asked the Minister for Local Government what changes have been made in the conditions governing the issue of Road Fund grants to local authorities in relation to the total amount available, the proportion allotted for main and county roads and the basic expenditure by the authority concerned upon which such grants are estimated; and, further, if he will state how he proposes to meet the deficit from expenditure incurred in the expiring financial year and the deficit anticipated in the coming financial year, and what loan charge will be placed upon the revenue of the Road Fund in the coming financial year.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Road Fund Grants.
In the coming financial year a sum of £1,200,000 will be made available as a free grant to county councils for improvement work on county roads and a free grant of £600,000 for main road improvement. The main road upkeep grant will be 40 per cent. of approved expenditure on "ordinary road work" on main roads. It will be a condition of the grants that councils provide as much out of rates in 1949/50 for ordinary work on main and county roads as they have provided out of rates for maintenance under these heads this year.
In regard to the second part of the question, the information sought by the Deputy will be shown in the Estimates for the coming financial year.
Is the Parliamentary Secretary not aware that a number of county councils have deferred their decision on the road estimates owing to the reduction in the amount made available and does he realise the effect of this on unemployment?
I am not so aware. I realise, of course, that in consequence of this there will be a certain amount of unemployment but I would also like to remind the Deputy of the grants that have been notified in respect of the year beginning on the 1st April this year and that the special employment schemes Vote provides for unemployment.
Does the new scheme, in fact, not represent a substantial reduction in the amount to be granted to county councils for the upkeep of roads?
But I would also like to suggest that it represents a substantial improvement on the grant which existed previous to 1946-47 with emphasis on the improvement of county roads.
The position is, in fact, that it represents a substantial reduction on the amount paid over the past three years.
The Deputy is also very well aware that the grants given over the past three years were given to restore roads which were damaged during the emergency.
Does the Parliamentary Secretary contend——
There will be further opportunities for discussing that matter.
The Deputy is also aware that it was intimated to the local authorities in 1946 in the first instance that these grants would not continue—could not continue.
That is not a fair question. It was guaranteed that the grants would be given for at least two years.
It was not guaranteed. Do not be talking nonsense.
Deputy O'Rourke rose.
I am the sole judge as to supplementary questions.
I am the sole judge in regard to Roscommon County Council and I think we are entitled to ask questions.
Deputies are not entitled to ask more supplementary questions than the Chair thinks proper.
Are we not entitled to get information about the desperate state of affairs that exists——
If the Deputy will control himself he will have that opportunity next week.
How do I know that?