Housing (Amendment) Bill, 1939—Second Stage.

I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time. Deputies may recollect that it was announced about a year and a half ago that we proposed to bring to an end the payment of certain grants under certain sections of the Housing Acts, 1932 to 1937. Last year there were protests from different parts of the House at different times and requests to me to reconsider the decision to bring these housing grants to an end on the 1st September last year and many requests to extend the period. There were also a number of requests from different parts of the House for further facilities in regard to the remission of rates. This Bill proposes to deal with these two matters and these two matters only.

The purpose of this Bill is to extend the time for the completion of houses for which grants may be made to private persons and public utility societies under the Housing (Financial and Miscellaneous Provisions) Acts, 1932 to 1937, and to extend the rating provisions of Section 10 (1) (b) of the Housing (Financial and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1932, to houses in urban areas affected by grants under the Housing (Financial and Miscellaneous Provisions) (Amendment) (No. 2) Act, 1936.

Under the Housing (Financial and Miscellaneous Provisions) Acts, 1932 to 1937, the amount of money provided for such grants is £3,500,000. Of this sum there remained to be allocated on the 1st instant a sum of £390,790. It is anticipated that this amount will be sufficient to cover likely allocations up to the end of October next and, accordingly, the provision of further funds at this stage is not considered necessary. The existing Acts, however, would not permit of the allocation or payment of grants for houses built or reconstructed after 31st March, 1939. The Government have decided to extend the dates for completion, and the Bill before the House makes no change in the rates of grants. It proposes in respect of grant-aided houses, to extend (1) for a further year, i.e., to the 31st March, 1940, the date for the completion of houses in rural areas by private persons and public utility societies; (2) to 31st March, 1940, the period for the acquisition by urban local authorities of houses capable of conversion into family dwellings and their sale or lease to a philanthropic society or body of persons approved by the Minister and to the same date the period for carrying out the improvement, enlargement or repair of such houses; (3) for a further period of three years, i.e., to 31st March, 1942, the date for the completion by public utility societies in urban areas of new houses built for letting in accordance with the provisions of Section 5 (1) (i) of the Act of 1932. The practice hitherto has been to grant a year's extension, but it is considered, owing to the length of time it takes to carry out such schemes, necessary to make greater provision to enable arrangements to be completed; (4) to the 31st March, 1939, the date for the completion of houses in urban areas by private persons and public utility societies provided the houses shall have been commenced on or after the 1st July, 1936, and before the 1st day of June, 1938.

Under the Housing and Labourers Act, 1937, all houses which were being built by private persons and public utility societies in urban areas, with the aid of grants under the Housing Acts, were required to be completed by the 30th September last, but for various reasons a limited number of persons were unable to complete their houses by the statutory date.

Any person who intended to avail of the grant would, it is believed, commence the erection of the house at least four months before the expiration of the statutory period, and in making the concession proposed by the Bill, viz., to allow grants to be paid where the erection of the houses was begun before 1st June last and satisfactorily completed by 31st March, 1939, all cases of hardship are being reasonably met. The number of houses affected is about 260.

The amount of money allocated to private persons and public utility societies at 1st instant for the erection of houses in urban areas was £612,627 for the building of 11,775 houses, and in rural areas £1,369,114 for the erection of 20,340 houses, making a total of £1,981,741 for the building of 32,115 houses.

The amount allocated for the reconstruction of existing houses at the same date was £1,125,744 in respect of 29,639 houses. These figures, with a sum of £1,725 for the reconditioning of houses so as to form 23 flats, represent a total of £3,109,210 in allocations in respect of the erection and reconstruction of 61,777 dwellings.

The number of new houses completed under these grants at 1st instant was 25,539, of which 10,354 were erected in urban areas, and 15,185 in rural areas. At the same date the total number of houses reconstructed by small farmers and agricultural labourers was 19,631. The total number of new houses built and reconstructed by private persons and public utility societies up to 1st instant was 45,170, as compared with 34,846 at 1st February, 1938. The amount paid by way of grants from the Act of 1932 to 1st instant was £2,475,405. At the present date the outstanding approvals cover over 15,000 houses, showing that there is a considerable volume of work in hand for the ensuing year. To enable these to be completed with the aid of grants and to permit the allocation of further grants this Bill is presented to the House.

Section 3 of the Bill deals with the remission of rates and is in the nature of a section to remove doubts. It has been contended that paragraph (b) of Section 5 (1) of the 1932 Act relating to houses erected with the aid of grants in urban areas and entitled to the partial remission of rates was replaced by paragraph (k) inserted in the 1932 Act by the Housing Amendment No. 2 Act of 1936 but it is considered desirable to remove any doubt in the matter.

The section continues the partial remission of rates for seven years provided for under Section 10 of the Act of 1932 in respect of all houses erected, with the aid of grants, in urban areas and is retrospective in its application to the date of the passing of the No. 2 Act of 1936. So far as the Department are aware local authorities have in fact been granting the remission without question.

The principal thing in this Bill is that the Minister proposes to continue the policy that he has been adopting with regard to the financing of housing by the local authorities and the giving of grants for new buildings and reconstruction in rural areas.

Not local authorities; there is nothing in the Bill about local authorities.

The Minister is amending the Housing Act of 1932. Interpreting the action the Minister is taking here with regard to housing means that he proposes to continue what the 1932 Act provided for.

There is nothing in the Bill about local authorities.

The Minister proposes to continue what he was doing last month in respect to local authorities. He is proposing to do in respect to private persons and public utility societies what he was doing up to last month?

He is going to stop the provision of grants to private persons and public utility societies for the building of houses after the 1st April next. The occasion of making differentiation between urban areas and rural areas in respect of grants to public utility societies is contained in this. Perhaps the Minister would tell us something of what the general effects of his Housing (Financial and Miscellaneous Provisions) policy has been in the last six years. The Minister has given us some figures with regard to the up-to-date position. I prefer to take the figures of actual achievement, and to base anything I say here on the figures given recently in Parliamentary answers as to the actual position of completed work on the 31st December last. The Minister implies that he has sufficient money in hands to go ahead to October next without asking the House for any further funds. I suggest, in view of the stoppage that has taken place, and the money spent on the completed work to date, the Minister should have sufficient moneys on hand to go through the whole year. The Minister has told us that he has already provided, as grants for housing, a sum of £3,500,000. An examination of the replies given to Parliamentary questions as to the work done to the 31st December last, shows that there was only £1,523,000 in grants to private persons and public utility societies, and £742,000 on grants actually paid for reconstruction work carried out.

We have no fear that the Minister will be asking for additional money before the end of the present financial year. Therefore, for that reason, I think the Minister should take advantage of the present occasion to take us more into his confidence. I want first to deal with the grants to private persons and public utility societies. I do not stand for the giving of grants to private persons for the building of houses. When I introduced the Housing Bill of 1931, I indicated my own personal outlook and the outlook of my colleagues on this question. I provided that grants would be given if the local authorities were prepared to assist housing in the same way. But the Minister thought differently and he has continued these grants to-day.

I would like to hear the argument as to why a person who builds a new house in Baldoyle or Malahide should get a grant of £45 while a person who builds a house on the Sutton front should not get it? I should like to hear why the person who builds a house in Kildare should get a grant of £45 while the person who builds a house in Naas should not get it; or why the person who builds a house in Roscrea should get the grant while the person who builds a house in Nenagh should not. I think the decision that has been taken here bears the stamp of absolute want of a review of the realities of the housing situation. I do not think the Minister can be accused in the matter. He has standing by him a housing board or council to review every aspect in connection with housing. I do press for some kind of explanation as to why a distinction should be made between Baldoyle and Howth, between Kildare and Naas and between Roscrea and Nenagh. The same thing applies all round. I would ask when the Minister is extending the grants to private persons in urban districts up to the 1st April next, why he shuts down the grant because a person had not commenced to build his house on the specified date—1st June? The Minister must be aware that there has been a lack every year in the declaration of his intentions as to whether he would continue the grants to private persons or not. Persons dealing with the building of houses for private persons, say during the whole of last year, could not be very clear as to how they stood with regard to the possibility of obtaining grants. Summer is the obvious time for the starting of the building of a house. A substantial number may have been begun in June, July or August and these may be completed by the 1st April next. I think it is bad enough to have a discrimination made between people building outside, say, 100 yards of the urban district and persons building 50 yards inside the boundary. It is bad enough to have that discrimination, without any review of the whole housing position. But it is really too pernickety entirely to say in respect of houses that are completed before the 1st April: "I am not going to give you a grant because you put up your house in four months," or "you put up your house in five months," or "you put up your house in eight months." I think the Minister should review that particular position.

However, as to the position as a whole, the Government have been very insistent that they want to solve a particular type of housing problem, of giving people in every part of the country decent housing. When the position was reviewed in the census of 1926 special emphasis was laid on the kind of inadequate housing that was to be found in certain rural districts. It was pointed out that Donegal was the second worst, and that the County Wexford was the best. When we look at the work done under the 1932/37 Acts, we find that substantially more houses have been built in the County Wexford, where the housing conditions were good, than in Donegal where they were said to be very bad. In Donegal, we find that 868 houses were built in rural districts, and in Wexford 1,158. When we review the work done from the beginning of the 1924 Act up to date and try to get a picture of what the general achievements in the country have been—taking it that there may have been a small amount of overlapping—we find that when the work done under the 1924/31 Acts is added to the work done under the 1932/37 Acts we have a fair idea of the additional houses provided since the 1926 Census.

The Chair is not prepared to hear the Deputy at any length on the general housing position owing to the fact that this is an amending Bill of very limited scope. The question is, whether or not the date for giving grants to private individuals or public utility societies, should or should not be extended. Debate on an amending Bill is confined to what is in that Bill or the main Act as affected by that Bill and only in so far as it is affected. The Deputy will have an early opportunity of dealing fully with the housing policy.

Can the Chair say when?

The Chair cannot give the date.

I want to explain my difficulty. On the Estimates I will not be allowed to discuss the amendment of legislation. Is that not so?

That is so. Policy only may be discussed on the Minister's Vote.

So that on the Estimates I am not going to be allowed to discuss any change in legislation or any change from the general scheme of financing houses that has been enshrined in legislation.

The Deputy might elicit information from the Minister as to the possibility of opportunity arising on another measure.

What I want to put to the Minister and to the Chair is this: that from what I see of the finances available to the Minister at the present time, there is no likelihood, in my opinion, of this House being given a further opportunity during the year of discussing the housing position.

That difficulty is not of the Chair's creation. It arises from procedure.

We are here discussing an amendment to the 1932 Act, which does a particular thing—cuts out urban housing from certain grants. Six years have passed since that Act went through. In the interval we have had a fairly responsible examination of the financial position, with regard to housing, in the Report of the Banking Commission. The Minister, I submit, ought to welcome the opportunity of discussing the whole housing question on this particular measure. I take it that, if that were the wish of everybody in the House, the Chair would accommodate the House by agreeing to have a wide discussion on housing on this measure.

Such a wide discussion has been allowed at the request of the Minister and by general consent on previous occasions. Were the Minister to express a wish in the matter, the Chair would be prepared to reconsider its decision, otherwise the debate is confined to the terms of the measure. The measure proposes to extend for a certain definite and limited purpose, the date up to which grants may be given.

I would ask the Minister whether he would assist me in persuading the Chair to agree to that?

The Chair would only consider a unanimous request of the House, supported by the Minister.

I would ask the help of the Minister and of the members of the Labour Party on this because undoubtedly things will arise here and we will be seeking ways to get round them. It would be much more satisfactory if we came to a sensible arrangement. I only want to touch on some of the broader aspects of things about which we can say something superficial, but I want a deeper examination of them. I want to be taken more into the Minister's confidence about his difficulties and as to what he actually sees. The subject is a very important one, and, as I have said, we will not have another opportunity of discussing it.

Deputies Breathnach and Cogan rose.

I understand Deputy Mulcahy has not concluded.

No. Perhaps Deputy Breathnach wishes to raise a point of order.

Deputy Mulcahy is in possession. The Minister may care to intervene.

What exactly is the Deputy's point?

The Chair has been pulling me up for travelling beyond the scope of the present measure which, the Chair has ruled, only deals with very definite things in the Bill. The point I made was that we are now amending the 1932 Act and that on the Minister's Estimate I will not be allowed to discuss changes in legislation. Because of the financial position as revealed in this Bill, I do not see any prospect of the Minister having to come to the House to ask for more finances either for reconstruction purposes or to enable him to make grants to private persons or public utility societies during the year. I have urged that this is the last occasion, in this year, in which the housing policy can be discussed in any kind of a general way. The Chair has intimated that if there is no objection, and if there is a desire for it in all parts of the House, he will not mind the scope of the debate being widened a bit. I am asking the Minister's co-operation to enable that to be done. It will not, I think, mean prolonging the debate. In fact, I think the debate would be more direct and more interesting. There are things that one would wish that one could hang his hat on to. There are also things that some of us would be trying to hang our hats on to in the wrong place.

The Chair accepts the Deputy's assurance that he would not prolong the debate unduly, but the Deputy cannot give such an assurance for any other member of the House who might desire to cover wide ground with equal right.

I would venture to say that I do not think that if an agreement were come to on the lines I suggest, we would be at all likely to have long tedious speeches on this subject from Deputies.

I am sorry I do not feel inclined to facilitate Deputy Mulcahy on this particular Bill. This Bill was brought in at the definite and repeated requests of different parties in the House, particularly Deputies of Deputy Mulcahy's own Party. They pressed very strongly that I should extend the date for the payment of these grants to private persons and public utility societies, and I took the opportunity to bring in another section into the Bill to remove doubts with regard to the remission of rates. That is all this Bill deals with, and I do not think that on that Bill it would be right or proper to expand into a debate on the whole subject of housing. With all respect, I think, Sir, that you said very properly that it is quite likely that Deputy Mulcahy has certain things that he wants to say and would like to say on this subject, and he would not unduly expand the debate, but he cannot guarantee what other people might do, and I am not inclined, although personally I am very sorry, to extend the debate further than the limits that you would allow it to be extended to.

With regard to the other matter mentioned by Deputy Mulcahy, as to the fact that it would be unlikely that they would have another opportunity of discussing matters relating to housing, I hope to bring in a Bill before the autumn asking for further moneys for housing and, if Deputy Mulcahy or any other Deputy wants to speak on any aspect of housing, I shall be happy to hear him.

Autumn is a long way off.

We have a Bill dealing with the matter every year, a Bill asking for money for housing.

There is rather a crisis in housing just now.

I want to say that £2,250,000 has been voted in respect of housing completed by the 31st December last, and the Minister has not been paying out more than £500,000 a year for grants in respect of new houses and towards reconstruction, and that he has £1,250,000 left out of moneys voted. What he is going to do with it between this and October, I do not know.

The Deputy will have to wait for the Minister's Estimate.

A lot of money is allocated, not actually spent. It is not under our control.

But it will not be paid out at a bigger rate than £500,000 a year, and the money will not be wanted until it has to be paid out.

The Minister may lead the Deputy astray by replying to irrelevant digressions.

I am emphasising this point because I think the Minister is leading the House astray when he suggests that he is going to give Deputies an opportunity of discussing housing in the autumn.

It is not my desire to lead the House astray.

That is always the case with the Ministers; they do not desire it, but they very definitely do it.

It may be the Deputy's experience, but it has not been mine.

The Minister is as well able to put two and two together as I am, and that is the position as it appears to me from the figures officially given. I suggest that as regards the stoppage of grants to persons in urban districts, the same thing has not been done in rural districts, and that is unjust and is wrong. I understand the Bill extends the date for the paying of grants to persons in rural districts and we can discuss the position of persons who are going to get grants in rural districts. I want to point out that the second worst county in the whole country is not having its housing developed, although it has a bigger population than Wexford, and Wexford is the best. I will have to leave it at that. When I return to the withdrawal of grants from persons in urban districts, I am forced to use that point to hang this particular hat on.

I wish to ask the Minister what is going to be the effect of withdrawing grants from private persons in towns like Ballina, Thurles and other places, when he takes into consideration the amount of money the local authorities have been spending on their housing and the condition into which these local authorities are getting. Private persons in Ballina will not be able to get grants for houses after 1st of April next. This brings us back to a consideration of the housing position in Ballina. We have to look at two towns together, because the population and the population trend are something the same, and in those circumstances I will take Thurles with Ballina. Ballina, according to the 1926 Census, had a population of 4,873. The population slightly increased by 1936, when it came to 5,674. Thurles was something the same. Its population, in 1926, was 4,815 and it increased in 1936 to 5,648. In 1926, there were 914 inhabited houses in Ballina and there were 814 inhabited houses in Thurles.

A housing deficiency was disclosed in both these towns in the Census and, as in the case of every other urban district in the country, an inquiry was made from the Department of Local Government in 1929 as to the number of houses that the local authority in each of these towns considered would be necessary in order to relieve overcrowding and insanitary dwellings. The Urban District Council in Thurles considered they wanted 221 houses to replace insanitary dwellings and 200 to relieve overcrowding, making 421 in all. The Department estimated that the overcrowding would be appreciably relieved by the building of 81 houses. How many houses have, in fact, been built since then? In a town with 814 houses in 1926, 470 houses have since been built and 336 of these were built since 1932.

Could the Deputy relate those figures to the Bill under consideration?

I want to show the burden that has fallen on urban authorities as a result of this large building of houses and I want to say that this burden may be further increased if the grants to private persons are being stopped. During that time there were facilities for building.

The Deputy has put his point nicely, but would not his contention give Deputies generally an opportunity of discussing housing conditions in their respective constituencies?

I am taking a sample town.

I will hear the Deputy on that point.

I am taking Thurles as one sample and Ballina as another.

They are towns with practically the same population and the same population trend.

Thurles and Ballina with the same population?

The same population trend. Does the Minister question that?

I do, the population of Thurles and Ballina.

If the Minister looks up the figures he will see that in Ballina in 1926 the population was 4,873, and in 1936 it was 5,674. The Minister will also see that in Thurles in 1926 the population was 4,815, and that shows a difference of 58. In 1936 the population of Thurles was 5,594. That is what I mean by saying that Thurles and Ballina are substantially towns of the same kind and with the same population trend.

I thought Thurles was much more.

That is why I take them for the purposes of comparison. In Thurles, where over the period from 1924—that is, all the house building done since 1926—the local authorities built 345 houses as against 125 built by private persons, and in Ballina where the local authority built 465 houses as against 94 houses by private persons, the trend in rates and the trend in expenditure for housing of the people were very different indeed. In Thurles, where loans for housing in 1924 amounted to £7,700, the figure has increased to £71,000, and the town rate has increased from 13/2 to 14/2. In Ballina there was an increase of £91,535 in housing loans, and the rate in the town increased from 12/6 to 18/11. Whereas in Thurles the increase in rents paid out of rates was £2,400, Ballina at the present time is saddled with an increase in the payment of rates, between 1932 and 1937, of £5,200.

As I say, the throwing over of the building of houses on local authorities, without a review of the whole position, is going to turn out badly for some of the local authorities. I have to confess that I am straining my argument in this matter a little bit in order to bring under the Minister's notice that the continuance of the provisions for financing local authorities, is putting a great strain upon a certain number of local authorities.

The Chair will not hear the Deputy further on that line. He has strayed much further than he modestly admits.

I find myself in the position, that apparently offered an opportunity of discussing housing in the country, the Minister will not acquiesce in a general discussion of that kind.

The offer would be at the request of the Minister. It does not arise out of the Bill.

I realise that, Sir. I simply want to enter a very emphatic protest. It is proposed to continue the spending of money to assist private persons building throughout rural districts. Such persons can build within ten yards of the outskirts of an urban district and they will get a free grant but if they come ten yards inside the boundary of the urban district they will not get a free grant. That is the purpose of this Bill. No wonder the Minister will not allow a general discussion on housing. I think the Minister is unfair to himself. I think he is unfair to the Department which has the responsibility for expending this enormous amount of money because it is an enormous amount of money. Not only has he got £3,500,000, not only does he tell us that he wants more, but for what was done up to the end of December last he has saddled local authorities——

The Deputy may not proceed further with financial statistics.

He is unfair to himself in that in bringing this Bill to the House, and asking us to pass it as a contribution towards a solution of the housing situation of the country, we have to decide and agree with him that in future a house may be built ten yards outside an urban district boundary and get a grant, while if it be built ten yards inside the boundary it will not get a grant. I am prevented by you, Sir, from contemplating that aspect of the Bill, but I confess that the Minister renders me much more speechless than your ruling. I do not think I have anything further to add.

It is utterly absurd. It is treating the House in a very scandalous manner, and it is handling a very important problem and a very substantial amount of money in a most irresponsible manner.

I want to say that we on this side of the House appreciate very much what the Minister has done for housing in recent years. We welcome this Bill very much because we have been agitating and asking the Minister to bring forward such a Bill. The particular clause in the Bill with which I am principally concerned is Section 2, clause (i), which states: "The erection of such house shall have been commenced on or after the 1st day of July, 1936, but before the 1st day of June, 1938, and shall have been completed on or after the 1st day of April, 1937, but before the 1st day of April, 1939." I want to ask the Minister if he would, on Committee Stage, bring forward an amendment substituting for the 1st day of June, 1938, the 1st day of August, 1938. At that particular time of the year, in an ordinary year, it would be quite possible to finish a house in two months, but last year the weather was very, very bad.

That would be quick work—two months.

It could be done, and it has been done.

You are a great people, of course, in Wexford.

I would ask the Minister to have that clause amended. Of course, it is not feasible for an ordinary member of the House to bring in such an amendment because of the fact that it would involve an expenditure of money. Only the Minister can introduce such an amendment. Coupled with the fact that we had extremely bad weather last August, there was a scarcity of tradesmen and I do know that a certain number of people were held up owing to the fact that the weather was bad and that it was impossible to get tradesmen. It is a pity that the Minister would not agree to the same extension in the case of urban houses as he is granting for rural houses and allow these grants in respect of both types of houses until the 31st March, 1940. As Deputy Mulcahy has pointed out, it will be possible for, say, a town dweller to build a house immediately outside an urban area and receive a grant of £45 while a person building inside the area will not receive the grant after the 31st March next. The result of that in the past—and Deputy Allen, who is Chairman of the Wexford County Council, is aware of this—has been that immediately outside certain towns there has been a good deal of what is known as ribbon building. After these houses were erected the owners immediately applied to the local authority, the county board of health with a view to being provided with sewerage and water. The county board of health had no control over the buildings at the time the houses were built but, immediately they were built, demands were made for water, sewerage and facilities of that kind. It is very hard for a county board of health to refuse to supply services of that kind. If that danger was there up to now, it will arise more frequently when this Bill becomes law because nobody will start to build houses from this date to be completed before 31st March, even if it could be done. There are not two months left. Certain people have got certificates already indicating that they are entitled to the £45 grant. Will it be necessary to ask for a renewal of these certificates or will they stand?

I ask the Minister seriously to consider the suggestion to substitute, say, the 1st day of August for the 1st day of June, because people had got certificates up to that date, and would, in normal conditions, have finished their houses. They have involved themselves in certain expenditure, thinking they would be able to have their houses completed. They are now in debt because they could not complete their houses owing to the abnormal weather.

Agus an Tánaiste ag moladh an Bhille seo don Dáil, do léigh sé dhúinn roinn a 2 (d) agus dhein an Teachta Ua Maolchatha agus an Teachta Cóiris tagairt dó. Sidé roinn 2 (d):—

A grant of £45 shall be given for each house built in an urban area if the erection of such house shall have been commenced on or after the 1st day of July, 1936, but before the 1st day of June, 1938, and shall have been completed on or after the 1st day of April, 1937, but before the 1st day of April, 1939.

Ní dóigh liom go bhfuil cóir ná ceart san moladh so. Cuir i gcás gur thosnuigh foirgnitheóir ar thigh a thógaint ar an gcéad lá de Mheitheamh anuraidh agus go bhfuil an tigh sin tógtha anois aige; ní bheidh pingin deóntais le fáil aige Ar an dtaobh eile dhe, má thosnuigh foirgnitheóir ar thigh a thógaint roimh an gcéad lá de Mheitheamh agus ná fuil an tigh sin críochnuithe fós aige —agus níl d'fhiachaibh air é críochnú roimh an gcéad lá d'Aibreán seo chúghainn—beidh deóntas le fágail aige sin. Ní fheicim-se ciall ar bith san tairiscint sin. Ar an adhbhar san, athchuingim ar an dTánaiste an fó-rádh "but before the 1st day of June, 1938" d'fhágaint ar lár. Má deintear san beidh deóntas le fáil as gach tigh atá tógtha nó a tógfar idir an chéad lá d'Iul, 1936, agus an chéad lá d'Aibreán, 1939. Má ghlacann an Tánaiste leis an leasú so beidh cion cothrom le fáil ag eách.

Ag tagairt do roinn 3 (1), ní dóigh liom gur ceart an locáiste mór so fé rátáí—dhá dtrian—do thabhairt do thionóntuithe nua ar feadh seacht mblian. Má tá Chomhairle Phuiblí £1,000,000 rátaí, cuir i gcás, do bhailiú chun gnóthaí a gceanntair do chimeád ar siubal agus má ritheann le daoine áirithe sa cheanntar an beagán a íoc caithfidh daoine eile mórán a íoc. Ar aon chuma, is dóigh liom go bhfuil cáirde seacht mblian ró-fhada ar fad. Iarraim ar an Aire féachaint isteach san gceist seo.

Is mall sa ló atá an gearán so agat.

Is fearr go mall ná go bráth.

B'fhearr duit a bheith ceart.

Is dóigh liom go bhfuilim ceart.

Mr. Brodrick

I am glad to see that grants in favour of housing in rural districts are being extended but, as regards urban districts, I cannot understand the Minister's point of view in refusing to give a private person a grant for the erection of a house or houses. In certain urban districts steps have been taken by private people to erect houses, and they have erected very good houses. In some cases, they have erected much better houses than urban councils or local authorities. If the Minister looks at his files or at the questions or letters I addressed to him about Galway Urban Council, which is now a Corporation, he will be convinced that his attitude is rather strange. The activities in Galway at that time were not the activities of the Galway Corporation, but of the Galway Urban Council. Houses which were partially erected during the period of office of the Urban Council are now unfinished to the number of 19 and are shuttered. Galway Corporation do not know who is responsible for the completion of these houses.

They will not find out on this Bill.

Mr. Brodrick

My point is that, in depriving a private person of the grant, the Minister is putting back housing because a number of local authorities are not able to engage in housing operations. We had a scheme—if you will allow me just to put it before the Minister—for 19 houses, which were partly erected, and are shuttered at the present time. Neither the Corporation of Galway nor the Minister knows who is to complete them. I do not think the Department of Local Government knows who has got to complete those houses. Before the start of the houses they knew there was neither a water supply nor sewerage——

That is not relevant.

Mr. Brodrick

That is all I want to say on that. The Minister should remember, in regard to town planning and so forth, that the one person who is always prepared to carry out the instructions of the local authority engineer or the urban council or corporation engineer is the private individual. The private individual is always prepared to build a good house. He will build a good substantial house that is a credit to the district. You will always find the private individual giving more employment in the erection of houses than any corporation or local authority. That is the point I wish to make. I should like if the Minister would take it into consideration, and not persist in depriving people in urban area of the right to a grant. As General Mulcahy has said, for a house ten yards outside that particular area there is a grant of £45 given. If another member of that family builds a house ten yards inside the urban area boundary he is deprived of that grant. I think that is most unfair, and I think it is a set-back to building in this country. The Minister himself knows very well what is needed at the present time. For a number of years there has been a great fillip to building in urban and town commissioners' areas. Now there is a falling off, and the one thing which I think the Minister should do is to try to help the continuation of building in urban areas, in order to give employment. The only way in which he can do that is by giving the private person the same rights. The private person should have as much rights in this country as the ordinary urban council.

I understand that this Bill gives the Minister power to extend for another year the period for the giving of grants for reconstruction of houses in rural areas. I should like to say that the Minister and the Government deserve to be congratulated on providing those grants for rural houses. They have been a great advantage to the rural community, and have contributed very largely to improving the conditions of a certain section of the rural population. There is, however, one great disadvantage, and that is in regard to the valuation. I should like to ask the Minister if it would be possible to amend the Bill so as to extend the valuation. At present the figure is limited to £25, and I should like to ask the Minister if he could possibly extend the valuation to at least £45. We must understand that in rural Ireland there is a majority of small or medium sized holdings under a valuation of £45, on which houses were erected perhaps 200 or 300 years ago—houses which are at the present time in a rather deteriorated condition. If the valuation limit were raised to £45 it would, I think, remove from our rural areas almost all those houses, which have fallen into a very bad condition.

I should like to point out also that, in making those grants, consideration should be given to the condition of the existing dwellings. I notice that in many places we have grants given for the reconstruction of houses which are not capable of being properly reconstructed—houses which are in such a condition of deterioration that a £40 grant is absolutely no use. The result is that we find throughout the country many small thatched dwellings, with three or four rooms, to which as a result of those grants an additional room has been added. What is the result? The result is that the older portion of the house has been allowed to decay. Thus, you have those houses in a worse condition than they were in when the grants were first made available. That applies of course only to a certain number. In the majority of cases those grants have resulted in a very decided improvement in the houses so reconstructed. I would ask that, if possible, there should be a review of some of the cases in which grants have been made, and in which one room has been erected, to see if it would be possible to make an additional grant to complete the work. I would also suggest that the valuation limit should be extended, not only in regard to reconstruction but in regard to the erection of new houses, and that in addition there should be some provision for a long-term loan in order to enable a complete job to be made of any house for which a grant is obtained.

I do not quite agree with those speakers who have suggested that it is undesirable to concentrate too much on making grants for rural areas as against urban areas. I think at the present time the whole policy of the Government should be directed towards extending housing in rural areas. We have, at the present time, tremendous provision being made for the protection of towns and cities. Surely anybody who looks into the future must see that it is altogether undesirable, even from the point of view of national defence— apart from the deterioration caused by diverting the population from the rural areas into the towns—to go on extending and enlarging the towns at the rate at which it is being done at the present time. Deputy Mulcahy has referred to medium sized towns which have increased in population to the extent of 1,000 each inside one year. I think that is an altogether undesirable state of affairs, having regard to the fact that the rural areas are becoming depopulated. I think, therefore, that the Minister should direct all his attention, or should direct his attention to a greater extent than at present, to the provision of the necessary grants for housing in our rural areas. I should like to remind the Minister that the £40 grant is very little use where a house has become so deteriorated that it is not fit for habitation. The only result of giving a grant in such a case is that the inhabitants of that house move into one room, which is not a desirable state of affairs. I would ask the Minister to give consideration to that point.

I regret that the scope of this Bill is so limited. It really resolved itself into a year's extension of grants for houses in rural areas, with an accidental extension of the time for grants in urban areas. The position of affairs at present is that grants ceased in urban areas on the 30th September last, and will cease in rural areas on the 31st March. The giving of grants is one concession, and the remission of rates another. There are seven years remission of two-thirds of the rates on houses that got grants. The maximum remission on houses that did not get grants is five years. Am I right in saying that there are five years remission of two-thirds where no grants are given?

There is none for houses being built at present.

I think so.

For a new house building at present with a grant, I do not believe there is a remission of rates. That legislation has lapsed.

My understanding is that there is remission of two-thirds of the rates for five years for non-grant houses. I do not know if there is any limitation as to floor space or value.

The legislation has lapsed completely.

The Minister will put Deputies right about that. Assuming that the legislation has lapsed, the difference will be greater. If it has not lapsed, there is a loss of two-thirds of the rates for two years. That is a big item, amounting to about half the grant, and would mean a loss of £60 or £70. I suppose the Minister is aware that this has produced strange results around the City of Dublin. The boundary of the 1936 Act is not always cut straight across a road, one side for quite a distance belonging to the city, and the other side to the county.

If the Bill goes through in its present form, a man on one side of a road could, for the next 12 months, build a house and get a grant of £45, with a remission of two-thirds of the rates for seven years; while a man in the city, building on the other side, would get no grant. It is not clear if he would get remission of rates. The most he would get would be two-thirds for one year. The Minister should remedy that position, and if he is extending the time in the rural areas, he should extend it in the urban areas. I can speak on this question with firsthand information. I was stopped building on one side of a road, but I continued on the other side, the reason being that one side is in the county, and the other in the city. Of course, I will build where I get the most money.

Would you prefer that we should have stopped building on both sides?

The Minister would not do that. He must have some strong reason for extending the time for a year in one case.

My respect for the Deputy and his Party, and a strong request to extend it. The Deputy did not think I was listening to the appeal for sympathy.

It is the first time I heard an appeal of this kind. I am sure the Minister did not agree to the extension without a good reason. I do not know any reason why there should be an extension of time for the rural areas, and not for the urban areas. There is, at present, only a difference of six months between them, but now the Minister makes it twelve months, or more. Theoretically, he is giving no extension in the city, except to a few cases, where accidentally building was not completed, and where grants will be given, while in the rural areas there is an extension for one year for every house. If the Minister thinks that the grants should be stopped in both urban and rural areas, let them be stopped together, say a year hence. If he cannot do that, he should extend the time without any condition in the case of urban houses, completed by the 31st March, regardless of when they were started. That is only asking an extension for six months there, as against 12 months in the rural areas. If the case the Minister considered was one where some people did not happen to finish houses, and that it will take until the end of the financial year to do so, what does it matter when they were started, if he gets more houses finished in that time?

After all, the Minister never conceived giving grants or the remission of rates in order to put money into any builders' pockets. That was a method devised to induce house building. If the houses are built by the 31st March, why should he say: "I will only give grants for the completion of houses started within a certain time?" If the houses are completed, is not that good enough? I suggest that the Minister should seriously consider the giving of grants to urban and rural areas alike up to a certain time, and if he thinks they must be stopped, to stop the two at the same time. I did not catch the Minister's explanation why grants should be continued for virtually one and a half years longer in one case than the other. I notice that the Bill proposes to allow local authorities 60 per cent. of the cost of renovating houses. I know that the Minister and the Chair would not like me to develop that side of the question. These renovations are very tiny, but I should like the Minister, as he has fixed a standard of 60 per cent. for that, not to forget subsidies. They would mean a far greater jump in the provision of houses for the working classes, and the clearing of slums, than this little gesture. He knows that present-day subsidies are not related to present-day costs. I will not go beyond that, as the ruling of the Chair has been very clear and definite in this matter, and I do not want to even appear to be out of order.

I do not understand the Deputy's cryptic references, but I presume they are out of order.

I am never out of order, because I could not get out of order, you are watching me so closely. I am sure the Minister understands my points, and I hope he will do his best to meet them. As I said at the outset, it is a small Bill; there are only a couple of points in it. It is not much good as it stands, but it could be improved.

I would finally appeal to the Minister, particularly as he knows that not for years has there been such unemployment in or around the City of Dublin, in the building trades, as there is at the present time. This is one very substantial way which will increase building and take many workers off the dole and home assistance. It would be very welcome to builders, and all building operatives in the City of Dublin. The Minister should consider very seriously, and I hope sympathetically, the extension of the grants and the remission of rates for another 12 months. Of course, I would hope that he would continue it longer, but if he and his Government have made up their minds that they cannot continue it any longer, I do think that no case can be made for having it on one side of the road and not having it on the other. This would be an immediate way of relieving unemployment in the building trades in Dublin, and I would appeal to the Minister to consider the extension of the grants and remission of rates for 12 months in urban areas.

I would be prepared to support all the speakers to the fullest extent that I am capable of in urging the extension of facilities for the urban areas. I realise the difficulties and the hardships that have been inflicted by the withdrawal of these grants, but I feel that we were very much restricted from the development of the subject on this Bill. I fancy we are dealing to-night with something that originated in the Bill of 1937, and that the Bill we are dealing with now is simply introduced to remedy the grievances of some persons who were debarred on account of the statutory date, their buildings not having been completed by that time. I am thankful for having at least that small mercy extended, because I know of many cases of undoubted hardship that has been inflicted. I would like to ask the Minister, when he is remedying these grievances, if he would extend it a little further, so as not to leave further grievances existing for the sake of a few. I was going to follow Deputy Corish by asking to have the 1st of August substituted for the 1st June, and I think that would undoubtedly remove some very severe hardships. If possible, I would follow Deputy Belton in asking that houses finished by the 31st of next March ought to come within the ambit of the Minister's proposal.

Why not stick to that date?

I am prepared to support that, if the Minister's financial resources would cover it. I would be delighted to pursue that point, if it were possible, but I would go the distance of asking the House, in the case of such of the houses that are already built or in course of construction, to try and give the benefit of that grant.

The Minister made a statement, in answer to Deputy Mulcahy, that it is intended to introduce a comprehensive measure in the near future, before August, I think, which will give a chance to deal with the housing question in a general way. I would suggest that on that occasion he should take into consideration the provisions that used to benefit urban dwellers in common with rural dwellers. Deputy Cogan is selfish, I think, in that he wants to confine all activities to the agricultural population and sees, in fact, an absolute danger in giving grants to people who are condemned to live in cities. He is afraid of the air attacks that might possibly come. He would like that the bombs should destroy the shacks in the city and make place for the erection of good houses. Pending the aeroplanes, we are anxious in the cities and towns to get decent places to live in. We may even welcome the aeroplanes if they are going to shift us out. I am not going the distance of suggesting that we want a monopoly for urban areas. I am asking to have the facilities given to rural and urban districts generally. I am not going to say that, if the Minister finds himself in the position now that he cannot continue the facilities to urban districts, that he automatically should stop giving them to the rural districts. I think that, also, would be a very selfish outlook because all our problems do not exist around the borough boundaries or on the fringe of the urban areas. There is a considerable amount of good work being done in the remote rural districts, remote from urban places entirely, and I think it would be an awful tragedy if anything should stop that.

I want to disagree with Deputy Cogan fundamentally when he states that the £40 grant is a cause of retrograde action being taken by the building of an additional room on houses that are deteriorated to the extent that they should not be built on or helped at all. I have never seen a case of that kind and I have real experience in my own county. The inspection by the housing inspector is a very rigorous one before he will allow any additional grant to be given for reconstruction work. I have had experience of trying to get him to agree that a house was capable of being reconstructed and I think the position is the reverse of what Deputy Cogan says. At least, that is my experience in the building and reconstruction of houses. I say that it has been a most beneficial grant to the rural areas and I hope that it will be continued.

As I said, I feel restricted from the many rulings we have had from the Chair on the subject to-night, but I would certainly urge with the other Deputies that the Minister would go the fullest distance possible, under the terms of this Bill, to extend the period for making these payments to people who have been engaged in building, legitimately and honestly, with the intention of securing a grant, whose houses are under construction or have been completed, but who are unfortunate not to conform with the statutory date. If, as has been promised to us, we are going to get a further measure on housing—which I believe is essential, as we have only just tipped the fringe of the problem yet—and that we are going to have another Housing Act in the course of this year, we would only be asking the Minister to go back again to try and include some people who have been left out. I think, if his financial resources would allow it, the Minister should cover houses completed before the 31st of March, irrespective of the date of their commencement, and there would be no cause for complaint by any section of the community.

In making a few remarks I will try, as far as possible, to keep in order. At the same time, this is a very big and wide subject and a very narrow Bill. I would like to ask the Minister, when replying, to give us, if he can, some information about the extended term to help the purchases of houses, as has been suggested. I understand that is under the active consideration of the Minister's Department and I would like to ask him how soon we may hope to see that Bill.

There is another Bill, or part of a Bill, that apparently will also have to make its appearance. The Minister spoke about Section 3 of this Bill— Remission of Rates. I take it that is merely to clear up a doubt as to whether five or seven is meant in certain cases but there is the still much larger case of the houses where the grants have lapsed at the present time. The Minister stated in Dáil Debates, 17/12/'37, column 2809, volume 69,

"Mr. O Ceallaigh: The Local Government Act of 1925 must come up for consideration, probably within the next couple of months. I am sympathetic to the idea of continuing the provisions, i.e., the remission of rates, for seven years. Under the Local Government Act it is only allowed for five years."

Even though that was said 14 months ago, I hope the Minister's sympathy is still strong, and that at any time we will see these provisions in the new Bill which has been promised.

I need not remind him of some other promises, because I think he is perfectly sympathetic and intends that these provisions shall be introduced, but I want to point out to the Minister that although people know he is quite sincere, a number of transactions are being held up. There are people who want the statement in black and white that the rates are going to be remitted on the houses they have purchased, and quite a number of house purchase transactions are held up for the appearance of that Bill. Every builder builds so many houses, and when the sale of them goes slowly, he goes slowly, too.

Another matter which I want to bring to the Minister's attention is this matter of these varying dates and the different ways in which people are treated. I am like Deputy Keyes—I do not want to be a dog in the manger. I do not want anything that has been given to people taken from them, but I should like them all to be put on the same footing. I cannot understand what objection the Minister has to the urban areas. Is it that they take too much money and build too many houses? That is the only thing I can think of. I am not going to suggest that the Minister has any spite against the City of Dublin, or does not want to see houses built. If I lost my temper, I might level that charge against him, but it would not make it true. There is something, however, underlying it, and I should like the Minister to tell us why the urban areas, where the cost of building is greater, where the valuation is probably higher, and where everything is higher, should not get the very longest day that is given to anybody else. There are a number of points of that type which I should like the Minister to consider.

He spoke, amost with a sense of pride, of this not costing us any money until next autumn because there was a sum of £300,000 available. Anybody who has any knowledge of the housing problem knows that this Bill is not meeting the demand for houses. There is a very big demand for houses, and I suggest that some of the sections which are being repealed contributed very little to the housing problem. I notice that certain sections of the Housing (Financial and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1932, No. 19 of 1932, are being repealed. Amongst the provisions of that Act is sub-section (d) of Section 5, which provides that an agricultural labourer erecting a house for his own occupation in a rural area shall get £70 grant. I am a townsman, and I know very little about the country, but I imagine that agricultural labourers who have £300 or £400 to spare and who are prepared to put up houses for their own occupation, probably employing an architect, are few and far between. Under some of the other provisions, very small sums must have been expended. They must have cost very little in grants, and I suggest, like other Deputies, that the real demand and the biggest demand is in the urban areas. The population has increased in those areas, and it has increased in Dublin. One Deputy suggested that houses should not be encouraged in the urban areas, but does the Minister want to keep houses out of the urban areas? If so, he ought to bring in a Bill to send some of the people back to the country, but I suppose he will tell us about that when replying. Meanwhile, I ask him to tell us what the city has done that he treats it so harshly.

I must congratulate the Minister on the fact that the number of houses erected in the past year shows a big increase compared with previous years. He spoke of 10,000 in the urban areas and 15,000 in the rural areas, and said that in all there were 19,000 houses reconstructed in rural areas. There are one or two matters in regard to the grants payable in respect of the reconstruction of houses in rural areas to which I want to draw the Minister's attention. A few cases have been brought to my notice of great hardship being inflicted on people who have reconstructed houses in County Louth. As we are all aware, when a house is reconstructed, it must, when finished, have a certain floor area. I think it is 500 square feet. It has happened in the cases to which I refer that many of these people, some of whom are widows, having little or no experience of building or floor areas, found, when they had the house finished and applied for the grant, that they had not got the requisite number of square feet. That was due to ignorance, but the fact remains that, after an expenditure of anything from £30 to £40, they find that they are not eligible for a penny of the £40 grant. I have in my pocket at the moment a letter from the Department to a widow who I know personally had a very nice house, and who deserved the highest credit for the reconstruction she had carried out on it. It cost something like £35, but because the house was about 25 or 30 square feet short of the requisite floor area, she has received nothing. I impress on the Minister that it would be well if the Department would use a little discretion in cases of that kind, and that if they were not prepared to give the full £40 grant, they should give at least some portion of it. It is undoubtedly a great hardship on these people, as I say, who possibly were not aware at the time they undertook the reconstruction of these houses that the grant would not be available. In fact, in this particular case to which I have referred, it was left to the man who took on the reconstruction of the house, and the woman depended on him to see that all the conditions were complied with in so far as the Department of Local Government were concerned. As I say, to her consternation, now she has received this letter notifying her that she is ineligible for any grant at all. Perhaps the Minister could see his way to allow the officials, under the powers they exercise at the moment, to make some grant in cases of such a nature that are brought to the notice of the officials.

With regard to the extension of the time for the completion of the houses in rural areas, I think that is a concession that will be very much appreciated by those people who are not, at the moment, in a position to complete their houses within the specified time. As regards the question of the discontinuance of the grants to people in the urban areas, I think it would be well that these grants should be continued in urban areas so long as they are being continued in rural areas, and that if the Minister decides to discontinue them in the one case they should be discontinued in the other. You have people in towns like Dundalk, where one side is in the urban area and the other side is in the rural area, under the county council, and the people under the county council would be entitled to £45 while the people living on the other or the urban side would not be entitled to any grant.

We have been reminded by the Ceann Comhairle that we cannot go outside the scope of this Bill with regard to housing generally, but as we have been promised by the Minister that a Bill of that nature will be introduced in the near future, I hope he will take advantage of the period between this and the introduction of that measure to devote some of that time to the question of the cost of building here. It does seem strange that at the moment in this country the cost of building is anything from 20 per cent. to 35 per cent. higher than in Great Britain, and there is great hardship on people who, as a result of the high cost of building, have to pay high rents. I should like to have an argument with those Deputies who want grants all the time, in connection with that matter, and to tell them that I believe that if building costs were reduced here there might be a great deal more building. I think that is a matter in which the Minister should interest himself very much in the near future; that he should endeavour to bring down the cost of building in this country. There is no reason why it should be so high. I would almost advocate, as I said here before, with regard to the cost of certain materials, that the Minister should open the ports of this country and allow material in here if that were necessary in order to bring down the cost of building.

That would give us no grants at all.

It is farcical to think of the cost of building materials here in this poor little country as compared with other places, and I think that the Minister should interest himself in that connection in view of the measure he hopes to introduce in the near future. In conclusion, I again appeal to the Minister to exercise his discretion, as I know he is willing to do in all such cases, in connection with those cases of hardship where people who reconstructed their houses were under the impression that they were complying with the conditions laid down in the memorandum form that has been issued by the Department, and that he will give instructions to his officials at least to give portion of the grant of £40 in cases of that description.

I represent a rural area but, as the Minister and many other Deputies have often said in this House, the housing problem is a national problem and the welfare of the whole country largely depends on its solution. I learned with great regret that the Minister proposes to differentiate between rural and urban areas to the disadvantage of the latter, because I have often pressed on him—and I am sure I am right—that the housing problem can be divided appropriately into two parts, one the rural problem and the other the urban problem. The solution of the rural problem never presented difficulty. It was simply a matter of assembling money and materials and the problem was solved —there was plenty of land and plenty of labour, and no difficulty presented itself at all beyond the raising of money. The urban problem, however, has always had the additional difficulty of sites, the finding of places in which to put the people. A lot of people forget this. They see a tenement house and say to themselves that the only solution of the problem presented by that tenement block is the erection of another tenement block of a better character to which to remove those people and clear the other site, but that is only part of the solution.

Side by side with that activity you can carry on another activity which solves the tenement problem, and that is inducing the people who are living in fairly good houses to avail of an opportunity to satisfy a long-cherished desire to build a new house of their own. When they complete the new house, they move out of the fairly good house, and somebody who is in a good tenement graduates up to the vacated house, while somebody who is in the bad tenement moves into the good tenement, and in that way a material contribution is made to the solving of the acute slum problem which is perplexing every city authority in the world. It is a very material contribution, so do not let this House imagine that, in inducing the erection of urban houses designed for the accommodation of a comparatively prosperous person, you are doing nothing to help those who are in urgent need of help, the slum dwellers. You are. The more you can induce the urban population to graduate up into new houses, the more you are relieving the pressure down at the bottom in the rotten, condemned tenements that we are all concerned to vacate. Try to remember that a family at present resident in Dublin is not resident in the leaves of a tree or on the bough of a tree like a bird. Wherever the family is in Dublin, it is in a house, and if you vacate that house by the erection of a new one it will provide accommodation which will ultimately relieve the family in the basements whom we want to get out and whom we must get out at whatever cost. The radical way to go about that is the erection of new suitable flats, but we can help that along by inducing those who can afford to build themselves to build houses and move out of the accommodation in which they are now in order to make room for those whose moving will make room for the residents of the tenement basement room.

For that reason, inasmuch as the building of houses in the urban areas of places like Dublin, Cork and Limerick, is relieving the slum problem and helping to abolish it, I would deplore anything which would check that eminently desirable development, and I think that if the Minister is prepared to extend the time of grant for rural areas, as this Bill proposes to do, he ought to be at least as generous to the urban areas, where, I submit, although I come from a rural constituency, the problem is infinitely more acute and infinitely more grave to-day than it ever was in any rural area since the Land Act of 1881 was passed.

Now, the object of all these grants and all this machinery is to secure the building of houses in order to relieve the present congestion. I apprehend that, although the Minister finds money to extend the period for these grants, his purpose is going to be largely abortive if the citizen who, he hopes, will avail of these grants, cannot get the capital to start their building at all. I think it is impracticable to suggest the Government should directly provide capital for that purpose, but I think there is something worthy of consideration, and I will not put it higher than that. You have the great building societies in England. They are immensely wealthy corporations and they have gigantic accumulations of funds at the present time, because, with the intensification of the armaments industry in England, the inducements to building in England have been rather soft-pedalled for some time. The demand for money during the previous decade in England was so great that the building societies put up a great publicity drive to get deposits, and they got them. Now that the demand for loans has fallen off, the money is still rolling into the societies, and they cannot get anyone to borrow it.

I believe that these societies would be very glad to lend the money here. Remember that in England any man who puts down £15 can build his house. That is a remarkable fact, but I think it is true. The reason English building societies are reluctant to lend money or operate here is that they are sceptical of the security of Irish houses. Irish tenements and hereditaments have a bad reputation as security in Great Britain owing to our agrarian history and the reluctance of our people to see the security on a house realised. Could not the Government discuss with these building societies terms whereon they would be prepared to extend their activities to this country and to lend money here?

I think the Deputy is going very far away from this Bill.

Then I will postpone any further reference to that until another and more favourable occasion. I take it that the line of discussion has confined itself pretty narrowly to the exact amendments proposed to be made in the principal Act?

I had intended to make a brief reference to the cost of building and to the consequences of an undue rise in the cost of building in America. However, if the debate has kept strictly within the limits of the amendments proposed, we can defer that to another day. I do, however, urge strongly on the Minister, and I have no doubt that I urge it on a sympathetic hearer, that the representations made by Deputy Dockrell, Deputy Belton and other Deputies whom I may not have had the advantage of hearing, are well worthy of consideration, and more especially when we reflect upon them in the light that every new house built in Dublin, though it may accommodate a well-to-do family, ultimately helps to empty the condemned tenement basements. If that be true, I do not believe anybody in this House will want to restrain the Minister if he would extend the grant for urban areas in the same measure that he proposes to extend it for the rural areas. The urban question is a very much more difficult one, a very much more urgent one, and a much more dangerous one; any money spent in relieving that is well spent, and we will combine to find it in the confidence that we are getting good value for it when we lay it out.

I am sorry that it was, in my opinion, unavoidable that the discussion of this Bill should be so restricted, but I was anxious to get the Bill through, as the matters with which it deals are urgent. I was particularly anxious to get all stages through well before the 31st March, for a variety of reasons, mainly finance. The Bill, as I stated in introducing it, is very strictly limited in its scope. It is introduced owing to representations made in the House here several times by Deputies, some of whom are on the Opposition Benches now, and by one or two others who saw me privately and pointed out hardships that the non-amendment of the law would inflict on certain builders of houses. The representations seemed to me so weighty that I have introduced this Bill. I am not taking away anything from urban areas, or from any place, urban or rural. I am not giving any new grant. I am simply extending certain benefits contained in the pre- vious Acts from 1932 to 1937 for a further period.

I do not agree with the attitude of mind of Deputy Belton and one or two others. Deputy Dockrell I was glad to note, though he like myself is a Dublin City man, would not like to see the benefits that flow to builders of houses in rural areas taken from them. I thought Deputy Belton would be of the same mind. He has more of a rural mind, at any rate, and generally displays a friendly attitude to rural people. When he discusses agricultural matters you would imagine that there was nobody in the country but agriculturists, that they ought to get everything done for them, and that nothing is done by the Government for the rural dwellers and the agriculturists. Now, here is one definite effort made in this Bill to show a deliberate bias in favour of the dwellers in rural areas. That is the deliberate intention. I think there are very few Deputies who object to that, and I am surprised that Deputy Belton is one who objects to seeing the people in rural areas getting the benefits that even he may be deprived of.

I did not object to their getting it.

I think you did, if I am not mistaken.

I wanted equal facilities for both.

Yes, but the Deputy deliberately used the phrase "Why not take them away from both?"

The Minister suggested, "Are we to take them from both?" and I said "No."

I may have misunderstood the Deputy, but I think Deputy Keyes got the same impression.

The Deputy was not the only one who was of that mind —there were some others. In 1937 the grant was taken away from the urban areas. That was after experience having shown and evidence having been given to me by people interested in building houses that the grant did not encourage speculative builders to build houses. I got that information more than once from people who built many houses in their time—that they were not interested in the grant so much as in seeing money provided under the Small Dwellings (Acquisition) Act or otherwise for the building of houses. That was the thing they were principally interested in; the grant did not matter very much. That is what I was told. I said that here many a time already.

I am surprised that the Deputies on the Opposition Benches speak with so many voices on this question. Deputy Mulcahy who, I take it, always speaks here representing the Party—he is the principal spokesman anyway on housing matters—objects to any grants. It is his definite opinion that these grants are of no value, in urban or rural areas. I would like him to put that to a vote in his own Party. Judging from what I heard to-day, it is not the view of the members of his Party. It certainly is his view. He repeated here to-day that we are going on wrong lines in giving grants of any kind to encourage people to build houses. It would not be a bad idea if Deputies Dockrell, Belton and Mulcahy got together and decided what their policy was in this matter and see if they could come to be at one on the question.

We are at one in having equivalent grants for both urban and rural areas.

Oh no; even there you are not at one.

On that point I did not hear any discordant voice.

Well, I did. In reply to Deputy Mulcahy, I have to say that I have no objection in the world at any time to have in this House an all-in debate on housing. This Government has nothing to be ashamed of in the matter of its housing policy. If we can claim to have achieved anything it is with regard to housing. There are houses built in urban and rural areas, including labourers' cottages. If we include the completed houses, houses in course of erection and houses reconstructed the figure is very large. There are about 20,000 houses reconstructed. If we add these to the new houses there are more than 90,000 houses to the credit of the Government since the 1932 Act came into operation. That is a very respectable achievement and we need not apologise to Deputy Mulcahy or anybody else for that achievement.

I have no doubt that there will be a difference of opinion in many places with regard to this question of housing. Dublin City is a big problem. I will not go into that now. Deputy Dillon is right when he says that largely speaking the question of the rural areas is not a great problem. He is quite correct in that. In certain parts of the country there certainly were housing conditions that were abominable. Very largely these have disappeared through the operations of the 1932 Act. I do not want to take credit to the Government or myself for that, because without the help and sympathy and the active co-operation of the local authorities all over the country, and the co-operation of all Parties in this House we could not have achieved what we did achieve.

I think the Minister is getting the co-operation of all Parties.

That is what I said, and without that we could not have done what we did. I am not at all suggesting that I want to take any particular credit to the Government for that. I think credit is due to everybody and every Party who has cooperated in solving that problem.

With regard to the details mentioned by Deputy Corish and one or two other Deputies, as to the point about commencing the house on the 1st June, all I can say is that I will look into that and see what we can do. That date was in the Act that we are amending. At that time it was expected that the grants would expire on the 30th September. It was natural to expect that if a person had not commenced a house on the 1st June he could not have finished the building by the 30th September. Deputy Corish said that that could not happen in Wexford at all. They are wonderful people in Wexford.

Would the Minister look into the matter of having the grant given when the houses are completed by the 31st March regardless of when the building started?

I will look into it. Deputy Cogan raised the question of grants being given to houses that were reconstructed. He said some of these houses were in a bad way and that the grant was given without proper examination. I think the Deputy is misinformed. In every case there is an examination of the house for which the grant was applied. When the application is made the house is examined, and if the house is not considered a fit house to be reconstructed no grant is given.

What I spoke about was in connection with the old thatched houses in which a room had been added. These old thatched houses may be in some repair, but because the small-holders might be expecting an additional grant, the older portion of the house in many cases was neglected or fell into disrepair.

The grant is never given unless the house can be made fit for human habitation.

Yes, it is only when the house is fit for human habitation that the grant for reconstruction is given. Only one grant is given. There would not be a second grant given in respect of the same house. With regard to the question raised by Deputies Dockrell and Belton about the remission of rates, the position is that buildings erected without grants get a remission of two-thirds of the rates for five years.

Does that include new business premises?

It includes all classes of buildings. Buildings that get housing grants get a remission of two-thirds of the rates for seven years. There was, during the last few months, a doubt about the eligibility of certain houses to get a remission of rates. I hope to bring in a Bill, perhaps next week, to remedy that situation. I believe that the remission of rates has regularly been granted all the time by the local authorities. Personally, I have not heard of any case where the remission of rates was withheld. I do not know whether it would be possible to do what Deputy Coburn has asked. Officials have to carry out the law, and they cannot use favouritism or differentiation between one person and another. If the law is not complied with, persons must, I am afraid, suffer.

Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage fixed for Thursday, the 2nd March.

If there be no objection, I would be glad to get all the stages through that day.

The Minister's soft answer turneth away wrath.

Let the Minister bring in that amendment and we will give him all the stages of the Bill.

If the Minister brings in the amendment now, we will give him all stages of it.