Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 17 Jun 1948

Vol. 111 No. 9

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

Debate resumed on the motion:—
That the Estimate be referred back for reconsideration—(Deputy MacEntee).

Before the adjournment last night I suggested for the approval of the Minister and the consideration of the members of this House an alternative to the orthodox method of building. I made the suggestion because of the great emergency that lack of houses has caused in the country. It was to the effect that instead of building the orthodox two-storey house we would declare a national emergency and erect semidetached bungalows with a living room, scullery, kitchen, two bedrooms and a toilet, in addition to a fuel house and accommodation for a bicycle and a pram. Such houses would be small— covering an area possibly of about 850 square feet—but they would meet the great need for housing in the city and the country. As I explained to the House, I have submitted that idea to hundreds of people in the city who are in need of houses and I had their practically unanimous approval of it.

The great advantage that I see in this suggestion over and above the idea of prefabricated houses is that they would not be of an altogether temporary nature. They would be the foundation on which larger houses could be built. In the course of years, if the houses should become the property of the tenants—which should be the outlook of the occupier and the policy of the Government—they would have an opportunity of extending the accommodation by providing additional rooms. As I understand it, the roof could be removed without any great structural alterations and a two-storey house could be built. That would be a great advantage over the prefabricated houses which would first of all have to be imported and are bound, in the course of time, to be condemned. The emergency house can at any time be improved upon. If the Minister or any other Deputy in this House is interested in this idea I am prepared to develop the suggestion and discuss it with them. I have actually brought along the plans with me. I am very glad that this question of housing is being lifted over and above Party politics. It should be a great encouragement to the Minister to see all Parties so very interested in it. The people who want houses are getting interested also. They are organising themselves.

I am disappointed, however, at our daily papers. The Press of this country, so far, has been conspicuously silent in regard to declaring war on want and disease. It is not so much the lack of houses or the conditions under which poor people and some middle-class people are compelled to live that has brought us to a united front on this question, but the fact that, mainly because of bad housing accommodation, disease is spreading rapidly throughout the country. There is no day, I am afraid, that Deputies do not get letters of appeal from some of the people whom they represent asking for a bed in a sanatorium for somebody who was, in his mind or in her mind, only perhaps a week ago in good health. The Public Health Department is extending hospital accommodation but that is not going to be of very great advantage. As was stated in the House last night, what is the use of trying to cure our wounded—what is the use of giving people six weeks or six months in hospital and then sending them back into the slums and overcrowded dwellings where they may be a danger to themselves and to the people with whom they come into contact? It is regrettable that the Press does not take up this matter and, instead of printing large headlines about the war between the Jews and the Arabs, concentrate on the war on bad housing that I hope this House will declare.

One suggestion I have is that we should float a national loan. I have great confidence in our people and I believe it would be easily and fully subscribed, if the Minister decided to float it. He should declare housing a national emergency and set up a national housing board, with a central purchasing section. He should take priority over all material and see that it is properly distributed where it is most urgently needed.

I want to draw the attention of the Minister and of the House to the fact that money that has been lent by this House to private individuals to help them to build their own homes has, in a number of cases that have come to my notice, been diverted into other channels for which it was not intended. One crying scandal which has been mentioned here over a number of years is that of ground rents. Seemingly, the ground landlords are not satisfied with the exorbitant ground rents they are able to force the house owners to pay. Now, if an individual is lucky enough to have some capital or financial backing of his own and decides to build a house of his own, I understand the maximum grant from the Government is £275. I have here before me particulars of cases in the suburbs of this city, where you apply for a plot of ground to build a house. You get the plot all right, but first there is a fine of £135, plus architect's fees. The ground landlord decides what sort of house you are to build and the architect's fee is £100 and the legal fees £30. You get a grant of £275 but all you have left is £10 to start building. I am sure the Minister has had complaints to that effect before. Matters like that support my proposition that housing should become a question of national emergency and control by the Government.

In Dublin, especially in the case of families where there is not at least four children, it is seemingly impossible for people to secure a house, and even then there are many rules and regulations to be complied with. I do not see any great hope of the Minister or the Government influencing the corporation or the local authorities to break those regulations, since they can say that, after all, big families must be catered for first. That is a reasonable answer. The Corporation of Dublin are not capable of building houses quickly enough to cater for the people and consequently some emergency method will have to be found.

I have here quite a number of quotations from letters I have received and, with your permission, I will read one or two of them in support of my claim that something should be done immediately to provide houses for the people. I have here before me a letter I received from a man living in Dublin. He and his wife and nine children are living in one room, 18 feet by nine feet, and they have no gas cooker, only an open fire which smokes badly. One of the children is already under observation for tuberculosis. The father has spent 24 years in the National Army. I give him Abraham Lincoln's recommendation to an old soldier: "This man served his country and served it well," and at the end of 24 years he comes to the capital city and himself and his family have to live in one room. He applied to the corporation for a house and, although he has a large family, he was not born in Dublin and consequently he cannot be put on the list. He is 13 months in Dublin and he is informed that if he stops here for another 11 months his name will be placed on the list for a house. I do not know how long he will have to live, or how far tuberculosis will spread in that family, or whether anyone will be left, by the time the local authority is in a position to provide accommodation for him.

I have another letter here from which I would like to quote, as it is possibly even more tragic still. It comes from a rather respectable address in Dublin and I did not know there was such a case there at all. This man says:—

"I am living in a filthy room ten feet by six feet, and it is infested with cockroaches, and in damp weather we are infested with slugs and maggots. They come in through the walls, which are full of holes, damp, rotten and crumbling and liable to fall in at any time. The roof is dead rotten and ready to cave in on top of us. When it rains we cannot go to bed, because the water pours down on top of us, and lack of space prevents us moving to a dry corner. There is no door except a wooden box lid which I had erected to attempt to keep out the draught. The window is also in a bad state and there is no light, gas fire or fire grate, so we have no way of cooking. We have not even room to sit down to eat a meal.

"I was informed by the corporation that my application could not be considered, due to more deserving cases. I would like to be shown a more deserving case than mine. In conclusion, I would like to state that my wife is in a very delicate state of health and my only surviving child is rapidly failing. I may add that the strain is commencing to tell its tale. In a short time Dr. Browne will have three more bodies to worry over. When it goes that far, who will compensate me? I will not be able to stick this much longer, as I am already mentally affected from worrying over my family. If anything should happen to them, I am sorry to say I will have to hang in Mountjoy."

That letter was sent to the corporation. I had a reply from the corporation stating that they had informed this unfortunate man that they had more deserving cases. I have not any doubt of the accuracy of the statement that the corporation have more deserving cases, but if there are more deserving cases than that in this city then I think the Minister will have to take notice, and this House will have to take notice, and the gentlemen of the Press should not wait until this disease spreads before they open up a campaign for a national housing scheme.

From the tone of the statements made here yesterday, we can assure the Minister, to use Deputy de Valera's words, that if he comes down to earth and stands on his own feet and decides on a definite policy to tackle this emergency, he will have the support and co-operation of everyone in the House and of everyone in the country.

The Minister in his opening statement seemed to be optimistic about the progress of housing from now onwards and seemed to think that the recent scarcity and the low output as a result of that scarcity were at an end. I hope the Minister is correct in that because according to my information the output of houses in Dublin in the last few months has been actually lower than it was during the emergency. I am speaking now of corporation houses. As far as my knowledge goes there has been no improvement in the situation up to the moment. Undoubtedly it is a very serious problem for all of us here. I do not wish to take up any Party attitude on this matter. Lack of housing is a canker in our midst. The position in Dublin just now is appalling. I am not thinking so much of the 26,000 families that the Minister has mentioned as occupying insanitary dwellings. I am speaking of the better class people from whom very little is heard in the way of complaint. They do not live in the slum areas. They live in the more respectable areas around the city. To my mind, in most cases they are in a worse position and live under worse conditions than do the actual slum dwellers. I am thinking of houses in my own area, small houses that were built perhaps 30 years ago. The rooms in them are small and in some cases, occupying one of those rooms, you have a man and his wife and four or five children. The room is perhaps ten feet square whereas in the tenements you have a larger-sized room in most cases with a better height.

Unfortunately during the emergency it was impossible to make any great advance in housing. Not much advance is being made at the present time even though the situation should have eased. If something is not done quickly for the people whom I mention we will have a new slum problem on our hands. These people are not eligible for corporation houses because they do not live in tenements. In particular cases I tried to do something but I was told by the corporation that nothing could be done. There are two specific cases to which I should like to refer. In those two cases the least number of children is four. One family occupies a room ten feet by ten feet and the other family occupies a room ten feet by ten feet six.

I wonder has the Minister really got grounds for his optimism. I wonder is he right when he thinks that we are going to make progress. To my mind at the present time the difficulty is not so much one of materials as of labour. I understand plumbing items are in short supply still. I understand, too, that output per man has fallen considerably. Deputy Briscoe some few weeks ago in the Budget debate gave us particulars which had been supplied to him as a member of the corporation. According to his information wages had gone up by 65 per cent. While output had gone down by 35 per cent. In addition to output having gone down there is a scarcity of tradesmen. As a member of the Labour Party—a Party which holds very strong views on this question—the Minister is in a better position surely than any Minister who has ever occupied the office of Local Government. Surely, he ought to be able to do something to deal with this problem. Surely, he ought to be able to take some steps to overcome those difficulties which are preventing progress at the moment, that is the scarcity of men and the reluctance of the trade unions to alter their apprenticeship regulations in an effort to provide for additional men. With the number of houses that are required there should be work for such tradesmen for the next 15 or 20 years.

I sincerely hope not.

I suggest to the Minister that he should use his influence both as Minister and as a member of the Labour Party to rectify the present unsatisfactory position. Nobody wants to take any very drastic action but, if something is not done, the people who are suffering at the moment will make themselves felt in no uncertain fashion. The position at the moment is chronic. I do not know anything about the rural areas but from what I have heard the country Deputies say on this debate seemingly the position is as bad in the country as it is in Dublin. Listening to Deputy O'Higgins, who represents Laoighis-Offaly, last night, one would think that nothing had been done prior to the last war. In the period 1932 to 1939 something in the region of 120,000 houses were built. That makes some impression. It is about a fifth of the total number of houses in this State built since 1922. Deputy O'Higgins supports a Party who in the ten years prior to 1932 built 29,000 houses. Last night he referred to the 729 houses built last year. He did not advert to the fact at all that there was a grave scarcity of material last year. He did not advert to the fact that the weather conditions in the early part of last year were such that building was held up for months. This year there is not the same scarcity of materials, not were the weather conditions adverse. Yet the position is worse.

I trust that those Parties who made housing an important feature of their election campaign and who agitated for a "live" housing programme and who were not at all satisfied with what had been done by the Fianna Fáil Government will assert themselves now. If they even make an effort to equal what was done by the Fianna Fáil Administration the position will be vastly improved. There is no doubt, as Deputy Fitzpatrick stated last night, that in Dublin at the moment in a large number of cases husbands and wives and children are separated owing to the housing shortage. For a Catholic country the outlook is pretty desperate. I, who hitherto did not like the idea of a prefabricated house or anything of that sort, am now being driven to the conclusion that something of that nature must be done, something that will solve the problem quickly, even though those houses may not be lasting. Undoubtedly, they have the advantage that they could be constructed quickly and cheaply. If the idea put forward by Deputy Fitzpatrick of a small house that later could be extended were adopted, it would be all the better. I plead for speed.

The Minister recently said he was cutting out red tape. I have not seen any evidence of it. So far as I am aware, up to a fortnight ago regulations under the Act passed last November had not been issued in Dublin. The corporation have nothing before them to enable them to go ahead with houses for newly-weds and other sections of the community. That does not look like any great cutting of red tape, and we have now reached the month of June. I hope the Minister will be successful in doing it and that we will be able to put on speed in dealing with the housing problem. Under the Act to which I have referred, there was provision made for newly-weds. I do not know if Deputy Fitzpatrick is aware of that. When he spoke last night he did not seem to be. The position is that the corporation have not yet received the regulations which will enable them to make preparations to provide houses.

Deputy Fitzpatrick mentioned about the corporation insisting on a certain number of children and they have to provide for the larger families first. He said that some people seem to be able to induce the councillors to get over those regulations. When it is a case of a slum clearance and the corporation get a two-thirds grant, I understand they are tied down by Departmental regulations as to the allocation of those houses. But they also have the right, and they have availed of it, to build other houses on which they get a one-third grant, and on which they have complete control as to allocation. That, possibly, may explain what Deputy Fitzpatrick had in mind. If there is anything otherwise in his allegation, I would remind him that Fianna Fáil cannot be accused, because the corporation since it was formed has been controlled by a Fine Gael-Labour combination.

Mr. A. Byrne

That is not so.

It is quite true.

Mr. A. Byrne

The chairman of the housing committee is a member of the Fianna Fáil Party.

Deputy Colley ought to know.

When Deputy O'Higgins was talking last night about the small number of houses built under the Fianna Fáil Government, I wondered had he ever been out to Crumlin or Cabra and had he any previous knowledge of what those areas were like. I understand that the Crumlin area alone provides for a population as great as that of the City of Limerick, yet the Deputy implied that very little was done.

I should like the Minister to provide something for the white collar worker. He is nobody's child, yet he is the backbone of the community. He is the man who pays income-tax; he is the man who pays most of the taxes that keep the country going. He got a raw deal during the past few years. He is not in a position to pay the deposit that is necessary now to buy a house and, even if he were, his salary will not permit him to pay the instalments necessary to clear off the balance, at present prices. I know several cases of young men of that class who were desirous of marrying during the past four or five years but who could not get a place in which to start off their married life. They cannot even get a flat at a rent which they can afford to pay. I should like the Minister to provide that class of person with some reasonable accommodation.

I hope the new council that the Minister has set up will be able to do something of value. I have grave doubts, because every one of those problems that have been put before them, judging by the Minister's statement after the establishment of the council, has already been considered by the Dublin Corporation. I think the Minister will get very little new. What we want is a remedy. The big trouble at the moment is labour. I hope sincerely the Minister will be able to do something. Nobody will be more pleased to give him credit for what he does than Deputies on these benches. He should be in a better position to do something than any previous Minister. I want to refer to the fact that the supplementary allowances are being transferred to the rates this year.

I do not think that comes within the province of the Minister for Local Government. It is not a matter for local government.

Mr. Murphy

If the Deputy has in mind supplementary allowances regarding food vouchers——

Half the amount is being found by the rates this year and the full amount next year.

Mr. Murphy

I have no responsibility for the administration of the service but I have no objection to the Deputy discussing it.

If it is not under the Department, the Deputy may not discuss it. It will arise in connection with the Department of Social Welfare.

We shall bring it up on the other Estimate. At any rate, I hope that the Minister is bending his mind to the apprenticeship question and the question of labour. I hope that he will exercise the influence which he undoubtedly possesses with a view to finding a remedy for it in the immediate future.

Mr. A. Byrne

I want to make a few comments on the remarks of the last speaker. I want to assure him, first of all, that so far as housing is concerned, there is no more united body in Ireland than the Dublin Corporation. Labour, Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Independents vie with one another to see who can do most in finding a solution for this problem. Without hesitation, I can say that there is no body in this country more anxious to do its best to provide houses for the people. The Deputy is the only member of the House who has introduced into this debate the names of the various Parties in a political way. Not one of the other members of his Party touched on politics in connection with this question. May I remind him that for many years the late Alderman Tom Kelly, a member of his Party, was Chairman of the Housing Committee of the corporation?

When Alderman Kelly died, the late Councillor James Larkin, a member of the Labour Party, became chairman of the committee. When Councillor Larkin died, after doing trojan work in making plans for future housing in the city, Councillor Phelan, of the Deputy's Party, and indeed a member of the Deputy's own local cumann, was made chairman of the committee. Never to my knowledge has a Fine Gael member been a chairman of the housing committee.

As I have often said before, there is no question so important for the country to-day as the housing of the people. I would go further than any other member of the House and suggest that the Minister should declare a national emergency so far as housing is concerned. I would ask the Government to appoint a new housing Ministry with no responsibility other than to look after the housing of the people, as the question has become so grave.

One of the difficulties with which we had to contend in the corporation for the last few years was the attractive wages offered in England to skilled men. When the cost of living became so high in this city, many of these skilled men cleared off to England, where they got decent jobs at better pay. They walked off our jobs and let the building of working-class houses wait until better days would arrive— until, as one of the Labour leaders said, the Government and the corporation would make the jobs on corporation housing schemes and on municipal housing schemes throughout the country more attractive. These men are not going to come back to take up temporary jobs on building schemes when they know that even though they may earn good wages for six months they will then have to remain three months unemployed.

The Minister has already said that he would break all the red tape he possibly could in dealing with this question. I understand that under some regulations of the corporation no overtime may be worked on corporation housing schemes and that workers on these schemes have no opportunity of earning extra money which will enable them to meet the increase in the cost of living. The Minister of Deputy Colley's Party could have broken away from that regulation during his term of office and kept the men at home but he did not do so. In consequence of that attitude, our skilled workers went away, and, as the Labour leaders have told the corporation, until the job is made attractive for them they are not coming back.

I appeal to the Minister that he should suggest to the corporation that as we have a waterworks staff, a cleansing staff and a clerical staff, all permanently employed for 52 weeks in the year on pensionable jobs, the day has come when the corporation will have to set up a permanent building staff and guarantee them 25 years' work without any break other than is necessary to give them holidays with pay. If you do that, you will get the men to return home and enter into employment on these housing schemes. As things stand, the workers have told the corporation that the job is not attractive. They are walking off our schemes and are going elsewhere leaving us without houses. We have the money; we have the sites and we recently received sanction from the present Minister for the appointment of additional architects to prepare further schemes.

There are three schemes for the erection of blocks of flats in Dublin which have been held up for a long time owing to the shortage of materials. One block of flats is to be erected in Newfoundland Street near the docks and we hope that a start will be made there soon. There are two further blocks in Whitefriar Street which we also hope to see started in the near future, but how are we going to get the men to carry out those schemes? In my opinion united action will have to be taken and the rules preventing the working of overtime will have to be abrogated. I am satisfied that men who want to do the best for their families, if they are permitted to work overtime on reasonable terms, will come back and work for us in preference to working across the water. The Minister had not gone five minutes in his opening statement when he said that the most urgent housing needs are those for which the local authorities are responsible but contractors to local authorities are apparently tied to a tender form under which they cannot pay overtime. On these fine evenings men engaged on these schemes have to cease work at 5.30 although there is daylight until 10 o'clock. During these hours from 5.30 to 10.30, men could work overtime if the rule which prevents their doing so was abrogated.

The Dublin Corporation have asked for tenders for several schemes of houses and blocks of flats, but the contractors are not tendering for them. When asked why, they say that better rates are offered across the water and a man can leave a job here on Friday evening and start working in London on the following Monday morning at £2 a week more than he gets here. It is very hard to blame the men who go away in these circumstances, but I blame them, and I think they are wrong in doing so. They should be encouraged to stay at home by the payment of decent rates of wages on schemes of houses for their own people.

The rates of wages are higher here than in London.

Mr. Byrne

The men are allowed to work double time after 5 o'clock in England and they are not allowed to do so here.

That is not so.

Mr. Byrne

That is the answer given to the employers and the corporation officials. The men say: "Your job is not attractive enough; we are going where there are better wages." They have gone, but we can bring them back.

The wages here are higher than they are on the other side.

And conditions are better.

Mr. Byrne

For so many hours—no overtime. If a man who is offered £5 a week on a corporation housing scheme and is not allowed to work after 5.30 p.m. can go to England and earn £7, £8 and £10 a week, who will blame him? The men also complain that the employers are not ready with a second scheme when work finishes on the first scheme which means so many months' loss of employment. I suggest that the time has come when we will have to make the job more attractive and encourage these men by every means in our power to build houses and blocks of flats for their own people. I have made one suggestion in this regard. I cannot see why the corporation should not have a building staff of a couple of hundred men working for the next 25 years at decent pay for the 52 weeks in the year, less the holiday period, and working in jobs which are pensionable as is the case with every other worker in the corporation. Carpenters in the corporation are guaranteed full wages for 52 weeks in the year and are guaranteed a pension. The Dublin Corporation wants at least 30,000 houses built, and, when they have been built, the other part of tenement Dublin will have fallen in and 30,000 more houses will be needed. Sean MacDermott Street, Gardiner Street, Bride Street, Longford Street, Blackpitts, York Street, Temple Street, Grenville Street—all these are coming down within the next ten years. If they are not pulled down, they will fall down. Is there not a guarantee for the workers there? I suggest to the Government the appointment of an extra Minister to be charged with looking after housing and its financing, the acquisition of sites and the securing of workers.

With regard to the acquisition of sites, Dublin City is growing so big that the municipality is extending its boundaries. We in the corporation are rather alarmed about the growth of the city on the Dollymount side, from Howth to Dollymount and into the city, because it is feared that the sewerage system will not be capable of coping with the houses to be built and those already built. The Minister may be asked by eminent engineers very shortly to sanction a loan of at least £1,000,000 for a new drainage scheme for the city on the north side in order to deal with these houses. We had hoped that we would be able to build 5,000 houses at St. Anne's, Clontarf. I have reason to think—it is not official—that, instead of 5,000 houses, the existing drainage system will be capable of dealing with only another 1,000 houses. That is the next big job the Minister will have to look after, and I suggest that he should make inquiries with a view to ascertaining if what I say is correct, so that his engineers and the corporation engineers will not have to wait until the houses are started to do the sewerage work along the new roads. He should make inquiries now to find out if the existing sewerage system will be able to cope with the number of houses he is anxious to see built.

Is that not a problem for the corporation?

Mr. Byrne

The Minister is eager to get houses built and it is well that the engineers of both his Department and the Board of Works, which is also involved, should consult immediately to find out if there is any reason to think that the position may become urgent.

Which does not answer my question.

Mr. Byrne

There have been references to prefabrication. A deputation of workers came to the Dublin Corporation and said they would not have prefabrication. "We, the skilled workers engaged on this building work," they said, "will not have prefabrication as we know it at present." The leader of the deputation told the housing committee and the employers present that they would not have prefabrication in Dublin so long as the parts for prefabricated houses were coming from the Continent, made by cheap labour, female labour and prison labour. I made inquiries quite recently while being shown over another housing scheme and I was told there that they never heard of prefabricated parts coming from the Continent or any other countries made by cheap, female and prison labour. That statement, however, is in print:—

"We will not allow our workers to handle prefabricated parts which we know to be made by cheap, female and prison labour."

It was stated, however, to their credit, that if prefabricated parts of the newer types were made in Ireland under decent trade union conditions, the Labour representatives would consider the matter of prefabrication. I join with other members in saying that it is a pity that we cannot go any further than to say "something will have to be done to speed up housing in this city".

Acquisition has taken place of houses in Summerhill, where there were six families, and 250 families turned up at the City Hall a fortnight ago to find out where they were going and what the corporation was going to do. The corporation has taken six or seven families out of each house and only four are going back. In each house there are four separate self-contained flats with hot water, baths and toilet accommodation on each landing. Thank God for that, because I have a letter in my pocket which I got a few minutes ago telling me of a toilet in the backyard of a tenement house for 40 people with broken down doors. I have done everything possible to draw attention to these conditions, in this House, in the newspapers, and in the corporation.

I would ask the Minister to consider the suggestion that a new housing Ministry with full powers be appointed immediately to deal with the new houses required, to deal with the position in Dublin at the present moment, where cottages, houses and flats are wanted.

Although it was a bit unpopular, I have for some time advocated flats all round the City of Dublin. I think that all the areas with derelict sites should be cleared immediately and blocks of flats erected near the people's work. Some people who are on small wages, small pensions or, in some cases, on relief are asked to go out of a 4/- room in a tenement to a 12/- cottage, with probably 4/- or 5/- a week transport charges if they have to come into the city. There is something wrong somewhere.

There was a complaint recently that there were no shops near one of our big housing schemes and that there was lack of schooling facilities in the area. Children from a tenement, from a city area, who are moved out to a county area have to pay transport charges to come back to the city to their schools because there are not sufficient schools near the new housing schemes. It is a matter for the Minister for Education to make inquiries and to see that new schools are built, as otherwise the children will be left to run round the little gardens in the new housing schemes and will not be looked after from an educational point of view. I would earnestly ask the Minister to make inquiries into this.

That reminds me of something which happened recently at a corporation meeting. Shop sites for small groceries and dairies are included, in a manner, in the schemes. In the City of Dublin shops catering for working-class people are competing with one another and people go to the shops where they can get the best basketful for their 10/- or whatever it is. We have been asked in the corporation to advertise our shop sites for rent. I used, with my colleagues, words which we should not use. "We are a great lot of racketeers," I said, "to ask rents for these sites on housing schemes where shops have to be built to supply goods to people coming from the city out of a 5/- or 6/- flat to a 12/- house.

Will the Deputy state whether the corporation or the Minister is responsible?

Mr. Byrne

The Minister. I should have mentioned it beforehand. When the corporation were told that rents would have to be asked for these shops they decided on £20 a year, which, to my mind, was a rack rent. This proposal went to the Government, the Minister's predecessor, the previous Minister for Local Government, and the Minister sent back the proposal saying, "No, you must advertise." Of the people who wanted to start groceries and so on, some offered £25, others offered £40, others £60, while a multiple firm offered £100. The Minister sent back and said that £100 must be the standard. Can anyone imagine it, a £100 a year ground rent for a shop 20 by 20 or 30 by 35 in a housing scheme? The unfortunate shopkeeper had to make that £100 ground rent, before he could get 1/- for income-tax or gas bills or anything else, out of the pocket of workers who had been removed from condemned areas in the city. He would have to charge, or try to charge, a penny or two dearer for everything he sold. I would ask the Minister to see that what he would consider a reasonable rent should be charged for these various shops and not to allow multiple firms who make big profits in other areas to fix his rent for the small grocer or stationer or hairdresser. It is grossly unfair. It is not fair to people to have to pay extra for their goods in order to allow that shopkeeper who is building a shop to pay a £100 a year ground rent. You would think it was a Grafton Street shop.

That is the system we are operating under at the moment.

Mr. Byrne

And I am asking this Minister to change it. I say it is robbery. That is the word. I can use no other word. Somebody is asked to pay that high rent and the people who pay it have to put it on to the consumer. The consumer is a working-class individual with a large family and it is not right.

I have asked the Minister seriously to consider the question of a permanent building staff for new schemes. Major de Valera yesterday referred— and very properly—to the high rents in the City of Dublin. If anything could be done to take them down I would give all the help which is in my power. Two years ago when the hospital sweeps were doing very well—and I understand that there was £10,000,000 awaiting investment for the sweeps— Dr. Ward, the then Parliamentary Secretary to the Department of Local Government, made a demand on Dublin Corporation that 2/- in the £ be put on the rates for the upkeep of hospital patients. I think it is £2 12s. 6d. a week which the ratepayers of Dublin pay for those who receive free treatment. We all know that there is no free treatment and that somebody has got to pay for it, but Dr. Ward got the idea that it was an easy mark to demand 2/- from the corporation. Without our having any power to say no or to vote on it, Dr. Ward demanded it. A deputation went to see him in the Custom House, representing all Parties, and after some time debating the matter with him, Dr. Ward eventually agreed if Dublin Corporation would put 1/- on the rates towards the upkeep of the hospitals. Why should the ratepayers have to pay that extra 1/- in the £ for their own hospitals? The Minister may tell me that it is for their own people. There is a lot to be said for it, but if the hospitals' sweepstakes funds are there why is not some of the £10,000,000 used for that purpose instead of putting it on to the ratepayers? I want to know why did the last Government do that and I want to make a protest to the present Government. Why do they try to put this responsibility on the local ratepayers? It is not fair or proper. There is no use in crushing the ratepayers any further. If the rates are increased any further, employment will become scarce. People will not be able to pay the high rates. I suggest to the Minister that he or his Parliamentary Secretary should look into the matter when they get time and see what charge has been placed on the local ratepayers which should be borne by the national Exchequer.

I should also like to draw the Minister's attention to the point that Deputy Fitzpatrick was so keen upon. As it was the Deputy's maiden speech, I should like to join with his colleague in extending congratulations to him for the way in which he put the case for the housing of the people in the City of Dublin whom he knows so well and who are in need of houses. He spoke about those with families of six and eight children. I wonder did he ever come across a case of a family of ten, 11 or 12 in one room in the city. He mentioned the matter of newly-weds. There is a phrase about the chance of a snowball in hell. Perhaps the word "hell" is not Parliamentary, but so far as I see at present there is no chance of newly-weds getting on the corporation housing list within the next two or three years. I appeal to the Minister and his Department to devise some means by which that problem can be solved.

There are also couples who have been married three or four years, who now have one or two children, and who were on the waiting list as newly-weds. In another few years, when their applications come before the corporation, they will not be included in the newly-weds and, if they have not four children, the corporation may not be able to deal with them. The new Ministry should be able to put forward some ideas as to the housing accommodation for newly-weds. The late Deputy Larkin suggested at the corporation housing committee that 10 per cent. of the new houses should go to newly-weds or 100 out of every 1,000. That means that newly-weds have no chance. I have also particulars of other cases such as Deputy Fitzpatrick referred to. I have letters from mothers saying: "I will be grateful if you will do something for my daughter who is staying with me and sleeping on a mattress on the floor in our room."

The Deputy has them off by heart.

Mr. Byrne

When I go home this evening I will pick out a few of them and send them to you and I know I will get your support.

Will the Deputy address the Chair?

Mr. Byrne

I have them off by heart. If the Deputy wants to see a few, I will hand them over. I have cases that would appal him. When this discussion is over, I believe that you will visit some of the places that I am talking about.

If the "you" refers to me, I shall have no time to-day.

Mr. Byrne

Perhaps I will shock some people when I say that there are cases of newly-weds living with two families in one room. A mother has taken in her married daughter and her husband or a married son and his wife into a small little room about 12 by 14 feet which is divided by a curtain. There are dozens and dozens of cases in Dublin of two families living in one room. I am going into this because of the encouraging speech made by the Minister when he said that he would do away with all red tape. In case there is any doubt about what I am saying, if he wants a dozen cases of two families in one room I shall send them to him or, if he wants more, I shall send them to him. That is the plight of the unfortunate mothers in this city. A married daughter has brought her husband or a married son has brought his wife to live in an already overcrowded room belonging to a family which was on the corporation waiting list.

It is hard to get away from the housing question. Every half hour, Dublin Deputies here are receiving visits from women with children in their arms to tell them of these facts. As I do not seem to have impressed one or two Deputies I want to go ahead with it. There are cases in this city of girls getting married and, after one week's experience of married life, going home to their mothers while the husbands have to go home to their parents. That is married life in the City of Dublin as some people know it. It must be brought to an end. It is unnatural and inhuman and should not be allowed to continue. There are hundreds of boys and girls in this city who, after one week's experience of married life, have to go back to their own families. I am impressing that on the Minister so that he will bring it to an end.

I should also like to ask the Minister if he could speed up the provision of public baths and swimming pools in the city. His predecessor promised that some grant would be given for that purpose as public baths and swimming pools are urgently needed. As to town planning, I am not altogether happy about what is going on in Dublin in connection with it. Although the town planning committee is a statutory body, I am not a member of it but I have a right to go there. This week I was at a meeting of the committee at which some tenement dwellers were putting forward a grievance which they had that a small factory was being erected in a tenement yard up against their windows. I asked my colleagues to visit the site. I was not on the committee and, therefore, could not move a resolution. For some reason, my colleagues refused to visit the site and reaffirmed their consent and said that if any person had any grievance he could go to the Minister. I hope the objections come to the Minister and that he will not accept reports in writing but will send out somebody to see is it right that these small factories or buildings should be erected in the yards of tenement houses, constituting a danger to the surrounding districts in the event of fire.

I had also a case before the town planning committee from Clonturk Park, Drumcondra, a very lovely housing district. Somebody got permission to build a cottage. The tenants are up in arms because they understand there is to be a sawmill creating noise in the very heart of a good-class residential district. Most of these people own their houses. They are small two-storey houses of a very good type and the people in them are decent people. They feel now that they are nobody's children. This noisy machinery will be up against their doors all day long. I am assured by the people that they will send their protests in writing to the Minister and, when he receives them, I earnestly hope, without any injustice to the other people concerned, he will give it consideration and ensure that there will be no danger of noisy machinery, smelly substances or smoky matters becoming a nuisance in new, good-class, residential districts.

I have heard a good deal about transport and the provision of new roads. Many roads in the City of Dublin are in very bad order. There is one bad road at Ranelagh. For some reason or other, I think, the Local Government Department and the Board of Works, or somebody else, have differed. The road is a positive danger. I would ask that dangerous roads be put in good order and that tram tracks would be removed without delay. I would ask the Minister to use his influence in speeding up the building of new bridges to take the traffic from both sides of the city, from the North Wall, and up town. I understand the Department of Local Government has something to do with that matter and I hope the Minister will make it easy for the committee to expedite the improvement in traffic regulations that will be made possible by the building of these bridges.

Finally I would ask the Minister if he has had recently in his Department any requests from local authorities or from the Dublin Board of Assistance for the sanction of increases in wages to those of their employees who are on small wages. I understand that in the board of assistance there are men working 60 hours a week who have less than £4 a week. If that matter comes before the Minister I hope he will speed it up. These men have done valuable work for the poor people, for hospital patients and inmates generally and they have not had an increase in their wages to meet the increased cost of living for the past couple of years. I do not know why there is a delay in that matter. I am not saying that the matter is before the Minister. If I knew it was before the Minister, I would be a little bit stronger and I would ask him to speed it up. If it should come before him, I would ask him to give a speedy reply because the workers of the Dublin Board of Assistance and the lowly paid workers in the municipalities are suffering grave hardship. There are young men with ten to 12 years' service in the Dublin Corporation who would like to get married. They are examination men. They have not sufficient wages to get married. I would ask the Minister to brook no delays in giving sanction to any recommendation that might come either from the board of assistance, the county council or the Dublin Corporation in regard to these matters.

As the Labour Court recently issued an award of 11/- to meet the increased cost of living, and as the Government are giving it to some Departments, I thought the Government, and especially this Minister, would have extended the provision to every Department. That 11/- was given to a certain number to meet the increased cost of living. Have not the others to meet the same increase in the cost of living? Take the Army. Take the Garda. Take warders. All these people are keenly disappointed because the increase of 11/- did not apply generally. I asked a question about it yesterday and I was rather surprised at the answer I got, that it was not decided to what other sections it would apply. I suggest that the Garda are entitled to that 11/-. I suggest that the Army are entitled to it.

The Minister for Local Government does not control it.

Mr. Byrne

I press my point and say that in respect of those who are under his control, in connection with employees with whom county managers have to deal and to get Ministerial sanction, the Minister should see that sanction will be given without delay, and thereby avoid discontent amongst these staffs. There is nothing more sad than to come across an individual in an apparently safe job who, because he is in a safe job, will not get the increase that others get. I hope the Minister will see to it that all those with whom he has to deal will get the increase.

I think it can be said of the debate on this Estimate, particularly in regard to housing, what was stated on the debate on the Estimate for Forestry, that all sections in the House, all Deputies, are agreed that there is a crying need. There is a crying need for the production of a certain number of houses throughout the country and particularly in the City of Dublin and other cities. A great deal has been said on that subject by Deputies on both sides. Suggestions have been put forward as to what steps the Minister should take to increase the production of housing. One suggestion which, I think, was made by more than one Deputy was that a standard type of house should be adopted. A standard type of house for the average worker in rural areas, and I think the same applies to the worker in urban areas, has been adopted and has been in operation for quite a number of years.

It may be that those Deputies who have suggested that a standard type for houses would be adopted desire a change in the design of the houses that have been built in the rural areas. In fact, the Minister, in his statement, mentioned that £4,000 was being offered for a competition for designs of a new type of house. That may be all right, but the position is that we want houses and want them in the rural areas. If we can get there as good a type of house as that which was provided by the last Government, then I think we will be doing something to meet the present housing situation. I speak on this subject with practical knowledge and experience of building.

I want to put it to the Minister that any change from the standard type of house which has been built in the rural areas, in the way of providing architectural adornment, will so increase the cost of houses that it would be far better if this £4,000 had been diverted to some other source. The increased cost, of course, may appear small to the individual who does not know what the actual cost, according to the new design, may be. That is the view that I hold. I do not want to be taken as objecting to any change in architectural design or that the houses built in the future should be more pleasing to the eye than the standard type of house built over a number of years, but in my opinion the change is not necessary. The present type of house is going to cost enough to build, and it can be erected in a manner that will be pleasing to the eye and that will add to the scenic beauty of the area. We all know that the adornment of a house depends largely on the taste of the occupant. If the occupant has taste, then not only he or she, as the case may be, but the public authority that provided the house can be proud of it. I would like to pay a tribute to the occupants of the houses that have been built throughout the country during the last 15 or 16 years. They certainly have shown great appreciation of what has been done for them by the manner in which they keep their houses.

The Minister, in the course of his statement, made a comparison between the cost of building a house in the City of Dublin and in the areas adjoining it, and the cost of a bungalow in the County Wexford. Deputy Cogan on estimates that, I assume, were prepared by contractors, compared the cost of building in one county as against another, and said that the difference in building costs as between two counties was 100 per cent. I wonder was it the same type of house that the Deputy had in mind. I do not know, but obviously if it was, then somebody was trying to get rich quick. I assume that the houses he had in mind were for agricultural workers. As one with practical experience, I would say that the individual who proposed to build a house for £500 was not out to get rich quick. The point is, what should be the average cost of building a house in a rural area at the moment. I confess that, while I might be prepared to give an estimate for the building of houses within the area in which I live myself, I certainly would not care to tie myself to a figure for the building of a house outside that area. At least if I did give an estimate for that area I am afraid I would have to make it a good one. Perhaps I should explain what exactly I mean. In my own area where we have building operatives, I know what I can get out of them. With that knowledge, if I know my job, I can give an estimate, having taken off the quantities, but when I go outside my own area the proposition is quite a different one. I am afraid that I could make practically the same statement as that which was made last week before the Labour Court when evidence was being taken in connection with the present dispute between the building operatives and the Master Builders' Association. The statement was made there that output to-day was considerably below that of 1939 on the same unit of work and for the same number of hours worked per week. It will be very difficult to stand the cost of the construction of an agricultural labourer's cottage at the present time because of the difference in output per man amongst the different operatives in the different areas concerned. Reference has been made by certain Deputies on the Government Benches to the number of what have come to be called luxury buildings which have been erected during the past four or five years when materials necessary for housing construction were in very short supply. I remember, and I am sure most Deputies do also, that about two years ago a paper was issued in the form of a census pointing out the number of licences which would be issued during that particular year for the building and reconstruction of houses, industrial buildings and so forth. I think the number was about 7,000 but I am open to correction on that as I cannot recall the figure at the moment. Whatever the amount of buildings that could be erected and for which permits could be issued for that particular year, a very large percentage of that allocation went towards the provision of houses for the workers throughout the country. However, that large percentage of work which the Minister had visualised would be carried out that year in the interests of the working man throughout the country did not materialise and naturally the permits went to the other small percentage for the provision of cinemas, the building of industrial concerns and so forth. The charge was levelled that, because those particular building works were carried out in those years, the then Government or the then Minister for Local Government, Deputy MacEntee, had let down the average worker throughout the country in the matter of the provision of houses. What had happened was that the local authorities throughout the country had fallen down on their job and were not in a position to take advantage of the offer made by the Minister with regard to the provision of licences or permits to carry out the building works that were needed in their respective counties. If a certain amount of material that may have been in short supply was used in the erection of cinemas and other buildings which are termed luxury buildings, in view of the fact that the local authorities had fallen down on their job the then Minister for Local Government was perfectly justified in issuing the necessary permits for the carrying out of that work. I think it was his moral and national duty to do so in order to ensure that the workers would at least receive employment. If they had been depending on the local authorities to provide them with the necessary work during that particular period I think they would have been hungry. I am not making a point against the local authorities—I am a member of a local authority myself— but for some reason or other they fell down on their job and they were not in a position to avail of the facilities offered. There is no point in charging the Minister for Local Government or the Minister for Industry and Commerce under the Fianna Fáil Government, with giving permits for the use of goods in short supply to provide luxury houses while the building of working-class houses was left, so to speak, in abeyance during that particular year. I claim that, in the first instance, it was due to the fact that the local authorities fell down on their job.

Why did they fall down on the job if it was advantageous to the workers?

Mr. Brennan

The local authority is responsible for the building of houses for the working classes. The local authority must carry the baby if things do not work out according to plan. I presume that there was a hold up even in the Department of Local Government.

The local authorities fell down on the job because the Department of Local Government fell down on it.

Mr. Brennan

I did not say that the Department of Local Government fell down on the job. I said that I presume there was a hold up in the Department of Local Government. There has been talk from all sides of the House in regard to red tape.

Well, well.

Mr. Brennan

Certain regulations must, I presume, be complied with in regard to a scheme for the erection of houses in an urban borough or in a rural area and it takes a certain amount of time to enable these regulations to be complied with. Because of that, reference is made to red tape. I hope I have a broad outlook on the matter. I hope I visualise in its proper perspective the fact that it takes time to perfect matters in the initiation of a scheme. However, I should like the Minister to use every ounce of effort he can in order to reduce that particular period.

I have in mind that it is over two years since I attended a conference with regard to sites for cottages in my own county. The scheme itself was initiated even 12 or 18 months before that yet I can assure the House that, as far as I know, not one sod has so far been dug in connection with that scheme. All those things have a certain process to go through. The people in the Department are going to be sure that everything is right, that every "t" is crossed and every "i" dotted. Again might I appeal to the Minister to use a little extra elbow grease in order to ensure that the period that it takes from the time a scheme of cottages is first initiated until they are actually put up for contract is reduced somewhat.

One Deputy here, in pressing on the Minister the need for pushing ahead this matter of building, referred to a particular hospital that had been advertised, I presume, but which they could not get a contractor to build within a six months' period. I presume that that took place under the aegis of Dr. Ryan, then Minister for Health. That Deputy went on to say, as quoted in the Press, that Dr. Browne, the new Minister for Health, insisted that that building should be built within a period of six months and, because of the insistence of Dr. Browne, a contractor came along and offered to build the hospital within a two months' period. The absurdity of such a claim as that is beyond comment—that a hospital could be built within a period of two months.

Mr. Brennan

I wonder what the architect or the builder would say who was faced with the claim that it could be built within two months. I venture to say that his remark would be: "Whoever you get, you will not get me."

He would put him into another hospital.

Mr. Brennan

Where a grant is given under the Small Dwellings Act by a county council which has adopted that Act, I understand that, in order that the individual may qualify for such a grant, the market value of the house is not supposed to exceed £1,750. Under the old conditions that obtained I think the actual cost of the house should not exceed £1,000, and that was away back when the Small Dwellings Act came into operation and quite a number of houses were built under it. If we take the increased cost in building, as between 1939 and to-day, I fail to see where that price of £1,750 would meet the situation by providing the same type of house as the individual might provide in 1936, 1937 or 1938, when he was confined to £1,000. The Minister could safely increase that grant up to £2,200, taking into consideration the increase in the cost of building as between 1939 and to-day.

The number of houses completed by local authorities, as stated by the Minister, in the year ended the 31st March, 1948, was 729; the total for the same period up to 31st March, 1947, was 619. The number of houses in course of erection at 31st March, 1948, was 3,812, and at 31st March, 1947, it was 2,212. The number of houses provided by private persons and public utility societies in the year 1947-48 was: New houses, 773, and reconstructed houses, 574. No reference has been made in the Minister's statement as to the order of priority in which he proposes to issue permits for the reconstruction of houses. When I say "reconstruction" I do not mean these small reconstruction grants. I am speaking of a house that an individual might buy at the present time for £1,000 or £2,000 and where he has to carry out a certain amount of work, where the house may have been unoccupied for five or six years and needs a certain amount of work to put it into proper repair so that it can be occupied with comfort. I would like the Minister to state what his attitude is towards that type of building work. A good deal of reconstruction has taken place, and certainly, so far as the issue of licences or permits is concerned, the Department of Industry and Commerce has met the people fairly decently on the matter. I know several people who have carried out reconstruction work at quite considerable expense. The Department acted very generously in the matter of issuing the necessary permits in the shortest possible time. The Minister said nothing in his opening statement about permits. When he is replying I would be glad if he would state what his attitude is in regard to the issue of permits for reconstruction work. Such reconstruction work may perhaps cost £500, £1,000 or £1,500. I would ask the Minister to adopt a generous attitude where that type of work is concerned and to urge upon the Minister for Industry and Commerce that he, too, should be generous in the issue of licences for that particular type of work.

I think it would be a mistake if that particular type of work were cut out completely or even reduced from the position which it has held in the last four or five years. The Minister is definitely of the opinion that there is urgent necessity for the provision of houses for the working classes, particularly in the rural areas. There are a certain number of applicants in every town and every village throughout the country. If those people have to depend on the work provided by the local authorities in order to earn a livelihood I am afraid that very often there will be no work available for them. If the provision of housing is of paramount importance the provision of work for those engaged in the building industry is also important. I would appeal to the Minister not to be too stringent in the issue of permits for those houses which he has placed second in the priority list or for reconstruction work. All such work is needed. The work to which he is prepared to give priority may not be available. I hope that at any rate during the transition period he will impress on the Minister for Industry and Commerce the necessity for dealing generously with people who are looking for permits, as generously as Deputy Lemass dealt with them when he was Minister for Industry and Commerce.

An important matter in connection with housing is the provision of a water supply. I have been told that recently when a local authority provided a water supply to a number of houses which were erected the usual grant contributed towards such schemes was refused. It was suggested that the water supply should be made a charge upon the houses. It is the responsibility of the local authority to provide a proper water supply and to provide proper sanitation thereby doing their part in helping to prevent disease. Hitherto the Department always put up 33? per cent. or 40 per cent. by way of grant towards the cost of such a scheme. If the Department of Local Government is prepared to subscribe a grant towards the provision of a water supply for a small town or village in order to give the population that particular amenity, I fail to see why they should not give a similar grant towards the provision of a water supply to the tenants of the local authorities. I understood that that grant always. obtained but I have been told that in a particular scheme in County Wicklow notice was received that the grant for the laying of a particular main to some cottages, the property of the local authority, would not be forthcoming. I ask the Minister to look into that matter.

I think the idea of a regional water supply is a very good one. During the past 15, 16 or 18 years quite a number of water supplies have been provided in different parts of the country. Some of those supplies have failed. The failure is not due to bad workmanship or bad engineering. In my own house I have been unable to get water for the past two months. I am not blaming the engineers for that. The source of supply has dropped. I do not know where the water has gone, but it is disappearing.

I could quote an instance of a water supply scheme provided in a town in County Wexford. The Parliamentary Secretary probably knows the town I have in mind. A big scheme was completed some years ago, but, reading the local papers and hearing comments from householders in the town, it is evident that a new water supply is needed. I think this regional scheme is an ideal method of getting over the particular factor that has been operating against a good supply of water in the country within recent years. Where you establish a scheme such as is outlined, you will, I presume, have a big volume of water collected at a particular point, with intermediate reservoirs along the line, whatever the distance may be. That will take in a lot of villages, perhaps two or three small towns, and a big portion of the rural population, if they wish to go to the expense of installing a supply off the main. I think the Minister should investigate that matter and see if there is not something to be gained from the investigations of the experts who were appointed to make a survey with the object of having regional water supplies here and there through the country.

With regard to roads, I trust the Minister will draw the attention of local authorities to the need of easing bad bends and widening small bridges, particularly on county roads. In County Wicklow we have a big number of county roads and there are bad bends and narrow bridges on some of those roads, and these constitute a danger at all times to road-users. Unfortunately, the county engineer, in his anxiety to get roads into proper repair and in his eagerness to spend all the money he can on surfacing and widening the roads, is somewhat inclined to leave the easing of bad corners and the widening of narrow bridges in abeyance. The only way to do that work is to regard it as special work and have it done within a given period.

Reference was made here to the wages of road workers and it was stated that the road workers had received an increase of 6/- following the advent to power of the inter-Party Government, and particularly by reason of the fact that Deputy Murphy, who is a Labour representative, happens to be the Minister for Local Government. I know it had to receive the sanction of the Minister, but I suggest that it operated automatically. from the moment the Agricultural Wages Board increased the wages of agricultural workers. That is the position that has obtained for quite a number of years. The Minister gives his sanction in the ordinary way. I think there are no thanks due to anyone for that increase of 6/- for road workers, because they were automatically entitled to it by reason of the increase in the wages of agricultural workers.

I trust the Minister will request the Minister for Industry and Commerce to be as generous as he possibly can in the issue of permits to those named in the second priority list, and particularly in relation to reconstruction work on the houses of people other than those who would qualify for the small grant for reconstruction.

It is rather difficult for me to follow such a high standard of discussion as was reached by Deputy Fitzpatrick when he addressed this House last night. It was the first occasion, since I came here, that I have heard a speech which was so obviously sincere, so concise, so free from passion and so spiritual in its outlook that I felt proud to be his colleague and proud to be with him in the ideals for which he stands. Deputy Fitzpatrick has opened a new door to the debates of this assembly and he has brought many of us back to the days when men spoke their views and when, irrespective of anything but good as the ultimate end, they rejoiced, not in agreement, but in disagreement of views.

Deputy Fitzpatrick has reintroduced the old republican spirit into this House and for that I am proud to be associated with him. Not very many months ago he was a Communist, he was an anarchist, he was an insurrectionist of such a type that even Almighty God did not count! He was an emissary of Moscow and yet during this debate, to which we have been listening for some days, Deputy Fitzpatrick made the first constructive suggestion put forward since the debate opened. He gave an almost judicial pronouncement on the equity of the course which he advocated. While not very many months ago he was Red, and not very many years ago either his dossier, his record was in the hands of another country——

We are not worried about Deputy Fitzpatrick. Let us come on to the Estimate.

I was trying to show that it was the ideals which stimulated Deputy Fitzpatrick that have brought, and will bring, this House back to its senses and that the only constructive outlook that can come will be a reversion to the establishment of these ideals. The Minister for Local Government is the head of a Department which traditionally is the concept of something that is foreign to the needs of this nation. For years during the British occupation, and subsequently, the Local Government Board has been an institution which has kept in subjection every ideal involving the necessities of the Irish people. There is, perhaps, in no country in the world an institution which is so conservative, which is so confined, that its actions are a negation of the expression of democracy. Until that Department is overthrown, until it is made conformable to the outlook of the Irish people, we can hope for no success in any social undertaking which this country may need to develop. That is why I referred to Deputy Fitzpatrick, because I see there the antidote, I see there the expression of the one and only way to satisfy the social needs of the Irish people and that is the re-establishment of the old republican spirit. That and that alone will suffice——

I am afraid the Minister has very little to do with that in the administration of his Department.

If it is heresy to advocate that, I am surprised. However, from the political aspect of this debate I can at least follow my colleague along some suggestions which he made. Though some of these may be constructive, some may not. Many Deputies have referred to road construction. They have blamed road construction as the cause of some of the fatal accidents which have occurred on the highways of this country. As one who can speak with an experience of over a quarter of a century adjudicating on the causes of these accidents, I can safely state that it is not the construction of roads which is at fault. I can safely state, after 26 years' experience as a coroner, that the safest place on a road is what is called a dangerous crossroads. I can suggest to the Minister a means by which he might save the lives of many of our people. If he has ever been to France and has motored on the roads there, he will have noticed on approaching every built-up area that there is a sign. I forget exactly what that sign was but it indicated the presence of a fosse on the road and if the unwary motorist failed to respect that sign, either he or his car was bound to suffer. If in the development of the programme of road construction in this country, the Minister would consider the advisability of the adoption of the French idea, I think that many lives would be saved.

With my colleague, I agree that the necessity for building houses is great, and it is awful to contemplate that such a state of affairs has been allowed to develop. Like him, I am not going to blame the last Government for things over which they had no control, nor do I blame this Government for circumstances which are equally out of their control, but there is nothing to prevent the Minister from adopting the suggestion made by Deputy Fitzpatrick of floating a housing loan and providing the houses the plans for which he enunciated in his speech last night. But if the Minister does, let us hope that he will give the direction and control of the building of these houses to some other body besides the Department of Local Government; that, if necessary, he will set up, as Deputy Byrne suggested, another Ministry to deal with that aspect of affairs. It is sad to think, and for this I cast no blame on the late Government, that in Dublin City, in the year 1945, 827 people or 11.96 per cent. of the population died from tuberculosis. But it is tragic to think that, because of bad housing conditions, 555 children died from gastro-enteritis, and that of these 555 children 520 were helpless infants. Throughout Ireland virtually the same relative figures can be found, and in order that some children shall be saved either this year or next year I suggest that the Minister should seriously consider the suggestions made by Deputy Fitzpatrick.

Deputy Childers complained of the extraordinary, and apparently, I presume, untruthful, statements made by members of the inter-Party Government during the election campaign regarding the issue of licences for the building of luxury houses. If untruthful statements were made during the election, they were not made by Clann na Poblachta and they have not been repeated since we entered this House because we are here to meet these lying malicious statements and we are going to ask the Irish people to judge the result. If the statement of Deputy Childers refers to this Party, let him be honest and say so. He said that 5 per cent. of the building licences issued were issued for luxury houses. That is the type of statement that comes from the former Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Local Government. What does that 5 per cent. of licences mean? It means the erection of establishments which could house thousands of our people, and Deputy Childers expects a House like this to accept that red herring which he wishes to draw across its path. That 5 per cent. of licences issued could have saved many of the lives of these children to whom I have referred.

He referred at some length to the supply of water for houses, and, amongst other statements, said that no matter where one went in Ireland, one had only to dig down three feet and one got all the water one wanted. That is what he said, but his colleague who has just sat down said he could not get enough water to supply his own house in County Wicklow. Nobody knows better than Deputy Childers the difficulties which face the Minister in this regard. Deputy Childers, when he had the power to do so, could have kept some of our people at home draining and preparing the soil for the laying of these pipes, if he had cared to do it.

Possibly his greatest contribution to the debate, however, was his reference to the fact that the institution of tuberculosis colonies had been tried in England and had failed. Does the man know what he is talking about? Is England the only country to which we must look for guidance? No, but it is the country to which the Department he served so well looked; it was to ideas in that country that the Department looked. Does Deputy Childers not know that the thing to do, from a health point of view, is to build tuberculosis colonies, to isolate tuberculosis sufferers, to develop an auto-vaccination and so help to get rid of the disease? It is not because it failed in England that it is going to fail in Ireland.

With regard to the housing council established by the Minister, this body was intended—its terms of reference, I think, definitely indicate it—as an advisory body to help him in the planning of the houses for Dublin City and County. May I, as a member for a section of the county, protest in the strongest possible manner against the action of the Minister in not appointing a Parliamentary representative on that body? I do not care what Party such a representative belongs to, but I say that the Parliamentary representatives of the county are the only people capable of advising the Minister on this question of houses.

One difficulty which follows naturally in the administration of local government is that its tentacles extend right through the whole system of local administration, through the adoption and veneration of the managerial system. It is to be hoped that, if the Minister is to do one good thing while he is in office, he will restore the old system, with some modifications. Possibly from the managerial system he may borrow something that may be of assistance to him in the new form of local government administration which I hope he will adopt, an administration more in keeping with the minds of the people, the needs of the people, and their outlook.

I was listening here yesterday to Deputy Seán Keane speaking on a matter which concerned a doctor where one side of the case was stated. Deputy O'Rourke, from the Fianna Fáil Benches opposite, stated that the complaints made in that letter were true and when Deputy Keane read the other side of the case which exonerated the doctor from blame, although the exoneration was under the signature of a responsible official of the Department of Local Government, Deputy O'Rourke still refused to accept that statement. That would not have been so bad if the first letter had not been blessed and sanctified by Deputy Childers. I blame, therefore, the Fianna Fáil Government for their outlook on the needs of the country, when you can have in charge of the Department of Local Government a man who is capable of making a serious onesided judgment. It is no wonder that the present Minister for Local Government is saddled with the result of that irresponsibility, which is the mildest term which I can apply to such conduct.

In his undertaking of the housing problem, the Minister has the support of all Parties. I hope he has. He certainly has the support of ours in so far as it is a step forward, but we are disappointed—I should not say that because we have not discussed it—I am disappointed that he has not done more than he promised to do. If the Minister will adopt the suggestion made by Deputy Fitzpatrick, I am sure he will not only have the co-operation of this House, but he will bring satisfaction, life and hope to many families who are suffering throughout the country.

I would first like to add what support I can, possibly not, maybe, to the extent of a new Ministry, but certainly to the idea of co-ordinating and centralising in one authority the whole housing problem. I feel myself that it should be all under one competent head, one that readily suggests itself to my mind is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Department of Local Government, and that he should have in his hands not only the question of housing from the point of view of the contribution from the Department of Local Government or of sites, but also from the point of view of the issue of building licences and the side now dealt with by the Department of Industry and Commerce. I would impress upon the Minister the need to have these things coalesced so that a person will know exactly what is going on. Many of us have faced the problem where people with building licences and permits to buy certain commodities reach a certain stage of their operation and then comes the hiatus, then comes the delay, while they have to reapply for more quantities. I feel myself that it is absolutely necessary to have some kind of central control and I would like to add whatever support I can to the suggestions of Deputy Fitzpatrick, Deputy Byrne and Deputy Dr. Brennan in this matter. I do not feel that it would warrant a new Ministry because I feel that if the question of housing was taken out of the Local Government administration the Minister would be able to encompass much of the work that falls on his Parliamentary Secretary.

I am rather interested in the idea of the housing loan. I think that was a very practical suggestion as thrown out by the Clann na Poblachta Party. I want, however, to go, maybe, a little further. I want a combination of a housing loan and house purchase because of the type of persons that have been universally referred to all round the House as "white collar workers" or the small salary earner who faces a very acute, in fact in some cases a far more acute, problem than that which affects people who are entitled to become beneficiaries under local government and county council schemes. There are three particular parts of the housing question from his view, and one, which was very properly referred to by Deputy Fitzpatrick, is this extraordinary question of high fines and exorbitant ground rents. That is the first step and the first very large initial cost for the moderate salaried man who has to face the problem of building a house. There is, to my mind, if the Minister has the courage to take it, a very simple solution to that problem. Instead of allowing speculators and investors in to the building sites and allowing an abnormal position to arise, he should confer with his colleague, the Minister for Lands, and make available, by acquisition if necessary, sites for that type of people and should fix for them whatever the State thinks a fair and reasonable rent under the circumstances. In a state of national emergency, he should declare that certain areas, particularly round the City of Dublin, will be reserved for building and will not be let into the hands of the hungry speculators to rob the section of the community who can least afford it.

I think a housing loan would be aided by a national purchase scheme. I think that Deputy Colley struck a very sound note when he said that many people in the small salaried group were anxious to face the possibility of purchasing a house, getting married and settling down. They face this difficulty, that they cannot find the deposit required to initiate their purchase scheme. I say that, as the landless man and the congest are treated in connection with land division, we should treat what I describe as the city and the rural congest and the houseless man; we should have some national scheme.

We are told that our credit is high and that we should have no difficulty in raising the money. So long as you keep housing within the budgetary position I think that Deputy Fitzpatrick's comment is very fair, that we are only really tickling the problem. You have to take it out of budgetary consideration and arrive at the position that sections of the community must be fairly considered as having equal claims on this State, that each section of the community can be helped and that the middle-class man or the small salary earner can have his house built by the State, enter into it, and pay an annuity which will make him a purchasing tenant without having first to lay out, as he has now, some abnormal expenses to which I shall refer.

I am not going to criticise any profession, but to the ordinary man facing the problem of getting a site, preparing the plans of his house and paying legal fees, there seems to be a huge incubus. It is quite true that all these professions must live, but that is a burden which, to my mind, can be eased for the particular type of person to whom I refer by some kind of a comprehensive State plan in which there will be, if not a standard type of house, a type of house that will be limited in space to a certain extent, a type of house that will come within the annuity scheme that I suggest to the Minister very seriously. You have to get to this position, that these initial costs will be bulked in such a way that they will not impose a crushing burden, such as that quoted by Deputy Fitzpatrick of nearly £130 between architects' and lawyers' fees, after paying something in the region of a fine of £150 for a site. The burden will have to be eased for these people. I say it can be eased if these matters are dealt with on a national basis and the scheme is designed to deal with a bulk of houses at a time so that you will be able to spread your architects' and lawyers' costs over a number of individuals and in that way alleviate the initial shock to them.

To my mind, the question of building has been properly stated by Deputies to be one of national emergency. Therefore, I feel that the present Minister, in the knowledge of the support he now has throughout this House, is in a position to take a bold new line. As this House is unanimous in regarding this as a ruthless national cancer which must be immediately arrested, the Minister is in a position to take a bold line and consider the scheme submitted to him. He should rise above budgetary difficulties and face this problem on a broad national basis, using some of the resources of credit that we have so that we may deal equitably and expeditiously with all sections of the community.

I am going to advocate a few very unpopular things in the course of my speech. I am going to start right here now by suggesting to the Minister that he might study the method at present in vogue in Australia, where the Government decided that no man was going to have a superabundance in the housing line until the national housing problem was dealt with. I say that the Minister should take to himself the power, which I feel the House will give him, to control all building materials, to direct various people engaged in the trade where supplies shall go and to put his second priority category out of mind altogether until such time as the first priority is dealt with. There is no good in Deputy MacEntee, as he did, making pleas for people who want to build £4,000 or £5,000 houses in this city. Remember, the material that goes into that £4,000 or £5,000 house could be far more advantageously used to alleviate the housing problem of the poorer sections of the community or to give the "unfortunate forgotten man," as somebody called him, the middle-class man, the small salary earner, some chance of getting a house.

In dealing with housing one is faced with the necessity of having an iron control over supplies of materials. The argument addressed to this House by Deputy Brennan in defence of luxury building to me sounded puerile—that it was because local authorities or somebody else would not get ahead with housing schemes that Deputy MacEntee, the then Minister, gave licences for the erection of luxury buildings. I want the new Minister to take unto himself the power to see, if such a situation should arise, that he will be able to use some big stick to make the local authorities get down to the heart of the problem of housing, namely, the unfortunate or the lowly-paid class in this country.

To suggest that luxury building should be excused on that ground is, to my mind, a pathetic tragedy that typifies the unreal approach to housing of the former Minister, because this is something that, within itself, will sow the seed of tremendous domestic unrest and trouble in this country if it is not faced properly. We cannot allow the situation to continue which was described by some of the Dublin Deputies and which I know to be true of certain areas in this country where people are living under unbelievable, intolerable, inhuman, stone-age conditions and expect people to stand for that all the time. If this government are to make one real, honest, sincere and energetic advance, I ask the Minister to get outside budgetary considerations altogether, to get after exactly what he wants and, as far as I am personally concerned, any support I can give him, he will get to face this problem in the best way he can. I say he will have to do that on the lines of taking for the period of this housing emergency certain drastic powers.

There is a problem that presents itself. I have seen it in many areas. In towns such as Drogheda, or cities like Cork, there are various places where you have proximate seaside resorts. There are in these areas serviceable seaside houses, nice bungalows and houses of various types which are occupied from one to three months of the year by the more fortunate class of the people who have two houses. I say to the Minister, in all earnestness, that, while this emergency is being alleviated, where he can use one of these houses to house a family that needs it or to help a newly-wed to establish a home, he should take it and that no man should be allowed in this country to maintain two houses unless he is occupying both. I know that is an unpopular suggestion but I know that, even though you may have to ask these people who, incidentally, in most cases can well afford it, to change from running their houses at the sea for three or four years, while he is getting to real grips with the problem, the amount of benefit that might be reaped by allowing families to occupy these houses and have a reasonable family life for the waiting period would more than justify any hardship or any grouse that might come from that section of the community.

It is easy for a person like myself to plan schemes but I do not feel that the Minister is in this impregnable position that, without blaming the last Government—any credit that may be due to them for housing, they can take it graciously from me because I give it to them gratuitously—whatever the reason, the housing problem is now worse than ever it was and, in that set of circumstances, he never had a bigger support than he has now to face it. He can, if he so desires, use the invitation of this House to come back to us with concrete plans to build, and build quickly, houses that will relieve some of the immediate intolerable situation that arises both in the City of Dublin and in the rural areas.

The City of Dublin is a huge problem because it has a huge population and by reason of numbers can be magnified into a pathetic tragedy but in any rural area—the Minister in particular will know the area I represent—in its own small way there is squalor and misery though not on as large a scale. This problem has to be faced, the problem of relieving Dublin and the country at the same time. That cannot be done by any piecemeal method. It will have to be done on a board, large, national basis.

I cannot conceive, or concede, that the last Government was entirely blameless because the position in regard to materials has been improving but the little potentate that sat in the last Government's ministerial office of Local Government seemed to be more interested, as he indicated in his remarks last night, in the development of such things as Butlin's Camp than in coming to grips with what was rapidly all around him becoming the crying need of the nation. Here is something for the information of Deputy MacEntee. I happen to live in very close proximity to Butlin's Camp. The squad of men mobilised there and the materials mobilised and used there, I have no hesitation in saying, would have gone practically the complete way of solving the immediate housing problem of Drogheda. But what does Deputy MacEntee contribute to the debate here? Apparently, a propagandist effort for the benefit of Butlin's shareholders. I would like to know what real justification he feels there is in the suggestion of holidays for the workers. I would love to know from any Deputy what Dublin workers, about whom the Deputy is so solicitous, can afford the luxury of the type of holiday Butlin purports to give.

The Minister will have to do this and he will have to do it rigidly and ruthlessly; he will have to control all types of luxury or semi-luxury building. He will have to put first things first and keep them first until they are dealt with completely. In my mind there is no case at all to be made for the very rich man to get a palace or a luxury house in which to live while the crying need is the type of house that the ordinary man and woman, the majority and, if I may say so, the real backbone of the country, want. These houses must be given first. Let the rich wait. If they have to wait in luxury suites in hotels or anything else, do not let the Minister worry about that. Let him have the ordinary Irish man and woman dealt with first and then come to the rich man because, if you took out of the City of Dublin some of the recent importees by way of aliens and denominations of all types and nationalities of all types and left the expensive house in Dublin to the ordinary Irishman or Dublin man who wants that type of market, I am perfectly satisfied that you would have an adequate supply of them, sufficient, at any rate, to put the problem of housing for the ordinary class and for the small salaried class in a priority away and above any consideration you might have for these people. The rich man can always fend for himself. It is a very old saying that he will always get by. But the man living to a fixed salary has to live within it. That should be the Minister's approach to the housing problem—to get houses for the people who are in most need of them because, in the main, the large families and the really serious housing necessities are confined to the working class or the small salaried type.

At the present time you have people, supported apparently by some of the Opposition, rushing to buy houses at £5,000 and £6,000 who have neither child nor relation. They have so many rooms in their houses that they can lose themselves in them. Is it seriously suggested that that kind of thing should be allowed to continue, while we have in the City of Dublin the situation that was described by Deputy Fitzpatrick and Deputy Byrne?

There is another matter in connection with housing that I want to deal with. I am not a builder or an engineer, but to my mind the real cost of housing is not eaten up by the foundations and the walls but by the kind of knick-knacks and perquisites that go into a house. I would urge on the Minister, where it is possible and practicable to do so on the advice of his experts, to get as much standard type material—immediately ready-to-use material—as possible, because to the person who has a leaking roof or a stinking room all the embellishments and little knick-knacks will not mean as much as the sound dry house that four walls encompass. Much of the expense in housing is eaten up between the time a house is finished and all the embellishments have been completed. I strongly urge on the Minister to try, as far as possible, to get supplies of material that will tend to cut down the internal costs of a house.

On the question of the approach to this housing problem, the Minister is, in my opinion, in the position that he will either have to get away from the conservatism and the methods that we have adopted up to date or else the problem will never be solved. Let people make what use they will of the extravagant promises or the extravagant housing suggestions that were made by any Party. The only regret I have is that the Minister did not forget altogether about Deputy MacEntee's Estimate and about the present approach of the Department to housing. I am sorry that he did not scrap the whole lot and come in here with something new and real, something big and immense, if he wanted to face the immensity of the problem that is before him. I know the experience which the Minister has had both as a member of a county council and of the Dáil. I know that from his long experience in public life he has seen this problem grow from year to year. He knows it very intimately in the constituency that we both represent, but still I want to suggest to him not to reconsider his Estimate but to consider seriously the suggestions that have been made by various members of the House—that, first of all, he should get a strong executive control, a unified control, over the whole housing problem, that he should get proper and adequate control over building materials, that he should get, by way of loan, the money that he wants to face the problem, and that, in order to overcome the difficulties in connection with sites, powers such as those possessed by the Minister for Lands should be given to the central housing authority to acquire land in certain areas for the type of houses that need to be built for the white-collar worker that we all talk so much about and do so little for.

I would also suggest to the Minister to leave the road problems to this extent, that, beyond keeping the roads adequately serviced and dealing with dangerous bends, he should try and divert as much labour as possible into the housing drive. I say to him—he is a member of the Labour Party—that if he decides to look for money for housing he should make adequate provision out of that money to treat labour fairly and well. I would urge upon labour to realise the vital nature of this problem for themselves, especially in connection with the acute shortage of houses in the Dublin area. I would earnestly suggest to the labour people, arising out of what was said here about overtime, that it might be feasible if groups of skilled persons and builders' labourers would get together in their overtime period, when they are not allowed to earn money, and make an attempt to solve their own housing problems for themselves. I suggest to the Minister that where such groups get together to work on schemes for themselves, he should give them every encouragement as far as the provision of material is concerned.

If they did come together and engaged on such schemes it would be to their own advantage. They could be given material and supplies and a preference for the houses erected by their own labour. I feel that a scheme on those lines might prove feasible. I would like to see it tried, because the housing problem is getting into such a state that it has almost become a 24-hour-a-day problem. I would like to see these people who, despite everything, stood by the Irish builders and by the Irish building drive, given every facility that the Minister can possibly give them in order that they may be able to help to meet the need there is for houses for themselves.

Roads, to my mind, take second place to housing. If the work of the county councils were directed mainly by the Minister to keeping the roads in a serviceable condition and dealing with other immediate road problems, they would then be in a position to devote more time and energy to housing. Finally, I want to deal with the alarming tendency that is to be observed so far as rate increases are concerned.

A good deal of that is attributable to the high costs of housing. I feel that where it is becoming an overburden on the ratepayers in any area to meet with the solution of the housing problem—an over-burdened rate problem that the Minister envisaged in the question of a loan for housing—the possibility should be considered of using part of that money to enable local authorities to bridge the gap that exists now in what we hope is the highest peak of cost. If that is not done I feel that the rents of houses built by local authorities will have to be raised to a point which would be unfair to the type of tenant that may have to occupy them. If this housing is to be permanent it must first of all shelter our people well and at a fair economic rent within the orbit of their purse. If the solution is to come for the white-collar worker and the smaller salaried man the Minister will have to tackle the problem of giving him his site at a reasonable price; of giving him the services of an engineer and a lawyer at a reasonable price and —I earnestly urge upon the Minister— of giving him a greater scope than he has at the moment within the terms of the grant. I wholeheartedly agree with Deputy Brennan that, in the exigencies of the present situation, the Minister will have to raise the £1,750 level to something in the region of £2,100 or £2,200. Let my last word be that I wish the Minister God speed in the most pressing, urgent and necessary of our immediate national problems.

We are all aware of the direct relation which exists in other countries, as well as in this country, between housing and health. As a dispensary medical officer I have opportunities of observing at close range the adverse effect of inadequate housing on the health of the community in general. Even in my own urban area of Clones, where we are fortunate to possess a newly completed housing scheme of 130 houses, I have had occasion to note over a number of years the deleterious effect on the health of the community of overcrowding in those condemned houses which still remain with us and which, unfortunately, are still occupied. Apart from the usual run of not too serious infectious diseases which can to a great extent be obviated by the provision of new houses and the elimination of those already condemned, I have no hesitation whatever in laying at the doors of the defective houses which have existed in my town the blame for the abnormal incidence of tuberculosis which is still in existence there and which we are trying to combat. Pulmonary tuberculosis and good houses are to a great extent incompatible. I am sure that the present Minister for Health is not unaware of this valuable weapon in his campaign to eradicate the scourge to which many of us are heir. In his efforts in this campaign he has my best wishes. Any housing drive, however, must depend for its success to some extent, at least, on the enthusiasm and energy exhibited by the workers in the building trade. The Labour Party as politicians have continually deplored the evils resulting from the defective housing conditions in this country. On numerous occasions they have criticised Fianna Fáil administration for not providing sufficent houses for the working classes.

Apart from my interest in housing from the point of view of public health I am not entirely disinterested in the housing industry. Nor am I without experience of labour troubles, in that I am associated with the production of a big essential commodity in the building trade. I understand that the Labour Party have amongst its personnel a number of trade union officials. I should like to know if the suggestions which have been made to me from time to time are true. Is it true that the slowing down tactics on the part of members of the unions, particularly those who are associated with the building trade, are condoned by the officials of the trade unions? I do not say there is any truth in it. I should just like to know if there are any grounds for the suggestion. If it is true, it must seem obvious that the Labour Party in condoning, if not actually encouraging, those tactics are propagating dissension and discontent amongst the classes which they represent owing to a further slowing down of the housing drive. Whether, by encouraging and propagating such discontent, they hope to derive further political capital, I cannot say. No matter what Government is in power and no matter how much money is devoted to housing, no housing programme can be expeditiously carried out without the co-operation of trade union officials, who see to it that their members give full value for the money which is being paid for their services. I admit that in the country our housing problem is not very acute as compared to that obtaining in the city. As far as the remainder of the requirements in my constituency is concerned our county manager is very much on the ball and is seeing to it that labourers' cottages are being erected and the plans are being made for such. I visualise in the near future that with the help of the Minister our remaining difficulties will be dealt with. It looks to me as though we will always have a housing problem in this city, if the centralisation of industry goes on as it has been going on in this city. Decentralisation of industry would help at least to prevent inflaming this problem in the city, and if for no other reason than that it should be the goal of any government.

For many years, having visited a number of countries in the world, I have deplored the poor degree to which we have reached in the creation of roads. I am sure it was not for lack of technical skill and advice in the construction of these roads that they have remained so much below what they should be. If the Minister does not decide on a decent initial expenditure and cease to adopt piecemeal expenditure, obviously road making cannot ever reach the results which should be obtained. Unless he provides decent initial expenditure he will never improve very much the present condition of the roads. We in this country are afraid of initial expenditure in most things. Even as regards housing I would agree with Deputy Collins that money should not be allowed to influence us in the provision of such an essential commodity for the working classes. I hope that no obstacle will be put in the Minister's way in bringing out roads at least up to the standard of those obtaining in the Six Counties. I do not like indulging in invidious comparisons, but unfortunately I must, as I have been living for 15 years straddling across the Border and comparing the roads we have there with those down here. I hope, therefore, that the Minister will not let monetary considerations influence him in any steps he may take.

Regarding safety rules, we are very much behind the times in catering for the people—irresponsible people, perhaps, a number of them—who, with complete disregard of the ordinary rules of the road, apart altogether from ordinary courtesy in these matters, are every day flying to their doom and dragging others with them. The Minister should see that our crossroads are properly attended to, that safety devices are used, and that propaganda is used where necessary in trying to instruct such people.

I think it will be admitted that the lack of housing, and the physical and mental suffering resulting from it, must be looked upon as a social crime. After listening to all the speeches made, may I suggest to the Minister that the money has decided the question, just as it is deciding other vital problems for us? I was rather surprised that some of the people who spoke did not touch on this financial aspect of the housing problem. I suggest to the Minister that he should not even agree that there should be 3¼ per cent. paid for money for building houses. I suggest to the Minister and the Government that, for socially desirable things like house building for our people, money should be given free of interest. Every Deputy I heard speaking during the week on this question talked about the difficulties, but none of them touched on the reason why there were such difficulties. We heard much talk about rents to be paid for houses that were to be built and houses which had been built. I am not going to blame one Party or the other, or sear anybody's mind here with the stories I could tell about the conditions in Cork City. It is most unfair that there should be Deputies here trying to score political points off one another on this matter and wasting the time of the House.

At the moment, and for years past, I know of men, women and children living in hovels in tenements, where they have little bits of rope or wire hanging from the ceiling with boxes attached, to keep their bread and other food from being eaten by bugs and lice. Yet we have people here trying to secure points to their Party advantage, about what has been done and what was not been done. I am not going to deal with it from the Party aspect, as to what has been done by the previous Government and what is being done by the present Government. I say about the present Government, as I said about the past, that if they are not going to deal with the housing problem in relation to money it will never be solved in our time.

I know of houses being built in Cork and now costing £1,500. Take such a case where it is costing 3¼ per cent. I submit that owing to the interest alone on that sum of money the rate will be 18/8 per week. You put on to that insurance, the collecting of the rent, rates and repairs, and you find that the economic rent we are suggesting at the present time is 24/- or 25/- a week. Does anyone seriously suggest that the housing problem will be solved while the financial system as we operate it is allowed to continue? Certainly not.

I heard Deputy O'Rourke say that this problem is not confined to the cities. I agree with him. Some of the country towns I know of are as badly affected as some of the cities. I will revive the Minister's memory on that point. Last year at Cork County Council a deputation, headed by a clergyman, appeared, asking if the council could do anything for a family of 13 living in one small place consisting of a kitchen and a room. Bad and all as that was for accommodation, the man was hunted out of it by the floods. To where could he go? His family had to be sent to the Fermoy Union, and some friends took him in. There are Deputies in this House who suggest that the only way to solve the housing problem is by floating a housing loan. Is our financial system sacrosanct? Are the people who are in such dire need of houses so unworthy of our consideration that we give first preference to those people with money who are able to pay for their houses? Several Deputies have spoken about rates. I suggest that the high rates at the present time are mainly due to the high price we have to pay for money that we borrow for housing and other municipal needs. The rates in Cork City are higher than they are in any other part of the country. We are paying 31/5 in the £. Of that 31/5 there is a sum of over 7/- in the £ for interest on money borrowed by the Cork Corporation for social amenities, upon which I maintain there should be no charge of any kind.

It is ridiculous that the money borrowed for housing must be paid back at the end of 35 years. The life of any house is at least 60 years. If a house costs £1,500 or £2,000 the capital should not be paid back for at least a period of 50 to 60 years. In that way we would do something to ameliorate the position of the unfortunate people who are now practically starving in their efforts to meet their commitments. There are houses in Cork which were built by the last Government and by the Government prior to it upon which 5 per cent. was paid at 95 and 96. Deputy Fitzpatrick suggested that a housing loan would be subscribed if it were floated. For the benefit of Deputy Fitzpatrick and others. I want to tell the House that the Cork Corporation floated a loan in 1939. They offered 4 per cent. on that money. Some of us refused to pay more than 4 per cent. at par. We floated that loan and not as much as a single shilling did we receive from the Bank of Ireland. Prior to that a loan was floated at 98½ at 4 per cent. In less than ten hours that loan was oversubscribed to three times its value. Yet, 15 months later when we floated the loan to which I have already referred at 4 per cent. at par, it was ignored. As a result of that we had to borrow £120,000 at 5 per cent. At the end of 35 years that will cost us another £125,000, so that we shall have to pay back at the end of 35 years £156,000. I suggest that the reason why the previous Government failed, and the Government before that again, to solve the housing problem, was because of the despotic domination of a small group who own and control money and credit in this country. Unless we tackle the problem from that end we shall never solve it.

Some Deputies have referred to the problem of labour. In 1936-37 and 1938 we had hundreds of men unemployed. We had supplies. We were anxious to build houses. We could not build the houses because we could not get the money. The municipal authorities must always have regard to what the people who will ultimately occupy these houses can bear in the matter of rent. We are charging 18/- and 20/- for our houses. The new houses that will be occupied next week will cost the tenants 24/. The Cork Deputies in this House know as well as I do that one of the most tragic repercussions on the lives of these working-class people is the high incidence of rent. They have to pay so much in rent that they are unable to furnish their houses as they should be furnished. Some of them have not got either beds or bedclothes. I am sure Deputy Corry will bear me out in that, because he represented at one time the constituency I represent now. People who were transferred out of the tenement houses in Cork and out of small dwellings that were unfit for habitation are now asked to pay a rent of 18/- or 19/- a week. These people are just existing. As far back as 1933-34 we completed some housing schemes. The money at that time was 5 per cent. at 95. The people who occupy these houses are taxed with the rent. Many of them have met with financial difficulties. In some cases the fathers of families died. Some fathers lost their employment because of the closing down of factories. Some of those unfortunate people had to be evicted because they could not pay the rent. We shall never get to the root of this problem of high rents and high rates until we control the issue of credit for the building of houses. I appeal to the Minister to start a scheme for the building of houses at 3¼ per cent. The vast majority of the workers to-day do not reach a maximum wage of £5 15s. od. a week. Wages run roughly from £5 to £5 11s. Od. Workers in receipt of £5 11s. Od. per week are regarded as being fairly well circumstanced.

Some Deputies appear to be looking forward to the time when we will have another wave of "cheapness." I think we have left those days far behind us. Back ten and 20 years ago labour was sweated and countries were flooding the world's markets with cheap materials. But things have changed since then. The sweated workers of the world have revolted and I do not anticipate that we shall ever again return to conditions as they existed then. We shall certainly never again see cheap house building, as some people in this House would seem to anticipate.

Some Deputies have talked about direct labour. One Deputy from my own constituency said he did not agree with direct labour. I would ask the Minister to inquire into the position of the Cork workers when they built houses in 1921, 1922 and 1923 when the corporation stood security for the payment of wages. Houses were built then by direct labour and the corporation was guaranteed half the profits if there were any profits out of the houses. Those houses were built at a cost which was £31 cheaper than the cost at which a contractor would have built them. That scheme was most successful. But then there was a change in the Cork Corporation and a new system of management. When that came there was a change in the system of building houses by direct labour. If Deputy Brennan of Wicklow will inquire as to the cost of building houses by direct labour as against contract he will find a very interesting comparison indeed.

It was suggested that municipal authorities should have their own architects for the carrying out of their work. When I was a member of the Cork Corporation I suggested we should have a city engineer who would plan our houses and be responsible to the corporation. Unfortunately, we had not all the power we needed, and the result was that the thing fell through. The Minister should see that the engineers employed by the municipal authorities and the county councils are the people to plan our houses and accept full responsibility in that connection. I will not say anything derogatory about the architects who are called in, but I feel that they have not the direct responsibility that one would wish for in these matters. I am satisfied, also, that what is paid by public authorities to some architects for planning houses is far in excess of what you would be obliged to pay a qualified man who would work over a continuous period.

On the question of sites, I think the Minister has a very big problem to face. He should take a firm stand as regards the price he is prepared to pay for housing sites. The agricultural value of the land should be quite sufficient to pay for a housing site. It is a terrible thing to allow people to exploit the community by putting excessive prices on housing sites. These sites should not bear more than their agricultural value. There is scarcely any portion of the country where one does not see a derelict site. These derelict sites are an absolute eyesore. There are sites in Cork City, where houses have been pulled down. The landlords of these places are living as far away as France and Newfoundland and yet they have a claim on these sites. There should be a rigid stand taken there.

That brings us to the question of having some powers vested in the local authorities. I appreciate that we will have some powers transferred. I am quite satisfied that if you put responsibilities on those people you will get a personnel far superior to the personnel of local authorities and administrative bodies generally to-day. I am not saying that there are not very intelligent and practical men on our county councils and other local bodies, but they have not the authority that they should possess. I believe in a manager for a corporation or a county council, but he should be the manager for that body and not, as to-day, the manager of everything. I will give one illustration to the Minister of a position that exists in Cork City. The Manager of the Cork Harbour Board is an executive officer. He has complete authority over his staff. He makes the final decisions and submits a report to the board. If you have a practical manager and if you give the necessary authority to the members of your corporation, you will always find sufficient men to back any practical proposition that may be put forward.

The housing of our people is a challenge to every one of us. On any question of money that may be involved and as regards any obstacle that threatens to stand in the way of properly housing our people, the Minister should take a firm stand, and I believe he will do so.

I think it a pity that many of the remarks made throughout this discussion were fault-finding. It is a bad thing for the country and for all of us if the people have it dinned into their ears or get it into their minds that public bodies are not doing their duty, or that the various Governments we have had have not done, and are not doing, their duty. There are many people who are suffering for want of adequate housing—and the suffering in a great many cases is very intense and bitter. I think it is a dangerous thing to din into the ears of those people that we have not done our duty, that the Government is not doing its duty, that Ministers have not done or are not doing their duty, and that public bodies have been remiss. I am afraid that if all that is dinned into the ears of the people, you may have a very serious reaction, one that we would all regret.

The truth is that we have made a very good effort to cope with the housing problem since we got the management of our own affairs. When a Deputy here says that the last Government that held office for some 16 years did nothing, of course that is ridiculous. If you take the City of Dublin alone, and if you go to Kimmage, Crumlin, Drimnagh or Cappagh or any other of the built-up areas that are really cities in themselves, you will see that such a statement is simply too ridiculous.

That sort of remark will not solve the problem.

Some Deputies who have spoken here have had no experience of membership of public bodies. I speak as one who has been a member since my early twenties. I know what the position has been for the past 40 years and I know what the position is. We must all appreciate that the general position here is a legacy from a Government which ruled this country as an alien Government. We have inherited generations of neglect in the matter of housing. When I first went on the Dublin Council it was impossible to house any family of less than seven or eight. That position has begun to improve. We found after a while that we could house families of six. Then after a short time we could house families of five, and later it came down to four. I was instrumental in housing numbers of families of four. Then the war period set in and there was a shortage of supplies of various sorts and also a shortage of labour, and the position began to grow worse. It crept up in much the same way as it had crept down, and we had to go back to the larger families again. The only family that can be considered now by the Dublin Corporation is the family of six or of a higher number, living in one room, unless there are other considerations such as the existence of a tuberculosis case or a combination of houses unfit for human habitation. That is the position at present.

If the progress we had made from 1932 to 1939 or 1940 had been maintained the whole back of the housing problem would have been broken before now. Everyone who knows anything about the question knows that that is true. If one goes down to a town like Arklow, and sees the number of beautiful cottages that have been built there or goes even to remoter places, right into the Gaeltacht itself, one can see what has been accomplished. I appeal to people who were there 20 years ago, 18 years ago or even 12 years ago, to testify from their own experience what they saw there in these early years and what they see when they go down there now. I think that on the whole we have made extremely good progress. I am not denying that the housing position in Dublin is really desperate at the present time. There are, of course, many reasons for that but a reason that very few put forward at all is one that is really genuine and it is this. I hope I shall not be misunderstood in making this statement. I am not making any case at all for tenement landlords or slum landlords. I hope the day is very near when the slum and the slum landlord will be a thing of the past but, after all, a tenement surely is preferable to the road for any person. Surely it is preferable even to places like St. Kevin's. Even the worst tenement accommodation is preferable to forced residence in a place like St. Kevin's.

The present position as regards tenements to a large extent was brought about by the fact that we in the corporation have been rather too stringent in our requirements from the landlords of the Dublin slums and tenements. Our officers go into these buildings and they demand the carrying out of a job which will cost the landlord £100 or £150. That landlord has a very poor chance of being recouped for his outlay and he will very often simply allow the building fall into the final stages of decay until, at last, it reaches the point where it is condemned. I think if we had gone a little easier we would still have a large number of fine old mansions in Dublin that are now either demolished or at least condemned. I think that you would still have them sheltering families. That in itself would be preferable to having these families on the road or being sent, to put it bluntly, under compulsion to the poor house.

We have had two major conferences in the Dublin Corporation on this question of housing. One of the last acts of the late Councillor James Larkin was to call together representatives of the building trade, the trade unions, corporation members and officials. We discussed the difficulties, and at that time they consisted mainly of two, one of which, as we are all aware, was the shortage of supplies. At that time neither we nor anybody else in this country could do very much about that. Then we had a shortage of skilled labour. We made our wage level for Dublin somewhat higher than the highest wage level in England, the London standard. Our hope was that people who would return, as they usually do for a short time at Christmas, would be tempted to remain at home. Some did, but a great many did not, and the position did not really improve. If anything it continued to deteriorate.

We had a conference of the same kind two months ago. It appeared to be agreed upon by all parties that the supply situation at that time had eased wonderfully and practically the whole difficulty, as far as the housing programme went, was the shortage of skilled labour. The representatives of the trades said that we had in Dublin at present a higher number of skilled workers than in 1938 and 1939 but the position was that these men were reluctant to work for the corporation notwithstanding the fact that we were paying them at the rate I previously indicated. They preferred to go out to private builders from whom they got something over and above our rate and where they also got overtime. Who can blame labour for doing that so long as they are free to do it? Who can blame builders if they go into that form of building which affords them highest profits? If there is anything terribly wrong about it, it is the function of the Government to set it right. If the last Government recognised anything terribly wrong in the labourer looking for the highest wage he could get or the business man looking for the highest profit he could get, in a legitimate field of course—if there was anything wrong about it then and if there is anything wrong about it at present, it should be settled.

The position is so very serious and so bad that I think any Government would be justified in adopting what in normal times would be considered wrong or unjust measures. I think the interference of a Government with private enterprise should be as little as possible, but when you have a social situation like that which we have in Dublin the Government should be prepared to go very far indeed, and I would urge that on a Fianna Fáil Government if it were in power just as strongly as I urge it on the present Government now. Nothing that can possible be avoided should be put in the way of a man who wants to build a house for himself, and if a group of tradesmen get together, as I have known them to do, and plan to build six or seven houses for themselves, they should be helped in every possible way. I have seen them try it and I have seen them baulked because they were unable to get a suitable site.

Something should be done to meet that position, but once that has been done and once you avoid standing in the way of the man who wants to build for himself, or in the way of people who want to help themselves in this way, those in the building trade who can only build under licence and with permits should not be given licence or permit unless they are prepared to take a fair allocation of work for public bodies. They should not be allowed to do it, in my opinion. People were not allowed to charge an unfair price for a pound of tea, a pound of butter or a dozen eggs, and why, in the name of goodness, are people allowed to charge anything they can get for a house, which is as great a human necessity as any of these other things? Those in the building trade should be replied to in this way when they apply for permits and licences: "Yes, but you must take a fair allocation of work for the public authority."

Surely by conference among the representatives of the building trade, the various unions and the specialists, the architects, the engineers and so on, it ought to be easy to establish what is a fair price for the putting up of an ordinary corporation house or labourer's cottage down the country. Once that fair price is established, it ought not to be unfair or unjust to say to the man in the building line, the man whose profession, whose living, it is to build—put it up for tender, but, if you cannot get the tenders at that fair price, you should be able to say to the builder—"yes, you can carry on and we will help you, but you must take this allocation of work for the public authorities". I believe that in that way you would get a very much greater number of houses built for our working people, because, so long as the builders have freedom of choice, why would they not build the house on which they have the higher profit?

If they are able to do that, if they are able to pay the higher wage to the tradesman or labourer who can blame the tradesman or labourer for going after the higher wage? But I tell you that if they could not continue to carry on as builders without discharging that obligation to the public at large, you would see that they would get men on the public authority job as well as on the big type of house. I am not going to call them luxury houses because I do not believe there are many, if any, houses of the luxury type being put up. I live in a modest enough house, as do other members, but if these houses were put up for sale at present, those who want to make Party capital would call them luxury houses. They are no such thing, for the most part.

Apart from insisting on builders taking a fair and just allocation of the type of house we want for our poor people, any Government, in present circumstances, would be quite justified in going to the extent of fixing a fair price for any house. If a solicitor charges too much, you call in the taxing master, who fixes what is right. No matter what the bargain between the builder and the purchaser of a house may be, if the purchaser had the right to call in a man afterwards and to say that the house was worth £1,000 less than he paid for it and that the builder could have a fair profit selling it at £1,000 less, and if he were entitled to recover that £1,000, we would see very little of this profiteering on the bigger type of house. I am not saying that a tremendous amount of profiteering goes on. I do not know, but it is commonly alleged to be going on, and, if it is, and if the situation were met in that way, it would come to a pretty sudden end.

I think, too, that another cause of discontent amongst our people is the impossibility of getting a house to rent. It is a practical impossibility in the City of Dublin. Again, I say that I cannot blame the builders if they absolutely refuse to rent a house. If they can make a handsome profit by a quick deal, they will sell—and who can blame them?—but if the steps I have mentioned were taken, it might pay people better to build houses for renting and have an assured income and profit. There would not be the temptation to sell at the big price, and the clerical worker, the civil servant, the teacher—the white collar man of every description—would be able to get a house to rent, and to marry and settle down in normal conditions at a reasonable age. I do not think that there should be discrimination in favour of any particular class of the community. All that should be amended. We should deal with the most urgent problem first, but not cut out any class. If you concentrate simply on the labourer's cottage and the corporation house, you still leave the clerical worker and the various classes which I have just named a moment ago, without a hope of getting a house to rent and without the least possibility of being able to pay for one to purchase. Therefore, I think, bad and pressing as the need is for the ordinary corporation type of house and county council house, that we must try to meet the just demands of these middle-class people who are suffering just as much as, if not more than, any other class at the present time.

I think that our Housing Acts went too far in the direction of the benefit of the tenant at the expense of the landlord. That may seem strange and I hope it is a thing that will not be used against me, but I have had dozens and dozens of letters from men and women who let houses at a low and fair rent and who cannot increase that rent to any reasonable extent in comparison with the rise in the cost of living for themselves. They, too, apart from meeting with a bad tenant who will not pay the rent, who is behind with the rent or who gives trouble in various ways, are subject to the public authority walking in on them and charging very often £100, £150 or £200 for a job, and leaving the unfortunate owner in the position that he cannot draw a shilling profit for seven, eight, nine or even ten years out of his property. One effect of that has been that no man in his senses will build houses to rent. These Acts have come along and they do not know what other Acts may come along. They are afraid to face the future as landlords who mean to live and carry on out of rents, and so our Act, made with the best intention in the world altogether in favour of the tenant, has reacted against the very people who were meant to benefit, because they cannot get a house to rent at the present time. No landlord will rent a house and no builder will build a house for renting. That is an additional cause to the one which I named before, which was of course the quick profit from quick sale, and I do not see how that can be mended.

Now, I think it is a serious shame that loans raised by public bodies are to be subject now to 3¼ per cent. instead of the former 2½ per cent. That will, I fear, slow up housing instead of making the quickest advance possible and will hold back schemes of every sort throughout the country. It will have reactions in the matter of water supplies, electricity supplies, housing and in nearly every field of endeavour in the sphere of local government, and I wonder if anything can be done about it.

The matter of traffic in the City of Dublin has been referred to. One of the things contributory to the present state of the traffic in this city is, I think, the fact that we still have tramlines over a good part of the city roads. I think the sooner these could be taken up the better. If they were taken up and the more mobile buses were in general use instead of trams it would relieve the traffic situation to some extent. I understand that something like £100,000 was allocated by the last Government for work of that type, work that would tend to relieve traffic congestion. I do not know if it is meant to expend that money during the coming year, but I would certainly advise that it should be done.

A grievance that is very often ventilated here in Dublin is this: we take in surrounding areas from time to time; we have taken in a good deal of the old county council areas, some rural district council areas, and some townships. Some of the cottages that we took in have not the amenities that cottages inside the old city boundary enjoyed. Deputy O'Higgins referred to St. Patrick's cottages, the cottages in Templeogue. I agree with every word he said. I know that they have been included in our area now for years and that they were left in the primitive state in which they were when they were taken over. In the event of one of these cottages being vacated, the corporation brings the rent for the new tenant up to the level of the corporation house. That is unjust. Until they have the amenities of ordinary city cottages, the difference in rent should remain and they should be at a low rent until something is done to make them habitable.

I have spoken of two causes for the low output of houses in Dublin. They were established at two conferences which were held, but people that are actually engaged in the building of houses assure me that there is a third and a worse cause than either of the two I have already mentioned, the restriction of output. It seems now to be generally agreed that we are not getting anything like the same output per man per hour that we got 20, 12, ten or seven years ago. I am not saying that that is true, but that belief is generally held and a person in the building trade assured me that it is a fact that there is a restriction on output.

What is the relation between the cost of labour and materials in the building of a house?

If output is reduced it slows up the whole process. If output is reduced to the extent that I am assured it is, it is very hard to think that any builders are making excessive profits at present. If there is deliberate restriction of output, it is a very shocking thing.

Does the Deputy believe that there is deliberate restriction by the unions involved?

I wish to assure the Deputy, through the Chair, that I do not know, but it is a widespread belief.

Is that belief shared by the Deputy?

I found it hard to believe that men could be so blind to their own interests.

Do you believe they could be so blind to their own interests?

I believe that these men can hardly be so blind to their own interests as deliberately to restrict output, because it hits themselves worse than anyone else, and if any direction or suggestion went out from the unions to the men to practise restriction, that would be a criminally wrong thing. I am not saying it is done but, if it were done, it would be a criminally wrong thing.

Did the Deputy not say——

Get up and talk if you want to. You are like a pack of magpies.

Deputy Corry and Deputy Connolly should allow Deputy Butler to proceed.

Let them stop interrupting.

Yes, stop interrupting.

If there is any widespread belief that really excessive profits are being made in the building industry or in any other industry, there might be some little justification for those workers who would be inclined to restrict output on the argument that their bosses were making too much and that they themselves were not getting sufficient out of it. That is why I felt that it was a dangerous thing for the Minister for Finance to refer as he did to this matter and to give it as definite established knowledge on his own part that these excessive profits were being made. There is a danger that that might be an incitement to workers to think that they were not getting a fair share or a fair profit out of business transactions. I think it is a pity. In cases like that, if it were established knowledge, the people should be dealt with, but it should not be publicised in the way it was here.

At present there are a number of houses in Dublin lying unsold. Some builders are finding it difficult or impossible to dispose of houses which they have built. Some of them have complained to me that one of the reasons they cannot sell is that, although the houses fall within the required dimensions for a subsidy, the subsidy is not being paid or will not be paid because the purchaser had not ordered the house or entered into a contract for it at a certain date. I think it is a pity to withhold the subsidy in such cases. To my own knowledge, some builders are releasing tradesmen because they find they cannot take up new work until they complete the sales of houses lying on their hands. I do not know how the present Government are dealing with this question of subsidies, but I think the subsidy should be given for any house which was in process of construction when the Act came into force. I think the subsidy should be given for any house that has not yet been sold as an encouragement to proceeding with further building.

A good deal was said with regard to these holiday camps. These camps were meant in the main to cater for the working classes. We gave holidays with pay to the workers. Surely these men are entitled to a week or a fortnight of a complete change of life, as it were, and are entitled to have all the amenities that go with a summer holiday in Great Britain or any other country.

Do you seriously think any of them can afford it?

The point is that they can afford it much better than they can afford to pay £40, £50 or £60 to rent a place at the seaside for a whole family. That is a common thing. A charge of £40 is regarded as a small charge for a cottage for a family at the seaside. It puts it outside the power of the ordinary workingman. These holiday camps cater relatively cheaply and, apparently, in a splendid way. I have no experience of them, but I have seen comparable ones in Great Britain and the Isle of Man, and I think they serve a good purpose by enabling the ordinary worker, who cannot afford to go to Parknasilla or Lahinch or to a luxury hotel or anywhere else, to have a holiday. They get all the amenities in these camps at a modest price when everything is considered. I think it is a good development and that it will bring profit to this country in a great many ways. I know I would be out of order if I were to touch on the tourist industry but I cannot understand the attitude of our people towards the tourist question in general. The camp that has been referred to, apparently, has a standing rule that 50 per cent. of the places are reserved for our own people and if the number of our people who apply is higher than 50 per cent. of the places, outside people must be restricted and, I am sure, will be restricted.

Where is this?

It is taking an unwise view to criticise a place like that.

If you were looking for a bed in Dublin, you would know all about it.

I know that such a thing would be welcomed in Britain, Scotland, France, Belgium, Switzerland and Italy as a great fillip to the tourist industry as a whole.

If they had the houses first.

We should afford encouragement rather than discouragement to efforts of that sort. I was rather surprised to hear the complaint of Deputy O'Higgins last night that the last Minister for Local Government did not go down to have a look at this bridge in Offaly to which he referred. Surely it is not the function of a Minister to go down and have a look at a bridge or a house or anything that may have to be constructed.

The height of the bridge is the fault referred to. The drawing up of plans for a bridge is the duty of the surveyor and we all know that the surveyor in Offaly is a particularly efficient and conscientious man. I find it very difficult to believe anything else than that somebody deliberately pulled Deputy O'Higgins's leg in regard to this matter. I would very much like to go down to see the people engaged in the fishing industry in this particular place that was referred to in Offaly. I am sure the Deputy must have been misinformed.

It is not a question of misinformation. You can see it.

In any case, it was not the Minister's function. That is the point I am making. According to legend, some of the old saints possessed the property of bilocation. It is a nice thing to know that we have now Ministers, modern saints, who possess this property and who can properly discharge their duties for which they are paid in their own office and at the same time appear down the country inspecting bridges and things of that sort.

Why should not they?

He has his own office and his own officials to see after and, if he is running around the country, his main job must fall to the ground. I am not suggesting for a moment that the present Minister's job is falling to the ground but, if a Minister were expected to do all this running around that Deputies on the opposite side seem to expect him to do, I do not believe he could carry out his own duties in the place and in the manner for which he is paid to do them.

The ex-Minister is doing it now.

They have not ministerial responsibility now. They did no unnecessary running about when they had.

That is what was wrong with them. They did not keep in touch with the people.

I do hope that the acquisition and clearance of sites will be speeded up as much as possible. In saying that, I am only echoing what people on every side of the House have said but I know it cannot be speeded up miraculously. Perhaps I am using the wrong word. It could be done miraculously but, short of a miracle, I do not think it can be speeded unduly. Red tape is a sad necessity of life. I would prefer any amount of red tape to compulsory acquisition of property without thought or adequate investigation.

There is no fear of that.

These processes are necessarily slow. Remember, our Constitution guarantees justice to every man, high or low. Processes such as these are necessarily slow. Red tape is necessary. I appeal to the Minister, however, to shorten the process as much as possible. No one will expect the impossible from him. I have often been amused by the fact that although we discussed certain plans and problems at the Dublin Corporation for months and months, and although sometimes years elapsed before we were able to present the plans to the Minister and ask for his approbation, if the Minister delayed one week or one month in considering the problems, people criticised. People should be reasonable in all these matters.

As regards the managerial question, I want to give my own experience. I have had experience in the Dublin Corporation of three city managers, the late Mr. Sherlock, Mr. John Keane and then our present manager, Dr. Hernon. They were three equally excellent men and it would be extremely difficult to beat them. If we had the same type of manager everywhere there would not be much scope for criticism. In principle I do not like the managerial system. I have said that in other places, as a matter of fact, and in the corporation itself. Before the city managers, I have said that I do not like the institution in principle. I will welcome a return of the powers, or, at least, the extension of the existing powers enjoyed by—it might be more appropriate to say suffered by—the present members of public bodies.

I do not see that the argument of the growing complexity of local administration holds. If there is growing complexity, which there is, it is as difficult for the city manager as for anybody else. Each department of a public body has its own head. There is the engineer, the architect, the medical officer of health, the chief accountant or principal clerk, all heads of their own departments. I do not think it is possible to get a man who is an expert accountant, an expert engineer, an expert architect and a specialist in medicine. I do not agree with that argument. Then there is the other big argument put up in favour of the managerial system that there was corruption among the members of the old councils. If there was some degree of corruption, and I suppose nothing is perfect in an imperfect world, there is one thing you can be sure of and it is that the councillor who was known to be dishonest or corrupt did not survive long in public life. Every councillor is a watchdog on every other councillor. One of the functions that the Party system serves, in the case of these local councils, is that the various Parties watch each other very closely, so that if anything in the nature of corruption is attempted by a member of a council he will be jumped on by the other members. He will probably be jumped upon by the members of his own Party, and certainly by the members of the Opposition Parties. For these reasons I do not see much in that charge of corruption, but I do see this that if, through any misfortune, you happened to get a corrupt county manager or a corrupt city manager he has no watchdog, and things could be done that would be much worse than the things that could be done by any poor beggar of a councillor or alderman.

I do hope that the housing council that is being set up will achieve good results. It has my best wishes, and I think the best wishes of our Party, but knowing the situation as we do, we do not hope for or expect miracles.

Deputy Butler has dealt with so many aspects of the problem that it would be difficult to controvert all his statements that require correction. There is one point which, I think, we should deal with immediately for the sake of having that production in the building industry which all those with progressive tendencies desire. The type of talk in which Deputy Butler indulged— making vague references to a hold up of production by workers and making the statement that perhaps there was and that perhaps there was not a deliberate intention on the part of unions to delay production and failing to come out straight and strong in the matter—is, I submit, the type of talk which does breed a very serious form of discontent among any class of workers. It is the easiest possible thing for a Deputy, without any experience of trade unions and without any experience of the type of organisation required in the building industry, to get up and make these vague insinuations and innuendoes against the workers who are engaged in that industry. If Deputy Butler is anxious that there should be increased productivity in the building industry he should come out and state, with all his knowledge and belief, that there is no truth whatsoever in these insinuations and innuendoes. He should maintain that no responsible union would deliberately encourage a policy of ca'canny, particularly in the building industry, and he should support the efforts of all responsible authorities who require increased production in maintaining the morale of the workers so engaged.

Apart from the basis of its organisation, building is so complicated-there are so many jobs that have to be fitted one into the other-that the idea of deliberate sabotage on the part of any group of workers is utterly preposterous and ridiculous. There has been no proven case of that. If any such form of sabotage had been indulged in on housing programmes during the period when the previous Minister for Local Government was in office, I am sure we would have had from him the full value of his condemnation of it. He would have let us feel the full weight of his tongue on such a procedure.

In the building industry, as everyone knows, there is a series of chain operations. One group of workers follows another from the foundations right up to the completed work. One group of workers is always waiting for the completion of the portion of the job that is being done by the previous group of workers. There is that natural impetus to get on with the work, apart from the fact that there are foremen, gangers, supervisors, engineers, architects and the owners of the project in hands. In hardly any industry, I submit, is there a less chance of sabotage and of ca'canny than in the building industry. We on this side of the House will do everything to encourage building workers to understand that there is no mean view taken of their activities by any responsible section of this House.

I do not wish to follow Deputy Butler on many other points that he raised. Some of them were moot points. I would like to have some clear indication from the Minister on an important point that was raised by Deputy MacEntee. It was also raised, but not in such a complete or analytical manner, by Deputy Butler, and that was the increase in the interest rates on funds granted to local authorities. It was also adverted to by Deputy Hickey. The Minister himself referred to it, but his indications of what is proposed to be done in regard to the adjustments made in the amount of the Transition Development Fund grants evidently do not satisfy Deputy MacEntee or other members of the Opposition.

It could be taken from what the Minister said when he talked about the intention to alleviate the adverse effect of this increase in the rate on the housing finances of local authorities, that the effect would be to put the local authorities back to the position that obtained in regard to this matter before the increase was introduced by the Minister for Finance. On the other hand, it may possibly be that Deputy Hickey's suggestion in regard to an even lower rate might come about by some adjustment of the Transition Development Fund. I am at a loss to know what the position is, and I think the House should obtain further information on the matter from the Minister.

In regard to the term of the loan being restricted to 35 years, Deputy Hickey mentioned that in his opinion any house was worth a life of 60 years. He did not seem to know, or did not seem to consider, that the extension of the term had been and is, I take it, still 50 years. Paragraph 28 of the White Paper mentions the extension of that repayment period from 35 to 50 years. From Deputy Hickey's remarks I gather that perhaps there may have been a change in relation to the period. I should like to be satisfied by the Minister that the extension of the period, at least to 50 years, has continued under the present circumstances. It is very difficult indeed to assess this Estimate, in the manner in which I should like to assess it, on the basis of the Labour Party programme. After all, as Deputy MacEntee stated, it relates to 46 weeks of his stewardship and only six weeks of the Minister's stewardship. In this circumstance I think the best attitude to adopt is to consider this Estimate as an interim one as far as it portrays the Minister's policy in regard to local government generally, housing and the different aspects that come under his Department.

We can and I think we must wait for another 12 months until we are in a position to estimate the full impact of the Ministerial views and policies in regard to his own Department. If we were to take it as an Estimate to be considered as a continuance from the previous Government—if we were to consider that there would be no break in policy—I think every Deputy would be appalled at the slow rate of progress that we are making in this country irrespective of Government. The housing problem is a very difficult one, but it is a problem that could be tackled. It is a problem that could be solved, probably in a much shorter time than any of the attempts made heretofore have shown. According to the data given to us there were 53,000 houses built for the express benefit of the working class in the past 15 years. The total number required, as far as the local authorities are able to estimate, for the working class amounts to 60,848. On the same basis of progress as made during the previous 15 years it would evidently take us another 15 years to get anywhere near the solution of this problem. In the meantime, as it is stated in the white Paper, there are new arrears accruing. The number of houses which are falling into decay is increasing and the programme will continue to be uncertain in regard to the date of its completion. We would not for a moment consider the present building rate as anywhere near what could normally be accomplished. But if we did—and it is appalling to think of it—take the present necessarily slow rate it would occupy another 80 years and we would still be talking in this legislative Assembly of the housing problem and the housing needs of the country. That is an appalling thought.

The one thing that we would require and the one thing that I think is so far absent is some target which the Minister and his Department should set themselves in regard to a quick determination of this problem. While it may not be possible to achieve what is intended with the best form of houses, to provide the best accommodation for the working-class, yet the situation is so desperate, not only in the country but in Dublin and the cities as well, that the Minister would be well justified in adopting some temporary mode of housing the people, whether by setting up Red Indian wigwams, bell tents, Nissen huts or any other form of temporary accommodation which would relieve the crowded conditions under which our people suffer. This crowded condition of the houses has an adverse effect on the houses themselves. It causes further deterioration of the annual wear and tear of these houses and, more important still, it causes deterioration of the physical conditions of those who are herded in the slums. It will lead to a greater and accelerated increase in infantile mortality, to which Dr. Brennan adverted in his speech. Therefore any possible means, any temporary means, any means of building up temporary huts or houses to take the people from these crowded slums would be a step which would accelerate the housing programme in the end. Generally, Deputies think that slums are related to cities only. They imagine a slum and certain parts of Dublin are terms that are synonymous. But from my experience slums are where you find them. In some country districts there are greater slums than are to be found in the City of Dublin. The conditions under which the people live are truly and absolutely appalling. If the previous Minister for Local Government would take credit for what he has done in regard to the housing problem he would have to accept responsibility for some very black spots in regard to rural housing.

Some places, especially those just outside city boundaries, seem to have been adversely affected and completely neglected in any housing schemes contemplated or carried through during the past 16 years. Just outside the city boundary of Dundalk, at the first turn on the road to Belfast, there is a place called Lisdoo. If the Minister ever continues his royal progress, to which Deputy MacEntee adverted, and visits that constituency I sincerely hope he will visit that particular part of Dundalk. He will find there 300 or 400 people herded in a more primitive condition than could be found anywhere else. He will find, as was my experience, ten, 11 and even 12 people herded into one small room. He will find that there is no place for the family to sit for their meals. They have hardly room to get round a table. There are no washing facilities and, of course, no sanitary facilities. These people are right on the borders of the fairly prosperous business-like commercial town of Dundalk. Many of them are not absolutely destitute. Some of them work in the nearby factories and could quite easily and would willingly pay rents. The whole area, by reason of the fact that it was not within the municipal area, was denied any benefit from a building programme. Places such as Lisdoo in rural areas are particularly worthy of the Minister's consideration in reference to any housing programme.

In an old town such as Drogheda there is quite a large number of the derelict sites to which some Deputies have adverted. I am very glad that the Minister in his opening statement gave consideration to the question of the acquisition of those derelict sites in the city and county areas. A great deal could be done in these old towns where such sites exist to relieve the immediate pressure of the housing problem. The problem in Drogheda, in particular, seems to be getting worse year by year.

There is one particular aspect of the problem there which applies, I am sure, to every other town, and I think the Minister's attention should be directed to it. While in Drogheda the needs of the working class are estimated at 725 houses, the sites acquired at the present time are capable of supplying 170 houses. Most of these houses which will be built will, as the Minister knows, be for those who come from houses which have been condemned and pulled down by the corporation. Apart from the people who are a first priority in this matter, there are in Drogheda about 700 roomkeepers, living in tenements, who are desperately in need of accommodation. I understand they will not be considered in any housing programme and that there will be no relief for them, except—and it is hardly any relief at all—that afforded by the removal of people from the condemned houses. The natural temptation of people in those rooms is to acquire tenancies in the condemned houses as soon as they have been vacated and that has caused trouble from time to time. There are cases of roomkeepers, where 13 people are living in two rooms on the one landing in Drogheda. They have no hope under the existing regulations, as nothing can be done for them. The regulations should be amended, so as to place these roomkeepers upon an equal basis with those from the condemned houses, in regard to eligibility for new houses. They should not be excluded as they are at the present time.

There is complaint by local authorities in regard to the 66? per cent. subsidy on houses which operates if—and only if—they knock down an existing house. That naturally delays the building programme, as a local authority is anxious to get the highest possible subsidy and there must be a limit to the number of houses which they can condemn and knock down in the area. They have to wait until a house is condemned and knocked down before it can qualify for the 66? per cent. subsidy. If the regulations were amended, it would promote greater speed in the development of the housing programme.

Finally, I wish to be in accord with Deputy Hickey on the question of finance. It is an extremely difficult matter. It is simple to say, as Deputy Hickey said, that housing should not be treated on the basis of the financial return to those who lend the money, but should be looked upon as such a social need that there should be no question of finance holding up its development. The cost of such a programme is, of course, enormous. The White Paper estimates that it would amount to something like £9,000,000 per annum for a ten-year period, or £6,000,000 for a 15-year period. The question is whether, under the present system that controls the whole economic life of the country, it is possible for the State to finance a housing programme of that dimension, with such a small economic basis as we have in this country. I would be very interested to hear the development of that idea. I am sure the Minister is anxious to complete a housing programme and solve this problem and if he can get sufficient support within the Government for such a financial revolution, I am sure that most sections of the inter-Party Government would support him, from the point of view of the social necessity and the emergency character of the scheme.

In reference to prefabrication, the Minister in his opening statement appears quite prepared to consider this—and rightly so, if it makes any alleviation whatsoever of the temporary distress that is caused. However, this matter requires careful handling, not from the point of view of any vested interest, but since the basis of such a scheme of prefabrication is a heavy industry. Prefabricated houses are generally, so far as my study of the matter has gone, the product of heavy industry. Other industries are converted to this process of building houses in parts so that they can be conveyed to the sites for assembly. There is no such heavy industry in this country, so far as I know, capable of adaptation to prefabrication; so the parts of these houses would have to be imported.

As a temporary measure, that may be necessary and may relieve the problem, but we must be extremely careful in handling it, to see whether it would hold up the other parts of the industry which would give us better houses in the long run. If they are looked upon as only temporary habitations, as a form of supplying huts or bell-tents, as a temporary way of clearing the population out of houses which are bad for them physically and in every other way, their adoption should be considered in a reasonable manner; but any attempt to let the prefabricated houses displace the houses to which we are accustomed in this country and in this climate, would in the end, over a long period, have a very adverse effect upon the housing problem.

We have heard a lot about the managerial system. Judging by the speeches I have heard for the short time during which I had the misfortune to come into this House in the last two days, I think the Minister would want to scrap all the local governing bodies as fast as he can. Most of them do not seem to know their job. Why the time of this House should be taken up in discussing whether or not the tramlines in Dublin should be removed, I cannot understand. That is a matter for the Dublin Corporation and only for the Dublin Corporation.

We have heard several complaints here about housing. I have been wondering whether the Deputies who complained so grievously about housing are members of local authorities. If they are members of local authorities I wonder what they are doing. We have been told that much cannot be done under the managerial system. Lying in the Minister's office at the present time there are proposals for the taking over of sites for over 800 houses in that portion of Cork County that I happen to represent.

Mr. Murphy

How long have they been lying there?

Not long. I do not intend anything derogatory to the Minister when I say they are lying there, and I do not want him to take it as being derogatory. I know the Minister and I know that those proposals will not lie there very long. I merely give this as an instance of a local authority that is doing some work. I hold it out to those Deputies who complained here about 700 houses in Dundalk and 900 houses somewhere else. I wonder what the local authorities are doing in those areas in regard to the housing problem.

I am sorry Deputy Hickey has left the House. There has been a lot of talk here about the financial provisions and everything else. If Deputy Hickey recollects there are two hills in Cork within 100 yards of each other—Spangle Hill and Douglas Hill. On Spangle Hill houses were built by the corporation. On the other they were built by the board of health. Deputy Hickey has told us here that the rents of the houses on Spangle Hill run from 18/- to 24/- a week. One hundred yards away the rents are 9/6. Yet the corporation got a far bigger grant than the board of health. Deputy Hickey should ask himself why. In the answer to that question will be found the answer as to who is the friend of the worker in this country. Is it that section who are piling on and piling on until in the end, when the houses are completed, the ordinary working class cannot afford to live in them and pay the rent? Here on this road you have two sets of houses, one built under rural conditions of labour and the other built under urban conditions of labour.

I am as concerned as the Minister is about the burden that is placed upon the ratepayers. I have heard the Minister in the past express very grave concern because of the high level which rates had reached. I have heard him express his views as vice-chairman of our council. The burden of rates at the present time is more than the people can bear. In all the problems that he has to consider and in all the remedies he will suggest I hope that he will keep this matter of rates largely before his mind.

I am concerned, too, with the position of housing schemes, particularly in the town of Youghal. I am not one of those who object to the Minister moving around. I would like to take him to the town of Youghal some day and bring him to visit the Mall mansions for which the Urban Council of Youghal draw rent every week and in which the Minister would be well advised to walk warily in case it might tumble down upon him. According to returns the Urban Council of Youghal require 120 houses. According to reply I got from the Minister they invited tenders for 44 of those. Of that 44 they proposed to build 18. The cost of that 18 was so high they decided to build none at all. I think the Minister should give that his very careful consideration. If local authorities are not prepared to do their job then the Minister should take all steps necessary to compel them to do their work and to provide houses for the working classes.

The Minister is a new Minister in a new job. We cannot judge his work now but we will judge it in 12 months' time. He has one advantage. He was trained in the best training college in Ireland; he spent 24 years in the Cork County Council. That should be enough training for any Minister. I am sure that he will make a success as a Minister and that he will do his job well. On the other hand, should the occasion arise I shall not fail to criticise him. But it is only fair to a new Minister that he should be given his chance and his opportunity of proving good. We have heard a lot about housing here. Each Minister in turn has done a lot towards solving the housing problem. If they did not do more it was not their fault. It was largely the fault of the local authorities concerned. I say that as a member of a local authority that can boast that it did its job. Some urban authorities seem to be nervous of building houses. It is very hard in some instances, in view of the rates that have to be paid. However, the obligation must be met.

The other trouble that seems to be here is, who is going to carry the baby? There are 100,000 houses required and it is largely a matter of who will pay the piper. That seems to be the whole problem. We have one Deputy complaining about the profits of the builder, another Deputy afraid there will be too much given for the land, another complaining as to how much the labourer will get out of it and another talking about how much will be borne by the central authority and how much will go on the rate-payer's back and on the tenant of the house. There is no use in building houses if the rent will be such that nobody can live in them on account of that rent. The class they are being built for will not be in a position to pay the rent required.

There is a very nasty aspect around a lot of this. The architect is paid on the estimated cost. Deputies should carry their minds back and they will remember the way that worked out in regard to Cork. I can give facts from personal experience as to how it worked out and I can bring to the Minister's recollection where a three-roomed house, supposed to cost £380, cost £1,370 because the architect's fees were based on the cost. I should think that in connection with any plans for non-muncipal houses and labourers' cottages, the Department should be able to send down set plans that can be chosen and in that way get rid of the architect's job altogether. So far as the hospital is concerned, the architect drew more out of it than was paid for the land and the improvement to the land. Now we find he will draw another haul.

This game has gone too far. When it applies to housing, every extra penny a house costs will fall on the unfortunate tenant. If labour do not do their part and if the builder looks for too much profit, all these things will be represented in the long run in the rent on the house and the unfortunate tenant will not be able to pay. I urge that aspect of the matter on the Minister and ask him to give it careful consideration.

Sílim go bhfuil eolas fé leith agamsa ar an gceist seo mar thógas tig nua dom fhéin dhá bhliain ó shoin agus ar an abhar san tá eolas agam ar na deacrachtaí atá ag baint leis an obair seo. Tá fhios agam chomh maith gur féidir le héinne tigh do thógáil ach a dhóithin airgid a bheith aige. Tá fhios againn nach bhfuil a dhóithin airgid ag gach duine chun tighe do thógáil dó féin ach ní féidir san a rá maidir leis an tír mar tá ár ndóithin airgid againn sa tír seo agus tá sé le fáil ag an Roinn. D'fheádfhadh an Rialtas iasacht mhór d'fháil chun tithe do thógáil ach a iarraidh orthu. Dá bhrí sin, ní leith-scéal easba abhar tógála mar ní bheadh easba abhar tógála ann muna mbeadh easba airgid ann. Ba mhaith liom dá mbeadh cead agam é seo d'athrá i dtreo is go dtuighfeadh an Teachta Mac an tSaoi mé, ach tá rud eile le rá agam anois a thaithneós leis.

During the election campaign Fianna Fáil was very severely criticised for the way in which, it was alleged, they fell down on building and on the adequate provision of houses for people who needed them. That criticism was merited only, I think, to a limited extent. We all remember, shortly after the Irish Press was founded, the attack which it launched on the slum problem, in Dublin City particularly. As a result of the publicity which the Fianna Fáil organ gave to the appalling conditions then existing, public attention was directed towards that problem and very great strides were made towards a solution of it. I would like to say that, in order to put it on record to the credit of Fianna Fáil. I appreciate that they met their difficulties owing to war conditions, but I sincerely and honestly feel that, as my colleague Deputy Fitzpatrick said last night, they got tired. I shall not develop that any further, because I know that the rank and file of the Deputies on the other side of the House are as sincerely concerned about this question of housing as anybody on this side is.

From my professional experience in the country, I have been very much surprised at the want of knowledge which a great many people exhibit as regards the facilities which are available to them through the Local Government Department. It will be, I am sure, a matter of surprise to the Department and to members of this House to learn that there should be a want of knowledge about the facilities provided. They are well publicised from all sides of the House; the newspapers carry reports of the facilities which are available and they carry sometimes, I think, advertisements in the usual Civil Service form. I think that very few ordinary readers of newspapers bother reading anything under Government notices or public notices.

While at this particular time it may not be opportune, owing to the difficult conditions which exist, to institute an intensive propaganda campaign to bring these facilities to the notice of people who have in their minds the building of houses, I do think that it should certainly be a matter to which the Minister should, during normal times, direct his attention. I think it would be a good idea if the Minister for Local Government would try to emulate his colleague, the Minister for Agriculture, by publishing in the newspapers advertisements which would catch the eye, and which would inform people of the facilities which are provided for them by the Government as regards housing.

Deputy Corry has given me a lead on the aspect of what appears to be the laziness and inefficiency of local bodies. I agree with him that there have been some very extraordinary delays. I have in mind one problem which affected my own native place. It is an extraordinary example of delays by the proper authorities. Whether the delay was due to the local authorities or to the Department of Local Government in sanctioning a scheme for which the local authority required sanction, I do not know but about 16 years ago in the village of Cappawhite, County Tipperary, there was a magnificent high-pressure water scheme introduced by the local authorities but many of the people could not get the water in because they had nowhere to let it out. Although water was made available to them 15 or 16 years ago, they are still awaiting a sewerage scheme. The matter has now been brought to the attention of the Minister by me and I am glad to say that there are signs of some progress being made.

Reference was made to the Labourers Act, 1936, and there is just one small point about that Act to which I should like to direct the Minister's attention. It is not a matter which, I think, comes within the scope of his Department but I think the Department might be able to help. All over the country—I know that it is so in South Tipperary—a large number of tenants who purchased their cottages quite a long time ago are left waiting to have their titles registered in the Land Registry. I have had dealings with a number of the owners of these cottages which have been vested for over 12 months. Permission has been obtained from the local authority for their transfer but they cannot be conveniently transferred until they are vested in the cottiers. The county council's solicitor blames the Land Registry and I would urge the Minister to do what he can to have registration of these cottages expedited, so that they can be dealt with in a convenient way with regard to transfer.

One other matter with which I should like to deal is that of the roads. I do not at all agree with the views expressed by a number of Deputies that dangerous crossings and dangerous bends make for road safety. Let it be conceded that we are living in an age of speed and it would be simply stopping the clock to adopt a policy of doing nothing, so to speak, with regard to improving the roads. The better the roads are, the less damage and the less wear and tear there will be to vehicles using the roads. While we have to import spare parts for vehicles, it would possibly mean a great national saving if there was a considerable reduction in the wear and tear of parts and in the necessity for their consequential replacement.

I think it is well known that parts of such vehicles do not last as long in this country as in England where the roads are much better. From that point of view, the maintenance of our roads at the highest possible level could be construed as a national saving. From the point of view of safety, I do not think it can be seriously argued that a long, straight, good road is more dangerous to travel on and more liable to be a cause of accidents than badly-surfaced, crooked roads with bends and dangerous turns. I do not think that can be seriously contended but it has been argued here.

I just want to refer for one moment to grants for houses. People in the country, particularly in the rural areas, have the idea—and I am speaking from experience because I have discussed the matter with many of them—that the provision of sanitary arrangements in these houses is a very costly matter. As a matter of fact, it is not. I know that the Department of Local Government will supply at a very cheap rate —at 1/- each—approved plans for houses. That is something which is not known to the people. I think that there is not in these plans any emphasis, so to speak, upon the desirability of sanitary arrangements in the houses built in rural areas. They are just as much a convenience there as they are in the cities and towns.

Sílim nach bhfuil a thuille le rá agam ar an Meastachán seo, ach, mar dúras cheana, ba mhaith liom, mar fhocal scuir, Fianna Fáil do mholadh arís as ucht an méid a dhein siad nuair a bhí siad in a Rialtas.

I heard a lot of talk here about the managerial system and I failed to understand much of it. I think there is scarcely anything that a public body wants to do—and I have been for practically 30 years a member of public bodies—that it cannot do at present. They have complete control of the purse, and if the manager wishes to do anything they do not like, they can refuse to let him have the funds, which is a very effective way of stopping him. I have had experience of a couple of county managers and I found that they were always anxious to cooperate with the council. They did not wish to create any bad feeling between themselves and the council, or any public body with which they had to do. They went out of their way to try to accommodate the public body. What strikes me, when people talk about the managerial system, is that what they mean, to a great extent, is the abolition of the Appointments Commission, which I think would be disastrous. They talk about public bodies getting back all their powers, and, in a great many cases, they mean the powers of patronage, to put it in blunt language. I think it would be a disastrous thing for the country if the Appointments Commission were abolished and it is something with which I hope the Minister will never be persuaded to have even any sympathy.

With regard to housing, I heard Deputies speak as if nothing had been done in the way of housing ever since an Irish Government came into power. In the lifetime of the previous Government, something like 150,000 houses were built by public bodies or with the assistance of Government grants. I should like the Minister to give us a clear statement with regard to replies and the cause of the delays. I have been written to by people who complain about delays and who complain also that, when they write to the Department, they do not get replies for a considerable time. I do not know whether that is so or not, but I should like the Minister to look into it.

There is one local matter which I want to put before the Minister, that is, the position of the town of Westport and the urban council there. The town of Westport is peculiarly situated from a territorial standpoint. It is down in a hollow and is in two part—one along the quay or sea front and the other a considerable distance away. The land between is the demesne of Lord Sligo and up to this the urban council have failed to get any building sites whatever on that land. Anybody who looks at how the town is situated will realise that that is the only direction in which the town can expand, if it is ever to expand. I think a good many Deputies, and I am sure the Minister has received it, have received a circular from the urban council relating to this matter.

During the discussion on the Land Commission Vote, there was mention of the privileges which the owners of demesne lands have over other owners. They are practically immune from their land being taken for building or any other public purpose. We have reached a position in which no class should have that privilege. If the ordinary farmer's land can be taken, if needed, for a public purpose, I do not see why demesne land should not also be taken over. I do not want to preach the policy that all the demesnes surrounding these houses should be done away with, but they should not be allowed to stand in the way of the community's progress. I hope that the Minister will deal sympathetically with the points I have raised and will let us have all the information we can get.

So much of this debate has been taken up with housing that one is inclined to think that housing is the only function of local government. I am sure that such criticism as has been offered on the question of housing conditions is entirely justified. What we have heard of housing conditions, particularly in the cities and larger towns, gives a picture of a terrible state of affairs, but anything I could say on the matter would add very little. It would be like attempting to paint the lily, which I do not propose to do. I propose, however, to bring the attention of the House back to the broader principle of local government in all its phases, so that some thought may be given to it. To my mind the functions of local government are just as important as the functions of central government. Elected representatives on local bodies have as serious a responsibility as the elected representatives to this House and the extent to which those elected on local bodies discharge their duties, with that in mind, will be the measure of the success which local government shall have in the future.

Again I would suggest that representatives on local bodies have been divorced from their responsibilities since the introduction of the managerial system. At the outset the elected representatives had a feeling of resentment towards the managers. They felt that they were being placed in an inferior position and resented that, with the result that there was not that co-operation with the manager which might have given very good results. That phase seemed to pass and in its place came a spirit of indifference. Things, I would say, were more or less allowed to drift and responsibilities of elected representatives were not fully discharged. Later still, seeing that the managerial system was likely to continue, the spirit of subservience has settled upon people. The elected representatives now see that the county manager is all-powerful; they have become more or less subservient, they look up to him and endeavour to get what favours they can from him for their own district. This leads to a position of extravagance and a lack of efficiency in local affairs. I am glad that the Minister has promised that he will look very carefully into the whole system so that as far as possible local affairs shall be given back once more to those elected to take charge. I would say that the functions of local government towards central government are those of a training ground for young men to qualify in order to take part in the deliberations of this House, so that, in a broader sense, they will be able to contribute something that will be helpful in the control of the affairs of central government. I am not making any reflection on the ability and integrity of county managers. They appear to me to be both able and honourable men, but the fact that control is largely in their hands has lead to a position of extravagance. If the elected representatives were responsible to those who elected them they would be more careful, they would only embark on such schemes as would be likely to be a success and reproductive. The position being as it is they do not devote the same attention to detail as they should.

Another point is that county managers, from our experience of them, are more or less short time officials. I think that the average life, at least the administrative life, of a manager in a county would be from three to four years. As a rule they get a promotion at that time to a better position, and that being so, they have not the long term view nor the same personal interest in the discharge of the functions of the county that I am sure the elected representatives would have. On that score alone they can hardly give the same results, that close attention, that local representatives would give. Furthermore it appears to be a settled policy—from what cause I could not say—but it appears to have become a feature of local government that appointments are not filled as soon as they become vacant. Temporary officers are appointed and carry on for a considerable period, sometimes for years, or at least for a period running into the second year. There again, these officials cannot have a long term view nor devote the intimate attention to their work that they should. Naturally, when a position is temporary, they are not quite sure whether they will succeed to a permanent position. They are looking for promotion in another direction, with the result that they are not giving the same attention to their work that they would if they were permanently appointed. In my own county during the past couple of years there were a few of these appointments which were not filled. For a considerable time there was a vacancy for a county engineer which was filled by a temporary man. Also for a long period there was only a temporary official as secretary to the county council. I am glad to say that that has been filled within the past few weeks. There was also a vacancy for the accountant to the county council and the clerk of the urban council. That was filled for a period, and that official has now succeeded to the secretaryship of the county council but now the clerkship of the urban council has become vacant. The clerkship of Belturbet Urban Council has also become vacant.

I would suggest to the Minister to make some attempt to speed up a permanent appointment for those positions. It would lead to more efficiency in all those positions, officials would take more interest in their work when they settle down to a permanent position and they would give better service than in the temporary position which they have held up to the present. Local councils have wider functions than housing. That is a very big problem but nevertheless it is not the only one. They have control of, and provide for, county institutions which are a very big burden and where great economies or where great abuses could take place. That is a place where local representatives could, and should, exercise great care and great economy. There are also the outdoor health institutions, housing, of course, and road schemes. A great deal has been said about roads too, but one thing seems to have been overlooked. While effort seems to have been concentrated on trunk and main roads, very little attention at all has been given to back roads, roads which farmers must use to get into and out from their home and their farm. Main and trunk roads have been made very dangerous for farmers' traffic, in many instances resulting in serious accidents. I have known many cases of horses falling, breaking their legs and having to be destroyed. I know of one case where a horse fell on a tarred surface, broke the shafts of the trap and threw an old woman out, breaking her leg, while there is not one penny compensation for the owner of the vehicle or the unfortunate human being. I submit that that is a serious hardship, not so much the question of compensation—as that would be a poor consolation to a person with a broken limb—but the fact that roads are being constructed in such a way as to be a danger to animal-drawn traffic. I am glad that a commission has been investigating that matter and I hope when their report is published it will provide some remedy so that this danger to horse-drawn traffic and animals will be obviated.

As to the question of by-roads into farmers' dwellings, I understand that at one time county councils levied a rate of 3d. in the £ to keep these roads in repair. At some period in the 20's of the present century, shortly after native Government was established, that was abolished and county councils were not allowed to levy that rate for the upkeep of by-roads. That function, it appears, was passed on to the Board of Works, and those of us who have been living on back roads have the sad experience of waiting for the Board of Works to do this work. Recently I addressed a question to the responsible Minister as to the Board of Works being prevented from expending money on such roads unless there was a sufficient number of people registered as unemployed. I am glad to say that the Parliamentary Secretary admitted that it was a great hardship on people living along roads where the number of registered unemployed was so small that a full-scale grant could not be given and he expressed the hope that some day that would be remedied. I hope that day will come soon.

There has been some suggestion about providing protective clothing for road workers. Anyone who sees these men working in all kinds of weather would say that that is a great necessity. I should like to suggest to the Minister that, instead of providing the clothing for these workers, he should make available to them the money to buy this clothing. That would lead to economy, because nobody will give the same care to public property as he will to property belonging to himself. In that way road workers would take better care of the clothing, and if as a result of that they could gain 10/-, 15/-, 20/- or 30/- in the year, they are justly entitled to it. If the State provides the clothing and it is not properly cared for, it will have a very short life. If a road worker takes great care of the clothing and saves £1 or £2 in the year, I think he is justly entitled to it.

The housing problem has been dealt with so exhaustively from all aspects that I do not think I need add anything to it. I should like, however, to say that the present high rents are due to the scarcity of houses. That scarcity has arisen from the fact that there was very little private building of houses during the last 20 years. Some Deputies said that that was the result of efforts intended to provide better facilities for the tenants of houses by giving them the right to object to increased rents. In any event, the result is that people with money to invest would not invest it in building houses and that led to a scarcity of houses with a consequent increase in the rents of existing houses.

I suggest that town planning is an obstruction to private building at the present time by people of fairly substantial means who would be in a position to have a house erected for themselves in a place which they consider would be convenient to their place of business. In any case, the town planning regulations are an obstruction if adopted by a council. Cavan adopted the Town Planning Act and employed a consultant engineer who has prepared a plan and produced a report. I have read that preliminary report and I must say it provides for a very ideal town. It provides for ring and radial roads so that the district would be more or less like a cobweb. It provides for pleasure grounds, pleasure lakes and other amenities. At one point it proposes to cut through a hill and build a road underpassing another road crossing at right angles to a proposed pleasure lake. Another thing it proposes to do is to drain a lake by tunnelling through a hill half a mile long. The whole thing is so beautiful on paper as to be almost Utopian. Although this is a long-term plan, the cost would be enormous and the ability of the ratepayers to meet it can be measured by the fact that 1d. in the £ on the rates only produces £27 annually.

I submit that these things are an obstruction to private building and that any private building undertaken will relieve the great scarcity of houses that exists, because, if the person of substantial means is unable to build a house for himself, then he is in competition with the working man for whatever house is available and, naturally, is in a position to pay a higher rent and get the house. Therefore, anything that is an obstruction to private individuals or public authorities providing houses for the people should be put aside in these days of emergency.

There is one other suggestion I should like to make in connection with housing. During the years prior to the war, from about 1934 or 1935 onwards, great progress was made with housing in rural Ireland. The grants that were given for the reconstruction of existing houses or for the building of new ones were very largely availed of and with good results, apart altogether from the Government grants that were given to corporations and urban councils for building in the vicinity of cities and towns. I hold, however, that the success of that scheme, particularly in rural Ireland, was due, not so much to Government enterprise, as to individual effort. For the reconstruction of a house in a rural district there was a grant of £40. That would not go very far even at the then cost of building materials. I know for a fact that very few of those who availed of the grant of £40 did not go considerably in debt to get a sufficient sum to enable them to put their houses in a reasonable state of repair. I would say the results were very good for there was a very considerable improvement in housing in rural Ireland during that period which, of ourse, came to a stop about 1940 owing to the impossibility of procuring building materials and there has been no progress since then.

That is a pointer for the future. If every individual would make an effort to avail of State assistance or any other assistance in the provision of a home it would achieve far more than any attempt by the State to provide housing for all. It is the natural ambition and the inherent right of every individual to own a home. It should be the ambition of everyone, even from his teens, to build up by personal thrift an amount of capital that will enable him to go a long way in providing a home for himself. That should be a pointer to everyone. It is not popular to advocate personal thrift and I think it must be admitted that it is not a characteristic trait of our people. Nevertheless, if some encouragement were given, say, by State loans and grants to anyone who had saved some capital during his early years to enable him to provide his own home, so that he would be rent free, I think it would be a great incentive and would go far to easing the housing problem.

I may conclude as I began. I want to urge on the Minister to restore responsibility to the elected representatives on local bodies as soon as possible. Responsibility, as we know, leads to seriousness of thought and serious thought leads to serious and effective action. If everyone gets serious on the question of local government, particularly with regard to housing, we may hope, at least in ten or 15 years, at any rate, to get the position considerably better than we find it to-day.

Local Government is a Department which covers many matters. What Deputy Corry says is true, that nearly all legislators in this House should apprentice themselves to county councils for six to ten years. I am satisfied we would not then have many wild statements made in the House. Local government presents many complex problems. It is concerned with roads, housing, loans, hospitals, home-help and all those things which make up the life of the people. We cannot take this matter lightly because a great deal of the ratepayers' money is involved and that money must be spent wisely and well. It is all very fine to make high-falutin' speeches about what should be done and what should not be done, that houses should be built overnight and could be built overnight. That is what I describe as tommy-rot. I have been on a council for the last 15 years and I know the complex problems that we have to deal with. We become very wise when we have been a few years on the council. Fifteen years ago I might have made as wild a speech in connection with local government as some of the new members have made in this House, but we learn as we go along. I am satisfied that the Minister has a big problem to face. I know he is a balanced and a good man but I do not expect that he is a super-man, and he would need to be a super-man if he were to take on all the tasks he has been asked to take on in this debate.

We have heard a good deal about the County Management Act. I am satisfied that that Act was absolutely necessary. I was on a council and I found things were becoming cluttered up and the legislators were not up to the mark. There was far too much political wrangling and that sort of thing from all sides of the council chamber. Work was held up and the officials hardly knew where they stood. I am satisfied it would take someone like a county manager to clear up the mess and to put it on a proper business basis. I am satisfied that for the last number of years, where there are good county managers, and that is in nearly all areas, the business of the councils has untangled itself and is being put on a business basis. There may be too much power in the county managers but, if there is, there is no reason why we cannot modify that. I think Deputy MacEntee, when he was in office said, give it a trial and, if we find it a little bit irksome, there is no reason why we cannot modify it. The present Minister is in a position to modify and suit it to the people's needs so that we will be able to get in future a better type of representative, a responsible type, to come forward. For the last number of years many men who should have come forward did not come forward and we more or less fought out the business of the councils in a political wrangle, which was bad for the country.

In connection with housing, this country is not alone in having a scarcity of houses. There is a world scarcity. Britain is in a desperate position. Germany is in a worse position. Russia is in a bad way. We are not alone. There is a great need for houses but I am satisfied that, under the Fianna Fáil administration, from 1932 to 1938, there was good progress in housing. I am satisfied that had the war not intervened, that progress would have continued for the next eight or ten years and that the back of the housing problem would have been broken. There is no use in throwing bricks or bouquets across this House. The progress in housing since we established a native Government has not been too bad and I am satisfied that the war is the cause of all our troubles. We have eight years leeway to make up and Deputies know how many families can grow up in ten years. In many cases there are three or four families of different types and ages living together.

I say that this problem can be and is being tackled. It was tackled when Fianna Fáil were in power. They did their best to get going and I remember that all the time things were going ahead in the local councils. At the present moment we have a fair programme in County Meath and I do not think we will be able to speed it up no matter what we do. In the first place, we have not the contractors. In the second place, we have not all the materials. In the third place, we have not got the workers. However, things are slowly but surely getting up speed and, with good management and cooperation, the housing problem will be dealt with and will be solved in a reasonable time.

I do say that throughout the country the mails are cluttered up with Departmental forms that have to be filled in by private individuals who are repairing their houses and building additions to their houses. There is a fair amount of activity in the country. The cement problem held up most of our farmers and small people but I think that is being eased and, if the cement position solves itself, there will be a fair amount of progress in building.

I say we are all to blame for this not being a happier and a better country. For 25 years we were fighting and wrangling over sweet-damn-all. I do not blame Fianna Fáil for that. I do not blame the people on this side but, I ask, what were we fighting for? Here we are to-day, having wasted all our energies and finances, settling down to tackle the great problem that is before us. We can blame ourselves for the position and I know the coming generation will curse us for it. When we should have been working, we were wrangling and fighting over sweet-damn-all.

In connection with the housing of the people, I am satisfied that we should have a definite plan. The principal cause of the housing shortage in Dublin is, in my opinion, due largely to the fact that away back in 1922 and 1923 when we started our industrial effort the big magnates, those in the country and those who came into it, were permitted to establish their factories in the big centres such as Dublin, Cork and Drogheda. That centralisation of industry has been responsible for a lot of our present housing problems. It would have been a better policy, I think, if the Government had compelled those industrialists to go out into the country and start their industries in places like Trim, Athboy, Mullingar, etc. In that case they would have had to build houses for their workers and so there would be an easing of the housing position that we have to-day. But, instead, they were allowed to make a start in the principal cities, and so industrial development in so far as it is related to housing, has been carried out at the expense of the ratepayers. The local authorities had to provide houses for the workers. We cannot allow that to go on. Dublin is top-heavy as it is. It is cluttered up with industries, and the consequent immense housing problem that is to be dealt with here will not be solved unless something on the lines I suggest is done. We have tens of thousands of workers in Dublin and they have to make the best effort they can to get houses or go into slum dwellings.

I am afraid that some revolutionary ideas will have to be adopted if the Dublin housing problem is to be solved. What we need is a balanced plan for industrial development so that all parts of the country will benefit from it. I think that our villages and small towns should be helped to reap their share of the prosperity that ought to come from the promotion of industries. As it is, our little villages are fast decaying. There is no industry in them, and since the buses were put on the road whatever little business they had is disappearing, because the people take the bus and go to the big towns to make their purchases.

There is no use, in my opinion, in building cottages here and there over the countryside. The ideal plan, I think, would be to build 25 or 40 different types of houses in a decent sized village, thereby making that village the pivot of life in the area. We know that as regards many of the cottages that have been built here and there through the country the acre plots provided are not being cultivated. That has led to a great waste of good land and is, in fact, a national disgrace. I suggest that instead, we should take a decent sized village and build houses in it for nurses, doctors, Civic Guards, teachers and workers. If we did that we would be helping to make life attractive in those areas.

That is the way, I think, to bring back life, peace, prosperity and happiness to the countryside. If a development of that kind were undertaken, water and sewerage schemes could be easily provided so that the amenities of the cities and towns could be made available to the people living in those centres of population. You cannot do that if you build 3,000 cottages which are scattered all over the hills and the bogs. A plan such as I suggest might be expensive to carry out, but it would be far better for the country than what we are doing at present. It would tend, I believe, to keep farmers' sons and others on the land. At present they are being lured away to the cities. They would remain in their own areas if life were made more attractive for them on the lines that I suggest.

A good deal has been said here from time to time about the building of cottages for our workers in the country. I wonder what is the definition of a worker which some Deputies have in mind. I hold that the man with ten, 15 or 20 acres of land is a worker and that he is entitled to benefit under any cottage building scheme. A man with a valuation under £25 should, I think, be entitled to get a cottage. Those small farmers that I have in mind are in the unfortunate position that they are regarded neither as farmers nor as labourers, and so they fall between the two stools. It may be said, of course, that they are entitled to get a grant to repair their houses, but what is the use of that to a man who is never able to put £50 together? If he goes into a bank to look for a loan to help him repair his house, in the case where he would like to avail of the Government grant, he will not get the loan because he has not £20 to his name.

The position of those small farmers is this, that while they are ineligible to benefit under any of these cottage building schemes they have to pay their share of the cost in the rates for the provision of cottages for other people. Most of them are living in thatched houses with the walls falling around them. As a class they are the finest people that we have in the country. I hold that they are the cream of the people of Ireland. Why should we treat them as the Cinderella of our population? They are fine decent people who work hard and have reared large respectable families, but most of them are poor and they are forgotten. I hold that we in this generation should make a gigantic effort to help them. In doing so, we will be engaging in a truly national work. It may also be said that grants are available for the man who wants to build a house for himself. I remember that eight or nine years ago we in the County Meath were able to build cottages for about £350. The cost to-day is £800 or £900. What is the use of a grant of £200 or even £300 for the building of a cottage to a man who has nothing but a lot of waste land or bog? As I said earlier, our present housing troubles are largely due to the fact that there is no plan. I believe that we are not likely to make much progress in regard to this housing problem until something on the lines that I have suggested is done by carrying out development schemes in our villages and small towns throughout the country. It is time to end that and bring them into the towns.

A vast amount of money was spent on roads and, if the plans the ex-Minister had in contemplation were carried out, it would have been God help the ratepayers. There was a scheme in regard to roads but, as far as I know, it was a secret which was never divulged. I heard the last speaker mention tunnels through hills.

We did not propose that.

I am glad. It seems to me to be ridiculous. It is the type of thing that might happen in Monto Carlo. I would ask the Minister to look after the Land Commission roads which have been built during the past 15 or 20 years so that they will be included with the county council roads. Those roads were left in good repair by the county councils but they are nobody's children to-day. As many as six, eight and ten farmers live along such roads which are now quagmires. There is nobody in charge of them. The people cannot cope with them. We on the county council should take them over and give the people living along them the same facilities as are enjoyed by people who live along the highways and the by-ways which are looked after by the county councils. It is time that the councils awakened to their responsibility and took over those roads.

In connection with the supervision of workers on the roads, I am not satisfied that in my county we are getting the return of work to which we are entitled. I should like our supervisors, our gangers and many of the lackeys who work on the roads to be given a fair amount of shaking up. There was too much political influence in the past in connection with the giving of work on the roads as far as Meath was concerned. Unless a worker raised his hat to the Fianna Fáil Party he could not get a job on the roads. These men are there to-day carrying on as usual. I am not asking to have them sacked but I should like to have them shaken up. I should like those who are having a good time to be changed to another area where they will do an honest day's work.

I am not satisfied with regard to the by-laws position. I have been in towns such as Navan where there is absolute traffic congestion and, therefore, great danger to the people.

I asked the Gardaí about it and they explained that there were no by-laws in existence to enable them to cope with the problem. The time has come for the passing of by-laws in regard to the large towns because the problem is getting worse every week. The parking centres are inadequate and cars are lining both sides of the streets, apart altogether from the passing traffic, and there is great danger to everybody. I am satisfied that the Minister has his hands full but that he has, nevertheless, his task well in hands. I approve of his policy of visiting different parts of the country and getting the views and ideas of the people there. That is good and democratic and it is something which will bring respect to himself and to this House. I hope that in the course of time he will visit all the different counties and get the different ideas that prevail in each county. If he is prepared to shoulder his responsibilities the people will shoulder their responsibilities too, although they are going to be heavy. I would also ask the Minister to ensure that all the money spent by the Department of Local Government will be spent wisely and well. There is no point in saying that we can build houses overnight and raise millions and millions. The money must come out of the ratepayers' pockets. We should not put a burden on the people which they are not able to carry.

If the inter-Party Government are going to carry out the wishes of the people our first action must be a revision of the county managerial system. Some people say that the system of having county managers is all right. Deputy Butler says that it is wrong—that is an admission from a member of the Fianna Fáil Party. With regard to my own county council I may say that the councillors have no powers at all and that things are not going well. The policy of providing labourers' cottages and work on the roads is cramped. I shall read next week for the benefit of Deputy MacEntee a letter which was sent to the Wexford County Council in regard to appointments. We who represent the people on the urban council and on the county council feel that a heavy burden is placed on the councils by the county managers. People talk about the ratepayers but I say that anybody who voted for a county manager voted for £1,000 of the ratepayers' money and £100 expenses. Deputy Corry spoke about that burden on the ratepayers also. It is a burden which could employ a lot of men on the roads and which would yield more work and give more service to the country than any county manager. I know of the case of one young man who went out of this city from a printing office. After spending a short time on the urban council he is to-day the County Manager of Cavan. What experience could a man like that have with regard to local affairs? Have the public representatives selected by the people not more?

The Deputies should not pick out individuals and criticise them here, because they have no redress. They cannot answer in this House for themselves.

I have listened to some of the Deputies who spoke in favour of the county managerial system. I cannot understand how these managers can have all the experience we have not got.

They have the brains. You have not.

The Deputy himself had brains when he voted as he was told to vote.

The Deputy should ignore interruptions.

I do not mind them, Sir. Anybody in public life who has had to put up with what we had to put up from Fianna Fáil during the last 16 years would be used to interruptions by now.

The Deputy had not to put up——

I was on the council where your Party had the say—where your Party could get jobs for your friends. Did that not happen? Fianna Fáil tells this side of the House about all the houses they built. They knocked down as many as they put up and that is one of the reasons for the scarcity of houses. Houses were demolished in every town in Ireland during the Fianna Fáil régime.

That has nothing to do with Government administration——

It has to do with Fianna Fáil administration.

But it has nothing to do with local government administration.

In my town of Enniscorthy people were glad to go into houses which they were not permitted to use during the life-time of the Fianna Fáil Government. If these houses had been made available to the old age pensioners and the people on home assistance we would not have the housing scarcity we have to-day. There was no improvement in the situation while houses were being condemned and demolished.

Is the Minister for or against that policy now?

I cannot hear the Deputy. That procedure is carried out all over the country. There are gaps in terraces of houses. Derelict sites are to be seen in every town. They are worse than the bombed towns in France after the air raids. Only the relics of the houses are left standing. That sort of thing is no addition to any town. I cannot understand why Fianna Fáil, since the end of the war, did not build a few houses. However, if you go along the Bray road, which I travel on very frequently you will see that over the past two years a great amount of building has been going on there. But you will not see any labourers' cottages there.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again next Tuesday.