Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 12 Jul 1945

Vol. 97 No. 21

Committee on Finance. - Local Government (Remission of Rates) Bill, 1945—Second Stage.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

The Local Government (Remission of Rates) Bill, 1940, applied to residences which were not erected under the Labourers Acts, or were not houses under the Housing of the Working Classes Act, as amended by the Housing Act, 1932, or houses in respect of which grants were made under the Housing Acts, 1924 and 1925, or under the Housing Acts, 1925 to 1931, or houses in respect of which a grant was made under the Housing Acts, 1932 to 1942, or houses to which relief of rates had been given under the (Gaeltacht Housing) Acts. It provided for the remission of two-thirds of the rates for five years on any such residences as were erected in the period between the 1st October, 1939, and 30th September, 1942. In 1943 an amending Act extended the period during which residences should be erected to qualify for remission up to the 31st March, 1945. Due to the difficulties of securing building materials and supplies, residences which were scheduled to be completed in time to secure the remission have had their completion delayed, and accordingly it is felt, in the special circumstances of this time, that it would be equitable to extend the life of the Act for a further period, to the 31st March next, so that new dwelling houses or improvements to which the Principal Act applied completed in the current year may rank for remission. The Bill contains no new principle

Mr. Corish

Was there any period during which the Act lapsed.

The Act of 1943 expired on the 31st March last. This is a continuance.

Up to what date?

March 31st of next year.

In connection with this Bill I want to ascertain certain facts. Am I correct in saying that the purpose of the Bill is to extend the benefit of exemption from rates to houses which would have been exempted had they been completed before March 31st, 1945, and if that is a correct interpretation of the Bill, are houses which were built under the Housing Acts, and which have not been passed for grants deemed to have been completed within the meaning of this Act? I have directed the Minister's attention on divers occasions to what I conceive to be a very considerable abuse, which operates not only to deny to simple people down the country the benefits of this Rates Remission Act, but also access to the grants which they ought to receive under the Housing Acts.

On a point of order, Sir, I have already pointed out to the House, in my introductory speech, that this Bill does not apply to any house erected under the Housing Acts.

Oh, well, that is only one of the many points I propose to raise on this Bill. Am I correct, then, in supposing that this applies only to houses that received no subsidies at all, and that it would apply to farmers' houses down the country and the buildings ancillary thereto?

I do not propose to answer that.

This is the Second Reading of the Bill, in which matters are not dealt with by questions but by set speeches.

Well, Sir, I am going to make a set speech.

Surely, Sir, a matter of information can be raised by means of a question to the Minister?

At the option of the Minister.

Yes, at the option of the Minister.

Well, Sir, if the Minister is civil, he gives the information that is asked for, and if he is not civil, he does not give it. At the moment, of course, we are dealing with an uncivil Minister, and from experience we know how to deal with him. If he will not give us the facilities that we ask for, then we will not give him the facilities that he may require. I understand that this Bill provides for the remission of rates on some kind of houses in this country, and in that connection I want to direct the attention of the Minister to the desirability of expanding further the effect of the principal Remission of Rates Act, 1940. At the present time, if an enterprising farmer in this country improves his out-offices, the first caller to admire the architecture of these buildings is the rate collector, and the price of his admiration is an increased assessment on the farmer. Now, some Deputies of this House will remember that the Land War in this country was fought for the Three F's, one of which was Fair Rent.

On a point of order, Sir, the houses to which Deputy Dillon has been referring were constructed under the Housing Acts, and this Bill does not apply to the Housing Acts.

Not at all. I am referring to houses that never got a penny grant of any kind. I do not suppose the Minister knows anything about that kind of house, but those of us who were members of the Land League, or who are children of those who were members of the Land League, know very little of any other kind of house. However, Sir, as I was saying, when the Land War was fought, one of the principal things that our people fought for was Fair Rent, and the reason they raised that issue was that in the old days, if a farmer tenant of a holding, by his own industry, accumulated a modest nest-egg and employed that modest nest-egg in improving his holding, either by way of enriching his land or by way of repairing his house, building an annex to it, or building a new out-office or byre, the first caller that he had was the landlord's bailiff, and that gentleman used to ramble in and initiate a discussion about the wealth of the farmer and his capacity to pay an increased rent.

Again, Sir, on a point of order—or am I entitled to occupy the time of the House in raising points of order? —this Bill deals with the remission of rates, and not with rents or landlords.

I can readily understand, Sir, that the Minister does not realise that he has succeeded to the disagreeable office of Clanricarde in this country, but I trust to be able to prove to him that he has succeeded to that office, before I conclude.

On a point of order again, Sir, is it in order for the Deputy, on a Bill dealing with the remission of rates, to try to convince the Minister in charge of the Bill that he has succeeded to the role of Lord Clanricarde in this country?

It is irrelevant.

I suggest, Sir, that all Deputy Dillon wants to do is to obstruct.

It is not relevant.

Is the Chair willing to hear the Deputy on that?

Surely, Sir, it is relevant to raise this matter.

I suggest that this Bill deals with the question of rates in relation to new valuations.

That is not the point that was raised by Deputy Dillon.

Have the Minister's points of order been disposed of, Sir?

No, I have not heard any ruling from the Chair.

The Chair has said distinctly that the Deputy would be irrelevant in what he was saying,

I trust that the Chair will remind the Deputy of that.

The Chair can be relied on to do its duty, and I suggest that if there were less interruptions the business could be carried on more quickly.

I think it was the practice, Sir, to discuss general matters of housing in this connection.

I do not see what that has to do with rates.

The Minister even commented on the fact that new buildings had been erected and, borrowing the language of the modern rate collector, he said that it must be manifest to the simplest mind that if in the past you had two rooms in a house, and now you have three rooms, you have a better house than the one you formerly occupied, and just as the landlord's bailiff of 30 years ago raised the rent in such a case, so the modern rate collector raises the rent.

What has the landlord's bailiff of 30 years ago to do with this measure?

Surely, Sir, it is relevant?

It does not appear to be relevant to the Chair.

Surely, Sir, in the case of a man in County Mayo, who is paying an excess annual payment— whether you call it rates or rent, it is all the same to him whether he pays it to a rate collector or a landlord— it means that he has to work harder to pay the increased rates or rents? I am sure that the Ceann Comhairle, as a County Galway man himself, knows that it is not infrequent to find the common term of "cess" being applied by the country people to both types of payment, because they see no difference. It does not matter to them where the money goes. All they know is that it is going out of their pockets, and whither it goes makes no difference to the man who has to pay it. Now, if this House is not prepared to learn the lesson of our history, then it must be a much more obscurantist body than I thought it to be. What will be the net result of teaching these people that if they spend their whole income in improvements on their holdings, it will mean an increased rent or rate?

This Bill deals with the remission of rates.

Exactly, Sir, and I ask you what was the result of that kind of thing in the past? What will be the result if we, in our day, proceed to do, through the county council, precisely what the landlord's bailiff used to do in the old days? May we not expect a similar result? Is it not true —who knows it better than a Deputy from Galway County—that, with the passage of the Birrell Land Act, which forced Clanricarde to sell and with the abolition of Clanricarde's bailiffs, the houses and holdings on the Clanricarde estate began to improve? Is it not true that, driving through the Irish countryside 30 years ago, before the Birrell Land Act was passed, you could tell, as you passed through an area, whether you were driving through a bought-out estate or an estate on which the landlord's bailiffs still held sway? Where there was a likelihood that the rents——

The Deputy is quite irrelevant, having diverged far from the provisions of the Bill. This is the second lesson in history which he has given to-day. This measure deals with the remission of rates and not increases of rent.

I say that, if we now permanently establish the principle that, if a farmer improves his holding, he is to be liable, the morning after, to have his valuation for the assessment of rates increased, the result will be exactly the same as was the result when landlords were permitted to increase their rents for the same purpose.

Does this Bill purport to increase rates?

It certainly does not extend the remission as far as it should.

That is a different thing.

Surely, on Second Stage, I can argue that it should. On Fifth Stage I am confined to what is in the Bill, but on Second Stage I may advocate wider and better provision for the persons whom it is designed to benefit. If we are to establish the principle that, if a farmer improves his holding, from that day forward he is to be liable to pay a heavier cess upon his holding, what can we expect the farmer to do?

I wish to inform the Chair—I think that it is a point of order—that, under the existing law, increases of valuations of farm buildings do not take effect as from the morning after. Improvements in farm buildings are not, in fact, rated for seven years after they have been carried out.

If we fix every farmer with notice that if he improves his holding, sooner or later the result of that operation will be that a heavier cess will be levied upon him, what consequence can we expect from such a notification?

On a point of order, again, this is a narrow Bill. It deals with one modification of the rating laws only. Deputy Dillon is, apparently, addressing himself to the whole principle of the rating laws. I suggest that he is out of order.

May I submit, in reply, that I am dealing exclusively with the remission of rates on improvements in houses, and that, as the Long Title of the Bill is, "An Act to amend and extend, with retrospective effect, the Local Government (Remission of Rates) Act, 1940," my observations are highly relevant?

Not in the view of the Chair.

May I discuss the remission of rates?

The Deputy is now discussing the remission of rates, but up to now he has been discussing the effects of increase of rates on new buildings or improvements.

Surely I am entitled to advocate that rates on new buildings should be remitted, unless the rules of debate have become much more strict than they were when I learned them. This is a Bill to provide for remission of rates. I ask that that remission be extended to new buildings and I point out that, if we do not do that, we shall create a situation closely analogous to one which we had before in which the homes of our people became a by-word for their wretched appearance and many persons, not understanding the intolerable conditions under which our people lived, blamed them for those conditions. Do we wish to create in our day a situation imposing burdens upon people living here——

Again, on a point of order, this Bill deals with the remission of rates on a very narrow category of residences. It does not apply to any cottage erected, before or after the passing of this Act, that is, the Act of 1943, under the Labourers Acts, 1883-1937. That is a wide category of houses to which it does not apply, because those houses are governed by another code. It does not apply to houses erected under the Housing of the Working Classes Acts, 1890-1931 as amended by the Housing (Financial and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1932. That covers practically all the houses built in the country during the last 20 years. It does not apply to any house in respect of which any grant was made, before the passing of the Act of 1933, under the Housing Acts, 1924-1925. It does not apply to any house in respect of which a grant was made under the Housing Acts, 1925-1931. It does not apply to any house in respect of which a grant was made, before the passing of this Act or is made after the passing of this Act, under the Housing (Financial and Miscellaneous Provisions) Acts, 1932-1942. It does not apply to any house in relation to which a grant was made under the Housing (Gaeltacht) Acts, 1929-39. The category to which this Bill applies is very narrow. But Deputy Dillon has covered a very wide field. He has dealt with improvements to farm buildings and houses built under other Acts. I suggest that, henceforth, he should be confined to the narrow scope of the Bill.

May I put a question regarding all this mystery? Is it possible that the Bill does, in fact, apply to the houses about which Deputy Dillon is speaking and that the Minister knows so little about the Bill he is putting before the House that he is not able——

Does the Deputy wish to intervene in the debate or raise a point of order?

I am asking a question which is much more relevant than the Minister's remarks were. The question I put is a relevant one: Does the Bill provide for the remission of rates on the type of houses with which Deputy Dillon is dealing?

Deputy Dillon.

So a situation might easily arise in which people desiring, as prudent people should, to invest, at least, a part of their annual earnings in the improvement of the house in which they live, in which they reckon they will bring up their families and which will ultimately pass on to those who come after them, would be fixed with notice that, after the lapse of a comparatively short period, their industry and self-denial would be penalised, not for a limited time, but so long as that house stands.

Again on a point of order, I should like to draw the attention of the Chair to the fact that the scope of the Bill is even narrower than my previous remarks might imply.

It must be the narrowest thing that ever appeared in this House.

The sole purpose of this Bill is to extend for a period from the 31st March next the operations of a measure already enacted by the Dáil. I suggest that the only point Deputy Dillon is entitled to address himself to is whether the extension shall be made or not.

Am I to proceed?

But not with the whole rating code.

So, Sir, while the industrious and the self-denying may find——

The Deputy is dealing with the rating code, which does not arise on this Bill.

I am advocating the remission of rates.

The Deputy is, perhaps, in one sentence in twenty.

If we do not provide a remission of rates under this Bill for the thrifty and the self-denying, we shall create a situation in which the failure to provide such a remission of rates will deter the better type of resident in rural Ireland from undertaking the improvements which he otherwise would. If we do not provide a remission of rates on improvements of the kind I have described, the person who will most benefit from this type of legislation is the person who imposes upon himself no self-denial but spends his income annually and lays no tenth aside for the making of improvements.

On a point of order, may I direct your attention to paragraph (a), sub-section (1) of Section 1 of the Bill which reads:

The reference in the definition of the expression "the prescribed period" to the 31st day of March, 1945, shall be construed as a reference to the 31st day of March, 1946.

I am suggesting that the only matter Deputy Dillon is entitled to discuss on this Bill is whether or not that extension shall be made.

I direct the attention of the Chair to sub-paragraph (b) sub-section (1) of Section 1 which reads:

Each reference in paragraphs (a) to (f) of the definition of the word "residence" to a series of Acts shall be construed as including a reference to every subsequent Act (whether passed before or after this present Act) amending such series of Acts.

I also direct the attention of the Chair to sub-section (1) of Section 2.

Which is a definition which does not extend the Act. The Act itself proposes to extend certain remissions for twelve months. To that matter the Deputy has not yet directed his argument.

I am advocating that the remission should be wider than it is.

But the Deputy is not entitled to discuss the whole code.

I am not speaking on the whole code.

In the opinion of the Chair, the Deputy is.

I want to extend the scope of the Bill to give a remission to a wider class than the Bill proposes to give. Surely I am entitled to do that? I make no disguise of that. I want to get a remission for classes of persons to whom that remission is denied. The Minister is simply trying to prevent me from speaking here tonight because he wants to do something else. I intend to exercise my full Constitutional prerogative of agitating for any reform I think desirable whether the Minister desires it or not.

There is no Constitutional right to advocate any reform outside the rules of order and procedure.

No. Eight Points of order have been raised by the Minister, every single one of which you have ruled out.

Again on a point of order——

If the care of order were left to the Chair progress would be much better.

Is it the case that the Minister has the right to usurp your position here?

Is it in order, Sir, for a Deputy to remain standing when the Ceann Comhairle is on his feet? I hope that rule will be enforced in regard to Deputy Dillon. He seems to forget the courtesy due to the Chair.

He did not have to come in here to learn manners.

The failure to provide a remission of rates for the class of persons to whom I have referred will result in this, that those who exercise no self-denial——

The Deputy is again repeating himself.

I am picking up the thread of my discourse—will be in a better position than those who have. I would hope that any legislation relating to the remission of rates enacted by this House would have the effect of helping those who wish to improve their holdings to do so. I apprehend that the very restricted concession by way of remission of rates envisaged by this Bill, and the Acts which it amends, is not calculated to achieve that end at all. I think the Minister might well have told us when he was introducing this Bill what purpose he has in mind. Surely we do not remit rates just for fun? Surely, when we undertake to remit rates, we do it for some purpose, not just for the purpose of gratifying an individual citizen? I always understood that the whole purpose of the rates remission code was to ensure that those who sought to better themselves and the community at large would not be unduly penalised but that, by a remission of rates, they would be in some measure compensated for their superior industry and skill. As I have seen this code operate, it appears to me that the very reverse purpose——

The Deputy is not dealing with the whole rating code, he assured me a moment ago.

This Bill proposes in Section 1 that sub-section (1) of Section 1 of the Local Government (Remission of Rates) Act, 1940, (No. 8 of 1940) as amended by the Local Government (Remission of Rates) Act, 1943 (No. 6 of 1943) be hereby amended. I look to the Minister to tell us why he desires to extend the operation of these Acts unless he hopes to promote the very purpose I have referred to. Surely, Sir, it is not irrelevant, if this House is asked to extend the operation of the two principal Acts as we are asked to-night, to inquire of the Minister, what have these Acts achieved in the periods in which they have been in operation? How are we to know whether it is desirable to extend them unless we know what effect they have had while they have been in operation? I am pressing the Minister to tell the House now whether in his judgment these Acts have resulted in an improvement of the people for whose benefit they were originally intended. It seems it is an impertinence to inquire into that. I do not see how any intelligent Deputy can bend his mind to the question as to whether the Bill should pass unless and until this question is answered. I feel that the benefits conferred by these Acts have been quite insufficient.

I want to take this occasion, when we propose to extend them for a further year, to improve them, to make it really worth while extending them, but the Minister recoils from that. I want to remind you, Sir, that this is the kind of Bill on which representations of the kind I have to make, must be made on the Second Stage, because if I put down an amendment for the Committee Stage I shall be ruled out of order on the ground that the amendment would impose an additional charge on the Exchequer. Unless we can prevail on the Minister himself to put down that amendment, once we pass the Second Stage, we are completely helpless, and I think it is reasonable for us to demand that the Minister will give us a review of how these Acts have worked and to ask that he will tell us what results he has to report as a result of the remissions that have been made in the past.

Is that not the third time the Deputy has asked that question?

I have not heard the Minister, either in his opening remarks or in his numerous interruptions, give us any indication of what his views on these topics are. It would have been a gracious thing if, in introducing the Bill, the Minister had so far unbent as to tell us what the Bill is about or what his experience——

The Deputy is now repeating it for the fourth time—in defiance of the Chair, and deliberately so.

I am quite astonished to hear you say that. I have, through a barrage of interruptions, endeavoured to maintain the thread of my discourse—interruptions so frequent that you have been obliged to comment upon them. I have made the case I have to make with great difficulty and with the boundless patience which characterises all my conduct in this House, and I look forward to hearing the Minister answer the several queries I have put to him, and to hearing him answer them satisfactorily.

I intervene in this discussion only because, apparently, the Minister has been incapable of presenting the Bill to the House and may be incapable of answering the points made by Deputy Dillon. I think Deputy Dillon has been completely misled by the utterly incompetent way in which the Minister has presented the Bill to the House. He came into the House and spoke on the Bill without, apparently, knowing what the Bill is about. If he had made any attempt to give an intelligible presentation of the Bill to the House, I do not think the fears and doubts that have been awakened in Deputy Dillon's mind would have arisen at all. I want to suggest, in case the Minister is incapable of explaining it through his lack of knowledge of the Bill, that the original Bill seems to provide remission for the type of person Deputy Dillon is concerned about and that we have been completely misled and dragged into this rather ragged discussion of this measure by the Minister's futility and want of civility.

Again, on a point of order, how much have we heard about the Bill from Deputy Mulcahy since he commenced to speak?

You are going to hear about it now.

I put it to you that he ought to come to the Bill.

Oh, now, keep quiet.

How could he? As has been explained, this is a measure amending in a simple way the Act of 1940, which has already been amended. The Local Government (Remission of Rates) Act, 1940, in Section 1 says——

Again, on a point of order, is the Deputy entitled to discuss the whole of the 1940 Act on a Bill to extend it?

I am telling the House what the Minister should have done and what the Bill is about.

Hear, hear! It is badly wanted.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle took the Chair.

When a Bill comes up for Second Reading, somebody ought to tell the House what the Bill is about, and if the Minister is incompetent, or if he is unwilling to do so, then those who take their business in this House with a certain sense of responsibility have to step into the breach and do the best they can. The Local Government (Remission of Rates) Act, 1940, provides for the remission of rates on certain new buildings and extensions of buildings, and says, at the end of sub-section (1) of Section 1, that

.... any building or part of a building constructed and designed for the residence of a separate family and including any servants' accommodation, motor-house, garden house or other outbuilding constructed and designed so as to be suitable for use with such building or part of a building

will be the kind of building in respect of which there can be remission of rates, if either built new or extended, excluding the types of buildings mentioned in sub-section (1) of that section, or in Section 2, sub-section (1) of the 1943 Act.

On a point of order, the Deputy is proceeding to read and discuss a measure which was enacted by this House five years ago. I submit that every Deputy who sits here is assumed to be competent, by reason of the knowledge of the statutes of the House which he has, to discuss a measure which merely proposes to extend for a short period the existing enactment, without having the whole of that enactment explained to him. That, Sir, I take it, is the position of most Deputies in the House. Apparently it is not the position which Deputy Mulcahy is in.

Am I to be allowed to proceed?

I am putting a point of order.

Put it again—we did not hear it. Put it simply this time.

Have I your attention, Sir?

would you request Deputy McGilligan to stop interrupting?

I am very humble and very apologetic.

Start it off again and get it right this time.

The Minister is raising a point of order and Deputies must keep silence until he has put the point of order.

He is raising it in a very confused way.

I am putting it to you, Sir, that whatever may be the position of the Leader of the Opposition in regard to measures which have been so recently enacted by the House as the Act of 1940 was, the majority of members of the House are well aware of what is in the Bill which it is proposed to extend.

Is that a point of order?

Therefore, I am putting to you, as a point of order, that Deputy Mulcahy, the Leader of the Opposition, is now engaged in wilful obstruction and should be dealt with by the Chair under the Standing Orders.

Can I have your ruling, Sir, on the point of order raised by the Minister?

This, I understand, is the Second Reading of a Bill dealing with certain specified matters having reference to other Acts. It is not usual to discuss these other Acts on a Second Reading, but the Deputy is not confined to what is in the Bill on Second Reading. He may refer to matters which he would like to see in the Bill.

I am putting it to you, Sir——

Surely, Sir, you will enforce that ruling?

I will hear Deputy Mulcahy. I have not heard him sufficiently to know whether he is out of order. If he is out of order, he will be ruled out of order.

If I were left alone, I could say what I have to say on the Bill in four minutes. I take it that we are taking part in the work of an Assembly here for which generations of our people have worked and slaved and lost their lives, so that we might have an opportunity of discussing national affairs in a reasonable way. I am trying to do it. What I read from the Act of 1940 was intended to show what a residence within the meaning of that Act is. I went on to say that from the things built to hold a separate family, including servants' accommodation, motor-house and garden-house and other outbuildings, there were excluded only those types of houses, classified in sub-section (1) of Section 1 of the 1940 Act and sub-section (1) of Section 2 of the 1943 Act, which had already received a subvention from the Government. I got up to allay to some extent the doubts and fears of Deputy Dillon, and to make up for an omission for which the Minister was culpably responsible, that is that he did not tell the House in an intelligent way what this measure was about, and therefore, he was unable to guide the House in the reasonable and simple discussion which was all that was necessary on this Bill.

Deputy Mulcahy has occupied the time of the House explaining, not, I think, so clearly as I did, the very narrow class of residences to which this Bill applies. He has endeavoured to mislead the House and the Chair by starting that I did not, in my opening remarks, sufficiently convey to Deputy Dillon how narrow the class of residences to which the Act which it is proposed to extend applies. Well, Sir, you will have available to you, when you leave the Chair, the official report of my statement, and I would ask you to satisfy yourself when you read it that I told the House then what I am going to tell the House again now, that the Local Government (Remission of Rates) Bill applied to houses which were not cottages erected under the Labourers Acts — would Deputy Mulcahy consult, without answering me, for his own satisfaction the Act of 1943 and ascertain whether he will see there under reference letter (a) a provision excluding from the terms of the 1940 Bill cottages erected under the Labourers Acts?—also houses erected under the Housing of the Working Classes Acts as amended by the Housing Act, 1943; excluding also houses in respect of which a grant was made under the Housing Acts, 1924 and 1925; excluding also houses erected under the Housing Acts, 1925 to 1931; houses in respect of which a grant was made under the Housing Acts, 1932 to 1942, and houses which were relieved of rates in accordance with the terms of the Gaeltacht Housing Acts, 1929 to 1939. Those are the categories of houses which, in introducing this Bill, I told this House as plainly as I am telling it now were excluded from the benefits of the Acts of 1940 and 1943, and excluded because they benefit under other statutes.

I am sure that most Deputies here, with one or two exceptions, were as well aware after I had made my opening statement as they are now of the fact that those broad categories of houses were not covered by the Act which we are now debating. But for some reason, certainly not due, I submit, to any lack of clarity or audibility on my part, but due to a dullness of apprehension on the part of Deputy Dillon, a dullness which was apparently shared by the Leader of the Opposition, since both these gentlemen appear to have been in a sort of mental miasma since this debate started.

Now you have got it.

I do not intend to occupy the time of the House any longer. There was, I understand from the morning papers, a rather important debate to take place in this House in the limited time which is available to us before, by arrangement among the Whips, the House will rise for the Summer Recess. As you remember, Sir, it was the original intention of the House to sit until next week, but at the request of a number of Deputies, of whom I think Deputy Dillon was one, who indicated that those members who had agricultural interests would be anxious to get away from Dublin as early as they possibly could to devote themselves to the work which requires their presence elsewhere, it was agreed that our Parliamentary programme for this session would be concluded to-night or to-morrow.

On a point of order what has this to do with this Bill?

The Minister is just explaining the course of business, en passant.

I am going to justify the few remarks I want to make as to why I do not think it proper at this stage to follow Deputy Dillon through—— Am I allowed to proceed?

Who is stopping you?

A mental miasma.

The fact that the Deputy seemed to be addressing a section of the House over there did interrupt me for a moment, but now that he has regained his customary good manners perhaps I will proceed.

The Minister is very gracious.

Certainly, I always am. I was saying that I do not intend to follow Deputy Dillon through the ramifications of his rather rambling discourse, because I know that the public have come here to this House, and Deputies are waiting here in this House, anxious to hear a much greater man than Deputy Dillon or I. But Deputy Dillon has seized his opportunity. He has had his one or two or ten, I was going to say brief, moments, but nobody could describe him as brief or lucid or illuminating to-day. He has been playing here the role of "Donald Duck", squawking senselessly through every debate, upon every possible aspect of every measure that came before the House to-day; drunk with the exuberance of his own verbosity, to use a rather hackneyed but in this case a well-applied phrase; frittering away the time that could be devoted much more properly to discussing——

The remission of rates.

——the affairs of this nation rather than listening to Deputy Dillon admiring his own eloquence. I am not going to say any more. I have explained the Bill to the House, and I ask the House to agree to the Second Reading.

I should like to ask the Minister a question.

I am not answering any questions.

I should like, with your permission, Sir, to ask the Minister will he say whether in fact the type of building to which Deputy Dillon referred will receive remission of rates under this Bill?

I do not propose to answer questions.

May I draw your attention to the fact——

The Minister says he will not answer questions and the Chair cannot force him to do so.

I wanted to raise a point of order.

Are not questions permissible for the purpose of the record?

I have concluded and I ask you to put the question.

Does not a Deputy's right to ask a question depend upon the custom of the House and your discretion rather than upon the whim of the Minister?

It is a matter of courtesy on the part of the Minister to answer questions when he has concluded.

And we must not expect that from this Minister? Is that the position?

The Minister has named every category of house excluded from this Bill, but he has never told us what class of house is included in the Bill.

I am putting a point of order, and perhaps I will be allowed to put it in the usual way. Deputy Dillon is now attempting, on the Second Stage of a Bill, to address the House a second time.

I am not.

And I am submitting to you that he is not entitled to do so.

The Minister has concluded, and I must put the question.

And no questions are to be allowed because the Minister says he will not answer them? Is that the position?

May not the Deputy put a question for the purpose of having it on the record?

He cannot.

Surely, I can put a question for the purpose of placing on record that the Minister refuses to answer my question?

The Deputy may put a question.

I will not be in the House while that is going on.

The Minister has told us of every class of houses which is excluded from the provisions of the Bill. Will he give us a summary of the classes of houses which are covered by the Bill, because that is what I want to know.

Question put and agreed to.

When is it proposed to take the next stage?


He has come back again.