The surety very often is not worth the paper upon which the bonds are written. At all events, houses are going up which are not a credit to the county in which they are being built; neither are they fulfilling the idea for which housing grants were made available. The housing grants were made available, I am sure, in order that houses might be erected for unfortunate poor people. They were not to be exploited as a money-making game or gamble. I am sorry to say that seems to have been the experience in the constituency from which I come. I do not say that all contractors are to blame, but, unfortunately, there has been more or less an epidemic of faulty building in our particular part of the country. Hence, I find myself in complete agreement with what Deputy Norton has said, and I should like to support him in every possible way. I myself have seen houses built into which the former occupants of condemned houses some short distance away were sent to live. One thing certain is that the condemned houses were far and away healthier and better places than some of the new houses. One sees roofs leaking and chimneys not drawing in many of these new houses.

I remember bringing this matter forward this time last year. I brought it forward with every sincerity, and I hate to have to refer to it again, but I do believe that very little has been done to bring about an improvement in that respect. If there is one authority which could make everybody sit up, it is that of the Vice-President from his office here in Dublin. There is no use in merely sending letters down to local authorities. A definite threat should be made that grants will be withdrawn if local authorities do not carry out a through examination of the fitness or otherwise of those who offer themselves as contractors for housing schemes. Handy-men may be able to carry out certain work very successfully, but they are not qualified, and that is the trouble. Last year I said, and I want to repeat it before I sit down, that the time, in my opinion, has arrived when it is necessary to face the fact that county councils and urban councils have so much work of a specialised nature thrust upon them that they are absolutely unable to give any proper detailed attention to it. As a matter of fact, local administration is becoming a specialised, whole-time business, and if the money expended on local administration is to be spent properly and to the best advantage, some new method of local administration will have to be evolved.

What is the suggestion? I shall probably be accused of being a Fascist or something like that if I say that the managerial system must come sooner or later and that small local bodies will have to be joined up or interlocked with the managerial system. The smaller these bodies are, the more effective they will be. How exactly that system will be introduced I am not in a position to say. It only requires pluck and determination to do it, and I believe that local administration will be greatly improved. At the present moment, it is necessary, in view of the fact that we go up for election to local bodies as political representatives, to have our fling and to indulge in politics now and again. I am sorry to say that sometimes we go in for vote-catching as opposed to good administration and doing the unpopular thing. Anybody reading the local Press cannot deny that we are all affected now and again by that practice. In order to get votes, we have to take up a certain attitude on certain questions. We are not saints. We may be political sinners. I suggest that a new system of local administration will have to be adopted in the general interest of the ratepayers, the poor people, and particularly of those tenants of new cottages. It may be unpopular to suggest it, it may be unpopular to introduce it, but it will become popular in the end, because it will have good results. It will clear away abuses and quicken our country's progress in local administration. It will make it move more rapidly forward and change the present system of a little progress now, a halt here, a little backsliding again, and sometimes no progress at all.

I do not agree with the last speaker that the managerial system will have any effect in making the smoke go the proper way in County Kildare. As a matter of fact, the smoke has been going the wrong way in County Kildare for many years. I remember reading of the experiences of a traveller in Kildare in 1785, and even then, he said, the smoke went through the windows. It will continue to go through the windows, no matter how many local authorities you put under the managerial system. Last evening I was on my feet at the same time as Deputy Dillon. Deputy Dillon was called before me, by what right of precedence I do not know. I am a member of the Dublin Corporation and, if there is any right of precedence, I think it should be accorded to members of that distinguished body. To my amazement, the Deputy for 50 minutes launched into a personal attack on the abilities and the achievements of our Minister here. What his idea could have been I do not know. I am afraid he represents the bad boy here. He has all the impertinence and assurance of the bad boy. He may not be as young as he looks at present, but we can give him the benefit of the doubt—apply a sort of probation to him. I have been here for three and a half years and constantly during that time, on the benches opposite, especially from those decorating the Front Bench, there have been produced documents time and again, documents which they called plans, promises, and all that class of thing. They have become, so far as I could judge the last time they were produced, fairly worn out and mouldy-looking now.

They are completely worn out.

Mr. Kelly

I think you will want to take good care of them because they will be badly needed in a few months time. It is a pity they should be destroyed.

You will want to produce new ones.

Mr. Kelly

I suggest they should give them a coat of size. Varnish would be too much for their funds as the subscriptions are not coming in now. Preserve them; they are wonderful documents. I myself have always had a fancy for old documents, especially when they get a bit of mould, because I always remember the number of distinguished hands which they must have passed through during their period. Look at all the distinguished hands those documents have passed through over there. Recently there has been a new appearance. There has been a document discovered and introduced here in evidence by Deputy McGilligan in his latest speech. It was got out by a charitable organisation here in the city, I think about November last, and contains an appeal to the charitable people of Dublin. In that document it was stated—I have not seen it myself—that there were certain references to the Dublin Corporation housing activities. So far as I could judge from the way in which Deputy McGilligan phrased it, this document represented that people were now accommodated with good-class dwellings, but unfortunately they were not able to pay for them, the consequence being that they were on relief, and in order to pay the rent of those houses or flats they had practically to starve. That was the construction, so far as I could judge at any rate, that the speaker put on the statements contained in that document. If that were so, the poor people's last case would be worse than their first. If they were on relief of some kind or another, and had to pay much higher rents than they had been paying in their other dwellings, having to deprive themselves of the necessaries of life in order to do so, that would be a position in which none of us would like to take pride.

A document like that, in the hands of what the Deputy might refer to as politicians, would become a dangerous document if it could not be explained. Therefore, I propose to explain it here, not that it will do us any good at present, but it will get on the records of this House and will be available later on. The position at present in connection with that particular matter is as follows: The corporation has a total of 13,755 families housed at the present moment. Of those, 1,000 families are receiving relief. The population that the corporation deals with amounts to about 70,000 persons. Out of that, 5,000 would be regarded as being on relief. Of those 1,000 families, 446 owe nothing; they have paid their rents up-to-date. The total weekly relief that those families get is £639, and their weekly rent is £287 9s. 7d. The arrears due by those 1,000 families at present amount to £540 18s., so that at least 50 per cent. of those on relief pay their rents and are clear, and the other 50 per cent. do not starve because they do not pay their rents. It is an extraordinary thing that at this time of our lives I have to put those figures before the representatives of the nation, but they are necessary because of statements made by men over there who have a great responsibility, but a responsibility which they do not seem to recognise. That would be a nice thing to spread all over the world—that families housed by the corporation have to starve in order to pay their rent. About 7 per cent. receive relief; it is not very high. I do regret that there are so many, but certainly it is nothing to try to make any political capital out of. In some of those districts where the corporation has dwellings the people are exceedingly poor. They live on casual labour, having maybe one month's work and two or three months idle. That type of men and women have to be housed by us. In some of those places it is extraordinary how well they pay their rent. Having referred to that portion, I was going to read out the various areas in which those houses or flats are erected, but I will not take up the time of the House in doing so. For the present I am satisfied to give those total figures, in order, as I said before, that they might be recorded.

Deputy Dillon last night went a good deal further. He charged the Minister and his Department with the responsibility for the erection of the corporation dwellings. They have no responsibility whatever for them. The responsibility for those dwellings rests with the Dublin Corporation, and with nobody else. It is true that, before the buildings are started, plans are submitted to the Local Government Department for their approval. A certain standard is laid down by the Local Government Department, which must be followed by all local bodies who wish to erect dwellings. That standard was fixed—this is important —by the late Government, after prolonged conference with their representatives in the year 1931. When Deputy Dillon, or any other Deputy over there, complains about the size of the houses erected, he should remember that they are erected to the standard set up by the late Government.

Deputy Dillon described a visit which he paid to the Anchor Brewery, as he called it. It is now called Oliver Bond's house. Why the corporation fixed that name on it I could never understand. It is a matter of historical interest to those who think something of Dublin that Oliver Bond's house is in Bridge Street. There is a marble slab on it, indicating that in that house he lived. It was erected in 1898 by the commemoration committees which existed in those days. Right beside that house in Bridge Street the corporation has erected a large block of flats, and those would be the proper houses to which to apply the name of Oliver Bond, rather than to the Anchor Brewery site which is more than a stone's throw away. This is a most historical neighbourhood, teeming with historical incidents, and I am sorry that the name is not locally applied to it. He describes the visit which he paid to Oliver Bond's house, otherwise the Anchor Brewery. Whether he went alone or was accompanied by anybody he did not say. He said that the Minister and the housing board ought to be ashamed of themselves—he used some such term—to have allowed such places to be erected; that no matter what were the position or circumstances of the people of Dublin who needed better accommodation the old ruins in which they had lived were lofty and airy, whereas the Deputy, with the brilliant vocabulary he has at his command, described these places as cubby-holes, dog-boxes, and things like that. Now what are the facts? These special flat dwellings—everybody I have met who has seen them has congratulated the corporation on their achievement —are erected on a site lately known as D'Arcy's Brewery. The reason that it was selected for the carrying out of a housing scheme was this, that it was not necessary to disturb any existing tenant. No one lived on the site. That is always a great advantage in the City of Dublin: to be able to get a site where you have not to evict and get rid of people in order to pull down old houses and that class of thing. It is true that a lot of old brewery buildings had to be pulled down, but, nevertheless, no tenant had to be disturbed.

On that site we have erected a large number of flat dwellings, mostly of the three-roomed type. The average size of the living-room is from 157 to 163 superficial feet. The bedrooms have from 110 to 139, and the total space is 436 square feet. In each of these flat dwellings they have a bath, hot and cold water, lavatory, scullery, etc., and the electric light is laid on. For that accommodation they are asked to pay a rent of 6/- a week. The total cost of the erection of each of these flats is about £524. Now, the economic rent to be charged on an expenditure of £524 for the erection of a dwelling would be at least 15/- or 16/- a week, but the tenants in those flats are only asked to pay 6/- a week. The flats have other amenities that it is not necessary for me to mention. There is, for instance, a fine, spacious playground for the children, and all the accommodation that is necessary for a comfortable home. When I and others know the terrible state in which those people were living before they were put into those flats, I cannot understand the idea of any man standing up here to point the finger of scorn at the Minister or anybody else who has had anything to do with the provision of those flats. I say that it is politics gone mad. As a matter of fact, I ought to be very glad that the Deputy picked out this special case, because the fact of his doing so can, I think, be used with great effect at the coming elections. It can be said, "Here is a place where there are 300 families decently housed; they are all perfectly satisfied that they are getting splendid value." It was only the other day that I met one of these people, and he said to me, "Look here, Mr. Kelly, I never was as well off in my life as I am now."

As I have said, the statement made here by the Deputy last night can be used with great effect at the coming elections. I wonder why his Party allowed him to make such a statement. There are some supporters of the Deputy's Party on our housing committee, and I must say that they are splendid workers. They take as much pride in this splendid work as I do myself. I wonder why the Deputy did not make some inquiries from some of his colleagues. One of them is Deputy Doyle, the Whip of the Deputy's Party. Deputy Doyle is a member of the housing committee, and takes a great interest in its work. He knows this building well, and I am perfectly certain that if Deputy Dillon had made inquiries from him he would not have allowed the Deputy to make such a statement as he made last night.

Now, what are the facts in connection with the relief business? There are 62 families in this special block of flats on relief. Their total weekly relief comes to £32 16s. 0d. The rent they pay out of that is £15 12s. 1d., and the balance is due, so that the corporation have to bear the rent in some of those cases where the families are not able to pay. That fact ought not to be made public. Certainly it ought not to be presented here in the sense of political propaganda. I do not know that there is anything more that I have to say in connection with this rather unpleasant business. I hope that, if other members of the Opposition propose to speak on this Vote, they will make some amends for the statements made by Deputy Dillon concerning this special work done by the corporation. I do not know whether they will or not, but I suggest to them that they should. I think they ought to ask Deputy Doyle to speak. I would be very much interested to hear what he would say. Last year I presented here a very melancholy picture of the conditions under which the very poor live in Dublin. Here we are making a splendid effort to try and relieve that situation. It is a very costly effort. These flat dwellings with three rooms, with hot and cold water, a bath, and other amenities, are costing us £524 each to erect. Just imagine what the cost is going to be when you have thousands and thousands of families in the city to be dealt with as the families in those flats have been. The Government are blamed for spending money and for increasing the rates and taxes, but the rates and taxes must be increased if all this work is to be done, and done it will have to be, because those families in Dublin have made up their minds that they are not going to continue to live under the conditions in which they have been living any longer. The corporation is very hard pressed, indeed, to carry out the work as quickly as it is necessary to be carried out. I can tell members of the House that the demands for housing accommodation are extraordinarily heavy, and more especially for those flat dwellings rather than for the cottage dwellings in the suburbs.

I have listened to complaints here about the condition of some new houses built in the country and in other places. Complaints have been made about houses built in Bray. Deputy The O'Mahony who made those complaints was, I am sure, very conscientious and very sincere in the statements he made. After all, I think many of those complaints can be explained. For instance, some of the people in our new dwellings complain when the walls get damp. They say the houses are damp. The architects and other experienced men point out that that is due to condensation. They point out that if the tenants would only leave the windows open and let in plenty of air there would not be very much trouble on that score.

We are told that some of the fittings in the new houses are faulty. If that is so it is due to this, that it is the policy of the Minister and of the Executive Council that all the materials used in the building of these new houses must be of Irish manufacture as far as possible. What happens in that connection? That the fitments necessary for those houses are being manufactured here for the first time. Take one fitment—the slop-stone. We have trouble in connection with it. I believe that in other countries slop-stones are made of white china or some such material. In this country they are making a substitute—concrete ones. These have proved to be porous. The water trickles through them. They had to be taken out and others substituted. As regards matters of that kind, you are bound to have complaints, and especially from people who like to be grousing about the smallest possible fault. Therefore, when I heard Deputy The O'Mahony speak about the tiles—he said he saw them being taken down and put back again—it occurred to me that probably the same thing had happened there as in the case of slop-stones—that they were Irish manufactured tiles, were probably the first products of the new factory, and not properly seasoned or dried. These things, however, will pass away.

We have demonstrated at any rate to those who make complaints to us that there is no fault to be put at anybody's door in connection with the matter, but that it was a genuine and patriotic effort to try and have all the fitments required in connection with these new houses made here. The Minister was told by Deputy Dillon last night that it would be his last speech as Minister for Local Government, that the handwriting was on the wall, and that the time was coming when he should give an account of his stewardship, and all that sort of talk. Take care the boot is not on the other foot, because I think if Deputy Dillon continues his campaign there will not be sufficient of you left over there to keep yourselves warm when the election is over. I would not like to see the Opposition done away with altogether; I would like to see some of them come back anyway. Some of them are very decent and quiet men, and I would certainly miss the pleasure of looking at them.

We will vote early and often this time.

Mr. Kelly

I hope you will do well enough, but you will want to mind yourselves. I should like to see them back, but for the last three and a half years they have been doing nothing but grousing and producing documents and plans and resolutions about 20,000 men to be put into employment, and 80,000 men on top of them: about the rates which were to be reduced by £20,000,000 and all that class of thing. For three and a half years I have been sitting here listening to them and looking at them holding up their documents. Now they are dying and they are not repentant, evidently. I would advise them that a death-bed repentance is even better than no repentance at all. Let them produce their plans for better housing in Dublin and in Kildare and other places and show how it can be done better. If they cannot do that, I advise them not to be talking about it, as they might have a better chance. The prospect looks very blue for them. As this is a democratic institution, I would not like to see the Opposition wiped out altogether. I should like to see some of them come back, and I hope that some of them will repent even at the last moment.

I do not propose to follow Deputy Kelly in dealing with the plans and promises. I am sure the Minister, like the rest of his colleagues on the Front Bench, would like us to forget about all the plans and promises. Deputy Kelly apparently does not seem to relish opposition. He seems to think that everything produced by Ministers is so perfect that it is not open to any opposition at all and that the country should submit to it meekly without raising any protest. I am sure he will learn in time what constructive opposition does mean in this Dáil and in the country as well. I have just a word of complaint, first of all about the delay in getting replies to applications for grants for the purpose of reconstructing houses or for new houses. In many cases applicants have been waiting six months for a reply and they have not even received so far the printed card usually sent out from Government Departments. I have also to complain of the delays, to me at least abnormal delays, in paying the balance of grants, especially in making final payments of the balance of grants to people who have either built new houses or reconstructed old houses. In fact the complaints from many parts of the country are exceedingly numerous under both the heads I have mentioned. I hope the Minister will look into these two points.

There is an item in the Estimate to which I should like to refer briefly. I notice there is a provision of £132,750 made for the treatment of tuberculosis. I have no doubt that that money is very well spent, but during the last few years I have met patients who have received treatment in these institutions; even during the past fortnight I met a patient who had just left one of these institutions. He was a very intelligent type of person and he really had not a good word to say for the treatment he received in that institution. He complained of the indifference with which he was treated and, above all, of the lack, if you like, of proper medical attention. His impression was that no attempt was being made to keep in touch with the developments which have taken place in other countries in the treatment of this disease; that we are still pursuing the methods of ten, 15, 20, 30 and 40 years ago, and that we are not making any attempt to modernise the institutions so as to bring them into line with the developments which have taken place in the treatment of this disease in other European countries and especially, I believe, in many parts of the United States of America. As I say, I have heard these complaints on very many occasions and I do think it is time that the Minister's attention was drawn to them and that he should cause an examination to be made into the manner in which these institutions are conducted and, above all, into the medical treatment given to patients. He might even go a step further and see if it is not possible to bring that treatment more into line with the modern developments which have taken place in the treatment of this disease in different countries. It seems to be generally agreed, at least I have been told by many people, that the treatment in this country is far and away behind the treatment for that disease in continental countries and in the United States as well. Deputy Rowlette yesterday drew attention to the fact that tuberculosis is on the increase in this country. I was rather surprised at that statement, because I was under the impression that the disease was declining. But we have it on the authority of a medical man that it is on the increase.

The death rate.

That in itself, at any rate, provides the Minister with a reason, and a very sound reason, why he should cause an examination to be made into the whole question of the treatment of tuberculosis in sanitoria in this country. I think some Deputy also called attention to the grants for unemployment relief and to the contributions which local authorities are asked to make towards the carrying out of the work for which these grants are provided. It appears to me that the Minister imposes one condition which may operate quite satisfactorily and fairly in cities and perhaps in some towns, but which does not operate at all fairly or equitably in many counties. I refer to the condition relating to the expenditure of money in the areas of greatest unemployment. It so happens that under the two or three relief grants already given money has been spent in some counties in the same areas, and so long as relief grants are in existence it is only fair to assume that, in some counties at least, the money will continue to be spent in the same areas.

After all, the conditions in the country are quite different from what they are in the cities and towns, and the same factors should not, in equity and justice, operate in regard to the expenditure of these grants in the county areas as in the cities and towns. If county councils are asked to make contributions from local rates, then it appears to be only fair and equitable that, at least, they should have some say in the manner in which the money should be spent. It is a recognised democratic principle that there should be no contribution without representation. In this instance, the Minister is asking members of public bodies to contribute money from the rates for the purpose of relieving unemployment, and yet the members of these bodies have not a word to say as to how or where the money should be spent. On the face of it that seems to be an absolutely unfair principle, one that the Minister will find it very difficult to justify. I submit it is time that that condition in any event, was waived, or, at least, relaxed somewhat in country areas, because the Minister will find from his experience that as long as these conditions continue they merely stereotype the expenditure of that money in the same areas.

There are other areas that require relief. The registers at the unemployment exchanges do not contain the names of all the people who are entitled to assistance under relief schemes. There are still many people in this country who, for personal reasons, refuse to register, because they feel, notwithstanding all the social legislation that has been passed, that some form of stigma attaches to registration. For that reason they will not allow their names to go on such registers. Nevertheless, in the very areas in which they live, and very often they are the areas which contribute the rates most regularly to the local exchequers, there is just as much hardship and poverty as in the areas where the major portion of the unemployment money is spent. I suggest to the Minister that it is time to have an examination made into the manner in which this condition works out throughout the country, and that he should see that it is relaxed to enable county councils to exercise some slight authority in regard to the expenditure of the money. The Minister stated yesterday that the Estimate provided roughly £1,000,000 for expenditure on social services. The amount this year is approximately the same as last year. From the debate that has taken place I think it is perfectly fair to say that the expenditure of money on new buildings, sewerage, drainage and work in connection with public institutions, has been rushed, with the result that the country is not getting the full value for the money spent. I submit as I submitted on the discussion of this Estimate last year, that to spend £1,000,000 on social services in a small State like this is too much for any single year. It is characteristic of Fianna Fáil Estimates, and has been characteristic of that Party since it came into office, that they must rush expenditure at a breakneck pace, regardless of the financial consequences involved and the good of the State. In this instance, they are spending a lot of money on social services instead of spreading the expenditure over a few years. I submitted on a previous occasion that if the State is to get full value for that money, the spending of it must of necessity be spread over a period of years, and a fairly lengthy period. You cannot get such work carried out in a few years. If there is to be efficiency and full value got for the money and, above all, if the expenditure is to be proportioned according to the capacity of the ratepayers to bear it, it is necessary to insist on spreading it over a number of years.

The Minister in justification of this expenditure said that, to a certain extent, the rates were coming in better this year than in previous years. That may be so. I wonder will that continue. I hope it does. As they believe that the public institutions must be kept up the people will certainly pay rates before they pay shopkeepers or other debts. Certainly, the ordinary country people believe in paying rates, and paying them promptly, if they are able to do so. There is increased expenditure in this Estimate to the extent of £5,000 on salaries, wages and allowances, and there are other substantial increases. The tendency is for the expenditure on the Department to increase, just as it is increasing in every other Department of the Government. If expenditure continues to mount at the present rate, does the Minister feel confident that the people in the country districts will be as well able to pay the rates as last year? I doubt it very much. Many people are meeting their liabilities up to the present out of savings that were made in the past. These savings are now exhausted, owing to the operation of the Fianna Fáil policy, and I want to warn the Minister that in future he may find it more difficult to get in rates than it was during the past year. For that reason, I submit it is his duty to keep expenditure down to the lowest possible point consistent with the efficient administration of his Department. Deputy Minch spoke about defects in house building. I do not want to make any complaint, but I could give some details if I wished. Complaint is fairly general, but it is only another illustration of the result of the rushing that takes place in connection with these schemes. As long as that rush continues there cannot be efficiency, and the State cannot expect to get full and adequate value for the money being spent. As the Minister ought to know conditions in the country intimately it is time that he gave consideration to the points raised. I hope that he will give consideration to the first point I mentioned, as I should like to have a reassuring statement on that as well as the other questions.

I desire to join with the other Deputies in congratulating the Minister on the statement that he made to the House. When we realise the responsibility and work of the Department throughout the Free State we can form some little conception of the work of the Minister in connection with this Estimate. Very little criticism of the Department has been offered and anything I say will be more of a helpful nature than of an attack. The housing department came in for some criticism, but I am proud of the fact that I am connected with many public bodies that took advantage of the legislation that has been passed in order to have houses built for the people in urban and the rural areas. I can speak with some knowledge of the subject, because these bodies occupy a premier place, having regard to population, in that respect, and endeavoured to meet the wishes of the people by providing them with decent and comfortable houses. Those in touch with the housing department have some idea of the work done by that department, and they realise that it is anxious to meet the wishes of Deputies and the clamour of people who are looking for houses. The housing department is always anxious and willing to assist representatives of public bodies to get over difficulties in connection with their plans for housing schemes in different areas. I can speak with some knowledge, having received great assistance from the officials of the housing department from time to time.

There is only one feature I criticise, and my criticism is not on the lines of Deputy Roddy's, who complained of an increase of £5,000 in the Estimate. Social services have been increased in the last two or three years and, with those increased social services, you cannot expect the same staff to run a Department. I do criticise, however, the Department's policy of starting engineers at a miserable pittance of £250 a year, and I say it is a scandal for any Government to ask any qualified engineer to come into the service as temporary engineer or inspector at a salary of £200 or £300 a year. Acting as clerk of works to a public body, the same engineer will receive a much higher salary, six or seven guineas a week, and the public body will be glad to avail of his services. The Department, however, expects an engineer to go around the country at a salary of £250 or £300 a year. You will not get good engineers at that figure and, if you are fortunate enough to get them, you will not have them for a very long time. I would prefer to see a salary fixed that would give an engineer some contentment in his position and leave him independent of any contractor or public body he might come in contact with.

We must realise that it is not possible to carry on such work as the care of the blind, provision for widows and orphans, old age pensions, the poor and sick, hospitals, houses, sewerage and roads for the Twenty-Six Counties with a small staff, and I think the officials of the Department are to be congratulated because, from the highest to the lowest, they are prepared to meet any Deputy or any member of a body and ready to assist and advise as to what is best to be done. They do not always agree to the proposals put up to them, but you have to accept their decision as being in the best interest of all concerned.

We have heard complaints from the Labour Benches in respect of houses built in County Kildare. I remember some years ago the argument put up by the Department to us in Wicklow as to Kildare being able to build houses so cheaply. We had yesterday from Deputy Norton an explanation with regard to these houses and we saw that, although they appeared to be cheap at the time, they have proved to be very expensive houses. It is very easy for a man not connected with a public body to criticise public administration, as Deputy Tom Kelly has pointed out.

I agree with Deputy The O'Mahony with regard to the complaints of the tenants in Wolfe Tone Square in Bray. He has not exaggerated in the least, and I can go further because I have a signed document from the secretary of the tenants. I have no complaint to make against the present administrators of Bray, because the baby has been handed over to the public body there. The price given for land in Bray was enormous—£200 an acre for a swamp—and the tenants are now asked to pay the enormous amount given for that swamp. The urban council is in an unfortunate position, and I say that it is not fair for men to attack public bodies because public bodies are always guided by their officials. Their engineers and executive officers are solely responsible and, if any blame is to be attached to anybody, I hold that it rests on the officials, and not on the members of the body, because the members have very little power at present and are advised and guided by their executive officers who are in receipt of good salaries. Where the fault is, I do not know, but with the position of the Bray Urban Council, with the heavy rates and with the financial position of the tenants of these houses, it is a serious matter for the local ratepayers if there is to be further expenditure to put these houses in a habitable state.

Deputies cannot expect the housing department to have inspectors present all the time where houses are being built, when you have a clerk of works and an engineer there being paid good salaries. There is a problem to be faced in Bray. The people are unable to meet their demands, and if something is not done, there will be no use in having county hospitals and county medical officers. According to the signed statement I have from the Bray association, the beds in these houses have to be moved to the centre of the rooms. Damp is coming in and there is water outside, even on the concrete paths. People going into these houses at times of flooding have to walk through five or six inches of water. The Bray Urban Council is not in a position financially to remedy this state of affairs. There must be a special grant given to deal with the situation, because the £120 suggested by Deputy The O'Mahony will not remedy conditions in these houses. I should like to know what was the Government engineer's report following his two visits to these houses? I understand that the council did not accept that report, but I certainly say that something will have to be done. The houses must not be left in their present state, and if there is a further increase in the rates, the residents in these houses will be affected, and they are already paying very large rents for them.

Complaint has been made as to delay in the issuing of reports in connection with housing schemes by the Department. We have a similar complaint in connection with Wicklow housing schemes. We had an inquiry, I think, last July, and the Minister has attacked public bodies for not taking advantage of his Housing Acts. I am satisfied, however, that it is not the fault of the Department or the local bodies that the report is not issued, and, having received information from the Department, I am satisfied that we will have their report very soon. Where you have a big housing scheme and a public body anxious to get on with the scheme and a Government anxious to assist it, you will find some faults, but I make a special appeal to the Minister to take the Bray situation in hands and see if anything can be done to improve the position of the tenants. If not, there will be chaos in the Bray area, because you cannot expect people to pay the high rents which these people are paying for those houses, and not have houses as good as those which they were forced to leave. I can give the Minister full information as to the position, and I say that the officials in charge, let it be who it will, the executive officers and not the council members are the persons I hold responsible for whatever has happened in Bray.

The Minister said he was giving grants for roads, and some Deputies have complained that there was not a substantial grant given for roads other than trunk roads. County councils are enabled, under the grants for the relief of unemployment, to make money available for roads other than trunk or main roads, but there is a condition that the work must be provided in districts where the greatest number of unemployed is. It often happens that the road in the district in which is the greatest number of unemployed is in a good condition and it is not possible to expend money on it.

I do not think that the Minister should make it a condition of these relief grants in every case that the public body concerned should put up a certain percentage. A special appeal has been made in connection with the road grants on behalf of Kerry. We claim that a larger number of cars, registered and insured, from other parts of Ireland and from abroad, pass through County Wicklow than pass through any other county. For that reason, we should receive a grant substantially greater than that given to the other counties. Our roads are used by people from all over Ireland and by people from other countries, and it is not fair to ask the ratepayers of the county to keep the roads in order for the benefit of people from other areas. The Tourist Association recognises the special claims of Wicklow and I hope that, in considering the appeals made on behalf of Kerry, the Minister will not forget the claims of Wicklow. As I pointed out, relief grants have been made available on condition that the public bodies put up a certain amount of the money. It is hard lines on the unemployed in certain areas when relief grants are not made available because the local authority may not have been able to fulfil its obligations regarding the repayment of loans to the Board of Works. If a public body has failed to repay its loans, the grant is not made available and the unemployed of the area suffer in consequence. When the Minister is satisfied that default in repayment of the loans is not due to maladministration but is due to financial stringency, he should relax that rule. Special consideration should be given to Bray urban area so that the position of the unemployed men there may be eased. The Minister should not make it a condition of any grant he may make to Bray Urban Council that a certain amount should be put up from the rates. In that area the council have had this baby of the housing scheme handed over to them. Much as they would wish to avail of any grants, they may be reluctant to do so when it means that 40 or 50 per cent. of the money may have to be raised from the rates.

There is a great agitation in that area regarding the rents and they are putting the blame on the Minister's Department. They state that they are willing to reduce the rents in Bray if the sanction of the Minister's Department is forthcoming. I agree with Deputy Holohan that, even in the rural areas, the rents are too high. We had the admission from the Minister for Agriculture to-day that the highest wage paid to agricultural workers in what was practically an urban area was 24/- a week and broken time. That means that if they were able to put in a full week and get the Government grant, they would receive 24/-. If 24/- is the maximum wage paid by farmers, 2/10 is too high a rate to pay for a cottage in the rural areas. I hope the Minister will agree with the public bodies when they ask him to have the rent of new houses fixed at the same figure as that for the old houses—about 1/6 per week. The argument can be used now that, as admitted by the Minister for Agriculture, 24/- is the maximum wage paid to rural labourers.

There has been great criticism of the Housing Board. I had personal experience of an area in which the public body concerned refused to proceed with the building of houses although over 500 houses had been condemned by the medical officer of health. Special appeals made by the Department failed to induce the public body to take action and to provide houses for people who were living in condemned habitations. Then, a member of the Housing Board arranged to meet representatives of the urban council and of the ratepayers. The result was that agreement was obtained and that a housing scheme was proceeded with. Under that scheme, 200 houses have been provided for people who were living in condemned hovels. The houses which have been built are amongst the best in the country, fine brick houses.

It may be necessary for the Minister to amend the Housing Act. A difficult position arises in the case of a house which, conscientiously, you could not condemn but which you might include in a clearance order. In that event, you could not give compensation to the owner; you could only give him site value. I think there should be some amendment of the Act which would permit an engineer or valuer to give market value for such a house instead of depriving a man of the little income which he may be deriving from it. As Deputy Corish pointed out, building costs have increased by about 20 per cent. and it will no longer be possible to get a house built at an all-in cost of £300. Without the co-operation of the public bodies, the Department of Local Government would not be able to bring its housing policy to the point of success which we all desire it to reach. I am glad that there is close co-operation between these bodies and the Local Government Department and I hope it will continue. I trust, too, that the advice which is tendered to local bodies by the Department will continue because, in that way, public men will be able to improve the schemes mapped out in their area. I make a special appeal to the Minister to allocate an extra grant in those rural areas where schemes have been initiated so that the good work may be continued without imposing an undue burden on the people. I ask the Minister not to turn down the appeal made by Deputy The O'Mahony on behalf of the tenants of the houses in Bray. I hope his Department will help the Bray Urban Council to get out of the difficulty they are in in connection with the repair of these houses. In future, I think that the executive officer or town clerk should be held personally responsible in these matters for seeing that the engineers carry out their work. I am not attaching any blame to the Local Government Department. I do not expect their engineers to go down daily to see how the work is being carried out. No matter what engineering supervision you may have or what vigilance you may exercise, if a contractor is anxious to deprive a council of the workmanship to which they are entitled, he will do so. I congratulate the Minister on his work. He has a huge administrative task and I am glad that there is such a good co-operative spirit between the public bodies and his Department. In that way, greater social services will be carried out. I hope the Minister will not be worried by Deputy Roddy's criticism of the £5,000 increase in his Department. I trust he will take his courage in his hands and, instead of engaging temporary staff, pay permanent engineers a living wage. If there is an adequate and well paid staff, there will be fewer complaints in connection with housing schemes. Some Deputies who have spoken here have very little conception of the work involved in initiating and pushing forward a big scheme.

I think we all feel that there are few pleasanter and more instructive hours spent in this House than those hours in which the Estimate for Local Government and Public Health is being discussed. One gets the impression then, as rarely else, that we are really here a united and a very intelligent family, if I may say so, with pater familias, our genial Minister, giving us all the attention we need. I notice that the criticism is nearly always very helpful and the suggestions are always constructive. From all sides of the House the Minister has been congratulated on the magnificent work done by his Department. The excellence of that work cannot, I think, be questioned. This is not merely a matter of complacency on our part because I think outsiders are also impressed. This was brought home to me recently in a very interesting way which perhaps the House would like to hear. In connection with the Paris Exhibition the woman editor of one of the great Parisian dailies is bringing out a kind of account of the social work done in every country in Europe, and women writers from every country were invited to tell what their respective countries had done for mothers and children from the earliest ages, and what they are doing to-day. It fell to my lot—I think I was selected because I was a member of this House —to write the Irish section. I was glad to be able to tell what Ireland has done from the earliest ages for our mothers and children. As those interested know, the Brehon laws were very advanced on the matter of child welfare. So that child welfare as understood now by the Minister for Local Government and Public Health is not a new thing in this country. I was invited at the end of my contribution to give a synopsis of what is being done at present. Through the great courtesy of the Minister's private secretary, whom I wish to thank, I got an account from the Department of what was being done. Deputy Tom Kelly also got from the town clerk an account of what was being done in the matter of child welfare in Dublin. These I put as a synopsis at the end of my article and I received a congratulatory note from the lady who has undertaken the task of editing the work in question. She said she was absolutely astonished at what had been done. She asked my permission to write an article in her paper on what Ireland was doing in the matter of maternity and child welfare.

I hope we will continue on those lines, and when other people are spending money on bombs we will be spending money on babies. I think we are giving a lead to the world in that respect. Perhaps I might also add to what the Minister mentioned in connection with the Infant Aid Society. That society has done extremely useful work. It is charged at present with the administration in Dublin of the money voted in this House for free milk. From the very earliest stages of its activities it insisted that no milk that was not tubercle free, and tested as such, should be distributed. That is a practice that should be followed. I think the purest milk in the world is produced in Dublin, and the Infant Aid Society is largely responsible for it—in as much as the Infant Aid Society insists on pure milk for the children to whom the milk is sent.

I noticed that Deputy Tom Kelly did not agree with what Deputy Dillon said about the flats on the Anchor Brewery site. I do not often disagree with Deputy Tom Kelly, but I do on this occasion. There was a great deal of Deputy Dillon's speech with which I found myself in agreement.

Mr. Kelly

I am sorry to hear it.

I am not going into what Deputy Dillon said about the Anchor Brewery flats. Of that I know nothing. I am aware that in country houses the big kitchen is the most important part of the house. I do think that very great care should be paid in all schemes to the type of grates and fire-places used. In Galway we have had rather an unfortunate experience in this matter. As Deputies know, we in Galway are a turf-burning community. Open fire-places had always been used for the burning of turf but in the Galway housing schemes this was lost sight of. I do not think that happened really during the régime of the present Minister. At all events, ranges were used in the new houses. Anybody will tell you that the ordinary range is a model of inefficiency but for turf-burning purposes it is absolutely useless. Because of that, the most comfortable part of the Irish home is being very largely interfered with; we have not had the proper type of grates in the new schemes. On the housing board I think it should be possible to have at least one woman member. She would understand the question of fuel and things like that. In other countries these matters are better arranged.

Recently I got some papers from Belgium in connection with the rural section of their Catholic Workers' League. There they go into the problem of the sort of houses that add to the family comfort and promote efficiency amongst the women and housewives. Perhaps on another occasion I may have an opportunity of speaking more fully on this question.

Another matter that was mentioned in the course of this debate was the necessity for sanitary school-houses. These are absolutely necessary. If we compel children to go to school it is up to us to see that the children have a sanitary school-house. Why I mention this matter at all is that it has been put to me in connection with the school meals for children. A great deal of the difficulty that arose in the existing school-houses was in connection with getting these meals for the children. This defect might be remedied in the new schools. I suggest that there should be in all girls' schools a little kitchen where the simpler culinary operations should be taught. They would have the further advantage that the school meals could be given in comfort in such schools. I know that in certain parts of the country there is no provision in the school-houses for keeping the bread. The loaves are delivered once or twice a week and there is no way of storing them. The school meals, therefore, lose much of their value because of this lack. The provision of such a kitchen would be a great advantage. We should so arrange the school-houses that the older schoolgirls would be able to help to cook soup especially; that would be of great advantage.

Deputy Dillon spoke of county homes. I think I feel in the same way about these as does Deputy Dillon. When this Estimate was being discussed last year I made a suggestion that, perhaps, instead of trying to do something with the existing county homes, most of which were converted workhouses and not very suitable as county homes, attempts should be made when old mansions are in the market to have them purchased for this purpose. These will make excellent homes for the old people. If there was some place where the old men could go out with garden tools and do a bit of gardening it would be of very great advantage to them and to the county home.

Deputy Dillon referred to the desirability of training girls from the Gaeltacht as nurses. He said that the facilities offered by the Government for the training of nurses from the Gaeltacht had never been availed of. I think the reason is that the people do not know about it. I drew the attention of a vocational officer in Galway to the matter and he had not heard of it before. I am glad that Deputy Dillon has mentioned it and that this opportunity has been offered of using the publicity properties of this House to tell the people that there are such facilities being offered, that there are such opportunities for girls in the Gaeltacht to get trained as nurses.

Another suggestion made by Deputy Dillon, with which I am in complete agreement, has reference to the extension of the services of district nurses. He stressed the difficult conditions produced in many Irish homes in cases of permanent illness, where, for instance, there might be a case of paralysis or something of that nature, and no doubt a district nurse in such circumstances would be of incalculable help. Incidentally, she would be in a position to teach the woman of the house how to produce invalid dietary. It is extraordinary how very little people in the country know about the simple remedies and the simple foods that would help convalescence. Of course, there are administrative and pecuniary difficulties in relation to those things, but if it were possible, those ideas ought to be carried into practice.

With regard to the suggestion of pensions for nurses, since it has been mentioned, I may say that we on this side of the House are very sympathetic to such a proposal. I may say that Deputy Miss Pearse and myself met representatives of the nurses and it was pointed out to them the spade-work that would have to be done and the difficulties that would have to be overcome before what we all earnestly desire to see could come to anything.

An important matter was raised in this debate by Deputy Rowlette, who drew attention to the tremendous mortality among illegitimate children. Of course, it is not a question that we can discuss at any great length here. Obviously, every effort should be made in the direction of having those children born in wedlock and every possible step should be taken in relation to the protection of the mothers.

I take advantage of this opportunity to draw to the attention of the Minister a very helpful suggestion made by Miss Elizabeth O'Connor with regard to the establishment of a hostel for domestic helpers in this city. She pointed out that, largely owing to a change in the way of living, the people are taking more and more to small houses in Dublin and there is not room for the domestic help to live in. That means that girls coming from the country, instead of sleeping in their employers' houses, are obliged to seek lodgings outside and it is not very easy to get the proper type of lodging. It is not easy to save these girls from the dangers that await them. She made an excellent suggestion that there should be a hostel where domestic helpers could get training such as would enable them to command really good wages and, if they were working by the day, the hostel could be run in such a way that they could go to it and live a sort of home life there. There are a great many organisations that would, I am sure, give assistance in this direction if the Minister would indicate his approval.

I want to help the Minister out of what has become a somewhat serious difficulty. I refer to slippery roads. I notice all the county councils are gravely concerned with this matter. People using these roads, other than motorists, find it impossible to bring animals along them. It is really very difficult to take horses or cattle or sheep or pigs along those modern roads. We all want to see the motorist having the best possible value in return for the money he pays. It would not be fair to collect road tax from the motorists and not give them good roads in return. But perhaps a scheme could be devised by which the motorists could get satisfactory roads and accommodation could at the same time be made for other sections of the community. I am sure all classes would be glad to co-operate in the perfection of such a scheme.

My experience is that instead of finishing off the tar-sprayed road with limestone chippings a harder type of grit should be used. For instance, it would be much better if white sand or gravel from the quarries were utilised over the tarred surface. I believe if that were done there would be no fear of slipping. This is not purely theory. I have seen the idea put into practice by the assistant surveyor in County Cavan. It was done at my suggestion on the most slippery part of the road and that surface was not at all slippery for a considerable period afterwards while the material was on the surface. There is an unlimited supply of that material to be got in County Cavan and if it is used there will be no such thing as slippery roads. The expense involved would be very little. I believe, in fact, that money would be saved by using this material.

When the hot weather comes in June or July it might be advisable to have plenty of this material thrown along the slippery roads. When the tar gets soft this white sand and gravel would become embedded in it and that would not only make the roads safe but it would add considerably to their durability. I ask the Minister to take a note of that. If he recommends the county councils to use this type of material on the road surface I can assure him it will solve a problem that is causing the whole country a terrible amount of worry and is often responsible for serious accidents. Hundreds of people are kept from using the roads because of the danger to themselves and their live stock. In many cases their horses and cattle get their legs broken and there are many accidents to the people themselves. This is a most important matter, because it means the making of safer roads. My suggestion will not entail any considerable expense and it will not deprive the motorists of good roads.

The farmers are taking a very serious view of the attitude of the Local Government Department. It seems to be the policy of the Department to have the roads kept in a slippery condition notwithstanding that every county council is in favour of making the roads safer. I believe the engineering staffs are not going the right way about it. They must be well aware that if they use these white chippings to which I have referred there will be no such thing as slippery roads. The Minister at least should recommend to the county councils an experiment on the lines I have suggested. If they experiment in a small way I can assure the Minister that everyone will be satisfied.

Other Deputies have spoken about the innovation with regard to inducing local bodies to contribute to the unemployment grant. I think that is not fair, because in the particular counties where the expenditure of the relief grants is most necessary the ratepayers are less able to pay their share, and if they do not contribute their share the grant is lost. That is a bad system. A central body should be made responsible for the relief of unemployment. There is a general complaint about the Department's attitude. I hope that in future the Minister will allocate the grant to each county and, if the councils wish to add money to it, well and good, but the Minister should not make it a condition that they put up portion of the money. Every section of the community is complaining of that, and I hope the Minister will not go on those lines in the future.

In connection with the administration of the housing grants, Sir, I congratulate the Minister and his Department, and, although I have a couple of items to which I wish to refer this evening, it is not in criticism of the administration of the Department. I should like to know from the Minister if it is his intention to devote any of the £5,000 extra for administration, which appears in the Estimate, to the appointment of additional inspectors for the carrying out of the reconstruction grants. I find that in the county I represent considerable delays have taken place in having the inspection carried out and that the system there is not working satisfactorily. I have satisfied myself that it is not the fault of the inspector. He can only do a week's work in a week and, ofttimes, when I make inquiries as to his whereabouts, I find that he is doing work in an adjoining county. Now, County Meath is a fairly extensive county, and I do think there is ample work there for a whole-time inspector doing whole-time work.

There are applicants in the county waiting for their grants, which have been held up for a considerable time past, and they are anxious to settle their accounts with the merchants and with the contractors: that is, where the work has been completed. Where new applications have come in, however, the applicants would be glad to know if they can go forward with the work so as to have the reconstruction started while the weather is good. What I would suggest to the Minister is that he should consider the advisability of appointing an extra inspector at least in that particular area until all arrears of work have been cleared off. I must say that some very wonderful achievements have been carried out in the way of reconstruction. I have seen old hovels of small-holdings that have been converted into very decent houses as a result of the £40 grants that have been given by the Minister.

There is one other matter to which I should like to refer, but I do think that it is a rather general complaint, because I have heard other Deputies refer to it with regard to their own counties. However, in County Meath a cottage scheme was put into operation. Cottages were erected and the contractors were paid for their work, and afterwards it was found that the work was not satisfactory. Now, let me say that the contractors were not at fault; neither were the board of health at fault, nor the officials of the board of health. It appears that the plans adopted were defective and that the specifications, as carried out by the contractors or by the engineers, did not work out satisfactorily. I refer to the general complaint of chimneys that will not draw smoke or will not function as it was intended they should function in these cottages. In a number of cases it has been pointed out that during the winter months the tenants of these cottages were compelled to leave the door and one window, or sometimes two windows, open in order to create a draught so that the smoke would go out the window. Of course, we are all aware of the fact that smoke is very objectionable, especially where people are compelled to live during the day and where they have to sit at the fire in the evenings. Furthermore, it discolours the walls and the furniture and it adds to the general discomfort of the tenant and his family. I am satisfied that, in the schemes which are contemplated to be carried out in the near future, these defects will not show themselves— that we have learned from experience and that the board of health will ensure that this will not arise again. What I want to point out to the Minister, however, is that something must be done to alleviate the hardships inflicted upon these tenants. I would suggest that he should have the whole position examined with a view to having some suggestion made that would help to remedy the defects.

I am satisfied that, as far as the giving of money is concerned, the Minister has done all in his power. He has urged local authorities to go forward with their housing schemes. He has not been stinting the authorities, nor has he held up money in any way in connection with the reconstruction grants. I am quite satisfied that the Minister will do all in his power in that connection, and I am sorry that I have to make this little complaint about the houses that have been built in the past, and I hope he will see his way to do something in connection with the matter.

A number of speakers have stressed the point—and I think most of us would agree with it—that this Department of Local Government is a many-sided Department and that those elected to administer local government works would need to have a great deal of time at their disposal because it is highly technical and very detailed in its work. The county councillor who is a member, not alone of the county council, but of the various other committees, such as the board of health, the mental hospital board, and all that sort of thing, is engaged on practically a full-time job, and one has the greatest sympathy, not alone with the Minister in administering his Department, but with those who, under the present system, are charged with its administration in the different areas.

Deputy McGovern has just mentioned—and I understand other Deputies also spoke about it—the problem of the slippery roads. That is a natural outcome of the modern demand for a better surface. Many suggestions are put forward to remedy that, and we who live in the country, and who have to drive our cattle along the roads, would be grateful for a solution of this problem. I think it would be very comforting if the Minister would put out a special circular to the many engineers—and I should like to call them competent engineers—that we have throughout the length and breadth of the Free State, with a view to remedying this problem. It has become more acute in recent years owing to other legislation that we have passed in this House. Before the Transport Act came into full operation we could be neighbourly, and those farmers or carriers, who were fortunate enough to possess a lorry, could leave our cattle at the different markets for a small consideration. Under the operation of the Transport Act things are not so easy because the former carriers have been put off the roads and instead we have the railway company who do not cater in the same way for us, so that the problem of slippery roads is becoming much more acute since the coming into operation of the Transport Act.

Much has been said about housing. It is a great source of satisfaction to people generally to see all over the country improvements in the dwellings of the people. Much progress has been made in that respect for many years. Housing was seized upon in the early years after the war as a means by which useful employment could be given, the condition of the people could be improved, and homes generally of a better standard could be provided. We all say "more power" to the Minister for Local Government if he can carry on and extend housing schemes still further. There are a few suggestions which I would make in all humility to him. I see by the Estimates that we are giving an extra £51,821 to the housing department. I would suggest to the Minister that we have had now a considerable number of years' experience of housing and it is full time that we pushed for a better type of house. I do not see that it is going to cost us much more. I couple this suggestion with the fact that we are taking a certain responsibility for the treatment of tuberculosis. It cannot be denied that whilst we have built numerous labourers' cottages and have given many reconstruction grants, we have, after all, what may be described as very low cabins. If we are to give a helping hand to those responsible for the treatment of tuberculosis, I think one very fruitful way of helping them would be to ensure that there are sleeping apartments upstairs in these houses. I do not mean to say that for all labourers' cottages and for all houses built or reconstructed with the aid of grants, we should stipulate for a full two-storey house but we could arrange that in the majority of cases, there would be an upstairs in the house.

All of us know from experience the difference between sleeping on the ground floor and sleeping upstairs. Many of these houses are put in situations where one-storey houses should not be erected. The ideal site for a bungalow or a cottage is an elevated position, but one finds that frequently in the country they are built at the foot of a hill or in a very low situation. In such cases, we are not getting the full benefit of the money spent on the housing scheme. Many years ago when I was a member of a rural district council I advocated that in building houses for labourers we should arrange for sleeping accommodation upstairs. In one district in the county that suggestion was carried out, and to-day the houses there are of a much better type than other houses that have been built. They cost practically nothing more than if they were erected according to another plan. I would suggest to the Minister that we should make a push towards that end, and that especially in making reconstruction grants, we should insist that as far as possible there should be sleeping accommodation upstairs in houses on which such grants are expended.

Much has been said about the standard of the work done on these houses. I do not want to add very much to the complaints that have been made, but I know from experience that the work on many of the houses that have been built could have been of a much higher standard. After all, we are investing this money on behalf of the State in these houses and we expect the houses to last longer than our own day. Unless the materials and the workmanship are up to a fairly reasonable standard, they will not last a very long time. Complaints have been made about raindown, leakages and one thing or another, and a number of Deputies have mentioned that there are general complaints about smoke. Broadly speaking, I think my suggestion if it were carried out would help towards a solution of that problem. I would also suggest to the Minister that grants should be made available for reconstruction purposes for persons with a higher valuation than £25. In these days a person living on a holding of £25, is not a man of very great resources. Even the person living on a holding of £30 valuation, is not a man of very great means. I think a very good argument can be put forward for extending these grants to people with a higher valuation than £25. We want not alone to encourage people with valuations of £25 and under to erect decent houses, but also to give some incentive to others even with a higher valuation to erect proper dwellings.

I wish to refer to another matter for which there is no particular heading in the Estimate but, as it is the officers of our county councils who collect the money, I think I should be permitted to refer to it, namely, the collection of road tax on motor cars. The manner in which it is being collected is hardly fair to the poorer man. There are many people who have not the money to take out a year's tax on January 1st. If a man takes it out per quarter he pays considerably more. That I think is hardly fair to the poorer section of the community who have not the ready cash to pay a year's tax. There is another matter in that connection for which I think there is no redress. Some of these people may pay the tax on a motor car or a motor lorry which is perhaps not of the very best construction. If such a vehicle meets with an accident in the first month of the year I think it would be only reasonable that that person should get a refund of the amount paid or that the tax should be transferred to another vehicle. If he has to scrap the vehicle, at present he loses whatever tax he has paid upon it. I bring that matter to the Minister's notice as one that should in all fairness be remedied. If a person meets with an accident and his vehicle is smashed or put out of commission after his road tax has been paid, he gets no allowance or refund under present conditions.

Another matter which is perhaps a detail but which is, nevertheless, worthy of the Minister's attention has reference to our institutions throughout the country and to the dietary scale in them. In the different institutions the practice is to take tenders for the supply of bread. As far as I understand it, it is white bread for breakfast, dinner, tea and supper, without any variation. Complaints have reached me in respect of that. In those days when we are preaching so much about the value of brown bread and about producing bread from whole-meal, why should we deprive the people in institutions of a change of food? I do not see why there should be any extra cost. If we were served in the restaurant here with the one kind of food every day I am sure we would be going elsewhere to give our patronage. Another thing I understand is that the supply of vegetables to our institutions is very poor. There is not at all the quantity that there should be, especially in country institutions where there is accommodation for raising a lot of vegetables to vary the diet. I suggest to the Minister that provision ought to be made for greater variety of a healthier nature. In those institutions we are told that many of the people suffer from various forms of stomach trouble.

I should also like to and my plea to that which Deputy Mrs. Concannon has made about nurses, although perhaps not under the same heading. In the winter time, when there are epidemics of 'flu in the country I think we should have further development in regard to the supply of nurses available in the homes of the poor. I think those suggestions are worthy of the Minister's consideration.

There is no need for me to congratulate the Minister; that has been done by the majority of the Deputies who have spoken. I was glad to hear Longford mentioned in the Minister's speech yesterday as one of the six counties that were taking full advantage of the reconstruction grants, but I have to complain that since January last we have had no reconstruction inspector, with the result that a lot of people are in a bad way with houses finished and half finished. Again, I should like to draw the Minister's attention to the matter of new houses. Complaints have reached me—whether well-founded or not I cannot say—that people made application six months ago, but no inspector has called so far. In regard to reconstruction, I should like to refer to a matter which I touched on last year, namely, that the Minister should consider raising the valuation for reconstruction grants. I would suggest that on £20 valuation there should be a £40 grant; on £30 valuation, a £30 grant, and on £40 valuation, a £20 grant.

I should also like to suggest to the Minister that he should look into the matter with the Minister for Lands to see if anything could be done for those small farmers who would get the grant but have not sufficient money to build new houses, and under existing arrangements loans do not seem to be practicable. Perhaps he could, with the Minister for Lands, arrange some scheme under which loans could be added on to the annuities over a number of years.

In regard to the Longford hospital, I do not like to go into the matter of who is to blame and who is not to blame. The matter seemed to be held up at headquarters, although latterly the trouble seems to be at the other end. I would ask the Minister to look into it, as Longford is in a very bad way for a hospital, and there is very poor provision there for the sick. I may say that there is no accommodation whatever for them.

I think that the Minister and his Department have well earned all the nice things which have been said about them during the course of this discussion on this Estimate. I certainly wish to pay my tribute to them for the good work which they have done, but there are just one or two points about which I have to express dissatisfaction. In the Housing Act we have a section which is supposed to give a certain amount of protection to wage-earners employed under housing schemes. Complaints have been raised here time and again by way of Parliamentary Question, and members have been told that if they will furnish to the Minister or his Department documentary evidence showing that a higher rate of wages has been paid for work of a similar kind in the district the contractor will be compelled to pay that rate. From Thomastown in my county, where the board of health are carrying out a housing scheme, I received a complaint which I transmitted to the Minister's Department, that the rate of wages being paid was only 30/- a week. I substantiated my claim by submitting documentary evidence showing that not only was 36/- paid generally by building contractors in that area, but in fact as much as 42/- had been paid. I was very disappointed at the manner in which the matter was disposed of. It resulted, anyhow, in the fact that the labourers employed on the board's housing scheme there received no more than the 30/- which was originally offered. I hope that the Minister may still find it possible to review that question, in order—if I may be permitted to mention it on this Estimate—that something might be done to improve that section of the Act.

While a good many water and sewerage schemes have been carried out in my county, it is rather strange and very disappointing to find that I think the very first one in regard to which application was made there has not yet been sanctioned. I refer to the Ballyragget water scheme. I take a very serious view of the situation there because of the medical reports submitted time and time again for many years, and the fact that a number of both children and adults have, year by year, died from typhoid and other diseases contracted through the unhealthy water which they are compelled to use. I earnestly hope that the Minister will use his power to induce the board's engineers to supply whatever documents may be the cause of the delay in that matter.

The types of contractors who are engaged in the building of labourers' cottages generally have been referred to, and I am sorry to say that that is the position in my part of the country. I think that something ought to be done to find a system by which labourers' cottages can be erected throughout the country without having to depend on that type of person to carry out the work. They are unsatisfactory, not only as employers but from the point of view of producing good houses. While a good deal of money is being spent in regard to salaries, offices and all the rest of it for the county medical officers' services, I would draw the Minister's attention to the fact that when I recently raised the question of the necessity of providing a proper hospital in Kilkenny for the treatment of tubercular patients I was told that the matter was not considered very urgent. I think that anybody who will go to Kilkenny, and see there the building that is being used for the treatment of those patients, will have no hesitation in saying that it is nothing but a place where people are condemned to die. In olden time it was some kind of a prison, and it is most unsuitable in size and in every other way for the treatment of tubercular patients. I earnestly hope that something will be done, and done as soon as possible, to have an up-to-date hospital provided in Kilkenny for the treatment of patients suffering from this terrible disease.

When speaking about housing, it just occurs to me that I omitted to say that I would like if the Minister would revert to the position that obtained here between 1923 and 1932 in regard to reconstruction grants for people in urban areas. If I may say so this, in my opinion, is the one black spot in the present Housing Acts. I cannot understand why, in improving the Housing Acts that we have in operation, that particular provision should have been removed. In urban areas, as I am aware, there are many people who have no other means of improving their dwellings and, therefore, I think the restoration of that provision in the present Housing Acts would be welcomed by very many people throughout the country generally.

I should also like to draw attention to the fact that claims are being made by many local authorities, particularly urban authorities, for an increase in the £300 subsidy. I think the Minister will have no difficulty in agreeing that there are many reasons why the subsidy ought to be increased now. The £300 may have been adequate originally, but I think a good case can be made now for an increase in the amount to, say, £350 or £400.

To-day I had some questions on the Order Paper in regard to the Ardee Mental Hospital dispute. I do not know if it is in order for me to refer further to the matter on this Estimate. Arising out of my questions to-day, I learned that the Minister for Industry and Commerce had been asked by the trade union catering for the staff at Ardee to invite the committee to enter into negotiation with a view to the settlement of this, as I think we may call it, very regrettable dispute. The Minister for Industry and Commerce communicated with the Minister for Local Government on the matter, but I think the Minister for Local Government might go further. The position, to my mind, is that the committee of management there are being allowed to carry on a kind of a fight to a finish, and do not care what it is going to cost the ratepayers, or what the consequences may be to the inmates. Already there has been the loss of one life there, and while I will not say anything about the answer that I got on the matter to-day, it is still doubtful as to whether or not that death was due to the inadequacy of the staff.

A temporary staff, composed of about 25 people, has been employed there since the dispute started. A strange thing about it is that they are being paid more than double the wages of the staff who are in dispute with the committee. I think that the Minister might intervene in the matter in his capacity as Minister for Local Government, and induce the committee to perform the duty that they owe to the public. I do not want to say anything on the matter that would inflame feeling on either side, but I feel that the Department of Local Government and the Minister could do something, and I am sure that my brief reference to the matter will not do any harm. I have done so in all good faith, and I appeal to the Minister to use his influence to bring this regrettable dispute to an amicable settlement.

With regard to the grants made to local authorities by the Minister's Department, if I am in order in referring to the regulations governing the conditions of employment, I would like to say, in view of the recent proposal particularly, that a local authority must provide not by way of loan but out of revenue a certain proportion of the money allocated by the Minister. Because of that, I think it would be only fair that the local authority should get full power to give employment to all unemployed ratepayers. There are many ratepayers unemployed who are debarred from receiving unemployment assistance because of the fact that they have some miserly income. In some cases they may have 5/- a week profit out of a small huckster's shop; others may have a small Army pension of 6/- or 7/- a week. I think, in view of the fact that they are ratepayers willing to work and scarcely able to pay their rent and rates, and that they are being asked to contribute towards the relief of unemployment, that they ought to be allowed to share in the work which they are willingly seeking. The conditions of employment on those grants allocated by the Department of Local Government are pretty generous I admit, but the amendment I have suggested would, I think, meet with the good wishes of everybody. That is all I have to say. I again congratulate the Minister and his Department on the many good things that they have done, and I hope that my suggestions will receive careful consideration.

The Minister to conclude.

I would like to thank all the Deputies who contributed to this debate, all of them, if I may be pardoned for saying so, being helpful, whether they were complimentary or otherwise. It is a useful thing once a year for the Minister of a Department, and particularly useful for the Minister for Local Government, to come to the Dáil with his Estimate and give an account of his stewardship; to hear from the members of the House what is thought of his work and the work of his Department. It is instructive for the Minister, and instructive, I am sure, for his staff. A Minister, especially if he has been some time administering a Department, knows a good deal about the work of it, but I must confess that even I, after five years in the Department of Local Government seldom listen through a debate on this Estimate that I do not learn something from Deputies even about my own Department; something new to me that I did not know before. Points of view are put forward that may not have occurred to the Minister or his staff and they sometimes open up new avenues of thought and development which are valuable to the Department and its operations. I do not know whether I got more than the usual number of suggestions, but I seem to have a great array of notes here. I noted down carefully the points made by all the speakers, and I should like to go over all these in detail and give an answer to them, but if I were to do so I would probably occupy more time than has been occupied by all the Deputies who spoke since the debate started at 3 o'clock yesterday.

It would be well employed.

Perhaps, if the House will permit me, I will refer to those which I think are of outstanding importance. The others, as in previous years, I will go over again and the Department will go over, and those which are of value and worthy of note will be carefully considered by the various sections of the Department. I think I might take it that the general tone of the speeches on the Estimate was complimentary. In some cases, in fact, the remarks made by Deputies on different phases of the work of the Department were flattering. I do not think, however, that the Minister is likely to suffer from what in American slang is called "tight hat" because of that, as there are plenty of people of another type knocking around who remind the Minister that he is very far indeed from perfection. Although that is not necessary in my case, I submit that it is useful. Sometimes these critics imagine that by wholesale exaggeration, extravagance of language, and talking in a pompous and posturing way their speeches make a greater impression and are more effective than the quiet but effective speeches that we have listened to from all sides of the House, delivered in language of moderation, even though sometimes it may be severe criticism. That type of speech, to my mind, is much more effective and more note is likely to be taken of it than of the other kind which I referred to and which, happily, we have not very much of in the House.

Deputy Brennan, who spoke first, raised a number of points, most of them small points, such as money for international congresses, too much centralisation, increase in salaries of officials, etc. His reference to the free beef scheme might be regarded by some as important. He also criticised the type of work done out of relief grants for unemployment. Reference was also made by him—it is a hardy annual now—to the Housing Board and its work. I said last year, and I think I said in a previous year, how helpful the Housing Board had been to me and to the Department in housing work all over the country. There are numbers of things that crop up in this housing and re-housing campaign of ours that can be better attended to outside the ordinary routine of departmental officials. I have found the members of the Housing Board most helpful and most anxious and willing to help in every way in the type of matter I refer to.

One matter that occurs to me is that reference was made by Deputy Dillon a year ago to the position of public utility societies and certain types of so-called public utility societies that existed in the country. He made the suggestion that it would be useful to have an inquiry made into their operations. I asked the Housing Board to make that inquiry, and it was made. A short time ago I received a very excellent report on these public utility societies of various types, and their work, and arising out of information contained in that report, legislation will probably be necessary to alter the constitution of these societies and to provide for a closer watch over such societies as Deputy Dillon is acquainted with. That is one of the types of work done by the Housing Board, and there are many others. I think Deputy Dillon said that he had never heard of the members of the Board visiting his county. They have visited his county frequently. If the Deputy will consult the county surveyor, the secretary of the board of health, and the secretary of the county council, I believe he will find that the Housing Board afforded these officials valuable help and information with regard to the work of housing in his own district.

One of them did, and he has since been sacked for it.

I think all the members of the Housing Board have been in Roscommon at one time or another at the request of the local authorities, giving help, advice and assistance to them. Deputy Brennan also mentioned that matter, and it is because it has been mentioned by both that I refer to the work of the Housing Board in County Roscommon.

Various Deputies commented upon the figures I gave in my statement as to tuberculosis and the results of the Department's activities in the treatment of that disease. Unquestionably, considerable success has been achieved in the treatment of tubercular people for the last 20 or 25 years even here in Ireland, but it is my opinion that we are not as up-to-date in the treatment of tuberculosis as we ought to be. I do know that the matter is at present receiving careful attention and consideration by the Department and its medical advisers. I hope, as a result of the further investigation, that improved facilities for treatment will be made available where necessary, largely through the help afforded by the Hospitals Sweepstakes Fund. While I say that we are not as up-to-date as we ought to be, I do not say that that is universal. Of course, it is notorious that there are institutions in the country where the facilities are not what they ought to be; where the hospitalisation is not modern; where the treatment is not up-to-date; and where the most modern methods are not used. There are other institutions—not as many as there should be —where the most modern treatment is adopted and where everything is up-to-date; but, unfortunately, they are only in a position to deal with a small percentage of the cases requiring attention.

I believe it is true that as the years go on notification of tuberculosis is becoming more regular. Heretofore people who were afflicted with that terrible disease, and also their families, liked to conceal the fact as long as possible. I do not say that that still continues. Probably it does. But that type of mind is disappearing, and since the institution of county medical officers all over the country, and since we instituted school medical inspection, notification is growing, and the number of cases notified in proportion to the number existing must be higher. I have no statistics on the matter, but, of course, the numbers must be considerably higher than they were ten or 15 years ago. Medical men will agree that there are now better opportunities for diagnosis. Possibly that will tend to increase the numbers shown on the books of people suffering from tuberculosis.

A few Deputies complained of delay in approving of schemes for the erection of labourers' cottages. Deputy Brennan was one of those who referred to that matter. Where there are schemes of compulsory purchase they take a considerable time. When they are finally adopted by the local authorities they are sent up to the Department, after which the usual legal notices have to be given and an inquiry held. An inspector has to visit every site. If there are objections made, and they are made frequently, on behalf of the owners of property, or on behalf of people affected by the erection of labourers' cottages in their immediate vicinity, all the complaints have to be heard and examined, so that it takes a considerable time, even if there are no objections, to carry out all the legal machinery necessary in cases of compulsory purchase of labourers' cottages. All I can say on behalf of the Department is that our anxiety is to push forward schemes of housing of every kind in urban or rural areas, county boroughs, villages or towns, and no avoidable delay is allowed to occur as far as the Department is concerned. If there are any particular cases of delay which were mentioned by any Deputy in any area, I have noted them, and I will have these complaints examined.

Speaking generally, I know that it is true that the Department is anxious, and that my anxiety is to see, that housing schemes go ahead as rapidly as possible. Some Deputies complained that we were going ahead too quickly. I am sorry that these Deputies were not here to listen to Deputy Dillon's complaint about housing. The opinion of two Deputies in Deputy Dillon's Party was that we are going ahead much too quickly. For my part, so long as we can get efficient work and get houses satisfactorily built, we cannot go too quickly at present to meet the demand that is there for housing, and to eradicate the horrible housing conditions that existed all over the country in the towns, cities and rural areas. It is a big problem to deal with the housing situation. It should have been tackled many years ago, and tackled in a wholesale way. It has been tackled for the last five years, and we are going ahead as rapidly as we can. Unquestionably faults will be found and mistakes will occur. They have occurred here and there. There is no use denying that. Generally I do not think the failures were greater than 5 per cent. in a big attempt. I would rather that than not to make the attempt and to leave housing conditions as they were five or ten years ago.

Deputy Brennan complained of the delay in building hospitals in his county. Deputy Dillon had something to say on that subject also, but I do not think he complained of delay. There has been delay with regard to the county hospital in Roscommon and it occurred chiefly because the architect selected by the board of health, in drawing his plans for the county hospital drew them on a very generous scale, indeed. His plans, if adopted, would work out so that it would cost about £1,500 per bed to fit up the hospital for County Roscommon. We have had hospitals that were satisfactory to the local authority and to my Department erected at one-third of that price in other counties, and we do not want to pay more in County Roscommon.

Where did you get that figure? How many patients would the hospital accommodate?

That figure is correct.


We had to hold up the plans and to ask the local authority and the architect to make the necessary modifications to bring them within reason, and to make them something like what the Department could sanction. In speaking of the delay in building an hospital in Roscommon, I was sorry to hear a man like Deputy Brennan, speaking from a responsible position—whether he is a responsible man or not is another question—suggesting that the Department of Local Government and the Government were holding the Sweepstakes moneys and intended putting them to other uses than those to which they are allowed to put them by law. That was a statement that ought not to have been made in this House by anybody who would be allowed to speak from the front Opposition Bench. The Deputy knows as well as any Deputy that the law laid down how that money was to be spent. Even if there was such a thought in the mind of any individual Minister, or of the Government as a whole, it would not be possible to spend one cent. of that money except for the purpose allowed by law, for the very good reason that the money is not in the hands of the Government. The money is in the hands of the Hospitals Trustees. I believe Deputy Brennan knows that. I believe it was a malicious statement, made possibly to sabotage the Sweepstakes and to help those abroad— enemies of the Sweepstakes Fund— who are doing everything they can to hurt the Sweepstakes, and to hurt this Government through the Sweepstakes.

Why not have a Soviet trial and hang them at the dead of night?

I wish Deputy Dillon would treat the matter seriously, and treat his colleagues seriously for trying to injure the Sweepstakes Fund in that manner.

That would be a supreme joke.

It would be no joke if the Sweepstakes were reduced about 50 per cent. They were reduced before, as the Deputy knows, and a great effort had been made to build them up again. There would be a very great loss to this country, and to public health in this country——

Hear, hear!

——if Deputy Brennan's suggestion, sabotaging that fund, were to be taken seriously by anybody, but, please God, it will not, even though he speaks from the Opposition Front Bench.

On the question of the use of the moneys, many Deputies mentioned the delay in building hospitals in their respective counties. Only one Deputy, Deputy Rowlette, mentioned the other aspect and the other claims on these Hospitals Sweepstakes Fund. On at least two occasions in the last 12 months, when laying the foundation-stone of one or other of these county hospitals, I thought it my duty to warn those who were present, members of local authorities, and I asked the Press to publish my words for the benefit of other local authorities all over the country, of the unwisdom of asking for too much money and building hospitals that will be too expensive. Deputy Dillon referred to that aspect of the matter yesterday—and I was glad to hear him refer to it—and so did others. Many of these counties that are making demands, not for one hospital, but for three, four and five hospitals of different types, county hospitals, district hospitals, cottage hospitals, fever hospitals, and sanatoria, want enormous sums of money spent on these institutions. When the free grants are going, they do not care what they ask for, but I should like to warn them, as I did a couple of times in the last 12 months, of what it is going to mean for them if they build large and expensive hospitals all over their counties. First of all, it is not likely that they will be allowed to do that to the extent of the excessive amount that some of them desire, but even in the case of those county hospitals that have been sanctioned, demands are made for equipment for some of these hospitals that are out of all proportion to what the hospitals were designed for. In some cases, if the equipment asked for were granted and money given out of the Sweepstakes Funds, the equipment would lie there idle and would rot and rust, because there would be nobody competent to use it.

Later, when these hospitals are finally completed and equipped, they will have to be staffed. In many places at present, there are competent medical men in charge of these hospitals, but there are possibly two doctors at the utmost available. If the equipment which some of these local authorities desire to have granted and sanctioned for their hospitals were to be given to them, they would have to have a staff almost as big as the staffs of some of the large voluntary hospitals in the City of Dublin, and where would the money come from to pay them? They would not provide the money out of the rates, and the next thing would be that "The Sweepstakes must come to our assistance." Possibly that is at the back of their minds—that if they make the demand, and get away with it, the rates later on will be freed of any cost for the upkeep, maintenance and staffing of these hospitals. That is not likely to happen. I should like public men, and especially members of boards of health and county councils, to bear their responsibilities in mind so far as these demands on Sweepstakes Funds for the building and equipment of these hospitals are concerned, and to be reasonable and prudent, not thinking alone of to-day or to-morrow and of the free grants that are available, but of the hereafter when the ratepayers have to be called on to maintain and to pay for the staffing of these new, highly-equipped institutions.

Another point is that we have not spent any year, and it is not our intention to spend, on local authority hospitals more than one-third of the net amount received out of the Hospitals Sweepstakes Funds for hospitals. We have to bear in mind the commitments of the Fund to the voluntary hospitals. The voluntary hospitals, as Deputy Rowlette reminded us yesterday, brought the Hospitals Sweepstakes into existence. They could not, of course, have come into existence without the sanction of this House. This House gave the sanction, but it was on the initiative of the representatives of the voluntary hospitals, and the authorities of local hospitals when making demands on the fund ought to bear in mind that there are liabilities on the Fund which I would regard as primary liabilities, and that, while there has been one large new hospital built—and it is not even yet completely built—out of these Funds, the liability is there. I do hope that at not too remote a date we will be able to announce our decision with regard to the schemes put up for the voluntary hospitals in the City of Dublin. I notice particularly that Deputy Rowlette, in speaking of this matter yesterday, spoke with great moderation, when he and others like him representing the voluntary hospitals might have talked in much stronger terms.

I realise that Deputy Rowlette, and some of the others interested in the voluntary hospitals, are getting uneasy as to what is going to happen with regard to the institutions in which they have a special and particular interest. I know that Deputy Rowlette realises, and the representatives of other hospitals equally realise, that this question of the hospitalisation of the City of Dublin is a very big and important problem, and a very thorny problem. It is one in respect of which it would never do to go on wrong lines, and we have to take time in order to try to arrive at what, I hope, will be thought the wisest decision as to how that hospitalisation scheme is to be developed. I will not go into it further than to say that the matter is receiving constant attention. It is not being neglected and the Funds are being watched and nursed. I hope that those interested, when we come to deal with that subject, if they do not know it already and I think they do, will find that the Funds have not been spent in any way to the detriment of those who had, ethically and in all justice, a right to primary consideration when distributing the Hospitals Sweepstakes Funds.

Will the Minister say a word about the proposal for the amalgamation of the three hospitals in Dublin, or when he intends to make up his mind about it?

That is still in doubt?

Deputy Norton yesterday mentioned Carlow and the delay there. The delay in County Carlow is not a matter for which the Local Government Department is primarily responsible. The board of health itself had several meetings last year and has changed its mind, to put it mildly, more than once on the matter of how they wish hospital institutions in their county to be developed. I received a deputation which represented eight out of ten members of the board. They were not all of one political party. I think they represented three political parties. I gathered—I do not know whether this is correct or not—that a minority of two wants to dominate the majority of eight on the board of health, and that that is partially responsible for holding up a decision on the question of hospitalisation in the County Carlow. I gathered that, through pressure of various kinds, the board of health is coming together and agreeing to a certain course of action. When they agree amongst themselves, I shall see that no unreasonable delay occurs so far as we are concerned in regard to hospitalisation in the county.

Several Deputies mentioned defects in construction in building schemes in different parts of the country. Deputy Norton was the first Deputy to draw attention to these defects. He gave us an account of some houses which he visited in County Kildare, and described some of the defects which he, accompanied by an architect, found. I know that there have been defects in construction. In one or two cases, there have been serious defects. Unfortunately, the matter is a little more serious in County Kildare than it is in most of the other places about which we heard complaints, or in places which were not mentioned in the debate. In some areas in County Kildare, there has been an entire lack of competent supervision. In justice to everybody, I think I should say that there are some officials—so-called engineers—who ought to be dismissed and who ought not to be allowed any longer to have anything to do with house-construction in the county.

The Minister is correct.

Deputies have reminded us that a lot of public money is being spent on this housing work. The taxpayers are quite prepared to provide the necessary money to secure that people who are living in these awful conditions shall be properly housed, but it is most annoying and most disappointing to find that, while the taxpayers are willing to pay and while very generous grants are provided by this House for this good work, officials in certain areas seem to take absolutely no care and to have no proper notion of their responsibilities to those who pay them or to the country, as a whole, in so far as house building is concerned. County Kildare is one of the worst places, in this regard, I have come across.

What is true of County Kildare is true, though not to the same extent, of the scheme to which Deputy The O'Mahony referred at considerable length last night and this afternoon. I think there has been exaggeration of the defects in so far as the description of the houses in Bray is concerned. There have been defects in construction that were perhaps avoidable. I gather that the chief defect arises from a certain string course put into these houses as an attempt at variety and to make them a little more pleasing to the eye. This string course of brick was not a success. Whether it was put in properly or not I do not know. So far as I can gather, the actual building part of it was properly done, but, as an experiment, it was not a success. So far as rain is concerned, the past winter was unusually severe and these houses in the Oldcourt district in Bray are on an exposed site, but a very beautiful site from the scenic point of view. I myself visited the site at the opening of the scheme and was very pleased with it. To me, as a layman, the houses looked very fine. The builder, who comes from County Waterford, has done very good work all over the country and these houses looked, to me, well-constructed. I was surprised at Deputy The O'Mahony suggesting—he did no more than suggest it—that the Minister would be a party to hiding something. He said: "I wonder if there is anything to hide and why the Department will not give us this inquiry. Perhaps it is they are consenting to the hiding of this thing."

May I interrupt? What I intended to convey—I am very sorry if I did not succeed in conveying it—was that I did not want anyone to have in his mind the idea that there might possibly be something to hide. In all I said, I was trying to help the Minister. The last thing in the world I intended to insinuate was that the Minister had anything to hide.

That is what I would expect from the Deputy and I am sorry if I misunderstood what he said. I am glad when Deputies bring these complaints to my notice. The Minister cannot be everywhere. I did happen to be in Bray but it would look as if my judgment was wrong. I saw these houses and I thought they were well-constructed and beautiful houses. It may be that they were not as well constructed as they seemed to me, as a layman, to be. Where there are complaints, I do not want any hiding or the sheltering of anybody responsible. If people are consciously doing wrong to the public and to the tenants, I should like to have them called upon to give an account of their responsibilities. I invite any public man or private citizen who finds that there is ground for complaint in connection with these housing schemes to let us hear about the matter. He can report it to one of his Deputies and the Deputy can bring it up in the House. We shall examine the complaint and, if a remedy can be found, we shall be happy to find it and help the local authority or the tenants in having the defects made good. I was disappointed when I heard more than a year ago about the Bray houses. It cannot be expected that the Minister, or the Minister's inspectors, should be on the job supervising the building of houses in Bray, Kildare, Castlebar or anywhere else. The engineers visit these schemes once a month, perhaps, at most. We have stock plans which we give to the local authorities. Many local authorities adopt them and use them without alteration or amendment. Other local authorities alter them and use them as they think fit. The plans of local authorities are sent in and are examined by our engineering and architectural staff, but it would not be reasonable that our inspectors should be held responsible for every house built in the country.

In Bray they happen to have a borough surveyor of their own. He is a man who is of high standing in the profession, at any rate; he is a man who is often called in as consultant in other parts of the country. He is responsible for constructional and other work for the local authority in Bray. It is on his certificate that the contractor would be paid. I cannot believe, from what I know of the standing of this man in his profession, that anyone could suggest that he is not a first-class engineer. That is what I gather from what I have heard of him. People speak of him as a man of repute in his profession. I take it that he, not to mind the Minister going down to open houses on a nice warm day with the sun shining in that lovely spot, would say that the site looks most pleasant. Certainly things might look their best on a day like that. But take the case of the borough surveyor who visited the job possibly once a week and saw it from the foundations being laid up to the roof being put on, and who approved of the innovations that were suggested in that scheme. He should, when complaints of dampness and other complaints were put forward, have been in a position there and then to say what was wrong. Whether he was or not, our inspector was called in, I think it was in January, 1936, to deal with certain complaints. He made a report to us. We sent a copy of that report to the Bray Urban Council. So far as I know, from that to February, 1936, nothing was done. Then some time after that, when bad weather came on and the dampness again appeared, the Bray Urban Council rushed in a state of excitement to the Local Government Department. What they did to their own engineer I do not know. We made certain suggestions. What they did with these suggestions I do not know. However, they said they were attending to the business. I do not mean to let the matter drop there. So far as I know the circumstances, I do not think a sworn inquiry is necessary. I think we know what is wrong. As far, at least, as experienced technical advice is available in the Department, we have that and we know what is wrong. We have examined the houses. We saw them go up. I do not think a sworn inquiry is necessary. If I thought a sworn inquiry was necessary I would not hesitate for 24 hours in having it. We will have the matter examined again, and whatever suggestions are necessary to remedy what is wrong with the houses, to find the responsible person and to call him to book, will be available.

Might I say that I am only too glad to accept what the Minister stated just now. He has given an assurance that he will look into the matter and see that things are set right. I am perfectly willing to accept that assurance, and I thank the Minister very much.

While on that question of inspectors, may I say, in answer to a number of Deputies who have complained about the delays in the inspection of private houses, reconstruction and similar matters, that there have unquestionably been delays in some counties. I do not know whether it is an excuse or not, but the explanation is the shortage of inspectors. At present we are short, I think, 10 or 11 inspectors for this business of housing schemes, including private houses and public utility societies. As to the temporary inspectors that we have employed since 1932, we usually have 25 or 26 of them and at present we are 10 or 11 short. We advertised some weeks ago for 12 inspectors, and as a result of our advertising we got two. One of these came from another Department. Strange as it may appear, there is a shortage of engineers in spite of the numbers turned out by our universities.

What has happened to the Bachelors of Engineering?

That is a mystery to me.

Is it the insufficiency of the salary?

The salary is, perhaps, not attractive enough, but £250 a year and travelling expenses for a young fellow coming out of the university does not sound too bad. There is too much work waiting for the engineers at present. I shall do what I can to get the Minister for Finance to increase the attractiveness of these posts and see if we can get our vacancies in the engineering staff completely filled. We know that delays have occurred, unfortunately, in every county in the State.

That is a very candid statement from the Vice-President.

I have given the facts; I do not want to hide anything. Certainly, I do not want to hide anything so far as this work is concerned.

That is the first time I heard of any difficulty about finding inspectors.

We have that difficulty since we started in 1932. We started with a full complement of engineers but they change. One cannot blame the inspectors. Every time an inspector is offered £50 or £100 a year additional in another post he will take it and leave us. We get new men, but some go from our Department to other Departments. They leave us for better posts in the Government service. We have had that trouble all the time since the housing scheme started. Consequently there is a shortage of inspectors. There is also, at any rate for rural housing, a shortage of contractors. When I say contractors I mean competent contractors. There are people who have got into the building trade and have not sufficient experience of the business. Some of them have not sufficient money. We have had difficulties of more than one kind with regard to contractors. As Deputy Norton said, we have cases where the officials of the local authority accepted contractors whose own workmen were offered as sureties. On the other hand, if we make too stringent and rigid regulations in connection with contracts it would mean that we would be hanging up the work and slowing down the building of houses. Some hold that it would be better to do that than have contracts accepted from incompetent contractors. But we have to listen to the clamorous demands in all areas around the country. Private individuals in every county write to me, to the Department and to the local authority as well, begging, for the love of God, to get cottages built for them owing to the horrible conditions in which they and their families are living at present. In these circumstances it is sometimes very difficult to know which is the better course.

Deputy Rowlette mentioned another subject, payment for immunisation. I was surprised when he said that the doctors were treated with contempt. That is not so; that is not true. A year ago I received a deputation consisting of five or six medical men, sent by the Medical Officers' Association, to discuss with Dr. Ward and myself this question of payment for immunisation against diphtheria. I heard the deputation at great length and we did recommend an increase in the amount paid to the medical officers for immunisation. Of course, it was not enough— that is the difficulty—but I was advised by medical men of experience as dispensary medical officers and they told me that it would be unwise and improper to raise the amount to the figure suggested by the representatives of the medical officers who came on the deputation to me. We did offer them an increase in their fees for immunisation but, so far, the doctors are not satisfied. Perhaps new facts will be brought to my notice, but so far as the information and the advice that I have at my disposal are concerned, I do not feel like raising the fees any further at the present time. I do not like the suggestion made by Deputy Rowlette, that the doctors were treated with contempt. They were not. I received the deputation and heard them and did make an offer to them. I do not think, therefore, that to say they were treated with contempt is a proper description.

Deputy Rowlette also mentioned the question of mortality among illegitimate children. We discussed that matter this time 12 months at con siderable length, and I told the House then that a number of institutions had been set up in different parts of the country in an endeavour to deal, to some extent at least, with the problem. I said there were special homes established in County Cork, County Tipperary and County Westmeath to deal with girls who had got into trouble in that way and to teach them to look after their infants. In the case of those not able to look after their children, every effort was to be made to find a way of having the children properly cared for. I may say that other institutions of the kind are in contemplation. Perhaps when these others are finally established the reduction which is evident in the mortality rate of illegitimate children will be still further evident. There has been a decrease in the death rate in the last three or four years, a not inconsiderable decrease, and I am hoping that that decrease will continue and will grow at a more rapid rate as a result of the institutions already established, and the similar institutions which I am hoping will be established later on.

Deputy Rowlette and other Deputies mentioned insanitary school buildings. The Department of Local Government is not primarily concerned with school buildings, but it is concerned with the public health aspect of this matter, and I may say that not alone our inspectors, but the county medical officers in every county have been instructed to pay particular attention to schools, to the sanitation of schools, and I will be glad if Deputies would ask for and get the annual reports of the county medical officers of health in their respective counties, because in these reports they will see for themselves that the county medical officers of health are taking notice of the matter and are calling attention annually to the need for proper sanitation in the schools.

I think I might say, too, although it is not in my particular province as a Minister, that in the last three or four years the amount of money set aside by the Government for the building of new schools has been very considerably increased. There were more new schools being built within the last three years at any rate than for many years before. I know there is no Deputy who does not hope that even more money still will be found for this very proper and desirable object. There are too many insanitary schools in the country, too many schools in which there is no thought of sanitation —that is a fact. I hope that Deputies not alone here but wherever they have an opportunity of speaking on this matter, will call attention to it because it will be all to the good. It will get the public mind educated on the matter and will help in inducing everybody who has a share of responsibility to be wide awake in regard to the subject.

Deputy Nally asked about some housing schemes at Ballyhaunis and Ballindine. I do not know what the conditions are; I have not had time to find out, but I will inquire as to what has happened with regard to these two towns and their housing schemes and if there are any difficulties in the way I shall try to have them smoothed out. He also referred to the scarcity of slates. That is one particular matter that the Housing Board have been dealing with since they were appointed. The utmost difficulty has been found in getting slate quarries developed. There is any amount of money in slates at present. There is nothing else certainly in the building line that there is a greater demand for. People in this country would, I think, prefer slates as a roofing material to tiles, but slates are not available. The Housing Board have been after every slate quarry owner in the country begging them to develop their output more and more.

By reason of our housing schemes, we were responsible for reviving development in quarries in several places all over the country that had ceased to produce for a number of years. The most notable one was in the Deputy's county, where a quarry closed for many years is now employing 600 hands. Possibly even if that quarry were further developed and if it had three times that number of hands employed it would not be able to go anywhere near supplying the demand there is for slates. When the matter was raised last year I spoke in the same tone in the hope that some people who had money to invest would look around them and develop some of the slate quarries in their own areas. There are quarries in Wicklow that have produced excellent material and that have doubled and trebled their output in the last three or four years, but they could do still more. The same applies to Cork, and the same applies to Tipperary and Waterford and other places; but why people, with money to invest in Irish industry, will not look at slates or slate quarries, is a thing that I find difficult to understand. Perhaps some of them have in mind that this housing development of the last few years is only a flash in the pan. Well, I believe that this Government will be here for a considerable time to come, but this Government, if it is here, or whatever Government is here, will have to keep the housing problem before it and to develop the housing scheme, and keep it going, if that be possible at greater and greater speed. So that I think there is, at any rate, a period of ten years' intensive building before this country—not alone before the Government but before the country as a whole, the private speculator as well as the public society or local authority. Therefore there need not be any fear that there will be a stoppage in the development of building or in the demand for slates.

Deputy Daly, of North Cork, was one of those who complained about the scheme of his local authority, the North Cork Board of Health, being held up. In his case the scheme is being held up because the county board of health, as I understand it, decided that they would not take the sites for labourers' cottages by compulsory purchase, but would pay £70 an acre everywhere they took a site. Well, we looked up what had been paid for similar sites in the same area —paid by an arbitrator on the compulsory housing scheme that was in operation a short time before—and we found that the average price was less than half, or about half, what the board of health proposed to pay. Well, when they can get, by using the compulsory purchase method, sites at, roughly, half or about half the price, why should they pay £70 for a site? That has been put up to the board of health, but up to the present, at any rate, they have not agreed with us on the matter.

They paid up to £115 in places outside Roscommon.

That may be. I know that there are places where, owing to one reason or another, such prices have to be paid. I think Deputy The O'Mahony last night mentioned a place where £200 had been paid. As I say, other conditions may operate in other areas. There is the question of the market value. The arbitrator will pay the market value. I do not know who the arbitrators are. I have nothing to say as to who appoints them. I think it is the Chief Justice who appoints them.

In the case I referred to it was by private treaty.

Well, whether by private treaty or otherwise, there are places where £200 might reasonably be paid.

But surely not Roscommon?

I do not know.

The site I referred to was next to a graveyard. Possibly that had something to do with it.

Well, of course, I do not know the case to which the Deputy is referring at the moment, but I do say that there are places where, unfortunately, it has been found that one cannot get sites otherwise than by paying a sum of that kind. Some Deputies raised the question of the grants in connection with public health schemes—for waterworks and sewerage—and suggested that the grants were not generous enough. Well, I think the grants are generous. Not alone are they generous, but there were more of them available in the last three or four years than were ever available before; and we are only too anxious that the local authorities would take up these grants, use them, and put public health schemes of waterworks and sewerage into every hamlet as well as into every village and town in the country. In some areas the cost is heavy, and that applies to one scheme mentioned by Deputy Daly last week. He talked of the town of Newmarket. What is true of that scheme is possibly true of others, and that is that the local authority, when developing that scheme, wished to put the area of charge for a water supply scheme on a very restricted area and, as the North Cork Board of Health did suggest a restricted area in that case, the charge on a limited number of ratepayers is, therefore, very heavy and very high. I think that a way out of it, and a way that has been adopted with success by a number of boards of health and that, I think, is generally approved of, would be to make the county the area of charge for all these schemes. If that were done, there would not be any longer the competition, or at least there would not be competition to the same extent, between towns and villages in the same county area in order to get their scheme developed first.

When I first became Minister for Local Government and Public Health, I discovered that there were several counties where there were towns that were in a shocking state from the point of view of public health—without any water supply or sewerage; and the reason was that the representatives from two towns in, let us say, County Cavan, would not agree that the third town should get a water or sewerage scheme because they did not get it in their own town, and each town blocked the other because it wanted its own scheme developed first. I made the suggestion to them, as I did to other counties: Why not agree to give all the towns—these two, three, five or six towns—a water or sewerage scheme and put the charge on the county?

That suggestion, I suppose, was hailed with joy?

It was, and it was adopted, and all these towns have now got water and sewerage.

They all will have all over the country if you make it a county charge. If it is made a county charge, you will have a water supply scheme for every two houses that are gathered together.

Oh, well, there is no use in exaggerating the thing and going to extremes, but the towns in the county did benefit in that case, and in other cases also. There is an attitude of mind—a rural attitude of mind—that I think is wrong, in regard to payment for water and sewerage schemes in the towns. The rural dweller looks upon that matter in a certain way. I have often argued with members of boards of health, and I have heard them say many a time: "Why should I pay for water and sewerage works in the town of Ballaghaderreen?" That is what they want to know. Well, there is very good reason why they should pay, because the little they pay for waterworks or sewerage for the benefit of having proper public health installations in that town or village, as the case may be, may be the means of saving their own lives, their wives' lives, or the lives of their children, because these epidemic diseases, such as scarlatina, measles or diphtheria, are more likely to arise in the urban areas and be carried out to the country districts by the visitor from the rural district to the towns or villages. They are likely to arise in the schools in the village or town, or in the immediate vicinity of the village or town. These diseases will arise there more readily than they do out in the open countryside, and if the rural dweller looks at it in that way and thinks of the value he will set on the life of his child, or several children—it is not a right way to evaluate it, if you like— he certainly will agree, if it is put to him in that way, that he would rather put the life of his child out of danger than object to paying the necessary twopence or threepence in the £ so that there should be a general improvement and uplifting in the social life of the people so far as the public health is concerned.

A number of Deputies spoke on roads, and on the amount of money spent on main roads compared with county roads, as a result of the money available for the relief of unemployment. I think that, speaking roughly, an additional sum of £400,000 has been made available in the last couple of years for work on roads, and most of that money has gone into county roads, not main roads. The money made available out of the Vote for the relief of unemployment was spent, not on the main roads, but on the county roads. Therefore there has been at least close on £500,000 more per annum spent in the last couple of years on county roads than ever was spent on them before.

From many points of view, I should like to see more money made available for expenditure on the main roads, especially in districts referred to by several Deputies where tourists come in large numbers. I should like to see that, but until the Road Fund grows and develops more rapidly than it is doing at present, I do not see that there is much possibility of getting more money for the main roads. The revenue from the Road Fund is increasing. Two years ago it was, in rough figures, about £1,000,000. Last year it was £1,079,000. This year it is anticipated that it will come very near to £1,150,000. Whatever money will come in in that way will be used to the advantage of the main roads in general.

Deputy Kennedy, in addition to speaking of roads, mentioned the Moate water supply. I have been disappointed that the Moate water supply scheme has not developed much more rapidly than it would appear it has. In fact, it has developed hardly at all, but the delay I understand now is due to the difficulty of acquiring rights over land that must be taken in order to carry out a water supply scheme for the town. The difficulty is being got over but it will probably take a little time longer to complete operations.

Deputy Hogan seemed to resent some remarks of mine made to him one day in reply to a question. He resented my suggestion that, from his benches at any rate, he ought not to be suggesting that the Minister should demand or direct the local authority to do this, that or the other. There appears to be an idea in the minds of some Deputies—and it is in the minds of some Labour Deputies, though not all—that all the Minister has to do is to send down an ultimatum to the local authority and the thing is done. They frequently make demands on me as Minister to order that this, that or the other thing should be done by the local authority. First of all, I was a member of a local authority for many years and I would resent very much, during that time, orders of that kind. Secondly, it is not my nature to give orders of that kind, unnecessarily in any event. If I am driven to it, and if I have the power to carry it out, I shall give the order, if necessary. If I have not the power to carry it out, I shall be very careful about giving it. That is what happens in the case of many things suggested to me, especially when I am asked to order a board to do this, that or the other thing. I have not the power to do all the things that are sometimes asked for.

I am sorry that Deputy Hogan should have felt offended with what I said. I did not intend to give him any offence. I know he is deeply interested in this question of housing in Clare, and housing in Clare is not in a very satisfactory condition. That is quite true. It seems to be very difficult to get over a number of things in County Clare. The board of health and the local authorities find it difficult to get competent contractors. Whatever the reason is, there is that particular difficulty in County Clare. I know that Deputy Hogan is being pressed. Goodness knows, I have heard from him often enough as I hear from other Deputies about the different things of which they have complained. Deputy Hogan is one who writes to me frequently in reference to complaints, particularly about housing in Clare. I do what I can in the matter. I am pressing the authorities in County Clare. Anything I can do to help Deputy Hogan or anybody else to get the local authorities to build houses more satisfactorily and rapidly, I shall be only too happy to do.

Put more Labour members on the different boards.

When the members of local authorities sit down and discuss their problems, very frequently these political differences disappear. They treat the problem as they find it, squarely and honestly. It is not a question of the interests of one Party or another. I would say that, as far as I am concerned, I have got as much help from one Party as another and I have got good help from all. Some boards have suggested to me that a good way out would be to allow them to build by direct labour. I have no rooted objection to direct labour, if I am satisfied that there are competent people to supervise and carry out the scheme. There have been some experiments in direct labour in rural areas that have been disastrous failures. There have been some contracts likewise that have been disastrous failures. All seemed to be confusion, with nobody in charge to see how the work developed. It would be a very useful thing for local authorities, when they found that contractors were not doing their work, to be able to set aside the contract and set their own machinery in motion, but in one or two experiments that I saw carried out in direct labour the results were not satisfactory. Either the prices were very considerably over what they should have been or else the supervision was not what it should have been.

On the subject of roads, several Deputies mentioned the question of leaving a margin on the sides of the tarred roads. That has been done with success in many counties. In others it has not been so successful. These counties dropped the system because they found, as Deputies mentioned here, that for one reason or another—technical reasons, about which I need not bother you; probably you are as familiar with them as I am myself—it did not prove satisfactory. Every month of the year experiments are being carried out by our county surveyors all over the country—as they are in other countries —in an endeavour to find a road that will serve the two purposes; that will serve the motorists in the best way, and will also be practicable for the man who has to drive a horse or drive cattle. Those experiments have been going on. There have been satisfactory results in one or two counties, but, on the whole, nothing has yet been discovered which is quite satisfactory and could be put into operation all over the country. I took a note of what some Deputy mentioned in regard to County Water ford—I think it was Deputy Corry— and what had been done by the county surveyor there. Deputy Goulding, I think, also mentioned how satisfactorily their county surveyor had got over that difficulty. I intend to have that looked into. I have been speaking at great length, and have probably tired the House—incidentally, I have tired myself—but there is only one other matter to which I want to refer, and that is the question of housing in Dublin.

Hear, hear.

Deputy Dillon mentioned a variety of topics, some relevant and some, as usual, irrelevant.

I deny that absolutely, and I think it is a reflection on the Chair to suggest that it is true.

He did speak on one matter which was very relevant and very interesting—that is, the question of housing in Dublin. He again mentioned the question of the difficulty in regard to money. Well, the last report that I received from the city manager on the question of housing was one that he submitted to his housing committee in the month of February, and it was the most comprehensive report on housing that I have received from the Dublin Corporation since I became Minister. It viewed the housing problem from almost every angle; it set out the difficulties and surveyed the problem as a whole in a way that was to me, at any rate, satisfactory and pleasing. I noted that the city manager did say to the members of his council that so far as money was concerned there was no difficulty.

What does Alderman Tom Kelly say? He says the very reverse.

I said that 12 months ago. You are 12 months behind me.

The city manager stated that so far as money was concerned he had no difficulty, but there were other problems which gave him and his council and his housing committee great concern. I am not satisfied, the corporation is not satisfied, and I do not think anybody in Dublin is satisfied with the rate of progress. We will have to speed up the housing supply in the City of Dublin. The problem is an enormous one. There is no use in enlarging on that now; possibly everybody here is as familiar with it as I am. I do think, however, that an effort is now being made to organise in a satisfactory way to deal with the problem, and to co-ordinate effort. I am hopeful that as a result of the new way in which the problem is being tackled, and the greater energy that, judging from the information at my disposal, is being put into the consideration of the problem, possibly by this time 12 months better results will be able to be shown.

Is the Minister satisfied with the whole quality of the work that is being done?

In Dublin, yes. In Dublin I do not think there is any complaint so far as the work that is being carried out under the supervision of the Corporation and its officials is concerned.

Has the Minister been in the Anchor Brewery houses?

And does he like them?

I do, and the Deputy is aware that, compared with similar types of dwellings in England, ours are better and larger. The Deputy knows that.

I do not

Well, the Deputy was told that on reliable authority.

It is certainly not my own experience.

At any rate it is true. I have been in some of them in England, in Vienna, in Berlin——

So have I.

——and in some of them in Czecho-Slovakia. The particular ones which the Deputy visited on the Anchor Brewery site can compare favourably with any of those at the same price.

The houses in England are twice the price of the Irish houses.

No, houses.

We are talking about the flats on the Anchor Brewery site. Does the Minister seriously tell us that they compare favourably with the Viennese flats?

With certain ones, not with all of them. There is greater difference in the Viennese flats, and in that way it would not be true to say that these compare with them. There is greater difference and greater variety in the flats in Vienna. Comparing those particular dwellings on the Anchor Brewery site in Dublin with those at a similar rent abroad, I do not think there is anything comparable to be got in the English or Viennese flats at the same rent.

There are three or four important matters that the Minister has not dealt with, and I wonder if he will be good enough to deal with them now. One is the question of a subsidy on houses costing over £300. Two or three Deputies have raised that matter. Another question is whether he would consider the advisability of renewing the grant for reconstruction in urban areas. The next matter to which I want to refer is a very important one which I raised, and that is the question of providing an amount of money in this year's rate by local authorities to enable them to qualify for an unemployment grant. The local authority to which I am attached might have been prepared to do that, but, unfortunately, our rate had already been struck. I wonder would the Minister give us the grant in the circumstances and allow us to raise our own portion by loan for this year? The other matter to which I wanted to refer was the refusal of the Department to permit local authorities to put their tradesmen on a permanent basis.

The first matter which the Deputy raised was the question of increasing the subsidy and increasing the amount on which the subsidy would be paid. I promised to put that matter before the Minister for Finance. I have put it before the Minister and have not got an answer.

Are you hopeful?

It is a very serious matter.

I know. I put it up to the Minister for Finance and have not got an answer.

You put it up strongly?

I did, and I hope to keep at it. What was the second point which the Deputy raised?

The question of the extension again of the reconstruction grants to urban areas. That was in operation up to 1932.

No—up to 1932.

I do not think so. However, I will not dispute it with the Deputy; perhaps he is right. At any rate, I think that considering the grants which we are paying at present, the extension of the valuation to over £25—that is one demand which is made—and the extension to urban areas, will have to wait until we get over our present difficulties.

Would the Minister give me some idea what a local authority is going to do if it has already struck its rate?

Very few of them have. They usually do not strike the rate until the month of May.

My anxiety is in regard to the unemployment grant. Will we be permitted to raise a loan in consequence of the fact that the rate has been struck?

I will not make any promise with regard to the loan. Possibly other ways of dealing with the matter may be found.

Would the Minister say anything in regard to the question of the tradesmen?

I will look into that matter.

In view of the fact that you, Sir, ruled out of order a certain question relating to the Secretary to the Department of Local Government and Public Health, we will not challenge a division; had we had permission to raise that matter we certainly would have done so.

Vote put and agreed to.