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

Debate resumed on the following motion:—
That the Estimate be referred back for reconsideration.

On the last day, I intended drawing the Minister's attention to the necessity for increasing or extending the immunisation schemes already in operation in the country. It is the opinion of medical officers of health that immunisation against scarlet fever and measles, which is in operation in other countries, should be extended to this country. I should like to suggest to the Minister that he should have an investigation made by his medical officers as to the results which are obtained in other countries where those schemes are in operation. I believe they are in operation in parts of America, and also in Great Britain. There is no doubt about the fact that immunisation against diphtheria has saved the lives of hundreds of children in this country during the last few years, and if we had immunisation against both scarlet fever and measles we would probably be going a great deal further.

There is just one complaint which I should like to make with regard to the Minister's Department. They are very stiff-necked in giving authority to boards of health to provide instruments for their county hospitals. Time after time the board of health in the constituency I come from has put up to the Minister's Department the necessity for certain surgical instruments in their hospital. That was on the advice of the medical officers of that hospital. As often as we put them up, those applications have been turned down by the Minister's Department. I think it is most unfair to a county hospital, when the chief medical officer and the chief surgeon of that hospital request that certain surgical instruments should be provided, that the Department of Local Government should prevent them from having those instruments. The boards of health are prepared to pay for them, and if they are considered necessary by the doctors in those hospitals I think they should have them. I hope the Minister will give serious attention to that matter. The Wexford Board of Health has been raising it during the last five or six years, but no progress seems to have been made.

I think it was Deputy Brennan who complained that the county councils were being used at the present time for spending unemployment relief grants. He thought it was unfair to the county councils to ask them to spend those grants. I do not know any county council in the country—except, perhaps, Deputy Brennan's; I am sure he speaks for his own, but I can speak for the one I am connected with— which is not glad to get those grants. The one complaint I have to make is that the Minister's Department insists on a contribution from the county councils. I think those grants could very well be given without insisting on any contribution from the county councils, or from the urban councils either. Those moneys are given out of the unemployment relief fund. The councils find it very hard to meet all the demands which are made on them, and the grants should be given independently of any contribution from the county councils. I do say that the county councils do not object to getting the grants; they only wish they were getting far more than they are receiving at the present time.

There is one other matter to which I wish to refer, and that is the necessity for having an investigation into the manner of the allocation of the road fund grants. The county councils find it extremely difficult at the moment to keep the third and fourth-class roads in a condition to cope with the large amount of motor traffic.

They have to carry an increasing amount of motor traffic year by year. The railway companies failed to carry the transport of the country on steel rails, and I do not see why the county councils should be asked to carry that very same traffic on the roads. That is what it amounts to. The railway company was carrying the traffic on rails, but they were not able to continue to do so, and now the county councils are required to keep up the roads, many of which are in very poor condition. There is no possibility in the world of the county councils being able to bring their third and fourth-class roads up to the standard necessary to carry the motor traffic at the present time. Something will need to be done. The trunk roads are in first-class repair, and the complaint of the county councils is that they are compelled by the Department of Local Government to contribute a certain amount towards the upkeep of those trunk roads. The feeling is that the trunk roads could do with less maintenance than is being allocated to them each year, but the county councils are more or less compelled to contribute; otherwise there would be no grant. What is required is that there should be a re-allocation of the grant. There are certain important roads which are not at the present time classified as trunk or link roads. An extended classification of link and trunk roads would relieve the pressure on the local authorities. It costs £1,000 or £1,500 a mile to steam-roll a road. In the case of a county like Wexford, where there are something like 3,000 miles of road, only about 300 miles being steam-rolled already, the House will have a fair idea as to what it will cost to put even 50 per cent. of those roads into perfect condition. The only means of improving the present position is that the Minister should have a change made in the allocation of the road fund grant, and make it available for other than the scheduled roads. I think that is about all I have to say, but I hope the Minister will bear those few points in mind.

This discussion has gone on for a pretty long time, and covered a good deal of ground. I am glad that the Minister has been commended on the general standard of his administration. I do not want to depreciate it; I prefer rather to encourage that tendency, and to try to raise the standard of administration all round to the high level which it has reached in those branches on which the Minister has been commended. There is one very serious matter to which I want to refer. Although no Deputy in this House has referred to it on either of the two days during which the Vote has been under discussion, it is a very burning topic down the country. I refer to the condition of the main roads insofar as the man with the horse and cart, or the man with the cow is concerned. That is a very serious matter. Nobody has asked what has become of him. Everybody knows that that man is not using the main roads now. Why? Because they are being turned into skating rinks, and it is impossible for the man with the cow or the man with the horse and cart to use them in safety. Yet, no Deputy has referred to the matter. If you look up the daily papers, you will see no reference to it there. The last time I remember reading about that man was in the report of a coroner's inquest. He came out on the road and all his belongings were scattered in all directions; a motor car came along and ran over him, and so the coroner's jury settled the rest. They found that he was as dead as Queen Anne. Lately, when the rate collector went to seek him out, he found he was alive and kicking at the back of the hill. It was very little wonder he was kicking when he found that his rates are three times as much now as they were when he had the use of the roads.

I think that is a very serious matter; it is no joke, and the Minister ought to give it consideration. The last time I referred to this matter the Minister, although I cannot charge him with discourtesy generally, had not the courtesy to mention it when he came to reply; it was not worth alluding to. Does not the Minister or Deputies in this House consider that those people have at least a prescriptive right to use the roads? They have been using them for hundreds of years. They were there before the Minister was here. They were there before motor cars. They were there before Dáil Eireann was established. These people have a prescriptive right, even if they have no other rights; but they have other rights, because they are contributing largely to the upkeep of these roads. They were responsible for making the roads, and they had certain other rights. Nobody is entitled to deprive them of these rights, even though we are living in the year 1938 when, apparently, in some places, right has to yield to might. Some European dictators have shown the world recently, perhaps, how it may be said that right must yield to might. However, we did not have to learn that lesson in this country from these European dictators, because we learned that right sometimes has to yield to might, long before these dictators started.

I do not know whether or not it is the intention of the Minister to drive a coach and four through these rights. Perhaps he might think that that was too slow a method, but I would appeal to the Minister to consider this matter carefully. If Deputies generally have neglected this matter it seems to me to be very strange that they have neglected it. Many of them are cogs, so to speak, in the machinery of local government since they are helping to operate local bodies and are all responsible more or less; but the Minister is at the head of this machine and he is the person who is really responsible for the interference with the rights of those people. Those people have a right to the use of the roads. Now, I do not want to have the roads put back to the condition in which they were formerly. I am just as anxious to see good roads provided for motoring as anybody else. I use the roads very often for motoring. I want to see good roads, but I say that the other people are also just as much entitled to the use of the roads. Can we not have a road suitable for both? I maintain that we can, and I hold that that is where the Minister can do very useful work. I shall make a suggestion in that connection. Various suggestions are made at meetings of the county councils from time to time, but they seem to fall through and nothing effective is done. Of course, they do discuss the matter and they make various suggestions, but they are not practical suggestions, and even their servants, the county engineers, are left without any definite direction, and the result is that the matter remains as it was. What I would suggest to the Minister is that he should make a recommendation to the county councils to get their engineers when they are finishing off those tarred roads to finish them off with white grit instead of limestone chippings. If that were done there would be no slipping worth mentioning. If the material with which the road is finished off is changed and if when that goes down the same kind of material is used, instead of limestone, there would be very little danger, and all classes of people, including the man with the horse and cart, or even with the ass and cart, going to fairs and markets, can use the road in safety. I hope that the Minister will not forget to deal with this matter when he is replying, and I also hope that when he goes back to his office he will not forget to make some recommendation in connection with this, and that at least he will have some experiments carried out on the lines I have suggested or on some other lines that may appear to be more feasible. I think that if the Minister only asks some of the engineers under the Department to carry out some experiments with a view to seeing how this difficulty could be got over the problem of providing roads that will be suitable for motor cars as well as for farmers and other users of the roads will not be found to be insuperable at all.

Another matter to which I should like to refer is the question of hospitals in County Cavan. For the last four years, and perhaps longer, the Board of Health in County Cavan have been trying to get hospitals built there, but for some reason or another the Department has been blocking the way all the time. An architect from the Department went down there and agreed upon a site. The board of health actually purchased that site, and then, when they had purchased the site and when a couple of years was spent, during which the board of health were still in touch with the Department trying to get the work carried out, they were informed that the site was unsuitable. Well, if the site was unsuitable, it was the Department's own inspector that was responsible. The position now is that the board of health do not seem to know exactly where they are. They do not know whether or not an architect has been appointed, and correspondence has been going on between the board of health and the Department and there seems to be more or less friction in connection with the matter. It is evident on the face of it, however, that the Department of Local Government and Public Health do not want the hospital built. Now, that is not fair to Cavan. It is not fair to Cavan for this reason. The Cavan people spent more upon their hospitals than any other poor county spent—and Cavan is a poor county— but the very fact that they did raise their hospitals to the best of their ability, and to a high standard at the time, seems to be the reason that they cannot get the money to which they are entitled in order to raise them to the standards that are desirable at the moment or to the standard that obtains in other counties, but Cavan is just as much entitled to good hospitals as any other county, and, therefore, I hope there will be no further undue delay in building these hospitals. There is plenty of unemployment in the County Cavan, and if these schemes were started at once, it would go far towards relieving the unemployment there. The board of health are willing and anxious to proceed at once with the work, and if the Minister would only facilitate them, the work could go on at once.

Now I should like to say a few words with regard to the enormous increase in rates. This is a very serious matter. Every year we see the rates going higher and higher, while the means of the people who are paying the rates are going down. The farmers, who are the hardest hit and who are paying the rates on an inequitable basis, are paying, as other people pay income-tax, on an income basis—or rather on an estimated income basis on which no living allowance is granted as in the case of income-tax. Now, that is absolutely unfair. These people are unable to pay the rates at the present time and they are much less able to pay the enormously increased rates which the Minister is taking every available means to increase. I notice, for instance, that for the last couple of years the grants which the Minister gives for the relief of unemployment are given only on condition that the county councils put up a share of these grants. I do not see what right the Minister or the nation has to ask the unfortunate ratepayers to take over the responsibility for unemployment. The responsibility should be upon the nation itself. It should be a national charge, and should not be a local charge. It is no fault of the people who pay the rates locally if there happens to be local unemployment, and it is a very unfair basis on which to deal with that matter. It puts the unfortunate county councils in the position that they have to let down the interests of those whom they are supposed to represent in order to secure grants for the county. They want to get the greatest amount of grants that they can, to get the greatest amount of work done, and for that reason they will put up money that they know in their hearts the unfortunate ratepayers, or the half of them, are not able to pay. I think that, pending the time when justice will be done completely to those unfortunate farmers by granting them derating, the Minister should not give any grants on such conditions. Whatever grants he does give to the county councils, he should give them, not on the condition that a share of the money is put up by the councils, because it is impossible for the unfortunate small farmers particularly, who have had their lands laid waste, to pay the rates. Those people are going to derive very little advantage from the boom conditions in the cattle trade and other things when they have their lands unstocked.

I hope, when the Minister goes back to his office, that he will not forget the point I referred to about the slippery condition of the roads and that also he will remember not to make grants from the Department contingent upon the county council putting up a share, because that will mean increasing the rates out of all proportion, certainly out of all proportion to the means of the people who are called upon to pay.

I should like the Minister to give the House some information about what is being done in connection with that tragic case which occurred in Waterford; whether the Minister has enquired into the circumstances of the case to ensure that there will not be a repetition of it, and what steps, if any, have been taken towards compensating the families of those children who have suffered in it. I suppose quite a number of members of the House could write what we might call a Civil Service thesis upon what the attitude of the official mind is towards a matter of that sort. The fact is that the parents of these children undertook a certain risk when they agreed to have them inoculated and they are entitled, in view of the very serious effects of the inoculation, to get consideration from the State in respect of the sufferings and losses they have sustained.

I would like the Minister also to tell the House whether any provision has been made for the institution of a hospital for dealing with bone tuberculosis. There is a reference in the report of the Hospitals Commission about the chest—I think it is medical T.B.—but there is no hospital, so far as I am aware, except for children, dealing with surgical tuberculosis. This would come under two heads. There is, first, the danger of infection and, secondly, would come the point of some attempt to cure the disease. It so happens, from the information I have had from medical men, that the fact that there is no hospital available for the treatment of bone tuberculosis in adults is one of the very serious drawbacks in this country at the present moment.

I would like to know, too, from the Minister, whether, in connection with schemes for water supplies and sewerage generally through the country, the water has been connected up with the houses in each of the towns or villages to which it has been made available and if the houses have been connected with the sewers that have been constructed. It may be that certain owners of property might not be able to undertake the cost of that particular work, but there is little use in having a central method of drawing off the sewerage if the houses are not connected. Some effort might reasonably be made out of unemployment grants or otherwise to make it possible to have the real advantage of sewerage undertakings made available to the people.

This Estimate is up in its administrative costs something like £50,000 in comparison with the Estimate of 1931-32. It is a very considerable increase and it is a question which the Minister ought carefully to consider, whether value is being obtained for the expenditure of such a huge sum of money. In recent years, by reason of alterations in the law and other provisions made in connection with assistance under social services and so on, there has been a considerable amount of overlapping, and while the central Government's administrative costs have been increased, the costs of the local authorities have not decreased. You have this situation in a place like the City of Dublin, where people, having been visited by the unemployment officer and having had the means of the person applying for assistance considered and reported upon and grants made and allowances fixed and so on, apply to the local authority for some further assistance and the local authority granting that further assistance and in some cases paying out the money and then sending along an official to collect rent from the same person. There you have three sets of persons all engaged in administrative work and all costing extra money and the unfortunate person getting no advantage except, perhaps, a couple of shillings. An effort ought to be made to co-ordinate these services and to lessen the administrative costs in connection with the distribution of them and to have somebody fixed with the responsibility of giving the full amount and getting paid afterwards, if you like, from the local authority or the State, whichever of them would not undertake the full responsibility, so as to lessen the cost on the ordinary taxpayer of the country.

In the same way, with regard to the provision made for housing under this Estimate, I find one Deputy addressing himself to the Estimate stating he was satisfied when he saw all the items increased in comparison with last year. Looking up last year's Estimates, I find there was a sum of £80,000 over-estimated in connection with the provision for housing. That is not the point I want to make, however. The point is that, under an arrangement, local authorities are allowed sometimes two-thirds and sometimes one-third of the costs incurred, but so far as the debt is concerned, it is on the local authority, and so far as the repayment to the local authority is concerned, it is a matter for yearly accountancy, entailing extra expense and extra administrative costs, no one ultimately knowing where he is, the State having a liability of X millions of pounds and the local authority having a liability of X millions of pounds. The result is that the local authority owes the full debt on paper, the State having a prior responsibility for a considerable portion of it. I think that ought to be cleared up, and it would be much better if the local authority would know exactly what it owes and let it be responsible for that and let the State take over its proportion.

The last thing I want to refer to is the Road Fund. The charges on the Road Fund within recent years have increased very considerably. If I am not mistaken, the service in respect of the debt on the Road Fund is now about £150,000 a year. In this year's Estimates we are favoured for the first time with some reference to administrative costs in connection with the Road Fund. The costs have gone up this year £20,000. They are now over £50,000, according to the Estimates Book. I doubt if the £50,000 covers the entire charges there are on the Road Fund, because I find from other accounts that the Gárda Síochána are to get something like £9,000 or £10,000 per annum. We have arrived at a point where the Road Fund is responsible for £200,000— £150,000 for debt charges and £50,000 for administrative costs. Then the Minister for Finance has taken £100,000 for the provision of unemployment relief, so that the Road Fund's very fair revenue of something like £1,000,000 or £1,100,000 is reduced by nearly £300,000 by reason of all these charges. It is unlikely that the sum of money that is left will be sufficient to keep the roads in good order. Some Deputies, speaking about this Estimate, had the politeness and courtesy to go over the events of the last 15 years. I think very few of them have recollected that the roads of this country 15 years ago could scarcely be called roads at all. Quite a number of bridges in this country, to the extent of about 3,000, had to be reconditioned and the condition of many of them was due to the constructional activities of some of those Deputies opposite, who seem to have forgotten all about it. I hope their sins have been forgiven them.

During the previous two days' debate on this Vote, I was glad to see that the criticism levelled at the Minister and his Department was mostly constructive criticism, with the exception, of course, of some wild statements from one or two alarmists. The record of the Minister's work in housing alone can best be seen in the poorer areas of the country. Going through the poorer areas to-day, one can see the remarkable difference in the comfort and the appearance of the houses. If there are a few that remain to be done, I believe that those few belong to people who are over the maximum valuation of £25 set by the Minister in respect of grants for building or reconstruction. I should like to hear that the Minister was considering fixing the maximum valuation above £25.

There is a matter in connection with housing to which I want to draw the Minister's attention. After a good deal of delay, which certainly was not the fault of the Minister, the West Cork Board of Health and Public Assistance agreed on a scheme for housing in non-municipal towns. The scheme proceeded, and a good number of sites were obtained by agreement. Others are to be taken compulsorily, but, although some agreement was reached in respect of sites, nothing further has been heard from the Department on the matter. I ask the Minister to look into it immediately. There is a matter in respect of which I believe there is undue delay on the part of the Department. Some nine months ago, Cork County Council submitted a scheme to the Minister for the construction of a coast road around the Beara peninsula. In addition to being one of our greatest beauty drives for tourists in the South, it is the only means the people have of ingress to, or egress from, the peninsula. The county council agreed to put down a sum of £6,000, if the Department would give a grant of £18,000. The people of Beara are very anxious to know what is the position with regard to that proposal and I mention it for the Minister's attention.

A further matter, the delay in respect of which is not, I believe, caused by the Department, is the question of the report of the Hospitals Commission with regard to the hospitalisation of West Cork. Some time ago —over 12 months ago, I believe—the Hospitals Commission reported on a general scheme, but so far, through no fault of the Minister's, I am sure, that report has not been implemented. I draw the Minister's special attention to that report, and I should be glad if he would take some steps to have it implemented as soon as possible. In connection with the hospitalisation of West Cork, I should like to mention specially the question of some improvements which are required in Castletownbere cottage hospital, which, I am glad to say, is a cottage hospital second to none in Ireland. Castletownbere being a seaport town, strange diseases coming from the sea are occasionally discovered, and there is no means whereby patients suffering from such diseases can be segregated from the ordinary patients in the ordinary wards of the hospital for the purpose of observation. The nearest fever hospital is 34 miles away and a patient may be brought into the cottage hospital suffering from any contagious disease, and must, of necessity, be placed in the general ward. The West Cork board have asked the Minister to consider providing this hospital with an observation ward and the matter is still under consideration.

This hospital provides for a peninsula 40 miles long. It is a very remote peninsula and owing to the difficulty of travelling, people have to depend a good deal on that hospital, especially for maternity cases. The hospital contains a ward with only two beds in that connection, and this is entirely insufficient for the area. I recommend the Minister to look into the proposal of the West Cork Board of Health and Public Assistance to provide a labour ward for that hospital. Generally speaking, many grants for roads and houses have been made available in that area, but I should like the Minister to look especially into these few points for the benefit of the poor people in the area.

In connection with this Estimate, Deputy Roddy mentioned the matter of the amount of money allocated by the Minister's Department to mental hospitals. I should like also to say something in connection with that matter. I think the Minister and his Department are familiar with the fact that, in recent years, the cost of maintenance per head in mental hospitals has increased considerably.

As far as I know the grants to mental hospitals were first instituted by an Act of Parliament passed in 1874. The grant that time was paid out of the general taxation fund and it approximated to about 50 per cent. of the cost per patient. Under the Local Government Act of 1898 a change was made in the method of raising the money in question. A sum of £79,000 was set aside from general taxation and the remainder, approximating to £200,000, was raised by setting aside for this purpose the levy obtained from beer, game and other licences. It would be very interesting to find out if the money collected through taxation from these commodities is still used to pay the grants to mental hospitals. As far as I can ascertain, the grant in 1898 was based on the number of people who were in mental hospitals prior to the passing of the 1898 Local Government Act. Unfortunately, there are more people in mental hospitals now than there were at that time and the amount of money that was given by the Government towards the support of mental patients in those hospitals has in consequence been reduced considerably per patient. At the time the grant approximated 50 per cent. of the cost of each patient. Now it is considerably less than that sum. The result has been that from year to year the demands of the mental hospitals on the rates are increasing rapidly. In my county this year the increase has gone up by about 4d. in the £ in consequence of the demand of the mental hospitals. The Minister's attention has been drawn to this matter on various occasions not alone by individual county councils but by the general body of county councils. I suggest to the Minister that the time has arrived when there should be a reconsideration of this question and a grant should be given which would approximately be in the same proportion as the original grant.

Deputy Allen to-day referred to the fact that the Minister or that section of his Department responsible for this business were guilty of terrible procrastination so far as agreeing to the purchase of certain instruments and surgical appliances required by county hospitals. Quite recently there was a case in the High Court where a doctor in the employment of the Wexford County Board of Health was prosecuted for the alleged ill-treatment of a patient. In the course of the case the judge referred to what he called the criminal neglect of the county board of health in not having at the disposal of their doctors an x-ray equipment. Deputy Allen, as chairman of the county council board and also a member of the board of health, knows that for the last four years our county board of health had been seeking the Minister's permission to instal an x-ray plant. We are as near now to getting the permission as we were then. Yet we are paraded in the court by a judge with what he has described as criminal neglect. In another case an officer of a board of health requires instruments which would cost about £50. He says these are absolutely necessary to enable him to discharge his duties properly. But we have been refused sanction for that sum also.

Another matter to which I should like to refer is the accommodation for fever patients in Wexford. Quite recently, when there was an epidemic of scarlet fever in Wexford, it was necessary to make arrangements with private hospitals in order that the patients should be properly dealt with. The fever hospital for County Wexford is in the town of New Ross. I think it is necessary that that hospital should be there, and I do not want the people of New Ross deprived of it. But I do object to the people of the town of Wexford having to send patients a distance of 23 miles to New Ross. Remember that Wexford is a town with a population of 13,000. It is a large sea port, and is subjected to diseases of a more infectious and contagious kind than an inland town would be. I ask the Minister to have a survey made of the accommodation in Wexford so far as accommodation for fever patients is concerned, and to make the necessary grant so as to enable Wexford to provide accommodation for fever patients in Wexford. I have been asked by many of the ratepayers to make these recommendations.

During the discussion on this Vote, a great deal has been said about housing. I want to repeat now what I have said on many occasions, that the Minister has done splendid work so far as housing is concerned. Long before he became Minister for Local Government and Public Health, he showed himself very interested in housing. What he said then is reflected in the housing policy he has since been carrying out. Quite recently, in consequence of representations made by the council of municipal councils, the Minister agreed to subsidise housing costs in cases over £300. I am going to ask the Minister to increase the subsidy also in rural areas to houses which are costing over £300. I would not refer so much to isolated cottages built in rural areas. As the Minister knows, various boards of health are engaged in reconstructing villages, doing away with slum property and building better-class houses for the ordinary agricultural labourer outside. Those houses are costing well over £300 in consequence of the increased cost of building material and other things lately. The result is this, that if a house costs £320, that means an increase of 5d. a week in the rent. If the house costs £340, that will work out in terms of rent at an increase of 10d. a week. That is so if the Minister is not prepared to pay the subsidy in the case of house costing over £300. The Minister should at least concede the same treatment to people living in villages in the country as he is conceding to people living in urban areas, because the agricultural population, in my opinion, are less able to pay these imposts than the urban population. I would, therefore, ask the Minister to get his housing section to reconsider this whole matter with a view to giving the same concession with regard to the subsidy in rural areas as in urban areas.

I have listened to the remarks made by other Deputies on this Vote, and as a result there is very little left for me to say unless I wish to repeat what they have said. For that reason I intend to confine myself to just one or two things. The first matter I want to deal with is that small land-owners are sometimes victimised in the acquisition of plots for labourers' cottages. I understand the formula in these cases is that, when a labourer has to apply for a cottage, he is asked to send in an application to the local authority. In that application the labourer has to mention the site on which he wants the cottage built. In the ordinary way these sites are examined, and a certain routine is gone through. Sometimes the owners of the farms on which the cottage is applied for have only a very small amount of land attached to their own house, so much so that you could hardly call them farmers. They are really labourers. If these people lose a little bit of land out of what they have, that means that their means of existence disappear. This happens while substantially large owners of land quite convenient to the site on which it is proposed to build the cottage go scot free. I know of cases where there is plenty of available land on large holdings, and the cottage is not applied for there. It is applied for on a very small holding. Yet the public authorities persist in taking the plot from the small holder. I mention this particularly because of three cases in my own county which will bear out what I am saying. One of these is in Crossmolina; the second is in Foxford, and the third in Ballycastle. I do not wish to mention any names. I just want to bring the matter here for the consideration of the Minister. I think if the Minister inquires into these three cases he will come to the conclusion that these three small owners should not be interfered with while there is land available in the neighbourhood. I am sure the Minister will not permit these small holders being put at the great disadvantage that the taking of these cottage plots will mean to them.

We shall take the Crossmolina case first. This is the case of a farmer living in Crossmolina who has about eight statute acres attached to his house. He has eight or perhaps nine in family. They depended for their existence on that farm of land and whatever labour they could get in the town. I wish to mention his case specially because he was originally a herd on a farm of land adjacent to the town. The farm of land was taken over and distributed by the Congested Districts Board. I am informed that at that time he was one of the parties instrumental in having the land divided. That happened years ago, perhaps as far back as 1920 or even prior to that. At that time, he was given a very small addition to the land attached to the house in which he originally lived as herd. As a matter of fact, I am told that he got only three or four acres in addition to a similar area which he occupied while he was herd but now it is suggested that two acres of this holding should be taken over. The portion which it is proposed to take over is the only part of his land which contains a water supply, the only part that is likely to be of any use in the rearing of cattle, pigs and things of that sort. It is a field convenient to the house. There are a number of substantial land holders living in this district and there are also some derelict sites which would be more suitable for the erection of labourers' cottages than the land which it is proposed to take from this man.

In the Foxford case, the owner of the land was a widow and I am informed that she has about nine in family, the youngest of whom is about four or five years of age and the eldest about 16. She had originally a fairly large farm of land, some 60 or 70 acres, but this farm was taken over by the Land Commission. She kept this small plot of two or three acres for the grazing of a milch cow. She fell ill some time ago and had to go to hospital with the result that she could not retain the cow as there was nobody to look after it. During the time she was away, she let the land on the 11 months' system and the principal reason for taking it over, I suppose, was because it was let. Her idea was to let it while she would be away and of course she could not resume possession of it until the period specified in the contract expired. Her only reason for letting the land as I have said was that she was away and could not attend to it.

The third case to which I refer is the Ballycastle case. This man had also a small acreage. I cannot give the exact area but it cannot be very large. He has also a small licensed place but he does not do very much trade and he lives more or less on the farm. If land is needed in that locality for the purposes of building, there are many large land owners around the place who would suffer very much less if portion of their land were taken over. If this man's land is acquired, it will simply mean that he will be put out of existence as far as farming is concerned.

The question also arises of the amount paid to people whose land is taken over. There is another case in Crossmolina where a two-acre field was taken off a man and the amount paid him, I am informed, was something like £100. He had to give a fee simple right to the place with the result that the net amount he received would be something in the region of £40, perhaps a little less. He has a weak family and yet these two acres were taken off him for this very small consideration, something in the region of £40. If he had put it up for auction in the open market, I am sure he would get anything between £200 and £300 for it. Ten cottages have been erected on it and if he had offered it for sale as sites, I am sure he would get £40 for each site, a total of £400. Forty or fifty pounds is not a sufficient payment for an area like that actually in the town when you consider that in different parts of the country, when corners are taken off country roads, 10/- or perhaps 15/- per perch, is allowed for the land acquired. That would work out at £80 or £100 an acre. There is a very big difference between that and £20 an acre. I would ask the Minister to examine specially the three cases I have mentioned and any assistance I can give him in having justice done to these parties I shall gladly give. I am sure that he will find that in the vicinity of the areas I have mentioned there is plenty of land available for building and that there are many people who can afford to give sites on their holdings without any sacrifice whatever. There is no necessity then to inflict hardship on the parties I have mentioned.

Another matter which I should like to mention has reference to derelict and condemned houses in rural areas. When a house is condemned and the tenant obtains a cottage, the house is left derelict, perhaps in the principal street of a town. In my opinion some means should be adopted by which that house can be rebuilt or by which it can be turned to some use instead of being left as an eyesore in the town, with nobody to look after it.

I should also like to refer to the manner in which relief schemes are carried out. To my mind those relief schemes are not being carried out in a constructive way, inasmuch as some of the schemes for which applications are being granted, and on which £20, £30 or £40 is being spent, merely mean that a little bit of a road into one farmer's house is made.

The Minister is not responsible for that. There is another Vote under which that would come.

I am speaking of the manner in which relief schemes are being carried out.

That would come under another Department. The Minister for Local Government and Public Health does not administer these funds.

These are minor relief schemes.

I know —road-making in hamlets.

They are minor relief schemes.

They do not come under this Vote. There is another Vote on which the Deputy can raise the matter.

I shall leave that matter then until I get an opportunity of raising it on a later Vote. From what I have seen going through the country, I should be glad to see this money spent on bigger roads that would benefit a larger number of people. The position is worse in areas where employment is low and where work is not available. I hope the Minister will deal with the cases I mentioned. Any assistance I can give in connection with the matter I will be happy to give.

I am of opinion that the bad condition of the county roads, in comparison with the main roads, throughout great parts of the country, is largely due to the method of allocation of grants from the Road Fund to county councils. The method of allocation may have been all right when the main roads were in a bad condition, but now that these roads have been brought up to a pretty high standard, I think that method is unfair and is not giving proper results. I am sure county surveyors when preparing estimates do so with a view to getting the biggest grant that it is possible to get, but they lose sight of the fact that much larger estimates should be prepared for county roads and perhaps smaller estimates for the main roads in view of the fact that the Road Fund contributes 40 per cent. of the cost of maintaining main roads. As I think the present system is bringing in bad results, I ask the Minister to reconsider the method of allocation of grants from the Road Fund. The upkeep of the county roads is very important, because a great proportion of those who pay motor taxes in rural areas have to use these roads much more frequently than they use the main roads. The main roads in my constituency in County Kildare are in a very neglected condition. Every day milk and other lorries have to pass over them. In connection with the turf development scheme, motor lorries use these roads and also in the harvest, carrying beet, wheat and other agricultural produce. These roads are in a neglected condition but are used by lorries collecting stock and produce for the Dublin market. The owners of these lorries have to pay motor taxes and as ratepayers they have complained to the county council about the neglected condition of the roads. It is very unfair that contributions from the Road Fund which, I understand, is made up from motor taxation, cannot be made available for the maintenance or improvement of these roads. I think these people have a great grievance in that respect. The main roads form a considerable part of the mileage in County Kildare and buses and lorries passing to and from the south and west of Ireland pass over them, but they contribute nothing in the way of motor taxation in the county. The money that should go towards the maintenance of county roads goes towards the upkeep of trunk roads, which are being used to take traffic from the railways. The position of the ratepayers has been further worsened owing to the fact that the valuation of the railways has been reduced in the county. The loss to the rates has, imposed an added burden on the ratepayers. I hope the Minister will consider the question and do something in that respect.

We have another matter which affects a considerable portion of County Kildare. In that county there are many roads running alongside the canal, and it transpired recently that it was only with the consent of the Grand Canal Company that the county council could maintain these roads. A number of them have been maintained for many years by public funds. The Grand Canal Company attempted to impose certain conditions on the county council two or three years ago, but the Department of Local Government would not allow the county council to agree to them. As a result these roads are no longer maintained as county roads and have deteriorated. Some of them are in a very bad condition. One of these roads which is in bad repair serves a parish, a Catholic church and national school. The people of that parish, some of them big ratepayers, as well as the children have to pass over that road almost every day. Another road lies in a populous area where, in the winter months, the people have to pass through slush and mud. Those who have to use such roads have a genuine grievance. I do not know what solution can be found, but I urge the Minister to look into the question to see if something can be done to improve matters. Priests and doctors complain very much about the condition of these roads and blame the county council for not attending to them. The position is that the county council in present circumstances is not in a position to do anything with them.

Reference has been made to defects discovered in the building of labourers' cottages. There were some complaints in County Kildare about chimneys that smoked. I went and visited some of the cottages and, in my opinion, the design of the fireplaces and the chimneys was not really suitable for some areas. In some houses there were grates and in others the fires were on the hearths. The houses I visited were in turf-burning areas and the chimneys were smoking. Engineers from the board of health inspected them and suggested alterations, and I suppose some tradesmen came and tried some experiments on the chimneys which, in some cases, they improved and in other cases did not improve. Whether the chimneys smoked or not it appeared to me that the fireplaces were not well designed to help the women to cook efficiently. We hear a great deal recently about the necessity of cooking food properly and about encouraging workers to till their gardens and grow vegetables, but the designs of fireplaces in some of the houses I visited gave no real encouragement or help to women to cook food efficiently. If it could be done, I think an effort should be made to introduce our people in the rural areas to a more efficient way of cooking than they have at present. I suggest to the Minister that he should investigate the advisability of having proper turf ranges installed in some of those cottages, especially those with smoky chimneys. I am satisfied that a turf range has now been devised which will help to popularise the use of turf, wherever it is put in and that an extension of its use will lead to economy in fuel. That is an important consideration for working people in the rural areas who find it hard to buy turf. I believe that one-fifth of the amount of turf used under the old method would, with this new range, be sufficient to warm the house and provide a proper means of cooking food efficiently. I think that in the rush of building cottages enough attention has not been given to that side of the question. I would ask the Minister to give it his special attention.

I recognise that the social services provided impose a pretty heavy burden on the ratepaying community. The contribution which the ratepayers are called upon to make for the provision of hospitals, cottages, waterworks and sewerage schemes is a pretty heavy one. I do not find any great outcry against it in my constituency. I must say that the ratepayers, as a whole, realise the necessity for those schemes and are doing their best to meet the cost of them. At the same time, there are some directions in which, I think, economies might be practised. I do not know what control the Minister is able to exercise, but there are a few matters to which I wish to direct his attention. At the present time the ratepayers are, I think, sufficiently burdened in the contributions that they have to make to housing, public health schemes and roads, so much so that, I think, the expenditure which they are being asked to undertake in other directions might be deferred. It was Deputy Coburn, I think, who said that all the little expenditures, when added together, amount to a great lot.

The kind of thing that I have in mind is this: Recently the County Council of Kildare, of which I am a member, got an order from the Department of Local Government to provide a site and build a courthouse in a certain area. I do not know whether the Minister is responsible for that or not, but the provision of a courthouse in which the district justice would sit for an hour or two in the month would cost at least £1,000. The council received other orders or directions for the renovation of existing courthouses. It was asked to bring them up to a very high standard. So far as I am concerned, I have never heard any complaint from the local lawyers or the people as to the condition of those buildings. I think it is unreasonable to ask the county council to provide this new courthouse that I have spoken of I just mention that case to indicate the line which I think economies might take. It would be disheartening for the ratepayers who find it difficult to meet their obligations of the present time if they were to see the county council making provision for expenditure of that kind. I would suggest to the Minister that he should use all his influence to protect the ratepayers. In conclusion, I would appeal to him to give his special attention to the questions that I have raised: the allocation of the Road Fund grant, and the provision of a better design of fireplace in labourers' cottages.

It is usual for Deputies when the Estimate for a Minister's Department is brought before the House to put before him the grievances which their constituents bring to their notice. It is customary for Deputies on the Government side when reviewing the work of a Government Department to throw bouquets at the Minister responsible, and for Deputies on the Opposition side to throw bricks. In the case of this Estimate I propose to give the Minister a little of both. At the outset I desire to congratulate him on the way in which he has carried on the work of the Department during the last few years. I know the Minister for a long number of years to be a man of experience and capability in local administration. I certainly give him the credit of being the right man in the right place. At the same time, I want to say that he is not getting the service that he should get from a good many local bodies, and particularly from the local body in the County Meath. If he were, then our country would be in a different condition from what it is to-day. Instead of that being done, we find that local administration in many cases is run on political lines. While that is so you cannot expect to have decent service. Until local affairs are conducted on business lines, instead of on political lines, the ratepayers will not get the return that they are entitled to for the expenditure of their money.

In the County Meath housing is going on at a very rapid rate, but personally I think better work would be done if we went a little slower. At the moment we have two, or three, or four housing schemes proceeding, one on top of the other. That position has gone on for the last few years and has led to a complete muddle. Many of those houses were not built by decent contractors. Tenders were invited for the work, with the result that every Tom, Dick or Harry who thought that he could use a hammer or a pincers sent in proposals, and I am sorry to say that their tenders, being the lowest, were accepted for building the cottages. We have cottages that were built under the one scheme and they are almost useless. We have a flying squad of contractors going over them now carrying out repairs—roofs leaking, smoky chimneys and other defects. I think that if we were to go slower, and learn from the mistakes of past schemes, we would be doing better work to-day in the matter of housing.

I do not believe in giving the building of cottages to any but competent contractors. The credentials of men who send in tenders should be put before the local board and carefully examined before contracts are given out. We are in the unfortunate position in County Meath to-day that we have housing schemes that were started three, four, or five years ago and they are not finished yet, the reason being that the men whose tenders were accepted for the work had not a "bob" to enable them to get ahead with the work. They were held up trying to get money from the banks, or neighbours to come to their assistance. The result is that the schemes are left there unfinished. I would appeal to the Minister to make local authorities realise that what the Government stand for is decent administration, and that his Department will insist that where building work is to be done it must be put in the hands of competent contractors. We have in County Meath as good contractors as there are in the country, but they are not getting a chance since this type of handyman takes the work out of their hands. We have quite enough competent contractors in County Meath to build all the houses that are needed there if they are allowed to do it.

I have also a grievance in connection with repairs to cottages. For a number of years, repairs were allowed to fall into arrear. The cottages got into a condition of neglect, with the result that we had a very costly repair-scheme brought forward during the present year in order to bring the repairs up to date. The board of health brought in a scheme known as the "flying squad"—an expensive scheme of lorries, qualified men and squads of all sorts who go around the county repairing these cottages. There was no need for these flying squads. They are very expensive and I think the Minister will have to do away with them. He has already referred to them on a few occasions. There would be no need for these men if the small-carpenter type of worker were left to do repairs instead of building houses. Of course, we have to learn by our mistakes and, in our county, the mistakes are many. I hope that the Minister will see that this is the last of the mistakes.

I should like to know when it is proposed to bring the cottage-purchase scheme into operation. What is the cause of the delay? This scheme seems to be like the I.R.A. pension scheme. It is kept over for an election and then it is forgotten. I hope the purchase scheme will soon be put into operation and that the occupants of the cottages will get the benefits to which they are entitled.

My colleague on the opposite benches spoke of the Nazareth Home at Trim. For the last three or four years, there was a lot of talk about this home. It was to cost about £80,000. It was to be built inside 12 months and all our poor were to find a refuge there in their old age and be maintained in reasonable comfort. There is not a word about the Nazareth Home to-day. There is not a word about the £80,000 which was to be spent in giving employment and the unfortunate men in Trim who were watching out for that employment have now given up hope and have gone across to England. I should like the Minister to say where we stand in connection with the Nazareth Home.

As regards schools, we have in County Meath as large a number of bad schools as there are in any county. No effort is being made to build new schools. I ask the Minister to speed up the building of schools. We cannot expect decent education when the teacher and the children have to work in insanitary surroundings.

As regards water and sewerage schemes, we, in County Meath, have put through many sewerage schemes. They were rather costly but I am quite satisfied that they were necessary. We have put these schemes through and paid the money and now we find that, in the majority of cases, the people are refusing to connect with these schemes, with the result that the money is practically wasted and the towns are in as bad condition as they were before. Before these schemes are entered upon in the future, we should find out how many people are going to connect with them because if they are not prepared to connect, the money is wasted. I hold that these schemes were quite necessary and that people should be compelled to connect with them and not have the ratepayers' money wasted.

In County Meath, we have a large strand suitable as a seaside resort but I find that it is, more or less, going to waste. The only hope of keeping it before the public as a popular resort is for the Minister to take it over as a national asset. With the high taxation at present we, in County Meath, are not able to do justice to this seaside resort. We have put in a costly water and sewerage scheme but that is as far as we can go. Something more is needed because this place is of great national value and has one of the finest strands in Ireland. I hope the Minister will give us some little help or, alternatively, that he will take the place over as a national asset.

I put some questions to-day to the Minister with regard to drainage. The small drainage schemes of past years in County Meath are at present an absolute failure. Unless something is done, grave injustice will be caused to the ratepayers who were, saddled with the responsibility for these schemes. The land is waterlogged and the people concerned are getting no value.

Is that the concern of the Minister for Local Government? I do not think it is.

It comes under the county council. If it concerns the Minister's Department, I should like him to look into it because these men are paying for schemes from which they are deriving no advantage.

As regards annuity arrears, County Meath has the largest amount of annuity arrears of any county. The amount at present is about £72,000. We are at the loss of that because the Minister deducts it from our agricultural grant. The result is that the council has a large overdraft. We are allowed to go up to £40,000 and we have applied for leave to extend that to £50,000 or £60,000. The Minister has refused our request because of our high land-annuity arrears. In the course of six or seven months, we shall be up against a crux unless the Minister softens his heart and allows that extension. I think it is unfair that these annuity arrears should be deducted from the agricultural grant because, in that way, we are saddling the people who are paying their annuities. I am quite satisfied that the majority of the people who have not paid would pay if they got half a chance.

Social services are going on very well at present and we can congratulate ourselves upon them, but we should realise that this is a very small, impoverished country. There are altogether too many officials engaged in the running of it. The sooner we realise that this is a small country and that there are altogether too many officials engaged in the running of it, the better. The number of officials occupied in running this country would run the British Empire. Whether or not we are trying to compete with John Bull, I do not know. We shall, however, shortly have to use the axe and to use it with vigour. In my county, we have a large number of officials receiving from 25/- a week to about £2,000 a year. There are more officials in that county than would run the country. In the board of health offices, you cannot turn with the number of officials. We do not need all these men.

One section of the community which, in recent years, has not got much satisfaction is the small-farmer section—men with between five acres and 50 acres. These men are housed in slums. The 70-year old or 80-year old mud cabins in which these men are living are in decay. The thatch is rotting and the walls are giving way. If these men were labourers, they would get a nice little cottage, but, as it is, they have to look for a grant. They may get a grant of £50 or £100 but the building of a house will cost £300 or £400. They can never get a grant sufficient to enable them to build and they also have to take out administration. The result is that they are not able to improve their position. Now that the cottage schemes are fairly well advanced, we ought to have a building scheme for small farmers— a scheme on, more or less, the same basis as the cottage scheme. There is no use in giving a grant to the small farmer when he has no money to add to it. He cannot build and he must live in a small, smoky, rotten house. I hope that the Minister will be able, in the coming year, to devise a building scheme for the small farmers. If it is not done this year or next year, it will have to be done the year after. These people are entitled to as much consideration as the poor man or the rich man. They are the backbone of the country. They pay their rents, rates and taxes and they are deserving of more consideration than they are receiving. I am satisfied that the Minister himself is a very good Minister in the job. He does not get the service down the country to which he is entitled. So far as my own county is concerned, I believe that if we had a manager in that county we would be all saved a great deal of money and the Minister would be saved a great deal of unrest and agitation. As I say, things are all in a muddle and until they get out of a muddle the Minister will not have very much comfort.

There is one matter to which I desire to refer which I have not heard any speaker refer to, and I think it is about time that something was done about it. I refer to the dispensary system generally and the treatment of our sick poor. Undoubtedly, a good deal has been done by the Minister in the provision of better equipped hospitals and so on, but I think all that good work will be lost if something is not done very soon to deal with the system of dispensary work and the treatment of the poor. That system really is not our own creation; it is something we inherited from a foreign Government. I want to avail of this opportunity to ask the Minister to give early and serious consideration to a complete change of that system. I think the poor are entitled to select their own doctor. I am not going to suggest what the new scheme should be, but I think that the poor who cannot afford to pay a fee to a doctor are entitled to proper treatment. I sincerely hope that the Minister will crown his many meritorious works with a scheme that will meet with the general approval of all Christian people.

I also suggest that the system of home assistance generally should be reviewed and some system created whereby one could see the basis on which assistance is allocated. I found it absolutely impossible to satisfy myself how the authorities allocate home assistance. In some cases we find sums of 5/-, 4/-, and so on granted. Generally speaking, the home assistance given is inadequate. Some scheme ought to be devised by the Minister and made mandatory on local authorities to give effect to it and not leave it to people, many of whom have reactionary mentalities. There is certainly, to say the least of it, a great lack of human sympathy in the administration of home assistance.

As regards my own constituency, I would ask the Minister if he would personally look into certain matters concerning the provision of water and sewerage schemes that have been hanging on from one year to another. We have in the village of Ballyragget a most serious state of affairs, and many people there, both young and old, have died during the last ten or 12 years from typhoid fever. In fact, before the present Minister came into office, the board of health were tinkering, if I might put it that way, with proposals for a water scheme. Since then the people have been waiting for it, while year after year there have been outbreaks of infectious disease. Then there is the important town of Thomastown. Recently the commissioner, who is administering the affairs of the county, sent a petition to the Minister in connection with that town, but, for some reason or another, it was sent back as not being satisfactorily prepared. If my information is correct, there was nothing wrong with the petition, but I believe a new one has been submitted. I would ask the Minister, having regard to the urgency of these schemes, that he should personally look into them.

With regard to the moneys allocated by the Department for the relief of unemployment, if newspaper reports are to be taken as any accurate indication of allocations made elsewhere— and very often they make statements before we can get the official figures— it would appear that some areas seem to be getting more than others. In regard to the City of Kilkenny, if it is a question of giving a larger grant to a place because of special circumstances I think the Minister has personal knowledge of the financial position of the Kilkenny Corporation and the amount of capital expenditure incurred by them before the present Government came into office. In 1929, realising the seriousness of the position of that town of approximately 12,000 people, without a modern sewerage scheme, the corporation embarked upon a scheme which cost about £40,000. It was only a partial scheme, but since that time the corporation have been able to make extensions. I mention that so that the Minister may know that Kilkenny City is in a special position for consideration for a larger grant, or at least that it should be asked for a smaller contribution in connection with any grant made.

It is also generally felt that unemployed people, who are not entitled under the provisions of the Unemployment Assistance Act to draw assistance benefit should be allowed to work on these schemes. To my own knowledge, many of these people are almost as badly off as people who have to exist on unemployment assistance. Some of them have small incomes of 7/- or 10/- per week, and because of that they only get unemployment assistance at a very small rate or none at all. I think that the Departmental regulations in regard to the recruitment of labour should be widened so as to permit of the employment of all unemployed workers who have to meet the 18/-in the £, which goes towards the provision of these schemes and other things, as well as every other person.

Reference has been made by a good many Deputies to the state of the county roads. I say that that is due to a large extent to the reactionary policy of county councils in putting these roads up for contract. The Minister should do something to abolish that system of road maintenance. I think it will be agreed by all Deputies who have a knowledge of it that it is really throwing money away. I know roads which at one time cost, say, £60 to maintain and by this cut-throat competition between road contractors the sum has been brought down as low as £25. The fact, of course, is that there is little or no work done on these roads. The contractors are able to get away with the payment all right, but the way the work is done is not of any benefit to the community. The Minister would be doing a good day's work by having an order made which would prevent county councils from continuing that very bad practice. He should have the work carried out by giving higher grants, and by direct labour. In nearly every county in the country I think it will be found that in the rural areas the people generally, the small farmers and workers, would benefit a good deal if this work could be carried out by direct labour. It would certainly be a very popular thing for the Minister to do, and would be appreciated by the community generally. I do not think there is anything else that I have to bring to the Minister's notice, but I am certainly very much concerned about the matter which I stood up to refer to, that is the dispensary system. I am sure the Minister knows that he will have the full backing of all decent citizens in this country if he tackles that problem.

During the course of this debate last week I was rather amazed on listening to some of the statements made by Deputy Jerry Ryan of Tipperary, and to some of the charges which he levelled against the North Tipperary County Council. I happen to be associated with that body and I know, as does everybody here and everybody in the country, the difficulties with which local authorities generally have had to contend in the last few years. The tactics adopted by the Deputy to whom I have referred, and by some of his colleagues, in trying to put into effect their policy of smashing local government in this country, and making, as they had boasted they would do, the local authorities depend solely on Government grants for their revenue, are fresh in the minds of the people and there is no need for me to refer further to them.

And it might be wiser not to.

Mr. Ryan

Deputy Ryan also complained of the condition of by-roads in County Tipperary, and suggested that the county council there should be dissolved. He complained of the increase in rates; of the new houses that were being provided; and of the inability of the clerks of works to carry out their jobs. From my own knowledge, the condition of the by-roads may not be all that might be desired, but a great many people who are in a position to judge have commented on and paid tribute to the improvements in the by-roads of that county during the last few years. We certainly have an engineering staff there which is second to none, and they are carrying out their job efficiently. The Deputy to whom I have referred stated that the clerks of works there were incapable of doing their job, and that they were appointed because of their political outlook. That statement is not correct. The clerks of works operating here at the moment were appointed away back in 1932 or 1933, long before the present board of health came into existence. They were appointed following an examination by a Local Government inspector. I presume the Deputy will not question the inspector's ability to decide who was fit for the position of clerk of works. The Deputy also stated that hordes of temporary gangers were employed because of their political persuasions, and that they were retained in the employment of the local authority while the ordinary worker was let go. That is another statement without a shadow of truth. All workers and gangers on relief schemes are recruited through the labour exchange, and there is not a shadow of foundation for the statement of the Deputy. We have maintained the services in that area at a very high standard. We have housing schemes of which any county might well be proud. We take second place to none as regards housing, and the same is true of sewerage and water schemes. Those schemes have been provided for practically every village and town in the country. During the last few years I think we have given more employment than ever before in the history of the council. Notwithstanding all those things, there has been a considerable reduction in the rate. Therefore, I see no justification at all for the charges made by the Deputy to whom I have referred.

There is one matter to which I wish to draw the Minister's attention, and that is the delay in providing medical examination for the applicants for blind pensions. I find that in a great many cases they have to wait for a very long time. There is also another matter which is under the Minister's control, and I suppose I will be in order in mentioning it. It is in regard to the conditions under which national health insurance agents are working. Their conditions are very bad. I find that in some rural districts the pay is very small, and in some instances the agent has to cover a radius of perhaps 30 miles on a push bicycle. Some of the districts are very thinly populated, and the number on an agent's books would not justify the same facilities which are available for other agents in say pretty large towns, where they would have a larger number in a much smaller area. In those instances, too, I understand, postage and other facilities are available while they are not available in the rural areas to which I have referred.

I do not think the Minister has any direct responsibility for that. I think it is a matter for the Unified Insurance Society.

Mr. Ryan

It is a matter to which my attention has been called regularly. Of course if the Minister has no control over it, it ends there but if anything could be done in that direction I would very strongly urge that it should be done. I do not want to take up any more of the time of the House. I think the administration of local government under the Minister deserves congratulation. As has been suggested by various Deputies here, he is a man well fitted for his job, and he is carrying out the duties allotted to him in a manner which, I can say, is giving general satisfaction.

I want to draw the Minister's attention to a couple of matters. First of all, under the Acquisition of Small Dwellings Act, I have before now referred in this House to the various aspects of housing. As far as Dublin is concerned I suppose there is not one Deputy in this House who will deny that there is a very real problem to be solved there, and that anybody who builds a house at practically any time contributes to the solution of that problem. The housing of the working classes has been carried on at an accelerated rate. I am not suggesting that the housing of the working classes, or the provision of houses for people who cannot provide houses for themselves, would not be accelerated even further, but that is not the point I wish to make. Now, under the Small Dwellings (Acquisition) Act, a class has been catered for that, in some respects, is practically indistinguishable from the working classes. Perhaps I might describe them as the black-coated brigade. In some cases, they are people of the type of foremen and so on, but in any case I expect the Minister will not deny that there is a very great need in this connection and that any solution under the Small Dwellings (Acquisition) Act will contribute largely to the solution of the housing problem.

The Minister, some time ago, extended for the present year the grants for these classes of dwellings. Now, I am afraid that the Minister is taking away with one hand what he is giving with another, because I understand that a circular letter has been issued from the Minister's Department to local authorities interested and that, whereas the Act provided for 90 per cent. to be advanced, this has been reduced to 75 per cent. and collateral security has to be obtained. Now, the net effect of this is to decrease enormously the number of people who are able to comply with the terms of the Small Dwellings (Acquisition) Act. I need not elaborate on that. Probably, the Minister is better aware than I am of the employment that is given by the putting up of these houses, the materials that are used in the erection of the houses, and the contentment of the people once they are housed under that Act. I understand that this circular has been occasioned by the fact that, owing to an extraordinary number of circumstances, in a few cases the local authority has been left with a certain amount of liability. I should like, however, to suggest to the Minister that the cure he has propounded is worse than the disease—that, even if a few cases have occurred where the local authority was stuck with a small amount of money, they might very well have persevered and found that in the end they had contributed a large number of houses in which people had been housed, some of whom would have competed for the working-class dwellings. I should like the Minister, when replying, to give us the reasons for this circular and tell us whether or not there is any hope of its being withdrawn and a more liberal view being taken of this Small Dwellings (Acquisition) Act, instead of keeping houses merely being fed from hand to mouth and from year to year.

There is another item which I want to bring to the Minister's attention. I am not quite sure how far I am in order in mentioning it, but at the same time I want to make a very brief reference to it. I refer to the problem of parking motor cars in the City of Dublin. Of course, the Minister may say that he, directly, is not responsible for it, but somebody will have to shoulder the burden and I think that the Minister's Department might very well initiate some scheme by which the local authorities as would be placed in such a position as would enable them to know exactly where they are in providing free parking, or parking at a nominal charge, for the general public. I know that this is a very wide subject and that it has various ramifications, but in some dreadfully crowded cities they have had to put up huge buildings where motor cars can be parked. Now, of course, we have not arrived at that stage yet, but I think we are in an intermediate position in which a certain number of parking places will have to be provided—possibly where a nominal fee would be charged. I should like to urge on the Minister, however, that this is a growing problem and a problem that must be tackled by some authority, such as the corporation or all the local authorities, under the advice of the Local Government Department, because, certainly, it is not a matter in this case for private enterprise. While the Minister, of course, like a celebrated individual, may wash his hands of the matter, I should like to suggest that the City of Dublin must provide parking places for people who come to Dublin to do their business. I am merely asking the Minister to look into those matters and to give an answer to them when he is replying.

The discussion of this Vote has already taken up a considerable amount of time and I am very reluctant to take part in it at all or to delay the House. One thing, however, has struck me, and that is that so many compliments have been paid to the Minister and his Department from all sides of the House, it would appear that there should be no need to have a motion down to refer the Estimate back. I think we could have discussed the Vote just as well as if there had not been a motion to refer it back. However, be that as it may, I think it matters very little whether we shower compliments or bricks on the Minister because, to the people of this country in general, irrespective of their political opinions, I think the Minister will go down in history as the greatest democratic, social reformer of this century. I have heard expressions of opinion here—different expressions, of course—as to the advisability or inadvisability of the managerial system. I happen to be a member of a board of health and I have an open mind on the question, but if the appointment of managers were to make for a better understanding between boards of health, and local authorities generally, and the Department of Local Government and Public Health, and thus help to expedite work, I, for one, would not find any fault with that system because I know that a good deal of time is wasted through lack of understanding between the Department and the local bodies—and this is particularly true in regard to the boards of health, which are the largest spending bodies in the country. In almost every case—in every case, I believe—the secretary of the board of health is a thoroughly efficient man, and while we may not have managers in the actual sense of the word, I think it might be no harm to have managers nominally and, instead of having the secretary merely a correspondence link between the Department and the board of health, it might be no harm, but on the contrary some good, if he were to be a vocal link between the Department and the board of health, and to have him called up, let us say, at the end of every six months' period with a view to going into the various problems that arise from time to time and have consultation with some of the executive officers in the Department of Local Government and Public Health.

I have a few matters in mind with regard to the county I come from, and one is the proposed sanatorium for the whole county. A house was purchased and some land also was purchased about five years ago. There have been differences of opinion on many aspects of the case as to what kind the sanatorium should be, or rather how the house should be reconditioned in order to be suitable as a sanatorium. The matter has been going backwards and forwards between the Department and the local bodies for a considerable length of time—for the past four years, in fact. I believe if the secretary of the board of health had been called up to the Department and given an idea as to the particular type of sanatorium required, the work would have been under way long ago. Furthermore, we have had certain difficulties regarding the appointment of an architect. I quite agree that very qualified architects are required for work of this kind, and I believe that if the thing were to be expedited or hurried up properly, the better course would be for the Local Government Department to prepare a panel of architects to be submitted to the boards of health when a scheme was being proposed and submitted for sanction, and that the architect would be appointed from that list, together with some of the medical experts of the Department. If would be well if they came on the site and got going with the work. In that way a good deal of delay that has been occasioned in connection with work of this kind could be avoided.

I have another local matter to bring under the Minister's notice. To me it seems more or less putting the cart before the horse. I refer to the question of a district hospital at Ballinasloe. In 1934 or 1935, the board of health agreed to go on with that, and they were sent instructions, or at least given liberty to advertise for suitable sites. Offers were made, and the county medical officer of health, the local medical officer of health, one of the engineers of the board of health, and also the engineer to the Ballinasloe Urban Council selected a site, and a bargain was made. That was sent on to the Local Government Department and some of the medical experts in the Department came down and they considered that the site was unsuitable. I believe that if one of these men came down at the beginning, and if the architect had been appointed and they all went into the matter, there would be no reason for delay, as otherwise they would have to turn down all the sites. The fact is that considerable delay has been occasioned. I have been in communication with the Department, and I got the reply some time ago that these men were coming down again to try to select a site. Although it may appear ridiculous to state that it is difficult to get a site in or near Ballinasloe, the fact remains that it is very difficult to get any suitable site there. I hope those people will come down soon.

There is another matter I wish to bring to the notice of the Minister and his Department, although I do not know if the Department can do very much about it. Boards of health all over the country put caretakers to look after graveyards. In County Galway, or at least in a considerable portion of it, on the initiative of his Lordship Most Reverend Doctor Dignan, and with the co-operation of the priests and the people, a lot has been done to improve the appearance of graveyards generally. One thing that remains to be attended to, and people are not inclined to do it voluntarily, is to put the roads leading to the graveyards into a proper state of repair. Some of the roads are in a very deplorable condition. There was a time when our people had the idea that the more difficult the way to the burial ground the greater the indulgence they would get. I am afraid that idea has moved away from our people. It is a sad sight on a winter's day to see people trying to wade through water and sludge a distance of over a mile to get to the graveyard. Local authorities are prevented from repairing stop-end roads. This is the real type of stop-end road, and if it is not possible for the Department to do anything in the matter, I would urge them to make strong representations to the Board of Works to have such repairs carried out by way of minor relief schemes. One thing that may operate against them is that in some places a number on the unemployed list would be against carrying out a work of this kind. But I hold this is a most important work.

There is another matter that I brought up here on another occasion and I do not know whether it is altogether relevant to this debate, but, anyhow, if I am irrelevant, I expect the Chair will call me to order. I refer to what I hold to be the unfair treatment of a certain section of the agricultural community. The section I refer to now is that section of the agricultural community that lives in urban areas. I will be countered with the argument, no doubt, and it is a logical one in many instances, that farmers living within urban areas have a greater advantage than those living in the rural districts. That may be, but the fact remains that they have to pay the county and town rate and they have to pay for the lighting, the sewerage and the water supply of the townspeople, from which they derive no benefit and they get no relief on their agricultural rates. I do not mean to say that they should get the same benefit as the farmers in the rural areas, but I believe they should get some relief, a proportionate relief, because many of them live off the main thoroughfares and, therefore, the land is not so valuable for the purpose of building sites. Of course, the line ought to be drawn somewhere, but this matter is the cause of discontent and dissatisfaction. I know very well it is a rather difficult matter, but at the same time there is certainly a very great grievance felt by those people.

Finally, there is another matter, and I do not know if it comes under the control of the Minister. It is really under the control of two Departments —the Department of Local Government and the Department of Justice. The Local Government Department, however, must have something to do with it when the rate collectors take a hand in it and when they are paid on a percentage basis in relation to the work they do. I refer to the preparation of the voters' lists. So far as all parties are concerned, the preparation of the voters' lists in many parts of the country is an absolute disgrace. It is not merely a question of people who are just about to qualify, or who have qualified on the previous 15th November, not being placed on the list, but in many parts of the country people who have been for years and years on the voters' list find their names have been omitted without any notification whatever when it comes to the day of an election. I hold that that is highly unjust, and the people who suffer under that disability should have some action at law in order to get that grievance rectified. This may appear to be a very small matter to bring up but it is very annoying to the people concerned who, when they come to the polling booths, without having to be brought there at all, find their names have been omitted, although their names have been on the list for several years. Instead of having too many cooks preparing the broth, the matter should be confined to one Department, and something should be done to have it taken out of the sphere of the political Parties altogether, so as to ensure that every person who is entitled to vote will have that vote irrespective of what Party he belongs to. In common with other Deputies, I should like to congratulate the Minister and his Department for the very efficient way in which they are carrying out the important social services which were so much needed by the people.

In 1933 or 1934, I suggested on this Vote that the duties and responsibilities of public bodies would ultimately become so onerous, so numerous and so crowded that the present system would break down and a new system would have to be constructed. I think everybody in the House agrees that in respect of county councils, county boards of health and urban councils it is impossible to give honest attention to the agendas submitted at meetings thereof. Not only is there so much to be covered, but there is so much of a specialised nature that the average member is not competent to give a sound opinion on it. I remember suggesting at that time that the managerial system would ultimately have to be adopted, whereby there would be at least five, and at most seven, persons to guide on the question of policy alone, and that the manager then would have power vested in him, and full scope given to him, to carry out the innumerable regulations and administer all the different special works with which public bodies to-day cannot cope. That is true, and everybody knows it is true. Experience shows that, with present staffs, the public bodies are not able to get through the work by reason of the fact that that work is doubled and trebled by all sorts of red tape, which is increasing day by day, until the ordinary member of a public body has red tape around his hands and around his feet.

I make that suggestion here in all sincerity, purely as a matter of business, purely as a matter of getting value in the services paid for and purely as a matter of getting on with the job. Everybody has paid tribute to the Minister, and rightly so, but are we getting value for the money expended? That is the point at which we have to commence and to end—the durability or otherwise of these sewerage schemes and these houses. I am not competent to judge and very few in this House are competent to judge. It is a matter for experts and something which time alone can show. Throughout the various counties, there are medical officers of health, qualified men, men with excellent experience and men who have shown themselves eager and anxious to carry out their duties and men with a good spirit of citizenship. They go around and call on Mr. So-and-so and warn him that his dairy is not complying with the regulations and that if he does not make this good here and that good there, he will be prosecuted and fined or closed down. The same thing applies in respect of licensed victuallers, but here comes the extraordinary thing—whereas all this activity takes place in respect of clean milk and proper victualling, water does not apparently count for so much. Why? Because the board of health, which is the real authority of the medical officer, to a very large extent, is responsible for pumps in the different counties. What is the result in many counties, including my own? There are pumps which are not functioning, which have not functioned in the past and which will not function in the future, so far as one can see, with the result that hundreds of people are taking water from rivers flowing through rural places without boiling it or making any attempt to see that it is pure. I suggest to the Minister that it is a serious problem and that all the vaccination, all the inoculations and all the other work which he is endeavouring to get going in a competent and businesslike way for the sake of the health of the people is jeopardised by the condition of the pumps in the different counties, and I refer particularly to those in my own county. I do not want to go into details but everybody knows what I am driving at.

With regard to home assistance, I can never understand the basis for the refusals of home assistance or how the amounts ultimately awarded in a very meagre way are arrived at. I think the time has come when the question of whom to appeal to in the matter of the genuine case that comes to many of us, whether in public life or in business, ought to be capable of a satisfactory answer.

I would like to see county services in one big building in which the managerial system with the popularly elected five or seven members were where one could get in a circularised way that class of information and the reason for turning down applications, and how the amounts are worked out. Undoubtedly there are in the country many who have to wait for weeks without receiving anything. Does not every T.D. here know that for a fortnight there is often not even one single shilling to be secured by the applicant because there is some mix up between one place and another? The St. Vincent de Paul Society can only award 2/- or 2/6 at the outside. That is a pretty hard case on people who need assistance, and it is a matter which should be attended to at once. I believe that the Department of Local Government and Public Health should have available at once an inspector to see the chief home assistance officer and, if necessary, also to visit the ordinary home assistance officers. We hear these men say repeatedly: "We cannot do it." The result is that men cannot get relief anywhere. There is certainly something wrong there, and that is quite true. I believe it is not the fault of the spirit. It is because of some peculiar administrative red tape. I am perfectly satisfied that the ratepayers themselves would applaud the giving of genuine, honest relief through home assistance to the people who are seeking it and who very often cannot get it. I say that now because the stampeding is over. The rushing of officials off their feet is over. Only those who have a case are now putting in their claim for home assistance. In the overwhelming majority of cases that is so. These are the cases I have in mind.

There is one other point to which I wish to refer. I am not quite sure who is responsible or how we are to get over the difficulty of dealing with this matter. I speak of the long miles of roads along the canals that pass through the County Kildare. The people do not know to whom to turn as to the responsibility for the upkeep of these roads. I know that if the county council were to go in and steam-roll, repair or do anything required in the ordinary way to these roads they would be immediately surcharged. If they were to go to the Grand Canal Company they would find that they, when asked to do anything to the roads, would say: "We will do nothing." Yet they have control of these by-roads, and they can even close them down once a year if they like. If the people themselves desire to see any improvement in these roads they are powerless. I would like if the Minister would tell us if the transport department of Industry and Commerce in connection with his Department has any say in the matter. If so, the time has arrived when those two parties should tear up the charter granted to the Grand Canal Company. The powers given under that charter are out of date and should be ended. I am sure the Minister, if he were to look into all the facts of the case, would agree with that. The Minister, or Tánaiste, has been receiving congratulations here every time I come into the House. All through the debate he has been paid compliments, though for a good deal of the time he seems to be having a siesta, yet he has borne the strain well. For very much of the time during the debate on this Vote one would imagine it was his silver jubilee and not a debate on his Department that was taking place.

On Friday last I was provoked—that is the word used—by Deputy Davin, who said that he hoped I would say something on this Estimate because, he said he realised I was one of the oldest members of one of the biggest public authorities we have in this State. Well, I am provoked, but the Deputy is not here to listen to me now. However, he can have the satisfaction later on of reading in the Official Debates, if he likes to look them over, what I am now saying. The question upon which I was provoked was the question of the managerial system. I do not want to be provoked on that question at all, because I do not believe in it. I never did and I never will. There cannot be two masters. That is a very old saying and a very sound and wise one. You can have only one master. If you have a successful manager, it is all right; but if you have a popularly elected body that is doing its duty well—a democratic body elected by the people— there is no reason whatever to put any other body or individual in its place. That is my opinion. I have had experience of three city managers. In 1930 the new system was brought in here. The first city manager was a bit of a statesman all right because he conceived a way of carrying out his work that was very helpful to him. It brought him most of the credit while most of the work was done by the members. I will give the House an idea of the present position of the oldest body in Ireland, as Deputy Davin speaks of the Dublin Corporation, the principal institution in Ireland, the corporation of a city with 18 centuries of history behind it. The powers conveyed on the city manager are simply overwhelming. I have in my hand the standing orders of the council which say:—

"By the Local Government (Dublin) Act, 1930, the council for the new City of Dublin consists of 35 members of whom five are aldermen. The Act also provides for the appointment of a city manager and town clerk who exercises and performs for and on behalf of the city corporation all the powers, functions and duties of the corporation in relation to the appointment and removal of officers and servants of the corporation (other than the city manager and town clerk), and who also exercises and performs all powers, functions and duties of the city corporation other than the functions reserved to the city council, which are as follows:—

"(a) The making of any rate or the borrowing of any moneys; (b) the making, amending or revoking of any by-law; (c) the making of any order and passing of any resolution by virtue of which any enactment is brought into operation in or made to apply to the city and the revoking of any such order and the rescinding of any such resolution; (d) the application to be made to any authority in respect of the making or revoking of any such order as aforesaid; (e) making or revoking of any order under Section 5 of the Shops Act, 1912 (in that Act referred to as the Closing Order); (f) the powers conferred by Section 3 of the Municipal Funds (Ireland) Act in relation to the promotion or the opposing of legislation, the prosecution or defence of any such legal proceedings as are mentioned in that section and the application for those purposes of the public funds and rates under the control of the corporation; (g) the appointment or election of any person to be a member of any public body; (h) Parliamentary and local elections; (i) the admission of persons to the freedom of the city; (j) subject to the provisions of the Local Government (Dublin) Act, 1930, the appointment, suspension and removal of the manager and granting of any allowance or gratuity to the manager on his ceasing to be manager; (k) the determination of the amount of the salary and the remuneration of the Lord Mayor; (l) applications to the Minister for a provisional order under the Local Government (Dublin) Act, 1930, extending the boundary of the city; (m) the disposition (otherwise than by demise for a term not exceeding one year) under the Municipal Corporation (Ireland) Acts, 1840 to 1888, of lands, tenements and hereditaments belonging to the corporation."

There is not a single word in all that which shows that the corporation has any control whatever.

I do not know, nor does any member of the council, anything in connection with the salaries or wages paid. We have no function whatever concerning the officers or the workmen of the council. The first City Manager proceeded to set up two committees. One was called the Housing Committee, and the other the General Purposes Committee. The Housing Committee considers and reports on all housing matters coming within the jurisdiction of the council. It also considers any other matter which may be submitted by the Manager. Everything the committee does is recommended or submitted by the City Manager. The same applies to the General Purposes Committee. What it does is recommended or submitted by the City Manager. That is the position. To think then that the members of the council have the slightest idea of what is paid to any officer in their employment! There used to be given, when the yearly statement of accounts——

Attention called to the fact that a quorum was not present; House counted and 20 Deputies being present,

Mr. Kelly

Deputy Davin on Friday made certain remarks in connection with the managerial system. He said:—

"I listened last night to a Deputy, who does not know too much, I think, about the activities or work of the Dun Laoghaire Borough Corporation, paying a proper tribute, in my opinion, to the managerial system as administered in that area. I imagine he speaks from hearsay, but, as a ratepayer in that district, and speaking from some intimate knowledge of how the managerial system has been administered in that area, I want to say that in my opinion it has been carried out on model lines. It was administered in a quiet, calm way, without any bluster on the part of the Manager, who was wise enough, although there was no obligation on him to do so, to consult the members of the council and to seek their advice on matters on which he was entitled to act on his own."

There is an admission! Deputy Davin went on further to say:—

"I do not want to deprive the members of local bodies of their share of responsibility for administering the moneys which they are compelled by statute to collect. Even where the managerial system exists, the members of those local bodies have the power, or privilege, of striking the rate, but in some cases they have very little to say in the spending of the money which is collected under their authority."

What privilege is there in striking a rate, especially if there is an increase of 3/- or 4/- in the £? I remember a long time ago—I am a long time now a member of the Dublin Corporation— about the year 1901——

That is a long time ago.

Mr. Kelly

It is, Sir.

This is an Estimate for 1938.

Mr. Kelly

I am only giving an instance——

You are only quoting what Deputy Davin said.

Mr. Kelly

I remember there was an increase of 1/- in the rates of Dublin, and a man coming out after saying his prayers saw me just outside the church. He said: "There is another of the robbers," and he used a very red adjective. Deputy Davin went on to say:

"If I were an employee of a local authority, whether a road worker or an office worker, I would prefer to have one man in complete control as an executive head than to see him at the mercy of a number of councillors with the right to interfere with him."

I am afraid Deputy Davin has allowed Herr Hitler or Signor Mussolini to impress his mind. It is evident from further remarks in his speech that he will have to be courtmartialled or else confined to barracks, because if he is let loose again in this Assembly with this class of talk I am afraid he may impress some soft-headed fellows like myself to look on the Fascist or the Nazi system as the most perfect system of control in the world. As I have said, I do not believe in the managerial system. I have a good experience of Dublin, at any rate, and I think the old system was a better system. I think I could well maintain that by evidence if it were permissible for me to do so. I have given enough information concerning it and the actual position in Dublin to show that it is not a perfect system. The present city manager seems to be a first-rate man. I am sure that with the staff at his disposal he could control the city in an admirable way. Why then put men to the worry, the trouble and the expense of elections and compel them to devote such a large portion of their time——

Is the Deputy advocating an amendment of the law?

Mr. Kelly

I am not.

Will the Deputy point out by what administrative act the Minister can get rid of the system to which he objects?

Mr. Kelly

I think the Minister has power to get rid of it if he thinks proper to do so.

By an administrative act?

By a stroke of the pen!

Mr. Kelly

I think so. I may be wrong. If I were Minister to-night, when this debate would end—if it ends before Easter; it will certainly end before Christmas—I would simply say, "You are too well off," bundle up my papers and go out, because the complaints which we heard to-day were something intolerable, more especially when we think of what other countries have to suffer at the present time. We should be thankful that we have such a Government and have such an easy time. You need not laugh at all. What are they doing in other countries? Instructing women and children to use gas masks, instructing their authorities to construct various underground shelters to protect the people from bombs. I heard a man last night in a broadcast describing the damage done in Spanish towns by bombing, and you could scarcely credit the horrors of which he spoke.

Did you believe it?

Mr. Kelly

I have no reason to disbelieve it, having regard to what one sees in the newspapers. These gas bombs are terrible. They are instruments that could only have been invented in hell. They could not be conceived by the mind of man. Here we are dealing with proper parking-places for motor cars. Deputy Dillon spoke for over an hour last Friday telling women how to feed their children, to give them plenty of vitamins.

And he would not get married himself.

Mr. Kelly

No; he is not a married man. We have heard a lot about the parking of motor cars and about the smoke from chimneys going the wrong way in Kildare. That happened there 150 years ago. I think it was Arthur Young who, in describing his experiences in "A Tour in Ireland," stated that in Kildare the smoke went out through the doors instead of up through the chimneys. A Deputy had the same complaint to make to-day. That is all we have to think about. We have a Government that is carrying on the affairs of this country so well that the most trivial things are brought up in debate with a solemnity that makes me laugh. God keep us so. I think this Government is doing splendid work, but, I suppose, as Jonathan Swift said nearly 200 years ago, the Irish will never give up one right. When he was asked what that right was the answer was: "The right to complain." They always complained. That is true.

You did not always agree with that statement.

Mr. Kelly

I always did.

I heard you disagreeing with it 30 years ago.

Mr. Kelly

I cannot recollect what I said 30 years ago. It would be impossible. I only intervened to express my opinion on the discussion that took place about the managerial system in Dublin. I am against it. I am satisfied that the old democratic system of electing members and letting them carry on the work was the right system. I do not want to have any further discussion about that. That is my opinion. I will always maintain it, and I think I am well fortified with the experience I have had in connection with municipal affairs. The Minister has done remarkably well. One great achievement has been carried out during his term of office, and it is this, come what may, that the slums have to go. That work cannot be stopped. Long years ago it used to be placarded about Dublin: "Vote for Kelly and the housing of the poor," but no more would be heard about housing until the next election, when there would be more placards. That position is ended, and it is a great matter. Cost what it may, and let the trouble be ever so great, the slums are doomed. God knows, that is a great achievement.

I should like to refer to another matter which was mentioned by a Deputy who, I think, talks least, but is a most useful representative. In proposing the amendment to the Vote Deputy Murphy made one reference to which I listened with great pleasure. He called attention to a genuine grievance that still exists, but that I hope will soon be removed, and that is in connection with the workhouse system. The Deputy described as hideous buildings the workhouses which were planted in various parts of the country. They are horrible to look at from the outside and are probably equally horrible in the interiors. The Deputy wished they could be done away with. I heard one Deputy in this Party describe what had been done in his constituency in Tipperary where the old people had been taken from these dreadful habitations and placed in charge of a religious body. He stated that in a few months after the move there was a surprising improvement in their appearance. I wish to remind the Minister of a very great occasion—and it has been my privilege to witness many great occasions in Dublin—that great day in January, 1919, when Dáil Eireann met for the first time, when the Republic was proclaimed and an address sent to the nations of the world. My job on that day was to read the democratic programme of Dáil Eireann. I carefully studied the script I received the previous evening, and when the time came to read it, I did so as well as I could. In that document it was deliberately and clearly stated that the poor law system as it was then conducted should go. I have the draft of that document. It was in the Minister's handwriting. He was the man who wrote it. After I had read it, people asked me why I had not put as much vigour into the words as the man who wrote the document.

One man said to me: "You seemed to be saying your prayers rather than reading the document." I told him that I regarded it as a prayer, because I was reading about the work that the men who brought about the Republic were going to do. It seemed to me to be almost a prayer, dealing, as it did, with the sufferings the people, especially the poorer people, were in the habit of meeting in their lives, and that were now going to be remedied. That is nearly 20 years ago. Probably things happened since then to prevent that programme being carried out, but, in my opinion, no attempt was made to do so until the present Government came into power. I suggest to the Minister that as next January will be the twentieth anniversary of that famous declaration, before then he might have a Bill brought in here and passed for the removal of all these workhouses. If he does that he will have achieved what was in his heart, and what he and his colleagues were fully determined to do 20 years ago.

In connection with housing schemes, it sometimes happens that delays which are avoidable or sometimes unavoidable occur and that much additional expense is placed upon local bodies before sanction is forthcoming. I do not blame the Department for the delay, because I am aware of the fact that, although it sanctions plans and specifications for housing schemes, they have to wait until sanction is procured from the Minister for Finance. In a scheme in Dundalk the delay of a month or two meant a difference of from £400 to £500, and meant a loss, as a result of which the council was obliged to put an additional 5d. or 6d. on the rents of £30 houses. Where the Department and the Minister for Finance have reason to believe that a housing scheme is all right, no undue delay should occur, especially at a time like the present, when prices of materials go up and down in a very short space of time.

I also want to draw the attention of the Minister to his action recently in only allowing 15 per cent. for a certain housing scheme which the Urban Council of Dundalk put up a year or so ago. In the year 1935-36 the council formulated a scheme for the building of 48 houses on St. Alphonsus Road. The conditions governing housing schemes carried out by local authorities, so far as I understand them, are: that there is a grant of 66? per cent. given in the case of houses which are built to re-house people from unhealthy areas, and a grant of 33? per cent. for what one may call normal housing schemes. I am a member of the Dundalk Urban Council, and we thought that the time had arrived when houses to suit the needs of artisans should be built. We thought that no house could be too good for the working man if he was in a position to pay for it, and, consequently, we decided to build these 48 houses. The only difference between them and the other types of houses in respect of which we are entitled to receive 33? per cent. from the Department of Local Government is the addition of a bathroom. Considering all that has been said about the importance of health, and all the money that has been expended in providing sewerage and water schemes with a view to improving the health of the people, we thought that we would have been commended for our efforts in having a bath-room provided in each of these 48 houses.

What did we find when we came to fix the rents? We had a communication from the Minister to say that he would only be prepared to sanction a grant of 15 per cent. towards the charges on that scheme of 48 houses. The excuse he put forward for his action was that the people going into the houses should be able to build their own houses. If they were in that position, then I would agree with the Minister, but instead, they are ordinary working class people. As I said to-day on the Cement Bill, instead of waiting on for years in a house until it was condemned, they decided to take one of these houses. If they continued to live on in a house until it was condemned they would then be able to get a new house at 5/- a week, to the cost of which the Government makes a contribution of 66? per cent. I can assure the Minister that the working men who have gone into those 48 houses are not millionaires, as the Minister and his Department seem to think. Instead of the council being able to let those houses at 8/10 per week, as they thought they would, assuming that the got the 33? per cent., they have now to charge a rent of 10/4 per week, exclusive of rates. The inclusive rent is somewhere in the region of 13/4 per week.

I want to draw the attention of the members of the Party opposite and of the members of the Labour Party and, in fact, the members of all Parties, to what I am about to say. The tenants in those 48 houses are men who work at the docks. They have three, four or five members in their families, and wanted a decent house. Just imagine a poor man working on one or two days a week at the docks being charged a rent of 13/4 a week for his house, and all because the Minister will only sanction a grant of 15 per cent. towards its erection, while the man who may be earning £4 a week, but who happens to be living in a condemned house, is able to get a new house at 5/- or 5/6 a week, the reason being that the Government, in the case of condemned houses, give a grant of 66? per cent. for the rehousing of the tenants. What happens, in fact, is that the unfortunate man who is compelled to pay a rent of 13/4 a week has to subsidise, through the rates that he pays, the provision of a new house at 5/- or 5/6 a week for a man whose income may be from £1 to 30/- a week more than his own. I think that is a terrible state of affairs, and is due to this: that we simply provided a bathroom in each of those 48 houses. The Minister holds that they are a superior type of house, and that the tenants are not entitled to receive the benefit of the 33? per cent. grant. I think that the action of the Minister and his Department is not just, equitable or fair. The people who occupy those houses are not income-tax payers. I cannot understand the mentality that is behind the action taken by the Minister and his Department, and why there should be this differentiation between various sections of our people. I feel very strongly about this. The only reason that I can see for this ill-advised action is that it was prompted by a small coterie in Dundalk who; for political reasons, thought that they would get a rap at the urban council for erecting houses of this type. In other words, the scheme was opposed by certain people who believed that we should proceed with the erection of houses for people living in slums, forgetting at the same time that we were already engaged on such schemes. We thought that it would be a good thing if we could erect this type of house for the decent type of worker. We have been penalised for doing so. I am not of a suspicious turn of mind, but I have a shrewd idea that what has happened in this case was the result of the ill-advised campaign to which I have referred. There were some people who believed that the action taken by the Minister would be a deterrent, so far as the members of the urban council were concerned, as regards proceeding with schemes of a similar nature. Those silly fools forgot that it was not the council they were hitting, but the unfortunate people who have to pay a rent of 13/4 a week for houses they ought to be able to get at about 10/6 a week.

In my opinion, the Minister is in duty bound to make restitution to those 48 people for the rents that they have been compelled to pay during the last 18 months or two years—at least 1/6 a week more than the minimum. The Minister may say that the council should meet the situation by a contribution from the rates. So far as the housing of the working classes is concerned, the council have already done sufficient not to be asked to subscribe any more. I want to tell the Minister that this scheme has cost the council over £425 10s. in the way of claims under the Conditions of Employment Act, which was passed before the scheme was finished. The council had to make good that sum to the contractor. That was the extra amount that he had paid. The council also had to put in a special water scheme to provide water for those tenants, so that these two items, added together, make a total of over £900 which has to be met out of revenue. I think that is a very good contribution from the Dundalk Urban Council towards this housing scheme. What we feel is that those people should not be charged this rent of 13/4. It is not fair to ask a man who may not be earning more than £2 10s. a week to pay a rent of 13/4. As I have already pointed out, the ironical part of it is that, for the reasons I have given, a man who may be earning from £1 to £1 10s. a week more is able to have a house at 5/- or 5/6 a week, thanks to the subsidy which the man charged a rent of 13/4 a week has to pay through the rates. That is the position. I know it is very difficult for the Minister to pass an Act to suit all classes, or to have rents on a sliding scale such as obtains in some of the big cities in England. Until that day comes, the Minister should reconsider his position in regard to these 48 houses and allow the urban council the full 33? per cent. to which they are entitled. It was not mandatory on the Minister to do this; it is a matter of discretion. Under one of the Housing Acts, the Minister may, or may not, make a grant of not more than 33? per cent. or 66? per cent. on any housing scheme, which means he may give less. In this case he has come to a decision which I think involves a very grave injustice, and I hope the Minister will see his way to reconsider this whole matter and notify Dundalk Urban Council that he is prepared to give the full 33? per cent. in the case of houses costing up to £350.

While various suggestions have been made to the Minister as regards expediting the erection of houses, very little, if anything, has been suggested as to the reduction of the cost of building. I often wonder why a little house costs £300 or £350, as against £100 or £120 in pre-war days. It seems that a great many people think that this country is made of money, that we have a big empire at our backs, and that houses can be built in a night. Everybody seems to go out of his way to increase the cost of houses. I think that is hardly fair to the working classes, some of whom have small wages, since it involves their paying 5/-, 6/- or 7/- per week in rent.

You had people living in what were called slums. They were got out of these slums by the good work of the Minister, but we should remember that when they go into new houses they have to pay 5/- where before they were paying 2/6, which means that they have 2/6 less for food. If I had to choose between keeping my family in a house that would be called a slum and feeding them well, and living in a good house for which I would have to pay £1 a week and half-starve my family, I should prefer to rear a healthy family in a slum house. People seem to forget that there is a snag in this matter of providing good houses for the people inasmuch as the extra 2/6 or 3/- means a terrible lot to poor people who may be in receipt of only 10/- or 15/- a week. Nothing seems to be done to help the Minister to deal with the high cost of building. People seem to think it is their duty to collar every little grant that is made by the Minister, and very little of this money goes to the people who occupy the houses. Those who are interested in the question should consider this aspect of it and help the Minister, who, undoubtedly, has done great work in providing houses for the working classes. They should see if the cost of building could not be reduced so that the Minister could build a larger number of houses and, above all, have those houses let at a lesser rent. So far as the Minister and his Department are concerned, they have, undoubtedly, done great work, but the members of the Dundalk Urban Council have a real grievance in connection with that scheme of 48 houses on Saint Alphonsus Road. Without any display of egotism, I may say that Dundalk Urban Council have done their part in the provision of proper housing accommodation. We feel that we have been very badly treated, and the tenants feel that they have been badly treated by the Department of Local Government in allowing only 15 per cent. of the loan charges where in all equity they should have allowed 33? per cent.

I should like to draw the Minister's attention to the abandonment of Inishbofin, on the West Galway coast, which is under the control of the Galway County Council. There, there is serious coast erosion. A few houses have been evacuated and there is a danger that some more will have to be evacuated, including the post office. I ask the Minister to give that matter his attention. I support Deputy Beegan's plea on behalf of farmers in urban areas. I refer particularly to farmers in Galway urban area. Whatever benefits they may enjoy by having a good market convenient to them are wiped out by the high cost of urban services and by the high urban rate. I add my voice to what Deputy Beegan has said on that matter.

I should like to refer to the question of housing as it affects the position in our county. The question of Cahirciveen housing scheme has been occupying attention for the past year or 18 months, but, owing to the arrears of cottage rents, the approval of the Department has not been forthcoming. While realising the difficulty of the Minister in connection with the inauguration of this scheme, I wish to make a few points in respect of it. The fact that arrears of rent have accrued in Kerry is the main reason why the Department have hesitated in the matter. The major portion of these arrears accrued over a period down to 1925. Even when the board of health was being established a great portion of these arrears of rent had accrued. The point made by the Department is that these arrears have steadily increased over a period. I should like to point out that, during the Cosgrave administration, there were three commissioners in our county, and up to 1930 this money had not been collected. If we are to believe the statements of people who have studied economics and made it their business to size up the position of the country, that was a very prosperous period. The point I wish to make is that if the commissioners who were operating in Kerry were unable to collect these thousands of pounds in that period, how can the Department now expect the tenants of these cottages to pay off all these arrears in a short period? It is placing an obstacle in our way to say that until these people clear off the arrears the Department will not assist in regard to this housing scheme. I suggest that this matter be gone into once and for all and decided one way or the other.

Admitting that the tenants are in arrear, can we at the same time afford to leave these unfortunate people in Cahirciveen living in these old antiquated shacks for ever, simply because cottiers, particularly in the wealthier parts of the county, have not paid for eight or nine years? The Minister, I know, has done his utmost to meet us in this matter. These points were raised by the Department, and rightly so from their point of view, but we who know the position and the conditions of these people must make the best possible case we can. There should be some way out. These people cannot be allowed to exist under these conditions. It would be far better for them to be removed altogether from that district than to be living in the type of houses in that area.

There is another matter to which I wish to refer and that is in connection with labourers in rural districts who are anxious to build houses. They qualify for the usual grant, but the question of a loan arises. I understand that there is some restriction on allowing loans to be advanced under these conditions and I would ask the Minister to allow the Kerry County Council to advance money to those who require loans under the Small Dwellings Act for the building of houses in rural districts. As there is a difficulty so far as these people are concerned, I think the Minister should assist us in that matter.

I have also been asked to raise the question of main roads so far as they concern us in the tourist districts in South Kerry. The traffic on these roads has increased very much. One case in point is the road leading to Ballin-skelligs Irish College. That road is not scheduled as a main road and, consequently, the Department are not entitled to allocate a grant in the usual way that they allocate grants for the upkeep of main roads. I appeal to the Minister to have that road scheduled as a main road, because in the summer months and when the college is in session it is very difficult to get the existing machinery as supplied by the county council and the ratepayers to stand up to the extra traffic. The only possible way in which it could be done is to schedule it as a main road qualifying for a grant from the Department.

I suppose I might be permitted to take it as a compliment to the Department, and maybe to myself, that so much attention has been devoted by so many Deputies to the discussion of this Estimate. This is the third day we have had the privilege of having the Estimate discussed. That is a record, so far as my recollection goes. Some people might not think it, but I am rather pleased and complimented by the fact that such a deep interest has been displayed in the work of the Department. Of course, the Department of Local Government is an all-embracing one. There is hardly any other Department that takes within its scope such a variety of items of public interest as the Department over which I have the honour to preside. Therefore, it is natural, perhaps, from that point of view that Deputies should display a greater interest in it and a more detailed knowledge as well as interest in its operations than in the operations of some other Departments that do not touch so many aspects of the domestic and public life of the community as does the work of the Department of Local Government.

I have made voluminous notes of the criticisms offered during the course of the long drawn-out debate. I have not noted the compliments, but I think I would have a fair bundle of notes if I had noted down the compliments paid, not so much, I may say, to myself as to the officials and the working of the Department in general. I did take careful note of most of the criticisms, and though in replying I may not refer to every criticism made, I have on occasions of this kind stated before, and I again state, that any criticisms made here are noted by me and the officials of the Department. They are gone through afterwards by the senior officials and sectional heads of the Department and they are not without their effect. There is that much value in the efforts made by Deputies when speaking on this Vote that I can say for my Department that they can feel sure that whatever criticisms they have offered—it does not matter what kind the criticisms are—do not fall on deaf ears. They are noted and gone over again in the Department and checked up, and if we can meet the criticism and try and improve matters we are happy to do so. That is the spirit in which the Department, not alone in my time but before that, has always been conducted, and, so far as I know the officials, that will be the spirit in which the work of the Department will be continued, with the best effort to try to improve the working of the Department and the services that they are paid to give to the country and to the Dáil.

Deputy Murphy saw fit to put down a motion to refer back the Estimate. I listened carefully to his speech which, as more than one Deputy said, was moderate in tone, and certainly I could find no objection to the criticisms that he offered. With all respect to Deputy Murphy, I do not think, however, that he even attempted to make a case for referring back the Estimate. The criticisms were certainly not such, even if justified—as in most cases I think they were not— as would entitle him to ask the House to act on his motion, and refer, by way of condemnation of the Department, the Estimate back. He did not seem to take it so seriously himself, although he went over a wide field. It seemed to me, at any rate, that he did not feel convinced himself that he had a case which would justify that his motion should be passed and the Estimate referred back by way of condemnation.

In opening his speech, one of the remarks made by Deputy Murphy, with regard to the attitude adopted by the Department towards certain individuals seeking sanatorium treatment in places other than the local sanatorium, would seem to suggest that the Minister's action was undemocratic; that the Minister had perhaps changed his attitude towards democratic institutions in the particular cases I referred to about individuals suffering from tuberculosis who were seeking treatment in certain institutions. A number of Deputies referred to the same matter. They referred to democratic institutions, instancing managerial systems. Some would seem to suggest that there was a change in the Minister's mind; some would suggest it was in the minds of the Government as a whole, and others would say perhaps it was only in the minds of the officials of the Department. For myself, I say that I have not changed my attitude with regard to democratic institutions. I have not changed my mind with regard to what I consider the proper method of government for this country and management of local affairs. I have always stood for democratic institutions in higher spheres of government and in local spheres of government, too, but there can be modifications of institutions democratically governed that might have the effect of improving democratic control and making it more effective. I have not, as I say, changed my mind. The fundamental view that I hold is that the best system of government for this country and the best system of management for our local affairs is to have close and intimate association of the people by direct election to all the managing boards of our local authorities. That is the best system. It does not always work out perhaps as the most effective and rapid system in getting where we want, but, in the long run, judged philosophically and judged even from the point of view of its effects, I think the country would be best served by preserving democratic control. In that connection, might I address a word of serious warning, particularly to the Labour Party? I read in the papers a part of a speech delivered by Deputy O'Brien during the last day or two on this question of managerial control of local authorities. If there is any Party in this House——

The Minister is mistaken. I made no such speech.

Well, it was made by one of his colleagues then.

Perhaps so.

By Deputy Norton, perhaps; I am not certain. I am attributing to Deputy O'Brien something which he did not say. I just read the speech hurriedly.

I did not refer to the subject.

I read the speech hurriedly, and I apologise if I am wrongly attributing it to Deputy O'Brien. It was by one of his colleagues. There is no set of Deputies in this House who have more often pressed me, as Minister, to use a strong hand with the local authorities, to drive local authorities, to control local authorities—some have suggested abolishing local authorities—than the members of the Labour Party. Even in the course of this debate during the last three days——

I never did.

——that has come out frequently. Deputy Norton, not Deputy Murphy, Deputy Davin——

I never did, I am sure.

Deputy Everett has done it more than once. but not in this debate.

I beg the Minister's pardon. I had good grounds for complaining of the Minister's Department on a previous occasion and the matter was never rectified. A child was murdered and you held it died not as a result of the treatment given by the nurses. You had your inspector's lying report.

The case in which Deputy Davin was interested was one where an official was convicted of embezzlement of a considerable amount of public funds.

I am not going into details——

The details are notorious.

I do not intend to go into details, but I do say it cannot be denied that the Labour Party——

The Minister said I advocated the abolishing of public boards.

I have not included Deputy Everett.

The Minister has included me to-night.

"Not in this debate," I said.

Nor in any other debate. I never requested the abolishing of public boards. I protest against that statement.

Not the abolishing of public boards, but asking the Minister to do things in regard to public boards which no Minister, if you want democratic control, ought to be asked to do. If the local authorities that Deputy Everett knows better than I do were doing their duty as they ought to do it, and as other local authorities ought to do it——

They were not allowed to do it by the Minister. When they demanded an inquiry the Minister whitewashed an official.

After the harm is done an inquiry is demanded. Then the Minister and his Department are blamed for the institution not running as it should. Then it is said: "Why will not the Minister control this"; or "Why will he not direct that"; or "Why does he not abolish this"; or "Why does he not make that local authority do this, that or the other"? We will never, as long as people are human, get perfection with a human machine.

Not even in Ministers.

Not even in Ministers. Certainly not, and perhaps least of all in myself. Deputy Murphy, probably, would make a much more perfect Minister if he were here.

I have no ambition to be Minister.

It might be just as well. I want to say to those who, more than others, set themselves up as champions of democracy that when they are urging the Minister for Local Government to do this, that or the other with regard to local authorities, they ought to remember the gospel they preached on other occasions. I think it was Emerson who said "Foolish consistency is the hobgobblin of little minds." I suppose that is the motto of the members of the Labour Party.

Is that an apology for the change of front by the Minister on the question since 1929?

There has been no change of front, so far as the control of democratic institutions is concerned, by the present Minister for Local Government.

The Minister is burying his head in the sand.

I am not. I defy the Deputy to prove that there has been a change. The Deputy had an opportunity, and he did not avail of it.

The number of suppressed local authorities provides an answer to that question.

One of them was suppressed at the request of one of the Deputy's own Party, for a very good reason. I admit that the reason which the Deputy and his colleagues gave—they were associated with Fianna Fáil colleagues on that occasion—was a good reason. It was the one mentioned, I think, by Deputy Murphy himself; the case of a local authority which failed to control its officials, who were afterwards convicted of embezzling money.

They were protected by the Department.

They were not protected by the Department. Does the Deputy suggest that the Department would knowingly protect officials who were embezzling money?

There were certain officials protected.

No Department at any time would do that, and the Deputy should not make the statement. Deputy Murphy complained about people not being facilitated in getting treatment in certain sanitoria outside their own area. There is a rule—long before I became Minister for Local Government that rule was laid down; it is still there and has operated the same way all the time— that where a county medical officer of health says, over his own hand, that the patient referred to can benefit by treatment in another institution, even if that institution is outside Ireland— in many cases, they have been sent to Switzerland—that as soon as the county medical officer of health takes responsibility for saying that that patient is one who will benefit by treatment in another place, there has never been an obstacle put in his way.

That is not what the Minister's officials say.

It is not. I have seen letters clearly showing what their attitude was.

I have read the letters. I have read the correspondence. There were cases in which the Department asked whether the patient could pay portion of the cost of treatment. There were cases in which they asked that.

They ask that in every case.

They do not ask it in every case.

Yes, they do; and so, in addition to that, if they cannot pay, they have no right of choice.

There is no right of choice. The people have not a right of choice.

Of course they have not—because they are poor.

The Deputy should give as good a hearing to the Minister as he himself got.

But the Minister, Sir, is talking nonsense.

The Minister is talking the truth, but because the truth does not suit Deputy Murphy, he does not like to hear it. He had a rotten case—I think it was one of the worst cases I ever heard put in this House—and now he wants to buttress it up with bluff; but he will not get away with that. If there is any case— from any county—where the medical officer of health says that the patient will benefit by treatment in an outside institution, the Department, so far as I have been able to discover, have never stopped the patient from being sent to that institution, whether they paid anything towards the cost of their treatment or not. That is the fact. In the case in Cork, the Medical officer of health was asked to state—he was asked more than once—would he give it on his authority that the patient would benefit by a transfer, and he refused to state that; and that is the reason why the case in which Deputy Murphy is interested was not settled.

That is not so. The medical officer was not asked any question, and the committee refused pointblank to send the patient back to the hospital in which she was previously.

I have the correspondence here. I have read it. I have read the statement of the secretary of the board of health and I am satisfied that that is the reason the patient was not allowed to go there. There is no change of policy. The same rule is being carried out as was carried out in the time of my predecessor. The same rule that was carried out in the time of my predecessor has been carried out ever since I became Minister. I think it is known to everybody—perhaps not to everybody, but to a good many people—that people suffering from that disease, whether rich or poor—of course, the rich have their choice to go anywhere they like because they can pay for it— do not like to go into the ordinary county institute. They prefer to be sent anywhere else because, when they are in the local institution, their friends and neighbours visit there and they would rather not be seen by their friends and neighbours in that institution. For instance, in the case of Dublin, they would rather not be seen in Brittas and would prefer to go to Peamount or Newcastle because they seem to feel that the patients there are somewhat above the others. Most of the patients, probably, would want to go to Peamount or Newcastle and, as a matter of fact, there is a long waiting list in both of these institutions, and many of the people who would want to go there would not benefit by the treatment because many of them come to these institutions and to the doctors for treatment when their cases are too far gone.

At any rate, I assure the House that there is no change of policy in that matter and that patients who are certified by the county medical officers of health as being in a fit state to benefit by treatment in these other institutions, or in places like Switzerland, are sent there and paid for by the local authority with the consent of the Department of Local Government and Public Health. I have here an extract from the correspondence referred to by Deputy Murphy. On the 13th of the 12th month, 1937, the County Medical Officer of Health for Cork was asked for observations as to any special treatment required, for one of the patients referred to by Deputy Murphy, which could be given at Newcastle and not in the Cork sanatorium. On the 14th, he replied that he was unable to give any special reasons so far as treatment was concerned, and he added: "The patient still holds a marked objection to avail of treatment in Cork Sanatorium or any institution other than Newcastle." The doctor refused to give the certificate that was necessary in order to enable the patient to be transferred to the other institution. If the medical officer of health had said: "Yes, this patient will benefit by the transfer", that patient would have gone there, or at least the sanction would have been given.

Deputy Murphy and Deputy Kelly, as well as other Deputies, referred to-night, in the course of the debate, to the abolition of the old workhouse county home. I, personally, would love to see these institutions, as they are now and as we have known them in the past, go out of existence, and I hope that they will. There is only one successful step that has been taken so far towards getting the ordinary and old infirm patients out of the county home of that type and putting them into the kind of institution that I and the Department would like to see established all over the country. I refer to the case of Mallow—a case with which, I am sure, the Cork Deputies are more familiar than I am. That is a credit to the local authority for its erection.

Has the Minister any hope of extending that system?

We have urged other local authorities to try to do the same.

It depends altogether on the local authorities?

Well, not altogether, because there is the question of grants to help them. However, we got three or four county bodies interested, and we encourage them to go to Mallow to see what had been done there, and every delegation of such a body that went there was much impressed by the work, and some of them have made up their minds that they will try to emulate the good work that has been done in Cork. One county—the County Meath—has been active in making an effort to get the same Order that is running the Mallow institution established in Meath. Delays of one kind or another have occurred into which I need not go now, but so far as the Department is concerned, we are most anxious and keen to see that what has been done in Mallow will be done as soon as possible in other places all over the country, and we are actively encouraging, so far as we can, the attempt that is being made by the Meath Board of Health to do similar work.

I think that, in the first instance, the Nazareth Home at Mallow got no grant.

That ought to be emphasised.

They are not able to repeat them. Deputy Murphy spoke about the delay in regard to hospitalisation in West Cork. Some progress has been made in West Cork. Minor improvements have been made in the existing hospitals in recent times, so far as I know. A new district hospital at Schull is contemplated, and tenders are under consideration at the moment for the erection of that hospital. Various improvements are suggested with regard to other hospitals. But there is one stand that the Department desires to take, and that is that the district hospitals should not be made centres for major operations. In the best of these hospitals the most staff you have would be two doctors, and none of the hospitals is properly equipped for major operations. It is not the policy of the Department to encourage such operations; rather is it the policy to discourage major operations being done in district hospitals. That applies to district hospitals in other places besides West Cork.

Deputy Murphy raised the question of the county home in West Cork. A good deal of money has been allocated to County Cork in general for hospitalisation, and until we have the hospitals scheme well under way, I do not think we can do very much with regard to county homes. It will probably take another six or seven years to get the hospitals scheme in operation: even with the Sweepstakes funds coming in at the present rate to provide the necessary money to complete the scheme of hospitals already approved or agreed upon, it will take that period, along with the millions we have. Although we have millions in hands at present, it will take at least six or seven more years at the same rate of income into the Hospitals Trust Fund in order to complete the schemes, some of which have been absolutely approved, and some tentatively agreed to. I do not think we can do a great lot with regard to the county homes until that scheme of hospitalisation has been disposed of. With regard to infirmaries, we have been allocating a good deal of money to improve infirmaries, and I hope we will be able to continue that policy.

Deputy Murphy asked about school medical inspection and some other Deputies asked if it has been a success. I do not know that I could give a straight yes or no answer to that question. I believe generally it has been a success. In some counties it is only a year or two in operation; in other counties it is a much longer time in operation. I would say that wonderful work has been done with regard to the optical and dental treatment of children, and also in discovering tuberculosis in its incipient stages in school-going children. Good work most certainly has been done by the school medical service which, after all, is only in its infancy, in its initial stages. When it is well organised and well under way, and when it is associated with the various other services that will normally be associated with it to complete the work that is usually done under a county medical scheme, I think the effects on the health of all the population, from the school-going children up, will certainly be marked.

While on that subject, Deputy Murphy and others referred to the question of immunisation. We are anxious that immunisation should be put in operation in every county. We have had difficulties with the organisation representing the medical profession on the matter of fees. The fees that were in operation two years ago were not considered satisfactory, and we met deputations from the medical officers' organisations and discussed with them their troubles, and we agreed to an increase in the fees, but evidently the increase we agreed to was not considered satisfactory by the organisation, and we are still in that position. Many of the medical officers, despite that fact, are carrying out immunisation work in different parts of the country. A number of county medical officers and their assistants are doing immunisation work. In some counties they have appointed whole-time officers and in some other counties they propose to appoint whole-time officers to carry out the work We regard the work as the best form of preventative in regard to the spread of diphtheria I think it is agreed by medical men in all countries that already immunisation against diphtheria has had a most beneficial effect. I understand that even in this country, though it is not so long in operation, it has been the means of saving hundreds of lives.

Deputy Cosgrave spoke on this subject and asked me about something that happened in Dungarvan a year or so ago. I do not think it would be wise to discuss the matter here, as I understand that the Dungarvan case is sub judice. Some of the people concerned have taken civil action and I do not think it would be proper for me to discuss the matter as the Department, through its inspectors, may be brought into the case in some way or another. It was not a scheme directly under the Department. It was a scheme of immunisation that was carried out by private individuals in a private school—by a private medical practitioner—and therefore the Department is not directly implicated, though it is naturally most interested. Also, we have this much to bear in mind, that the material for immunisation was obtained through the county medical officer of health. All that the Department could do to assist the parents in their time of trouble and bereavement has been done, and I think the parents themselves will admit that the Department has given every possible help and facility to them in their difficult circumstances.

If I might go back again on the question of tuberculosis for a moment, it was emphasised by some Deputies that I, in my introductory speech, pointed out that there had been a slight increase in the death rate from tuberculosis during the 1937 period. That was emphasised and stressed by a number of Deputies who spoke on the subject afterwards, and they rather suggested that we were not doing all that we could do to make our treatment of persons suffering from tuberculosis as up-to-date as possible. I think it cannot be denied that even here, although our methods may not be as advanced as they are in some countries—I am told that in America they have made much greater advances in this respect than we have; I do not know whether that is true of other countries or not, but America has been quoted to me—there has been an extraordinarily satisfactory decrease in the death rate for tuberculosis in the last 20 years or so. In 1914 the death rate per 1,000 of the population was 2.03; in 1924 it was 1.52; and in 1936 it was 1.17. There was a .5 increase in 1937, but the medical people tell me that that can be explained by the enormous increase in the death rate from the influenza epidemic which attacked a number of people, who were afflicted with tuberculosis, during that year, and it was responsible for the slight increase in that year. Also, the numbers reported as suffering from tuberculosis would seem to be going up, but I am informed that there is not an increase in the number of people suffering from tuberculosis, but that there is a greatly increased registration. People come and report, and it is gratifying that they report and seek treatment at a much earlier stage of their complaint than they used to in years gone by.

I think it was Deputy Murphy who referred to the question of the number of insured persons who were treated by the old insurance committees, and, I think he rather suggested, whose cases were not getting the same treatment or attention now since the old committees on tuberculosis were abolished. The figures go to show that a much greater number of insured persons are being treated for tuberculosis now than was the case when the insurance committees existed. There is a large increase in the number of persons treated, both insured and uninsured, but the figures certainly would not go to prove that there was any falling off in the number of insured persons seeking treatment and being treated for tuberculosis under the new arrangements that have come into vogue since the old committees were abolished.

Deputy Brennan referred also to the question of immunisation, and he went on to discuss the question of the Roscommon county hospital. So far as I recollect, he stated that an amount of money—I forget whether he cited the details or not—had been paid by the Department of Local Government for the site for the county hospital which was entirely out of proportion to the value of the site. Sites differ very much in value in different counties, and according to their location in a particular county. The site that was purchased for the Roscommon county hospital was selected as far back as 1933. I think Deputy Brennan was inclined to suggest that the site that was selected and purchased was selected and purchased by the county board of health because of its political complexion and the political complexion of the owner of the land. If my recollection is right, the site was selected and purchased by the board of health after a unanimous vote, but at a time when the board of health was, in the majority, if I am not mistaken, controlled by Deputy Brennan's Party.

Another reason for its abolition.

It has not been abolished. When the price per acre and the site were sent up for approval the Department pointed out to the board that the price seemed to them high. The officials of the local authority came back and said that they were satisfied that it was the best site that could be obtained and that the committee was unanimous in adhering to the site, and also that the price was not excessive, though they did eventually get the owner to agree to a £5 per acre reduction in his price. At the time this site was selected and purchased there was no compulsory power to select and purchase sites for hospitals as there is now, so that if the board of health were satisfied that it was the best site and were prepared to pay for it, that was the only arrangement that could be made. Nowadays there is power in law to go anywhere in a county, fix on a site and take it compulsorily, but that law was not in existence in 1933 when that site was selected.

Deputy O'Higgins raised the question of the district hospital in Birr and the delay in respect of it. It is not our practice, even where it has been agreed to build a number of hospitals in a county, to go ahead and build all these hospitals simultaneously in the one county. Every county is clamouring for new hospitals of one kind and another—county hospitals, district hospitals, fever hospitals, sanatoria and so on—and we try to keep something going so far as our resources allow us in as many counties as possible. There is at present being built a county hospital in Tullamore, and that hospital will have to be completed and equipped before consideration can be given to any further developments in the county.

Deputy Brennan, in talking of housing, complained about the tiles and the absence of standards in tiles. There has been a standard specification adopted by the Department. Our own engineers, in consultation with the best engineering advice in the country, the engineers attached to our Universities, have adopted standard specifications. Before any tile-maker's tiles are approved, samples of his tiles are taken and submitted to tests in the State laboratories. If the tiles do not pass the test the manufacturer is told that his tiles are not approved of. From time to time samples of tiles are taken when a housing scheme is being started. Wherever these tiles come from they are subjected to tests, and if they do not pass they are rejected. Every effort is made, so far as we can do it, to see that the tiles are all up to standard and are such as will pass the specification.

Deputy Brennan also referred to delays in sanctioning schemes; so did Deputy Nally and Deputy Brodrick. In County Roscommon 243 cottages have been built and 56 are in process of erection. Two compulsory purchase orders have been made for 132 cottages and 100 cottages were confirmed on the 10th June and the 1st October. The carrying out of these schemes is now a matter for the local board of health. In Galway there have been complaints, too. Of the last scheme of 500 cottages, 343 have been completed and 121 are in process of being built. There are no further schemes there awaiting sanction. The delay in Ballyhaunis, referred to by Deputy Nally, is one that has passed our wits, so far, to find a way out. In September, 1935, the compulsory order was confirmed for the erection of 32 houses in Ballyhaunis. This is probably ancient history to the Deputy. The owner of the lands started proceedings in the High Court, and in 1936 the court adjourned the hearing to enable an agreement to be reached. However, efforts to reach an agreement have been made without result. At the last meeting the board decided to approach the High Court again, and unless Mr. Waldron will agree to pay all the expenses, I do not know what will happen. They can take the lands compulsorily. They have that power, but they do not wish to exercise it. Deputy Roddy raised the question of delays in Sligo. A census of housing taken in 1929 showed a need for 500 houses in Sligo. Since then 423 have been built and 40 houses are in course of completion. The Sligo Corporation put forward a further scheme, and tenders were received last month for the building of these; these tenders are at present being examined. There is a second scheme for 132 houses of a superior type, and that project is under consideration.

Deputy Hogan raised the question of the allotment of cottages in County Clare. It is the rule of the Department that the county medical officer must certify that the persons to whom the cottages are being given fulfil the requirements of the law in every respect. In some cases in County Clare we have not succeeded in getting that certificate. The only remedy we have is to refuse to pay the subsidy. That remedy we certainly intend to insist on. It is the practice of the Department, so far as we can, to insist that the regulations of the Department as to the type of persons who should get these houses—people whose need is greatest and so on—should be carried out. Sometimes it is difficult to get the local authorities to obey this to the extent of 100 per cent.

Deputy Brodrick and some other Deputies talked of increases in the rates. It is true, generally speaking, that the rates have increased in every county. In numbers of counties, perhaps in the majority of counties, in recent years, that is quite natural. Even if we did not have the big development of social services of one kind or another that we have had in recent years the rates would have increased. People will demand improved services, and where they get these services they have to be paid for. There has been a record number of houses built. Labourers' cottages and other houses have been built in most counties. A record has also been created in the number of waterworks and sewerage disposal schemes that have been put into operation in most counties. In a great many counties new hospitals, of one kind or another, have been erected or they are in course of erection. There have been improved and increased county medical services. All these things have to be paid for, and they cost a lot of money. People demand them; they are not satisfied if they do not get them, but it is another tune altogether when they have to be paid for.

Some Deputies asked the question: "Are we getting value for the money?" Well, different people, according to their circumstances, will have different points of view on that. I do not think one can estimate exactly in pounds, shillings and pence the enormous value to the public health that the improved waterworks, sewerage disposals works, and public health schemes in general have meant in every part of the country, in rural areas as well as in urban centres. One could not measure that in money.

A number of Deputies referred to the delay in the matter of blind pensions. I am sorry to have to admit that there has been considerable delay with regard to the examination of persons for blind pensions. We have had great difficulty in getting on our staff qualified persons to do this inspection work. There has been a dearth of applicants for the posts. On one occasion we had to have three separate and distinct sets of advertisements, and there were delays associated with the selection board and all that. There was a period when there was a delay of almost a year. Early last year we put on every available member of our medical staff. We sent them all over the country to clear up all the arrears. They did clear them up, but now again some arrears accumulate. We are taking our staff off urgent and necessary work to clear up these arrears again. We now have got a staff of persons specially appointed for that work. I hope the delays that, unfortunately, occurred in the past will not recur.

Are these men permanently appointed?

Yes. Deputy Norton referred to the Carlow hospital scheme and spoke of the delays in the carrying out of the scheme by the local authority. I think one could hardly make a stronger plea for the abolition of a local authority than Deputy Norton made. In the case of Carlow, the local authority cannot agree amongst themselves as to what scheme of hospitalisation they want. On the one side we have all over the country in other counties cases where the local authorities are in agreement and where they are anxious to push on with the scheme. Then we have a case like Carlow, where the local authority are divided amongst themselves and cannot agree. In these circumstances, well, we turn to the places where there is agreement, and we give these places the preference.

Some Deputies referred to bad workmanship in new houses. That has been brought to my notice in a few places, not many, not as many as one might imagine, considering the enormous extent of work carried on in all parts of the country. So far as we can, through our own inspectors and through the local authorities' officials, clerks of works and engineers, we try to see that improper work does not slip by, but there will be cases, as I say. We are all human, and even though you might have as efficient a staff of engineers, inspectors and clerks of works as could be got in any county, still some cases will slip by sometimes. Some Deputies on the last occasion on which we debated this question, speaking on the Housing Bill and again here to-night, spoke of bad chimneys in cottages. I happen to know of the case of a man who had a house built for himself for which he paid £3,500 a couple of years ago, when the turf scheme started and, being an enthusiastic supporter of this Government and its turf development scheme, he decided that he should have nothing to supply warmth in future in his drawing-room but turf fires. He has, however, never been able to get the smoke to go up the £3,500 chimney, from that day to this. He paid £3,500 for that house.

Not for the chimney?

A chimney is an essential part of a house.

He will have to cease supporting the Government.

If that should happen with a very distinguished doctor, one of the best known in the country——

He will have to change his politics.

He is one of your own best friends. If that can happen in the case of a £3,500 chimney, what can happen with regard to a £350 or £300 labourer's cottage from time to time? There are a number of other matters that I should perhaps refer to.

What about the roads?

The road question has certainly given us a good deal of food for thought. We have had Deputies from different counties and a deputation from the General Council of County Councils referring to the matter. We have gone into the question in great detail with the General Council of County Councils. I do not think we satisfied every member. I do not think the member who was there from Cork County Council was satisfied with the explanation we gave the last time we met the deputation of the General Council of County Councils on the subject of roads but I am satisfied, so far as I can see, within the limited extent of the Road Fund, that there cannot be any better disposition of that fund. Some of Deputy Brasier's friends have been urging on us the adoption of the system in operation in the Six Counties. Our system of the division of the funds is more just and equitable, as at present operating, than the system in operation in the Six Counties.

Is it more just to give 60 per cent. on the main roads and 30 per cent. on the by-roads than to give only 40 per cent. for the main roads?

Going backward and forward, I think I satisfied members of the General Council of County Councils on that question.

I ask you that question, and I should like an answer.

I am satisfied that we are more just and equitable in the division of the funds, and I do not see how we are going to get any more out of the Road Fund unless it develops and increases. There has been, even since I became Minister, a very considerable increase in the amount of money available for the roads through road taxation.

But the burden falls on those who do not use the roads, not on those who are using them.

That is not so. There is nobody in the country who is not using the roads.

But the greater burden is falling on the farmer ratepayers.

How many farmers in County Cork own motor cars? A good percentage.

The greater portion of the burden falls on ratepayers on agricultural land.

County Cork has not being doing its duty towards the roads out of its rates.

Simply because of the greater traffic on the by-roads.

It has not been doing its duty. It has reduced the amount several times that ought to have been spent on the roads in recent years.

It is manifestly unfair——

The Deputy has had an opportunity of making his case, and he ought to be satisfied.

The Minister is making a bad case.

I said to the General Council of County Councils that when the county surveyors hold their annual meeting in Dublin, I would take up this subject with them. They are the men who know the problem best, at any rate from one point of view. I shall take the matter up with the county surveyors, discuss the matter with them, and we might see if there are any suggestions they will have to offer that would lead to any amelioration of this question.

Will the Minister please say something about the failure to enforce the vaccination laws ?

That is an old story.

Leave it an old story.

That has been a problem since the State was established. It is a problem for which the Minister and everybody in authority found it very difficult to find a remedy.

Could the Minister not increase the grant for roads?

The better the roads, the more people there are killed on them.

Deputy Cosgrave asked whether there was any central hospital for bone tuberculosis. There is not any one hospital that specialises entirely in that subject, but most of the general hospitals do treat these patients. There are, I think, five hospitals for children scattered over different parts of the country for surgical tuberculosis. There is a suggestion which is being considered at present—that a hospital of 100 beds for adult surgical tuberculosis cases should be set up in connection with the Lourdes Tuberculosis Hospital at Dun Laoghaire.

I think, Sir, I have covered most of the points that were raised. As I stated earlier, I hope to assure Deputies that other points with which I have not dealt will be, at any rate, considered. So far as we can improve on methods, having our attention called to the improvements necessary as a result of the debate, we shall try to do so. Deputy McGovern seems to be displeased that I did not refer to the case he made when the Estimates were under discussion last year about slippery roads. I read recently memoranda put up to me by our chief engineering adviser on that subject. He pointed out that this is a question that is bothering the best road experts in every part of the world. They are using the best knowledge and experience to try to find a remedy for slippery roads. Various remedies have been suggested, and have been tried here by our own county surveyors in co-operation with the engineers in our Department, but no sure method of stopping macadamised roads becoming slippery after a certain time has yet been devised. Temporary methods have been tried, in some cases successfully. Some methods were more successful than others, but the experiments will go on, and trials and tests of one kind or another will be made. All I can say is that the matter has not been lost sight of, and as soon as our experts discover a method to stop roads becoming slippery, or of curing them, or as soon as we get advice on the subject from the experience gained in other parts of the world where the matter has been examined, we will put it into operation.

Will the Minister indicate what are the views of the Department with regard to the disinfection of tenements, and of having marine stores in the centre of large towns?

Is it not well known that limestone chippings are the cause of the slippery roads?

The engineers do not all agree upon that. Even the engineers here do not agree on it. There was one subject raised by Deputy Dillon about which I should like to say a few words. He discovered what I regard as a mare's nest, and in connection with that he went so far as to attribute all sorts of improper motives to me as Minister, and to the Department, including the officials. He suggested that not alone was I guilty of corruption, and that Dr. Ward was guilty of corruption, but that the Departmental officials must have aided and abetted. I think that to be a most unworthy suggestion, especially coming from a man on the Front Opposition Bench. I do not think it is unworthy of Deputy Dillon, because he never loses an opportunity of ascribing the worst possible motive to every Minister, and to everyone on this side of the House. I did not think it worth bothering about. I would not bother referring to it at all only for the fact that the Deputy occupies what is regarded, I am sure, by his colleagues as a high and honoured position, Vice-President of their Party. He suggested that Dr. Ward and I were guilty of corrupt practice in giving to a vocational education teacher, who was retiring on marriage, in the County Monaghan a marriage gratuity to which the county council objected, and to which they said she was not entitled. First of all, the law lays down what a person in the position is entitled to by way of a gratuity. The lady concerned did not get one farthing more than she was entitled to. She got what the vocational committee recommended she should get and, as a matter of courtesy, we sent a note to the county council, because they have to pay a share of the money. In the note we told the county council what the vocational education body had decided. The county council in this particular case disagreed. They had no authority and no power to disagree or to disapprove. They were told as a matter of courtesy, and they had no power to interfere. They said that this person should not get this amount, but the Minister is bound by law, and has no power to interfere unless the vocational education body recommends a gratuity more than the officer is entitled to by law. In this case the person was recommended and got exactly what she was entitled to get. The Minister sent out a sealed order as is the usual practice in cases regarding pensions and gratuities. In most cases it is the common practice to send out a sealed order, as every pension has to be agreed to by the Minister. He must give his approval by sealed order. That is not always done in the case of gratuities but it is mostly done. It was done in this case by sealed order. I do not know that I need assure the House that, personally, I never heard of the case until the matter was raised in the Dáil by way of question. When I asked Dr. Ward he said he did not know about it. This was done in a formal way. The law provides that it need not go to the Minister except for formal approval. The suggestion that Dr. Ward, a most conscientious and high-minded man, would be guilty of anything of the kind suggested by Deputy Dillon is most unworthy. I do not think even Deputy Gorey, who does not occupy such a very high place in the Party as Deputy Dillon, would make a suggestion of the kind.

Can the Minister say if anything can be done concerning a matter I raised, that of having a readjustment of grants given to mental hospitals?

I am afraid not. When I was chairman of the Finance Committee of Dublin Corporation, 25 years ago, I was a specialist on the question of trying to get provisional grants from the British Government.

You know the position so.

There is as much hope of getting them now as there was then.

Would the Minister consider sympathetically the proposal to alter the conditions governing the grant of blind pensions to persons who receive pensions under welfare schemes, which, in effect, mean reducing the State contribution by the amount that the blind person is in receipt of?

Some aspects of that matter are under consideration at present.

Will the Minister deal with the question I raised?

What about the 15 per cent. on the housing scheme I referred to?

Did the Minister consider the question of dealing with the waste land in the country?

I have considered that.

Has the Minister considered the claim of engineers who are assistant surveyors and full-time officers to be allowed to do public health work in their districts? I understand such a scheme has been proposed and considered by the Minister for some time.

What about the 15 per cent. on the housing scheme?

I have considered it, and the Deputy has got my answer.

It is hardly a fair one. Question—"That the Vote be referred back for reconsideration "— put and declared lost.

Main question agreed to.